“With Love” Chemo Cap

IMG_6995

Weeks ago, a coworker asked if I could work on a special project for her. She told me about the terrifying breast cancer diagnosis a very dear friend of hers had received. Chemotherapy would have to wait, though, until after her friend could get to 40 weeks in her pregnancy and safely delivery her baby. Although stories such as these always get to me, what K told me next really warmed my heart: in September, she will go visit her friend and let her shave off her hair so they could both be bald together. And that’s where she asked if I could help – would I make some hats for them? I agreed!

I knew that whatever style K and her friend ended up picking, I would have to make sure to complete it in such a way to represent the love that K has for her friend. So after browsing online for ideas and patterns (Pinterest, LionBrand, RedHeart, all the usual suspects) and a trip to our local Joann’s store, I had what I needed.

comforting blue capOne of the patterns I liked best was the Lion Brand Yarns’ Comforting Blue Cap pattern. I used Vanna’s Choice Baby in Pink Poodle and a size I crochet hook. The pattern itself is a very simple pattern: single stitches worked in a spiral with increases in each of the first 10 rounds. Once all the increases are in place, each row just repeats until it’s long enough – the pattern calls for the final project to measure 8 inches. Because of how the stitches and rounds work up, the cap will also fit snugly.

 

IMG_6994Despite being attracted to the cap’s simplicity, I wanted to give it a bit more character. So, like I usually always do, I gave the pattern my own spin. Once the cap measured 7 inches, I alternated between front post and back post single crochet stitches within each row. I did this for three rows total which gave me the final inch for the cap to measure 8 inches total like the original pattern called for.

Overall, I’m happy with the basic design of this cap – and like I set out to do from the beginning, I put my heart into this cap for K and her friend. This is definitely one of the most specials projects I have had the pleasure to work on.

What has been your favorite project made with love?

Advertisements

Project7 Crochet Hook Carrying Case

Any crocheter will have a range of varying size hooks in their possession. And chances are that those hooks are neatly and safely stored away until you are ready to put them to good use…right? (You are nodding your head yes, right?) Confession: I’ve never owned a true-blue crochet hook case like the one from Susan Bates or Boye.

Instead I’ve used supply cases that could have had a different purpose in a past life. At first, I had a pencil carrying pouch. It was too big and eventually, I was able to include yarn scraps, a measuring tape, weaving needle, stitch markers, and scissors. I ended up moving to a travel tooth brush case. This has worked for me for many years.

Broken Crochet Carry CaseThen this afternoon as I was taking out my hooks, I found that the lid was broken! I have no idea how it happened, but I knew I had to find a new case for my hooks – stat! With the size of the gash, I knew my hooks would make an escape sooner rather than later. And that’s when my repurposing/upcycling skills were put to the test.

 

A couple weeks ago, I bought some Project 7 gum. This particular gum promises to plant a tree for tube purchased. Get my gum fix and do something good for the Earth? I’m in! (You can read more about Project 7 and their products for good from their website.)

I liked that that the tube had a lid at the top that secured well. It’ll make sure to keep all of my hooks contained. To re-purpose the gum tube, all I did was take off the plastic label – and voila, a new crochet hook carrying case. I could have gotten really fancy and slipped in some scrapbooking paper to make it look really nice. However, I liked being able to see through and see all of my hooks.
IMG_6863IMG_6864

Until I’m able to get a needle nook from Slipped Stitch Studios, my plastic upcycled container will do.

Do you have a favorite crochet hook carrying case? What other supplies have you repurposed for your crochet needs?

Candle Jar Cover

Crochet Candle Jar Cover

Even though summer days get very hot in Nevada, evenings are pleasantly cool. These past few nights, my husband and I have been making the most of it by relaxing out on our patio. So when I came across little Z handmade’s pattern for summer candles, I knew I wanted something like that on my patio.

Of course, I had to make some alterations to the original design. For starters, the original design calls for the addition of a wire handle so that the lantern/s can hang from a tree. Unfortunately, I have desert-scape in my backyard (as do most Nevadans) and so I don’t have any trees from which to hang lanterns. Not a problem, though, because my idea was for the jar to sit on my patio table. Secondly, because my jar wasn’t as wide (or maybe my stitches were too big), I ended up cutting out the last single crochet round – so I only did 30 stitches instead of 36. One thing to note, which wasn’t explicitly stated in the pattern and can be confusing for beginners, is that the single crochet stitches are made in a spiral – this is unlike completing rows in the round. Because you won’t have that visual cue to let you know where one “row” started, you’ll want to make sure to use a stitch marker. The stitch marker will go into the first stitch of your “row;” when you get to the end of that row, you’ll remove the stitch marker and place it into the first stitch of your next round.

Because I cut six stitches from the base circle, this resulted in one less loop when it came time for those. Speaking of which, the pattern calls for chain-10 loop; I did chain-8 because ten chains made the diamonds too open. If I had left the loops at chain-10, I would have had to use one less row and the diamond effect would have been lost. With chain-8, I was able to do the three rows and still showcase the diamond design that really attracted me to this pattern.

More than anything, I liked that this project was very quick to complete. I started and finished just in time to enjoy at tonight’s evening grilling.

Candle Jar at Night

Candle Jar at Night

And here is my final project! I’m extremely pleased with the final result. It was exactly as I had envisioned. I really like the soft glow of the light against the design of the pattern. Amazing how a little bit of yarn can truly dress up a jar. Here’s to more pleasant summer evenings that will now also include a hint of crochet.

Do you like? Be sure to leave me a comment to let me know what you think of the final product.

Tips for a Pain-Free Crochet Experience

Working in an office setting, it’s not uncommon for me to periodically come across the term ergonomics. I’m reminded to mind my posture, not look at a computer screen for too long, and adjust my computer monitor and chair height. A lot of these recommendations can also apply to yarn crafting, whether it be knitting or crochet. Here are some tips so that crochet can be a pain-free experience.

Lighting
My ideal crochet spot is right next to a window to get a good amount of natural light. The best times I actually get to crochet? On gloomy days or at night once my son is asleep. Since I can’t always count on great natural light (or, rather, take advantage of it), I make sure to crochet in a well-lit area. I have a regular floor lamp that works just fine but you could also invest in a  craft lamp that gives off light similar to daylight.

Eyes
Our eyes will strain and tire anytime we demand that they focus on one area for too long — crocheting is definitely one of those times. So along with using proper lighting, your eyes will also appreciate a break from time to time. You can do something as simple as looking up at the opposite wall for a few seconds every few minutes. I also recommend doing eye exercises at least once an hour or more often if you notice your eyes hurting sooner.

Hands and Wrists…and Elbows, too
Even though crochet  is a gentle hobby (I’m thinking: in comparison to jet skiing or tackle football), our hands can really take a beating. The very repetitive motion that is calming to many, can become painful if we crochet for too long without taking a break. I will admit: I often get carried away and tell myself “one more row” until my wrists start yelling in pain. To prevent strain to your hands, wrists, and even your elbows, be sure to do hand/arm stretches often. Here’s an excellent hand, wrist, and finger stretching routine video from SmartStretch.

How Not to Sit Picture credit.

How Not to Sit Picture credit.

Posture
Look at the picture on the right. If you replace the laptop for a crochet project, does it resemble you? If so, you’re sitting wrong! Ideally, you should crochet in a seat/sofa/chair that allows you to have both of your feet flat on the floor, gives you great back support, and is comfy. If your choice of seating doesn’t support your back, you can always place a pillow on your lower for back support. I, personally, don’t like sitting with my feet on the floor but I do sit in a recliner with the foot rest up; this still allows me to keep my back and legs and straight.

Other Recommendations:
Don’t sit for too long. Get up, move around, get some good circulation going to your legs.
Shake it out! Set your work down, get up, and shake from your head down to your feet. It’s fun, and funny for anyone watching you. You reserve the right to do this only in the comfort of your own home.
Show your shoulders and back some love. Every half hour alternate between shoulder/neck/back stretches and hand/wrist/arm stretches.
Know when to stop. Sometimes there is no amount of stretches or breaks that will feel better than just leaving your project until the next day. If going to bed is the alternative – always choose sleep…you know who you are, Up-All-Night Crocheters.
– Above all: be kind to yourself.

What other things do you do to avoid pains and aches of crochet? Let me know in the comments section below.

Introduction to Amigurumi

WhereTheWildThignsAreAmigurumiOne of my favorite type of crochet projects to look for online are for amigurumi. You don’t have to spend a long amount of time on Pinterest in the DIY & Crafts section to come across a few of these little guys. If you’ve been curious about amigurumi, here are some things to know…

Amigurumi Egg Picture credit.

It’s Easy to Master
To create an amigurumi you simply need to know how to single crochet and how to weave ends. If you want to give more shape to your amigurumi (such as a sphere), you’ll also need to know how to increase and decrease stitches. Stitches are done in the round in a spiral instead of rows.

Three words: Scrap Yarn Buster
Because most amigurumi patterns don’t call for a lot of yarn, you’re able to use up any scrap yarn that you have laying around. Admit it: you have scrap yarn laying around.

stripygiraffeFreedom of Expression
There is no wrong way to create an amigurumi. You can make a multi-colored striped giraffe, you can have a green puppy, you can say a ball with two ears is a bunny. Those two triangle pieces you stuffed and sewed together? You betcha: that’s a carrot!

Makes Great Toys for Kids
Maybe I’m old fashioned here but I believe the best toys children can have are those that allow them to use their imagination to the max. And if your toddler likes to fast pitch throw his toys like mine does, you appreciate soft toys.

Super Bunny

Cuteness Overload!
As you get more familiar with creating amigurumi, there will be no limits to where your creativity can take you. Just like some amigurumi can be simple (like our little egg above), some can be more intricate and detailed like this adorable superhero bunny as part of a superhero collection featured on All About Ami.

Fore more crochet tips, patterns, and news be sure to follow me on Twitter @noemijgarcia.

Picture Credits:

How to Read a Chart Pattern

In my post about how I pick a crochet pattern, I mentioned that I prefer diagram patterns over written patterns. This style of pattern is also commonly known as a chart pattern. For some people, trying to “read” this type of pattern seems difficult, confusing and (at first glance) it’s overwhelming. So in this post, I want to go over the anatomy of a diagram pattern such as the Yes, Yes Shawl pattern featured on Bernat (and pictured below).Full Diagram Pattern

Let’s dissect…

Diagram KeyThe Key
Every diagram pattern will have a key listing all the stitches used in the pattern and their corresponding symbol. These symbols are pretty universal and standardized from one diagram pattern to the next. The Craft Yarn Council offers a very good list of crochet chart symbols. You can also read through the key to ask yourself if you’re familiar with the stitches.

Foundation Chains and First Row
Typically you can tell where a pattern begins because it’ll have the symbol for a slip stitch followed by a series of Starting Chainsymbols for chains. Even though this specific pattern doesn’t show the starting slip stitch, we can tell where we need to start because of the number 1 telling us that it is the first row. So for row 1, the diagram is telling us to chain (ch) 12, we are then going to do a double crochet (dc) in the ninth chain from the hook, then ch 2, dc into the first ch of the foundation ch, chain 4, and treble crochet in 1st foundation chain.

Continuing Rows
To start row 2, we’ll chain 3. You probably noticed that odd rows are black and even rows are blue. The change in color tells us that the work needs to be turned in Pattern Repeatorder to proceed with the next row. You’ll know where a row begins because the number of the row will be in front of the row. Another clue will be the string of chains that typically start a row. Depending on the row you are on, you’ll read the chart pattern from left to right and then right to left as you progress. Also, if any row on the pattern is to repeat, it will be indicated so.

So really there is no mystery to a chart pattern – and that (among other things) is part of its charm.

Have you had any experiences with chart patterns? Let me know in the comments section below.

 

3 Things I Look for When Picking a Pattern

It’s not something uncommon for me: to navigate through the endless sea of patterns to find the one that calls out to me. Finding a pattern I like is only half the battle – the other half is knowing if the pattern is right for me. I have been looking for a shawl pattern for some time now and I found the Yes, Yes Shawl pattern from Bernat. Next, I’ll put it through my own vetting process. The following are there three things that I look for when picking a pattern…

1. Level of Difficulty
It’s easy to get carried away by a picture. A project looks so perfect it may even take our breath away (ok, maybe that only happens just to me). What we want to make sure is that the pattern is within our level of experience. Typically, a pattern will Levels of Difficultyinclude an icon to indicate how difficult the pattern is and can range from Beginner to Experienced. Also, reading through part of the instructions can help us determine if the pattern is one we want to venture into. Make sure that you can understand the instructions as they are written. This particular pattern, has written instructions as well as a diagram which I personally prefer over written instructions (I will cover diagram patterns in a future post so stay tuned).

abbreviations and stitches2. Stitches Used
Hand in hand with tip #1, most patterns will have a list of stitches used. You can determine if the pattern is one you want to venture into by identifying those stitches. Patterns will also list if there are any special stitches that will be used throughout the pattern and how to complete them (ie, cluster stitch, bobble). In this example, the pattern gives me a list of abbreviations used, and not just a list of stitches. Because I am comfortable with all of the abbreviations and stitches listed, I might give this pattern a go.

3. Materials Needed
You want to know how much yarn the project is going to take. If a skein of yarn is about $6 each and it calls for 6 of them, are you comfortable will shelling over $36 (or even $42 if you want to play it safe and get 7 instead of 6). Also, the project Materials for shawlwill state what size you’ll need – is it a needle you have or will you need to go out and get it? For this pattern, I have a size G hook and because the pattern only calls for 2 balls of yarn – it will fall within my budget of what I’m willing to spend on a project.

Since this pattern meets my three criteria (within my level of experience, uses terms I know, materials needed are within my budget), I will go ahead and use it.  So ends my search for a pattern for a summer shawl.

As a final word of advice: if you find a pattern online that you love, print it as a PDF document onto your computer. You don’t want to run the risk of the pattern designer no longer hosting the pattern online if you try to access it again in the future. I have CutePDF Writer installed as one of my printers – I “print” the pattern, select CutePDF Writer as the printer, and then I get a PDF “print-out” that I am able to save on my computer.

Do you have any criteria for picking a pattern? Please share in the comments section.