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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Thoughtful Thursdays

As another NatCroMo comes to a close, I've been thinking a lot lately about my yarn collection, material possessions in general, and how to get things organized and decluttered while "sparking joy." Yes, I too have gotten sucked into the Marie Kondo method), though, in my defense, I saw her make an extensive presentation in L.A. about two years ago, and there's a lot to her philosophy and methodology.

Anyway, my point is that the things that surround us should make us happy.  Of course not everything can be beautiful and artful, but we should be thankful for their presence in our lives and the functions they perform for us each day.  But, I think I need to call myself out -- why can't everything be beautiful and artful?!  We should be striving to create or surround ourselves with things that make us and others happy.  One of my tag lines from the beginning has been "be thoughtful" and true to your giving nature.  So, once in a while, I want to take a Thursday post and focus on thoughtfulness, towards others and, even more importantly, towards ourselves.

There used to be the cutest little flower "hut" on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th Street, and, many springs ago, I used to stop by every Friday on my way home and pick up a bouquet of fresh flowers, which often lasted the whole week til the next Friday.  It was an extravagance that I felt like I could finally indulge in, and it brought me such moments of joy seeing that bouquet in the middle of my little 4-seater round glass dining room table in my efficiency apartment. 

These days, I've been trying to have green plants around the condo to help with air quality, but I'm thinking this spring might be a time to bring back a little extravagance.  Please spend a few moments today thinking about something that you used to do for yourself and your surroundings that brought a little joy and spark to your day and see if you can recapture that feeling.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Happy NatCroMo 2019!

Welcome Crocheters (and knitters too)!

Thank you for joining me on my blog day for National Crochet Month (NatCroMo), it's hard to believe how quickly March is passing by.

For my followers, thank you so much for sticking with me as I experiment with crochet-related topics and blogging formats.  For the newcomers, I'm so glad you're taking the time to visit and check me out -- my goal is to provide practical and useful information that will make your crocheting time easier and even more fun! 

First, a big thank you to Marie Segares (the Underground Crafter), who in conjunction with the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) revived the Crochet Designers' Showcase for NatCroMo.  Every day this month, a different crochet designer who is also a member of the CGOA will be featured, and each designer will share a free crochet pattern or a 25% discount on a premium pattern (I'm doing both, read on!).  I love being a corporate member of CGOA because the organization provides so many resources to small crafts businesses and the dedicated officers and members are so supportive.  And Crochet! Magazine is such a great collection of patterns and the newest happenings in crochet.

Marie and CGOA also have partnered with some of our favorite companies to offer great prizes, including yarn, crochet hooks, notions, pattern books, and more! Find out more information about the other participating designers, the schedule, and how to enter to win the prizes in this post


Next, a huge thank you to Laurel Hill, who generously sent me this beautiful crochet hook in celebration of NatCroMo.  And I mean that!  I'm usually so skeptical of free stuff for my "honest" review, but this opportunity was better than I could have expected.  The hook is so smooth and comfortable to hold, and I really like the head of the hook as well.  I'm usually not a fan of wooden hooks, but this hook feels substantial and sturdy, and did I remark on how smooth it is?!  It really is a quality hook at a reasonable price.  Check out my previous blog post with a video on "How to Cleverly Start a Double Crochet Row" to see the Laurel Hill hook in action!

In preparation for Easter, I also recently recorded a video for my YouTube channel (please subscribe, I'm really getting into this movie-making thing!) to demonstrate how to create a Crochet Bite-Size Bunny, and the written pattern is free on Ravelry and LoveKnitting.

I was hoping to also have a brand new premium crochet project and pattern available for discount for NatCroMo, but "due to technical difficulties", it's not quite ready yet, soooooo... I'm giving a 25% discount on ALL of my patterns for purchase in my Ravelry store!  Just type in "NatCroMo2019" as a one-time-use coupon code until April 11th (11:59 PM EDT).

I hope you've enjoyed this post and want to subscribe to future posts (see subscription box in left column).  Thank you for celebrating NatCroMo2019 with me, and Happy Crocheting!!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

How to Cleverly Start Your Double Crochet Rows

Hello crocheters!  First, I want to wish you a Happy National Crochet Month!  I hope you've been enjoying the happenings so far, and here's a great rundown of all the ways to celebrate:

I'll be one of the designers participating in the CGOA 2019 International Crochet Month Designer Showcase on March 23rd, so please come back here to see a special post with some special surprises!

But, to whet your appetite, here's my new Jumprope instructional video on how to cleverly start a double crochet row to make a smooth side with no "holes."

How to Cleverly Start Your Double Crochet Rows by manycreativegifts on Jumprope.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Mindful Mondays

Another periodic type of post I want to concentrate on this year involves mindfulness and just how much crafting, and specifically crochet, can help us achieve a meditative state.  Of course those of us who craft regularly know the relaxation and calmness that comes with getting lost in our projects and,  more importantly, the anxiousness and unsettled feeling that comes with not crocheting.  Seems like the rest of the world is catching on!  There have been a number of articles recently that focus on the benefits of knitting (though we know those benefits carry over to many other types of crafting), but I thought this one did a good job of capturing the range of specific benefits that can be achieved.

So, periodically on Mondays, I'd like to look a little deeper into these health benefits, the science behind them, and some practical tips for how to incorporate crocheting into your life if you're new to the craft and some new ways for the more experienced crocheter to rediscover and relish the benefits of crochet.

Today's fun fact is that using your fingers in crafting actually builds up their cartilage rather than wearing it down and helps stave off arthritis.   Even if you already have arthritis, you can improve it by soaking your hands in warm water and using larger needles or hooks for your projects.

Got some tips of your own you want to share?  Please leave a comment with your suggestions.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Fiber Fridays

Hi Crocheters, "Fiber Fridays" will be periodic Fridays when I post about the fiber world.  I thought I'd start with wool because that seems like a logical place to start, and there's a raging debate going on right now between animal rights activists, who feel that shearing sheep is cruel to the animal, and wool yarn providers, who point out that domesticated sheep need to have their fleece shorn.  I think you know which camp I fall into, though, like many debates these days, I also believe there's a middle ground that should be satisfactory to most.  Of course I believe there should be a lot of attention paid to sheep being cared for and properly shorn; and, if that's the case, then wool yarn is a great asset to humankind.  That's why I did a lot of research and wanted to know where my wool comes from before adopting Chausette from Owens Farm and having her fleece spun into beautiful yarn.

*If you'd like to learn more about the details of the debate, please read and follow Clara Parkes!  She encapsulates the discussion far better than I can and makes the case for shearing in an informed and rational way.

So, why is wool yarn so coveted?  Well, first I should say, "wool" is a very broad term; there are more breeds of sheep than breeds of any other livestock species (with the exception of chickens and other poultry). Worldwide, it is estimated that there are more than 1000 distinct sheep breeds, with over 50 breeds in the United States alone.  As a result, the different properties of each breed of fleece yields the different textures and qualities of different types of wool yarn.  I'll be going into more details in future posts, but suffice to say for now that insulation is the primary characteristic of wool that makes it so great for clothing.  A woolen sweater keeps you cozy and warm by trapping air between its fibers. It also allows perspiration to evaporate (wick) through the fabric, which helps keep your skin dry and comfortable.

Chausette will be sheared any day now, so stay tuned for before and after pix as well as the beautiful yarn her coat will produce!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year, New Aspirations!

Happy New Year, Crocheters! 2018 was an eventful year in many, many ways; 2019 promises 365 opportunities to try new and different things. This year, I'm using the word "aspiration," defined as "a strong desire, longing, or aim; ambition; a goal or objective that is strongly desired,” rather than just "goals" because I really want to tap into and capture the passion and desire behind the goals I want to achieve this year.

In 2018, I concentrated on being active on social media (please visit and like our Many Creative Gifts’ Facebook page and follow our Instagram!) to the detriment of blogging. I’ve been posting on Facebook a lot of beautiful crochet from so many wonderful crocheters and more personal photos on Instagram. This year, I plan on continuing my social media experiments (because it really is hard to know what works and what doesn't) and maybe even adding more videos (our YouTube channel still does have some oldies but goodies on there). Plus, getting back to the blogging...

Also, Many Creative Gifts is entering into some new partnerships! I don't want to jinx anything, but I'm really hoping this is the year we'll be offering some new patterns and kits as well as some electronic crochet tools.  That's all the tease I'll give for now!

So, to all of you who've signed up and stuck with me to get updates from my little corner of the crochet world, thank you so much and Happy New Year!