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Monday, March 2, 2015

10 Things We Love About Crochet

It's National Crochet Month (NatCroMo)!  And, as I'm preparing a special blog post for March 6th in anticipation of participating in Crochetville's Blog Tour again this year, I came across some interesting tidbits about crochet and a wonderful online application at Zanifesto to create a free infographic, so enjoy!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mama's Bolero

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while now, you know that (years ago!) I promised my mom that I would make her a vest.  I had grand plans to design and crochet this vest using this lovely varigated yarn that she had chosen on a trip to AC Moore because she wanted something thick and washable for the winter months.  Well, you can imagine the guilt I've been feeling in not working on that project, especially after she had the stroke.  But, I have redeemed myself!  She decided not too long ago (thankfully she is doing better and better, albeit slowly) that, instead of a vest (and we'll come back to that project because I still have the yarn...), she would like a bolero of sorts -- something short with short sleeves, in a neutral color, with a pink flower. 

So, first things first, I decided to knit the bolero because I came across this simple pattern that I figured I could adapt.  Then, I found this beautiful Rowan softknit cotton yarn that was so easy to work with.  I had gotten some during the 2013 Yarn Crawl and was able to find a 10-ball pack through Deramores, not realizing I was ordering from the U.K. (the site was in dollars and free shipping so I still did well and didn't have to wait too long)!  Plus, it was so cool to get a package from across the pond :-)

I can't remember where I found the flower pattern, but it's just a simple rose crochet pattern that's done in two rows then wrapped around from center outward.

And here's the finished results!!

I'll be posting better pix later, but just so glad that the project is done and Mom likes her bolero!  And a big shout out to my friend Holly for fixing one of the raglan increases when I somehow managed to either drop or add a stitch (I really couldn't figure out what the heck I had done, but I knew it didn't look right).

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Slip Knot

As I said, I am starting with the basics and building from there.  And there is nothing more basic, but more frustrating until you get the hang of it, than making a slip knot.

The slip knot represents the first loop on your hook at the beginning of a project.  The intention is to create a knot that allows the loop to slide so that it can be adjusted to be not too loose and not too tight. 

After looking around for a good video that clearly demonstrates an easy way to make the slip knot, I decided to make my own!  One of my students showed me a way to make it that is so easy and understandable.  Here's my new YouTube video demonstrating the technique:

 Hope this helps you get your crochet projects started even better and faster!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Yarn, Houston Style!

I just got back from a quick trip to Houston, Texas!  It was great to be able to take a direct 3-hour (actually even less) flight from Washington National Airport and stay at the Hilton downtown.  As wonderful as the indoor pool and jacuzzi at the hotel were, the best part of the trip was a stop at Knitting in the Loop on Bammel Lane.

What a fabulous store!  The ladies there were so friendly and welcoming, and a big shout out to Ruth the manager who took the time to show me around and point out the locally produced and dyed yarns.  I opted to go with the Alpaca yarn from Rancho Inca Alpacas in Navasota, Texas.

By coincidence, Ruth mentioned how she's really into "geometrics" these days, and I had just been scoping out some of Stephen West's work on Do Ewe Knit's Facebook page, especially Dotted Rays.  She also told me about Melanie Berg and Josh Ryks, and I have to say, Greek Fire is speaking to me!  So, we shall see...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Little Green Boxes and 3 Tips for Organizing the Kitchen

Well, I am getting off to a slow start this year with the blog, but maybe I'm striving for crochet perfection (or at least correct and useful information) too much!  So, in the mean time, I'm posting about my New Year's Cleaning (rather than Spring Cleaning) in the hopes that it will be helpful to you.  And, by getting organized and decluttered, I'm hoping my creativity will get a boost as well.

The kitchen is the first room I've been tackling.  I got out my labeler and got all of the half-opened bags and containers of dried goods out of the pantry and into properly sealing containers with labels.  I didn't also add the date on the containers, but that's probably a good idea going forward (hopefully I'll use up stuff fast enough to not have to worry about this, but I think on the next go around, I will add dates so that I'll know how quickly or slowly I'm using up products).

Then I started in on the refrigerator after having read this helpful post by Nealey Stapleton of the Organizing Boutique.  Since I was headed to Bed, Bath, and Beyond anyway for a new shower curtain and toilet seat (the bathroom is next!), I added a 12-inch turntable/Lazy Susan to my list and put it in the fridge to organize all the small jars of pickles, mustard, etc.  I think it's really going to help in avoiding jars of half-used stuff getting shoved to the back of the refrigerator and being left to die.

And, even though I stuck to my list while at BBandB, I did make an impulse purchase of Debbie Meyer's 32-piece UltraLite Green Boxes to preserve fruits, vegetables and baked goods (hey, I had some 20% coupons, so not so bad :-)

We've been trying to eat more healthfully but, if I try to shop for the whole week, by the end of the week, some of the organic produce is looking a little sad...  I'm hoping, based on the great reviews given these boxes, they will help extend the life of our fruits and veggies!

So, in summary:

1)  Get everything labeled and dated -- it will help you keep track of what ingredients and pantry items you have and don't have, how fresh it is, etc.
2)  Keep the refrigerator clean by using a few containers and turntables to help group like items and keep them organized and accessible.
3)  Allow yourself to get distracted by little green boxes if it will help motivate you and help you feel better about starting off 2015 the way you want!

(Disclosure:  We are an Amazon Affiliate and the above-provided link is an affiliate link.  The boxes were $19.99 at BBandB, before the 20% off.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Welcome 2015!

Go figure that the first half of my last post of 2014 didn't publish...

But we are not looking back, here's to a New Year and a clean slate :-)

So, what do I aspire to accomplish this year?

1)  Blog posts twice a week

One of my action items for this year is to get back onto a blogging schedule of two posts a week (I had been doing that a while back...).  Once a week (probably Tuesdays), I plan on focusing on basic crochet techniques and building to more advanced ones through the year.  What will be different about my posts?  My aim is to "curate" the technique, meaning that I will try to find, in my opinion, the best sources out there on the chosen technique and present them to you all in one place.  There are A LOT of crochet blogs out there now, and I've come across some really good ones.  I want to give credit where it's due and not reinvent the wheel unless I can't find what I think is a definitive, clear presentation of the technique.

The second post each week (probably Fridays), I plan on sharing something along the lines of "learn, make and grow through crochet" by returning to a fundamental objective that I had when I first started this blog -- experiencing crochet in a holistic way through the mind, the body and the spirit.  Recently I was explaining to a non-crocheter that crochet is a lifestyle enhancer in so many ways.  And it conjures up many images doesn't it?  A basket of yarn nestled next to a crocheter, who is stretched out in a favorite sitting area, perhaps with a steaming (or cold) beverage at the ready, working away on a project that is most likely a gift or donation for someone special.  I want to explore how crocheters live "the crochet lifestyle" and the different ways that lifestyle manifests itself.

2)  More communications and interactions

I admit that I am a "stalker" on Facebook and share others' posts without really putting myself out there.  This year I plan on exploring different ways to interact and communicate with crocheters who are seeking the same thing.  Frankly, I'm not sure that Facebook is the best venue for accomplishing this goal, so I'll be exploring different platforms that might work better.

3)  More follow through

You all know that I have the best of intentions, but let's face it, I don't always follow through as I should or in a timely manner.  So, my third goal this coming year is to finish what I start and (try) not get distracted by (too many) bright, shiny objects!

So, once again, I am trying to lay out my plans and aspirations for the upcoming year and hold myself accountable for achieving them (or at least moving closer to achieving them).  I look forward to this journey and hope that you all will join me for the ride :-)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Well, all I can do is try, try again next year!  I'm also going to take this opportunity to talk about some things that did go well.  First and foremost, I've really been enjoying making and building friendships on Facebook.  Please come "friend" me and visit/like the Many Creative Gifts page!  I've gotten to see some really beautifully made crochet and knit items on Facebook that I've shared and read some well done blog posts.  It's been educational and inspiring and given me some ideas about how I want to revamp my blog next year.

I've also had another pattern, the ZigZag Book Bag, published in Inside Crochet magazine.  That was a fun project that involved working with a bobbled chevron pattern and thicker yarns and hook.  Inside Crochet is offering a free download of the issue, so please enjoy!  I will post the pattern in my Ravelry store as soon as I translate it into American ;-).

I also did my first Holiday Bazaar!  It was really interesting to see what drew interest and what was overlooked... 

So, at this point, I wish you a very wonderful holiday season and Happy New Year!  As we usher in 2015, I hope you will continue to subscribe to my blog and enjoy what I'm able to offer.  I truly believe that next year will be better than the one coming to a close, and I hope we go on this adventure together!  As I always say, stay tuned!