The Doily Progression

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When I learned how to crochet last year, I had no idea if I would stick with it long enough to make anything more than granny squares and dishcloths. With a blanket in every room and enough dishcloths to last a lifetime, it was time for something different. I needed a challenge.

In comes Pinterest, the place of a million ideas. I came across a cute little doily/coaster pattern and decided to give it a try, (Flower Coaster). The simply, yet frilly edging got me intrigued enough to see what else I could do.

They’re cute, but let’s face it, these are pretty basic coasters. My love of lace knitting must’ve been on my mind because I went searching for beginner lace crochet patterns. Pinterest came through again with a really cute, yet simple lace coaster pattern, (Contemporary Coaster).

I tried it out with some scrap Lily Sugar n’ Cream cotton yarn and got surprisingly good results.

Things got even better when I tried the same pattern with a smaller hook and DK weight cotton yarn from my stash basket.

These successes make me really brave to try something I never before thought about doing. If I can make lacy coasters, maybe I can make an actual doily. Lo and behold I found a series of fabulous tutorials on youtube that offer step-by-step, stitch-by-stitch directions to make beautiful lace doilies, (NotikaLand Crochet and Knitting).

Using some random blue DK weight yarn from my stash, I made the doily below from one of the videos in the tutorial series, (Crochet Doily Step-By-Step).

From there, I got even braver. I bought crochet yarn and and smaller hooks. I loved the first tutorial so much, I decided to try another one from the same youtube channel, (Tunic Motive, Part I). Admittedly, this one was probably above my skill level, but I think it turned out amazingly well given my lack of experience. If anything, it’s a testament to how good the tutorial is.

The first motif turned out so well, I dove right into the second design in the series, (Tunic Motive, Part II).

I’m in the middle of working on a third design tutorial. So far, it’s looking pretty good. I’ll post the result on Instagram (@cbwentworth) later this week!

The process continues as I work towards a smaller gauge crochet hook and cotton thread. I haven’t been brave enough to go smaller than Lace Weight 1 cotton and a D-3 hook, but my growing excitement for this craft means it won’t be long before I’m wielding teeny tiny hooks and thread.

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c.b.w. 2017

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Sewing With Grandma

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The last two weeks have been filled with a lot fabric scraps and thread. My ongoing program to teach high school students how craft for charity has started sewing simple patchwork blankets. The idea was to get each student to sew simple quilt blocks of four squares and then sew everyone’s squares together to create a series of kennel blankets for the local humane society. I had no idea this project would stir so many emotions.

As I was cutting out squares for my students to sew, I found myself using my grandma’s block templates, seam allowance bar, and scissors. The memories came flooding back – summer at grandma’s where we learned how to sew. Grandma showing me how to hold a needle and how to pinch the fabric to make uniform stitches. Those wonderful memories made me dig through some of her old quilt patterns and I pulled one in particular.

Initially, I thought I would trace and cut the pattern pieces for students who exhibited higher level sewing skills. I sewed the first few blocks to remind myself how to work the pattern, but it quickly turned into something else. I realized I had inadvertently started this project two days before my grandma’s birthday. Perhaps it was subconscious action or kismet, but I could feel her with me. I ended up sewing every block and eventually pieced together an entire throw size blanket. The process was deeply cathartic.

Every skill she ever taught me came back, even though its been many years since I’ve sewn a quilt. I ended up with a beautiful little blanket that reminds me grandma is never really that far away.

The cat has already claimed it.

As for my students, they are learning quickly and we will be piecing together our first blankets next week. I made another blanket as a model for my students and even this project stirred some wonderful memories and sitting and sewing with my grandma. I can only hope my students feel the same kind of warmth – our little group has accomplished so much and we are all connected by what we’ve learned from one another.

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c.b.w. 2017

So Many Daisies!

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My crochet adventure has landed me smack dab in the middle of a field of daisies! Well, sort of. While perusing Pinterest, I came across the most adorable pattern for a granny square with a daisy in the center.

Seriously, how cute is this?

The image took me to Tillie Tulip, where I found a free step-by-step guide (with visuals!) on how to make the daisy center. It took some practice to master a treble crochet stitch, but it was well worth it to get those petals to puff.

An additional link on the daisy page, will take you to another page that lays out steps to add rounds in order to turn the daisy into a granny square. It’s a simple process that requires basic crochet knowledge (chain, double crochet). The only trick is figuring out how to space the shells.

Once I got the pattern down, it was all about color choice. While I love the colors in the sample blanket image, pastels really don’t fit my house. So, I decided to model my daisies after the Black-Eyed Susan and the plain white daisy.

That gave me the color scheme of brown, yellow, and white. I went with ever popular Red Heart yarn in Coffee, Gold and Soft White.

It sounds awful, doesn’t it? However, the overall effect creates a very autumn-like and cozy feel. Perfect for a granny square afghan!

Even though I used only three colors, I was able to create 9 different squares simply by switching the order of color in each round. This created a more interesting effect in the color distribution throughout the blanket.

To join the squares, I used a simple single crochet chain stitch, but through the back loop of the joined stitches on each square edge. This made the chain lie flat and it was easier to join corners.

For the border, I stitched five single crochet rounds. The first two were done in coffee to match the border with of the joined squares and then I did single rounds of Gold and Soft White, with a final round of Coffee to create a balance between the interior and exterior borders.

This afghan turned out better than I expected, especially since I’m a new crocheter. Who knew I’d have this much fun with a little yarn and a hook?

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c.b.w. 2017

The Annual Trek To Book Heaven

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There’s nothing more a bibliophile loves more than a HUGE used book sale. Every year, I get to bask in the largest book sale in the state and it never gets old.

I arrived with empty bags and a lot of hope that I’d find something good. However, I had to somewhat behave this year given the fact that I just decluttered my bookshelves. I didn’t want to just fill them right back up again and undo all of my decluttering progress!

My first stop was the craft section. Over the last couple of years, I’ve come home with some amazing finds in knitting patterns – especially vintage. This year was no different. I found a great array of knitting magazines, but also a sweater pattern book and needlecraft how-to guide from 1945. The patterns in these books are pure gold as they are simple and timeless.

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The selection of knitting books was a little more sparse this year, but I still found a few good ones. My favorite is, Knit Your Own Dog. I’ve seen this book before and always wanted it.

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While I was combing through the rest of the craft section, my mom was in the collectibles section. She spotted this great visual reference guide for collectible Barbie and held onto it for me. It is beyond amazing!

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I hit the fiction section next. This is where I really had to control my inner urge to snap up any book that looks remotely interesting. That’s tough to do when most are only $3 or less! I decided to only pick up books that are on my to-read list or can pass the first page test (i.e. I can’t fight the urge to turn the page and keep reading). I ended up with small, yet intriguing group of books.

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Last, but not least, I hit the poetry section. My goal is always the same: haiku anthologies. They are tough to find! At the same time, I was looking to find anything inspiring or interesting in short verse poetry. Two of the books I found are pictured above with my fiction finds. Art and Wonder pairs poetry with famous works of art –  I can’t wait to read it!

In the haiku realm, I managed to find two anthologies and a couple of interesting takes on modern Japanese poetry. Flipping through them, I can see they are inspired by haiku, but other forms as well. I’m looking forward to exploring them.

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The grand total for my treasures? $24.25. All in all, it was a great day at the book sale!

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c.b.w. 2017

Addicted To Granny Squares

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It’s official: I’ve fallen under the spell of granny squares. Nothing about them is remotely cool, except for the fact that they are ridiculously fun to make.

It all started when I decided I wanted to make a new throw blanket for the winter. I sat down with a set of instructions and made about 10 billion mistakes before I finally ended up with a semi-functional granny square. From there I practiced a bit and settled on a pattern I liked to make a 6″ square.

My mother always told me the best yarn for an afghan is Red Heart, so I got three skeins each of Burgundy, Hunter Green, Soft Navy, Coffee, Cafe Latte, and Aran Fleck. She’s right, by the way. Red Heart yarn is sturdy and can handle repeated failures!

It took a couple of months, but I made 14 squares for each color of yarn. From there, I laid them out in a diagonal pattern

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Joining the squares turned out to be the hardest part of the process because I couldn’t decide what method to use. I ended up stitching a single-crochet edging on each square with the Coffee color. Then, I did a back-loop slip stitch. This created a thicker color border and sturdier bond.

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I edged the entire afghan with two rounds of a single-crochet stitch, so it would match the width of the square borders. All in all, I happy with the result. I finished it just as the weather turned colder and it is very warm!

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I made a matching pillow with some of the leftover squares – I’ll post pictures of it soon, along with tutorial on how I made it.

This little pattern book gives great visual instructions and includes the pattern I used for my afghan.

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c.b.w. 2016