Monday, February 25, 2013

Would you like to learn to crochet?

The treasures tucked in a hope chest to be shared lovingly with succeeding generations are often those crafted from patient fingers who weave fabric and yarn into memories and family history. Observing an experienced crocheter with their labyrinth of fibers twisted among their fingers, many believe that learning to crochet is an impossible task. But like any work of art, a crocheted masterpiece begins with a single stitch. There are many resources for learning how to crochet. Crochet lessons are often offered at craft stores, community schools, church groups and yarn shops. Joining a local crochet guild or crochet club can be helpful in learning new crochet stitches or patterns, Asking an experienced crocheter to demonstrate the basics is often the best method, but sadly with our busy schedules, that is not often possible. Books and leaflets are available at the library and craft stores, and many will give explicit directions with stitches and patterns for beginners. Finding an old crochet pattern book at a yard sale, flea market or thrift shop is an unexpected bonus, especially when it contains a vintage doily or retro poncho pattern. The time constraints of our busy society unfortunately are very limiting to today’s beginning crocheter if they rely on the methods of learning that their grandmothers leisurely enjoyed. The modern crocheter’s best resource for learning how to crochet, learn new stitches and discover patterns has become the internet. Youtube in particular offers how to crochet videos which allow you to learn to crochet on line and master stitches, both simple and complex, with on line crochet tutorials that are easy to follow. Several virtual crochet sites offer encouragement, lessons, patterns, and how to's as do many blogs. Facebook also has some crochet groups that can trade information, hints and ideas almost instantly. Several crochet magazines now offer a digital web version which allows you to view the patterns on the computer, print out what you need, and save the entire magazine in a tidy PDF format. I presently subscribe to several of them, including Crochet World, Crochet Today and Inspired Crochet, which is a fairly new digital magazine that features talented crocheters and trendy patterns. RAKJ patterns just started a new feature where they will email you a digital PDF pattern of the week for a very nominal monthly fee. The resources are there, videos, digital, patterns, graphs, it is limitless. So if you want to learn to crochet, come back soon, and I will get you started with links to webpages and videos that I especially rely on!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Would you like to learn to crochet?

Those of you who know the un-virtual me, know that wherever I go I usually have a hook in my purse, random pieces of yarn stuck to my clothing, and my trusty little bag with whatever project I am working on toting along with me. Often when I am sitting at the lunch room, or at the doctor's office, people will say, "what is that - knitting?" Or "my grandmother used to crochet, we have an afghan for every day of the week", or "I tried that, but never could figure it out." In the past, I would be the one asking those questions, and like many have tried over and over to learn to crochet without success. If you saw one of my very first posts about crocheting, you can relive the agony of trying to learn this art from the master, my husband's grandmother, Ella Tietke, and the years of trial and error until in the past 10 years or so (since becoming a grandmother myself), I finally got to where I can somewhat read a pattern and make something other than a lopsided square. I am still learning, and continue to learn, but today's crocheter has a lot of resources that I didn't have when Ella Tietke was guiding my clumsy hands. I by no means profess to be a good crocheter on the level of Teresa of the Art of Crochet, and in all my efforts to teach someone to crochet my only perfect pupils were Lisa F., and Marigrace M. I recently started sort of an informational tutorial about crocheting with the hope of someday making an ebook out of it, but like many of my plans, that is kind of stacked up in the big basket of things I want to do. Since I did put somewhat of an effort into it, I am going to provide, my loyal and faithful readers, with snippets. But as a sort of disclaimer, this is not a resource in and of itself, of how to crochet, more of a reciting of what works for me, and the resources that I use to figure things out when I am stuck. You will know that the post has to do with learning how to crochet when it is titled, "would you like to learn to crochet". Posts that are just my random, banal silliness will have their own crazy titles, just as before. So spread the word, I hope to use the tutorial posts as an exchange of ideas, a dialogue from crocheters of all levels as to what works for them, so that we can teach each other. Rushing off to visit my baby grandson, but have to pick a few strands of Red Heart petal pink out of my hair first!!! Have an awesome day, and I hope it involves some crochet!~

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Clang Clang Clang goes the . . . . crochet hook

Happy Valentines Day! Today, for one day, I will really try very very hard not to annoy my husband with the sound that makes him grit his teeth, hunch his shoulders and sometimes emit a gutteral sound through his clenched bearded lips. You see, we are a - well, I guess you would say, a mature baby boomer couple. After dinner I change into my jammies and perch on the couch with my puppy sleeping on my lap,various crochet patterns strewn to the right, my kindle and Iphone balancing on the arm of the couch, a large basket of good ideas at my feet, puppy's afghan to the left with survivors of various unfinished projects stuck like magnets to everything. Typically, I have my glasses perched on my head, or to my side, since I can't see with them and can't see without them. So to crochet, they are absent, but if something peaks my interest on the tv, I have to use my hands like scurrying mice to try and locate the glasses, usually unsuccessfully to pay attention to what my husband might have commented on by saying, hurry up Ellen, look at this, did you see that, oh geeze! Well anyway, this is quite a lot of paraphernalia that I have surrounding me, and yes, paraphernalia is the right word because that is associated with addiction, and I have already admitted that I have an addiction to anything that is crochet. Oh, and I also have this other weird habit, I can't drink in the living room because I have a fear of spilling on my stuff! So from my spot on the couch, there is occasionally a need to get up, or to move, to take my turn on Words with Friends, or get a drink from the glass on the kitchen counter, put the puppy out or bring the cat in - well you get the idea. Now if you look at the beautiful picture that forms my banner, it is a painting of Lydia Crocheting in the Garden, and just so you are not romantically thinking of a Downtown Abbey dowager writing this post, let me inform you that I look nothing like Lydia. So much sitting at work, so much sitting to crochet, and the inactivity of winter have changed my front porch into a multileveled parking garage. As my grandson Marcus likes to say, Nanny, you are fat. I have continually corrected him to say, I am not fat, I am just fluffy. So invariably, there comes a time in the evening when Nanny has to move, perhaps for one of the many reasons recited above, or maybe because I have fallen asleep, hook in hand. Whatever the reason, this sudden shifting of the mountain will usually be preceded by the search for the crochet hook. This is in deference to my husband who equates the sound of a crochet hook hitting the hard wood floor with nails on a blackboard. I check the various tiers of the multilevel garage, dig my fingers deep into the recesses of the couch, move cushions, lift afghans, shift patterns, check behind my ear, really a scanning that rivals the 20 point check at the car dealer. Not finding the hook, (which should be my first clue of trouble) I carefully rise from the couch, only to hear it! The slow motion, surround sound, tumble to the ground of my favorite Boyle J hook, twirling, schussing, the triple jump, flying camel, the futile attempt at a catch, and then it is done, hard metal hits hard floor. Clang! I quickly apologize, yet again, to my poor husband who has begun his ritual reaction to this horrid sound. I truly am sorry, because there are some sounds that just chill me to the bone as well, so I can appreciate his distress. Honestly, I kind of like the sound, but then I am weird when it comes to crochet implements. So today for this beautiful Valentine's day, no candy for my love, just a clank free evening. Hmmm, I wonder if I could crochet a cover for my crochet hook?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Another crazy crochet story

Boy, they say time flies when you are having fun, but three years since I last posted!!! Unbelievable! We have a lot of catching up to do! But tonight I wanted to tell you a bit about crocheting through a hurricane! You may have heard that back in October/November the Jersey Shore was hit with a megastorm called Sandy. Now, I have to admit, that I was one of those people who downplayed it, bragged that we lived through Irene and Gloria, and that the media was superhyping this storm. In fact, the day it was scheduled to hit, we were leisurely driving around winding our way down to my daughters in Historic Gibbsboro to babysit so that she and her husband could go to a concert for some English group whose name escapes that was playing in Philadelphia. About halfway there, we got the call to turn around since the concert had been cancelled due to Sandy. Well, the wind was whipping, the rain was pelting, and all through the night it seemed that a freight train was zipping through our neighborhood. Plus, before we had gone to bed, we lost power, and a tree or two. Being less than ten miles from the beautiful beaches of Ocean Grove and Belmar, we opened our door in the middle of the night and smelled salt in the air. It was a bad one. The next day, still no power, we drove recklessly dodging flying limbs (from trees, not humans) and detoured around police cars blocking lightless intersections, seeing if we could get batteries. I had an ulterior motive, in tagging along, in that I had heard that Lowes had free internet wifi! My husband ran into the store, and I dug my Kindle out of my purse. Of course, before checking Facebook, or my email, or the weather, which would have been smart, I went right to my etsy shop. I had been having a nice conversation over the past few days with a customer who had seen one of my teddy bear blankets. This is one that I make with my super favorite, Red Heart Yarn, using several different crochet stitches and three colors. The customer was from California and wanted a special gift for her daughter's baby shower which was scheduled for November 11. In our last post, I had told her the blanket was done, but I had to add the frog faces that she wanted to make it fit in with her daughter's theme. I quickly sent her an email from my etsy page, that said "No power, no internet, text me on my cell" and gave her the number. The Kindle soon powered down, out of juice. The next day, no power and no heat, I rushed to dress and report to work. Not than I am a dutiful employee, but I had heard that they had full power. I packed my kindle, cellphone, chargers and my crocheting things into a bag and off I went. I plugged in my electronics to supercharge them and took my lunch break to crochet some frogs. After a quick side trip to AC Moore, it was back home to crochet by flashlight and finish up my order. The following morning, wakened by the rising sun and my cellphone alarm, I rushed back to work, mostly to recharge my phone and Kindle and get a decent cup of coffee. Next on my agenda was to take a cellphone photo of the frog blanket for my California customer. Several more texts with paypal information and delivery instructions, I was half way there. Day three without power, I arrived at work, armed with my box of packing supplies and scale, and packed up my shipment, printed out the postage, and used my lunch hour to send the package off to California. I told my customer she certainly would have a story to tell at her daughter's baby shower! Nine days without power, and in the middle of it, a freak 12" snow storm. But the frogs were delivered! Stay tuned for some more crazy crochet stories!