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!