Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Last minute gifts...

Snowflakes are my latest endeavor. They are perfect right now, quick and easy projects for instant gratification and much easier to put down when my hand/wrist gets grumpy. I have always loved crocheted snowflakes. My mother made some when I was younger and they always went on the tree or in the window. Watching her hands as she made the snowflakes magically turn into dainty beauties was mesmerizing. I tackled a few snowflakes last year, but I wasn't using crochet thread... I wasn't comfortable with it yet.

This year I needed four small gifts and I happened to think of snowflakes. Now, mind you, this was about a week ago that I had this brilliant idea. But as snowflakes go, they are quick and easy little projects and I finished tucking ends last night.

Then, with the help of my mother since I haven't stiffened crochet before, I tackled the next step.

The stiffening mixture is 3 parts water, 2 parts white craft glue and 1 part glitter. The mixture is mixed in a glass jar by shaking it until well mixed. You will need a surface to pin the snowflakes on. We used a large cardboard box and cut down the sides to make a tray. Then we put another layer of cardboard in for easy of pinning. Next, the tray was lined with wax paper.

The snowflakes are dunked into the stiffening mixture, then squeezed to get the excess out of the snowflake. Don't wring or twist them, or you may end up ruining it. Then the pinning begins. Use rust-proof pins. The goal of pinning is to straighten out all the picots and loops in the snowflake (or other details of the crocheted item). But remember, however the item is pinned that's what it will look like when it's dried! Let the snowflakes sit overnight and tada...

I have enjoyed working on these snowflakes. Not only has my love of crochet thread grown, but working on something homemade for someone is so very special. As you stitch away, thoughts of that person are interweaved in the work. That's ultimately why I picked up the hook for these to give away... I wanted to give something of myself to these four special people.

The patterns are mostly from 100 Snowflakes to Crochet by Caitlin Sainio (2012). I also used the Baby Snowflakes patterns at Snowcatcher. I used Size 10, Size 5, Size 3 crochet thread and Knit-Cro-Sheen made by Aunt Lydia's, Red Heart and unknown (from the stash I acquired earlier this year) as well as a BonBon by Lion Brand.

I hope all have a truly blessed Christmas and don't lose sight of the true Spirit of the Season.

Happy on the Hook!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Slow but sure...

It's been a while since I've posted, and as I mentioned in my last post I had some pain at the base of my thumb. Well, around Halloween I tried to shut the tailgate of my car on my hand and boy did I have a bruise from it. That bruise hung around for over three weeks. I finally went to see the doctor (after I put two and two together - not being able to pick up bowls, glasses, etc.) and had it X-rayed. It's not broken, but it will take a bit to heal.

So I am just now able to get in a bit of crocheting, but not for very long at a time. And it's not easy with my 'friend' on my wrist. There is improvement though - I find myself going without the brace a bit more now and doing okay, but only when I know I won't be lifting or using my right hand much.

This injury has hampered my Christmas plans a bit as well. My intentions were to make snowflakes and ornaments for friends this year. So much for that!

My afghan for the Blankets for Barracks Soldiers project is on hold until I can lift the afghan without hurting my wrist. I'm on the last row before I start decreasing on both sides, so I'm excited to get back to it. The colors are really coming together nicely. And the yarn scrap pile is being used up as well!

Since I can't handle my main project right now, I started a smaller project. It's a shell blanket using Red Heart Soft yarn. Beautiful yarn to work with - soft, works well on the hook.... but it's a bear finding the end in the skein and getting it out of the skein! I end up pulling nearly half the skein out of the middle just to find the end. There has to be a better way, I just haven't found it yet. The 'Soft' yarn isn't like Red Heart's Super Saver yarn where the end is sticking out, easy to find. Nooooooo. It's hiding inside, buried where you can't find it. Very frustrating. Not sure I'll use the yarn after this project, unless I discover the secret to finding the end without pulling half the skein out of the middle!

Now that crocheting is gradually coming back I should be posting more.

I hope your Christmas projects are on task and you have some time for you!

Happy on the Hook!

Monday, November 10, 2014

A bit of a break

I've been taking a bit of a break from crocheting, for numerous reasons. First and foremost is to give my thumb some much needed respite. I've noticed some tenderness at the base of my thumb of my hook hand, and rather than cause what could be permanent damage I decided to take a break from the massive amounts of crocheting I've been doing. I still get together every week and crochet with the group, but that's about it for the time being.

In addition, work has kept me hopping. This weekend was the annual benefit auction, which I am in charge of organizing the entire event. A bit of stress, and a lot of time I would normally be crocheting. Now I can relax a bit and ease back into the routine of crocheting, once I catch up on some much needed sleep!

These two lovely friends pictured here are now part of my collection. My parents went on a long vacation and brought them back for my frog collection. I thought they fit my pensive mood lately... or related how my eyes looked with toothpicks holding them open!

Until I return to the lovely world of yarn...

Happy on the Hook!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Wonderings from a yarn addict

My yarn group retreated this last weekend and had a fabulous time! We left after work on Friday and spent the entire weekend crocheting, cooking simple meals with a few dips in the hot tub included in the stay. The beds were wonderfully comfortable, the lighting for crocheting superb and the time absolutely relaxing. This business isn't too far away for us to travel to, but yet it doesn't take a whole bunch of time to get there - perfect in my estimation!

I didn't think to take any photos while I was at the retreat, but to see all that's offered visit http://www.uxor.com/entrance.html and then click on the links for the various rooms/amenities. We spent most of our time in the Entertainment Room, which is upstairs on the same level as the bedrooms. It has great lighting and comfortable seating.

The best part was the owner of the business even found a yarn ball winder she brought out for our use during the retreat. Talk about handy! With just a little bit of cranking, it converted an unruly hank into this:

And the funny part is the owner only paid $2 for the yarn ball winder, which will also take three threads and twist them together into one, at a yard sale!!

My plan this weekend was to stitch up some new wrist warmers with the superwashed merino I purchased a few weeks ago. Cute pattern, crocheted cables. But try as I might I couldn't get the stitch count to come out right. Ditched the pattern and went back to the C2C for Blankets for Barracks Troops.

All of us were, at one time, working on our Blankets for Barracks Soldiers projects. And this is the funny part... all of us purchased items from the store connected to the retreat. Two of us couldn't resist the yarn bins! The business owner has yarn for 25 cents per skein/ball. There are even unfinished projects. I bought three unfinished projects, including a tablecloth with balls of Knit Cro-Sheen.

So, my wonderings include: are we just addicted to buying yarn and yarn projects, or is it a case of seeing pretty colors and new yarn and deeming it something that is necessary? And how is it that just days after wondering about a yarn ball winder I found myself using one numerous times, confirming that I definitely need one. Lastly, how do I live without a hot tub?

Happy on the Hook!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Blankets for Barracks Soldiers update

I am progressing nicely on my corner to corner for the Blankets for Barracks Soldiers project. I find the project quite rewarding, and the pattern is very relaxing. I haven't been able to spend much time on it lately but I do pick it up when I can. It's definitely a stash buster!

Here's an afghan from a member of our yarn group:

She started with three granny squares in the middle, then continued with three DC, ch 1 all the way around. The final round(s) will be smaller granny squares around the outside.

The project has grown by leaps and bounds on Facebook. The total number of blankets needed is at 150. The group on Facebook has all the information. It warms my heart every time I sit to work on this blanket, knowing that someone who is serving my country will find comfort with this blanket. This person is serving for me so I don't have to, protecting me, and possibly giving his/her life for me and my country. This is the least I can do for these brave people!

For more information about how to coordinate shipping for the project or to donate supplies, blocks or finished afghans in the Pacific Northwest, contact me at threadnfur [at] gmail [dot] com.

Until next time...

Happy on the Hook!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

So busy...

The month is almost gone, and sadly my hook has been silent for most of it. I think this happens every fall; try as I might, hectic reigns in my life this time of year. There was a bright spot among the flurry, though...

My small yarn group took a trip to three yarn shops. We touched, oohed and aahed at all the mixes, textures and colors one could imagine. This is Fiesta Baby Baby Boom in African Violet color. I've never found these colors together before and the transition between colors is nice. It's 100% extra fine super wash merino, something I haven't worked with before.

I've decided to make a set of wrist warmers. It will be interesting to see how the yarn variegates, whether it pools or does an actual variegation. I'm anxious to get started on the pattern but I'm debating if I want to start another WIP! So, the debate continues... and until the decision is made I will continue to lovingly admire this gorgeous yarn!

Happy on the Hook!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Blankets for Barracks Brief

Just a quick post to show a scrappy Corner to Corner by a member of the Ritzy Hookers Yarn Group. All that's left is to tuck a few ends and it's ready for the Blankets for Barracks Soldiers project. Great job!

Happy on the Hook!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fall is in the air...

Fall is my favorite time of year. Everything in nature is preparing for the coming winter, yet everything seems to be taking its time to enjoy the beautiful sunshine. We should all take  a hint from nature I think, and as I write this I reflect on the last couple of weeks and how hectic work has been and I wonder if I need to heed my own advice. Pushing on and getting the work done is important, but taking time for yourself is also necessary.

I happened to step out my front door and spotted the bees busily working this afternoon and it reminded me of my life. They have their tasks and go about it steadily and surely, not wavering or stressing about whether it will get done. They have a plan and work constantly toward that goal, knowing their plan will work. Interesting how much we could learn from the busy bees, isn't it?

I tend to procrastinate, and it is my biggest nemesis. Must work on that.

I have had some time to crochet, not as much as I'd like though. I have completed the four coasters I'm donating to a local auction. When I was testing coaster patterns and finally found the pattern I liked, I decided to make some as a donation to a local auction. It gave me something to do and the pattern was easy to work on.

After a brief 'Woo hoo' for completing a WIP, I started a corner to corner afghan for the Blankets for Barracks Soldiers project. It's a stash-buster, and my general plan is two rows of solid color and four rows of variegated - unless I'm close to using up the yarn and then I go until the yarn is gone! To join the yarn, I'm using the Magic Knot method. This is the first time I've used this joining method, and I'm loving it! No weaving in ends!

I must continue on my Saturday chores. Many to do, and this week I have only today to do the household work. And to squeeze in some time with the crochet hook! Until next time...

Happy on the Hook!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Blankets for Barracks Soldiers

My yarn group, which now has a name - the Ritzy Hookers Yarn Group, has decided to take on a project I found on Facebook in the Mood Blanket group I belong to. It's Blankets for Barracks Troops. Megan Palmer is asking for 6" or 12" squares to make afghans to fit the beds of troops who are returning to their barracks after a deployment. When it gets closer to time for the troops to come home the FRG (family readiness group) set up the rooms to welcome them home.

Megan wants to have a blanket for every barracks soldier coming home - something warm, inviting and homemade to show them appreciation and to show them there are people happy to have them home.

The afghans need to be 48"x72" and Megan is accepting squares, blankets, supplies, etc. Anyone can join the group on Facebook, where her contact information is located. You can also leave a message for me if you want to take part in the project but don't have a Facebook account and I can pass on the information.

Last week after I learned about this project, I walked into an indoor yard sale and found some yarn. Of course, I looked through it to see if there was anything I was interested in. There wasn't, but instead a small baggie of what looked like yo-yos caught my attention. I took them home and after close inspection of others in the yarn group I discovered they weren't yo-yos.

They are the centers to granny squares! What perfect timing for a project that calls for 6" squares. I have a good start for a bunch of very colorful squares to send to Fort Hood, Texas. And they can be used for men's or women's afghans, both of which are stationed at the fort.

Our yarn group is putting something in the local newspaper with a challenge/open invitation to the community to participate in the project. The finished items will be collected at the local chamber office. We will then host a yarn day the end of October where we will assemble and crochet as needed.

I invite everyone to join in this great project! It's a great stash buster, and what a wonderful way to give back to those who are serving our country! I don't know about you, but when I read about this project, it warmed my heart and I knew I wanted to take part. I will post our progress here, and if I hear of any others taking part I'll include them as well.

Until the next yarn adventure...

Happy on the Hook!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fair time!

I know it's been awhile since my last post, but life around hometown USA is a bit busy right now. Most everyone is in the middle of our annual community fair and local rodeo, plus getting ready for school to start the day after Labor Day. For me, the fair means a lot of work relating to work - where I work has two activities/events happening during the four-day fair that are organized through my office. Not much time to crochet, but I have found a bit of time to relax with my hook!

I've found the pattern for my coasters. It's the ombre coasters from Wink. Really quite easy and quite stunning! I'm enjoying the different color combinations, so much so I will likely hook up a set for an auction donation. In this particular case, I prefer Lilly's Sugar 'n Cream yarn for its stiffness. After all, coasters are supposed to be somewhat stiff!

Earlier I mentioned the local community fair. I actually entered a few of my crocheted items and received blue ribbons. I entered the purple African Flower Hexagon Mandala, Little Spring Mandala and wrist warmers.

Very pleased with the wrist warmers, using a Drops Design pattern in Hobby Lobby brand I Love This Cotton yarn. I received a Best of Class for the finished product. I haven't looked to see if the judge wrote any comments.

Remember, this is how we share our love of crochet and the art of fiber is by showing it off. Be proud of your work and the time you spend following the patterns, the money spent on the yarn and the care spent in each project.

I even do crocheting while sitting in a booth at the fair, and it does draw attention to it. People stop and watch me, ask questions about what I'm doing, the yarn I'm using, etc. It's the best way to show that what we do!

Happy on the Hook!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Stash Bustin'

The time has come to use up yarn. While it's nice to have yarn on hand for that quick, I-want-to-start-a-project-now moment, I have more than enough for those times. I decided to tackle the Lion Brand Homespun stash first. I have leftovers from various afghans, plus skeins I've bought for projects I'm just not sure I'll tackle. And then there are the skeins I purchased on sale (bonus!!).
I started with a sc, ch1 afghan (taken from a dishcloth pattern), but the unique pattern that was so visible in the dishcloth disappeared in the afghan due to the yarn. My mother had purchased some Homespun Thick and Quick and whipped up a simple afghan of one row of single crochet, one row of double crochet. I liked the looks of it and frogged out what I had started.
It works up fast and is oh so soft like Homespun is meant to be. I'm carrying the yarn on the side for all the colors, eliminating the need to tuck all those slippery ends! The length is set - I believe I crocheted 120 chains and I'm using a size N hook. The yarn is Homespun Baroque, Windsor and Colonial.

It's a great stash-buster, and an easy pattern. Right now my life is hectic at work planning a fundraiser and a parade, so I need a pattern I don't have to think. And I need to crochet just to unwind. I will be looking for other easy patterns that are stash-busters as well, because work will get only busier now as fall arrives.

Happy on the Hook!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pattern trials: Coasters!

I have an antique table that if moisture even gets anywhere near it, water marks appear. So coasters are a part of my everyday routine. I grew up using coasters; I was taught they saved the furniture from a beverage's condensation, those little drips that slip down the side of the glass and even from minor spills. In fact, I've been using the coasters I used as a child on my antique table - the same ones I tooled on leather. Ahh, the memories!

I sit at the same table and crochet often. During one of those recent sessions, I began to think it would be quite lovely to crochet some coasters. So I started my search for coasters. I headed to Ravelry and used its search function, and found quite a few.

The above coasters are a combination of two patterns. The center is from here and the petals are from here. The difference in size is yarn. The center on the left is I Love This Cotton from Hobby Lobby and the right is Sugar 'n Cream by Lilly. The petals on both are with I Love This Cotton. I will likely make more with Sugar 'n Cream just to get the size I want.

This coaster is really quite pretty and is a larger size, which I really like. It's by Wink and the tutorial is available here. I used Sugar 'n Cream yarn for the entire coaster (sage green) and I Love This Cotton for the accent (pistache).

This is based on a pattern by Charmed by Ewe. I added a few rows, and then the final row wouldn't work so I did my own. I still want to make the original pattern, maybe with Sugar 'n Cream so the final coaster will be large enough. I like my coasters to be a bit bigger so they will work for mugs and glasses of almost any size.

The other colors I used in these coasters are Sugar 'n Cream Aloe Vera, I Love This Cotton Camo Print and I Love This Cotton Too Pink.

I'm not done testing coaster patterns. I'm having fun looking for the 'perfect' pattern - the right size that's tight enough so moisture won't damage my table and one that has just enough pretty to fit my tastes. Don't know if I'll find the one, but the hunt is fun!

Happy on the Hook!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday ramblings

I actually had a productive weekend, even though it was a busy one. I'm caught up on my temperature blanket, pictured above, and I'm very happy with the minor adjustments I made to the Riley Flower Square Motif. The colors are working together quite well, although once again I've adjusted the color scheme for that as well.

The idea of a temperature blanket came from a group on Facebook. It's really been a lot of fun tracking the highs and lows each day. The nuances of temperature changes each day is fascinating, how the temperature can jump around within a day and how in the summer it stays hot well into the evening (in our part of the United States anyway) is all intriguing. I am a bit frustrated though, that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service's website where I obtain my temperatures stopped posting information on Aug. 1 at 7:40 p.m.

Since I am at a stopping point on the temperature blanket and will have to wait for the local newspaper to come out on Thursday for the temperatures, I turned my attention to my mood blanket. I had initially began working on the centers with the intent of 'catching up' from January 1. Well, we're in August, and I'm just starting, so that's not going to work. So I decided to start in July like I did with the Temperature Blanket.

I came across the mention of a mood blanket in someone else's blog at the beginning of the year. I did some research and found a group on Facebook dedicated to those who were committed to the Crochet Mood Blanket 2014 Crochet Along

First, select your moods. Then select the colors that best represent the moods. For my blanket, the inside of the block is the mood.

My moods are content, relaxed, happy, blessed, productive, busy, tired, stressed, bleh, overwhelmed, migraine, energetic, excited, confident, frustrated and bad day.

Then, you can either do a block every day or choose a block pattern that has multiple rows and do a row a day for a block a week. I am doing a block a week.

Some crocheters/knitters are doing rows per day/week. The choices are infinite!

This has been a good exercise for me. It's helped me to see how my moods change, and how long my moods stay the same. As with the temperature blanket, I've been tracking my moods since the beginning of 2014. 

I am using the same pattern Zelna Olivier at Zooty Owls' Crafty Blog used for her Mood Blanket. I am using I Love This Yarn by Hobby Lobby for the entire afghan. So far, the colors I've selected are going together nicely, even the not-so-good moods!

Both daily afghans are very similar in design, it turns out. I will have to be very careful and not get the patterns mixed up! I am enjoying how both are working up, and knowing each is specific to me - one the temperatures of my hometown and the other my interpretation of my moods each day - will make these very special indeed. They may look somewhat haphazard, but they will be perfect!

Until next time...

Happy on the Hook!

Monday, July 28, 2014

More Mandalas!

Although it's been a little bit longer than normal for a post from my little corner of the world, it's not for a lack of crochet action! I've made steady progress on my temperature afghan, and I've finished the remaining mandala as a gift for a very special woman. The one above is using Zooty Owl's Dahlia Mandala.

The first seven rows are by the pattern, except the fifth row (light pink). I made the same modification on the fifth and sixth row as I did before. The next row is from the pattern, and the next row is 1dc in the top of each dc in the previous row, not making any stitch in the ch1 space. The next round is 5ch and a sc that lines up with the ch1 space two rows before. The final round is a hdc, 6dc, hdc into each 5ch space.

I actually caught myself yesterday wanting a travel crochet project that I didn't have to read the pattern after every row. I had a road trip and wanted something to keep my hands busy, but didn't want to concentrate on a pattern. As if I need another project in the works! But it's still in my mind, so I may have to relinquish and search for a nice and easy pattern for those road trips.

What really started the thought process was one of the gals at our crochet group is making a beautiful baby blanket using Caron Light in white. Very delicate with a gorgeous pattern. So, of course, my mind started wandering into the realms of lacy afghan patterns that I could start.

This will be a debate, I believe, of whether or not I shall start another afghan. And if I cave, what kind of afghan will it be... until my next foray!

Happy on the Hook!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hooky progress!

I love it when a plan comes together! I started working on my temperature blanket earlier this month and I'm almost caught up. I wasn't happy with how the blocks were going together (as I noted in this post), so I tweaked the pattern. The flowers are laying flatter and the corners are much better. I added a TC and a ch1 to each corner, using the ch1 space to join.

So round 4 of the Riley Flower Square Motif would be: Ch1 and sc in the same st. [Hdc in the next ch sp, then dc, trc, ch 1, trc, dc all in the next st. Hdc in the next ch sp. Ch1, sc in each of the next 3 std and ch sps, ch1] 3 times. Repeat for 4th side, but end with ch1 in the last 4 sts and ch sps.

My latest project on the hook is another mandala. Once again, I'm using Alice's pattern at Crochet with Raymond (available here). I should note that I made the same slight changes as last time because I wanted the mandala a bit bigger. The pattern notes are listed in detail here

This one is for a friend. I really like how the tones work together in this one. I especially like the bits of yellow and how well they are placed. It's a variegated cotton from Sugar 'n Cream by Lily. I also used I Love This Cotton from Hobby Lobby.

Two more mandalas to go for friends, plus the Stitch-cation, temperature blanket, mood blanket. I do have a few WIPs right now!

Happy on the Hook!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mandalas make smiles

More mandalas have 'left the nest.' I've been searching for a crocheted something for a few people the past couple of months and it just dawned on me last week that mandalas fit the bill perfectly. I have found that making mandalas for others is very enjoyable, from color selection to actual creation of the project. Throughout the entire process, this individual is on my mind.

This mandala is the Little Spring Mandala from Made in K-town. This is my go-to pattern when I need another round, but especially for the border. So very simple, but it puts such an elegant finish on the mandala. There are some modifications to the pattern - first, I needed a bigger mandala. So I added a row of DC3TOG (the second row of medium blue) ch 3, then four DC in each ch3 space (depending on the yarn, you may need ch4 space on the DC3TOG round), then finished with the last two rounds of the original pattern. Because the yarn I used was a bit lighter weight yarn, each section was HDC, 4DC, HDC instead of HDC, 3DC, HDC.

This mandala is the first six rows of the Dahlia Mandala by Zooty Owl. In this case, I didn't need a mandala as large as the pattern would make. I love how cheery the dahlia flower turns out in these colors!

Of course, because of yarn weight, the fifth row (light green) is a bit different. Instead of 7DC I did 9 so the space was completely filled. Then on the sixth row, I single crocheted into the top of the 5th DC. And the last row is from the Little Spring Mandala pattern.

For both mandalas, I'm using I Love This Cotton yarn from Hobby Lobby and Sugar 'n Cream cotton.

If the mandala 'bug' hasn't hit you yet, I encourage you to try your hand at one. They are fun, use up little scraps of yarn and really brighten up the home when you're finished. The best part is they are quick! I'm onto more patterns - three more people to make mandalas for. Make sure to check out the Mandala Roundup page, where I've gathered all the patterns I've found. So handy to have them in one place!

Happy on the Hook!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Crochet Health Survey

Those of us who crochet have likely experienced a health benefit from doing so, whether it's relaxation, mental stimulation, keeping your hands busy, keeping your hands limber or a combination of things. Whatever the reason, we know crochet is good for us!

The following is a link to a 27-question survey designed to gather detailed - yet anonymous - information detailed information about the physical and mental health issues that are helped through crochet work and to what degree the craft is helpful.

According to a press release at Crochet Concupiscence, the blog by survey creator Kathryn Vercillo, "Kathryn Vercillo is the author of Crochet Saved My Life, a book about the craft’s health benefits. In the book she shares her own story of crocheting to heal from chronic depression. She also interviews two dozen other women who share their stories of hooking to heal. In addition, she aggregates the available research into crafting to heal.

"Several formal studies have been conducted that show crochet to be healing. The new study is designed to add to the available information on this topic. One unique thing about it is that the study focuses specifically on crochet as opposed to lumping it in with other crafts. Another unique feature is that it goes beyond asking the question “does crochet help?” (because we know that it does) and explores how it helps, to what extent and for what symptoms.
"Kathryn Vercillo will do an in-depth analysis of the results of this study. She will use that information to publish a full report on the health benefits of crafting. She will also use the information in future publications and it will serve as the foundation for continued research into this important topic."

Here is the survey link:

Crochet is my escape, my relaxation, my stress relief. It's how I survived my divorce, health issues last year with close relatives (both at the same time) and how I unwind. I also find that learning new stitches and new patterns brings an immense sense of joy and accomplishment, and mastery of these new talents leaves me craving for more.

Crochet is no longer a passing fad or just a hobby for me. It is my lifeline, a part of my soul. It is also my connection to my grandmothers, as I've blogged about here and here.

Take the survey. It's mostly multiple choice. It's easy and takes a short bit of your time - time well spent in the larger scheme of things!

Happy on the Hook!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The challenging challenges of a challenge

I haven't been able to work on the Stitch-cation Summer Challenge as much as I want to, but I've made two blocks so far - the popcorn stitch block:

which I love the texture and feel of. And, the popcorns are kind of fun to make once you get the hang of them.

The second block is a granny square, but it's not like any granny I've ever made!

It's not made in the round. You turn the work after each row like an afghan, giving the block a different appearance. It's a Red Heart pattern (LW4132-11), and I really like it.

I thought I was going great guns, excited to move onto the next block... Until my mother, who is doing the same challenge but has more time, discovered a couple of things. First of all, the border should be done in the same color on all the blocks. Second, the blocks need to be the same size...

Notice a size problem? My mother has found that a few of the blocks require adjusting by changing hook sizes up or down. For the popcorn block, it's two sizes down. So, I will remake the block with a smaller hook and put the right border on!

Another project in the crochet basket is my temperature blanket. I found a pattern at Moogly called Riley Flower Square Motif. Once again, I'm using I Love This Yarn from Hobby Lobby. I made up two squares to see how it worked up with the join-as-you-go-method I use, and to be honest I think I have to do some tweaking. I don't like the corners and it seems to be a bit 'scrunched,' as if it doesn't have enough yarn to go around the flower.

And, for clarification, my year is July-June :). The inside color is the low temperature and the outside is the high. I'm collecting my data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service website. It's been fun to watch the temperatures through the winter and slowly get warmer into summer. I've definitely enjoyed this part of the project.

More WIPs to keep me busy. But, that keeps me interested and motivated I guess!

Happy on the Hook!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Mandalas, mandalas, mandalas

I spent the three-day weekend crocheting, as I mentioned in my previous post. I also putzed around the house and tackled some little projects that just needed to be taken care of. One of those was organizing all the printed crochet patterns I've collected and just piled on my counter. I couldn't take care of them as I print them; that would be the smart, efficient thing to do. No, I had to let the patterns pile up until I could use it as a bookend.

So how does this relate to mandalas? In the process of putting the patterns into sheet protectors and in a binder, I realized exactly how many mandala patterns I've collected. Enough that they get their own three-ring binder! So through this organization project, I thought how wonderful it would be to have links to the patterns all in one place.

So, I have added a page to my blog called Mandala Roundup. It's a place for me to link to all the great free mandala patterns out there that I hope to whip up. It's a work in progress, and there might be a doily or two that might sneak in the list... I'm calling it my virtual pattern list, and it's much easier to organize than that pile of patterns!!

Happy on the Hook!

p.s. I read somewhere that Jennifer is from a Cornish form of the Old Welsh name Gwenhywfar (Guenevere). I thought that was unique and decided to sign my blog "Gwenhywfar." Just thought you'd like to know!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Celebrating Independence Day with family and my hook

Although the date stamp says it is July 5, I haven't gone to bed yet so it's still July 4! I hope everyone enjoyed the day and took time to reflect what it means (for those of us in the United States).

It has been a lovely Independence Day, one that I think has some memorable moments. Good food with family - barbecue, fresh fruit and Jell-O dessert - plus quality time crocheting with my mother.

I finished a WIP I started not that long ago. I wanted to test a dishcloth pattern to make sure it was easy for someone who is learning how to crochet. I used Sugar 'n Cream "Jewels" for the pictured dishcloth. The pattern is a simple 1SC ch 1. I love how the pattern and yarn complement each other.

After finishing this project, I picked up my next one. The Crochet Crowd has launched its Stitch-cation Summer Challenge on July 1. Click here to visit the page for the Stitch-cation Summer Challenge. The purpose is to expand our repertoire of crochet knowledge by trying new stitches, different color combinations and then deciding how to join the blocks together. The final decision is what type of border to put the project.

I decided to go with pastels and so far I'm enjoying the first block. I'm using I Love This Yarn from Hobby Lobby for the project. But I put it aside when I got home from the folks' home to work on......

You guessed it - the v-stitch afghan. I did get all the ends tucked and have been working on the border. And, drum roll please..... the border is DONE!!!

Just those few more ends to tuck and it's finished. Two WIPs (well, almost) done in a day is amazing! It's been a great day. Now I must get to bed!

Happy on the Hook!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

African Flower Hexagon Mandala, with a twist

I have always loved doilies. As I said in a previous post, I remember watching my grandmother crochet such delicate doilies with Knit-Cro-Sheen and I always wanted to try my hand at hooking one up. I haven't yet, but it's on my to-do list.

Instead, I've discovered the mandala craze. I love the colors and uses for these versatile creations! I've sort of gone hog wild in collecting patterns, both doily and mandala... as if I need more patterns!! But that's another story for another post.

I'm especially pleased with my second mandala. I started with Alice's pattern at Crochet with Raymond (available here), who offers a pattern for "Ornamental" Pot Holders. She refers to a tutorial for an African Flower Hexagon Crochet Tutorial that eventually leads to Heidi Bears' tutorial, so I'm providing the link here.

Although I don't write my own patterns, I do tend to 'modify' sometimes as I did on this one. I added another 'granny' row on the fourth row after the African Flower Hexagon (the last completed row in the photo above). It didn't affect the pattern at all and I wanted my mandala a little bit bigger.

I am using a combination of I Love This Cotton yarn from Hobby Lobby and Sugar 'n Cream yarn by Lily. The hook is a size H.

The pattern at Crochet with Raymond is for a pot holder, and I didn't want a pot holder. The final row is the joining row to make the pot holder and didn't look right on the mandala. So I modified once again and added the last two rounds from the Little Spring Mandala by Barbara Smith at Made in K-town.

But the cotton wasn't filling up the space like I wanted it to so I even modified the last round a bit more. One section has 1 HDC, 4 DC, 1 HDC and the next 1 HDC, 3 DC, 1 HDC, followed by 1 HDC, 4 DC, 1 HDC. It repeats all the way around. I tried with 1 HDC, 4 DC, 1 HDC around the entire mandala but it ruffled and wouldn't lay flat.

Sometimes you have to think outside of the pattern. Experimentation is the only way we become comfortable with our craft, and in turn projects take on our personality. I encourage you to be bold and try new things. You may have a few frustrations along the way, but the joy of the finished project is worth it!

Happy on the Hook!