Thursday, December 27, 2007

Blogger Acting Weird

I was wondering if anyone could tell me how to adjust the line spacing for my posts in Blogger. I have problems with Blogger taking out and putting in lines between sentences. I usually type my posts in Microsoft Word, give them 1.5 inch line spacing, then copy and paste them into Blogger. Sometimes the spacing stays the same, but a lot of times, especially with long posts, Blogger will change some of the paragraphs to single-spaced. It's so frustrating! I have no idea what to do to keep that from happening. Also, if you've noticed, the picture on my blog header has been looking funny lately. I had it centered neatly within the box, but then about a week ago, Blogger made some changes to their software, and now I can't get the photo to line up right. I'm still trying to figure out what to do to get it to look right. Any suggestions? I have no HTML experience, so I need dumbed-down help, LOL!

Lots O' Things!

Well, now that Christmas is over, I have some finished crochet projects and gifts to show! My husband and kids and I went to one of my older sister’s house on Christmas Eve. My kids had a lot of fun playing with their cousins, and getting gifts. There’s 12 kids in the family (soon to be 13), and all of the aunts and uncles used to buy gifts for each kid, but now that there’s so many, it’s gotten too expensive, so we drew names this year. My daughter got a scooter from my older brother and his wife, and my son got a Lightning McQueen (from the Cars movie) lamp and a Cars puzzle from one of my sisters. They were both thrilled with their gifts.

I made a few more small things for my brother and his wife, who’s pregnant and due in January. The first is a bib crocheted from Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in the Lake and Almond colors. I found the pattern on Ravelry – it’s a free pattern from the Bernat website. I found the pattern for the star online too, but now I can’t remember the website. The pattern for the bib called for half double crochet, but I did it in single crochet instead, so the bib would provide better protection from spills.

The second gift is a bunny hat and mittens. The pattern is from the January/February issue of Crochet Magazine. I used Red Heart Soft in white and Bernat Soy in Raspberry (left over from my friend’s ruffle scarf). This was my first time using the Red Heart Soft, and I really liked it. Just like its name, it’s very soft, and has a pretty sheen. The hat and mittens took less than a skein of the Red Heart Soft. The mittens in the picture have pink paw pads on the underneath, but I couldn’t get them to come out right, so I left them off. The bows were my own touch. The pattern was easy enough to follow, but I had a hard time sewing the ears on. I don’t think they look as nice as the ones in the magazine. My brother and sister-in-law were thrilled with the hat and mittens though, so I’m happy.

The last project is a cover (for lack of a better word) for my daughter’s nightstand. She likes to keep a glass of water on her nightstand, in case she gets thirsty in the middle of the night, but a few times she’s spilled the water, so I figured a cotton cover would be good for absorbing any spills. I had started crocheting her one a while ago with some rainbow-colored Lily Sugar N’Cream, but didn’t like how the colors looked, and I didn’t know how to do any tight stitches other than single crochet, and got bored with all the rows of single crochet quickly, so I scrapped it. I decided to start another one, also in Lily Sugar N’ Cream, but in the Robin’s Egg Blue and Rose Pink colors.

This time, I was browsing through one of my Crochet Today magazines, and saw instructions for a “griddle stitch”. It’s just alternating single and double crochets. You work a single crochet in the first stitch, then a double crochet in the next stitch, to the end of the row, chain 1, turn, and then work single crochets into each double crochet of the row below, and double crochets into each single crochet of the row below, and so on. Very easy. For the edging I followed a pattern for a lacy border from the book "Crochet in No Time", which is a fantastic book that I highly recommend. The border looked really complicated, and my crochet skills aren’t very advanced, so I’m thrilled that I was able to make it. I’m really happy with how the cover turned out, and I love the colors. The whole thing took a little less than two skeins of the blue, and about half a skein of the pink, which made it a nice cheap project. My Christmas was pretty good. My husband I just stayed home with our kids. And, I finally got to open my Christmas/birthday presents from my friend Latanya in Dallas. She had sent them about two weeks ago, and my husband hid it from me until Christmas Eve. I was overjoyed when I opened the package, and saw three (!) crochet books, and a crochet calendar, all from my Amazon.com wish list! How awesome is that??!! I got the Crochet Pattern-A-Day Calendar, Quick Crochet, Crochet Me, and Hooks-Only Crochet. How can I not love a friend who enables my crochet addiction, LOL! My youngest sister gave me the knitting book for a birthday present (my birthday was yesterday, the 26th). I guess she thought I can needle-knit (confusing it with the loom knitting I’ve done, maybe), but that’s OK, because I plan on trying to learn to knit one of these days, and the book will come in handy.

My kids were happy with their gifts from “Santa” too. Surprisingly my daughter still believes in Santa, even though she’s almost 10. I imagine by next Christmas she might have figured it out. My son was thrilled because he got a lot of Veggie Tales, pirates, and Disney Cars stuff. My daughter liked all her gifts, especially the Webkinz border collie she received. She and her girl cousins and most of her girl classmates are crazy about Webkinz. She was a little disappointed though because she didn’t get the Game Boy she wanted. She had been asking for a Game Boy for about a year, and my husband and I aren’t too big on video games – we figure she already spends enough time playing computer games, but she never asks for anything expensive, so we decided to get her a Game Boy for Christmas.

We went to three different stores, and couldn’t find a single Game Boy. At one store, an employee told us Nintendo is discontinuing the Game Boy (since they released the Nintendo DS), so that explains why they’re so scarce. I even tried searching online everywhere I could think of with no luck The few I found were on EBay, and way marked up, at $115+ instead of the $79 they would sell for in a store). For that much money, I might as well spend an extra $15 and get her a Nintendo DS for $129. We told her that Santa doesn’t bring expensive toys like video games, so we planned to buy for her ourselves, but couldn’t find one anywhere. Her birthday is coming up in a few weeks anyway, so we told her she can get a Nintendo DS for her birthday. She wants a pink one, of course!

Yesterday was my birthday! Yes, I’m a very old 34! I feel old anyway – my kids are wearing me out (and I have the gray hairs to show it – got to keep covering them up with the red hair dye)! My husband and kids and I went out to eat, and that night after the kids were in bed, my husband and I watched "Spider Man 3". Both of us love superhero stuff (we love the Justice League cartoons on Cartoon Network), and I had been waiting to see Spider Man 3 for the longest time. We didn't have a chance to see it when it was at the movies, and when it came to video, our local video store was always out. It finally came on Pay Per View, so I finally got to see it. This was my favorite of the Spider Man movies. Some of the action scenes were shot in downtown Cleveland, not too far from my job, so it was interesting trying to spot a glimpse of Cleveland in the movie.

My husband gave me a memory card for my (pink!) digital camera for my birthday gift. I know, not the most romantic gift. I would have loved to have gotten some flowers or jewelry, but oh well. One year though for my birthday he gave me a pink fur lined pink leather coat that I had been wanting for a long time, and that was a huge surprise! He took my youngest sister along to the mall with him to try on the coat, because she’s about the same weight as me (although taller), and he didn’t know what size coat I would wear. Other than that though, he usually buys me “practical” type gifts.

I bought some yarn for a birthday gift for myself though, LOL! I found some more of that wonderful TLC Cara Mia yarn on EBay to add to my stash. I got 5 skeins (two cream, one mauve, one peach, and one sage green) for $13.90 (including shipping). It’s a discontinued yarn, and from what I’ve found it, it originally sold for $7.99 a skein (because of its angora content), so $13.90 for 5 skeins was a bargain.

Overall, it was a nice Christmas and birthday, but I’m glad it’s over. I don’t look forward to the snow and cold every year around this time (although surprisingly we had no snow on Christmas), or the huge expense of Christmas gifts. I also miss my dad a lot this time of year – he passed away a few years ago. I’ve been off from work since 23rd – I work for the national offices of a religious denomination, so they shut down the offices from the 24th through January 1st. and glad not to have to get up early every morning to rush to get the kids to daycare and school and myself to work. My daughter went to an American Girl-themed New Years’ Eve party at this local Henn Mansion today. A lot of her friends from school were there as well, and the mom of one of her friends invited my daughter a bunch of other girls over, so my daughter is at her friend’s house right now. My son is taking a nap, so I actually had some quiet time to blog! I hope everyone had a nice Christmas, and I wish everyone a happy New Years’ too!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Stash Basket, a Hamster, a Ripple "Blankie", and a Band Concert!

I have a few more crochet projects to show. The first is a basket I crocheted for my daughter’s room. I saw some of these on Ravelry, and loved them, so I had to make one myself. I got the pattern for free on Ravelry as a PDF file, but couldn’t find it elsewhere online. If anyone wants the pattern, I can email you the PDF file. For the basket, I used two skeins of Sugar N’ Cream Twists in the “Summer Twists” color, that I got for $1.37 each at a local craft store, Pat Catan's. Sure beats the $1.99 Joann’s charges it for it online.

I used an F hook instead of the recommended E, because I crochet tightly, but after assembling the basket, I realized I should have used the E, to make the basket stiffer. I sprayed the basket with several coats of a fabric stiffening spray, and that helped, but it’s still not as stiff as I would like. I added a shell stitch trim to make the basket more interesting. It was an easy pattern, but all the rows of single crochet with a small hook made it really tedious, not to mention making my right wrist and hand sore. The third photo is of my daughter’s hamster, Chester, who she put in the basket. Needless to say, he wasn’t too happy, LOL!


My son saw the basket, asked if I crocheted it, then picked it up, and said it will be perfect for carrying his cars (he has a ton of little Hotwheels cars, and cars from the Disney Cars movie). When I told him the basket was for Sissy (my daughter – he’s called her Sissy ever since he learned how to talk), he got upset. I told him I’ll make him one too, in “boy colors”. I feel bad that I don’t crochet as many things as I do for my daughter, but there’s so few crochet patterns for boys his age (he’s almost 5). I did start working on a “blankie” for him a while ago though.

When I first learned how to crochet, I made him a small blanket out of Lion Brand Jiffy yarn, and he takes it to daycare with him for nap time, but the blanket has gotten so fuzzy and worn looking (the yarn didn’t hold up well), and after he saw a granny square blanket I started for my daughter, he wanted me to make him a second blanket. I had tried to crochet a ripple blanket awhile ago, but the pattern called for skipping spaces, and for some reason I couldn’t get the holes in each row created by the skipped spaces to line up, so I gave up on ripples. I was really disappointed until I found this super-easy ripple baby blanket pattern in Crochet Today magazine. The “valleys” in the ripples are created by decreases, rather than skipping stitches, which for some reason, I just find easier. I started my son’s blanket about a month or two ago, and I’m pretty happy with how it’s turning out.

I’m using TLC Essentials in Barn Red, Light Celery, Country Blue, and Linen. I kind of wish now that I had used a yellow color instead of the tan, because I think the tan looks rather dull. I don’t feel like redoing the blanket now though since I’ve gotten so much done. The TLC Essentials is cheap, and has a lot of yardage, but I’m disappointed about how rough it feels to me. I ordered it from Joann.com, and all the reviews raved about it, and said it’s a soft yarn, so I assumed it would be soft, but it’s not. I’m hoping it will soften up once I wash and dry it with fabric softener.

I haven’t been working on the blanket a whole lot lately though, because I get most of my crocheting done on the bus to and from work, and the blanket is getting too large to work on comfortably on the bus. The local bus system here in the Cleveland area just cut out a bunch of busses from the routes I regularly ride, and now the busses are so crowded that a lot of times I can’t crochet (don’t want to bump anyone with my elbows!) or can only work on something small. Every time my son sees the blanket, he asks me if it’s done, and gets upset when I tell him not yet, so I need to get started on it again.

The one thing I would love to crochet for my son, but can’t find a pattern I like anywhere, is a vest. I just want a pattern for a simple, crocheted, v-neck boy’s size 4 or 5 vest, with no buttons, or zippers, or elaborate stitches. Sounds simple enough, but I can’t find one anywhere. I’ve tried Googling, asking on Ravelry, on Crochet Partners, on Crochetville, looking at patterns on yarn company websites, looking in my collection of crochet books, everywhere I could think of with no luck. I’d even be happy with a girl’s vest pattern (because I could change the color), but no luck for that either. I wish I had more crocheting experience so I could just design my own.

Well, my last thing to show is a picture of my daughter’s Christmas band concert last Wednesday evening at her school. She plays flute in the beginning band, which are mostly 4th graders with a handful of 5th graders. The band must be pretty popular, because my daughter said all of the kids in her 4th grade class are in the band except for about two. She’s the one in the middle with the big puffy ponytail, and the burgundy top and skirt. My husband comes from a very musical family – all his brothers play instruments, and my husband was in several marching bands through junior high and high school. He can read music, and also play by ear, and can play the piano, trumpet, and drums. I’m trying to convince him to buy a trumpet so he can play along with our daughter, LOL! He was happy then when my daughter announced that she wanted to join the school band, and luckily he helps her practice, because I can’t read music.

My daughter did well in the concert. I’m proud of her for going right up there on the stage and playing even though she was nervous. The concert was very nice. A few kids in the advanced band (grades 5 through 8) did solos, and they were all really good. I told my daughter if she sticks with the flute, I’ll buy her a pink flute case (she just has a black one now). I’ve actually seen pink flutes, but at $300+, forget it! Her used flute alone cost $140 with the flute, case, cleaning kit, etc. Between that and the $600 a year the band program costs, I’m going to make sure she sticks it out!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Another Contest

Joann.com is having a great sweepstakes for knitters and crocheters. Here’s the info:

THREE GRAND PRIZE WINNERS
Ultimate Yarn Package (Retail value over $350)

Create fabulous scarves, hats, blankets and more with this complete knitting and crochet gift package from Lion Brand®. Three Grand Prize winners will receive an Ultimate Yarn Gift Package valued at over $350 including an array of beautiful colors of your favorite Lion Brand® Yarns. Also included are knitting needles, crochet hooks, and an ultimate tote bag. (Contents may vary from picture shown.).

Wouldn’t that be an awesome prize?! Go on over to Joann.com to enter.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Crochet Swap

I decided to sign up for a crochet swap on Crochetaholic’s Swap Blog.

As part of the sign-up, I have to post and answer the following questions on my blog, so here goes!

•My favorite colors... My favorite color is pink (all shades!), but I also like lavender, peach, coral, aqua blue, mint green, and red and burgundy shades. I'm not too fond of purple, bright yellow, or neutrals.

•My hobbies... Does eating chocolate count as a hobby? LOL! Seriously though, my hobbies are crochet, loom knitting (rarely though since I learned how to crochet), painting and stenciling wood items, and reading (crochet books/magazines and nonfiction about urban/social issues). I’ve only been crocheting since March, so I can’t do anything beyond beginner/advanced beginner type patterns yet (darn!). I also enjoy gardening.

•My kitchen theme and colors... A red & white 1950’s diner theme. I have a laminate-topped, chrome bottom 50’s look kitchen table with red & white vinyl covered chairs and cute red & white gingham curtains to match! I love 50’s stuff!

•My bathroom theme and colors... A dusty blue, yellow, and white rubber duck theme.

•My dislikes... Scratchy yarn (I can’t use that Red Heart Super Saver – too rough)! I also have a really difficult time crocheting with fluffy, furry, novelty yarns. I love them, but just can’t see my stitches in the yarn. I also dislike the "Boye" type crochet hooks - I find that they snag in my stitches. I prefer the "Bates" type hooks.

•What I like... I love chocolate, especially dark chocolate! I don’t drink tea or coffee, but I love hot chocolate. I love Italian and Mexican food. My favorite season is spring, and my favorite holiday is Easter. My favorite flower is pansies, but I also love all spring flowers (tulips, crocuses, daffodils, and hyacinths). I love old houses and historic architecture. I'm a true crime stories and history buff. I love jazz music. I always carry a lip balm with me (I have lip balms stashed in my purse, in my desk at work, around my house, etc), because my lips are constantly dry. My husband claims it's all in my head, but that's not true - they really are dry!

•My allergies... None, although I have a colon disease, diverticulitis, and have had two major surgeries to repair my colon after it ruptured from the disease, so I’m forever forbidden from eating nuts, popcorn, or seeds…sigh!

•My favorite pets... Cats!

•My favorite scents... Rose, lavender, lilac, chamomile, cotton/linen (yes, I know, cotton and linen don't actually have scents, but there's candles, lotion, etc. with those "scents", LOL!), baby powder, vanilla-y birthday cake scent.

•Other stuff about me... I work full-time, am a part-time grad student, and am a married mom of two kids.

I’m really looking forward to the swaps! Sounds like it’ll be a lot of fun!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Shoparooni

OK, this isn’t a crochet post, but I just had to share a link to these. I think they’re just TOO cute, and the description is pretty funny too! Based on the description, yes, I think I need some of these a**-kicking shoes to defend myself against the myriad perverts in downtown Cleveland, where I work, LOL! They’re for sale at this little boutique called Shoparooni, that opened in the North Collinwood neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland.

I grew up about half a mile from this store, and my mom and brother still live in the house I grew up in. The neighborhood was always a working-class one, and over the years has become lower-income, but funny to me, a fair amount of trendy art galleries, shops, and restaurants are starting to pop up in the neighborhood. I guess I just find it funny because the area was so blue-collar when I was growing up, definitely not a magnet for any $50 a bottle wine-sipping, art-gallery hopping types. I’m glad to see the area picking up though, because over the past decade, it’s suffered from a lot of vacant buildings and houses, and an increasing crime rate.

Back to the shoes though, if you like retro stuff (I love 1950’s things – my kitchen is decorated in a 50’s diner theme!), check them out! There’s a lot of other cute and unusual things for sale on this website and in the store too, and you can even shop by price – “Strapped”, “Budgeteer”, “Payday” and “Big Spender”, LOL!

NY Times Article about Crafting

The New York Times had an interesting (but long!) article on Sunday about the “handmade revolution” in the U.S., and the growth of crafting magazines and websites like Etsy. Check it out here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Contest

I saw this contest in the January 2008 issue of Crochet Magazine, and thought I’d share the details:

Soften the World Simply Soft Sweepstakes

Help soften the world by entering the Soften the World Simply Soft Sweepstakes. All stitched sections will be donated to “Warm Up America!”

Category #1
Stitch a Square and Soften the World
Who Can Enter:
Individuals
How to Win:
Submit a knit or crocheted 7” x9” section in any Simply Soft yarn, by May 1, 2008. 20 winners will be chosen at random. Twelve 6 oz skeins of Simply Soft (multiple colors) will be shipped direct to your door.
How to Enter:
Each section must be accompanied by a 3”x5” index card with name, address, and phone number of stitcher. Send entries to: Soften the World Sweepstakes, Caron, 1481 W. 2nd St. Washington, NC 27889.

Category #2
Stitch the Most Squares and Soften the World
Who Can Enter:
Groups (church groups, scout troops, guilds, etc)
How to Win:
Submit any number of knit or crocheted 7” x 9” sections in any Simply Soft yarn before May 1, 2008. The group that submits the most sections by the deadline wins a check for $300 mailed to your group.
How to Enter:
Ship all sections at the same time with contact information for the group. Send entries to Soften the World Sweepstakes, Caron, 1481 W. 2nd St., Washington, NC 27889.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Gifts

Well, I finally got all of my crocheted Christmas presents done - hooray! The first is a felted crocheted baguette, makeup bag, and scarf, for my very good friend, Latanya, who lives in Dallas. I met Latanya 11 years ago this month, on a cruise to the Bahamas and Key West that my husband and I went on. The cruise was sponsored by the former Interrace Magazine. The various interracial couples and families in the group were seated together at dinner time, and my husband and I shared a table with Latanya, her sister, and another couple.

Most everyone in the group hit it off really well, so the second-last day of the cruise, the group members all exchanged addresses and phone numbers. A few weeks after I got home, I received a letter from Latanya. She had seen an article I wrote, that was published in Interrace, recognized my name, and wrote to ask if I was the author. That letter became the start of a wonderful friendship that has endured for 11 years, despite our living 1,200 miles apart, and keeping in touch solely through letters, emails, and the occasional phone call. Latanya is like an old soul who is wise beyond her years, and she has helped me through many a tough time in my life over the years. Her friendship has truly been a blessing in my life.


Every year without fail Latanya has sent me amazing birthday and Christmas presents that I unfortunately have never been able to adequately reciprocate for (although Latanya never complains). I wanted to give her something special for Christmas this year, and I hope these gifts measure up. Latanya loves pink as much as I do (I still have my pink baby blanket that my Dad brought me home from the hospital in as a newborn, and it’s my most prized possession!), so of course, all the gifts are pink!

Although the felted baguette was crocheted, the pattern for the bag was actually a loom knitting pattern. I bought the pattern from Isela Phelps back in February, and planned to make the bag as a present for Latanya's March birthday.I ended up breaking my right wrist in February (when I slipped and fell on a patch of ice downtown) and by the time my wrist was healed, and I felt up to working on the bag, I had learned to crochet, so I converted the pattern to crochet. As her birthday had already past, I just held onto the bag to give to her for a Christmas present. I used Paton’s Classic Merino Wool in Petal Pink, That’s Pink, and Old Rose for the main part of the bag, and Lion Brand Fun Fur in Hot Pink for the trim. The makeup bag was my own pattern. I just crocheted a rectangle, folded it in half, seamed up the sides, and felted it. I actually managed, with my mediocre hand sewing skills, to sew in a lining (a pink calico floral fabric), and a zipper. I sewed ribbon underneath the handles of the big bag to make them sturdier and to keep them from stretching.


The scarf is my own design as well. I crocheted a long chain (sorry, I can’t remember how many stitches!), and worked a ruffle of two double crochets in the first stitch, three in the second, two in the next stitch, and so on until I reached the end of the chain. I then turned the scarf over, and worked another set of ruffles in a second color through the free loops of the chain in back of the scarf. I then repeated with a third color. I used Bernat Soy in Raspberry (medium pink) and Sugar Cane (pale pink) and Caron Simply Soft in Watermelon for the scarf. This was my first time working with the Bernat Soy, and I loved it! It is so soft and silky, and has a pretty sheen. I liked the finished scarf so much that I was tempted to keep it for myself, but I restrained!

In case you’re wondering, the little boy in the framed photo in back of the scarf is my son at 6 months old (he’ll be 5 years old next month) when his teeth first started coming in. Isn’t he just the cutest?! When I showed my husband the scarf, he told me it’s not going to be warm. I told him of course not, Latanya is in nice warm Texas, she doesn’t need a big, thick scarf! He should know that, because he spent a good chunk of his childhood/teenage years in San Antonio and Houston! I told him, it’s not meant to be warm, it’s a fashion scarf! Men!

I photographed the scarf on this lovely built-in wood cabinet in the downstairs hallway of my 1949 Cleveland-area bungalow. Here’s another shot of it so you can see my Cherished Teddies (Enesco bear figurines) collection, which I started when I was teenager, and which has been so graciously supplemented over the years through gifts from my Dad (who unfortunately passed away a few years ago), one brother, one sister, and my husband.


The next Christmas present is a bath puff for my boss, crocheted in Lily Sugar N’ Cream in the Over the Rainbow color (and hanging from my Christmas tree for photo purposes!). I found the pattern for the puff
here.

It was a fun, fast pattern. I started it on the bus on the way to work this morning, and finished it up earlier this evening. I bought a set of various fruit-scented hand creams, and a soy lotion candle (very cool – you burn the candle, then it melts into a lotion) in a yummy citrus coconut scent to go along with it.

Finally, I have a crocheted cloche and scarf for a coworker, done in a wonderfully soft, discontinued TLC Cara Mia yarn, that I picked up for a bargain on EBay. It’s an acrylic, wool, nylon, angora blend, in shades of tan and cream, and was so nice to work with! I’ve bought every color of it I could find on EBay, and have been scouring EBay for more. I found the pattern for the hat
here.

The pattern called for a chunky weight yarn, and a K hook, but the Cara Mia is a worsted weight, so I used an I hook, and played around with the pattern until I got the hat the right size. I ended up redoing the hat at least 3 times before I got it to come out right. The trim on the hat is Paton’s merino in a chocolate brown color. The scarf was simple – just half double crochets with a shell-stitch border. I gave it to my coworker today, and was trying not to get into the present until Christmas, but her curiosity got the best of her, and she opened it, and loved it!

Now that the Christmas gifts are done, I can start working on some other projects for upcoming occasions. My daughter’s 10th birthday is in January, so I’m going to attempt to make her a crocheted cupcake pillow (as a surprise). I’m also finishing up a bib for my sister-in-law’s soon to be born baby, plus I have plans for a hat and booties for her as well. My mother’s birthday is coming up in February, and she’s been asking me to crochet her a poncho for the longest time, so I need to get started on that as well. Too many projects I want to do and not enough time to crochet!

My daughter is spending the night at her aunt’s house (my oldest sister), so with just one kid at home (my son), I actually had a nice, quiet evening, with some crocheting time! I love my kids, but they wear me out when they’re together! They are 5 years apart in age, and of different genders, so they don’t always get along so well. I know they love each other though – my son usually whines for his “Sissy” when she’s not home, and more than once I’ve seen them sitting quietly together on the couch snuggled up together under a blanket, watching TV. To be honest, I was not really planning on having any more kids after I had my daughter, and if I didn’t get pregnant with my son when I did, I don’t think I would have had any more, Now that I have him though, I’m thankful that my daughter has a sibling to grow up with. I grew up with my five brothers and sisters, and quite often they drove me crazy, and I often wondered what it would be like to be an only child, instead of being crammed in a tiny house with only one bathroom, and no privacy, but as an adult, I’m thankful for the friendship and camaraderie of having so many brothers and sisters.

I don’t know if I’ll have any more blog posts between now and Christmas, so if not, have a wonderful Christmas! Or Kwanzaa or Hanukah!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I'm in Love!

…with Ravelry! I got my invitation to join on Friday, and now I can’t stay off it! I used to waste so much time searching online for photos of projects completed with particular yarns (to see how the yarn actually looks worked up), but now I can just go to Ravelry, type in the name of a yarn, and see photos of projects done with that yarn! How awesome is that?! I also love that I can narrow projects down by knit or crochet, because some yarns (like self-striping or multicolored yarns) look different crocheted than they do knitted. I’m also thrilled that I can swap and buy yarn through Ravelry – now I can buy some discontinued Lion Brand Cotton-Ease colors that I’ve been itching to get my hands on, but can’t buy on EBay without getting outbid! I don’t have any projects posted on Ravelry yet, but if you want to stop by and say hello, my Ravelry name is redhairedlady (of course!).

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Ships Project

My 19 year old nephew (my oldest brother’s son) joined the Air Force recently. He’s stationed in San Antonio right now (my husband grew up there, and says it's a gorgeous city!). My brother, who is in the Navy Reserves told me how much military personnel love receiving mail and packages, so it made me start thinking about possibly participating in some kind of donation program for the troops. Just today I read an article about this organization, The Ships Project, in an email newsletter I got from Creative Knitting magazine. This group collects crocheted, needle knitted (no loom knitted items), or sewn, hats and slippers for American troops stationed overseas. I think it sounds like a good cause, and also a good way to use up stash yarn. I have two almost full skeins of super soft Bernat Satin in red and black left over from another crochet project, and I’ve wanted to use it up, but couldn’t think of anything to do with it. I think I’ll use it to crochet a hat to donate.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Baby Bunting

Well, I received 57 votes on my baby bunting color poll, and the majority (36%) chose the lavender and white color combination, so those are the colors I’m going to use. Thank you to everyone who voted! I decided to use a new yarn from Coats & Clark – TLC Sparkle Soft. I had decided not to buy any more yarn before Christmas, because I need to save money for Christmas gifts, but I listed a leather jacket that I don't wear anymore for sale on Ebay, and if it sells, I think I’ll use the money from that to buy the yarn for the bunting. I need to get started on it soon, because my sister-in-law’s baby is due January 17th, and I wanted give her the bunting right after the baby is born, which doesn’t give me a whole lot of time. I have Christmas week off from work (one of the nice things about working for a church), so hopefully I can get started on it then.

Grannies!

I got the January/February issue of Crochet Today magazine in the mail yesterday (you can see how I’ve gotten it worn out already!), and I’m so excited, because it has a whole section on one of my favorite crochet things – granny squares! There’s a lot of cute granny square projects, and information on crocheting grannies in other shapes besides squares. I tried it out and made a (slightly lopsided) granny triangle!


My youngest sister is getting married next May (I’m going to be the maid of honor, my daughter is going to be a junior bridesmaid, and my son is going to be the ring bearer). I want to crochet her a wedding shawl (as May weather is so variable here in Cleveland), for a bridal shower gift, but was having trouble finding a fancy, but easy pattern. My problem was solved when I read in the article that a triangular granny could be worked until it reaches shawl size! I’m thinking now that I’ll make my sister a triangular granny shawl with a lacy border. Her wedding dress is ivory with periwinkle accents, and her wedding flowers are going to be periwinkle and lavender hydrangeas. Knit Picks has a sport-weight cotton blend yarn (Shine Sport), in what looks like the same shade of blue on her dress, that’s very appropriately named “Hydrangea”. I think I’m going to use that for the shawl. Here are some pictures of the dress (click on the Knit Picks link to see the yarn) – I think the colors are pretty close.

Another thing I really liked from the magazine was some cute crochet hearts (go to www.crochettoday.com and click on the “Free Projects” link). I think a bunch of them in varying shades of pink and red joined together in a long strip would make a great scarf. I have so many ideas for crochet projects floating around in my head that I think I’m never going to get around to making them all!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Book Review

A few months ago, I checked out Kim Werker's crochet book, ”Get Hooked: Simple Steps to Crochet Cook Stuff, and really liked it. When her follow-up book, "Get Hooked Again: Simple Steps to Crochet More Cool Stuff" came out, I put a request hold on it, but the library hasn't even gotten any copies in yet, so I broke down and bought a copy from Amazon.com.






The book is geared towards teenagers, but even though I'm in my thirties, I still really liked it. The first half of the book is crochet instructions, covering hook size, types of hooks, yarn types, reading yarn labels, reading patterns, felting crocheted items, making a gauge swatch, the four basic stitches, etc. The stitch instructions show color photos of hands performing the stitches, which, when I was learning how to crochet, I found so much easier to follow than the black and white line drawings present in so many books. There also instructions on crocheting in the round, and increasing and decreasing stitches. The end of each section of instructions includes a "Try It" pattern that uses the stitches/techniques taught so far.

The second half of the book contains just patterns. There are 15 patterns in the book:

Autumn Striped Scarf
Chunky Hat (shown on cover)
Shelter Your Shades Case
Lacy Choker
Hook Roll
Crochet-Anywhere Tote
Gidget Bucket Hat
Workin' For You Scarf
Fingerless Street Mitts
Juliet Vest
Camo Bag
Flower Power Pillow
Ruby Slippers
Peek-A-Boo Shrug
Honor Roll Vest

I thought the patterns were very cute, especially the Gidget Bucket Hat and the Chunky Hat (the chunky hat is shown on the front cover). There's quite a few patterns I would like to crochet for either myself or my daughter.

Another thing I really liked about this book is that most of the projects use inexpensive yarns that are available at mainstream craft stores, Wal-Mart, etc. One of my pet peeves is crochet books where every pattern is made with $10+ a skein yarns that only specialty yarn shops carry. Not everyone can afford to spend $50 on yarn just to make a hat. Another really nice thing is that each pattern lists the exact yardage of yarn used, rather than just saying "3 skeins of Yarn A". I find that helpful for determining if that partial skein of yarn in my stash would be enough for a project. One last thing I really liked about the book is the biographical information about the designers in the back of the book.

Overall, I felt "Get Hooked Again" was well worth the price (a really reasonable $9.56 on Amazon), and I highly recommend it. If you go to the
Get Hooked website, there's two free patterns (which are not in the book) you can check out.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Little Crocheted Things

Well, I finally got the USB cable for my camera back, after I also couldn’t find the camera! Fortunately my husband found both for me. Sometimes I think he must be part bloodhound, because he’s so good at finding things, LOL!

Anyway, here are two little crocheted things I made last week. The first is a granny square purse I made for my 9 year old niece, who had a sleepover with my daughter last week.
I used some leftover Lion Cotton and Lily Sugar N’ Cream. The pattern is from Better Homes and Gardens 1-2-3 Crochet. The pattern called for a G hook, but I used an H, because I crochet really tightly. I realized after making the purse though that I should have gone ahead and used the G, so the purse would hold its shape better. My niece was really happy with the purse anyway though.

The second is a scrunchie I made for my daughter. It’s just rows of double crochet worked into a ruffle around a ponytail holder. The pattern from was a kids’ crochet book, but I can’t think of the title off hand. I used Bernat Camouflage yarn in the Go Girl color, with some Bernat Super Saver for the trim. My daughter loved the scrunchie, and wants me to make her more in other colors. I figure it’s a good way to use up leftover yarn too.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pay It Forward!

I found this on Knitty Auntie’s blog.

I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this Pay It Forward exchange. Please also tell me what your favorite color(s) is. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days. That is my promise. The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.


If you ask to participate, please leave your email address as well, so I can get in touch with you.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Baby Bunting Colors

I had four days off from work last week, so I completed a few little crochet projects. Unfortunately, I can’t find the USB cord for my digital camera (I don’t have a removable memory card for it yet), so I can’t download the pictures to my blog. Hopefully I’ll find the cord and have the pictures up soon. On other crochet news though, I mentioned in a previous post that I want to crochet a baby bunting for my pregnant sister-in-law, who’s due in January. She's having a girl. I had bought some Red Heart Baby Teri yarn in Lime (discontinued color) and Medium Blue, but when I sat down last night work on the bunting, I realized that it’s impossible to see my stitches in the yarn, because of the fuzziness. I’m sooo disappointed because the yarn is so soft and plush! I gave up in frustration after working on it for about an hour.

I think I’m going to go ahead and buy some different yarn for the bunting (not sure yet what I’ll do with the Baby Teri), but am having a hard time deciding on colors. My sister-in-law’s favorite color is green (hence the Lime Baby Teri), but I’ve been mulling over a few different color combinations. Please vote in my poll, and let me know what color combination you like best!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Birthday Present


A coworker of mine mentioned wanting to learn how to crochet, so she could make a really long, warm scarf. I had offered to teach her how to crochet one day on our lunch break, but she’s taking four college classes right now and uses her lunch breaks to study, so she doesn't have time to learn how to crochet right now. Since she couldn’t make a scarf herself, I made her this one for her birthday next week.

It’s just long rows of single crochet. I used a bulky weight wool/acrylic blend, self- striping yarn, Reynolds Smile, with an “N” hook, and it worked up really quickly. I used less than two skeins for the scarf. If had realized I was going to have some yarn left over, I would have made the scarf longer. The Reynolds Smile usually sells for around $10 a skein, but I found it on clearance for $5 at Knit2Purl2.com. The owner is trying to sell her web business, so she has a lot of great designer type yarns on clearance. Check it out here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

My Daughter's Backpack

After my daughter drove me crazy nagging me about it, I finally finished this backpack for her tonight. She takes a gymnastics class at the YMCA on Friday evenings, and wanted a bag to take with her, so I made her this one. It’s loosely based on a pattern from the book ”Crochet Kid Stuff”. The book has awesome patterns for anyone who crochets for kids ages 6-12 (my daughter is almost 10), which is great, because I’ve found that crochet patterns for kids in that age group are few and far between. Baby and toddler patterns are so easy to find, but it seems like most crochet designers aren’t interested in creating for older kids.

About the backpack, the original pattern called for a ribbon yarn called “YLI Shoelace”, but the only place I could find it for sale was the manufacturer’s website, and they wanted $20 a skein! That was obviously out of the question, so I tried using some Moda Dea Ticker Tape I had at home. The Ticker Tape was too stretchy though, and even crocheted tightly, wouldn’t hold its shape, so I ended up using Bernat Glacier. Worked in single crochet with an “L” hook, the Glacier made a nice sturdy, thick fabric. The yarn is also very shiny and sparkly, which was a plus for a girly backpack.

Some ladies in my Sisters of the Thread group suggested that I line the bag, to keep anything from snagging the crochet and that I line or sew some ribbons to the underside of the straps, to keep them from stretching. Those are good ideas, but I have no sewing skills! I poked myself with the needle a few times just trying to sew the buttons on, LOL! I don’t own a sewing machine (and wouldn’t know how to use one anyway!), so that’s out of the question too. One day I might get up the courage to attempt a lining for the backpack, but for now my daughter will have to use it as is.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Crochet Goodies!

I went to Wal-Mart the other day to pick up a few things, and stopped by the crafts section. I only meant to buy some ribbon and buttons, but course had to take a look at the yarn. I was very excited to see a ton of clearance yarn and crochet books! The aisle was a mess, with yarn all mixed-up, and a lot with labels pulled off, but I found 5 balls of Bernat Cool Crochet in a very pretty Neapolitan color, for $1.50 each (regularly #3.47)! I bought all 5 to make a halter top from Shannon Okey's ”Crochet Style” book.

I picked up some books on clearance, too - "I Can't Believe I'm Knitting! for $7.96, "Crochet Hip Hats" for $3.50 and "Simply Soft Accessories" for $5.00! Yippee! My daughter's school has a "Crazy Hat Day" every year, where the kids can wear hats to school (she goes to a Catholic school, so hats aren't part of the regular dress code), so I'm looking forward to crocheting her a hat from the Hip Hats book to wear that day.

I also recently subscribed to Crochet Today magazine, and got the set of hooks in the mail as a thank-you gift. I love using large crochet hooks! I'm impatient and projects with large hooks work up quickly, plus large hooks are also easier on my wrists, so that was a nice surprise. I used to buy my Crochet Today issues at Wal-Mart, but Wal-Mart only carries it sporadically, which I don't understand. Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a crochet wasteland here in Cleveland, because so few stores around here carry crochet magazines. Same thing for crochet books. The one bookstore we have in downtown Cleveland (where I work), a Borders Express, only carries knitting magazines, and has maybe one crochet book among a bunch of knitting books. Go figure!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Baby Gifts

Finally I have a completed crochet project to show!

This is a baby bathrobe I crocheted for my pregnant sister-in-law, Gehan who is having a girl in January. The pattern is from the February/March '07 issue of Crochet Today magazine (I love that magazine!). The pattern called for Red Heart Cupid yarn, but I didn't have any (and don't think I could have used it anyway, because I can't crochet with very textured yarns – I can't see the stitches). I ended up using some Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in the discontinued ”Strawberry Cream” color. I had bought seven skeins of it from a lady on the Yahoo Cotton-Ease group, and was saving it to make a summer top or sweater for myself, but the pink color just screamed "baby gift"! The pattern also called for Red Heart Baby Clouds for the trim, but I hate that yarn (gets fuzzy too quickly), so I used Bernat Baby Lash in “Wee White”. I had some difficulty seeing my stitches in it, but managed to work with it anyway. The Cotton-Ease was very nice to work with. I'm really disappointed though that Lion Brand discontinued the old Cotton-Ease colors. I think they're so much prettier than the new colors, and the old stuff feels softer to me too. In any case, the pattern was pretty easy to follow, and I finished the bathrobe in about 4 days, using a little over two skeins of the Cotton-Ease, and a small amount of the Baby Lash.

Gehan's baby shower was today, so I put the bathrobe, a granny square blanket I crocheted and a gift pack of baby bath supplies in a lined wicker basket, and that was her gift. Here's the blanket:
I used Bernat Satin in the “Bahamas” and “Spring” colors for the blanket. I realize it's not the best picture. I have a new camera, and am still trying to figure out how to use it well. Gehan really liked the gifts and everyone at the shower raved about the bathrobe. I had a pretty good time as well. Gehan is Muslim, and some of her female relatives wear the hijab, and cannot take it off around men except for their spouses, and they wanted to get comfortable, so the men (my husband, brother, Joe, and nephews) were all kicked out of the house, LOL! My son, being only four, was allowed to stay though, and had fun playing with his girl cousins.

This baby will make kid number 6 for Gehan and Joe. Joe has three sons from his first marriage and Gehan has a son and a daughter from her first marriage. Gehan's daughter is the same age as my daughter - they're both 9, and they get along really well, so that's a big plus. Gehan is a great lady, and I'm happy for her and Joe that they are expecting, and that she's part of my family but I can't help but feel a twinge of sadness, as I was also pregnant recently, but suffered a miscarriage.

I got pregnant in May with my third child, and was due exactly a month after Gehan - she is due January 17th, and I was due February 17th. My husband and I weren't planning on having any more kids, and I had tried to have my tubes tied after my son was born, but I had two surgeries on my colon in the past, and have so much internal scar tissue in my abdominal area, that my doctor couldn't even find my tubes when he cut me open to tie them. During my pregnancy with my son, I bled off and on through the pregnancy, quite heavily during the first few months, but he was still a healthy, full-term baby.

This time I started bleeding about a month into the pregnancy, and had two ultrasounds to try to determine the cause, but everything looked fine. At the second ultrasound at about 11 weeks, I was able to see the baby moving, and its heart beating, and got some ultrasound pictures to take home. I continued to bleed however, and although I'm not normally a very intuitive person, I just kept having a constant nagging feeling that something was wrong with the baby. Every time I would think about buying baby things, or crocheting something for the baby, something would tell me not to, in case something went wrong with the baby. My youngest sister however is very intuitive, has had dreams in the past about things that have come true, including my getting pregnant with a third child. She even accurately predicted the sex of all of my nieces and nephews. While I was pregnant this time, she said she kept forgetting I was pregnant, and kept having a feeling of emptiness, of nothingness about the baby.

At 13 weeks, I went to the doctor for a prenatal visit, and he tried to listen to the baby's heartbeat, but couldn't find it. He said that sometimes the heartbeat can't be heard outside of an ultrasound that early in the pregnancy, and that it was nothing to worry about. Three weeks later, at the end of August, I went in for another prenatal visit, and when the doctor still couldn't find a heartbeat, he sent me for an ultrasound that same day. I went to the ultrasound, and knew something was wrong when I saw my baby on the screen perfectly still, and the line for a heartbeat was flat. Still hoping everything would be OK, I asked the technician if she saw a heartbeat, and she just said she couldn't tell me, and asked when I was supposed to talk to my doctor. I told her I didn't know, that he just said he would call me when he got the ultrasound results, and that I couldn't stand going all weekend (this was a Friday evening) without not knowing if my baby was alive. When she saw me on the verge of tears, she told me the baby was gone, that it appeared the baby had died about 3 weeks earlier.

Needless to say, I was heartbroken, and I had a very long and depressing Labor Day weekend. After several more doctor visits, and an agonizing second ultrasound (because the technician's supervisor had mistakenly wrote that the baby was alive on the report from the first ultrasound), I had a D&C a week later.

My daughter took the news about the baby well, but my son was devastated. He was so looking forward to being a big brother. He hates being the littlest in the family, and bawled when I told him the baby had died. I'm thankful though that I had a lot of support from my husband and family, friends, and from a few kind women at my job that had also gone through miscarriages. The logical part of me knows that it's probably for the best that I lost the baby, because I was feeling overwhelmed by the idea of starting over with a baby, with diapers, and bottles, and sleepless nights, and I worried about the financial aspects of it, but the emotional side of me can't help but feel a bit sad when I see my sister-in-law pregnant, and see other women with babies.

I find crocheting therapeutic though, even when it's making baby stuff. I have a few more baby items I plan to crochet for Gehan if I have the time. Gehan's favorite colors are green and blue, so I bought some Red Heart Baby Teri yarn in a discontinued Lime color, from a seller on EBay, and am going to use it to crochet a baby bunting, hat, and booties for Gehan. I'm going to start on it after I finish up some Christmas presents I'm working on.

Friday, November 9, 2007

How I Learned to Crochet

Hello, and welcome to my blog! I hope you like it! I thought I'd write my first post about how I learned how to crochet, so here it is:

I enjoy painting and stenciling wood items, and last year was browsing Joann.com looking for stencils and paint. I saw an ad on their website for Knifty Knitter knitting looms. I clicked on the ad, and was fascinated. I had always thought it would be great to be able to make hats and scarves for my kids, but had no knitting or crochet skills. My mother tried to teach me and my younger sister how to crochet when I was about 9, and my sister was 7, but I couldn't grasp making anything other than chains. Fast forward to 2006, and I couldn't even remember how to do that! Upon seeing the looms, I did a little research on them, read reviews of them, and ordered a set. Once I got the looms, and figured out how to use them, I was hooked! I made a bunch of hats, a few scarves, a pair of mittens, and even a full-bed sized blanket for my sister (done in panels).

After a while though, I became frustrated with the looms. They are a very large gauge, and so require using multiple strands of any yarns that are less than a super bulky weight, which ends up using quite a bit of yarn.
D├ęcor Accents (and a few other places) sell beautiful handcrafted wood knitting looms in a variety of gauges, but they are pricey. There was also such a limited variety of loom knitting patterns out there at the time, although this is improving, as interest in loom knitting grows.

Around this time, I received a Lion Brand yarns catalog in the mail, and fell in love with this gorgeous
granny square blanket, and decided it would be perfect for my then 8 year old daughter (in more girly colors, of course). Not knowing how to crochet at all however, I needed to learn the basic stitches, so I bought a Lion Brand Learn to Crochet kit, complete with pink (my favorite color!) yarn, a jumbo pink crochet hook, and instructions to make a pretty openwork scarf. I eagerly sat down with the yarn and the hook, and figured out how to make a chain, but after numerous attempts at trying to make a single crochet, gave up in frustration. I got a learn to crochet book out of the library after that, and felt totally stupid because I could not comprehend any of it. I finally resigned myself to not being able to learn how to crochet, and went back to my looms, using the pink yarn to loom knit a child's hat for a charity hat and mitten collection at my job. I thought about taking a crochet class at a Joann's store, but balked at paying $40 for a class, and I didn't know anyone else who crocheted who could teach it to me. My mother crocheted when I was a kid, but hasn't crocheted in years, and had pretty much forgotten the stitches.


A few months later, in February of this year, I came across this DVD on Joann.com: - Leisure Arts' "I Can’t Believe I’m Crocheting!". After reading rave reviews about it on Amazon.com, I used a 50% off coupon, and got it for $10 at Joann's. I sat down and watched the DVD before attempting any stitches, and was eager to get out some yarn and a hook and practice the stitches, but life interrupted.

I work in very cold downtown Cleveland, and was walking to the bus stop after work one evening, when I stepped on what I thought was a puddle in an alley, but which was actually a patch of ice. I promptly slipped, fell backwards, and landed right on my wrists. I came down so hard that my messenger bag I always bring to work flew off my shoulder and landed a few feet behind me. I felt instantaneous pain all through my right arm, wrist, and hand so bad that I had to sit there for a few minutes before I could manage to get up. My arm felt like it was on fire, and my hand was so swollen I couldn't use it at all.

I managed to make it to the bus stop and stood there in incredible pain, holding my arm, waiting for the bus to come. When it finally came after what felt like an hour wait (but in reality was only about 10 minutes), I had to try to fish my bus pass out of my left inside coat pocket and get on the bus without any use of my right hand. Fortunately, I was taking what's called a "Park & Ride" bus that day (a bus that picks up riders from a parking lot, where they can leave their cars, and ride straight downtown without the bus making any additional stops), and my husband was picking me up at the Park & Ride lot . When I finally got there, we headed straight to the emergency room, and after an aggravating five hours, found out I had broken my wrist, and possibly my thumb as well. I went home with my hand, wrist, and forearm in a cast so tight my fingers turned bluish. After a very loonngg three days in the cast, and an appointment with an orthopedist, I was able to get my cast removed, and got a much more comfortable wrist brace.

I still had very limited usage of my right hand however. I had to learn how to brush my teeth, zip my pants, and eat with only one hand. I have long hair, and rarely leave it down, as it annoys me, but I couldn't manage to get my hair in a ponytail with one hand. I tried to recruit my husband to put in a ponytail for me, but it was so loose, looked so bad I promptly took it out. I ended up spending the next few weeks at home, on medical leave from work, totally depressed, frustrated and bored, not to mention broke, as I only got 50% pay for my leave, and my husband was laid off from work at the time, and collecting unemployment pay. Any other time, having 3 weeks off from work might have been nice, but I couldn't do much of anything with only having full usage of one hand. Surfing the Internet with my left hand stunk, I type two-handed, and so typing with one hand took forever and was barely worth the effort, and I couldn't hold a pen or pencil to write anything. I could read, but I couldn't hold a book. And of course, I couldn't practice my crocheting. Or could I?

One evening after a day of complete boredom, after putting my kids to bed, and tired of watching TV, I got out a crochet hook, and found that I could maneuver it even with a brace on. For the next few nights, I sat on the couch with my wrist throbbing, and practiced making chains and single crochets. When I finally had a swatch, I was absolutely thrilled! After a month from the time I broke it, my wrist was pronounced healed, and I was able to head full-speed into learning to crochet, although I still wore the brace when crocheting for a few weeks afterwards, as my wrist would get sore without it. Unfortunately, even now, my wrist still gets sore if I spend more than about an hour at a time crocheting, but I keep a tube of Icy-Hot cream in my crochet bag for those times.

After getting the basic crochet stitches down, I began eyeing that granny square blanket again, and the pattern was ranked "Easy", but granny squares still looked impossibly difficult to me. Luckily though, I found out about a crafting group, the Sisters of the Thread, at my job. The group does crocheting, knitting, beading, quilting, etc. They meet once week during lunch time in the building, so I decided to join, and some wonderful ladies taught me to make granny squares! I never did get around to making that Lion Brand granny square blanket though, partly because I realized I hate having to sew or crochet multiple squares together, and partly because I really dislike the recommended yarn (Lion Brand Jiffy, and haven't found a good substitute for it). I had used it awhile ago to crochet a small blanket for my son to take to daycare, and it was rather scratchy, and got fuzzy almost immediately. My son loves the fuzziness though, because he likes to pull "fuzzes" off the blanket while he holds it and sucks his thumb.

After my daughter repeatedly asking when she was going to get a crocheted blanket, I started on a "granny rectangle" blanket for her. The pattern came from a label on a skein of Bernat Super Value yarn. Instead of starting the granny in the round, it starts with a long chain, with double crochet groups worked around both sides of the chain, which makes it form a rectangle instead of a square. I'm using Bernat Camouflage yarn in "Go Girl Camo", which looked fairly pink when I saw it online, but which is actually mostly shades of purple with only a dab of pink. I'm doing a border in Bernat Super Value in a purple shade. I'm about 75% done with the blanket, but ran out of the camo yarn. I bought 8 skeins of the camo, and thought that would be sufficient, but here it turns out I actually need about 13. My daughter keeps asking me when her blanket will be done, and as we're heading into winter here in Cleveland, and the nights are freezing, I'd better get going on finishing it. Well, that's the very long story about how I learned to crochet! Hopefully that wasn't TOO boring!

Right now, my crocheting goals are to:

1) Improve my crocheting skills so I can handle patterns that aren't only labeled "beginner" or "easy".

2) Learn how to make a variety of fancy crochet borders (right now I can only do shell stitch, picots, and ruffles).

3) Be able to tackle crochet garments, and items that require more than simple shaping. I have Debbie Stoller's "Happy Hooker" book, and there's so many gorgeous clothing items in there I'd love to make if I had the skills.

4) Find a second crochet group to join. The ladies in my Sisters of the Thread group are wonderful, but I'm the only "young" person in the group that comes to meetings, and most of the women that come regularly have grown children and/or grandchildren, while I'm still dealing with younger kids at home, homework, etc. It would be nice to meet some crocheting women closer to my age group. From looking at crochet blogs online, and the popularity of "The Happy Hooker", apparently a lot of younger woman are into crochet, but I just haven't met any yet. My local library has a knitting and crochet group that meets once a month or so, but I don't know how to drive, and I don't want to bother my husband to drop me off and pick me up there, not to mention that he works nights now, and is usually resting in the evenings before he goes to work. I do belong to an online Yahoo! crochet group, Crochet Partners, and it's wonderfully helpful, but it's not the same as belonging to a group in person.

5) Teach my daughter to crochet (or get her signed up for a crochet class). She's been asking me about it a lot, and there's a Girl Scout "Yarn & Fabric Arts" badge (she's a Junior Girl Scout) she can earn, which learning to crochet would count towards. She also tells me that few girls in her class at school (she's in 4th grade) crochet during "indoor recess" (when it's too cold or wet for the kids to go out to play), and she'd like to be able to crochet then too. I did try to sit down with her one day and teach her how to crochet, but I guess I'm not a very good teacher, because she couldn't even make a chain. I've been wanting to take her to a kids' crochet class at Joann's, and they're only $20, which is a bargain for a two hour, two session class, but again, not knowing how to drive makes it difficult to get her to a class. And yes, I realize more and more that I need to learn how to drive. I'm just afraid that I wouldn't be able to learn. I've never been very good at "physical" things. I didn't even learn how to ride a bike until I was 17, and my younger sister taught me. I want to sign up for driving lessons through a driving school (I think I'd feel more comfortable having someone "objective" teach me rather than my husband doing it), but the $300 cost is a big obstacle. I was encouraged lately about learning how to drive by reading about Isela Phelps and her adventures in learning how to drive. She got her license just a few weeks ago on her 30th birthday - very exciting!

6) And finally, I want to learn how to needle knit. I still love crocheting, but I always see these gorgeous needle knit patterns (Isela has some beautiful patterns on her website) that I wish I could make. I bought a knitting DVD - Leisure Arts' "I Can’t Believe I’m Knitting!" from Joann's and a pair of knitting needles, now I just need to find the time to sit down and get started with it. I'm rather intimidated by the idea of learning how to knit, as it looks so much more difficult than crochet, but if that DVD is as good as the "I Can't Believe I'm Crocheting" DVD, hopefully I'll get the hang of it.

Whew, I think I covered everything! Stay tuned for more posts with some pictures of crochet projects I'm working on, and maybe some news about my learning how to knit!