My Crochet Carrot- Crochet as Motivation

Usually crochet becomes a bit of my refuge from doing the dishes and cleaning the floor. However, with spring in the air I do get the urge to actually clean out some clutter and have a fresh home. I use crochet to help me to do this.

This spring, crochet is my carrot.

I know myself well enough to know that this desire to clean those dust bunnies from under the sofa will be short lived. I really only spurs during the seasonal changes of spring and fall, and have a very limited number of hours that I will be in this mood. This year I decided to nurture it a bit.

Using Crochet as my carrot to keep spring cleaning productive

I allow myself a set number of pattern row repeats on the project I am working on, then I can clean a shelf in the refrigerator. Once the shelf is clean I can return to another pattern row repeat of my project.

I really have found this to be productive, even if the back and forth nature seems a bit counterintuitive. While I am working my pattern repeats I am mentally planning my attack on my next small cleaning projects so that things go smoothly. In addition I do not get burnt out as fast in my cleaning undertaking.

If it were not for my carrot of getting to crochet after I finish a small cleaning, I am not sure if I would be as productive. In the past I would start in a corner to clean, give it my all and go full throttle into the project, I would have everything torn apart to give a through deep clean….then as everything needs to get put back into place I would lose all desire and energy, and if things went well everything would end up tossed in the corner again and I would pass out on the couch.  At least in this small step approach I find that the entire small project gets completed. Not to mention I am actually still making headway on my crochet.

Shift the Stitch

There are some subtle differences in the way each of crochets that can create drastic overall differences. One such thing is where exactly you are working your stitches.

We have all been taught that if a pattern does not specify that the stitch is worked under the top 2 loops of the stitch below. While this is correct, there are times you might want to move you hook down just a bit and insert it under the back bar and the top 2 loops.

First let me explain a bit about stitch construction. The last loop of your hook is always the top loop of the stitch, and just by this simple nature it means that the top loop is not exactly centered directly over the all the yarn over and pull through loops below in the post of the stitch. Sometimes this shift is very minimal and not really recognized at all.

So essentially crochet stitches are stacked just slightly to one side of the stitches below, when you turn our work and work back they stack to the other side, resulting in an overall straight piece of fabric. However this is same reason why when working in a round that your seam starts drifting to one side, because you are not turning the work, the stick up of the stitches stay to the same side of the stitches.

Stitches to the Left are worked only under 2 loops, the last 2 stitches on the right have been worked under the back loop and the 2 top loops.

This “Stack” can sometimes be recognized in simple fabric like a double crochet, chain 1, pattern, as is worked in Filet crochet.

The left stitches are worked under the 2 top loops only, the Right stitch has been worked under the Back Bar and top 2 loops.

There is a little trick to help this stack become less obvious, that is by working through the not only the top to loops, but including the back bar of the stitch. If working in the round, this means you would need to bring your hook down a little lower in the post of the stitch and then insert it.

Traditional inserting of hook, under the top 2 loops

Working through this back bar of the stitch, or sometimes called “third loop”, is the loop in the back of the post that is directly below the top loops, is shifted to the opposite of the post then the bigger opening created only the 2 loops. This slight shift of position of the loop helps to keep the stick more centered.

Inserting the hook under the back bar and top 2 loops.

Granted the difference is subtle for most people, it might be exactly what you need to take you stitching to a new level.

My 1800’s Vacation, and Touchstone

I just took an unexpected vacation to the 1800’s, okay not quite literally but 66 hours without power, phone, or internet can feel a bit like it.
Now, some will instantly think this is torture and have tinges of sympathy. However, really it helps me stay humble and grounded…even in my crochet.


It is a time when the world makes me slow down, I am not tied up in the world of social media, I am not browsing Pinterest, I am not finding something to pull me away from the actually stitching of my fabric. I would spend the evening working on a shawl pattern, in almost darkness, with only a firelight and a candle flickering ensuring I found the right placement for my stitches. This is a design that I hope to share shortly, as it is almost complete.


This time also helps me to focus on the strong background of ancestors that formed me the way I am. I know that my grandmother didn’t have the luxury of indoor plumbing for most of her life, that my great grandmother never had electric lights to work by late into the night. Neither were distracted by the world of television, and made it through life just fine. Realizing that all the generations that came before me lived in a world without these modern conveniences, helps to keep me grounded it what is really important.


These 66 hours found my children talking to me, and each other more. Sharing more hopes, dreams and fears then in any given day of the week. They had the opportunity to experience true quiet and a dark night sky. It really can be just the simple things.
I was also able to play with new ideas in yarn, and sketch out ideas for new designs. It may have been an unexpected “vacation”, but sometimes it is exactly what you needed.

December! Time to enjoy my Craftvent CAL

So if you have been fortunate enough to receive a limited edition crochet Jimmy Beans Wool Craftvent for 2018, I thought I would share some tips and insight behind the design. Note: This kit sold out and is no longer available on their website, but it doesn’t hurt to call and see if one may be hiding in the back. (If you were unsuccessful obtaining one, read to the end and I will share some insights to making your own).

To begin with the shawl starts at a point and increase on one side until it becomes a large triangle. The first couple of rows might be the most challenging, especially since it is small and there is not much to hang on to.

The first row, essentially becomes a “V”, ensuring that all odd number rows will be worked in a “V st” pattern. The even number rows are simply double crochet stitches worked into all the stitches and spaces across.

To help you keep an accurate row count, the number of “V”’s will increase by 1 every time you work this row, while the double crochet row will always increase by 3 stitches. So if you had 3 “V” stitches in row 5, you will have 6 “V” stitches in Row 7, while if you had 10 double crochets in Row 6, then you will have 13 double crochet stitches in Row 8.

Also the increase are worked on the same side as the color changes, keeping all the pattern differences on one side of the work.

While this “V” stitch/double crochet row repeat makes up a vast portion of the design, the smaller rows of back loop single crochet stitches are always worked in pairs, and there are no increase worked in these rows. This little stitch pattern adds a great contrast in the fabric, not only visually but texturally too.

This entire kit is based upon the redesign of my Quest Shawl pattern, so if you were not able to get a Craftvent the closet to offer is the Quest Shawl pattern. The main difference in these designs is actually the color blocking. Quest has only 2 colors, while Craftvent features 8. If you want to purchase these yarns and thus make your own color blocking from the Quest Shawl, here are the yarns:

You can order a skein of each from Jimmy Beans Wool and create your own color blocking effect.

I will admit, I was so excited about this project that I purchased a kit myself, and am reworking the shawl again day by day in the calendar! You can follow along with my progress at my Facebook Page or Instagram.

Hope you enjoy this process as much as I am!

Yes, Swatches Lie…Well Maybe….

Yes, swatches lie. Well that is a bit harsh…really they can be a bit misleading.

To start with there is the famous question, “Do I need to make a swatch?” Well only if you want to ensure that you meet the gauge of the pattern. Gauge helps to ensure that the pattern comes out the same size, but it also ensures that your fabric has the same drape as that of the original design. If this is important to you, then yes, you need to swatch.

That being said there are some road blocks that stop many people from making a swatch.

First there is no actual directions for making a swatch, the gauge lists the number of stitches and rows that fit the given measurements, but that is where the information ends. If you are a new crocheter this can be a bit difficult to decipher, as you need to read and understand your pattern and then make assumptions from this.

One of the ways to make these assumptions is simply to make a chain longer than the given measurement for the gauge. By a rule of thumb add make the swatch at least 40% bigger than is measured, so if it states 4” (10cm), make a swatch of 5 ½” (14 cm). This is so you can take the measurement from of the stitches and rows without using the edges of the swatch, as the edges can distort the measurement.

If the gauge gives a stitch pattern, work this in rows until the rows measure larger than the given measurement. However this is only step one.

The next step to ensure you are getting an accurate measurement is to block your swatch. Essentially you want to treat your wash as you would the finished item, so if it is hand washed then hand wash, if it is machine wash then machine wash, and let dry.

Now you can take the measurement and to ensure that you meet gauge, to proceed with your pattern. If you need to adjust your hook size to obtain gauge you will need to repeat the process in a new hook size and repeat.

However here is the honesty, very few of us go through these steps. I know when I get my yarn I want to dive right in and get to creating, but sometimes I do have to pay the price for this. I may need to rip back and rework if things are not coming out as expected.

So how can I find a happy medium between creating a swatch and just enjoying my crochet? My tip is to check my work regularly. I may block an item before I head to bed, after a day of stitching, and check my gauge in the morning. If it is on course I feel free to continue onward, if it is a bit off it is a day to rip back and begin anew. This may be a bit of a gamble in losing a day’s worth of work, but it keeps me enjoying my stitching while still being happy with the outcome.