Born in the Tundra of Minnesota, I have since become a bit of a Gypsy. Currently calling home base the hot sands of Arizona, I do still travel often. Whether the journey is a physical one, or one taken by reading a fantastic book it doesn't matter, the fun is always in the adventure. As always I am an eclectic person that likes a wide array of things and has many passions. Creating, advocating for animals and Mothering just to name a few.
My crochet has not been going as quickly as it normally does or as I would like it to. I am behind on projects as many who read already know. It makes me sad I really don’t like being this behind on gifts (Yule) though I do know everyone understands. I love crochet, it is a place where I can feel content and Zen like reading only my hands are always busy as well, which is a big deal for me. I feel better if my hands are busy and being useful. I have been busy there is no doubt about that, I usually am. That isn’t the only reason why crochet has been slow recently.
You see, it seems lately that my mind turns to just about anything else to do before it turns to crochet. Spring cleaning, organizing lists, organizing supplies, organizing anything, testing and making new products (a to do task anyways but still) and other things. If you asked me a few minutes before this post why I thought I was doing that I would have shrugged and told you I have no idea. It is true, I had no idea until a few minutes ago when Dutchy sat down on one of my Yule gifts that I picked up to make myself work on it. I do love the project but I have to make myself work on it. So why?
I miss Cubby so much and that feeling hits me more when I pick up my crochet projects. Sometimes it hits so hard that I can’t see through my tears. I feel bad that I seem to downplay how hard the loss of my Pasha sweet has also been, I miss him so much too. So very much, but Cubby was Cubby. He so rarely left my side. He was my barnacle. Sure, it could be annoying sometimes, but his comforting, warm, sweet presence was always welcome. His unflagging love was always cherished. His sweet purring and moments of knowing when I needed him to be even a little closer I just never looked past a time where he wouldn’t be with me. I could not picture my life without him. Which is silly, of course, because eventually we do lose those loved ones in our life, four pawed and two pawed as it were. Yet I just never looked beyond.
Now that presence is not with me all the time. I still walk at a slower pace so he can follow along, I still pause before turning around from a counter or fridge ect because he was always right behind me. I still wait for him to climb into my lap and adjust whatever project I am working on to fit around him. Cubby adored sitting on my crochet projects. He loved taking part in that zen time for me and of course he liked snuggly warm yarn as well. I still have the crochet, but I don’t have him. I think that is why I end up putting the project away after such a short time now. Especially the holiday ones, as they were of course started when he was still here, still testing them out giving them his approval.
I am sure it will get easier as time passes, but for now it doesn’t feel like it. The world will turn and life goes on, but in the darkness of the night or the quiet moments of the light I stand still because I miss him so much.
I have to say I agree with this stance 100%. Those of us who make these items really need to stop saying things are easy when they just aren’t. Yes it may seem easy because we have taken the time to learn the skill needed to make these items, but that is something that can happen within any profession and or hobby.
I’ve officially decided that knitting and crochet is not easy. Its difficult. And while I’m knitting my way through a very easy pattern to make a shawl that will fit no mater what size it comes out to and use up whatever amount of yarn I have, I hope you’ll join me in conveying to the world that what we do requires both skill and talent.
Let me go off on a seemingly unrelated topic for a bit. In my previous life, when I was married, I once made my future-ex-husband homemade cinnamon rolls from scratch for his birthday. It was the first time I had ever made cinnamon rolls and I followed a recipe I found in an issue of Sunset magazine. The making of these rolls took me about 6 hours from start to finish. I had made 13, so I ate one, packed up the other twelve, and delivered them to him at his office.
He was amazed. The one person whom he let eat one of his birthday cinnamon rolls was also amazed. They could not believe I had pulled this off. They looked at me like I was The Earth Mother.
Why? Because I lied my butt off. I told them
“Yes, they were pretty hard to make.”
“I had two failed batches before this one came out”.
“Its an old recipe I got from my mom”.
“You like the frosting? Yeah, I use a secret ingredient to make it so yummy.” (I doubled up on the vanilla extract.)
Those two guys really appreciated those cinnamon rolls. They begged me for more. I don’t think they would have fawned all over me If I had said “Oh it was easy. You could make them yourself if you wanted to.”
There was a lesson in there and I’m just now getting around to learning it. Lying can pay off. Those two guys probably could not make cinnamon rolls on their first try from a magazine recipe. They lack all the skills a person would need to pull that off; skills that I have. I’ve done lots of baking. I’ve followed lots of recipes. Experience has taught me that if one teaspoon of vanilla is good, two teaspoons will be better.
So getting back to knitting and crochet, its not easy even if we make it look that way. Yes, 90% of most humans over the age of 10 could figure out how to make chain stitches if they sat and concentrated for a few minutes. But most people can’t concentrate like that, not even for just a few minutes. Most people quit after one or two tries.
However you learned to make knit and/or crochet stitches, you had to not only concentrate but you had to take information that was presented one way and apply it kinesthetically. That’s fancy teacher-speak for the student got the information and then applied it in a physical demonstration. Whether you read the instructions for making purl stitches in a book, or watched someone make a cluster stitch on youtube, you had to translate that into what to do with your hands. Trust me when I say applying information kinesthetially is not something everyone can do. If you’re knitting and crocheting then you can.
If you are making anything more complicated than a square washcloth, you are mentally keeping track of a dozen variables as you stitch. Are your edges lining up? If not, why not? Is this going to be the right size? How is your tension? Too tight? Too lose? All over the place? This is called meta-cognition (again with the teacher-speak) and in this case I use it to mean you are constantly self-monitoring. Using meta-cognition, keeping track of your own progress, your own understanding, is a sign of an evolved mind. Students, of any subject, who monitor their own understanding and self-adjust have a much higher rate of success. And all knitters and crocheters do this.
Then there is following patterns. Oh boy. If you can follow a pattern then you are reading a modified, abbreviated, or possibly graphical version of language and translating that in your head into English (or Russian or Cantonese, or Swahili). It takes literacy skills. Its very much like (don’t run off on me now) reading mathematical formulas. Patterns have their own symbols and abbreviations and their own set of logic rules, like math does. If you can read, understand, and follow patterns, then you have robust literacy skills… and are probably better at math then you give yourself credit for.
Finally, to be a successful knitter or crocheter you have to be determined. We all rip back. We all start over. We all don’t give up. Maybe its stubbornness and maybe its foolhardiness and maybe its not a skill (per se). But stick-with-it-ness is not a common trait. If you’ve ever finished a project that needed two or more skeins of yarn then you have done something most people could not do even if they were offered money.
If you’re reading this blog then you can knit and/or crochet. Chances are that you will find learning a new stitch or a new cast-on to be pretty easy. But only becasue you are a knitter/crocheter! To the non-knitter/crochter Judy’s Magic Cast On looks like freaking magic.
And I’m saying we let them think that. We should actively encourage those non-crafty types to think that what we do is hard. Between ourselves we can say “Oh this bind-off is easy. Here let me show you”. But to the rest of the world, its all hard. It takes skill and practice and we had throw two failed sweaters away before we managed to make you this nice one.
You know what? I think if we lied our butts off embellished a little, the recipients of our handmade gifts would appreciate them more. If we can convince the giftee that we are, in fact, The Earth Mother/Father, then the matching hat and scarf set they just got for their birthday is down right special. Amazing. Maybe even a bit magical.
Trust me… they are happier when they think that. Really, we should all start playing up the mystery and exclusive nature of our talents not becasue we are stuck-up braggarts but simply to make the people in our lives feel special. We do this for their benefit, not ours.
Sitting here mulling over a recent conversation. I was reminded of a great post at the Crochet Crowd about what goes into the pricing of different yarns. This can go into any kind of product IMO. Mass produced jewelry is always going to be less expensive then a beautiful handmade piece that is one of a kind. That one of a kind piece is also going to have a longer wear time more often then not. Here is the article from Crochet crowd it is a great article and I remember reading it back before I fully dove head first into my love of fiber because I remember seeing a skein of yarn at a local shop for $85 and wondering but why? Though once I looked at the label and saw it was an alpaca and cashmere blend I no longer asked why the fiber itself was costly never mind the processing of it.
< < When I started The Crochet Crowd back in 2008. My most expensive yarn ball purchase would be around $3.99 – $4.99. It was either Super Value by Bernat or Super Saver by Red Heart. If I was really living on the edge, my projects might have been variegated but I did notice there was less yarn on the ball but for the same price.
Daniel is more high end in his tastes than I am. Daniel is a caviar kind of person and well let’s just say I like champagne on a beer budget. If I can get things cheap, I’m there!
Daniel had noticed I just crocheted an afghan in about 60 hours. I used the typical economy yarn. He pulled out his trusty calculator and said to me. You’ve just spent 60 hours on working on an afghan. The cost of your afghan is about $35 in the economy level yarn. He said, you know if you would have budgeted yourself to not buy all of your yarn up front but try to buy as you go, you could have afforded the afghan and used this other really nice yarn. The cost difference would be from $35 to $50 for the same afghan but in a different yarn. Gosh darnit, his yarn choice was superior verses my choice and what was finished. He says you are going to spend the time to put crochet it, the same hours exist, why not invest in a different yarn to give your afghan a bit of a kick.
Daniel took me to Lens Mill Store in Waterloo Ontario. It was really the first yarn store outside of Walmart and Zellers that I had been going to. I thought I had died and gone to yarn heaven. Some of the prices of the nicer yarn wasn’t far off for what I was paying for an afghan. It just feels when you need to buy 7 – 10 balls of yarn for an afghan that it’s when you see your piggy bank start to decline. For me, I’m going to spend my money on yarn anyway… if the yarn is on special, I will most likely buy all my yarn up front. If not, I typically spoon feed myself the yarn so it’s affordable within my budget.
I had completely fell in love with James C Brett Marble Chunky. It’s still made today and is extremely popular. It’s popular due to colour transitions that are exceptionally slow, the yarn is the size of a mini 10 pin bowling ball and there’s a lot in the ball! I had paid $11.99 many years ago for this, today you might find this for around $13.99.
Sounding kinda of ridiculous now, I treated my two balls like they were gold! I didn’t waste an inch! I loved the yarn so much but am I willing to pay this much for yarn? Over the next year I would do research on and off to understand the costs of yarn. When you go to fibre festivals or any stores where this yarn is typically sold, we automatically jump to the conclusion that we are being ripped off. That bugs me to no end.
With yarn, we have to think about our projects. Am I going to buy natural animal fibres to scrub my dishes? No… Am I going to spend $30 per skein for an afghan that might need 15 skeins, most likely not. However, would you spend $30 for a skein that will give you enough yarn to make a gorgeous scarf. You might.
The most expensive afghan I ever produced was about $150. I used value yarn but the afghan was a bit of a yarn pig. If I had used natural blends or anything beyond the value yarn, the afghan pricing would have been beyond my reach. I make what I can afford and adjust my spending to match my project.
Two major factors are involved in yarn prices on the shelf:
You get what you pay for.
Yarn is packaged to meet a consumer spending budget.
One thing that typically bothers me is when I see someone at the yarn aisle complaining to their friend that the yarn in their right hand, which is acrylic, and the yarn in their left hand is a natural fibre blend should be equal in price. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. The weight or yardage of the yarn may be the same, but the process to get it manufactured is different due to the components of what makes up the yarn.
You will see that variegated yarns are typically smaller in size balls and weight. But then you will notice the price of the variegated yarn is the same price as the regular solid colours of the same brand. Why is that? It comes down to manufacturing processes, retailers and consumer spending budgets.
Variegated yarns are more of a lengthy process to get the yarn to be different colours within one strand. Due to the processes being more substantial to get the look, the costs of manufacturing increases. The retailers don’t want different prices for the same brand. It confuses customers and honestly speaking, if the variegated yarn colours were $2 more than the regular solid colours of the same brand, consumers might not understand that there is more to the yarn. They might feel the yarn is overpriced. Little is known about the manufacturing of yarn and the processes to get it to the store shelf. I believe this is one of the major causes, even for me at times, that discriminates what is cheap verses expensive.
Over the past few years. I am completely head over heels for slowly transitioning yarn. My most favourite yarn for this right now is the Red Heart Boutique Treasure Yarn. The price of the ball is about $7 CDN. There’s not as much yardage on the ball as you would see in a value yarn, nor is the price comparable… but my point is… the yarn is also not made the exact same way so it cannot be compared to value yarn either.
Next time your crocheting something, look at the yarn ball and think… “How was it made?”. If you were to sheer a sheep, put it through the process and then have to spin up 3 separate fibre strings, then respin the 3 fibre strands together, what is the ball worth then? You will realize you probably will spend more time preparing the yarn for a project than typically making the project. Even for acrylics yarn, if you were to drill a pipe line into the ocean to extract the oil that makes up acrylic yarns, then put it through the process to make the fibres as seen in the Red Heart Video below, you may realize that the costs of the products you use are really inexpensive when you look at the grand picture of what it takes to get the yarn on the shelf. Just something to think about.
Here are the industrial scale videos Mikey added into his post:
The process of sheep to selling point on hand crafted small scale yarn is even more intensive then these two large industrial scale ones. I have not yet found a really good video about it myself but I am going to look. So yeah any crochetter or knitter has a wide range of fiber to choose from. Which is great because you can pick and choose on what works for you. I personally use a full range of yarns for my projects. I use Redheart super saver and I use more expensive hand carded, hand spun and hand dyed small batch yarn as well. It usually depends what the project is that makes the call on what I will use. I tend to stick with the red heart for huge yarn guzzling afghans for example and I will use a nicer yarn for a finer shawl to get a nice drape.
Now I think my tired brain is going to lay down and attempt a nap but more then likely it will go over what other things I can play with in my yarn stash.
So any reader who has spent more then 5 seconds on my blog knows that I crochet and I love to do it. What you may not know is that I am always on the hunt to find a crochet hook/handle combo that makes my hand “happy”. While my rosewood hooks make me pretty happy I don’t use them for every project sometimes I feel I need a hook with more substance on a project.
The solution I have been using for a while is the simple solution of pencil grips over the crochet hook handle.
This worked pretty well however, the more I crochet I found a problem I was working through the grips. Meaning I was working so much and holding the hook so much the grips were ripping and I had to buy more. I also had the problem on some of my smaller hooks that no matter how much tape I used the grip would slip down. So what is a happy hooker to do?
I turned to google again and I found this website DIY crochet hook handles. I was impressed and thought the hooks were pretty so I set out and even though I didn’t have all the supplies needed for the baking part I made my first handles!
These aren’t perfect as they are my first go. I also didn’t have the batting and enough foil to make a good tent so there is a little bit of a burning through my batches (i made 6 handles total) but overall I think I did okay for a first go and better yet they work. I took one of the hooks with my new handle to my knit night and showed everyone 🙂 I got some nice feed back. I like the weight giving me balance and I feel less hand fatigue with my handles like this so overall it is a plus for me.
I won’t do this to my rosewoods of course only my cheaper metal hooks, but hey when you are a happy hooker you have to have a variety of crochet hooks! Next up..I am hoping to try out some works of art by Furls..
I long ago decided I was an introvert. I prefer small parties to large, I prefer my group of people to a room full of strangers and I would much rather curl up at home with a good book then go out and party down like many seem to enjoy doing. The problem is I want to be more social and meet new people, so I am constantly battling my own instinct to just curl up and keep to myself. It is not an easy battle and it has some footfalls and downsides that come along with it.
A case in point with my journey into trying to be more extroverted (my goal is for Ambivert ) is joining a local Knit Night. Once a week a group of gals (men allowed to I think..if they wish to come). I really enjoy Knit Night and I Have gone twice so far. Alas my natural introverted nature can sometimes bubble out in nervous energy when I get excited about a topic I will talk a bit louder then normal. That bit me in the but on my second outing for Knit Night, and I was asked if I could lower my voice by another group member. Now mind you it was done VERY politely and I take no offense whatever about being asked. I comment only because of my embarrassment on the issue. I apologized profusely and kept a very mindful watch on my tone and volume after that. It made things a little less enjoyable for me but that was not anyone’s fault. It is all part of me learning and trying to be more extroverted and make more friends. This seems like a pretty tight knit group and I do like the ladies in it. So I hope I can overcome my issues and make more friends.
While working on research on how I can help myself with this process I found an interesting article and blog of another introvert.
Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.
Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.
Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.
Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.
Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.
Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.
Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.
Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.
Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.
Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.
I found this very interesting and I had to ask myself due to the last one, Am I trying to fix myself? The simple answer is no, I am not. I am simply trying to get myself some more friends that I can hang out with. I have friends all over the world via online and pen pals. Some are close, some are not but all of them are in the “friends” category, which is Great! I love it! However, I would like to make more friends in my local area. I would like to be able to sometimes go out and hang out with them. I have found it is easier for me to do this in ways like I have started doing now, a common interest group. At least going in you know you have one thing in common already!
So fingers crossed that my Knit Night continues to work. I really do enjoy it even if I have only been twice so far. I may take the step to see about finding a second one or a book club that reads books I enjoy. So far the two book clubs I have casually looked into have picked a bunch of dud books, lol. That is a whole different blog post though.
(just that secondary note on number 2. I know it wasn’t meant on purpose with my last get together)
Turns out, it is possible to knit yourself into a better state of mind.
Clinical psychologist Ann Futterman-Collier who runs the Well Being Lab at Northern Arizona University, is studying what Arizona Public Radio station KNAU calls “Textile Therapy” — the emotional benefits of knitting, as well as crocheting, weaving and quilting.
“People basically have a vacation from their problems,” she tells KNAU. “They can forget about what’s bothering them, and they get into something in the moment that energizes them, that leads to the repair in mood.”
Futterman-Collier studied 60 women suffering from various levels of stress. She had them either work with textiles, write or meditate. During their respective activities, the women kept track of their moods. And for good measure, Futterman-Collier also took saliva samples, monitored their heart rates to determine their stress levels and measured their inflammation. She then compared the stress-reducing results of each of the three activities.
“Textile handcraft making was associated with the greatest mood repair, increases in positive, decreases in negative mood,” she tells KNAU. “People who were given the task to make something actually had less of an inflammatory response in the face of a ‘stressor’.”
Futterman-Collier’s conclusion jibes with other research on the benefits of handcrafting hobbies. In January, Yahoo Makers looked at three similar projects:
Betsan Corkhill, a licensed physiotherapist and founder of Stitchlinks.com, published a report of knitting’s health benefits, which she says includes curbing anxiety attacks. “You are using up an awful lot of brain capacity to perform a coordinated series of movements,” she said. “The more capacity you take up by being involved in a complex task, the less capacity you have for bad thoughts.”
A very small (38 participants) study in the Eat Weight Disorders journal found knitting had positive effects on women suffering from eating disorders.
A study in the OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health journal cited the benefits of needlecraft in blocking negative thoughts, calming oneself through repetitive motions, and providing opportunities to socialize in knitting groups and social circles.
As for her own textile therapy study, Futterman-Collier tells KNAU: “People basically have a vacation from their problems. They can forget about what’s bothering them, and they get into something in the moment that energizes them, that leads to the repair in mood.”
So if that old saying is true and “idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” hands that are busy knitting might be the workshop for positive thoughts.
I am doing three projects at once right now I think my crochet ADD has started in full. This blanket started out as an earthtone blanket for my Aunt. It still is of course but the more i put the colors together and watched as it went the more I noticed. I subconsciously seem to have created a woodland elf theme. I am really enjoying how it is coming out and the progress that it has taken. This pattern is also very fun to work. When I am finished I may make an attempt to write out my first pattern. I am not sure yet. So much to think about in 2015 so far so behold the Greenleaf blanket.
Here we have the first row, doesn’t look like much but they never do when they first start out.
Ah now we can start to see the pattern more. 5 rows of the first color and starting on that first row of the next.
It is fun watching the colors come together and I really like the third in this one.
Another green and you can really see what my first plan was. Descending shades of each color. Kind of like an Ombre but split up.
I was not sure how much I liked the 5th color at first but the more I did and the more it came together I decided it really wasn’t so bad.
and last but not least the lightest green in the bunch.
I really am loving this design one thing I can say though is it overall uses more yarn then any of the others I have done so far except perhaps for the aligned cobble.
Okay to go with the crafty and following some of the emails I got about my hooks yesterday I wanted to share why I have them like that and how to do your own. Since I started crocheting I do it a fair amount, along with everything else I do with my hands I need to think ergonomically. I found an instructable on how to make your own holders to make the grip more comfortable and easier on your wrists.
If I am going to spend that kind of money on hooks I am going to get the stunning rosewood set! I mean seriously.
Or maybe Birch..
There are sites that offer just a special grip but they average around $10 or more each. I don’t think so nope. So make your own! All you need is a pack of pencil grips which you can find at dollar stores or walmart or target for cheap and some masking tape. That is all you need to make your hooks wrist friendly!
from the Instructable..
Wrap your hook handle with masking tape up to the thumb rest (the flat oval in the middle). Depending on the size of the hook you may need to wrap it only a few times or lots of times. I had to wrap my F and G hooks with a lot of tape to get them to the correct thickness in order to keep the comfort grips from sliding off while in use.
When you think you have enough masking tape, rip it and flatten it down. Test to see if it is thick enough by sliding one of the comfort grips on. If it slides on too easily you will need more tape. You want the grip to have some resistance so that it will stay on when the hook is in use. I used 2 comfort grips per hook so that the entire handle up to the thumb rest was covered.