New Pattern Alert! Mug Cozy, Tea for ME!

Tea-for-Me-individual-Mug-Cozy-crochet-pattern-by-Darleen-Hopkins-WEBI am happy to share with you the latest in my UNsquared Granny series, the Tea for ME! Mug Cozy. This adorable cozy is based on the traditional Granny Square motif with a twist-it isn’t square! Not even close. It is time to UNsquare those Grannies!! The fully written pattern is rated EASY with minimal shaping to create the domed cozy. Illustrative charts are also included.  The cozy is perfectly sized for an individual mug of tea, coffee or cocoa. It works up quick and would make a lovely Mother’s Day gift! Instructions and photo tutorial included for the super easy liner-minimal hand sewing required.
Find out more here: UNsquared Granny, Tea for ME! Mug Cozy

This pattern is included in my Buy 2, Get a 3rd for FREE sale! No coupon needed, Ravelry will automatically deduct the lowest priced pattern from your purchase.

Shells of Love baby blanket crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins


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!!



Octopus for a preemie donating to a local hospital

New Year, Less Stash

Octopus for a preemie donating to a local hospital

Two octopuses for preemies donating to a local hospital.

Hello and Happy 2018!

Time is marching on and the new year is here.  Time to reflect on the past year, soak in the good times, let go of the bad, and resolve to make changes for improvements in your life.  One of my goals/resolutions is to reduce current yarn stash.  I’ve been called “the anti-hoarder” before and feel weighed down by stuff.  I have been working on reducing stash for a long time.  A couple years ago I “trained” myself to only buy yarn for current projects if something appropriate wasn’t already in my stash.  It was hard at first but now I can easily walk past a yarn sale and not linger.  However, I still have a lot of yarn.  Too much yarn.  Approximately 12 paper boxes full of yarn.    For some, that may not seem like a lot but for me, it is still too much.  My goal is to work it down to 6 boxes at the most by the end of the year.  Once I get there, I will work on reducing it more.  I want to have an amount of yarn that can be easily access and store in one place.  So, how do I get there?

1. Crochet more!

A lot happened in 2017 which prevented me from crocheting near as much as I would have liked.  A number of new designs were halted or not started as planned.  I also did not get to do nearly as much charitable crochet as I would have liked.  So, the number one way to reduce stash is to use it both in new designs and charitable crocheting.  2017 brought the shutting down of a wonderful group, Halos of Hope.  I’m sad to see them close but happy for the founder as she has decided to focus on her family.  2017 also brought to my attention the Octopus for a Preemie movement.  This is a great international organization.  Check out the Official Octopus for a Preemie-United States group.  I am fortunate enough to know a woman who works in a local NICU.  She collects these octos for the babies in the unit.  A good bit of stash will be used making the octos for her.  The two in the photo above were finished last night!  I also enjoy making lapghans for the local senior center.  I made two in 2016 but was unable to make any in 2017. Some stash yarn has already been earmarked for this 2018 project.

In addition, I have some personal projects I have been wanting to make forever.  One in particular is a rug out of felted sweaters.  I have one box full of felted sweaters.  If I could FINALLY make that project, it will clear out one of the boxes!

I also joined a monthly potholder swap group on Ravelry.  I’m excited for the monthly exchanges, making the potholders and seeing what arrives in the mail.  I’ll be sure to update the blog with both what is sent and received.

And of course, design more.  I’m hoping 2018 won’t be as crazy busy and I’ll have more time to design with the yarn on hand.  When I wrote the Yarn Stash and the Anti-Hoarder post 3½ years ago, I had LESS STASH than I do now!  UGH!  I know this is due to my ordering yarn in early 2017 for planned designs that just didn’t happen.  I am determined to reduce the stash this year, not gain.

2. Donate yarn.

A good bit of the yarn that is not appropriate for planned personal projects, designs or charitable projects will be donated.  I did a pretty thorough clean out a couple years ago but it is time to revisit the stash with this goal again.  Expensive and specialty yarn may be listed for sale or given away.  Most of my yarn isn’t fancy or expensive and therefore, most that isn’t planned to be crocheted with in the very near future will be donated to the local thrift store.

I love hearing about other crocheters’ new year goals.  While writing this post, I learned about the 365 Days of Granny Squares.  Very cool.  I also love the idea of a temperature blanket.  This is on my future to-do list.  Do you have any crochet related goals for the new year?

Happy New Year and Happy Crocheting!


Winter Sky Cowl, crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

FO-Baby Shower Gift, Twin Octopuses

Twin OctiWOW-the last couple of months have been crazy. We have had a number of unplanned distractions during August and September.  Some good, some not so good.  But we are making them work and I finally feel like I will soon be able to get back to normal.  Normal for my family is busy but not crazy busy.  We enjoy our down town and it is during the down time that I am able to crochet.  When I found out a co-worker of mine was pregnant with twin girls, I started on a baby project for her.  That was a few months ago-she wasn’t even showing at the time :).  But I’m glad I started early because I have not been able to do much crocheting for far too many weeks.  Her baby shower was scheduled for this past Friday so I had to kick it into high gear and get her gift done.  And I finished just in the nick of time, the night before the shower.  They came out pretty cute!!!

The pattern is from the Facebook group, Octopus for a Premie-US.  Earlier this year I made a few of these for the local NICU unit.  I know one of the head nurses of the unit. She told me about the octopuses and how they help the premies.  She crochets too and makes them for her unit.  I made three for her and hope to make some more. They are too cute.  While making the three for donation, I realized they would make great baby gifts as all babies would love to grab onto to the tentacles.  And did I mention how cute they are!

With this pattern, I learned a new technique of yarn under rather than yarn over.  This technique makes a tighter sc so there is less of a gap in between stitches.  Check out this video: It is a little odd to get used to the method but it really does work.

Happy Crocheting!



How to be a crochet pattern tester

Help Wanted, Crochet Pattern Testers


Spiffy Tuxedo bib tested by Donna. Donna has tested a number of my patterns. She’s very sweet and an awesome tester! She’s fast, thorough and does great stitch work.

Have you ever thought about what crochet designers do to finalize their patterns before self-publication?  Besides editing, it is important to have patterns test “knit”.  (FYI-Test knit is a saying often used for both testing a crochet pattern and a knit pattern.)

Why?  What’s so great about pattern testing?

For pattern users:

#1 Pattern testing ensures the instructions can be followed by an individual other than the designer.  When I’m shopping for a pattern, I often look at either reviews of the pattern (Etsy) or on Ravelry, if there are projects linked to the pattern.  I know many people don’t bother with reviews or project/pattern linking.  A fantastic pattern that has been crocheted 1,000 times may not have a single review or a single pattern linked to it.  BUT when it does, I’m able to confirm that at least some crocheters were able to make sense of the pattern and able to recreate what the designer intended.

#2 Pattern testing can offer other interpretations of a design for others to enjoy. For example, when I had my Jester hat tested, one tester made her hat super Halloweenie with hanging spiders and other creepy crawlies.

For designers:

See #1 and #2 above AND pattern testers often see things that editing may have missed.  Things like what yarns will or won’t work with a design.  They may come up with questions that weren’t thought of and need to be addressed or have tips/suggestions on how to improve a pattern.

For testers:

#1 Pattern testing is an important and much appreciated aspect of designing.  By pattern testing you are helping to make crochet patterns better-This benefits the entire crochet community.

#2 Opportunity to get patterns for FREE and before they are released to the general public!

Currently, I run all my pattern testing through Ravelry in the Testing Pool group.  This is a very laid back group with limited rules.  However, I do have requirements that I ask of all my testers.  Each test will have test specifics requirements provided but in general I ask the following:

  1. Work the pattern as written.  This is the number one requirement as the object of the pattern test is to ensure the pattern is doable as it is written.  Minor substitutions may be allowed, for example, foundation single crochet my be substituted for a long starting chain and row 1 of single crochet.  Just please confirm any adjustments prior.
  2. Make gauge.  If gauge isn’t important, I’ll state it but if it is important, then please take the time to match the stated gauge.  Gauge is important for proper fit.
  3. Keep in touch.  Either post in the test thread or email me and let me know you are still working on it. Usually no news is good news but I like to hear you are still working on the project.
  4. Keep details out of the test thread.  Minor typos can be posted in the thread but if you have a question on an entire line, please send me an email or private message.
  5. Respect copyright.  The draft pattern is still protected by copyright.  I’ve never had an issue of testers sharing my patterns, thank you!!
  6. Start right away and finish on time.  If you need a couple days to order/pick up yarn, that’s fine but please let me know.  In the meantime while waiting for your yarn, peruse the pattern and see if any adjustments or errors jump out at you.

Please don’t volunteer if you can’t make the deadline.  My number one testing pet-peeve is testers who don’t finish, ever.  Obviously, life happens.  Let me know if you have an issue and I’ll work with you.  In the past I had a tester get hit with Hurricane Sandy and a tester who ran over a bear in an ATV resulting in a hurt arm.  Usually it’s normal stuff like an unexpected illness that can cause a delay and that is fine.  The excuse of “I was working on another project” isn’t fine so please, if you commit to the test, finish it.  If real life gets in the way and you need an extension, please finish it ASAP. Testers who do not finish are not asked to test again.

So what makes a great tester?

Experience? NOPE!  I’ve had great testers that were beginning level crocheters and first time testers.  If my pattern is geared to that level, then yes! I’d love some beginner crochet testers.  Occasionally I’ll ask for intermediate to advanced crocheters only, but not always.

Attention to detail? YES! I always ask my testers to check for typos.  Did I type year instead of yarn?  Does it makes sense? Was a comma overlooked? Were numbers transposed?

Exactly the same yarn? NOPE!  Usually I want equivalent yarn i.e. yarn that is the same weight and density so that the final result is similar to my sample.  Same weight yarns can behave differently as some are squishy and some are fuller.  I try to state what will or will not be acceptable substitutes.  Ask if you aren’t sure.  Sometimes I want to see the design worked in different weights.  I had a lace-weight shawl tested in worsted and it came out great!

Check stitch counts? YES! Please and thank you.

Able to read a crochet pattern? YES!  Again, all levels are welcome but you must have knowledge of how a crochet pattern is written.

Ability to communicate? YES! I welcome all comments and suggestions.  I have often incorporated my testers suggestions (with acknowledgement of course).  Usually a pattern is written a certain way for a reason but if you think it could be constructed in another, easier way, let me know.

Active on Ravelry? YES!  I will look at your completed projects prior to selection so if you haven’t jumped on the Ravelry bandwagon yet, now is the time.  (Seriously, what are you waiting for?  Ravelry is an amazing crochet source that is FREE to use!)

Photos? YES! A Ravelry project page with photos linked to the pattern will be required.  I prefer clear, in focus, natural light photos and often feature project photos (with permission) on my Facebook page.

And don’t forget…Finish on time!  Thank you!

I find my testers to be invaluable.  Running a pattern test is both fun and educational for me and one of my favorite aspects of designing.  After all, my greatest joy in designing is being able to see others duplicate and use my designs/ideas in their everyday life.

If you are interested in joining my Ravelry earburn list for future tests, please send me PM via Ravelry.  When a new test is posted in the Testing Pool, I will earburn all those who have asked to be notified.  Be sure to read all the stated testing requirements.  An earburn is not a guarantee of testing.  I will review all volunteers’ Ravelry projects prior to selection.  If you are selected to test, your email will be necessary so I may send the pattern to you!  Thank you!!