Stash bust update, First Quarter, 2018

Busting out some stash

March Pot Luck2018 began with a post announcing my goal to reduce my yarn stash.  3 months have passed and I’ve made some progress.  A good bit of progress.  I gave away a full box of felted sweaters to someone on Ravelry.  I sold 16 hanks on eBay.  I gave away 2 skeins in my pot-holder swap group and donated almost 2 full boxes of yarn and misc. craft supplies to a local thrift store.  In addition, I completed 3 potholders, 2 scarves, 3 hats, 5 dryer balls and 1 votive cover.  My only yarn purchases were 2 teeny tiny skeins of cotton yarn as I needed them for one of the hats.  So, with all that, you would think I would only have about 8 boxes of yarn remaining, right? Nope. I have 10 boxes and at least 1 box worth of loose yarn that is not boxed up.  UGH. Apparently I significantly underestimated the amount of yarn I had scattered about the house and in project bags and such.  So, I DID clear out about 4 boxes worth, I just refilled those empty boxes with yarn that wasn’t boxed up. Oh well.  It is still progress and I’m happy to be reducing my stash.  I addition to the completed projects shown below, I have a few WIPS.  Hopefully they will be completed by June 1 and I can share photos in my next update.  Jan Pot Luck

Click on the photos for more information about each project. Patterns used are linked below.

UNsquared granny scarfFeb Pot LuckBentley #1

Bentley #2Bently#3yarnballs4Zinnia votive

 

Happy Crocheting all!!

 

Pretty-in-Pink

New Pattern Alert! Zinnia Votive

Now Available, Zinnia Votive.  A lace sleeve for a standard canning jar.

Zinnia-Votive-in-Knit-Picks-Luminance-crochet-pattern-#CbyDH

Dress up a standard canning jar and turn it into a beautiful gift.  The Zinnia Votive is a pattern for a standard canning jar sleeve. Place a tea light inside the jar and see the beauty of crochet lace like never before. A gorgeous way to light up your late summer nights. The pattern includes fully written instructions as well as an illustrative chart.

The pattern is written to fit a standard, round 8 oz Ball canning jar. However, it is easily adaptable to fit many different jar sizes.  Upcycle your glass jars into illuminated lace.

Pattern information can be found here: Zinnia Votive

So many uses!

Gifts for all occasions including, teacher gifts, get well and thinking of you gifts, Mother’s Day gifts, and housewarming gifts.

Use as wedding favors.  Crochet in the colors of your wedding and place one at each table. Use battery powered tea lights (get long lasting ones!) for breathtaking lighting on your special day.

Slip one on each jar of jam you give as a gift.  Include a votive with how-to instructions so the recipient may enjoy your gift long after the sweet treat is enjoyed.

Gift with fresh cut flowers inside.  Include a votive with how-to instructions so the recipient may enjoy your gift long after the flowers have faded.

Make a variety of them in different sizes (the pattern is easily adaptable!). Arrange on a picnic table and enjoy a romantic dinner for two.

The sleeves work up quick and use very little yarn/thread. They make great craft fair and fundraiser projects.  A thrifty and eco-friendly craft.

Spiffy

Eco-Craft, Yarn Balls aka. Dryer Balls

How to make dryer balls for zero dollars!

I’ve been intrigued by dryer balls for awhile now.  Every once in awhile I’ll see a post about them and think to myself-I wonder if they work? I have no interest in purchasing plastic or rubber ones or using tennis balls in my dryer.  I can’t help but wonder if those types of dryer balls release toxins of some sort when exposed to heat.  My interest is to improve my laundry, naturally.  I would like to use less dryer sheets, not replace sheets with potentially more or different chemicals.  So I finally decided to give dryer balls a try when I came across some wool yarn and felted wool scraps in my stash.  I’m on a quest to reduce my stash. I thought this would be a good way to use up some of it and finally find out if 100% wool dryer balls actually work.  The yarn and felted sweater scraps are leftover from previous projects.  Therefore, my cost is $0.

Step 1: Gather up 100% wool scraps and 100% wool yarn.

yarnballs1

Felted wool scraps from various projects, felted wool “yarn” cut from a damaged wool sweater, and some random 100% yarn wool.

Step 2: Smush the scraps into a ball and then wrap with yarn.  Add more scraps and wrap with more yarn.  Repeat until the ball is the size you want.

yarnballs2

Step 3: Secure yarn.

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Step 4: Repeat until you have as many as you want or you run out of scraps.  I didn’t time myself but I think it took me about an hour to make all of these.

yarnballs4

Step 5: Felt them.  I placed them in a lingerie bag and washed them with my regular laundry for a couple of  loads.  Once they were felted enough where I didn’t think they would unravel, I took them out of the lingerie bag and washed them with the regular laundry for a couple more loads.  Last, I trimmed the few ends that came undone.

So DO THEY WORK?

I’ve heard claims that they save energy, reduce static, reduce dryer time, reduce wrinkles and make clothes softer.   If they did all of these, I would be ecstatic.  If they did one or two, I’d be happy.  I’ve been using them for over a month now and I’m pretty happy.  My clothes seem to be dry when the cycle is complete.  Before dryer balls, I often had to add time to the dryer because the clothes were still damp.  More time in the dryer will result in more static.  And, while I still have to use dryer sheets, I’m using one per load rather than two.  Yup, I’ve had to use two for awhile now.  My boys wear a lot of athletic, moisture wicking type clothing made out of synthetic materials.  These items tend to pick up static when in the dryer.  However, less time in the dryer = less static.  So, overall, I’m happy with the results.

I have a few more scraps so I may make one or two more.   If you have the materials, give it a try and let me know what you think.

PatchworkKitty-001

 

UNsquared-Granny-Super-Scarf-granny-square-crochet-pattern-by-Darleen-Hopkins #CbyDH

New Pattern Alert: The UNsquared Granny Super Scarf

Sometimes grannies can be so…square.

UNsquared-Granny-Super-Scarf-granny-square-crochet-pattern-by-Darleen-Hopkins #CbyDH

It is time to UN-square the granny!  The UNsquared Granny Super Scarf is a new twist on the classic motif.  Designed for heavy worsted/aran weight yarn, this easy pattern works up fast.  The result is a beautiful scarf which makes a great gift.   Pattern includes a partial chart to help illustrate the stitch placement. And the pattern is easily adaptable for different yarn weights and/or sizes.

Gift idea! New high school graduate heading off to college in the fall?  Crochet one in his or her college colors.

Don’t forget, all Crochet by Darleen Hopkins patterns available on Ravelry are Buy 2, Get a 3rd for FREE! No coupon needed.  Ravelry will automatically deduct the lowest priced pattern from your total.  How cool is that??

AlienLoveysWebsiteBanner

Crocheting for Charity, Part 2

Charitable Crochet, Keep it Local

christmas-pick-fundraiser-1

Christmas Pickle Gift Sets donated to the local High School Marching Band Holiday Craft and Bake Sale to raise funds for new uniforms.

Crocheting for charity can be extremely rewarding.  We all want to do good and it is rewarding to know you can make something that can make another person happy.   Being able to support your local community with charitable crochet is an added bonus.

My last post addressed the awesome part of crocheting for organized organizations.  The organizations I listed have not only found recipients for the items but actually have people asking for them.  They can say with certainty that the donated items (if they are made within the established guidelines) will end up in the hands of the intended recipient. But, what if your funds are limited and you just don’t have the money to pay for shipping? or what if you just want to keep it local?

I often hear of local church groups or civic organizations where they crochet hats for chemo patients or something similar.  But when asked where or how they are getting the items to the patients, the response is along the lines of “We bring them to the hospital”.  While it is wonderful to crochet for charitable efforts, I learned the hard way that you have to be selective in where you donate your charitable crochet.  Delivering items to the hospital does not mean they make it to the patients (read the story here).  So, please keep in mind, no matter where you donate your handmade items, my number one suggestion is to contact the business or organization FIRST to see if they WANT and will ACCEPT the items.  If you get a yes, push them a little further and ask, do they have more than they currently need and will the items be distributed to the patients/kids/residents/etc.   And be sure to ask if they have any guidelines and/or restrictions you need to follow.

Below are a few suggestions on how you can crochet for charity, keep it local AND be sure the donated items are getting to the intended recipients. Again, check FIRST to make sure they want/need and will distribute your handmade items.

  1. Contact national organizations and ask if they can direct you on how to donate locally.  While it may not be possible to donate directly to the recipients as they likely require all donated items to be inspected for quality control, they may be able to direct you to a local drop off location-maybe a guild chapter or yarn shop.
  2. Check with your local hospitals and oncology centers to see if you can donate hats directly to them.  If so, what guidelines to they have?  If not hats, can they suggest anything else that their patients may like.
  3. Is there a local shelter, woman’s or homeless, that might like blankets?
  4. Check to see if your community has a organization that helps homeless families find homes.  Could you provide housewarming gifts to be including when helping to set up the home.  Think blankets, potholders, throw rugs or anything to help make the new place warm and comfortable.  Check with the women’s shelter as well as they often help set up new homes for women escaping abusive situations.
  5. Check with the animal shelter to see if they would like blankets for the cages.  Or maybe you can make cat toys or fancy dog collars that they can give away with new adoptions or possibly sell to raise money for the shelter.
  6. Check with the local police to see if they would like comfort buddies to have on hand for when a child has to be removed from a home or is involved in an accident.
  7.  Maybe there is a local foster care home that would like crocheted blankets for the kids.  Remember, displaced teens need comfort blankets as well as small children and babies.
  8. Check with food banks and see if they also collect blankets or maybe they have suggestions of items you could provide that they will offer to their patrons.
  9. Is there a senior assisted living center/nursing home in your area?  Maybe the workers know of a resident who doesn’t have many visitors and could use a lap blanket or slippers.
  10. Is there a community toy-drive for families in need at the holidays?  I’ve made character hats for ours.
  11. And my favorite, because organizations always need money, donate handmade items for a craft fair fundraiser or a raffle.  Check with schools to see if any sports teams or the arts (band, chorus, etc) have upcoming fundraising opportunities you can donate items for a charity sale.  I made Christmas Pickles, see photo above, for the marching band and donated hand made items for the elementary school’s silent auction.  Many shelters and other non-profit organizations hold silent auctions as fundraisers.  They are always looking for items to include in these fundraisers.

When donating local, be sure to follow guidelines established by national organizations.  They are there for a reason.  It may be for the patient’s comfort, ease of washing or maybe the safety of the recipient.  Be sure to use appropriate yarns, wash and/or sterilize if necessary and be sure to keep pets away.  And if you don’t have the appropriate yarn but still want to make items for donation, get creative.  Baby blankets and lap blankets don’t need the same yarns required for chemo hats.  Animals don’t care if your yarn is an odd color.  Market bags can be made in inexpensive, scratchy yarns and may sell well at a craft fair fundraiser or silent auction.  And if you smoke or have pets in your home be honest and disclose this.  Some groups may not want to risk the possible allergens.  If having pets is an issue with local organizations maybe concentrate your charitable efforts on supporting an animal shelter.

Shells of Love baby blanket crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Crocheting for Charity, Part 1

Charity Crochet, Established Organizations

Octopus for a Preemie-US

Donated Octos for the Octopus for a Preemie-US organization

Apparently, I have a reputation as one who crochets.  🙂  I often have friends and relatives send me links, post on my timeline or tag me with whatever the latest viral crochet pattern or project may be.  And I love this.  When my non-crocheting buddies come across something, I know it is something big and hot right now.

A few months ago, my sister-in-law sent me a link to a story about octopuses being crocheted for babies in the NICUs of hospitals.  I had heard of this before but hadn’t really looked too much into it.  This link got me interested in learning more (Thanks Chris!) and ultimately, to writing this blog post about crocheting for charity.  I love to crochet for charity but let me retell my story as to why I didn’t for a number of years.

Shortly after I began crocheting, I found an individual who was putting together a group of crocheters to make hats for children in hospitals who were going through chemo treatments.  Being a mom of two little boys, who were thankfully healthy, I jumped at this opportunity to do some good for kids and hoped to make some new crochet friends along the way.  I made 5 or 6 hats and they were submitted to the hospital along with all the others that were collected.  A month or so later, I received a thank you in the mail from the hospital’s public relations officer.  I was so excited and wanted to make more so I called the hospital representative to find out what would be the best type of hats to make.  I wanted to make what he kids liked.  This was over 10 years ago and I still remember her response verbatim-“We have so many hats, we don’t need anymore hats.  We have boxes and boxes in a closet.  Please don’t send us anymore hats.”  Now I don’t know if I caught this woman on a bad day or what, but I was shocked.  I remember saying “OK, thank you” and hanging up.  I let the woman who was heading the group know what I found out.  She believed her hats were going directly to the kids and wanted to continue.  I decided I didn’t want to make hats thinking they may just end up in a closet somewhere so I quit the group.  While I was disappointed and frustrated, I am thankful the woman at the hospital was honest with me.  If not, I may have continued my efforts making items that may have never been used as intended.  And this experience taught me how important it is to research charities prior to donating to them.  After this happened, I shared my story above with more than one organization.  I explained to them that I wanted to confirm the crocheted items I made and donated would 100% end up with the intended recipients.  Thankfully, the contacts of the organizations were honest as well and stated they were unable to confirm this.  They were groups collecting items but not checking with the recipients whether or not they were even wanted.  How many of those donated hats/blankets/whatever were ending up in boxes in closets?  Hopefully none but in all likelihood, at least some of them were.  This was such a shame to me.

Fast forward a few years and I stumbled upon Halos of Hope.  When I retold the story above to Pam, the founder, and expressed concern as to where the hats were donated,  she assured me they were being sent directly to chemo centers around the country who wanted them.  And so I became a Halos of Hope volunteer and made hats, lots and lots of hats.  Unfortunately, this wonderful organization has recently closed its doors.  Pam has decided to focus on her family and made the difficult decision to cease operations. www.halosofhope.com/

Over that last few years I have found a number of organized groups who collect crocheted items and distribute them.  There are a number of wonderful reasons to work with an established organization when crocheting for charity.  Listed below are some of the benefits as well as some potential issues-

  1. Many of these organizations are registered as 501c non-profit organizations.  This means any money donated to them are potentially tax-deductible.  Some of the organizations are not as big and therefore not registered as non-profits, however they are just as awesome in the charity work they do. Donating money is never required, just an option to help the organization in their efforts.
  2. The organization has already researched or has individuals who find recipients who want the crocheted goods.  They work with shelters/hospitals/or other groups who say, “YES! send us your crocheted items.  We will get them in the hands of people who want them”.  They will not take a box of hats to a hospital who will only place them in a closet.
  3. They often have specific requirements in what they will accept and what materials you can use.  Many times they will require you to use specific yarn or a specific pattern or they will not accept your items.  If there is such a requirement follow it for it is there for a reason!  It may be to keep the recipients safe, or for comfort, or for wash-ability or for some other reason.  If you cannot meet the established requirements, please find another organization to work with.
  4. If you do not have a local chapter you will have to mail your projects and will incur postage cost. Seek out the local chapter or collection site if available.  Most organizations will have chapters or drop off locations listed by state on their website. Maybe you will be lucky and have a location near you.  This would save postage costs and maybe you can make some new friends!

Below is a list of organizations I have come across where the donated items are sent to recipients who have asked for and want the items.

  1. Octopus for a Premie, The Octo Project.
    Collects crocheted octopuses.
    Original Danish site, https://www.spruttegruppen.dk/danish-octo-project-english/
    A list by country for Facebook groups or website, http://mynomadhome.com/the-octopus-for-a-preemie-project-a-list-of-countries-and-their-websites/
    The US group, on Facebook, is very strict on the materials used and other requirements.  This is important as the item is going to a very precious new little life and we want him or her to be safe!  The photo above is a collection of octos sent to one of the group ambassadors, Lisa.  She will inspect each one for safety, sterilize and then deliver to a hospital.  Lots and lots of love!
  2. Hats for Sailors, website,  http://hatsforsailors.com/
    Ravelry group, http://www.ravelry.com/groups/hats-for-sailors
    All hats must be hand-made of 100% washable wool (superwash).
  3. Knitted Knockers, https://www.knittedknockers.org/
    Knitted and crocheted breast prosthetics.
    Yarn requirements and specific pattern required, see website.
  4. Project Linus, http://www.projectlinus.org/
    Collects handmade blankets.
    Check your local chapter for any restrictions.

There are number of other dedicated groups out there. Whatever your passion may be there is likely a related charitable opportunity for you to share your crochet talents.  But do your homework and ask questions. And for those who prefer to keep their charity work local, please check back as my next post will provide ideas on how you can support your local community with your crochet talents.

crochet patterns for men

Eco-Craft, an up-cycled tea cozy.

I love herbal teas and I love to drink tea while at work.  It helps to keep me warm as my office building is really cold.  Add to that I’m usually cold when others are not and that my job is sedentary and you get a very cold me.  I have a space heater, an extra sweater and a throw blanket in my office.   I just recently purchased an electric tea kettle and I love it.   However, I found that I had to keep reheating the water for my second and third cups of tea.  So the crafty in me kicked in and I decided it was time to make a tea cozy.

I got up early Saturday morning and while having a cup of coffee with my husband, we heard a bang and the power went out.  Great.  No power = no water = no shower. Thankfully he was already ready for work so he left.  Without power I had nothing to do.  There was enough daylight coming in so I decided I’d start working on the tea cozy. Rummaging through a box of pre-felted wool sweaters saved for a throw rug I hope to eventually make, I found this really cute striped sweater.  cozy-sweater-1

I pinned the sweater together and cut around the arms and neck.  I forgot to take a photo of this step so I drew on the cut lines, below.   If you are making one, you would want to make sure you have everything pinned together first and make sure your cuts are as even as possible.

cozy-sweater-3.jpg

The cozy was looking like it was going to be too tall so I trimmed off the bottom ribbing.  The sweater was originally a cardigan so I opened it and traced the shape onto eco-fi felt to use as a liner.  This felt is very cool as it is made out of 100% recycled bottles!cozy-sweater-2

At this point the electric company showed up and determined the cause of our problem was a poor squirrel.  The little guy got on the transformer thingy and was electrocuted.  😦 They trimmed back the tree limbs that were too close to the pole and replaced the damaged part and our electric was back on in a jiffy.  Thanks guys!!!  FYI-save the squirrels and keep your tree limbs well trimmed near power poles.  I know I will from now on.

With the power back I was able to steam the sweater and the felt so they were nice and smooth.  I trimmed the edges of the both the sweater and the eco-fi felt so they were even then trimmed the liner so it was just a little bit smaller than the sweater.  The next step was to sew the two end pieces together and across the top.

Next I turned the sweater inside out and sewed the opening closed and across the top.  Then turned it right side out.  This step probably would have been a lot quicker if I used a sewing machine.  My sewing machine and I don’t always get along so I decided to hand sew it.

cozy-sweater-4Next, the liner was inserted into the sweater and sewn together along the bottom seam.  I decided to sew the ribbing over bottom edge of the cozy to add some stability.  Last, some random buttons where sewn where the cardigan button holes were and a little tab was added to the top.  Success! An adorable tea cozy made of recycled and re-purposed materials!  If I had thought ahead, I would have added the trim, tab and buttons before sewing together and before adding the liner.  This may have saved some time.  But I was making it up as I went along and it worked out fine.  The end result would have been the same.  It was a fun project for a lazy Saturday.  I tested it out with my stove top kettle and it works great! I can’t wait to use it at work.

cozy-sweater-5Happy crafting!!

#familyfun tic-tac-toe game board crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins #CbyDH