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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hard to believe it's already here and almost over!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving day.  I was fortunate enough to attend a wonderful turkey buffet with all the trimmings, to come home and stretch out and watch some football, and to get a start on a fun little Christmas ornament that I will be posting here next week :-)

So, til then, I hope everyone's got tomorrow off like me.  I'm planning on taking it easy this whole weekend, so you'll hear from me again next week!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Off the Wagon

Talk about having fallen off the wagon!  I'm not even sure that's the right expression, but bottom line, I have not been blogging obviously.  No excuses, but seriously, this time of year, it's just getting tougher and tougher to do everything.  Oh well, so we do what we can.

Not sure I've got anything worth blogging about -- ideas in my head, but they require a little research so that I know what I'm talking about when I write about it for you.  So stay tuned...

Today's Thought:  I just got a Filtrete air purifier, and what a difference it's already made.  The apartment is less dusty already, and odors, especially after cooking, don't seem to linger.  I found a great deal on and their processing and delivery is great.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lampwork Beads

I have been learning so much about lampwork beads v. polymer clay beads v. crystals v. all the other kinds of beads out there!  I've decided that providing crochet patterns is not enough, so I'm expanding in to project bags and crochet stitch markers, hence the new-found knowledge about beads.  I've always enjoyed jewelry, beads, all sorts of bright shiny objects, so this isn't really such a big jump for me.  And, thanks to my partner in crime Helen, the project bags are sooooo beautiful!  A sampling of our items are up on the Etsy website, so please check it out and let us know about any custom orders you'd like to place :-)

Today's Thought:  A shout-out has to go to Smudgie's Beadery -- they've got a beautiful and affordable array of beads!  Find them on Etsy as well as

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Newsletter

Ah, I'm always amazed by how quickly newsletter time seems to come around!  We've got a great sweet potato recipe in this month's issue, but I'm struggling with the "mind" and the "crochet" sections.  It's been challenging coming up with different things for mind and spirit, but it's been good because it really makes you stop and think about each aspect of your life.  It's probably even more important at this time of year, when you realize the holidays are almost upon you again, and it's going to get crazy busy pretty soon.  It's so easy to lose sight of what this time of year can and should truly be about.

Ok, I'll post more tomorrow -- it's Monday Night Football, so forgive me :-)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What Can I Say?!

I still haven't been able to take my own advice and get on a steady blogging schedule!  Oh well, you know, all I can do is just keep trying :-)

I have been working on a Holiday Snowflake Baby Hat and am in search of pom poms.  I'm thinking I might have to make my own, but it would be so nice if I could just find the perfect ones at a reasonable price at the first (third?!) store that I go to ;-)  I hope to be posting pix and the pattern on Ravelry soon!

Today's Thought:  Fiber.  No, I don't mean yarn fiber (though it's good to get your daily amount of that too), I mean fiber from foods.  It's really important to get your daily recommended amount, which is 20 to 35 grams (the average American usually only gets about 12 to 15 grams a day!).  Wheat, potatoes, most fruits and vegetables, as well as kidney beans and brown rice are all great ways to get fiber into your diet.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

If you enjoy mathematics, then you're bound to enjoy crochet as well.  Sizing hats requires a little dividing and multiplying (check out my tip on hat sizing at, but I just learned about a math concept that's great for creating striped patterns.  It's called the Fibonacci sequence, named after 13th century Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci.  In his sequence, each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers, starting with 0 and 1. Thus, the sequence begins 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, etc.  Thus, if you want to make a scarf, for example, you can work in the sequence, using either rows or inches to create the striping in different colors.  How about a simple scarf with two colors, working 3 rows in Color A, 5 rows in Color B, 8 rows in Color A, 13 rows in Color B, and so on!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Darn It!

Well, it didn't take me too long to blow it, did it?!  I wish I could be more regimented, but I guess my artistic side doesn't believe in schedules ;-)

Not to worry, I'll just pick up here and keep on going, still trying to get up as many posts as possible this month.

Today's post is about the importance of establishing good habits (now, now, those who can't do themselves, teach!)  They say it takes about 3 weeks of sticking to something every day for it to become a habit.  For someone who just blew making blogging into a habit, I already see some of the ways in which I went wrong.  First, I probably should have established a certain time at which to blog everyday.  Then, second, I probably should have set a reminder on my calendar or alarm clock or something that would remind me.  And, third, I probably should have better defined for myself the pros that would outweigh the cons of blogging (yes, it's difficult coming up with topics and putting thoughts to paper, but the upside is that, hopefully, I'm sharing useful, wanted information and making a connection with readers and am memorializing for myself the actions I've taken towards building my craft and business).

So, do as I say and hopefully as I am going to be doing!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

More Tie-Dye!

Ah, I'm getting obsessed :-)  Mainly because it's really been easy.  The key is to stay as close to the kitchen sink as possible and to rinse and wipe stuff as soon as you see any drips.

If you're just not in the mood to create for yourself, then just check out our Etsy shop to place a custom order :-)

Stay tuned, more products and posts coming!

Tip 6 -- Changing Colors

If you are using multiple colors when crocheting an item, you're going to want to make the color changes as seamless as possible.  The easiest and best way to do that is to finish the last part of a stitch with the new color.  For example, if you're doing single crochet stitches and working with Color A, you'd insert your hook, yarn over, pull up a loop of Color A, then yarn over with Color B, and pull through a loop of Color B.  You're now ready to work in Color B.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tip 5 -- The Foundation Chain

I always say that the first row is the hardest because you have to work into the foundation chains.  The best, but hardest, way is to insert your hook in between the two top loops and the one bottom loop of the chain.  This method gives the smoothest look to the bottom of your work.  If the look of the bottom isn't a factor, then go ahead and just insert your hook into any one or two loops of the chain in making your first row.

If you find that you're a tight crocheter, then working the foundation chains for the first row can really be difficult.  So, try using a size or two larger hook than called for in the pattern to chain the foundation and then switch back to the right-sized hook for the first row.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tip 4 -- WPI

I had never heard of "wpi" before but read about it today in my "Talking Crochet" free email newsletter (you can subscribe by going to  It's an abbreviation for "wraps per inch."  Literally, you determine wpi by wrapping yarn around a ruler for one inch, with each strand of yarn being wrapped parallel and next to each other.  Be careful not to wrap the strands of yarn too close to each other or too tightly, no twisting or crossing.

Once you've done the wrapping, you count the number of parallel strands within one inch.  Usually, there will be about 16 wpi for fingering weight yarn and about 8 wpi for bulky yarn.  This technique is one way of determining the density or weight of a yarn and also of ensuring that different yarns can be substituted for each other in a pattern.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tip 3 -- Standard Yarn Weight System

Speaking of the Standard Yarn Weight System, I figured I'd better go a little more in depth about it.  A number of manufacturers of yarn have adopted the system to help knitters and crocheters know what size hook to use with various yarns and approximately how many stitches will result within a 4-inch span.  Often, these manufacturers will put the appropriate symbol from the chart below on the label of a skein of yarn to tell you its weight (i.e., the thickness of the yarn).

No matter what is marked on the yarn skein label, though, you should still work up a "gauge swatch" in order to see what your style of crocheting (e.g., are you a loose crocheter or do you make your stitches tightly?) yields.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tip 2 -- Yarn Weight

It's tempting to just start mixing different weights of yarns in a project, and often you can get great results this way if it's a project in which gauge and size aren't important, like a scarf or a blanket, where a freeform style can work.  But, when you're trying to make an item where the size consistency of your stitches is important, like a sweater or hat, you'll want to be sure to use the same weights of yarn. 

For example, I'm working on a baby hat right now for which I found Lionbrand's cashmere blend yarn in a beautiful red color for the background, but I want to do a pattern in white, and, of course, the yarn doesn't come in white.  So, what to do?  The cashmere blend is considered a medium worsted weight, a "number 4" on the standard yarn weight system, so I need to find a white yarn that is also a number 4.  The weight of the yarn, in many ways, is more important than the fiber content of the yarn because it is the weight, along with hook size, that most directly affects the size of your stitches.  But, pay attention to the fiber content as well because that can affect the washing instructions of your finished item and how it holds up over time.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Apparently, it is National Blog Posting Month!  One must post at least once a day for the entire month of November.  I don't know if I'll make it, but what the heck, probably worth a try. 

So, I guess I should try to come up with some plan for November to make it worth your while to check back to see what I am blogging about each day.  I wish I could commit to creating a project a day for the whole month, but I'm not sure that's realistic.  I think I'll try to come up with a crochet tip a day -- that way, you all will get a jump on tips that I will ultimately post on the Lifetips website.

Ok, so today's tip:  When starting a hat, leave a long tail on the slip knot that you use to start your first round so that you can use it to sew up the hole at the top of the hat if you so desire.

See you back here again tomorrow!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tie-Dying Part 2!

Yippeeeee!  It worked.  I went into the kitchen this morning to undo the wrapped items.  The instructions tell you to unwrap, cut off the rubber bands and then wash the items in hot water with a little bit of laundry soap.  Since I didn't think that my neighbors would appreciate my using our communal washing machine for this purpose, I just prepared a dishpan in the sink with hot water and soap and dunked each item separately in there after unwrapping.  I then rinsed each out and hung them up to dry.  I put on my thicker rubber kitchen gloves for this stage because I didn't think that the gloves included in the kit would protect my hands sufficiently when I was washing the items in hot water, and it was no problem. 

So, I think everything turned out pretty cute :-).  In fact, the following two items will be available on my Etsy shop for purchase or custom order.  Here are the pink yoga pants that I did circles on.

And the baby onesie that I did with circles in orange, pink and purple.

And the t-shirt that I think I'm going to keep for myself!

Mmmm, now I think I want to try a series of items in a yellow, green, blue palette.  Ooooo, a whole new world has opened up to me  --  thanks Tulip!  Oh, and if you decide to give it a try yourself, go to to order your kit and enter the code “fave1009” for free shipping at checkout (which expires 11/30/09).  Happy Tie-Dying!!

Today's Thought: really is an amazing, FREE website for all things crafty.  They are constantly coming up with new ideas and new contributors, so it's so worth checking back often!