Taking Care of Yourself

My boys are back in school and that means Summer is over for me.  As I’ve shared a bit already, this Summer was a super full one for me, 2 big family trips and 2 work trips. I’m now back into the swing of design work deadlines and preparing for teaching at the Scotts Bluff Valley Fiber Arts Fair and at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe this Fall.

There is also the awareness that I need to get to work on making my gifts for the Christmas season (only a wee bit over 18 weeks to go) and the slew of birthdays coming up over the next 4 months. That means lots of crafting hours. I’m sure I’m not alone in the crafting crunch as the weather cools off for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.

I have a “survival” guide that I follow to be sure that all that crafting doesn’t lead to me being in pain. Today I want to share with you my top 5 tips to surviving the crafting crunch.

  1. Get enough sleep
  2. Stay well hydrated
  3. Take regular breaks
  4. Find some stretches that work for you
  5. Set realistic goals

Get Enough Sleep

I know, who has time for sleep?  I’m as guilty as the next person of cutting into my sleep hours to get more stuff done. But sleep is a major component to preventing injury. Getting enough sleep allows your body to mend and restore itself, as well as increasing the efficiency of your brain. You are much more likely to make mistakes in a project when you are too tired. It’s better to set aside the crafting and head to bed earlier, you will be able to work with greater clarity and speed after a good night’s sleep.

How much sleep do you need? That really depends, the typical recommendation is 8 hours, but some people need a little more and some a little less. Most doctors advise 7 – 9 hours of sleep every night. I know for me personally I seem to do best with 7 1/2 hours.

Stay well Hydrated

Our bodies are mostly water and we lose a lot of it each day thru respiration, elimination and perspiration. Drinking water regularly thru-out the day is one of the best things you can do for your health. Even mild dehydration can make us more prone to injury as well as causing mental fatigue. The classic recommendation is 12 – eight ounce glasses (96 ounces) of water thru-out the day. That doesn’t take into account different sizes of people and different activity levels.

My favorite formula for figuring out the minimum amount of water to drink thru out the day uses your weight. Take your weight in pounds and halve that number to get the amount of ounces of water you should be consuming each day.  Example – if you weigh 150 pounds you need to drink at least 75 ounces of water daily. If you are having a very active day, or you live in a hot climate, you may want to increase the amount of water you drink.

I say “water”, but there are many other drinks you can have that count toward your fluid intake.  Except caffeinated beverages. They actually act as a diuretic and remove water from your body thru elimination. So enjoy your cup of coffee in the morning, but remember to drink an extra glass of water to counteract the caffeine.

Take Regular Breaks

Taking a break doesn’t mean you have to stand on your head doing Yoga for 15 minutes, though that would be awesome if you want to do that. Taking a break means doing something else for a bit. I often have breaks built into my day by normal household maintenance chores.

Sometimes it is moving the laundry to the dryer, making myself some lunch, or taking the dog for a walk.  Just doing something different that gets me up and moving for a little bit at least every 30 minutes. It’s about the only way my house gets tidied, 10 minutes of cleaning chores every half hour.

The typical recommendation is to take a break every 20 minutes. If you are having some pain in your hands/neck/back from crafting that is a good strategy. More frequent breaks keep your body from seizing on a particular movement or posture as the only muscle setting. If you are drinking enough water you will be needing a “bio-break” every 2 hours or so, and that counts as well.

Find some Stretches that work for You

We all have a spot that hurts the worse after a day of intense crafting, so it is important to figure out how to stretch or strengthen your “spot”. I tend to feel it in my hands and neck when I have over done the crafting time. When I worked as a massage therapist I had a series of stretches I used to keep my hands working for me.

These are my favorite hand stretches. I do them at least 3 times during my work day and once more before I go to sleep. You can read a bit more about these hand stretches in my blog post: Keeping your Hands Happy.

Set Realistic Goals

I always seem to be hit with inspiration for the perfect massive gift about 2 weeks before the gift giving occasion. This rarely works out well and can lead to crazy nights of crocheting with only a few hours of sleep (Yup, that is how I know the importance of sleep).  I have finally learnt to be kinder to myself and have set more realistic goals for my gift making. If you want to do a large project for your gift you need to give yourself enough time to get it finished.

One of the things I have figured out after too many insane crochet deadlines is that it will usually take you about twice as long to finish a project than you think it will. Partially this is due to the fact that there is more to finishing a project than just the crochet. There is also all the weaving in of ends and blocking/washing the item and so on.

If you are looking at a couple of weeks before a gift is due to be presented, then look to smaller projects. The following are some links to patterns that make great gifts and are quick to crochet.

Snowflakes are one of my first choices for a fast gift. They are easy to ship and make great embellishments. You can work them in thread and stiffen them or attach the points to a larger ring for a beautiful addition to any holiday décor. I’ve also worked them in yarn and used them to embellish commercially made hats, scarves or gloves for a personalized gift.

I have 3 free snowflake patterns here on the blog.

Frozen Star Snowflake – This was last year’s snowflake pattern and it is a super quick one to work up with only 3 rounds to work up. This one is really ideal to work in a thicker yarn to attach to another project or a commercially made item as an embellishment.

Lacy Snowflakes – This is my favorite snowflake pattern, it is a written instruction only pattern here on the blog – if you prefer charts along with the text you can purchase a PDF version of this pattern thru my Ravelry shop for $1.99.

Little Snowflake Ornament – This was the first snowflake pattern I shared here on the blog and it is a stitch chart only pattern.

I love hats, earwarmers and cowls for wearable gifts, they don’t take a lot of time or yarn to crochet.  I make a lot of hats for my family, it has become a bit of a Christmas tradition. I have a couple of hat patterns available for free here on the blog and a couple of hat patterns for sell in my Ravelry shop.

Whirlwind Hat – This is an intermediate level text pattern available here on the blog. I’ve included photos and a link to a video to help with learning the trick to working the spiral.

Simple Double Crochet Hat – This is a super easy hat that works up quick in double crochet stitches and a single crochet finish. Work it in variegated yarn for a colorful look, or use a solid yarn for a background that can be embellished with motifs.

Mountain Top Beanie – This is an intermediate level pattern available for purchase in my Ravelry Shop. The pattern includes stitch charts for the crown, sides and ribbing. The sample for this hat was worked in Ella Rae Lace Merino Aran yarn, a wonderful luxurious yarn that is so soft and colorful. Because the hat only uses 1 ball it is a fun splurge project.

Spiraling Crosses Hat – This is an easy intermediate level pattern available for purchase in my Ravelry Shop. The pattern includes a stitch chart of the crown and sides to help you with the placement for the cross stitches. The slightly cabled texture of this stitch pattern makes a good hat for either women or men on your gift list.

Perfect Fit Crocheted Hat – This is an easy level pattern full of all the tips and tricks I teach in my hat class. It is a great pattern for those wanting to create any size hat with any size yarn. You can purchase it in my Ravelry Shop.

Lace Hat – This pattern is available on the Red Heart website. This was one of the first designs I sold when I started out as a designer. For a time the yarn for this project was discontinued, but they have brought back a new version of “Heart & Sole” yarn.

Springtime Headband – This is a pattern on my blog that is great for a quick gift, you can usually get 2 out of 1 ball of Lion Brand’s Wool-Ease in worsted weight. It is an intermediate level pattern, but I have included photo tutorials for the 2 texture stitches used in the pattern.

2 by 2 Cowl – This pattern is an easy level and speedy crochet project, it also uses only 1 ball of yarn. You can find the text pattern here on my blog and there is a link on the pattern post to a video to help you with the foundation I used.

Kellie Cowl – This pattern is available for purchase in my Ravelry Shop and is an intermediate level project. It would make a great gift for someone living in a warmer climate, or for those that don’t feel the cold all that much. The pattern has stitch charts to help you with the tricky parts and clear text instructions. It takes only 1 ball of the specified yarn and if you add the optional beads it is a fun dressy accessory to wear anytime of year.

These 3 moebius style cowls are quick and fun to crochet. The patterns are available individually in my Ravelry Shop.

Twisted Vs Cowl – A super quick project worked with bulky yarn and a big hook. The text pattern includes a photo tutorial about moebius construction.

Anna Moebius Cowl – Named after a friend’s grand-daughter this cowl is another fast one to work up in a chunky yarn. Pattern includes stitch chart and is an easy intermediate level project.

Twisted Garden Cowl – This pattern is an intermediate level project, with an interesting stitch pattern. This is still a small enough project to complete quickly, and is entertaining for more experienced or intrepid crocheters.

For those that don’t feel like working the moebius off a twisted foundation, there is always my Springtime Cowl. This pattern is available here on my blog and used 2 balls of the yarn for the sample. It is a simple stitch with the twist added when the 2 ends are sewn together.

If you have made it this far in my post I have a special gift for you. A 10% discount for any of my patterns over $3.50 price point. The code is: Crunch2017, and will only be valid until Friday, August 25th, 2017 at 11 p.m. Mountain time.

I hope this helps you all get started on the gift projects you need to complete and that you all survive the crafting crunch.

 

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18 Patterns in 2016

I was talking with a crochet friend the other day about how many patterns I had published in 2016, and I wasn’t sure. I knew I had been doing a lot of work in 2016. So today I decided to take a tally. Turns out I had 18 patterns published, counting the 6 that were in my newest book: “Wraps for All Seasons”.

There were 5 decorative neckwear patterns:

Sophisticated Simplicity Necklace – this pattern is available here on my blog.

Springtime Cowl – this pattern is available here on my blog.

Loopy de Loop Necklace – this pattern is available here on my blog and I have a video tutorial for it on my YouTube channel.

Sweet Song Decorative Scarf – this pattern is available here on my blog.

Photo courtesy of Red Heart

Beaded Crochet Necklace – this pattern is available on the Red Heart website.

There were 3 Hat patterns:

Mountain Top Beanie – the pattern is available for purchase in my Ravelry Shop.

Simple DC Hat – the pattern is available here on my blog.

Whirlwind Hat – the pattern is available here on my blog.

There were 2 fun little projects in Thread crochet:

Simple Victorian Earrings – the pattern is available here on my blog.

Frozen Star Snowflake – the pattern is available here on my blog.

One afghan square:

Fans & Lace Afghan Square – the pattern is available here on my blog as well as tutorial videos on my YouTube Channel .

There were 7 wraps patterns:

The 6 in my book from Annie’s Publishing – “Wraps for All Seasons”, which you can purchase on Amazon or at the Annie’s website.

Playing with Triangles Shawl

Playing with Triangles Shawl – the pattern is available here on my blog as well as an informative video on my YouTube Channel.

Let’s see if I can double the number of patterns in 2017.

The Greatest of these is Love

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:13

This bible verse has resonated with me thru-out my life, no matter where my spiritual travels have taken me. The idea that the most important thing that we strive for in life is to live in love.

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This is entirely appropriate, since today is Valentines Day, a holiday that celebrates love. Though some folks view it  as a “greeting card” holiday that focuses on romantic love, I like to look at it a bit more broadly.  I have always enjoyed celebrating it as a holiday about love in all it’s forms.

The love for our children. The love of dear friends that lift us up thru life’s challenges. Even the unconditional love of our beloved furry family members. The love that is expressed as compassion and kindness for our fellow humans on life’s journey.

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Recently I was talking with a crochet friend about how we crochet love into the projects we make. Whether it is love for the person whom we will be gifting the finished project to, or love and compassion for others when we are making projects for charity. There is even the love of our craft that is crocheted into every stitch as we make something for ourselves or (as is the case for me about 60% of the time) a project sample for work.

The image I used for the Crochet Love picture is the stitch diagram for my very popular heart pattern “Crocheted Love” from 2013. This heart has been popular with other crochet bloggers to build on in their blog tutorials and such. This has led to some interesting interpretations of the pattern.

Today I wanted to show you some quick tips on making these hearts. They only take a little bit of yarn and time to whip up to include on a card or as an embellishment for a gift item to celebrate the holiday of love.

The biggest stumbling blocks seem to be where to work the slip stitch that creates the point at the bottom of the heart and the final slip stitch that anchors the last “bump” at the top of the heart.

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This is a close-up of the stitch diagram for the point of the heart. The conventions for showing the orders of operation in diagrams have the arrow pointing under the chain stitch, but you are actually working behind the chain stitch to get to the double crochet just made.

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My hook goes under the front loop at the top of the stitch and under the top wrap of the stitch. The lighter weight purple yarn in the photo above shows the path I insert my hook thru.

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This image is the hook in place.

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Yarn over and pull thru all the loops of yarn, including the working loop on the hook.

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Tighten the finished slip stitch.

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Make the next 2 dc stitches in the same stitch of Round 1 as before, and continue following the stitch instructions for Round 2.

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This is a close-up of the stitch diagram for the end of Round 2.

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When you finish the last 7 treble crochet stitches you will need to anchor it with a slip stitch.

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Work the ending slip stitch between the final dc stitch and starting chain of Round 1.

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Tighten the slip stitch to create a seamless finish to your heart.

As a little extra bonus today I am including the instructions for making a single crochet border around the heart.

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You can use this border to give a more finished look to a single heart or to connect 2 hearts together.

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For the heart above I cut out a heart shape from heavy card stock, using one of my hearts as a pattern to draw the heart shape. When I cut it out I trimmed the shape a bit smaller to leave room for the border stitches.

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I then sandwiched the cardstock heart between the yarn hearts while I crocheted the border. This makes the heart extra sturdy for hanging from a garland.

Instructions for Single Crochet Border

After finishing Round 2 of Crocheted Love Heart – Do Not Fasten Off, chain 1, starting with first Treble of Round 2 – (sc in next st, 2 sc next st) 4 times, sc in next 5 sts, 2 sc next st, ch 1 and slip st in top of last sc made, 2 sc next st, sc next 5 sts, (2 sc next st, sc next st) 4 times, slip st to first sc of round.

After finishing the border you can cut the yarn and weave in the end, or chain to the desired length to use as a hanging cord for the heart.

If you make your 2 hearts with a bulky yarn and appropriate sized hook your hearts will be a generous size and you can insert some stuffing before completing the border to make a sweet little pillow.

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I am going to spend part of my Valentines Day in my traditional celebration of consuming Dove Dark Chocolate hearts. I hope you all have a wonderful Valentines Day and that your life is full of love.

My newest pattern at Red Heart.com

Photo courtesy of Red Heart
Photo courtesy of Red Heart

A while back the folks at Red Heart asked me to design a simple beaded necklace that beginning crocheters could manage. They asked me to crochet it in their Red Heart Metallic Crochet Thread in Size #10.

crochet-thread

I’ve always loved this metallic crochet thread, mainly because I’m part magpie. If it has sparkle I will find it. So beads and sparkly crochet thread. I’m there!

beads

Remember these beads? They were for working out this design.

We are coming up on the holiday season. Lots of parties and packages and New Year’s Eve where sparkle is the Thing! This is a great quick crochet project to add some sparkle to your wardrobe or packages. It is even a terrific quick gift project.

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The folks at Red Heart did a lovely job photographing the sample I made for them. You can find the free pattern on the Red Heart website here.  The pattern even includes a photo tutorial on making the beaded chain stitch.

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Of course for the holiday season I like my sparkle to really be kicked up a notch. That means I need lots of strands to my necklace.

Maybe sparkly thread isn’t really your thing? Take a look at all the other wonderful colors of Size #10 thread that Red Heart has available.

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You can also have fun with mixing up the size and shape of beads you are using.

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I generally go with the size 6 E beads but in this strand I added size 2 and some triangle shaped beads. Look for beads with a smooth edge around the hole. Otherwise your beads will cut your thread or abrade the metallic tape.

floss-threader

I prefer to use a dental floss threader to string my beads onto the crochet thread (or yarn). The flexibility of the “eye” of the floss threader compresses easily to pull thru the hole in your beads and the sturdiness of the “point” end works well for scooping up beads. You can find these in most drug stores in the dental floss area.

Now it’s your turn. Time to get out the beads and thread and make some sparkle you can wear all year long.

“Wraps for All Seasons” Blog Tour – Stop #6

Hi everyone. My book “Wraps for All Seasons” has been on a blog tour. We will be making 6 stops for this tour. Today is our last stop. Each of the bloggers will be giving away a copy of the book, so be sure to visit them to see what they have to share with you about my book.

lorene-photo

Stop #6 is with the talented Lorene Eppolite of Cre8tion Crochet. Lorene and I met in October 2013 at the Knit & Crochet Show and have stayed in touch over the years since. Last time I saw her was in Charleston this summer at the Knit & Crochet Show again. We had a lot of fun goofing off in the evenings. Lorene has a busy website where she posts lots of patterns and reviews.

 

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Patterns like this lovely slightly asymmetrical shawl. It is the “Napa Valley Shawl”. I really like the colors she used for her sample in the photos, but could see it made in any combination of favorite colors. Simple stitch work for the body with a lacy and intriguing border.

free-crochet-pattern-for-the-braided-and-broken-wrap

And if texture is what you love, check out the gorgeous “Braided and Broken Wrap”. Simple construction for a sophisticated look. I could see this worked up in a deep purple or silvery gray to become a staple item in my cool weather wardrobe. Hop on over to Lorene’s site to check out all her other patterns and to enter her drawing for a copy of my book.

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Thanks to all my blogging friends for doing this blog tour. And for all my readers that may have missed out winning a copy of my book. You can purchase it at the Annie’s Craft Store or on Amazon.com.

“Wraps for All Seasons” Blog Tour – Stop #5

Hi everyone. My book “Wraps for All Seasons” is going on a blog tour. We will be making 6 stops for this tour. Each of the bloggers will be giving away a copy of the book, so be sure to visit them to see what they have to share with you about my book.

Free-Pattern-Emily's-Super-Slouchy-Knit-Hat-By-Jessie-At-Home

Stop #5 is the absolutely amazing Jessie Rayot of Jessie-At-Home.com. I had the honor 3 years ago of being Jessie’s CGOA Mentor, though frankly, this talented and driven woman didn’t need much mentoring. She has amazing designs in Crochet and Knit. fall-sparkles-shawl-free-crochet-pattern-by-jessie-at-home

Jessie has lots of lovely patterns available on her site. Like her gorgeous “Fall Sparkles Shawl”. The shawl uses a pretty lace work pattern, simple elegant border and beads for a bit of bling. It would make a great gift for the holidays or make it for yourself to wear to a party.

holiday-poncho-free-crochet-pattern-by-jessie-at-home

Or if you are feeling the chilly weather heading into winter, the “Holiday Poncho” might be just the ticket. Snugly warm, stylish look and simple construction. What more could any crocheter ask for? Be sure to hop on over to Jessie’s site to check out these patterns and enter to win a copy of my book.

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The last stop for the “Wraps for All Seasons” blog tour will be next Friday, November 18th.

You can purchase my book at the Annie’s Craft Store or on Amazon.com.

 

“Wraps for All Seasons” Blog Tour – Stop #4

Hi everyone. My book “Wraps for All Seasons” is going on a blog tour. We will be making 6 stops for this tour. Each of the bloggers will be giving away a copy of the book, so be sure to visit them to see what they have to share with you about my book.

tamara-photo-2016

Stop #4 is with the amazing Tamara Kelly of Mooglyblog.com. Tamara and I met for the first time in real life at the 2014 CGOA conference in Manchester, NH. Since then we have gotten to be good friends and enjoy talking crochet and kids together. Tamara is a genius at designing simple fun projects that work up quickly, check out her blog for all kinds of patterns and crochet information.

tidal-wave-shawl-sm

I think this Tidal Wave Shawl is so fun. It is crocheted with simple stitches and shaping that even a beginning crocheter can tackle. The added drama comes from the color changes you work in the last half of the project. Think of all the beautiful color combinations you could use! I’m thinking it could even be a great “stash buster”, since who says you need to stick to 2 colors only.

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For those of you that prefer making afghans and blankets, you’ll love the Happiest Blanket Ever. This is another fun “stash buster” project that you can play with color in. Tamara has provided sizing information in the pattern, so you can make the size that is just right for you.

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The next stop for the “Wraps for All Seasons” blog tour will be this Friday, November 11th.

You can purchase my book at the Annie’s Craft Store or on Amazon.com.