Adventures in Super Chunky Crochet – Part 1

Now that the weather has turned cooler, I’m firing up my size S crochet hook and designing double chunky projects for fall. These pillows were crocheted with two strands of super chunky yarn – thus double chunky. I made a simple envelope out of fleece and sewed them to the crocheted tops. I already have Christmas present requests so more of these are in the works.

In other news, I’m going to an alpaca farm to demonstrate crochet at the end of the month and am pretty excited about it. There are also going to be knitters and spinners there so I’m going to find out about getting some double chunky yarn hand spun. Two strands of super chunky crocheted together don’t look the same as one double chunky strand. There isn’t really even a term for what I want, which is like two #6 strands thick.

And, I’ve been reading “Rules of Civility” by Amor Towles for our little book club. It was quite a good read with interesting characters and insights into human nature. Even though Towles is a man, he writes the main character’s voice (a woman) very convincingly, because he doesn’t try to write as a woman, he writes as a person. There is no pat happy ending but everything is wrapped together and comes full circle in the end. Quite satisfying.

Posted in Miscellanous | 1 Comment

Customize Your Social Media Icons

There are so many great ideas and ways to customize the links to your SM homes that can really “seal the deal” with your blog/website design. Check out these great icon sets:

Little Box of Ideas Lego Icons – Don’t you love the Lego icons?

eHow Social Media Icons – This clever banner uses an image to house the SM icons. There are different banners for different sections of the eHow site, too.

Eli Rose Smicons - This site is “where social media ideas come to grow.” Great use of imagery!

Here are my social media icons, before and after. I decided just to make a simple color change to match my new design’s palette and avoid too much clutter by using balls of yarn since those are already used in the header.

Ready to whip up some of your own social media icons? Here’s a handy Photoshop tutorial by Benjamin Reed at Nouveller.

Posted in Miscellanous | 1 Comment

FP – Crochet Market Bag

This recent market bag design by Linda Permann immediately went to the top of my project to-make list. It worked up quickly once I got the hang of the V-Stitch. Despite a huge array of colors, I couldn’t image a more perfect color than the apple green.

The only change I made to the pattern was to go around the inside of the handles with a single crochet border to give them more stability. I made it as a thank you gift for the talented designer who re-designed my blog! She really liked it!

The cooler weather has me thinking about winter projects like scarves, fingerless gloves and double chunky pillows and shawls. I’m searching for double chunky yarn, say a #12 weight so if you have any suggestions, leave a comment!

Posted in crochet, finished projects | 12 Comments

Free Hand Warm Up PDF

Hand Stretches PDF

Keeping my hands and wrists pain-free can be hard since I work on a computer all day and crochet and craft at night. I started looking for exercises or stretches to keep my hands from cramping up and feeling stiff. Berroco has a great Handeze warm up, which I made into a printable two-up PDF.

Download the Hand Stretch Excercise PDF

(A big thanks to my lovely hand model who inherited all the good nail genes in the family.)

Yoga for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Theresa Murphy demonstrates hand, wrist and finger stretches in this YouTube series:
Pretty interesting and informative site with free videos demonstrating basic hand exercises to increase strength and flexibility of your hands and fingers.

The biggest challenge I face is to take breaks and rest my hands. When I’m on a roll with a crochet project, though, it’s hard to put it down. It’s a good lesson in moderation – one I always need to be reminded of.

Posted in crochet | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

LYS – Alexandria, VA Style

Do you go to LYS (local yarn shops) on vacation? We recently traveled to Washington, DC for a five day vacation full of monuments, museums, great food, great cupcakes and of course, yarn shopping! We stayed in historic Alexandria right off King Street, 20 blocks of businesses, shops and restaurants. At dinner the first night, I used my Google map app to search for a nearby yarn shop, and viola! Fibre Space was a stop I had to make.

The shop is spacious and cozy with a classroom space, a Ravelry workstation to find patterns and of course, a great selection of yarns. I knew whatever I bought, I would have to carry on the plane, so I settled on a skein of cashmere, bamboo and wool in Salmon. Plus I got a pattern for fingerless gloves, free. There are lots of classes and meet ups and I was sad I was just an out-of-towner cause this place would be a fun hang-out!

Mary is a huge DC Cupcakes fan, so we took the Metro toward Georgetown. This was around 10 am on a Tuesday and we still had to wait about 15 minutes to get inside and order a cupcake. They were soooo good. The family fav was Lemonberry. Sadly, Sophie and Katherine weren’t any where to be oogled but their assistant, Andrew was there, busy cutting fondant. I appreciated the graphic design aspect of the visit and admired their packaging.

As far as sightseeing goes, the highlight for me was the DC After Dark tour of the national monuments. Our tour bus driver/guide was pretty hilarious and kept us in stitches with his commentary and jokes. Plus, there is nothing like standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at 9 PM when the lights go on.

Ironically, my “family of origin” went to Washington, DC exactly 35 years ago during the bicentennial anniversary. Seeing the places we had visited before brought back great memories of being a thirteen year old kid. Now I have great memories with my own kids, too.

Posted in family, free pattern, summer | 2 Comments


One of my favorite summer deserts is cold peach pie. I got an email that the Loring peaches were ready to be picked at a local farm. We headed off Saturday morning to pick our own peaches and blackberries.

There’s nothing like the taste of a just-picked peach (or apple). Kids and adults alike couldn’t resist a bite right off the tree. There were so many ripe peaches and we got a little carried away. Turns out we picked forty-two pounds in about half an hour. Whoops! On the way home in the car, I said, “Everyone’s helping with these peaches!!” There was no way any of them were going to go to waste.

So we made pie filling, peach salsa and preserves. It took two afternoons but everyone helped peel, dice and slice. I made a peach pie but the peaches were so juicy, it was more like a peach lake in a dish. Still tasted amazing over ice cream.

We also picked five pounds of blackberries for jam and cobbler.

Needless to say, the only hooky time I had was in the car on the way to and from the farm. I’m making progress on my second Special Olympics scarf, sampler style.

Posted in in the kitchen, summer | 3 Comments

Finished Projects July 2011

The hook has been at work quite a bit lately so I need to stop and show you what I’ve been doing!

This is my first Winter Special Olympics scarf donation. I used half double crochet stitches and worked in the back stitch only at the color changes for a slight cable effect. The dimensions had to be 60″ x 6″ and I was happy with the way it turned out. The next one is going to be more of a sampler design or basket weave stitch – I can’t decide. I’m using the foundation single crochet method for the first rows and it really makes a nice finished edge. Watch Alice Merlino, AKA Futuregirl show you how to do it!

I was also very flattered to receive a special request order from a reader in Australia for a cowl/scarf/hat pattern I showed on my blog last year. Christine of Golden Lily Crafts wrote: “Here in Australia it is blisteringly cold and as I walk my dogs daily this cowl would be perfect. I can start off with it wrapped around my head and as I warm up it can fold down to a scarf.”

We exchanged emails sorting out color choices and shipping details and I was so happy to be able to ship it off! Word to the wise. When you buy postage online, double check the dimensions of the box you choose. I unknowingly chose a box that barely fit the cowl and hope it doesn’t get too squished on it’s journey across the pond. Thank you, Christine for being my first client! I hope the cowl gives you years of enjoyment!

Posted in cowl, crochet, scarf, special olympics | 9 Comments

Hitchcock on the Hill

Forest Park is home to so many amazing museums and events all year round from Ice Skating at Steinberg Rink to star gazing at the Science Center, to watching the prairie dogs at St. Louis Zoo. Every Friday in July, the St. Louis Art Museum hosts Friday movies outdoors on a giant, inflated movie screen. We couldn’t believe our good fortune to have 90 degree weather instead of 100 degree weather this night. Four days before, I attended my son’s swim meet at at balmy 110 degrees at 7:00 pm.

The movie was Rear Window and I hadn’t watched it since college. Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. Swoon! I’m sure January Jones took a cue from Grace Kelly for her role on Mad Men. I found myself noticing the amazing clothes and the sets. There’s nothing like a Hitchcock thriller, in my book. Perhaps we’ll check on Vertigo and North by Northwest and Dial M for Murder on the old Netflix. Notice I didn’t say Psycho. Shiver.

Are you a Hitchcock fan? What’s your favorite Hitchcock film?

Posted in crochet, Miscellanous | 3 Comments

Field Trip to Upcycle Exchange Equals Stash SCORE!

My friend sent me a link to a new shop that opened in south St. Louis, the Upcycle Exchange. It employs a new business model – you name your price for upcycled craft supplies, yarn, fabric, notions, scrapbooking supplies, art supplies, crafty books, magazines and more. Items for sale have been donated at the shop or at one of many indie craft establishments in the area. You pick the items you want and enter the price you want to pay in the store’s Square-based checkout system. And 10% of the proceeds benefit a different local charity each month.

Autumn Wiggins, a St. Louis indie craft rock star and founder of the Strange Folk Festival, opened the shop in 2009. The open structure pricing model has proven to be sustainable and Wiggins is meeting and exceeding her overhead costs. There are already plans to open Upcycle Exchanges in Detroit and other cities.

And can we just say, how much fun it is to shop here? Autumn has a real eye for merchandising and terrific storage ideas. She used ordinary storage bins and jars, then painted a patch of chalkboard paint on them for easy labeling. Everything is stored in Ikea units and the place has a cool combination vibe of modern and pressed-tin-ceiling vintage.

There is such a huge variety of materials I had to stop myself and focus on key items I needed. Since I love to dabble in so many different crafts, it would have been sooo easy to go overboard.

My stash from today’s visit included:

  • 3 hanks of handspun alpaca/wool blend yarn
  • Buttons (for seat belt cozies)
  • Fresh water pearl beads
  • Cotton crochet thread
  • Buttons for softie cat eyes
  • Scrapbook paper in basic colors
  • Wine corks (for mulling spices gifts)

Now it’s time to get busy and use some of this stash to start on Christmas goodies!

Posted in crafts, crochet | 4 Comments

Crochet for the Winter Special Olympics

Special Olympians Wisconsin 2010, courtesy of

Have you heard about this project to crochet or knit scarves for Winter Special Olympians? The scarves are given to each of the athletes and there are over 30 states hosting events. Last year, over 26,000 scarves were donated.

2010 Special Olympics Scarf Project website

The scarves can be any pattern as long as the finished dimensions are 6 inches by 54-60 inches long. The image gallery offers lots of inspiration. I love this scarf created for the Northern California Special Olympics and the combination stitches and patterns.

Image courtesy of Scarf created by Esther Hsiao Tsai

We were shopping over the weekend and I found the Red Heart colors needed for the this year’s scarves (red and navy)and started hooking! My plan is to get our local crochet group and church folks involved and see how many scarves we can get together for the Illinois athletes participating at the Galena, IL games.

Check out this page for the list of states and the deadlines.

I’ll post progress photos soon!

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Posted in crochet, inspiration, scarf, special olympics | 2 Comments