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Category Archives: crochet

Stalled In Selma

If there is one thing you learn when you are an RVer it is that you can never anticipate what will happen next!  You make all kinds of plans and keep your fingers crossed but every once in a while  all the plans go out the window.  I had posted previously that the battery light had come on in our truck.  Paul went out at 4:30 PM to get diesel and the truck died at the service station.  The alternator was the culprit.  It took about an hour to get the battery recharged so that he could get back to the RV.

The storms were fierce that night but we did not have any tornadoes.  That’s the one thing I don’t miss about traveling in an RV.  The weather issues we faced as we toured the country sometimes left me feeling very stressed and anxious.

The next morning, we were lucky enough to get a lead on a mechanic who worked on Saturdays and had an opening for us. The alternator was replaced and we were on our way by 9:15 AM.  We thought we would have to spend another night in Selma but as it worked out, we had only lost about an hour of travel time.

Crochet

I finally managed to start a scarf from a ball of sock yarn.  I don’t like the color pooling so I am not at all sure that I will finish this.  The pattern is beautiful but this yarn is really not made for anything but socks!  The pattern is free on Ravelry here.

 

Versailles1

We arrived at home at 5:30 PM.  After 2 weeks in the RV, my modest little house seemed enormous!  Our good neighbors, Kim and Bob, invited us out to dinner since they knew we didn’t have anything in the house to eat.  We spent a very nice evening with them and their two daughters and then got back to work.  The sheets and blankets all had to be laundered before we could go to bed.  All the food had to be removed from the RV and the freezer defrosted.

Today we will unpack the remaining items, thoroughly clean and restock the RV, and finally, take it back to its place at the storage facility.  Paul promised me a steak dinner at Hoss’s tonight.  Now let’s see…how long can I put off that grocery shopping!

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2013 in crochet, Projects, This 'N That

 

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No Internet! Hilton Head Island RV Resort

This is the second night in a row that I have not had WiFi on this trip. I will post and answer comments when I finally get connected again. Come on folks, it’s the 21st century!

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2013 in Projects

 

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Time For A Spring Project!

Yoga1

I have been doing the Silver Sneakers Yoga Stretch Class for over a year now.  My muscles have stopped aching and I do believe that I might finally be kicking this fibromyalgia!  I can feel myself walking much more upright too.  One thing with which I still have a problem  is balance.  There are 80 year-olds in my class who can stand on one foot with their arms lifted and not topple over.  So far I am still very unsteady and usually must grab the back of my chair.  But because I enjoyed my Yoga Stretch Class so much and wanted another day in the week for Yoga, I joined the Beginning Yoga Class.

yoga 2

This class is for any age.  It is held during the day on a weekday so attendees still number mainly among the 50+ group.  But going from Yoga stretch to Beginning Yoga ia a huge…um…stretch!  Now we are positioned cross-legged on a 1/8″ thick mat that covers a hard tile floor.  Even sitting upon this mat cross-legged is a challenge!  Then we proceed to get into various positions and hold them for what feels like hours!  Yoga is meant to be a spiritual practice but believe me, there is not much presence of spirit among the folks who are grunting and groaning their way into those positions!  You can hear joints popping and butts flopping as we all do our best to maintain those postures.

yoga 3

Yoga comes with many props.  You have the mat, the blocks (these raise your hands off the floor if you can’t reach your toes), the strap, and all kinds of sticky-bottomed socks, shoes, and gloves.  For now I just practice in bare feet but I can see myself buying those sticky socks before long because the floor in the Yoga room is very disreputable-looking. So to make a long story short…what does every crochet fiend need when they practice Yoga?  Of course, a crocheted Yoga bag mat!

The nicest bag that I have seen on-line is by Sara at Sans Limetes Crochet.  Sara employs the Tunisian method to fashion a pattern of diamonds, circles and arrows on the fabric of the mat.  Her pattern is available here.  Since a yoga mat is very long, this must have taken quite a while to complete.

Photos used by permission of Sans Limites Crochet

I happen to have a few balls of purple size 3 thread in my stash so I thought I would take the easy route and make a bag that is a combination of mesh and single crochet rounds.  I would love to make Sara’s bag another time but I think I will wait until I see if I can have enough perseverance to continue my class!

Tunisian Cardigan

This will be my last update on this project until I get the pattern written up.  I have been progressing very slowly and I have to admit that I don’t pick it up every day.  I do enjoy working on this cardigan but it is going to take me quite a while to finish it.  I am up to the shoulders on the back so I must now go to one of my crochet books to review how to do a neckline in Tunisian crochet.  I plan to take this with me to Florida since it is light-weight and will give me something to do on the drive down and back.  If I am lucky, I will have this done in time for fall!

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2013 in crochet, Projects, This 'N That

 

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My Post About Alzheimer’s

Earlier today I posted about my dad and Alzheimer’s.  After speaking with other members of my family, I decided to save this post for a later time.    My intention was to give another side of this dreaded disease. Thank you for all your gracious and supportive comments.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in Projects

 

Tunisian Cardigan Continued…

I wish I had an interesting post to share with you this week but the truth is that I have been very busy taking my Pattern Grading Class with Kim Guzman and working on my Tunisian Cardigan.  I would like to let you in on the progress that I made this week.  I know it doesn’t seem like much but my yarn is very thin and it takes me a long time just to finish one row!

Below you see how the partially completed back matches up with the back of my prototype.  I’ve laid both my pieces on the bed and pinned one on top of the other.  It appears that the sleeve increases have worked well so far.  I left myself a little room on each edge to add trim.  I just have a few more rows to work before I begin my decreases for the shoulders.

Match-up2

The hem is extremely wavy.  Not only does it curl up, which is what I expected, but it seems much looser than the body of the sweater.  I am hoping that working some traditional single crochet around the hem once the parts are seamed together will solve this problem.

The Next Step

I am now very tempted to begin using the pattern grading information that I learned in Kim’s class.  I think that I will play around with it a bit just for practice but in the meantime, I will continue with my drawings and my high school math.  The measurements in the photo below illustrate the numbers that I must consider when working the shoulders.  I must decrease from 33 inches across the tips of the sleeves to 16 inches at the top of the shoulders. I have to do these decreases on 7 inches for the back to get to the bottom of the neckline which is also shoulder-level.

Tunisian Cardigansch3asm

So my calculations must be as follows:

Gauge: 20 stitches and 20 rows = 4 inches or 5 stitches and 5 rows = 1 inch

First off, I must deduct my trim since I measured from tip of shoulder to tip of shoulder.  My trim accounts for about 1 inch  of total width so I will deduct that from my 33 inches to come up with  32 inches.  I have to decrease the width by 16 inches or 80 stitches.  I have to make these decreases in 7 inches or 35 rows.  I can see already that I am not going to be able to meet my target of 80 decreases in 35 rows. After working 35 rows and decreasing one stitch on each side, I will only have decreased 70 stitches, leaving 10 stitches or 2″.  This means that at a height of 7 inches, my shoulders will be 2 inches wider than the prototype or 1 ” on each side.  If I work the fronts the same way, then my sweater will be 4 inches wider in the shoulders all the way around.

no way1

I am not sure how to resolve this issue.  Since the tops of the sleeves slope upward evenly until the shoulders and then level off sharply, I wonder if I can just simply keep decreasing one stitch on each side until I get to the back neck.  I have examined this top and it appears as if the decreases are done evenly all the way up.  I’m wondering now if the bulge I see as forming the shoulders is actually “hanger bulge”.

Tunisian Cardigan sch4asm

At this point, I have decided to try decreasing evenly all the way from the tip of the top of the sleeve to the edge of the back neck.  This encompasses 9″ of height which will be (9 x 5) or 45 rows.  Then I can decrease 42 times (once on each side) over a course of 45 rows.  Much better! It remains to be seen whether this will end up being the correct shape.  I’ll distribute the increases, work feverishly on my project, and get back to you with the results, good or ill!

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2013 in crochet, Design Lesson, Projects

 

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Just Quickly…

Tunisian Cardigan

Tunisian Cardigan1

You can see here that I am making progress on my Tunisian project.  The increases have become so numerous now that it is taking me a while to work just a single row.  But the up-side is that I will not have to bother with making individual sleeves.  I am using a lot less yarn than I thought so I will have some left over to perhaps make a matching shell.

Grading Class

Grading

I mentioned last time that I am enrolled in a class for pattern grading taught by Kim Guzman.  Kim is an excellent teacher and I am learning so much!  For some reason, I’ve always had a mental block against Excel and spreadsheets.  But this class teaches you how to make up different sizes of a pattern by using a spreadsheet.  It’s very time-consuming but the best part is that I actually get it!  So I am anxious to get started with grading my Tunisian Cardigan pattern.  However, my class runs for a full two weeks so I will restrain myself until I have soaked up all the information I possibly can!

Neat Little Stitch Guide

Stitch guide

I hope that the copyright police don’t get me but I just had to show you my new copy of this handy little stitch manual.  Many of the stitches in this book have never been published.  Indeed, I believe that they are original to Kim Guzman.  The book contains descriptions, graphs, and color close-up photos of each stitch.  What a great tool for anyone who is interested in the ever-expanding field of Tunisian crochet!  I bought my book at Amazon for $6.42.  It seems to be sold out right now but they are expecting more copies to come in in a few days.

Just an addendum:  My friend Patrice has made me aware that Amazon does not expect to have this booklet before the middle of March of next year!  It seems that they sold out so quickly that it must go into a second printing.  But jot down the name and keep checking.  This little book is really worth the money!

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2013 in crochet, Projects, This 'N That

 

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Poking Along

Tunisian Cardigan

I’m progressing slowly on this project.  Once I finished my increases for the underarm, I saw that I needed 6″ from there to the top of the sleeve point.  Six inches are 30 rows according to my gauge. I also saw that I had  to extend the sleeve outward by 3 1/2 inches.  Doing the calculation, I figured out that I had to increase 17 stitches in 30 rows because 5 stitches and 5 rows were equal to 1″.

So this is where I am now.  I distributed the 17 stitches over 30 rows in an even manner.  I have worked 3 rows of this section so far!  My rows are getting longer and longer so I had to increase my hook extension to the next larger size.

Tunisian Schematic 3a

Snow Day

We had a snow day on Wednesday.  Paul stayed home from work and we teamed up to complete some of our small projects around the house.  After installing the lighting over my sink, we decided to re-face the cabinets that bordered the window.  The previous owners had seen fit to nail various items to these cabinet sides leaving ugly holes as a result.  We had ordered some oak veneer and it needed to be cut and finished.

And while I had the mini-blind down, I also decided to wash it. UGH!  What a job!  I realized very quickly that a lot of the spatters were not going to come off.  Nevertheless, I finished the job and rehung the blind.  Next time–new blind!

Blind

The blanket of snow in my rock garden did nothing to deter the daffodils that are determined to poke up out of the ground!  The weather has been frigid most of February so I am surprised that these hardy little fellows are still on schedule.

Daffs

Goose Eggs

Years ago I had ordered a lot of goose eggs.  My intention was to have the grandchildren decorate the eggs for Easter.  Our first effort failed miserably.  After getting out all manner of paints and decorations, the kids became bored within about 5 minutes!  Since then I have not come up with a good use for these eggs.  Every Easter I get them out, look at them for a few days and then pack them away again.  I need a quick and easy project that will make a minimum of mess!

Eggs

Water Bottles

Now that I am going to Yoga three days a week, I began to feel very guilty about all the small water bottles that I was using.  I subscribe to Better Homes and Gardens magazine and happened to see an article about some slim little bottles that can be filled at home.  I ordered them and I have to say, I love them!  They are completely safe to use and do not contain any BPA. A small rack is included that allows you to store all your bottles neatly in the fridge.  Not to mention, I’ve received a lot of compliments when I took them to Yoga.  They are just the right size to fit into your purse or tote.  You can buy them here.

Bottles

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2013 in crochet, Projects, This 'N That

 

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Making Progress…

Tunisian Cardigan Design Notes

I am  to the point where I will want to begin my underarm shaping.  According to my drawing, I will need to end up with an increase of 3″ on each side in a space of 4″.  This means that I must gradually increase each row over 4″.

Hmmm…

My gauge is 20 stitches and 20 rows equal 4″.  That means that I must make my increases over a 20 row span.  If I have to increase 3″, this means that I must end up with an increase of 15 stitches because my gauge says that one inch equals 5 stitches.  So I must increase 15 stitches over the span of 20 rows. I decided to work my increases as shown below:

beg. increases

Since the non-increase rows must be spread out over the 20 rows to the beginning of the sleeve opening, I’ve increased a bit more gradually at first and then more steeply at the end by placing more non-increase rows in the first 10.

This will result in the last underarm row consisting of 137 stitches since I will increasing 15 stitches on each side gradually.  Then, from that point, I can again begin to increase gradually to the point of the upper sleeve.

I’ve drawn the process below so that you can see how the increases must proceed.  This diagram is not to scale but simply represents which rows will be increased and which rows will not.

Increase diagramB

The boxes represent the rows and each X is an increase so you can see that after 20 rows, I have 15 increases.  Since I am working on the back, I must be certain to increase at both underarm edges.  To help me keep track of my increases, I will place a marker at each row that I have worked without an increase. The orange marker represents the last even row before the increases begin.   Luckily Tunisian crochet has very clearly defined rows!

Looking closely at the photo of the sweater, you’ll note  that it seems as if the first few rows do not increase as steeply as the later ones.   I will do my underarm shaping first and then once, I see how that fits in relation to my prototype, I’ll proceed to the sleeve increases.

Schematic1

None of this is rocket science.  It’s actually quite easy to calculate your increases once you have a good handle on your gauge.  And the Tunisian method of crochet seems to be much easier than traditional crochet.  It also seems to use less yarn!

Will it Ever Warm Up?

I was looking forward to some warmer weather now that March has arrived.  It seems like the last two months have been incredibly cold and windy around here.  Now I see on the news this morning that we are expecting a big winter snowstorm on Wednesday!

öX

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2013 in crochet, Projects

 

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Tunisian Cardigan Design Notes

Tunisian Cardigan

I already had a design in mind when I ordered my yarn from Knitpicks.  I really like the looks of the Tunisian simple stitch. The fabric resembles woven cloth. I also like the geometric nature of the stitches.  I’ve never been too fond of lacy styles but have always preferred clothing with a bit of a modular look. Therefore I will work this cardigan in Tunisian simple stitch.

I chose to make an attempt at copying a very well-fitting sweater that I already own.  The sleeves are short but batwing in style.  This particular sleeve design always looks very flattering on me because it minimizes my large bustline.  It is very slimming and elegant.

T sweater

To begin, I started to work my swatch with a size G Tunisian hook.  My yarn is fingering-weight and I know from experience that Tunisian crochet always calls for a larger hook that what you would normally use.  I expected to have to experiment with the hook size but after working only an inch of my swatch, I could tell that this was the one I wanted to use.  My fabric is coming out slightly airy-looking which is perfect for a spring sweater.  I am using a hook extension that accommodates 14″ of fabric.  Even though my piece will measure 21″ across, this is enough because the stitches squeeze together.  Too much extension on the hook makes it heavier and harder to handle.

Swatch

Swatch 2

As you can see from my swatch, I have a nice loose fabric here.  The bottom curls up as is usual in Tunisian crochet.  I will have to add trim to the bottom of the sweater to fix that when it is finished.  I wanted to make a quick statement about the Knitpicks yarn that I chose.  This fingering cotton blend is called Comfy and is extremely nice to work with!  The blended fiber is acrylic and this makes the yarn very soft and pliable, much nicer than the usual 100% cotton would be.  There are a lot of positive comments on Ravelry about Comfy and it seems that I chose the right thing!

yarn3

Then I set about making a rough drawing of my project and adding the measurements of each area.

dia1

I edited a photo of my existing sweater to make a better-looking schematic of the measurements for the finished project.

Tunisian Schematic 3a

From the swatch I made, I know that my gauge is 20 stitches and 20 rows in 4″.  This means that I must make a chain to accommodate 107 stitches for the back hem. (21″ divided by 4″ = 5.25 and 5.25 times 21 = 107.25 stitches)  I know I must work for 45 rows before I begin the underarm shaping.  This is enough to get me started!  Progress in Tunisian crochet is always a bit slower than traditional crochet.  I think that it takes concentration to pick up the horizontal loops on the forward pass, especially when working with soft fingering yarn.

Ultimately I would like to make this the first pattern for which I will offer a range of sizes.  I will be taking Kim Guzman’s Pattern Grading class at Crochetville on March 22 and hope that I can add the additional sizes after I finish the class.  This is such a non-structured garment  that I think it will be a good candidate for my first foray into pattern grading.

I was at Goodwill Monday morning.  On Mondays seniors get 15% off!  I am a real pushover for potential yarn totes so I scored this little pocketed make-up basket for $2!  Another great find in a string of great finds!

Basket

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in crochet, Design Lesson, Projects

 

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Trying a New Discipline

Being in the Moment

Flower

As children each one of us begins our lives by focusing intensely on the pictures that our senses bring to us.   We concentrate on every sight, sound, smell, taste,  and sensation in order to learn its shape and how it fits into our world.  We drink in the evidence of our physical reality and memorize our experiences.  Somewhere along the way, our interest begins to wane.  We glance at something and think, “Oh, I’ve seen that before,” and immediately recall a memory of an earlier experience with that particular object.  Quickly we assign our remembered image to the new experience.  We no longer look or listen closely.  We think we know it all.

As a part of my spiritual reading, I recently revisited Eckhart Tolle’s excellent book, The Power of Now.  I was stunned to realize that in my quest for enlightenment I had never considered the divinity of the present moment.  All my “busyness” has been concentrated in “learning” how to become enlightened.  In reality, inner peace and enlightenment is now.  The power and beauty in the present moment is all.  As Seth so aptly put it, there is much to love about “the sweet privacy of the moment”.

Reflecting on the way I normally spend these moments, I became acutely aware that I spend most of my day listening to the endless stream of chatter in my mind.  Even when I am engaged in a project or a chore I hear the voice in my head re-living past experiences or speculating about the future.  I was letting the beautiful and powerful present moment elude me because I was not placing any attention upon it at all.

So I have decided to change all that.  Each day I make a point of being aware of my thoughts as they arise.  As soon as I notice that my mind is chattering away about some inane topic, I bring my attention back to what I am doing at that very moment.  I can’t do this consistently yet.  It is all too easy to fall into old habits.  But I have noticed some real benefits already.

I am slowing down.  Instead of hurrying from one activity to another, I am taking my time and enjoying what I am doing. Even my chores have taken on a new aspect.  I’ve found that I don’t dislike doing them at all!

I am peaceful. Tension has melted away.

I am understanding something new about everything.

I hope that, with enough practice, I can make my present moment awareness a way of life.  True change and healing can only occur in the now.  I will let you know how I am doing.

Sunset

Thank You Knitpicks!

My yarn order has finally arrived!  It is always so tempting to begin another project with cheap craft store yarn while you are waiting for the good stuff to come in the mail.  I experimented with some fugly yarn I had and came up with a nice technique that looks like weaving.  A few days later this appeared on Ravelry!  I think this bag would look fantastic worked like the swatch I came up with.

Sock yarn

I would alternate the stripes vertically and horizontally when joining the squares together. Thank you Lone Gissel and Tine Rousing for a great idea!  And as for that new yarn, it’s fingering weight cotton for the spring in a nice deep teal shade.  I have the intention of making a sweater worked in Tunisian crochet simple stitch.  I’d love to become more familiar with this technique, especially the shaping.  My big challenge is designing something new and different.  I tend to stick to modular pieces because I like that look on me.

yarn2

Sunday

This has been one of the first days in a long time that we have not had bitterly cold temperatures.  This past week the snow and the wind have kept me indoors.  Even poor Frazier only got one walk!  But today is nice and sunny and the weatherman promises near 40 degrees fahrenheit this afternoon.  Paul and I are thinking about driving down to Baltimore to visit the Walters Art Museum.  We haven’t been there since we moved to Pennsylvania and there is nothing like looking at art to keep you in the moment!

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2013 in crochet, Projects, This 'N That

 

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