New Phone, New Cord

So my phone died Saturday. Not low-battery-died. Really died. I guess there’s a problem with my phone’s internal power switch (which I learned after Googling the problem). After a lot of stress, Google Fi (my carrier) sent me a new phone. Which was awesome even though I had to wait three days for it…which is extra strenuous as a Realtor.

Anyway, with the new phone came a new cord. I’ve been using Amazon-bought braided cords instead of the original cord that came with my old phone because for some reason, my cat likes to chew on white cords. So tomorrow I’m going to work on crocheting a cover for my new cord so the cat doesn’t eat it. I guess it’s really simple- just a single crochet around the cord according to Through the Loops.

Anyway, it seems like an easy project, and you can also use it for earbuds to make them more stylish (not just for keeping cats away). So I thought I would share it!

Thrifty Thursday 5/25

This week has been so very busy! It’s the last week of school, and my last week as a teacher…that’s right. I put in my notice. I’m going back to doing real estate full time and working on my crochet class business idea. So I’ve been packing and moving and filling my office to the brim. And promising that it will be one of the first priorities this summer-getting my house in order!

Anywho, I’m not a huge shopper. I’m not that girl that goes shopping for fun. I’m very frugal. My mom says she used to send me into a store with $5, and I would come back with $4 and five things. So, I enjoy fake shopping- filling up my online shopping cart and letting it sit for a while. Right now, I have a shopping cart with 9 skeins of yarn for a total of $12.43! Where you ask? Herrschner’s.

Until last week, I hadn’t even heard of Herrschner’s. I was talking to Pat, my stepmom, about Crochet World because I’m thinking of getting a subscription, and she suggested I also sign up for catalogs like Herrschner’s. Oh my! This place has some awesome deals! And on all sorts of crafts, not just yarn. So if you are looking for a good deal on crafts- check it out! Be thrifty, it’s Thursday :)!

Estate Sale Jackpot

Mom and I hit up an estate sale this morning, and I found so many cool things! The biggest find is this Wards Signature sewing machine. I haven’t used a sewing machine since high school, but it can help me create liners for my bags and so many more things! 


That was an interesting enough find, but we noticed a lot of crocheted items… So I asked if there was any yarn. Guess what? There had been and it was all gone before we got there! Lol (40 minutes after they opened). Guess I have to move faster! But we did another sweep through the house, and Mom spotted this unassuming box. I grabbed it without even looking in it. 

Would you guess what this box holds?

Imagine my delight when I opened it up and found all of these pattern books (which sold for 29 cents, 35 cents back in the day). So far The Woman’s Day Big Book of Crochet is my favorite! I really enjoyed “The Story of Crochet.” So cool! 

What a find! So many patterns for only 35 cents!

They say pot holders, but I see coaster patterns 😉

WIP Wednesday

This is my first WIP Wednesday! Confession, I’m not showing everything…no…not yet. I still have a gift to reveal. But here are some of the projects I’ve been working on.

For Mother’s Day, I made my boyfriend’s mom these shell coasters. His mom is one of the sweetest people you could ever meet! One time I was convinced my cat had cancer because that chunky butt wasn’t eating (yes, overly dramatic, but he is always hungry), and she called me after the vet’s appointment to make sure he was okay (he was :). So I made her these coasters for Mother’s Day to match her sunroom with a beach theme!

This is the maiden shell coaster. It didn’t make it into the set, and my tails were longer in the others.

The ends were curling, so I ironed them.

 

I saw this trick in Crochet World to mix fabric glue and water (2:2) to stiffen up the coasters.

This is the whole set. Still damp after 12 hours of sitting out. Note to self: squeeze more liquid out.

I’m also working on making these really cool crochet jar covers from this Icelandic blog Föndrari af lífi og sál which Google translates to Fool of Life and Soul. Side note: I love the creative blog names that people come up with!

Anyway, this is the first project that I’m working with fingering weight yarn. It takes a lot of tension and self control while working the stitches. But I think it will teach me patience. Mine, of course, looks nothing like the blogger-above’s does, but I didn’t get very far. I started working on the cover on Mother’s Day and haven’t picked it up since. But the jar I had was too big even with adjustments, so my mom gave me one that it should fit. She spent a lot of years canning veggies from our garden so she knows her jars! 🙂 Can’t wait to see how this turns out!

I’m going to have my first repair job. My mom snagged her crochet bag on a tree branch in Florida.

While I have hers, I decided to compare it to the new market bag I’m working on.  First of all, I am using different hooks (Clover now, Crochet Perfect set before). Second, the older bag was used so it may have been stretched a bit. But what I’m really sold on is the use of the magic circle. What a difference!

Anyway, those are some of the projects I’m working on. I’ll post more later. I’ve got a really fun one in the works. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

A Little Clutch For Fun

I am going to try to start updating my WIPs (Works in Progress) weekly; however, this week has been kind of hectic. I’m only working two jobs right now, but I have four deals in real estate; plus it’s the end of the school year in two weeks, and I have to pack up my whole room. Add some unsolved family illness last weekend and trying to guide other loved ones through their life-changing decisions and coordinate Mother’s Day plans…needless to say, my stomach was upset today from my frenemy stress.

Ah stress! It can help us complete last-minute projects, induce fight-or-flight responses, and it can create hives, cold sores, upset stomachs, and even heart-attack like symptoms! Fun! Truthfully, I know for me the cure is exercise (I’ve been eating healthy), but I just need to survive the next couple weeks. We’ve all been there. I’m in survival mode. But crocheting helps. It distracts. It soothes me. Crochet now, exercise later. (I just don’t think I’m coordinated enough to do both at the same time. Imagine walking on the treadmill, stitching away lol).

Meanwhile, I have quite a few projects going on. Some are top secret (shhhhh…) so I will reveal them after I give them to their new homes. Others I am just trying out to learn new stitches or have fun. IMG_20170512_213143One of my experiments is this free summer clutch pattern that I found on Pinterest and Ravelry. Ravelry brings you to the author’s website, so I’ll take you directly to it here at Tangled Happy..

I first fell in love with this pattern because the clutch looks vintage and romantic. Then pattern was super easy; you just need to know a single crochet, double crochet, half-double crochet, and slip stitch. You end up with these adorable little clusters that kind of look like flowers. Another reason I love this pattern is its versatility; it could be a make-up bag, a pencil bag, a paint-brush holder etc.

 

I bought this button on clearance at Joann’s.

I followed the pattern with relative ease and then added a classic looking button and a button hole. Next, I want to add a fun fabric to the inside. I think it’s cool that in one project I learned: how to make a button hole, how to tie on a button with yarn, how to do a simple cluster stitch, and (soon) how to line a crochet project with fabric. That’s so cool!

Side note: I looked most of those things up- only the cluster stitch is in the pattern.

Looking back on this project, I think orange was a really bold color choice. Next time, I will pick a softer color like purple or blue or a neutral like oatmeal or gray and then use a daring color as the border.

Otherwise, I would recommend this project because it’s easy, and the clutch would make an adorable gift to give someone (or to sell). It probably only took me an hour or two in total; I did it here and there, so I never counted how much it took. It was a cinch to carry this around in my purse and work on a row or two during my lunch or while waiting in the car to meet a client.

Anyway, I’ll try to keep the blog more updated with projects. I imagine that I’ll have more time in about two weeks to crochet more. Also, I should be delivering some gifts soon so stay tuned :).

 

Things I’ve Learned by Inventorying

Yarn1

  1. My pets are adorable and super supportive :)! I love this picture because it totally shows their personalities. The doggie needs to know that I love him, and the cat is too cool for school.
  2. I should do this (inventorying) as I buy yarn. Sometimes I didn’t keep labels (if they didn’t have a pattern). So, I’m missing some information.
  3. I also need to organize those labels with patterns somehow…a ziplock bag, a shallow storage container, a binder….ideas, ideas.
  4. 100% acrylic yarn can be range from super soft (Caron Simply Soft) or super scratchy (Red Heart Super Saver). I’m a feeler, so I love the soft feels. I just got some Daffodil Super Saver with Love that is really soft.
  5. Sometimes I paid too much for yarn. Example: I bought 3 oz of a Red Heart Classic for $9.02 ($3/oz). It’s now on sale for $6.75 ($2/oz). Both prices seem expensive to me.
  6. Sometimes I got a really good deal. I bought 6 oz of a Caron Simply Soft for $2.70 on Amazon ($0.42/oz). It retails regularly at $4.49 at JoAnn’s ($0.75/oz).
  7. Most of my yarn was made in either the USA or Turkey. That might be because of the brands I bought.
  8. I bought homespun yarn from Amazon that I could have bought cheaper directly from the seller, Bloomingdale Farm.  Note to self: research regional farms, support local businesses and farms.
  9. Some yarn skeins that weigh 3 oz have only 145 yards and others that weigh 3 oz have 250 yards. So, I need to pay attention to yardage for certain projects.
  10.  My top three brands that I’ve purchased are Red Hearts, Lion Brand, and I Love This Yarn. Are they the best? I don’t know. I feel like I get loyal to brands and then forget to take risks.
  11. I have ONLY purchased from Hobby Lobby or Amazon so far. I’ve been putting yarn in my cart at Numei.com, just haven’t pulled the trigger.
  12. I have 49 full or mostly full skeins! And a couple more on the way! Wow! That might not seem like much to you veterans, but I’ve only been doing this for 5 months. P.S. It only took me a couple hours to inventory all that yarn in that huge spreadsheet I made. I haven’t put it in Ravelry yet, but that’s not that bad.
  13.  BONUS FOR EVERYONE: JoAnn’s seems to be having a yarn sale! I was researching a color for a skein with a missing label, and I found this! 25% off Lion Brand yarn. Also, I saw Bernat, Sugar ‘N Cream, Caron, and more on sale. So…I might stop by JoAnn’s tomorrow. It is right by my real estate office, and I need to drop off a check :).

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From Market Bags to Coasters

Call me crazy, but I love crocheting in the round. My absolute favorite thing to make right now is this market bag from Daisy Cottage Designs. I made one for myself for the Farmer’s Market (see image). Then I made a coral-orange one for my mom for her birthday (but I didn’t take pictures because I wasn’t planning a blog at the time!).

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The picture does not do this justice!

Now, I really like making gifts for other people with my new-found skill. So last weekend I made a small rose scrubby for my friend’s house-warming party.  And instead of making a bunch of scrubbies, I thought I would finally check out Moon Cookie Gallery in downtown Kankakee and buy some of the homemade soaps I’ve seen posted on  their Facebook page.

Guys, I love small businesses so I might be biased, but this place rocks! It has so many pieces of art and homemade goods! I could live there. Just being in the place was inspiring, but then talking to the owner Natalie was even more inspiring!

I know Natalie’s dad, Scott, from real estate (I sell; he inspects), and the two of us are talkers. I happened in on Moon Cookie’s one year anniversary so Scott was there. So he started showing me some of his work that she is selling, and I showed them my work on my phone, and one thing led to another, and Natalie said she would sell items for me if I want. How cool is that?!

I really like the idea of selling market bags there because they are my favorite thing to make, but I also want to try new things. Natalie said that people often look for coasters in her shop-probably because there is an amazing artist that sells pottery there (planters, stoneware mugs, plates, bowls, candles). So the wheels start turning…

Next stop (same day) is my friend Allysa’s house-warming party. Her mom was showing someone her crochet hats and…she and I started gabbing about crochet. By the way, her hats are really cute. Maybe someday I’ll blog about her :). Anyway, we started comparing work and techniques, and she showed me how she used the magic circle on her hats.

Trust me, I had looked up the magic circle before, I had watched videos, and I had blew it off. Pfffff…my circles were small enough. But when I looked at her work that night, I thought…ehh maybe I should try it again. Her circles were definitely better than mine!

If you are following along, someone mentions coasters, and I need to work on the magic circle… leads to I should make coasters to PRACTICE my magic circle. Light bulb! So Tuesday night I made some coasters using this pattern from Where the Sidewalk Ends and Life Begins (what an awesome name for a blog by the way). So this is how mine turned out.

Cue failed trombone: wamp wamp wamp waaaamp. They weren’t flat. So I checked back to the blog. Yep, hers were flat compared to mine. My boyfriend said, “Maybe you crocheted the outer part too tight.” After googling and another attempt, it turns out that he was right. Problem solved. Easily fixed by pulling out the blue yarn and re-doing it.

So then I thought, it’s almost summer, and I pinned some cute watermelon coasters on Pinterest. And I had some pink and green yarn from Easter projects that I never made. I looked up my pins, and they all called for a lighter yarn than what I had. So I thought why don’t I just use this pattern that I know how to do (above). Instead of the final slip

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Fixed coasters left. New watermelon coasters right.

stitch (Round 5), I added an extra half-double crochet line of green and then slip stitched around. I added a couple stitches as I went in the new Round 5, and it turned out great! Tomorrow I get in my black crochet thread to add seeds; I can’t wait!

So I’m making coasters and mastering the magic circle, and chatting with the boyfriend. And we got to talking about what kind of coasters his mom would like. She has a beach theme in one room; and I consult my trusty Pinterest board. Of course I have sea shell coasters pinned- I mean, of course!

I thought, “I’m on a roll, why not try it?” (…okay  really I was sick with a cold and after three naps…I picked up a hook). The seashell pattern that I liked was difficult to find (lots of coasters for sale or visual patterns which are not my strength). However, I did find this simple sea shell coaster pattern from Ramsi Leigh Crochet. The pattern called for two strands of yarn, so I tried to be fancy (first pic). I thought it was cool, but my best critic said it didn’t look like a shell. So I tried it again with only one color of yarn and used stitch markers because I was admittedly a little sketchy on stitch counting with the first one!

I loved the way these turned out, and I think they will make great gifts for people! So I’ll make sets of four of all these coasters, and maybe some lime slice coasters too. I also really liked using two different yarn strands together, so I’m going to play around with that. Maybe blue and pink or lime green and blue. I still don’t have anything to sell for Natalie (or my future Etsy store), but I’m becoming a magic circle master and having fun, and for now that’s enough!

Types of Yarn from Mrs. Craft

Don’t you hate it when you are jolted out of a deep sleep, and then your mind won’t shut off for long enough for you to fall back to sleep? The past few weeks, this  has happened at least once a week.

Me: Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.
Brain: Have you thought of this…what about this…oh do you think so and so…tomorrow you should…

I only have two tricks that seem to work when I get in this situation: clean until I’m tired enough to go back to bed or read until my eyes are too tired to stay open.  Maybe in the future I will try working on a crochet project :).

Anyway, not wanting to be unproductive, I decided to read what other bloggers had to say about yarn. I ran across a blog from Mrs. Craft of craftandothercrazyplans. Her smooth writing helped me easily understand the differences in the types of yarn. Now, as I pick out yarn for a project, I will be going by color, texture, and type so I can make best project possible.

So if you too want to know the difference between acrylic and wool/wool mixes and cotton, read on to this post “Y is for Yarn”. P.S. I’m sure you will enjoy her other posts as well!

Where Do You Buy Your Yarn?

IMG_20170502_211854When I shared my first post, my friend Rachel asked, “Where do you buy your yarn?” And I thought, “What a great question!” And this could go for anyone getting serious about a hobby- where do you get your supplies?

For yarn lovers (like all knitters and crocheters seem to be), I think this can be overwhelming. I have so many questions:
1. Where can I buy good yarn that is relatively inexpensive? Online and locally?
2. What is good yarn?
3. What is a good price for yarn? Is there a place that compares prices?
4. Which brands should I use?
5. Where can I buy wholesale or bulk?
6. What (if there) is the difference between regional styles like Italian vs. Canadian?
7. Are there local (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa) wool farmers who sell yarn?

Going back to the original question, where do I buy my yarn? Well, I started at Hobby Lobby. I bought these yarns: I Love This Yarn Super Soft, Lion’s Brand Yarn Vanna’s Choice, Yarn Bee Scrub-ology, and Yarn Bee Super Soft.

Then I bought from Amazon: more Lion’s Brand including “Thick and Quick” (aka bulky), Red Heart Soft, Red Heart Super Soft, Red Heart Super Saver, Red Heart Classic, BambooMN Brand Simply Soft, Caron Simply Soft, and Lily’s Sugar’ N Cream.

I’m going to be honest. I bought mostly on color and feel (at Hobby Lobby). As I crochet more, I’m finding I like different textures for different projects. I love soft, silky yarn for market bags and hearts. I like the rougher, wool feel for the blanket I’m working on and slippers.

So now that I know a little, I want to know some more to answer my questions. I think I’m going to start by researching more about yarn like what makes yarn “quality”.

My motivation for this is I want to know! And once I figure out the qualifications for good yarn, I can compare brands and prices. I can’t be the only one looking for that. I mean when I buy a toaster or a laptop, I spend hours looking at comparison sites and reading reviews. I wish there was a site like that for yarn lovers.

Some more questions for my readers:
1. Are there sites out there like this for art/craft supplies that compare quality, texture, and prices?
2. Where do you buy your yarn?
3. What brands do you recommend and why?

Please comment!

 

Where It All Started…

Four months ago, I was sitting on the couch at my dad and stepmom’s house (or my Up-North parents as they prefer to be called), and I took a break from playing games and reading on my phone. I looked at my stepmother, Pat, and said, “I think I want to pick up crocheting again.”

This statement itself was kind of funny. Did I ever really “pick up” crocheting as a child? Yes, Pat taught me, and I remember spending a summer working on stitches. And I made some sea-green pot holders which I highly doubt anyone ever used. Though, not to brag,  I’m pretty sure I won an A ribbon for them at the county fair. What I remember clearly was I thought crocheting was really hard, and the pot holders were the biggest thing that I made. They were probably the first and last thing I made.

So it might seem odd or even random that I would suddenly want to start crocheting again. The truth was I had been doing some major reflecting in December. I realized that I had a wonderful home life with an awesome, supportive boyfriend, a dog that wiggled like a maniac when he saw me, and a cat who ranked me as a definite second favorite after food. My boyfriend always had interesting thoughts to share or witty remarks to make me laugh; and I was admittedly not present for him; and I knew it and I couldn’t stop myself! I could not unwind after working three jobs-that’s right- three jobs. I taught middle school, sold real estate, and coached volleyball. You might think I needed the money (*cough* student loans *cough*), but really I liked those jobs, and here’s the big thing: I didn’t know how to not-work. I was a full-blown workaholic.

To my close friends and family, this was not a surprise. How many times did I cancel plans or tell them no because of…work? Almost always… work. My friends with kids probably thought I was insane. How could someone without kids never have free time? Well, now you know.  My name is Sarah, and I am a recovering workaholic.

Crocheting seemed like a good hobby that I could have and still be present.  It wouldn’t cure the workaholism, but it was a start. Pat was really excited for the idea because she loves crocheting! Not only has she taught many people to crochet, but also she’s crocheted innumerable afghans for others. So, she brought me down to her storage where she showed (and gave) me some awesome wooden and antique hooks.

The hooks!

She then took me through to bin after bin of yarn to find a skein that would make practice easier. She handed me magazines and books that I would soon pore over. She chose a light colored skein, so I could see the stitches better. This is important if you are a beginner which I basically was.

 

She taught me (again) how to complete a single crochet stitch. She gave me easy and essential advice (bottom of page). Most helpfully, she coached me which was extra impressive because she is left-handed and I am right-handed; so, she had to do everything backwards for her. I worked back and forth along a short chain until my stitch became consistent. She then ripped it out and made me start over. Oddly, this made me feel good to start over and produce something better. I could see myself progressing quickly. Plus, this went along with the growth mindset we taught our students in school. After maybe twenty rows of consistent stitches, she taught me the double crochet stitch. Then, we did the same thing- working until I got consistent. The next day, she taught me how to work in a round, we bought supplies at Hobby Lobby, and I was off to explore the world of crochet.

Since then, I’ve kept up with the crochet. Reading blogs and books and magazines like a fiend.

Baby booties!

Buying yarn like an addict. Pinning everything on Pinterest. Even upgrading my hooks already. Making everything from small hearts and booties to blankets. I’ve learned so much, and I feel like there is so much more room to grow.

 

 

So this blog is about my absolute love for crochet, yarn, and crafts. It’s about my journey from a novice to an expert (fingers crossed), the products I use and make, the people I’ve bonded or reconnected with along the way, and my plan to start a part-time business with potential to grow (more on that later).

 

Advice from Pat to Me (a Beginner)
These are some tips that have stuck with me. Thanks Pat! Hope you don’t mind :).

  • Start with a light colored yarn: It’s easier to see your stitches.
  • Use your fingers to turn the hook: You have to turn your wrist a little as you crochet, but you can twirl the hook using your fingers to grab the yarn to pull it through. This puts less stress on your wrist. Trust me. I have learned to follow this the hard way.
  • Don’t start with too big of a project: She told me that most people quit crocheting because they want to do a large blanket or something else big for their first project. Many people have given me anecdotal evidence that backs this up. Start with something smaller, so you fell like you’ve accomplished something.
  • Don’t be afraid to start over: On my first blanket, I was horrible at counting stitches, and you could tell. Since then, I use stitch counters, and if it doesn’t look right, then I rip it out and start over.

    Huge ongoing blanket project and a heart for style