Crochet or read? The ultimate struggle

As you can see from the contents of my purse in the quick shot below from my iPod touch, I struggle with choosing between reading and crocheting. If it’s a good book and I have a finite amount of time, the book always wins. Why?

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Are the benefits to reading greater than the benefits to crocheting? Maybe. Maybe not. I think both offer a great benefit to my well being. Is that not what ultimately matters? I think that I can escape from my surroundings easier through a book. If I’m caught up in my reading, no one will talk to me (the whole shy thing). If I’m crocheting, someone might talk to me.

Right now, I’m working on a baby blanket. I’m not expecting a baby but I’ve been asked a few times if I’m pregnant. That just gives me nightmares. I’m perfectly content being the mother of two beautiful girls. I love explaining why I’m making a baby blanket (We, as a church small group, are making blankets to support new mothers both within our church and the surrounding community), but perhaps the conversation goes on longer than the other person really intended. Once I start talking, I do have a hard time stopping.

As far as books, I just started reading Jane Slayre by Sherri Erwin. I love the original and I love thinking about what Jane would do if she were raised by Vampyres. It’s not necessarily a page turner yet for me, but it could be soon. A few years ago, I’d suspect more eye rolls at the title of my book than comments, but in the age of Twilight, we’ll see.

Ever the mediator, I found myself tonight while out at drum lessons and ballet lessons doing a little reading and a little crochet. Two locations call for honoring two loves, right? Basically, I will always struggle with choosing between a good book and a crochet project. For the record, Monday night when I blissfully completed hours of crochet, I had Jane Slayre in my possession and had yet to read a page. Crochet won. Let’s home it wins again tonight.

 

Why I Crochet (and why you should too)

(Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 1)

Why do I crochet? Until a friend asked me to teach her to crochet a few months ago, I had not made anything nor had the desire to pick up a crochet hook in months. My life had become too busy. I told myself that I wasn’t stressed, but I could hear it in my voice when my children asked me a question on a particularly busy day. I could feel it in my attitude towards my husband when he came home at the end of the day. I am beyond grateful for my friend for renewing my love for something that I had taken for granted.

I crochet because I can see something come to life before me, whether it’s a simple dishcloth or an intricate lace doily. I love seeing the endless possibilities that live inside a simple ball of yarn.

 

I picked up this ball of Caron Simply Soft Paints today because I loved the color and thought it would make a great batch of crochet eggs for Easter. On the other hand, I could use it to make a Brownie hat for Laura. She has quite a collection of hats and quite a collection of plaid shorts. I just bought her a new pair of shorts that would look great with something from this yarn. I found a cute bunny pattern that would look beautiful in this colorway also. Needless to say, I could make practically anything from this yarn, with the right pattern or the right imagination to create a pattern. I crochet because of the endless possibilities.

I also crochet for the peace of mind that comes over me while I’m sitting in a comfy chair with hook and yarn in hand. Since I started crocheting again a few months ago, I feel a little bit better. I’m less likely to snap at one of the girls and I’m definitely enjoying the company of my husband more. Are these changes directly related to crocheting? Who knows. I feel as if it has made a slight difference in my daily countenance. (I checked the definition of countenance on merriam-webster.com and my use of the word is defined as “archaic”. It may be archaic but Jane Austen would be proud.)

Last night, I spent hours working on a baby blanket. I loved watching the hearts come into being. Once I stopped, I could not believe how much I’d accomplished in what seemed like so little time. It’s a very pretty purple and almost makes me wish we were having another baby. This blanket has a home with a future baby, yet to be determined. It will go to my church crochet group and will be full of prayers and good wishes.

Through crochet, I have meet countless people who also love the art. I have rarely, if ever, been treated negatively for crocheting. In fact, on the times that I’m crocheting in public and someone does comment on what I’m doing, I’m approached more often by someone who has recently learned to crochet or has fond memories of a family member who crocheted. I love having that moment of connection with a stranger. I can sit with people of any age or race or gender who are crocheting and feel a connection. I am a very shy person. Feeling comfortable around strangers is not something that comes easy to me. Crochet helps me overcome some of that shyness. (I will say that I will not approach others who are crocheting or knitting. It’s the shy thing.)

Why should you start crocheting? I could name any sort of reason here but ultimately, you must learn how to crochet for your own personal reasons. Maybe you’d like to donate hats or baby blankets to a charity, dog and cat blankets to a local shelter, your best friend is having a baby, YOU’RE having a baby. What brings you to crochet will not be the same thing that keeps you crocheting or what brings you back from a long break. Either way, pick up a hook, buy yarn that makes you think of endless possibilities, and get to work. It will be worth it.

 

Apples of Gold

A month ago, a new crochet group formed at my church to make blankets for members expecting new babies. Put like-minded women together in the same room and a small idea blossoms into something more. We’re now expanding our baby basket making to include a local area program that helps young women and teens. My first contribution is this 9-patch Baby Throw from Lion Brand Yarn.

 

 

I loved how simple this pattern came together. It’s a simple stitch and I look forward to making more in the future. I used Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice Baby yarn in Pink Poodle and Sweet Pea.

The best part about finishing this project is that as soon as I was finished crocheting, I was ready to start a new project, which is a feeling that’s been missing for a year or more. I’m excited to start something new. Now to decide what to crochet first….

Birds of a Feather Wreath Tutorial

One of my favorite blogs, Dollar Store Crafts, inspired me to create my first craft tutorial. I’ve started making regular trips to my local Dollar Tree searching for random items both for crafting and my Girl Scout troop. On my trip this week, I found a great supply of Spring goodies to make an Easter wreath. This is an easy project that just requires a little less than an hour of your time and a glue gun.

Ingredients

(Outside of the glue gun and glue sticks, I picked up all of my supplies for $1 each at either Dollar Tree or Michaels)

  • glue gun (had on hand) + glue sticks
  • Bamboo circle wreath
  • Spring color pom poms
  • Foam glitter egg decorations
  • 2 Foam Birds
  • Spring flower ribbon

Recipe

Gather your supplies. For an extra bit of entertainment, keep them on the dining room table to wait on your husband’s reaction. Mine, still not accepting of girlie and all things cute after 12 years of being together, said, “Oh no. What are you doing???” It made me smile that secret “It’s going to be even MORE cutesy now mister!” smile.

I started with the pom poms. I placed 3 or 4 dots of hot glue  on the wreath and then placed the pom poms on the glue. I tried a few where I’d place the glue on the pom pom first, but then I’d panic and not know where to place the poor glued pom pom. Glue first, then pom pom was a better option .As you can see here, I clumped them together at the beginning and then spread them out because I liked it better.

It didn’t take long to finish all of my pom poms. I love the colors. 🙂 There’s no real order to placing the pom poms other than making sure not to place the same colors next to each other. I did not cover the back. It would have taken another package. I had just the right amount to make a nice even surface.

After the pom poms, start adding the eggs. As you can see, I added them in pairs. The package came with 8 eggs in four different colors. I removed the ribbons from the ornaments. Since the eggs are foam, a little tug and the ribbons came right out. I made sure to place the egg where the hole from the ribbon would either be glued or concealed from sight.

My foam eggs did not weigh much. It’s best to glue a pair of eggs and then hold in place until they have a little stability or they’ll pop up and find their own home on the wreath.

The final step is to add the birds. I placed them near the center of the wreath.

I removed the wires from the birds and just hot glued them into place. Again, they’re made of foam and won’t stay still unless you hold them in place to set the glue a bit. I thought about placing them kissing but I had to draw the line at just mostly cute and not super cute. (I have a husband’s cuteness allergy to consider.)

The finished product…..

Super easy and super cute. 🙂  Only a few weeks until it’s officially Spring!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Crepes

I love chocolate covered strawberries! A few years ago, I made up this quick recipe to satisfy my cravings for the special treat.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Ingredients:

Crepes to die for (I use Amy Karol’s (Angry Chicken) Recipe Cheat Sheet – here). I make them over medium high heat in my 10 inch skillet. They turn out wonderfully.

Strawberries, chopped and covered with a couple of spoonfuls of sugar (I know, great details!)

Whipping cream, whipped (of course!)

Chocolate syrup

Cinnamon

How to make delicious yummy goodness:

Combine about a 1/4 cup of your strawberries with 1/4 cup of the whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Mix.

Fill up your crepe with most of the strawberry and cream mixture (Reserve a spoonful to place on top). Fold to look pretty.

Spoon remaining mixture on top of crepe, then drizzle with chocolate sauce.

Enjoy! It really does taste like chocolate covered strawberries.

Valentine’s Wreath

The girls and I made this wonderful Valentine’s Day wreath using The Thriftress‘ tutorial.  It was incredibly easy and a great project for us today on this crazy snow day in Fort Worth.

My total project expense was $5.24. I used a paper towel roll, 2 toilet paper rolls, and only bought a can of red spray paint, glitter, and ribbon. It would be a great project at a Girl Scout meeting!

 

We live in the host city for the AFC Championship team during the Super Bowl and we’re also huge Pittsburgh Steelers fans. Mad was dying for a Steeler Nation scarf of her own and the progress on my knit scarf wasn’t progressing at a pace to keep her happy. We compromised and made a trip to pick up a bit of fleece.

I make her take it off when she goes to bed, but otherwise she’s decked out in black and gold all day long. It was a super easy project! I used 1/3 yard each of black and gold fleece (30% off at Hobby Lobby!), cut in half lengthwise. I stacked the four pieces on top of each other then sewed up the middle, backstitching at the beginning and end. I cut one inch strips, making sure to stay at least a 1/2 inch from the stitching.  Fluff it up and you’re ready to go!

 

On Day One of our week long “Icepocalypse” here in Fort Worth, we played a lot of board games. At the end of Day Four, I’d give anything for a few moments of alone time!  Back on that lovely first day at home, we were in the midst of a massive attack of Zombies (one of our favorite games) when I remembered that two years ago I started knitting a scarf in Steelers colors. With the Big Game this weekend here in our own Metroplex, I had to get back to work! I’m about 30 rows from completing it as of today, but at the time, I’d only completed 30 rows.

Look how huge the knitting needles look next to those terrifying little zombies!

Spring Links

I was working on a list of interested craft projects to share with my local Girl Scout community and thought that I might as well share my favorites here too.  Most of my comments might be Girl Scout related, but most of these I might try to do with my daughters in the next few weeks. 

Recycled Magazine coasters – great idea to go with the energy/recycling them of the It’s Your Planet! Journey for Junior Girl Scouts.  It’s also a great way to get rid of the piles and piles and PILES of magazines in my house without just dumping them in the recycling bin.

If you want to take the coasters a step further, try the Recycled Magazine baskets . I’m thinking about making some of these to use for my smaller crochet projects that I have spread around the house. I always have at least 3 or 4 in progress in various rooms for those times when I actually sit down and relax.

Use this “momtastic” memo box for inspiration to make a container of goodies for Mother’s Day, Teacher Appreciation Day, end of year gifts for dance teachers, etc.

Make a Magic Leprechaun Mirror (might be a great Daisy or Brownie project)

Crazy cheap way to make cute crayons and maybe more for a personal project for you and your kids. I’ve seen many different versions of these but never thought of getting the mold cheap at the dollar store.

Printable paper dolls . You’ll be out the cost of ink to print a few sheets of these out for the girls in your troop, but these would make a good craft to have the girls work on as they arrive to the troop meetings.

Crafting with kids windchime – there’s a downloadable PDF of all instructions at the bottom.  I think this would make a great project for a troop in any age range.

Enjoy!