August 17 2017

Crochet on a Plane

When we were getting ready to fly to London in September 2015, I began researching whether or not I could take my crochet hooks with me on the plane. I knew I was a nervous flyer, so I figured that crocheting hats for the homeless would allow me to focus on something, anything but the fact that I was on an airplane for the next few hours and would not be able to move around much. For someone who is claustrophobic, this is a daunting prospect.

The great thing about crocheting hats is that the supplies needed will fit into a quart sized zip top plastic bag. I can carry yarn in my carry-on and have the hat I am currently working on in my purse so I can pull it out when ever I find myself with some extra free time. Unfortunately, the quart sized bag with yarn and hook can be rather round and puffy inside my purse. I looked on the TSA website and the one for the airlines we were going to fly with to make sure they would allow my crochet hooks on the plane. As was reading the guidelines, I was surprised to see that knitting needles were specifically allowed but crochet hooks were not mentioned at all. I figured a knitting needle was much longer and pointier than a little six-inch crochet hook that wasn’t particularly pointy, so I took my chances. I picked one metal hook that I was fairly certain I could easily replace to take on the plane. I also chose to keep my extra hooks and scissors and such along with the set of plastic hooks I bought just in case metal wasn’t allowed in a plastic sliding pencil case. This worked very well. I highly recommend grabbing a few of these in the fall with back to school sales for traveling. They make great cases for headphones and charging cords they are safely stored and easy to find, plus they stay tangle free and won’t break or short out as easily if stored in a sturdy case of some sort.

So, as it turns out, focusing on the stitch counts needed for the beginning part of my hat pattern was very helpful for not stressing out during the take-off and landing times. It also helped me relax while we were flying over that little puddle that some folks call an ocean. I managed to make something like eight hats in the seven days we were gone. I became known as the lady who makes the hats amongst our twenty-nine person tour group. It turns out crocheting works well as an ice breaker and stranger felt perfectly comfortable approaching me to ask what I was making. Some of the men on the trip were surprisingly observant and noticed that the hat I was working in today was different colored than the one I was making yesterday. Many of the ladies expressed regret that they hadn’t brought along their yarn projects. A few went so far as to say they didn’t think it would be allowed but admitted they hadn’t thought to research to find out for sure. I admit I brought the inexpensive plastic hooks along with the idea that I would be willing to give some yarn, a plastic hook and an extra copy of the pattern I was using for my hats away to anyone who seems genuinely interested in learning to make hats. Unfortunately, it never got that far. Most people were just curious what I was making and many thought I was knitting. I can’t believe people don’t understand that knitting requires two long pointy needles and crochet needs only one short hook.

During my research about what I could bring, I learned that the scissors were the thing that you had to be especially careful about. They had to be small and have blades less than four inches long. I found a small folding pair that claimed to be TSA compliant on the package, so I bought those and still carry them in my crochet on the go bag.

So if you are going on a trip anytime soon, consider how much time the traveling will give you to work on your WIPs. I would recommend taking small easy projects that you wouldn’t be terribly broken up about losing or having taken from you. I also read that you should be ready and willing to demonstrate the fact that you can crochet or knit on demand. Leave the intricate sweater or afghan and the hand-carved one-of-a-kind hooks at home, they are too valuable to lose.

Don’t be afraid to be seen knitting or crocheting in public. You never know when it will lead to a lasting friendship.

July 13 2017

2nd Quarter Goal Check-in

Way back in January, I shared my 2017 SMART Goals. Half the year is gone and it is time to see how I am doing on those goals. In the past, I have made goals, written them down, shared them with a group, and then forgotten all about them until the end of the year when it was time to make new goals for the coming year.

That system wasn’t working for me at all. Then only goals I got done were the ones that were accidental, never because I planned to get them done. Usually, when I found the list again, I was pleasantly surprised if I managed to get any of my goals accomplished. This year, I am trying something different and if you are reading this, I could really use your help. I need you to ask me about my goals and check in with me from time to time to see if I am getting them done. This is the piece that was missing in the past.

Here are the goals I set at the beginning of the year:

FAMILY FUN GOALS: (2/3)
1) Do a cabin weekend DONE!
2) April trip DONE!
3) Annual Hockey Trip for the kids’ birthdays (not scheduled yet)

FITNESS GOALS: (meh, but ongoing)
1) Get 6 hours of sleep a night (85/181 = 47%)
2) Drink 6 cups of water a day (142/181 = 78%)
3) Continue using MyFitnessPal app (180 day streak!)

HOUSE GOALS: (1/3)
1) Clean out my home office (Real progress on the parts that show)
2) Declutter the landing DONE!
3) Declutter my clothes (1st pass done)

PERSONAL GOALS: (1/3)
1) Do some genealogy (Does tidying up the paper files count?)
2) Take three writing classes DONE! (6 so far)
3) Read for thirty minutes a day (Consistent)  (47 books so far)

SPIRITUAL/CHARITY GOALS: (1/3)
1) Pray daily (Consistent & Constant)
2) Read 15 inspirational fiction books (9/15)
3) Crochet 26 hats to donate to charity DONE as of 7/8! Do you want to see photos?

WRITING GOALS: (ongoing)
1) Finish one of my previous NaNoWriMo novels (working on edits and revisions again during July)
2) Publish something (see writing goal #1 above)
3) Participate in NaNoWriMo (and hopefully win again)

OK, I know I am making progress. I have finished 5 out of the 18 goals I set! Two of those not done are not able to be done until a future date. Five goals are ongoing and cannot really be considered done as long as there are still days left in the year.

Editing and revisions to my 2016 NaNo Novel continue to be more difficult than I expected. The writing goals have proven to be much more difficult for me to feel like I am making progress on. I should have made a writing goal to write at least one blog post a week or 52 posts in the year would have been better. Becoming a year-round writer was one of my goals for 2014, 2015 and 2016. It took a long time and a concerted effort, but I am finally considering myself a year-round writer thanks to this blog. It gives me a reason to write and a place to post and the feeling of accountability and accomplishment.

I think the crochet goals was easily accomplished because it was reasonable. I think I made 30 hats last year and knew my carpel tunnel is getting worse, so I thought I would back off what I knew I had done last year. I chose 26 because making a hat every other week seemed completely doable. The reason for the early success is because we took driving trips over new years weekend and the trip in April, both of these gave me hours of riding in a car with hubby driving. I have discovered that keeping myself occupied while hubby drives keeps me from gasping in fear while he drives so I get a lot of crocheting done and even some reading. The reading goal is helped along because I take my nook with me to work each day and read for the 30-minute lunch break. It also comes along when we go to restaurants and on all trips. The best part about reading on my nook is that every book can be read with a large font if my eyes are tired and I can even read in the dark.

How are you doing on your goals for 2017? What have you learned about goal setting? I learned that I need to set more measurable goals and goals that are not ongoing. Those ongoing goals are nice enough, but unless you do them every day for the whole year you feel like you failed at least a little.

July 6 2017

Aunt Mary’s Antique Crochet circa 1974

I was thinking about crochet and talking to someone about granny squares and that got me thinking about the things my favorite Aunt Mary made us when we were kids. It meant to much that she made these things especially for me, that I save them. I know I wasn’t given special treatment because she made them for all her nieces I think. I recall a photo that was taken at our grandfather’s funeral in 1974 with many of the girl cousins dresses in matching patriotic ponchos. The only difference was that I think some had blue fringe and trim and some had red like the one shown here. I was eight years old at the time and I would guess all three of these pieces were about the same size. The two granny square ones were made the same front and back, so there wasn’t the need to take so many photos to show measurements and such as there was with the little red vest.

If you are handy with figuring out patterns, please feel free to do so. I do ask that you share a copy of the pattern with me, link back to this blog post and that you not use my photos without my permission.

 

My sisters and I all had a tank vest like this but they were in different color combinations. One had bright yellow where the pink is on this one if I recall correctly.

 

I don’t know if Aunt Mary made this little red vest shown below or not because quite honestly, I don’t recall ever having seen it before. I thought it worthy of sharing anyway, and because it is more complex I tried to take the photos so anyone who wants to can make a pattern.

This is the back with side seams showing, though they are barely noticeable, really.

The right front has little ties to loop through the hole on the left front and tie it closed.

The edging is the same all the way around the neck, hem and front opening.

This shows the edging and side seam areas pretty well.

All three of these pieces appear to be made with acrylic yarn similar to Red Heart Super Saver, a worsted weight “4” size would be my guess. It suddenly dawns on me just how much time my aunts must have spent crocheting, but then again they didn’t have the internet or nearly as many television channels to distract them.

If I can find them, somewhere I also have several Barbie dresses made by my aunt Mary or Aunt Norma (Mom’s side). I also have a knitted Christmas stocking made by my grandmother (on Dad’s side) that is personalized with name and birth year. If these sound like something you would be interested in seeing photos of also, please leave a comment below. Subscribe to the blog using the box on the right side of this page so you won’t miss any future posts. Stay tuned!

June 29 2017

Learn to Crochet Edging on Fleece Blankets

Rotary Cutter with Skip-Stitch Blade

Crochet edging is a great way to add a personal touch to a fleece blanket. There are so many options for fleece available. Here are two I have bought to edge as gifts for specific people. Both of these team prints were bought at Hancock Fabrics. I used black yarn to add trim to both. When making a blanket for an adult, I usually get 2 yards (60 x 72 inches)  or if the person is particularly tall, 2-1/4 yards (60 x 81 inches). These blankets are very snuggly and washable, perfect for car trips or watching TV under on a chilly night.

University of Cincinnati Bearcats Fleece Fabric
University of Alabama Crimson Tide Fleece Fabric

Shark Baby BlanketNote the stitches on this one mimic the teeth and gums on the sharks.

Learn to make these easy blankets yourself. Continue reading

June 22 2017

Crochet for Better Mental Health

Have you ever considered learning to knit or crochet? Perhaps you should. It could help your all around mental health.

I have discovered that I like the mind-numbing meditative comfort of knowing I can make the hat pattern I make all the time. I have to focus a bit at the beginning of each hat and count the stitches in each row before moving on, but then I can just crochet and talk to those around me without fear of messing up. It is very relaxing and enjoyable as long as my carpel tunnel doesn’t act up too much.

The fact that most of the hats I make will be given to the homeless and help make them warmer and let them know that someone cares about them only makes it that much better.

I can carry the things I need to make each hat in either a quart or gallon sized slider plastic storage bag. Easy enough to tuck into my tote bag or toss in the trunk so I can always have something constructive to do. Much of the yarn I use to make the hats has been donated to me for this purpose. It is my pleasure to find ways to make almost every hat unique and beautiful. I especially enjoy using variegated yarns because you never know what sort of pattern you will end up with. Note the diagonal striping in the brown hat shown below. I have fun putting different yarns together to see how they will turn out. See some of the photos below to see how pair different solid color yarns with the same variegated yarn can drastically change the way it looks. Here are some of my latest creations. So far, I have made 24 hats in 2017.

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