Sunday, January 29, 2017

A home for my woollen charity projects

I made a really exciting discovery this week. My fortnightly Yak and Yarn charity crochet group meeting was coming up. This always spurs me onwards to activity so that I can go to the meeting with something to contribute: a new pattern for us to try out, some completed products to donate... you get the idea.


Anyway, we have a sweet new member who is super keen and getting through my donated yarn stash at high speed. The softest acrylic is almost gone and there is just the itchy type left. I have an issue with working with it. I'm not quite sure how I become so sensitive to scratchy yarn but I do think that some of it is related to living in a warmer climate. When it's humid and you're feeling a little hot the fibers do chafe. I've gone soft since I moved to Texas. Another theory of mine is that I have been exposed to far too much gorgeously soft wool in the yarn store where I teach. Soft AND spoilt!

I do have some donated wool in my stash but the local charities we crochet for prefer items that are machine washable. My wool is hand wash only. But this week I found a charity, the Warm Hands Network, that actually prefers wool because it's warmer. The projects go mostly to Northern Canadian children. There is a Ravelry group too which of course I've joined. The garment I was talking about last week has been put to one side and I've started on a blanket of approximately 36" x 36" dimensions.

I do adore the bobble blanket that I made back here and I found this diagonal bobble striped blanket on Ravelry: The Blackberry Salad Striped Baby Blanket by the rather marvellous Tamara Kelly of the Moogly Blog. I'm guesstimating about having equal quantities of orange and brown colors. I should really just make the calculation and figure out how much I need but I'm missing a yarn label or two and I find it oddly entertaining examining the yarn as I go along wondering if I have sufficient. We all have our quirks! The bobble stitch pattern IS rather yarn hungry and when I look at the picture above it doesn't seem to add up. I may need to supplement to complete it but that's OK. And time is on my side because there are two main shipment dates and I can't possibly make the closest date Jan 30th.

I'd love to know if you know of another charity that accepts wool and/or if you have a charity project on the go... just comment below! Have a wonderful week y'all!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

1st garment of the year - Tunisian Entrelac Yoga Top

I've decided that this year is going to be the year of the crochet garment. I have made a fair few knitted and crochet garments and designed a couple too but I can definitely finesse my skills. I plan to buy Top Down Crochet Sweaters by Dora Ohrenstein after reading a review by Susan Lowman on her Crochet Architect website.

I learned Tunisian Entrelac Crochet last year making a bright blanket for charity and wrote about it here. I enjoyed the technique so much and since this year is the year of the crochet garment I decided to tackle the Yoga Top by Elena Fedotova. I found out about Elena from Marie Segares in her Instagram #undergroundcraftertakeover. Here's the roundup on Marie's blog. Elena's geometric designs look so fresh and modern. I favorited the Yoga Top straightaway and I really love what she has done here with a traditional crochet granny squares on her Granny Fish Top.

I am now underway. The yoga top is bottom up and mostly seamless (yay for not having to sew sides together).I just love making these tiny squares because they are join as you go, and they just look so unbelievably cute. There are a few color combo suggestions and a blank chart in each size for you to colorize with your own color choices. I did have to restart after making a silly gauge calculation. Usually, I find one row is sufficient to measure horizontal gauge but with Tunisian Entrelac stitch the gauge reduces after adding a second and third row. My top was going to be a tight squeeze so I had to rip it all back and add additional squares. My husband likes to see me ripping items back. He says I'm getting more enjoyment out of the yarn and he's probably right.

Are you tackling something new this year? I'd love to hear.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hooky hat wearing weather

Hats have dominated the last week or so. I had my first Yak & Yarn meeting of the year and had a tip off that a new member had made numerous hats (while I was away she emailed me to ask if she could bring them to my house - this was a bit of a giveaway). I had to stop making my second Take Two Crochet project and hook up a few hats for the homeless to show willing. She made sevens (yay!) and I managed three. I'm not competitive, honestly! 


I received an e-newsletter from the inspirational Betsy Greer, the godmother of the Craftivism, who I have met in person and written about here. She interviews fellow craftivist heroes on her blog (love it!) and sends links to related projects. Anyway, one of the links was to the Pussy Hat Project so I've found some pink yarn in my stash and selected the crochet pattern with the cable ribbing. I'm just about to  join up the sides with crab stitch, my favorite seaming stitch, which is functional but decorative. And I should meet the deadline to mail it to Washington for the march. I do like taking part in a Craftivism project for a good cause.

I love seeing something in the crochet world go viral in the world of non-crafters. Right now  it's all about the Messy Bun Hat or Ponytail Hat. Last week a non- crafter was in the yarn store where I work looking for yarn for a friend to make one for her. I've also spotted it coming up on my Twitter feed. I have short hair but if I can see my daughter looking gorgeous in one of these free crochet patterns: It's All About the Messy Bun by June Nemeth!

Anyway, I do hope you're having a wonderful week y'all whatever you're crafting!! If you don't want to miss my blog articles and you're reading on your desktop computer please do sign up to receive an email with a link. It should be top right. And I'm on Twitter and Instagram too. If you've been making hats this month please do let me know in the comments below!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

New Year adjustments

Oh my goodness, the holiday was such a productive time for my crochet I'm sort of in shock now I'm back to my daily 45 minutes while watching evening tv with my hubby! Our holiday was far longer than usual - three weeks instead of two. We returned to the UK to renew our US visas which entailed two long flights of non-stop hooking watching back to back movies and we took a long drive to New Mexico which included many hours of road trip crochet. And of course while away from home there are not the chores and I didn't have any work projects so there was plenty of time during the day too. I was in crochet heaven. One morning in New Mexico I woke up and hooked an entire cowl, merrily making it up as I went along. What decadence! Here is my dog showing his appreciation:

It's a super simple pattern (US crochet terms).
  1. Foundation double crochet to size so it fits over your head.
  2. Slip stitch to join.
  3. Chain 2, double crochet all around, slip stitch. 
  4. Repeat Step 3 trying it on until you can pull it up over your face.
  5. Weave in loose ends.
I should really have used a linked double crochet stitch (my daughter commented - "there are holes mum") but there's always a next time, and another ski "buff" to make.

Of course, there was much preparation before my three week trip to ensure that I wouldn't run out of yarn or projects. Oh heaven forbid I should run out. I've written about how I panic about running out of yarn on holiday before!

In early December I went to a holiday event (with discounts) at the yarn store, Nimblefingers, where I teach and decided to treat myself to some new yarn for a project I've had on my list for a long time the Pink Wrapover Top by Hannah Cross in the Simply Crochet Magazine. Mine was not pink, I'm not a pink kind of gal, but it worked out very well and I'm wearing it here in aqua.

I bought The Crochet Circle Podcast's Take Two, Collection One - Crochet book and packed yarn for two projects. Fay told me I was the first person to complete a project from the book and that never happens to me. But I was on my long long holiday after all. Anything was possible! I would highly recommend the book. Lynne and Fay have designed crochet staples and each project has been made twice with different local yarns (hence the name "Take Two"). There are eight patterns, all very well written and I'm on my second project already. I put my version of their Baltum fingerless mittens on Ravelry and I'm actually wearing them as I type... it's an unusually cold January day in Houston, Texas.

Are you still adjusting to January like me, or have you got it all together?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Farewell to 2016 Hello 2017

Happy New Year everybody!!! Reflecting on my year of crochet it's been a really good one with highlights as follows:


My Yak & Yarn group celebrated it's first birthday in March. My Y&Y ladies have become my great friends and we have, between us, produced close to a hundred crochet items for local charities - blankets, scarfs and hats. We are still going strong with new members joining at a steady rate. 

In June I attended my first ever fiber fest: Houston Fiber Fest (what fun!) and I recorded a review for the British Crochet Circle Podcast. This gave me an insight into the huge time commitment required in producing podcasts!! 

August marked my two year anniversary of teaching the Friday crochet and knitting workshop at my local store Nimblefingers. I love being part of the NF team and Friday afternoons are my absolutely favorite time of the week.

In October I taught my largest group ever (20+ ladies) for the Chicks with Stix Chapter of my local knitting guild: the Knit at Night Guild. I gave a class on Crochet Borders for Knitted Projects which I totally overprepared for but I received great feedback afterwards so it was all worth it!

Over the summer I learnt new techniques taking part in my first ever Crochet Alongs (CALs), three of them in fact, on crochet socks, interlocking crochet and overlay crochet. I also figured out Tunisian entrelac crochet making a blanket for Yak & Yarn.

For 2017 I have the following plans:

I will continue to write my blog, learn new techniques, run my Yak & Yarn group and my Nimblefingers workshop.

I'd like to add another regular weekly teaching class.... we'll see.

I'm also considering applying to teach a crochet class at the Houston Fiber Fest this year. This seems like the obvious next step in my teaching career.

Anyway I'd love to know what your biggest crafting achievements of 2016 were and what your plans are for 2017. Comment here or let me know on Twitter or Instagram I'm @craftyescapim