DIY laptop stand made with mason jars and cutting board

Crochet Enhances a DIY Laptop Stand

Eco-Craft: Making a Laptop Stand from Household Materials

If you follow my blog you know that in addition to crochet I am passionate about the environment. So whenever I feel like I need something new, I often look for environmentally friendly options first. Can I make it? Can I pick one up secondhand? Can I buy a handmade option vs plastic junk? Sometimes there are no great options and I end up having to order online from a big box store, but when I can, I do try to come up with an alternative.

DIY laptop stand made with mason jars and cutting board
DIY laptop stand made with mason jars, cutting board and crochet!

With COVID shelter-at-home orders in place, my work transitioned us all to work remotely. I’ve been working at home for over five weeks now. I really do like it although I am missing my work station. In my office I have a variable height desk and two massive monitors. It’s been an adjustment working on just a laptop, but one that has been surprisingly easy. After a week I realized I needed to raise my laptop to eye level. Too much looking down was bad for my neck. I found a box that was the right height and used that for a couple weeks. But I got sick of looking at that ugly brown box. Stuck at home without access to thrift stores had me initially looking online for a laptop stand. Once I saw how basic and how expensive it was for plastic junk, the DIY in me knew there had to be a better, Earth-friendly option.

Like most projects, I thought about this one for a few days trying to figure out the best way to make the project work. I decided on using four mason jars and an old cutting board. The jars were saved from store-bought salsa. The cutting board was one that I have been meaning to replace. It was old and had started to split as ***someone*** ran it through the dishwasher a few times. Split cutting boards are not good to use as bacteria can get in the cracks. I knew it was important for the jars to have some weight to them to add stability to the laptop stand. I had enough sand for two jars. The third is filled with blue sea glass purchased at least 15 years ago. The last is filled with shells collected from one of our beach trips. The two sand jars were a little plain looking so I added a display of some of the nicest shells in one. The second I decorated with a crocheted motif using stash yarn. This was inspired by my Zinnia Votive pattern. I used the motif from the pattern and secured it with a crocheted band around the back. The cotton and linen yarn (CotLin by KnitPicks) in Raindrop, looks great, is the perfect dusty blue, and contrasts nicely with the white sand. The jars were secured to the cutting board with hot glue. Now when I’m working on my computer, not only is my neck happier, but I am surrounded by crochet and memories of good times with my family at the beach. All for zero dollars and zero impact on the Earth.

DIY laptop stand enhanced with crochet
Crochet used to decorate a mason jar in a DIY laptop stand.
DIY laptop stand with seaglass
DIY laptop stand with sand and shells in a mason jar
Sea shells my family collected on one of our beach trips!

And an added bonus is the space under the laptop. Underneath the stand I placed a basket. Now my computer glasses, cleaning cloth, and lip balm are close at hand but out of the way.

DIY laptop stand made with mason jars and old cutting board decorated with crochet
Ta-Da! an awesome laptop stand!

I purchased a new cutting board to replace the one used in the project. I did have to go online to a big box store but at least it is made from bamboo-an environmentally friendly material.

My office/guest room is the latest room painted in my quest to repaint my whole house. I first blogged about it here and my last post was about the first thing I added to the freshly painted walls in this room. I’ve got a couple more crochet themed projects planned for the office/guest room, if I can ever get to a thrift store for supplies!

You can easily make one yourself. If you can’t find a old cutting board, a book, mirror, or any other solid, flat board will work. Just be sure to add some weight in the supports as you don’t want the stand to be top-heavy. If you are using glass jars, you can fill them with decorative stones, loose change or marbles. Your neck will thank you. 🙂
Happy Crocheting!
Darleen

crocheted container for plastic cutlery

vintage crocheted doilies transformed into beautiful wall art

Grandma’s Crocheted Doilies

Turning Grandma’s vintage crocheted doilies into wall art.

vintage crocheted doilies transformed into beautiful wall art

I have fond memories of visiting my grandmother and uncle. My parents, brother, sister and I would drive from Long Island to Columbus, Ohio just about every Christmas break. Grandma always had an assortment of delicious homemade cookies ready for us when we arrived and the holiday meal always came with fruit suspended in green jello. My uncle would take us to the A&W for a root beer float and we would play ping pong in the basement and canasta in the living room. My brother usually won the ping pong and canasta games. He was always good at all types of games. I remember my grandmother teaching my sister how to sew and her showing me how to make french knots. I also remember all the doilies. My grandmother had them all over the house. She had many Dresden dolls (I always called them “Lacy Ladies”), Hummel figurines, and other collectibles. Each was placed upon a doily. These doilies are some of my earliest memories of crochet. Although I’m sure I didn’t realize how they were made, I remember I always loved the beautiful lace and symmetry of them.

Grandma’s vintage doilies

My grandmother passed away in 2003 (98 yrs old!). My uncle continued to live in the family home until he passed in 2008. And when he passed it was time to clear out the house. In doing so, we all brought home items that were special to us. One of the items I kept was a collection of doilies. Ever since I have been wanting to do something with them but not sure what. My home isn’t the doily and figurine type so I knew it would have to be a project. Eventually I figured out I would frame the doilies and display them as art.

Not only is this project special because it is a reminder of the good times with my grandmother and uncle but it is also a reminder of my brother. When I graduated from college (1991) he let me live with him for three months while I completed a management training program. I’m sure that wasn’t the most exciting thing for him, having his little sister crashing in his new duplex, but we made it work. And it was a huge help to me as I didn’t know where I would be transferred to once I completed the training program and therefore did not want to commit to a lease. While I was living with him, I started collecting items for my future apartment in the corner of the room where I slept. The pile grew as I often stopped by yard sales on the weekends. One of my purchases was a framed print. I moved that print to my first apartment in Elmira and to many other apartments after that. Eventually the print faded but I always kept it because I loved the wood frame. This is the frame I used in the project. Seeing it reminds me of my brother and his generosity to open his home to me. It is a reminder of how important family is and of how we need to make time for each other. My brother passed away in July, 2019. He was only 57.

The print, now faded, purchased at a yard sale while I lived with my brother.

So, how did I make it? First I cleaned up the glass and revived the wood frame with Old English wood polish. I spent about a week trying to figure out how I would make the background. My original thought was to purchase a solid framing mat but with the COVID-19 pandemic, the local framing store was closed and my shopping options were very limited. I looked at poster board online and even thought about painting cardboard for the background. Then, on my essential once-a-week-outing of shopping for food and supplies at Walmart, I took a quick look in the craft section and found a pre-cut section of beautiful blue knit fabric for $2!! It was perfect. I selected nine doilies from the collection to be displayed. Seven are crocheted, one is knit and one I believe is tatted. The doilies were steamed flat, placed in position, and voila!, beautiful crocheted wall art.

Beautiful vintage crocheted doilies turned into wall art
Beautiful wall art made with vintage crocheted doilies.

I didn’t start crocheting until a year or two after my grandmother passed. It saddens me that I didn’t get to share this craft with her. My grandmother was extremely talented in crafts and could sew just about anything. Years ago I had asked my uncle if Grandma crocheted and he could only remember her making an afghan. My father doesn’t remember either. So I’m not sure if my grandmother made the doilies or if they were given to her by friends or other family members. But I do know they are beautiful and bring comfort of warm family memories when I look at them. The total cost of this project was less than $6 (fabric, hanging hardware and poster board to seal the back), but to me, it is priceless. It is a beautiful reminder of childhood memories and of family who are no longer with us.

Happy Crocheting!
Darleen

Moxie shawl crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

A Secret Society of Knitters and Crocheters

Who knew a secret society of knitters and crocheters actually existed!

yarn-bombing-in-Rome-GA

Well, maybe not too secret.  A few days ago, my husband and I spent the day in Rome, Georgia.  I’d never been there before and was looking forward to checking it out. There’s a bridge with 1000’s of love locks, a fantastic historical grave yard where a former first lady is buried, and a cute historic downtown.  When we first arrived to the downtown area I got so excited because I had finally found my first, real live yarn bombing!  The town has two bicycle sculptures, one at each end of the historic district.  Both had beautiful crocheted “spokes”.  And some of the lamp posts were covered with bright stitches.  I loved seeing it.  I used to think yarn bombing was a waste of good yarn and stitches, but seeing it has changed my mind.  It was beautiful.

more-yarn-bombing-in-Rome-GA

I asked a woman in town who was responsible for the artwork but she didn’t know. She said it gets changed out a few times a year and commented how nice it was to see the different colors.  I then reached out to another person.  I won’t say who or how because I don’t want to get anyone in trouble for revealing secrets. What this person told me really caught me off guard.  She said the yarn art was created by a secret knit and crochet society called the Knitterati.  I honestly didn’t know if this individual was serious or messing with me.  Was this group the fiber version of the Illuminati made popular by Dan Brown’s novel, Angels & Demons? Was this woman nuts? So I asked if she was able to give me a little more information about this secret society.  Turns out the woman wasn’t nuts.  She was super nice and explained the group does a lot of charity work throughout the year in addition to their colorful installations to the downtown area, that they always get permission to do the installations and that there is a group in Atlanta also known as the Knitterati.   And, well, it turns out they aren’t too secret after all considering they have Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RomeKnitterati/ 🙂

I really loved seeing how the knit and crochet artwork made such a difference to the look of this small town.  And I wish it wasn’t a two hour drive each way.  I would love to participate, that is, IF I could learn their secret handshake. Just kidding.  I don’t know if they have a secret handshake.  But maybe they have secret stitches. 🙂

Anyone in the north Georgia/Dahlonega area want to start a secret knit and crochet society?  My youngest already came up with our name, IllumiKNITti.

Happy (secret) Crocheting!
Darleen

 

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

 

Halloween pumpkins with crocheted eyes pattern by Darleen Hopkins

No MESS Jack-o-lanterns with Crochet!

This Halloween, Decorate Your Pumpkins with Crochet!

It is almost that time of year.  My favorite holiday, Halloween. I love the silliness of the holiday, the tackiness of the decorations and of course, the candy. I love seeing children using their imaginations and turning into a character for the afternoon.  I love trick-or-treating, haunted houses and spooky snacks.  And I love carving pumpkins and making jack-o-lanterns. But pumpkin carving is messy. Sometimes we don’t want to make a mess.  So here is a non-messy alternative to pumpkin carving. Crochet some eyeballs and attach them to the pumpkin!  Make a patch of scary pumpkins with some alien or demon eyes.  Or go for silly pumpkins and crochet surprised eyes or eyes with eyelashes.  Attach the eyes with double stick tape and use them year after year.  Whether you go for scary or silly, have fun and Enjoy!

The pattern for all the eyes below can be found here: The Eyeball Collection.

Ghost pumpkins with crocheted eyes. Pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Ghost Pumpkins with crocheted eyes.

 

Halloween pumpkins with crocheted eyes pattern by Darleen Hopkins

#AwkwardFamilyPhoto Halloween pumpkins with crocheted eyes

Bentley-Unisex-crochet-hat-pattern-by-Darleen-Hopkins-for men womenFacebook

International Crochet Day, Sept 12

September 12th is International Crochet Day

I’m old enough to remember what it was like before the internet; when letters were mailed and phones were attached to walls with wires.  Back then, the world seemed larger.   It was rare to know someone from another country. In elementary school I remember signing up for a Pen Pal.  My teacher used a service to match us up with a child from another country.  A child of the same age and similar interests who was able to write in English.  I remember getting my assigned Pen Pal and writing to her on special airmail paper.  This paper was so thin, it was translucent.  And I remember using special airmail envelopes to mail the letters.  Thin paper meant less weight and less cost to mail.  I remember receiving letters with such interesting stamps.  But the letters took weeks to arrive and unfortunately, I lost interest.

Fast forward 40 years and it is possible to have an online conversation with someone from across the world.  No more waiting for letters with interesting stamps.  You can interact via email or social media with anyone, instantaneously, as long as they have an internet connection.  Current technology is amazing and constantly evolving.  Not only has this opened so many opportunities for us to communicate, it has exposed us to a plethora of information to learn about other countries and cultures.  Opportunities we may not have had otherwise.

The internet has had an impact for crafters as well.  For those who crochet, we are no longer limited to designs printed in publications that arrive only a few times a year or books our local library may carry.   We have an entire world of crochet resources at our fingertips.  Ravelry is a huge resource for those who crochet.  You can search designers by their country, you can search for projects with key words and you can search designs with certain attributes, one of which is “Regional/Ethnic Styles”.

September 12 is International Crochet Day.   Using the internet, you can take the day to learn a new method of crochet that has a history with a culture that is different from yours.  Maybe try beautiful Irish lace crochet, or perhaps try some amigurimi, traditional Japanese crochet.  Or you can find a new crochet designer, one that is either from another country or whose designs are heavily influenced by a culture different from yours.  Check out patterns that are inspired by the Norwegian selburose design or work up some motifs that use the vibrant colors often found in traditional Mexican design.  Do a key word search for a country and see what you find.  Then, take the search a step further and learn the history behind the projects. For example, a key word search of “Jamaica” on Ravelry yields 5 pages of projects.  As you can guess, there are a lot of Rasta hats in that search.  With a quick internet search I learned that Rasta hats represent more than just Bob Marley’s headgear.  They have a rich history and represent members of a religion.  I didn’t know this before.  My interest in crochet has led me to learn more about another culture.

Another idea to celebrate International Crochet Day on September 12 is to learn how to read crochet charts.  Charts are universal to any language.  If you can read a chart, then you can work a charted design by any international designer regardless of the language.  Just be sure to find out if the symbols are written in US terms or UK terms.  Not sure of the difference between US crochet terms and UK crochet terms?  Research it! It’s international!

So, how do I plan to spend the day?  Not sure but one of my favorite Mexican inspired designs are crocheted sugar skulls.  Sugar skulls are used in the Mexican celebration, the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) and are used to celebrate, not mourn, those who have passed.  Perhaps I will spend International Crochet Day making a sugar skull or two.

How will you celebrate?

Spiced Cider-autumn capture the beauty

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

Aleteo Scarf a crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

New Pattern Alert! The Aleteo Scarf, crochet

 

I’m super excited to share the latest #CbyDH  pattern! The Aleteo Scarf. This crochet pattern is very easy and is a great introduction to lace crochet.  The pattern includes written instructions as well as a chart and works up really quick.  I made the sample in a couple hours.  It even includes blocking instructions and photos.

Did you know? Aleteo is Spanish for “flutter”.

While I was taking photos of the sample scarf, a baby cardinal was taking her first flight. The nest was located in the bushes next to my front porch. All spring the parents guarded the nest. When I set up my camera and white board for the photos I had no idea what was about to happen. The baby was ready to take her first flight. She flew back and forth over my head searching for a safe place to land. I could feel the flutter of her wings as she passed above me. What fun it was to witness the beauty of nature up close.

You can work this scarf in yarn weights from 1 to 3 (fingering to dk). And you can easily adjust the length and/or number of stitches.

Pattern information can be found here: The Aleteo Scarf

And, like all my patterns, the Aleteo Scarf is included in the Crochet by Darleen Hopkins Buy 2 Patterns, Get a 3rd for FREE! sale on Ravelry. No coupon needed.  Enjoy!

Shells of Love baby blanket crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

 

Crocheted Aliens in the Western US

Annie’s Adventures

Annie the Alien went on an exciting adventure this past summer. She joined us on our road trip from Georgia to Las Vegas, NV and everywhere in between.  From the bright lights of the Vegas Strip to some of the most breathtaking vistas in the United States, Annie enjoyed them all.  She wanted to share with you some of her favorite sites.   Psst! See below for a special offer in honor of National Crochet Month, 2017!

annie-the-alien-in-las-vegas

Somehow a pink alien fit right in at infamous Las Vegas!

annie-the-alien-enjoying-the-breathtaking-view-of-bryce-canyon

Annie the Alien LOVES Bryce Canyon.  She didn’t want to leave…. Annie will be back.  I’m sure of it.  And she will bring her brother Arnie to see it all.

annie-the-alien-enjoys-the-views-of-the-grand-canyon

Annie the Alien enjoys the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  The North Rim is so peaceful.  We saw very few humans at the overlooks.   BTW, the black bean soup at the little snack bar at the North Rim Visitor’s Center is REALLY GOOD!

annie-the-alien-at-the-grand-canyon-north-rim

Another view of Annie the Alien at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. WOW! It is AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL and OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!!!

annie-the-alien-hiked-in-arches-national-park

Annie the Alien started this hike at 6am to avoid the 110 degree weather. Boy, was it worth it! The arch is HUGE!!!!!  Do you see the person in the middle of the arch and one on the left side?

Want to make your own Annie (or Arnie)? You CAN! In honor of National Crochet Month, 2017, the Arnie and Annie Baby Lovey Crochet Pattern is FREE with any Crochet by Darleen Hopkins purchase on Ravelry. Yup! With the purchase of any of my self-published patterns on Ravelry and coupon code “AnnieNatCroMo2017“, you can get the pattern for free. Happy Crocheting! Valid during the month of March 2017 only (expires 3/31/2017 11:59 PM EST)  Use this link to get started. The pattern and the coupon are already added to your cart.  You just need to figure out what other pattern you would like by clicking on “View all available items” at the top of the page. ENJOY!

AlienLoveysWebsiteBanner

Save

Save

New Pattern Alert! Tiffany Scarf, crochet

New Pattern Alert! Tiffany Scarf, crochet

I’m super excited to share the latest #CbyDH  pattern! The Tiffany Scarf.  Create a beautiful lace scarf with this easy crochet pattern.  If you use the suggested yarn, you can make the scarf as it is written with just one ball!  Written for fingering weight yarn but instructions are provided to adjust the length for any gauge and any weight from lace to DK.  The scarf is stitched the lengthwise.  A chart is included with the full written instructions.  The entire scarf can be completed in just a few hours.

So, why is it called the Tiffany Scarf?  I don’t know!  I just thought it fit. 🙂

Pattern information can be found here: The Tiffany Scarf

And, like all my patterns, the Tiffany Scarf is included in the Crochet by Darleen Hopkins Buy 2 Patterns, Get a 3rd for FREE! sale on Ravelry. No coupon needed.

Black Raspberry Shawl Crochet Pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Save