Thursday
Jan152015

Musings from the Couch: What I’ve Learned About Life From the Art of Crochet  

I’ve been given a very interesting gift this week:  the flu. Seriously. As I sit here (much like the above pictured shipwreck) waiting for that ‘out of body experience’ feeling to leave my head, and simultaneously giving thanks to both the maker of my recliner couch, and computer laptop (thanks Steve Jobs…), I felt inspired to do some reflecting on what the art of crochet has taught me over several decades. If this doesn’t make a lot of sense, or just sounds like fuzzy writing, I’m blaming it on the Sudafed. So here it goes:

 

Life can be mundane and repetitive….

When you think about it, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING we do in life is done over and over again until we either learn it or abandon the attempt. Once learned, we do things over and over again, and often times without thinking once something called muscle memory kicks in. Without this wonderful ability we would never be able to walk and chew gum, or learn complex actions like driving a car. 

 

There is nothing new under the sun…


Solomon wasn’t kidding when he wrote this in the book of Ecclesiastes, and it especially applies to crocheting. I like to joke sometimes and say that my best ideas are borrowed or stolen. That is because there really isn’t anything new under the sun - literally. There are only so many ways to make a shirt, skirt, or a pair of pants. Sure, you can use different colors (which haven’t changed over time, although the design world would like you to think otherwise), different fabrics (using materials that have been here before Noah), but it all comes down to something to meet a need as old the hills.  

 

 Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…


Being able to see the beauty in something or someone is a gift that should never be underestimated. It is important to take the time to behold the beauty right in front of us, beauty which is not always obvious. Simplicity can be the setting of some of the most beautiful things in life, often times coming in an uncluttered, uncomplicated form like a solo melody floating over a breeze, unencumbered by sophistication. When this happens, embrace it and don’t mess it up by changing or adding to it.

 

Don’t listen to what everyone else says, follow your instincts and not other’s opinions, no matter how important they seem…


You only get one pass through this life, so why not live it to the full the way you are supposed to, walking in YOUR God-given gifts instead of someone else’s? I know it sounds trite to say “follow your heart”, but within reason, this is pretty good advice. Some of the things I love and have been drawn to haven’t exactly been the most popular things on this earth, or the center of popular culture.  I gave up trying to be cool when I was about six (or was I seven?). Fitting in isn’t a game I play well, nor is it necessary to experience all the joy God has for us in this world.  

On a practical level, I remember a conversation with a very strongly extroverted, confident person declare categorically that, “Ponchos are DEFINITELY out”, and other fashion-like advice at a crochet conference. I’m so glad that I had the confidence (or was it stubbornness?) to disagree with her - even though only in my heart at that moment - and pursue designing more ponchos. Even so-called experts who seem to hold real power to make these kind of decisions in the world are not omniscient and omnipotent, to which I say a hearty, "THANK YOU GOD!!!" 

 

Sometimes you have to repeat things many times before you get it…


From the womb we master drinking, eating, walking, speaking, etc, and never on the first try. It takes lots and lots of repetitions before we get many things right.  Trust me, I’ve potty-trained 5 children, and 3 of them were boys! Life and crochet are no different. The more repetitions, the more likely the next try will be right. The experts tell us that once we spend more than 10,000 hours doing something, we become pretty good at it! Well then, what are we waiting for???

 

We learn best from our mistakes…


When I think of life’s mistakes, why I am transported back to my Biology class in Junior High School? I think it is because failure stings, and my biology teacher had a cruel way of pouring salt into the wound with her tests. One interesting thing about missing these pesky questions back then, is that those answers that I got wrong seemed to be the ones I remember best - even better than the things I got right by only guessing at them. Even if it takes us longer to learn something than others around us, once we learn it, even through mistakes, that wisdom is ours for keeps!  

One of my very best crochet students ever is a little girl who has what some would call a learning disability and had to be taught the same crochet stitches again and again. Because of this, she possesses something that many at her young age don’t have:  humility and patience. She is now an excellent crocheter and has the depth of character that those quicker to learn won’t have for decades.

 

Good things come to those who wait, and wait, and wait…


Even in a world with lightening-fast internet speeds, and all things available in a fast-food-like manner, we must still learn to embrace the lost art of waiting.  Not everything is instant in this life, nor should it be.  I’m so thankful that the Lord above has put me in a holding pattern at times when I’ve demanded my way on important life issues.  Character takes time to develop.  Sometimes we just aren’t mature enough to receive or appreciate what we are demanding out of life.

I’ve learned that publishing designs takes time:  months, and in a some cases years. First there is the patience to develop the pattern, then waiting for a publication home - if one can be found. By the time some designs are published, I have almost forgotten about them. Perhaps when working on a big crochet project it could be months between the first and last rows. Still, by being persistent, that day does come when a design or project is complete, and the joy of satisfaction can be embraced. Waiting can be good, and certainly has the ability to make us more patient and wiser.

 

It is a blessing to enjoy your work!


This may sound paradoxical, but yes, work is a blessing.  Even Adam had work to do in the Garden of Eden - and this was before the onset of sin in the world!  Work gives us a purpose - whether the work brings a paycheck or not. Unfortunately the value of our work can be cruelly and wrongfully judged solely by its monetary value this culture places on it, and I admit that this too often confuses the issue. Many of the most important jobs on the planet aren’t paid positions, (such as those of mothers, housewives, grandmothers, etc.), yet society would have collapsed and ceased to exist long before now without their faithful work.  

To be able to wake up in the morning and work at what we truly enjoy is a very, very amazing gift, one that I truly wish for each one of you reading this.  To find that magic bullet, gifting, ability, or whatever you may call it - it is that thing that makes the rest of life tolerable. When I was in Junior High and High School, it was called “band class”. That was my spoon full of sugar that made the other classes survivable. Music and crochet have been that for me for many years now. I know it takes many other forms for others, sometimes becoming real-life, paying jobs, sometimes not. Still, embrace it when and where you can.  You just never know where it will take you either in this life of the next!

Saturday
Dec202014

Sweater Wraps Have a Back!

It has come to my attention that some crocheters were happily surprised that some of my wraps have an additional back side to them!  Part of the reason for this surprise is that when writing and publishing a full-sized book, we have limits.  One of these is in how many photographs of each design can be shown. Thankfully through this blog (and other forums such as Ravelry & Facebook) I can show you more right now! So one by one, here are the sweater wraps in my new book, Contemporary Celtic Crochet (http://www.amazon.com/Contemporary-Celtic-Crochet-Designs-Sweaters/dp/1440238618):

Inisheer Sweater Wrap (This is the design on the book cover.)

 

Knockardakin Wrap

 

Busking Beauty Sweater Wrap

 

Doolin Delight Sweater Wrap


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Dec042014

A Special Free Pattern Just for You: The BIG & BOLD Ribbed Cowl

If you are like me, you are still looking for that something special for a loved one for the upcoming holidays. Here's a new free pattern that is fun to crochet, crochets up quickly, and very practical if you live where the mercury drops into freezing temps. This pattern is easily adjustable to suit your needs.  Choose the type of bulky yarn that YOU like, and with all the many sales going on this time of the year, you'll have plenty to choose from! It only takes one skein (minimum 90 yards/skein) to complete this project, so your wallet will be happy too! Here are a few different colors I've worked up - and most took only one hour to complete. You can find the written pattern on my Ravelry store here. Should you like to see a video tutorial, I will post this below too! 

 

 


Tuesday
Nov252014

A Day to Give Thanks...2014

Well, that time of year has rolled around again, and I daresay has gotten here even quicker than the last!  I suppose this is one more sign that I am getting just a bit older.  And with that thought I will begin my incomplete inventory of things, in no special order, for which I am giving thanks this year…

- That I am one year older

- That no one in my household or immediate family was hospitalized for more tha  12 hours this year


- For Grace Church of Clarksburg… I can’t believe we are coming up on one year together!  This really has become the dearest place on earth for me, even though we meet in a rented elementary school.  Isn’t God good?

- For being able to celebrate the high school graduation of my daughter Hannah!


- For complete healing for my son Joseph when he had to have surgery as well as   for healing four of my children following the extraction of 13 wisdom teethcollectively this summer and thereby finance the oral surgeon’s trip to the Riviera or where ever he chose to go… (Anyone who spends their days doing this kind of work deserves a great vacation!)


- For the opportunity to travel to Golden, CO for a film shoot with Craft Daily and to spend some special time with my best friend & hubby driving through the Rocky Mountains this summer


- Making memories while driving with a carload of friends & family to the White Mountains, tent camping in a storm, packing wet gear and then attending the CGOA Conference in Manchester, NH


- For electricity that I mindlessly use in all things that include cooking, cleaning, and just about everything else… Thanks and glory be to God for bringing me into the world during the 20th century and not one century before! 

- For a car that usually starts when I want it to, and for being able to afford the fuel that makes it run… One quick flashback to my childhood days reminds me that this was not always the case for me, and is not an automatic “given” for many folks today.

- For affordable yarn and kind publishers who said, “Yes” to publishing some of my designs, especially for F + W Media taking a chance on my and my first book…


- For the internet which allows me to communicate with some of the most amazing people on the planet who are called “crocheters…”  Words will never be adequate for me to express thanks for the countless times your words of encouragement about a design or stitch helped to lift my spirits and keep me going.  I hope to never grow tired or become too busy to return the blessing right back to you!

- For the blessing of living in one of the freest parts of the entire world, one where 4 of my children are now able to join me in voting (2 for the first time this year) to help choose our leaders and representatives…  So many in the world today will NEVER know this kind of privilege or freedom.

- That my greatest problem that I will ever have in this life has already been taken care of by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when He died in my place for my sin on the Cross at Calvary.


Tuesday
Nov252014

Errata for Contemporary Celtic Crochet

 

As the author of Contemporary Celtic Crochet and on behalf of the editorial staff of F & W Media, I want to assure you that the patterns and instructions in this book has been carefully reviewed, attempting to ensure that all of the information presented is correct and complete. Occasionally, however, mistakes get past us and make it into print.  I want to personally apologize for any inconvenience these errors may have caused you.  

Should you think you have found an additional error, I want to hear from you so that I can better serve you and others. 

The corrections below are shown using italics and bold print.

Crochet Stitch Guide

Page 6:  Arrow Stitch, photo #8 should read:  “Continue the pattern to the end of the row, ch 2.  Dc in the last st of the row.”

Page 15:  Cable Stitch, photo #3 should read:  *Sk the next 2 unworked sc of the pref row, sc in the next sc.”


Tipperary Sweater & Vest Set

Page 59:  (upper left column) following Row 23 of back instructions, the next sentence should read:  “Rep Right Front Panel Rows 2 - 8.”

 

Aran Diamonds Cardigan & Vest

Page 94:  Row 24 should read:  “Ch 1.  Sc in next 3 sts, [fptr in sc above next fptr 3 rows below, fptr in sc above next fptr 3 rows below.  Sk 2 Row 23 sts, sc in 4 sts] across row.  Fptr in sc above next to last fptr.  Fptr in last sc 3 rows below, sk 2 Row 23 sts, sc in last st.  Turn.

Page 95:  Top left column of page, Row 3 should read:  “Ch 1.  Sc in the next 4 sts.  Fptr around the 4th sc of foundation row (3 rows below).  Sk 4 sts, fptr around next sc.  On current row sk 2 sts, sc in next 4 sts.  [Fptr around sc 3 rows below next to last fptr made, sk next 4 sc on same row, fptr around next sc.  On current row sk 2 sts, sc in next 4 sts] across to last 2 sts, fptr around sc 3 rows below next to last fptr made.  Sk next st on current row, sc in last st.  Turn.

Page 96:  RIBBING FOR BOTTOM AND COLLAR, Row 3 should read:  “Ch 1, working in the blps only, 1 sc in each sc.  Connect to edge by working a slst in the next 2 sc.  Turn.

BUTTON BAND - LEFT SIDE & RIGHT SIDE, Row 1 should begin with:  “With smaller hook…” 

 

Celtic Cross Afghan & Pillow

Page 116:  I am posting another view of the Celtic Cross Afghan so that you will know how both sides should look.