All Wrapped Up

When I found a bag of yarn – well not hard in my house – in cakes rather than skeins, I was thrilled. I loved the feel of the yarn. However, one skein of each color was in the bag. So what do you make with a single skein of yarn? Well I opted to make scarves. It was fun to design different combinations of stitches to create these scarves. In there you will find more than just the one type of yarn as I had other yarns that made the pile. I took pictures of the yarn and asked my nieces and nephews do you want. I got a variety of answers.

However, I want to thank my models Aimee Jahns, Lara and Brian Zielinski, and Rebecca Schreier for donning my creations and showing them off. Lara Zielinski and Victoria Troemel for taking the pictures. Victoria Troemel for making the covers. Without the support of these people, these patterns would be sitting in the bottom of a drawer.

Three booklets with nine patterns each of scarves. Twenty seven scarf patterns which take a night or two to make. Need to make donations or presents? Try out these new patterns.

Book 1

Book 2

Book 3

Bib Bundle

After some technical difficulties – here’s my newest crochet pattern book!

Expecting a bundle of joy? Here’s a bundle of bibs! Easy patterns which can be completed in an evening. These bibs cover more of the baby’s clothes helping to reduce the number of changes in a day (of clothes – not diapers). Made with crochet cotton, they are durable and washable. Different sizes to grow with your baby.

Expecting a bundle of joy? Here’s a bundle of bibs! Easy patterns which can be completed in an evening. These bibs cover more of the baby’s clothes helping to reduce the number of changes in a day (of clothes – not diapers). Made with crochet cotton, they are durable and washable. Different sizes to grow with your baby.

These patterns are made with crochet cotton. Crochet cotton is like terry cloth so you can throw these in the washer with your towels. The cotton is durable so won’t wear out.

Some patterns are smaller to fit newborns while others are larger so they can grow with the new edition.

Three of these patterns appeared in a Pattern Pack Pro in February 2019. I’ve added three new patterns to this leaflet. All will make practical and beautiful bibs for the babies in your life.

Available for $9.99 on Amazon and Smashwords

For more crochet patterns check out my website.

Yarn and Other Delights

I’ve been so busy over the last few months, I’ve barely had time to breath let alone think about putting two coherent thoughts together. One thing I’ve been doing – crocheting.

This weekend I went to a huge sale at Herrschners. It was LOVELY. Yes I know it was shopping but I got to look at a lot of discounted yarn. Some of it was totally worth it and some was just meh.

More important, I got to spend time with my middle daughter and a friend. It’s a two hour drive. We had good conversation, fun craft shopping, and good food.

We were up at the butt crack of dawn which is not my favorite time of day at all. But it is a two hour drive one way. We were home by mid afternoon. Not only was it fun to shop / buy but it was fun to come home and sort it out, label it (yup my daughter claimed some of it) and organize it.

crochet cotton and scrubby yarn

I got a ton of crochet cotton. This is the yarn I use the most. I make a lot of dishcloths, coasters, pot holders, and so much more. I got cones that were a third off the regular price. Sorry – for those who don’t crochet – a cone is a large (cone shaped) spool of crochet cotton. It comes in skeins – about 3 oz typically – or cones which are several times larger than the skeins.

I found a number of skeins for only $1. A FREAKING dollar! Most skeins range in price from $2-3 up. Some of the skeins for a dollar were originally $5-8 a skein.

My daughter pushed the cart. We tried to stay together but she wandered away while I chatted with a YouTube crafter. When I saw her next, the cart was full – though yarn is squishy so it wasn’t really full.

Yarn, yarn, and more yarn!
First table full

I went with the intention of getting yarn for three projects and some accessories. The yarn part I was successful on but I opted to get some of the accessories from Amazon and I’m still looking for the rest.

In the process of talking about what I wanted, I realized I needed to get the patterns off my phone and into documents and folders so I could work on publishing. I started sending them to my email. I really need to do this process more often because I ended up sending 58 files to my email. Now I have the tedious process getting them into files on my flashdrive.

I’m working on three leaflet/books – maybe actual books rather than just single patterns. The three are going to be – Spa Day, Scarves, and Kitchen. I might do another blanket one as I’ve got one already done and three more in mind but this will likely be a leaflet rather than a book.

I’ve got two weeks of vacation coming up shortly. I cannot wait. My initial plan was to write the entire time. That isn’t going to happen. I let it be known I was taking vacation and now the universe has interfered. One of my daughters is coming home for a short visit. I’ve got an editing job. There’s a holiday during these two weeks so others will be home. So much for a writing retreat right at home.

It’s been a long time since I’ve indulged in yarn shopping like this. I’ve been working to use up my stash. This was fun and well worth it. Thank you Vicki for my two gifts – birthday and Christmas. Guess what’s on my list for this Christmas.

Getting a Project Started

Recently I pulled out a bag of yarn and said, I’m going to use up all of these cakes. I only had one skein or cake of each color. This limits what I can make from these as they were each multi-colored. Combining the colors was not really an option.

I decided I was going to design a bunch of scarves for a booklet. Now who wanted the product? Well a variety of people. A couple of nieces, a daughter, a couple of friends, a nephew all volunteered to take the end product.

These videos (and these are only my second set of videos so please be kind) show how to get started with a project.

Items needed for a crochet project
Getting started and yarn issues
The beginning chain – or foundation crochet
The beginning of the pattern

Now after I shot these videos, I realized I didn’t like the pattern I show so I made some changes. Okay a lot of changes. I did still start with a foundation single crochet (fsc) but the pattern was completely different.

Final Product

How I Design

I’ve made my own patterns for decades. I love using yarn and my hook to make something that I need or want. My obsession with crochet started at 12 and has worked it’s way from something fun to a passion.

I like the exploration of designing and the creativity. What does it look like if I combine this stitch with this stitch? Or what happens when I use this technique in a little different way?

Here is a series of videos where I talk about design. They are short (around a minute) and experimental on my part. I’ve never done videos before so please be kind about the unprofessional camera work.

Video 1 on designing a crochet pattern
Video 2 on designing a crochet pattern
Video 3 on designing a crochet pattern
Video 4 on designing a crochet pattern
Video 5 on designing a crochet pattern
Video 6 on designing a crochet pattern

These videos should give a basic outline of what I go through when I design a project. I spend a lot of time considering what the yarn will look like, how it will work up, and what the individual will like. I also take into consideration the purpose of the project. All of these thoughts go into the design and then there’s the oh shit that’s not going to work moment where I end up ripping out and starting new or changing the design completely.

Open for Business.

I took the plunge today and started my shop on my website. This is an exciting step for me. I’m able to offer discounts and sales more easily than anywhere else.

Right now there’s only a few items listed. I’ve got two book series listed for sale and a few crochet patterns which can be downloaded right from my site!

This shop feature is one of the reasons I switched to the new website. It offers me the opportunity to have more control over the price of my items. There are a variety of features which offer a lot of options that aren’t available elsewhere.

Please go to the Shop and wander around. At the bottom on the product page is a place for you to like a product, if you so wish.

Over the next few weeks, my plan is to add all of my books, short stories, and crochet patterns. I also plan to add completed crochet items which will be one time offers available to the first person to purchase.

Crochet Hooks

Custom window scarf made to keep the fur babies warm while they sprawled in a big picture window

As you can tell from reading my blog I love to crochet. I love to take yarn and create something I know someone is going to use and enjoy. It doesn’t matter what it is – blanket, scarf, household item. I like making the things. Most of my projects have gone to family members like the window scarf.

I’ve talked about yarn which is key and I’m sure there will be more yarn posts as I keep crocheting. Currently I have some velvet yarn I’m looking forward to working with.

Hooks are the other tool I use with my crocheting in. Crochet hooks are set in two categories – steel and aluminum. Steel crochet hooks are not like steel I beams. They are the tiny small hooks used for doilies, thread, floss and other small yarn / thread projects. These come in sizes (in the US) 00 – 14. The higher the number the smaller the hook. I don’t work with them often as they hurt my hand. Today I discovered they have some hooks which are ergonomic. They are on my ‘to buy’ list to try out.

My Grandmother’s Steel Crochet Hook

The aluminum crochet hooks are for all your other projects. They typically come in sizes from B to S though some letters are skipped. I’ve never seen an O or R hook. The larger ones are usually L, M, N, P, Q, S. B through J are the typical ones used with. B is used for things made with baby yarn.

I’ve crocheted since I was twelve – that’s over forty years. I started with Susan Bates Crochet Hooks.  These are good quality, sturdy hooks which don’t bend or break easily. I have several sets ranging in size and have multiples of G, H, I, J. G and H are the two sizes most commonly used (at least by me). Typically I use a worsted weight size yarn with these sizes. This means scarves, hats, mittens, shawls, and anything you make with a medium weight yarn.

Along with the aluminum hooks, Susan Bates has Crystallites Acrylic hooks. These are the bigger hooks typically L through S in some combination. Now these hooks are for the larger yarns like Bernat Blanket Fleece, Premier Serenity Chunky, or other bulky sized yarn. I own a few of these Crystallites hooks. They are good but get dinged up a bit after long term use. These hooks and this size yarn are great for scarves, blankets, and so on. The nice thing with using the bigger yarn, the project works up really quickly. So a blanket made with worsted weight yarn will take much longer than one worked with a bulky yarn.

Recently I was gifted with a set of bamboo crochet hooks. These are really lightweight but still have the smaller handle. They feel flimsy but work nicely. I’d consider them as reliable as the Susan Bates hooks. Full disclosure, I haven’t used them much because I’ve gotten the ergonomic crochet hooks.

Over the last few years, I’ve seen the hooks with stuff on the handle making the handles thicker. Now for some reason when it comes to crocheting, I’m a stick in the mud. I’ve always done something a particular way and that’s “the way” it SHOULD be done. I’ve come to this realization recently when I got smacked by an afghan I made for my daughter. I learned I still have things to learn. This makes crocheting even more exciting to me. Most of the fancy hook handles I saw were more decorative than useful. My thoughts on them is I don’t want to hold a mermaid in my hand when I’m crocheting for hours. The odd shape will dig into my hand.

Kitchen Set including dishcloth, sponge, and potholder made with crochet cotton

I’ve had arthritis since I was 14. Now my hands were not the joints this affected so no problem. But in the last few years, I’ve noticed my hands are slowing down. Holding the smaller hooks has gotten more difficult. I get crochet arm, shoulder, back – think tennis elbow but instead caused by crocheting too much.

My daughter encouraged me to try one of the hooks with the larger handle. We were craft shopping and I was looking at them. It started a discussion and my stubborn – I’ve done this a particular way for years kicked in. She rarely lets me get away with this and convinced me to buy one.

Holy mackerel! I worked with it reluctantly and realized my hands didn’t hurt. I could crochet longer and faster. This is always a good thing. I have two sets from Joann’s with a wooden handle which I love. I looked on their site to give you a link but couldn’t find a link which makes me worry because I think I might want a few more of a few select sizes.

Once I realized I liked the ergonomic hooks, I got another set from Amazon. This sent has a rubber over the handle which is smooth and built up to help with the soreness I usually get from the slimmer hooks. These hooks are lovely and sturdy. I like the pliable handle. The one complaint I have is I like a longer hook size, these have a little shorter hook part. I’d rather then handle part were a little shorter and the hook part a little longer.

Ultimately, you have to buy one or two of a brand for your hook, try it, and see if it fits your hand. Even if you’ve been crocheting for a long time like me, don’t hesitate to try crocheting with a new style of hooks. Try them and see what you think.

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Three Day Weekend!

It’s always nice to have an extra day in my weekend. This weekend I went to the City Market at the Whitewater Public Library. I had my books and crochet items and my niece took her jewelry she’s been making.

Winter before our tree came down

The day did not start out great with about 6″ of snow falling overnight. But we took her SUV rather than my car. Her vehicle is higher off the ground than mine so it made sense since our road wasn’t plowed yet.

I figured this sale would be a wash. The weather sucked and people were still digging out. But I was wrong. There wasn’t great traffic but we had about a hundred people come through. Many of them said they walked rather than drove which completely makes sense. Thank you to them for braving the snow and weather!

Most of my day was spent on going to the City Market and then spending time with my niece after. She dug through some of the rocks we have here. We also talked a lot about how to improve our set up.

By the time she left, I was wiped but one of my customers asked for a custom crochet item so I went to buy the yarn for that. We ran a couple of errands before we came home for the night. My hope was I would spend the rest of the weekend at home getting work done.

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Nope. I ended up going out yesterday morning to Michaels for yarn shopping. They are having a buy 2 get 1 free sale on their yarn. Now this is a time when I’d like to have a stash of money. I bought yarn for two blankets and a couple of other projects but it’s a great deal especially when you’re looking at the Bernat Blanket. Between coupons and the sale, I paid only about $6.66 a skein. This is a great deal.

After I purchased the yarn for the custom project, the person contacted me and wanted something different so I had to go buy different colors of the Lion Brand Hometown yarn which I used to make a hat. This yarn is soft, warn and bulky. Bulky means it works up quick. I was able to finish the project in about an hour, maybe a bit less.

After that I worked on a scarf made with Loopity Loop yarn. I do not recommend this yarn. It’s by Big Twist and some of their yarn is wonderful but I’m a lot disappointed with this. So the premise of this yarn is that you don’t need to know how to knit or crochet but can just weave through the loops to create different things.

First this is a new technique to the person but there are no directions to go with it. Other brands have done this by putting instructions on the inside of the label. I had to go to their website to find directions. Not hard but time consuming.

Second this is time consuming. With my crochet hook, I can take the same size yarn and create a scarf or blanket in half the time this weaving takes.

Third we initially bought one skein thinking that would be enough to make a scarf. From the ounces, I would have thought so but know. We ended up back there on Sunday and buying two more.

This leads to my fourth grumble about this year. Regular price is $11.99 on these. So if you want to make a long infinity scarf from this you need approximately three skeins making your scarf cost almost $36. That is ridiculous. I can buy a skein of Bernat Blanket for $10.99 at the highest and make a scarf out of that in an hour or so. Making it much more cost effective to buy the Bernat yarn.

It always makes me sad when have high hopes for a yarn. The quality of the yarn is good, sturdy, soft, warm. But the other features are just absolutely disappointing.

I finished my day yesterday with some paid editing and then editing of my own by rereading / editing one of my own books. I do this by pulling it up on Kindle and highlighting the text I want to change.

Mom and Aimee (I think)

Today has all been computer work, catching up on emails, posting things, checking social media, and a few other things. Before the day is done, I’ll probably spend an hour working on my mother’s photo albums. There are so many of them and it would be nice to get a few cleared out. I’ve got four or five ready to let the family know and a few others that are in maybe piles but I’d like to get through first sort of all of them. This will allow me to pull the ones I already have electronically.

Once I get that round of sorting done, it will be a matter of picking an album and going through to see what needs scanning. I’ve already got a HUGE box of those albums. It’s going to be a time consuming project for the next year or so. I haven’t even looked at the slides – hundreds, possibly thousands of them. Those may have to be dealt with separately / differently.

Not Really Scrap Yarn

In a week, I’m going to a city market sale. This is the first time I’ve really done anything like this. I didn’t have a lot of stock built up so I was feeling nervous about it. My craft room is in chaos with moving things in and out of my house and the holidays. I’ve not had a chance to go in, dig in, and get it organized again.

Flower valance made for middle daughter

I sent my husband in to my pickling crock. There’s a giant pickling crock (old days they made gallons of pickles in these large crocks) which I use for storing my scrap balls of yarn. With my worsted weight yarn, I saved it all for my mom who made slippers out of it.

Ken hasn’t a clue about yarn – other than I spend money on it. I sent him in with instructions to grab me six or seven balls. From the first group of balls he grabbed I made three headbands, three hats, a scarf, and a shawl.

Leaves on the flower valance

Last night I knew I was going to be done with the yarn he brought me so I asked him to go yarn ball hunting for me again. I finished off the shawl from the first group and looked at the next group. Two of the balls really called to me – one because it was super soft and the other because it was large (oversized) yarn which I knew would make up quick. I used the supersized yarn to make another headband. The super soft yarn – also bigger yarn – called to me. This is so soft you feel like you’re floating when you touch it. I love the yarn – the problem – too little yarn for a headband. So what am I going to do with it? Plus it is orange – a bright and often difficult color for a lot of people. So I came up with an idea. I grabbed a smaller ball (yup left over from the first round of projects). It was gray – a nice calm color to contrast the brightness of the orange. I created a border. Now I worried it would be too much of a contrast because it was smaller yarn and drastically different color. To be fair, the base in orange was a make and tear out about three times before I got the yarn to go as far as I needed it to. This also meant it wasn’t quite long enough for a headband.

Daisy Coasters

The gray had to tone down the orange, add length and width to the headband, and make the piece long enough to be an actual headband. A lot of work for a little ball of yarn. However, I think it worked out nicely. In fact I liked it so much I’ve written up the pattern.

In the last couple weeks, I’ve made coasters, dishcloths, headbands, scarf, shawl, and hats all for this city market I’m going to in an effort to promote my books and sell my crocheting.

Lots of dishcloths

I always struggle with pricing but I’m researching and getting things organized. By Friday night, I’m hoping to have more done. I’m also hoping to get the pricing on all the items. I want to have my boxes all organized and ready to go so Saturday morning, it’s a matter of putting them in my car and going.

To me it’s a challenge when I’m given a ball of yarn to see how far I can stretch it. Will it make a hat or do I need to stretch it? If I combine these two different yarns will they look good together or am I being too daring? But those little balls of yarn can actually make some very interesting things. It may sound crazy – but hey not the first time I’ve been called that – but let the yarn tell you what it wants to be.

New Crochet Patterns!

There are six new crochet patterns available on Amazon and Smashwords.  They will be available more places in a couple of days.  These have been done patterns but I just haven’t had time to go through all the steps for publishing.  I hope you like them.  

Thread Bookmarks
Need a small gift? Looking for items to make for a craft fair? Try these eight easy bookmarks. Made with crochet cotton, they work up quick allowing you to build inventory.
Amazon
Smashwords

Braided Scarf
For the beginner, this pattern is easy to assemble while offering a stunning end product. The chain group weaves into a braided look for this extra long scarf.
Amazon
Smashwords



Spiral Hat
Round and round you go, working two colors in tandem. This styling hat is warm and fun.
Amazon
Smashwords


Tree Hanging
Made with single crochet, this wall hanging adds a seasonal touch to any room. Use the copper (as shown) for a fall flare, or green for a summer flare. Use white or silver for a winter look and spring, simply add some small light green French knots.
Amazon
Smashwords


Triangular Doily
Light and different, this doily works up nicely to provide a beautiful decoration for any room. Worked in crochet cotton size 10, this is durable as well as decorative.
Amazon
Smashwords

Triple Triangle Afghan
Worked with triple crochets, this works up in under twelve hours.  The pattern is easy for the beginner and makes a beautiful blanket for your home or as a gift.
​Amazon
Smashwords