Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Week 42: Celebrate the First Day of Winter by Crocheting a Snowflake

For this week's challenge I wanted to take the opportunity to explore new technology and how to incorporate it into my crochet. Many people I know use their phones and tablets exclusively to keep track of their projects and patterns. I, on the other hand, still like to use a paper copy that I can carry in my project bag and make notes on. Inevitably, I make changes to written patterns and I also like to keep track of the small details, such as when I start/complete a project, which hook I am using, and so on. I have a Kindle Paperwhite, which I love and always have with me, so when I found these snowflake patterns available, I decided to give it a go.

This leaflet by Petra Tomack-Zimmerman has written instructions as well as crochet charts, which is what I used to create my snowflakes. I ended up making small changes to the last round of Snowflake 3, but it was easy to add notes to the pattern on my Kindle. Since my devices are synced, my notes are available when using my Kindle, tablet, or computer. Below are the results of my experiment.

I really enjoyed making these snowflakes using my Kindle, and I can see myself using this technology much more in the future.

Happy Winter!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Week 37 and Week 38: Using Color Theory to Create an Analogous Color Scarf

The Challenge for week 37 is to learn or review color theory and to find a small block crochet pattern of three rounds to be used for next week's project. I found a great tutorial on color theory from Tiger Color that you can find here.

The Challenge for week 38 is to create an analogous color scarf using the crochet block pattern from last week. Analogous colors are 3 colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. Yellow, yellow green, and green are analogous. Instead of using only 3 colors for my scarf, I got a little bit ambitious and decided to use them all! (Kind of gives you an idea about how much stash I have, lol!)

Here's the 3 Round Block Pattern I created (US terminology):

Small amounts of medium (worsted) weight yarn in three colors
Size H (5 mm) crochet hook

Ch 3 at beg counts as a dc

Ch 4 at beg counts as a dc plus ch 1

Beg CL (beginning cluster): * yo, insert hook into st and pull up a loop, yo, and pull through 2 loops on hook. Rep from * twice. Yo, pull though rem 4 loops on hook.

CL (cluster): * yo, insert hook into st and pull up a loop, yo, and pull through 2 loops on hook. Rep from * three times. Yo, pull though rem 5 loops on hook.

Dc2tog (to join blocks together): Yo, insert hook in st of the first block to be joined and pull up a loop, yo, and pull through 2 loops on hook. Yo, insert hook in the corresponding st of the second block and pull up a loop (you will have 4 loops on your hook). Yo, pull through 2 loops on hook, yo, pull through remaining 3 loops on hook. 

With color A, ch 5 and join to form a ring.
Round 1 (RS): ch 4 (counts as a dc and ch 1). * Dc in ring, ch 1. Rep from * 6 times. Join with a sl st in 3rd ch of beg ch. Fasten off. (8dc, 8 ch 1s)

Round 2: attach color B with a sl st in any ch 1 sp. Ch 3, work Beg CL in same ch 1 sp. * (Ch 3, CL) in each ch 1 sp. Rep from * 6 times. Ch 3, join in top of Beg CL. Fasten off. (8 clusters, 8 ch 3 sps)

Round 3: attach color C with a sl st in any ch 3 sp. Ch 3, work 2 dc in same ch 3 sp. *(3 dc, ch 3, 3dc) in next ch 3 sp for corner. Work 3 dc in next ch 3 sp. Rep from *2 times. (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc) in next ch 3 sp. Join in top of beg ch. Fasten off.

beg - beginning
ch(s) - chain(s)
dc - double crochet
rep - repeat
RS - right side
sl st - slip stitch
sp(s) – space(s)
st(s) - stitch(es)

Using the color wheel, going clockwise, I began with yellow for round 1. Round 2 is yellow-orange, and round 3 is orange. This is the first block in row A below.

The next block in row A uses the next 3 colors on the color wheel; red-orange, red, and red-violet. I completed the next 2 blocks in the same manner for a total of 4 blocks, which uses all the colors on the wheel. For the 2nd set of 4 blocks in row A, I did the same thing, but began with the color next to yellow, from which the first block started. Confused yet? Here's some pictures to help you visualize it. Keep in mind I'm only describing the bottom row A.

First 4 blocks, right to left, beginning with yellow on the color wheel going clockwise.

The 2nd set of 4 blocks, beginning with yellow-orange on the color wheel, again using analogous colors.

The 3rd set of 4 blocks, beginning with orange.

For row B of my scarf I inverted each block of color. Block 1 row A is worked in this color order; yellow, yellow-orange, orange. For row B, I began with orange for round 1, yellow-orange for round 2, and yellow for round 3.

I joined the squares together using black yarn and dc2tog.

I didn't intend to make it complicated, and it didn't seem so while crocheting it, but explaining it is more difficult. I hope this post makes sense! I really did enjoy making this scarf and it was a fun experiment with lots of color and creativity.

Thanks for joining me for week 37 and 38 of the 52 Week Crochet Challenge!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

RBC Etsy shop hits a milestone!

This week reached its 1000th sale! 

In celebration, now through November 3rd, use coupon code RBC1000 at checkout to receive 15% off your order.

Thank you!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Week 32: Make a Blanket or Toy For Your Furry Friends

I had great hopes for this week's Challenge having thought about what I was going to do well over a week ago. I've been working on my project and I even had a blog post title picked out: Waffles and Sunday Drives.

Well, the best laid plans . . .

So, here's what I have so far, a pet blanket that is taking me FOREVER to finish. Believe it or not, this is row 71!

It is crocheted with the waffle stitch (here's where the waffle part of my original blog title would have come in) and it's a very small stitch.  For some reason, I kept on with it despite the wonkiness and its out of shape unevenness. It's pretty much a hot mess.  But, since I've gotten this far, I do plan on finishing it. I like to use blankets like these in the car when we are driving (here's the Sunday drive reference for the blog title, but I'm not sure why, we really don't take Sunday drives, maybe it's an idyllic reference?) when I have my Yorkie on my lap. Her feet are very pokey otherwise and this way she can curl up and relax. The waffle stitch is comparable to what you see in thermal wear, small pocket shaped stitches that keep the heat in. It's pretty thick too, like a pad. When I finish it, I plan on putting a simple border around it. My hope is that somehow a border will make it look more even.

Here's my girl I'm making it for:

Her name is Daphne (a.k.a. The Bean):

Here's a picture of my "girls", Sally, Daphne and Abby:

This week for me has really been a challenge, but one I hope to finish soon. I will post a picture of the blanket when I finish it.

Thanks for joining me for week 32 of the 52 Week Challenge!

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Week 31: It’s Adopt a Shelter Dog Month - Crochet a Toy or Blanket For Your Local Shelter

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month and in recognition of that, this week’s Challenge is to make a blanket or toy to give to your local animal shelter. 

When I first started crocheting, making pet blankets was a great way to practice my stitches and it started me on the path to becoming a designer. They are terrific projects for beginner crocheters and the blankets can be made by working rows or by working in rounds. I still have those blankets I made years ago, they wear really well and have been laundered many, many, times. 

Contact your local shelter first to make sure they will accept your blanket or toy donation. You can also check out the Snuggles Project here. This website is a great resource for finding shelters, and they also have a free pattern library. The Snuggles Project has been around for years, and I am happy to see they are still up and running. 

For other ways to help your local shelter, check out the list at There are many great suggestions, such as helping to promote special events for Adopt a Shelter Dog Month.

One of my first self published patterns is a swirly cat toy. Pictured below is my most adorable cat B.C., who sadly, is no longer with us. I love to look at this picture of him though, he was quite the character - a fierce warrior, and yet a snuggly cuddle bear. He was the first pet we adopted when we moved into our new home. He got a new home too, and we got the best cat - ever!

Thanks for joining me for week 31 of the 52 Week Crochet Challenge!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Week 29: Celebrate Fall With Colors or Leaves

It’s hard to believe that Fall is almost upon us. It starts September 23rd, and in celebration, this week’s Challenge is to crochet some fall leaves, or to create a project using fall colors. This is an easy challenge for me, because they are my favorite colors.

I am lucky to have a replica of my maternal grandfather’s family tree hanging in my living room and I’ve used it for my color scheme.

I also have a round braided rug that has the same colors in it. I’ve started a new 12 point star afghan that will highlight these colors. I’ve been playing around with the stripe pattern, as well as what yarns and colors I’m going to use. I’m still kind of undecided, so we’ll see how it goes.

I’ve made several of these star blankets, from baby size to huge afghans, and they are a blast to make! Several women in my crochet group have made them, and we all agree that the pattern looks difficult, but is quite easy to do. It’s a great time of year to start a large project like this, and as the days grow colder, it’s nice to have it on my lap while working on it.

How do you plan to celebrate Fall?

Thanks for joining me for week 29 of the 52 Week Crochet Challenge!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Week 26: Organize Your Project Bag and Crochet Kit

These days I tend to travel with a much lighter project bag. A friend of mine gave me the lovely tote bag you see pictured. She made it herself out of a chicken feed bag and I love it immensely! It's very roomy and will even hold an afghan. I have a smaller tote that I carry inside the bag that is meant to be used to hold wine bottles, but it makes a great yarn organizer instead! It holds up to six skeins of yarn and I can tuck my kit and hook in them also. The organizer also makes it a fast job to change out my tote bag too. Lately I've been busy crocheting mittens, texting mittens and fingerless gloves to sell in my other Etsy shop, RedBerry4You, this holiday season.

The pink kit pictured is The Knit Kit that I purchased online. I can't remember where I bought it, but it was on sale at the time. It is a bit pricey, but I find myself relying on it so much that if I ever lost it I would replace it right away. It has a row counter, tape measure, yarn cutter, scissors, and a small compartment that holds my yarn needles, yarn threader and stitch markers. It also has a crochet hook that knitters use to pick up dropped stitches, but I consider it back up, just in case ;) Oh yeah, and it's pink!

The most important part of my project bag and kit are that they keep me organized and always ready to get to stitching. How do you organize your projects?

Thanks for joining me for week 26 of the 52 Week Crochet Challenge!

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Week 23: Make Some Crochet Art!

My inspiration for the Challenge this week is from the word art pictured above. I made this a few years ago and it hangs above my desk where I see it every day. The colors are bright and happy and it's a reminder (not that I really need one!) of why I love crochet so much.

For this week I made another word art creation and used one of my crochet pattern descriptions for the text:

I really enjoy this medium because I can be artistic without having to draw, or paint, and I love words and typography, and of course, color. To try it yourself, check out

I hope this inspires you to create some crochet art that you will enjoy, whether it's created from wordle or not. What inspires you?

Thanks for joining me for Week 23 of the 52 Week Crochet Challenge!
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Week 21: What is Your Favorite Crochet Hook and Why?

This week's challenge is to talk about my favorite crochet hook. That's pretty simple really, I prefer any hook that I happen to have in my hand at the moment! But seriously, I do prefer wood hooks. They are warm in my hand and my "regulars" have a nice patina on them from being used so often. I have a set of birch Brittany hooks that are my "go to" set, and which I use when designing. It's easy for me to keep a consistent tension and gauge with these. I only have a few that are walnut wood, they no longer make them and they have become quite collectible, but you can easily find birch hooks for sale.

A friend of mine gave me this lovely wood hook with an adorable hen on top. It is such a fun hook!

I also have a small collection growing. These hooks have polymer clay handles. The flower patterns are very intricate and colorful. I can only imagine that it took many, many, hours just to create the flowers, and yet, they were not very expensive. I found them on Etsy.

The lovely hook below is made of abalone. It is quite a different feel to use because of its curved handle. These can be found on the Lacis website.

The hook below was also a gift. It is made of stainless steel and would be used for thread crochet. It's not very comfortable to hold because of the decoration, but it is unique, which is what I love about it.

I hope you've enjoyed taking a peek at my hook collection. What is your favorite hook? I'm always interested to know what other crocheters prefer.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Week 20: It's Christmas in July!

This week's challenge makes me feel like I have a chance to get ahead of my holiday crochet projects. One tradition I have is that I like to make a Christmasy potholder to give as gifts to family members. Last year I considered doing something else, but at Thanksgiving dinner my sister-in-laws were talking about them, wondering what the potholder would be. Well, that pleasantly surprised me, so I got busy and found a pretty snowflake potholder. Unfortunately, I didn't give myself enough time, so at the last minute I was crocheting like a mad woman, driving myself nuts.

This year I'm hoping July is early enough! I considered designing my own pattern, but then I found this from the Country Meadow Settings leaflet by The Needlecraft Shop.

I think I'm going to make the Cardinal. It's Christmas colors but not too Christmasy, but a pretty winter theme. I've already made the front piece of one and the cardinal for it, but my bird is too big, so I'll have to adjust my hook sizes. I'll post pics when I have one finished.

Merry Christmas in July!

Thanks for joining me for week 20 of the 52 Week Crochet Challenge!

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Healing and Health Benefits of Crochet?

Lydia Crocheting In the Garden at Marly
Mary Cassatt, 1880

I've always joked that crocheting helps to keep me sane. But what if there are health benefits to crochet? I've had students in my beginning classes tell me that their doctor suggested crochet as a way to help with hand pain. I also know from personal experience that it is a stress reliever. Beyond that I hadn't thought much about it at all.

Kathryn Vercillo, Crochet Concupiscence, however, has thought about it a lot. She's also written about it in her book Crochet Saved My Life. Currently, she is taking a survey on her blog and is asking for more responses. I've taken it myself, and I'm very interested to learn what the results conclude. I hope you'll take a few minutes to share have your experiences. Has crochet had health benefits for you?



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Week 18: Crochet in Movies or TV

Week 18: Name a movie or TV show in which someone is crocheting, or that has a crocheted item in it.

Back in October of 2012 I was watching the TV show Hollywood Treasures. I honestly can't say too much about it except that one of the cast, Tracy McCall was wearing a really fun crocheted hat. I liked it so much that I paused the show long enough to sketch out the hat in my crochet notebook. I think about it sometimes, and may even work one up one of these days.

Another crocheted item that has caught my eye is from another TV show, but it's one that I haven't watched myself. I was reading the Ravelry forums and came across this thread. It is about the show Breaking Amish which has a crocheted afghan in it. It 's a very distinctive pattern and one that I am considering starting this fall. It just happened that Love of Crochet magazine mailed me an offer and they included 2 free patterns, one of which is Rippling Ridges. It's a bit different, but has the same stitch pattern in a shallower chevron. So, I now have a pattern, I'll just need to choose my colors. There are some fabulous colorway examples of this afghan on Pinterest, and below is a photo by Angelala242.

Do you have any crocheted TV or movie props you'd like to make?

Thanks for joining me for week 18 of the 52 Week Crochet Challenge!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Week 17: Celebrate the First Day Of Summer

Week 17: Celebrate the first day of summer (June 21, 2014) by crocheting a beach or summer fun project.

When I think of summer, I think of flip flops. There's nothing like the "twack, twack", sound and the effortlessness of getting them on and off. Tuck a pair into a beach bag with a swimsuit and towel and you're good to go. I've seen flip flop sock patterns but I decided to make my own. They are a fun and colorful companion for my favorite flip flops and feel great on my feet.

Instead of creating a pattern, I will share a basic tutorial so you can make a pair for yourself. See the end of the tutorial for special stitch instructions and a list of abbreviations. I used EZC Nautika yarn (85% microfiber acrylic/15% nylon) in turquoise for the main color. The orange and yellow are Frog Tree Pediboo Sock Yarn. I used a size D (3.25 mm) crochet hook, but use whichever size is necessary for your sock yarn.

Measure the circumference of the width of your foot, then subtract 1 inch to allow for stretching. This is length you will make your foundation double crochet (dc) row. Begin the sock at the toe edge.

Foundation dc row: With main color yarn, ch 3, and yarn over (yo). Insert your hook into the 3rd ch from your hook and pull up a loop. [Pay attention to this 1st loop, you may wish to mark it because you will be working the next stitch into it.] Yo, and draw through 2 loops, twice, to complete the dc stitch. Dc into the 1st loop of the previous stitch to create the next dc stitch. Work in this manner, making as many stitches as necessary until the unstretched row measures the length you need. Join with a sl st into the beg dc, taking care to not twist the row.

Esc rounds: Ch 1 and work extended single crochet (esc) sts in each st around. Do not join at the end of each round,. Work continuously in a spiral until the sock measures 2 1/2 inches, then join with a sl st. Fasten off main color yarn.

Attach color B (orange in my case) with a sl st in any esc and ch 3. Dc in the next esc and in each esc around. Join in beg dc and fasten off color B.

Attach color C (I used yellow) with a sl around the post of any dc of the previous round. Ch 3, work a front post dc around each dc of the previous round. Fasten off color C.

Finishing: Using the beg length of yarn, sew the bottom of the foundation row closed . Place the socks on your feet, with the foundation row closest to your toes, to determine where you would like the toe strap to be. To make the toe strap: use main color yarn and attach with a sl st to the foundation row. Ch 20, skip 6 chs (for buttonhole) and sl st in the remaining 14 chs. [My buttons are 3/4 inch, but you may need to adjust the number of chains depending on your yarn and button size.] Sl st in the beg esc st and fasten off.

Sew buttons to the tops of your socks that align with the toe loops. Fasten off and weave in all ends.

Enjoy your flip flop socks!

Additional information:
Special stitch:
Extended single crochet (esc): insert hook into the st and pull up a loop. Yo, and draw through 1 loop on hook. You will have 2 loops on your hook. Yo, draw through 2 loops to complete the esc stitch.

beg - beginning, ch(s) - chains, dc - double crochet, esc - extended single crochet, sl st - slip stitch, st(s) - stitch(es)

Thanks for joining me for week 17 of the 52 Week Crochet Challenge!
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Friday, June 20, 2014

Weeks 15 and 16: "Interpret" a Crochet Pattern and Crochet a Project From a Chart

Week 15: Did you know that crochet terminology is different in the US and UK? Google search UK crochet patterns (or vice versa) and find a pattern you'd like to "interpret".

Week 16: Find a small crochet pattern, such as a square or motif, that has a stitch chart. Work the project from only the chart, without following any written instructions.

Understanding the differences between US and UK crochet terminology opens up so many new patterns to explore and crochet. One of my favorite sites for UK patterns is Drops Design.

However, instead of using a published pattern, I decided to design my own, Hexagon Potholder Pattern. I also combined both Challenges into one and created complete symbol charts of the Hexagon. I made pdf files in both US and UK crochet terminology. I've really enjoyed this as it's been awhile since I published a new pattern and it gave me some practice, especially with my crochet charting software. It's a simple design, but practical and useful. I hope you enjoy crocheting this project as much as I have. Enjoy!

Click the links below to download the pdf files, which are available as free Ravelry downloads:

Hexagon Potholder Pattern US Crochet Terms
Hexagon Potholder Pattern UK Crochet Terms

Thanks for joining me for Week 15 and 16 of the 52 Week Crochet Challenge!
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Friday, May 30, 2014

Audiobooks Two Free Titles Each Week from SYNC

I like to listen to audiobooks while I am crocheting. It's combining my two loves, crochet and reading! I found about this fabulous offer from SYNC through my library. Each week they are offering free downloads of two audiobooks. One is a current young adult title and the other is a classic. This summer a total of 26 titles will be offered. The MP3 files are downloaded through the OverDrive Media Console, but are yours to keep with no due dates.

This week's offerings:

Click HERE for more information. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Week 13: Find a New Crochet Tip to Try This Week.

The Challenge for this week is to find a new crochet tip to try. I also suggested Crochet Pattern Central: Tips and Tricks as a good site to look for tips and suggestions.

One tip that I think is really clever is about cutting yarn that I found on this page. The anonymous poster suggested using the cutter in a dental floss case to cut yarn in a pinch. A blogger, Whimsy Space, made a floss case into a small sewing kit!

I also read a tip on Crochet Pattern Central to use reusable wine bags that you get when you purchase several wine bottles at stores as project bags. My sister-in-law had given me a few of these wine bags awhile ago (thanks Debbie!), but I haven't used them yet. I am currently working on a star blanket and using six different yarn colors, so I got the idea to use the wine bag as a yarn organizer inside my open topped tote bag! It really keeps my yarn neat, organized, and easily accessible. It's a great tip, and if you're a wine drinker, it's all the more fun ;)

This week I enjoyed reading lots of tips from fellow crocheters and these two are ones I can see myself using all the time. What new tip have you experimented with this week?

Thanks for joining me for Week 13 of the 52 Week Crochet Challenge! 
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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Week 12: What is the Best Crochet Tip You Use All the Time?

The best crochet tip that I learned is to crochet into the back loop (back ridge) of the beginning chain for the first row of your project. When you turn over the chain, you can see the "bumps" and this is the loop you work your stitch into. What you then end up with is a beginning edge that looks the same as the last. I also find that it creates a nicer looking edge if you are going to add a border.

I remember when I learned this, I was starting a new project and the designer had this in her instructions. I thought it was so clever! Unfortunately, I don't remember what pattern, or who the designer was. But it is a tip I use all the time, and in fact, I also include it in my own pattern designs.

I hope you find this tip useful, it's one I've used for many years now, and I will continue to do so. What is the best crochet tip you learned that you use all the time?

Thanks for joining me for Week 12 of the 52 Week Crochet Challenge! It's never too late to join in the fun and there's no need to catch up, just jump right in:

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Week 11: What Kind of Crocheter Are You?

What kind of crocheter are you? Do you like to follow a pattern exactly as it's written? Do you like to "wing it" and make things up as you go? Are you a little of both?

When I began to crochet I chose as many different types of patterns as I could because I was so curious as to how they were constructed. For me, it was (and sometimes still is) like figuring out a puzzle, and I really enjoy that "Aha!" moment when it begins to make sense. I also appreciate a clever pattern and projects that look very technical but are quite simple to accomplish.

At this time, I would follow patterns exactly as written, but eventually I began to incorporate techniques I had learned into them. If I knew of a simpler way to accomplish something then I would do it. From there I began to design my own patterns. I could visualize the finished project in my head, as well as the necessary steps to take to get there. That sounds really simplistic, and it's not as easy as that, but I do love the challenge! It's been a great learning process, and I'm still learning, which is another reason why I love crochet so much - there's always something new or different to try.

Thanks for joining me for Week 11 of the 52 Week Crochet Challenge! It's never too late to join in the fun and there's no need to catch up, just jump right in:

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