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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Process v. Project

I think I'm discovering with each passing day that I am a "process" crocheter. If any of you have heard Stephanie Pearl-McPhee talk or read any of her books, you know what I mean. Even though she's a knitter, Pearl-McPhee nails so many aspects of what it's like to be a crocheter. I find that I just love the process of starting a project -- gathering just the right yarns and hook, figuring out the stitches of the pattern, and jumping right in. Trouble is, the excitement and newness wear off, yet the project isn't finished! Into a bag it goes while the next "fix" is sought, dah.

Well, I've finally made myself stop -- there's now a moratorium on new projects while the old ones get assessed and either finished or ultimately abandoned (sometimes, it's just for the best). Though with the number of babies in the horizon (I've got at least 3 friends expecting over the next 6 months, one with twins!), I know I'm not going to be able to keep this vow for long. Stay tuned for updates!

Today's Thought: Tazo Teas are just delicious and come in a large assortment of flavors and types of teas. With Starbucks so ubiquitous, it's not hard to pick up a variety pack to give a try!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Got Your Goat?

Ever wonder where "cashmere" comes from?! Goats! The fleece used to spin yarn and fibers consists of the very fine, crimpy down of the goat and the usually longer, outside, coarse, straight guard hairs. Cashmere goats are a type, not a breed. Most goat breeds, except Angora, can produce this down in varied quantities and may be called cashmere goats. There is no such thing as a "purebred" cashmere goat. The majority of the world supply of cashmere has come from Afghanistan, Iran, Outer Mongolia, India, and China. In recent years, when these countries' political disarray disrupted cashmere supplies, manufacturers began looking to New Zealand and Australia for more stable sources.

Today's Thought: has great audio books at great prices. I really feel like I'm multi-tasking when I crochet and listen to a book at the same time!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hearts Aplenty

Ah, how the days are passing! Since my last posting, I've been quite busy finishing the dog sweater and figuring out whether I'm going to come up with specialty items for Valentine's Day. I do have this great heart pattern that I'm using to make a baby blanket, but I could make some sachets with it as well. I really haven't concentrated on making special holiday-oriented products, but I'm starting to think that I'm missing a boat somehow by not doing so. Well, maybe I'd better get out my pink and red yarns!

Today's Thought: The Wii. Never did I think I'd become so obsessed with a video game system, but this one is great. There are many games available for the small white console that are all about skills and eye-hand coordination, not just war games or shoot-em-ups. The "cross-bow training" game that comes with the Zapper, a device that turns the remote and numchuk into a machine gun, lets you practice shooting at bull's eye targets, pottery, scarecrows, and gorgons for points and more complicated levels of play!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Merino Wool

I had no idea that "merino" as in "merino wool" actually refers to a type of sheep! Merino sheep are characterized by their tight, springy coats and their softness. The term "merino" was once used exclusively to describe sheep that came from Spain. But now that sheep breeds have been exported all over the world, merino sheep can be found everywhere, with concentrations in Western Europe, the United States, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand. Unlike most wool, merino doesn’t scratch when worn right next to the skin. Once considered a luxury yarn, it’s becoming more common and affordable.

Why choose wool for garments? Well, it has the following properties: it’s strong, durable, elastic, water-resistant, and flame-resistant. It takes up dye wonderfully, and with all the blends available these days, it feels great and not so scratchy anymore. Wool can be quite lightweight and will keep you as warm as down. Hey, it seems to work well for the sheep!

Today's Thought: It's really important to be able to recognize the signs of a stroke because, if the patient can get help within 3 hours, the effects of a stroke can be almost totally reversed. But, it's hard to know for sure, but ask these 3 simple questions:

S ask the person to SMILE
T ask the person to TALK or SAY A SIMPLE LINE (coherently, like "it is sunny out today")
R ask the person to RAISE BOTH ARMS

You might also want to ask the person to stick out his or her tongue. If the tongue is "crooked," if it goes to one side or the other, that is also an indication of stroke. If there's trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call 911 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Crochet for Healing

Ah, the doggie sweater is coming along very nicely, and we're still concentrating on baby hats. But, what's really got me excited today is my donation to I had received a gift certificate from Crate & Barrel during the holidays, giving me a $25 credit with the organization. I admit it, at first I had hoped it was a coupon for C&B, but once I checked out the DonorsChoose website, I realized this really was the better gift. Teachers, usually in economically-challenged areas, post their proposed projects and their monetary needs to fulfill them. You pick a project, decide how much you want to donate, sign up as a donor, and that's it. You can get acknowledgement for your donation or make it anonymously, and you can also get updates on the project(s) you've chosen.

I really hope you will give this organization a look and find something you want to support. I made my donation to "Crochet for Healing" because the teacher posting the project really seems committed to her students and is asking for so little when you think about it. Please take a look! Thanks so much.

Today's Thought: Sometimes you receive so much when you give to someone else :-)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Last Loop

Today's topic is how do you finish off your crochet work? Specifically, what kind of knot do you use once you've gotten to the end of your project? I've always pulled the yarn through the last loop left on the hook, then weaved the strand through a few stitches and clipped off the excess. Then, recently, I've been trying to put an extra knot at the end and to closely clipp it without weaving in because I was finding that the weaved-in bit was eventually working itself out, leaving a longer "tail" sticking out. Now, I've just read that, when you get to your last loop, you should work an extra chain stitch, cut the end and pull it completely through the loop, then pull firmly on the end to create a knot. Has anyone tried this and found it successful? I've also read that you should dab a little Superglue on the knot for extra fortification, but does that really work? What happens after the item is washed? Looking forward to hearing comments on this frustrating part of project work!

Today's Thought: Hemp Milk. I know what you're thinking, but this delicious soy milk alternative is made from the non-psychedelic hemp seed, which is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, all nine of the essential amino acids, B vitamins, fiber, iron, and Vitamin E. Check out and for the milk as well as other snacks and cereals made from hemp seeds.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Style for Doggies

So, I find myself crocheting a sweater for a dog! Usually I wouldn't advocate dressing up a dog in any type of outfit, just doesn't seem right. But, I have come to learn that some dogs, especially the smaller ones with close-cropped fur (picture a small greyhound), get really cold in the wintertime. In an effort to come up with something ladylike and dignified for Misti, I chose Lion Brand's Jiffy yarn. It's a nice bulky, soft yarn that's machine washable and dryable. Now, I know, I just advocated for making use of more natural fibers, but for warmth, practicality, and cost effectiveness, I just had to go with this great quality 100% acrylic yarn. I got Blush (color #137) for the main part and Oat (color # 098) for accents (I figured these colors would look nice on Misti's light grey coat). I hope to post pictures once the project is done!

Today's Thought: Agave syrup is a great substitute for refined white sugar. It comes in light and dark varieties, and I find that I'm using less and less but still feeling satisfied with the sweetness in my tea.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


We've started to use all-bamboo and bamboo-blend yarns, especially for the baby wear, because it's so soft and easy to work with, plus we've learned that it wears well and has natural antibacterial and hypoallergenic properties. There's even ultra-violet protection in the yarn. Bamboo actually is a grass that is harvested and distilled into cellulose that is then spun into yarn. It's also a renewable resource because it can be harvested without killing the plant, and it only takes a few months before the plant is ready to be harvested again. I love working with it because it has a good luster, similar to mercerized cotton, and has a great drape. Even though it needs to be handwashed, which I haven't had to do yet, they say items made from Bamboo yarn are strong, flexible, and can be softer than silk. Even though it's more expensive ($10.50 in DC) than some of the other bamboo yarns out there, I really like Be Sweet 100% Bamboo yarn ( because it's beautiful yarn in a lot of color choices, and it's hand spun and dyed in South Africa by a disadvantaged women's empowerment group. I've also recently discovered a bamboo-wool blend yarn that's really nice too and has a bit more heft to it, Moda Dea Bamboo Wool.

Today's Thought: In an effort to start off the new year eating more healthfully, we found this great recipe site,, and have discovered Quinoa (keen-wah), a great alternative to rice or other grains as a side dish.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the Many Creative Gifts' "be thoughtful" blog!

I'm Phyllis, and Many Creative Gifts started out as a way for me to sell custom-designed crafts and handmade jewelry, some of which are featured on Etsy and our website Being based in Washington DC, we are always on the look out for new venues and inspirational designs. Though DC is not foremost known for its arts culture and community, the city has great aesthetics to offer.

So, we hope to be a part of enriching DC's crafts scene and to share bits of information on this blog that will enhance your life in some way and help you to "be thoughtful" day-to-day.

Today's Thought: If you live in DC or are planning to visit, please try "Cafe 8" in Eastern Market (! After a hard day of crafting and working up an appetite, we came across this fabulous new Turkish/Mediterranean restaurant in the burgeoning Barracks Row area of town. The food is delicious, the atmostphere is warm and comfortable, and supporting a new business has never been so fun! Really got our crafty little minds going...

We thank you for stopping by the blog. We hope to see you back soon.