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!