New Pattern Alert-Peek-a-Boo Lion Baby Blanket

March-In Like a Lion

I remember, in either 1st or 2nd grade, an elementary teacher of mine having a huge calendar in her room.  Each month had a saying but the only one I really remember was March-In like a lion, out like a lamb.  I remember thinking it was really weird-how could a lion turn into a lamb??? and what does that have to do with March???  For whatever reason this saying stuck with me for many, many (many…) years.  So when it came time to publish my latest design, I thought the perfect day would March 1!  I’m pleased to announce that March 2016 is indeed, coming in like a lion.  A Peek-a-Boo Lion to be exact.

The Peek-a-Boo Lion Baby Blanket is now available!  Enjoy!!  and enjoy the rest of March!

And of course, is included in my Buy 2 Patterns, get a 3rd for FREE offer! No coupon needed and offered on my Ravelry site.  Shown below in Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice yarn.

Lion Baby Blanket crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins. Peek-a-Boo Lion #CbyDH

Shells of Love-001

The 2015 Gift-A-Long is almost here!

The 2015 Gift-A-Long (GAL) is almost here!

This is the third year for the Indie Designer Gift-A-Long and I’m so excited for it to begin.  Every year has been a lot of fun and this year, it is bigger than ever and guaranteed not to disappoint.

What is Gift-A-Long? It’s a multi-designer promotion to help you kick your holiday gift-making into high gear!

Basically, 335 indie designers of knit and crochet patterns, have banded together to support each other and help everyone get their holiday to-do list done while having a lot of fun and possibly winning patterns and yarn and kits and lots of other fiber finds.

There is an amazing stats page you can find here: Indie GAL Stats!
#giftalong2015In a nutshell there are:
335 designers from 30 countries.
Over 150 donated physical prizes, and more coming in…
Over 2,300 digital prizes (patterns!)

There are almost 16,000 patterns to knit or crochet that will make you eligible to win one (or more) of the fabulous prizes.  Of the almost 16,000 patterns, 5,065 of them will be on SALE for 25% off!  Yup! Big Savings so stock up on your favorites.  The sale runs from Thursday, November 19th at 8:00 pm US EST to Friday, November 27, 2015 at 11:59 pm US EST.

There will be Pinterest boards and Ravelry Bundles available to peruse for all the sale patterns.  Each designer has at least 5 and up to 20 patterns on sale. Once you get your sale pattern, check out the other patterns the designer offers.  All patterns are eligible for the KAL/CAL threads and all paid for patterns (self, or third party published) are eligible for prizes.  Did I mention the prizes??? Tons and tons of prizes but you gotta’ be in it to win!

Check the Ravelry group for more information.  And be sure to check my Facebook page as I will be featuring a GAL Crochet Pattern of the day, every day of the Gift-A-Long!

You can find all my GAL eligible patterns here: Crochet by Darleen Hopkins on Ravelry 

Lapghans for donation, charity stast bust challenge by Darleen Hopkins

2015 Stash Bust for Charity-November, blanket done!

Blanket for donation is done!

lapghan for donationI’m super excited to share with you the finished Inca Blocks Lapghan!  The pattern was adapted from Beth Graham’s Inca Block Wrap.  The only change I made was to add some stripes and work a few less rows.  Basically I worked the pattern until I ran out of yarn.  The finished blanket is 42″ wide X 39″ long and should be a nice and cozy lapghan.  I know it kept me cozy while I was stitching it 🙂

This blanket and the other lapghan I made earlier this year, will be donated to the local nursing home.  Every year, just before Thanksgiving, the nursing home puts up a wish tree of items needed by residents who don’t have much or don’t receive many visitors.  I always see lap blankets listed and I always wish I had time to make one.  This year I (finally) thought ahead and made two ahead of time.  The tree should be up this week.

Lapghans for donation, charity stast bust challenge by Darleen Hopkins

This blanket is included in my Stash Bust for Charity, 2015 challenge.  The blanket weighs just over 1 pound, 1.5 ounces.

Total hats made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 10

Total bears made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 6

Total blankets made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 2

Total weight of yarn used in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 4 pounds, 14 ounces!

Get Ready! It is coming soon!!!!

On your mark, get set….

Mark your calendars-The Third Annual Indie Design Gift-A-Long (GAL) will be here in just 2 weeks and will run from Thursday, November 19th at 8pm (US-EST) through the New Years Eve party, Thursday, December 31 at midnight (US-EST).  What is a GAL?  Find out more about it from last year’s post or check out the Ravelry group, Indie Design Gift-A-Long. Keep watch for more information as we get closer to the start date.

PSST-Can’t wait for the sale?  All Crochet by Darleen Hopkins patterns on Ravelry are Buy 2 Patterns, Get a 3rd for FREE!  No special sale needed!

TheFunBeginsNov19

2015 Stash Bust for Charity, Early November Status

Still working on busting out some stash…

As mentioned in my last post, things have been busy here.  So busy that I was three months late with that last post.  And, like many of you, late November and December are hectic for my family.  In anticipation of the upcoming overload of activities, I am getting some stash busting done ASAP to see if the goal of crocheting 5 pounds of yarn for charity can be achieved before year-end.

image_mediumAs of June, I had crocheted 3 pounds, 12.5 ounces into hats, a blanket and bears.  My current project should take a chunk out of the 5 pound goal!  In September I started a blanket for donation to a local nursing home.  I decided to use Beth Graham’s Inca Blocks Wrap pattern.  I’m working it with (mostly) Caron Simply Soft and it is turning out pretty cozy.  The pattern is easy to follow-I love the chart!  My goal is to finish the crocheting this week and then work on weaving in ends this weekend.

Once the blanket is done I plan to make some beanies for donation.  I’ll need to stash dive and see what I have that is on Halos of Hope’s updated yarn suggestion guide.  Check it out.   I also found out about another organization that collects hats for kids going through chemo therapy.  The organization is the Jessie Rees Foundation and they send out Joy Jars with a beanie in each.  The story behind the foundation is both heartbreaking and inspiring.  I’ve got something special in mind for Joy Jar beanies, so please look for that in the next week or two.

PatchworkKitty-001

Hot pad crochet pattern. Christmas candy, gingerbread man and snowman

Summer 2015 Wrap Up

Better late than never…

Wow, you know you are a little behind in posting blogs when you find one from -3 MONTHS AGO-that was never finalized and posted.  Well, here it is, a little late and a little out of season.  I’ll try to be a little more timely with the next one!!

August 2, 2015
It seems so odd to me to be thinking that summer is almost over on August 2, but it is; summer vacation anyway.  I’ve lived in Georgia 18 years now and I still haven’t gotten used to kids starting school in early August.  But we have open house tomorrow and the first day of school starts on Thursday.  My oldest has already started his high school marching band practices (Nov. 1 UPDATE: one football game left in the season) and I’ve had my youngest “training” for middle school cross-country all summer.  The first meet is just 3 weeks from tomorrow! (Nov. 1 UPDATE: He has completed his cross-country season and won the Coach’s award for being a good example and having a positive attitude! So proud of him!) Our summer has been busy with a nice family vacation, some friends over for sleepover parties, a camp here and there, getting wisdom teeth removed for one child and the other getting braces, and teaching the oldest to drive (wow!).  With all this, I did manage to squeeze in a little crochet time.

Hot pad crochet pattern. Christmas candy, gingerbread man and snowmanOwl crochet pattern amigurumi by Darleen Hopkins

In May the Peppermint Pals Hot Pad set was released and I was very excited to complete my charity lapghan for donation to the local nursing home in May as well.

Shawl-Moxie Crochet PatternShells of Love crochet baby blanket

June was a little quiet while I worked on a hat for Halos of Hope but July was BUSY! The Owl Always Love You amigurumi pattern was released in July as was my 4th shawl, Moxie. In addition, the Shells of Love baby blanket pattern was updated. Phew! July was a busy, busy month.

Yesterday, August 1, I posted a holiday stocking pattern for testing and hope to have it available by September 1. (Nov. 1 UPDATE: It is now available! It is hard to think of Christmas when the summer bugs are still singing but the holidays will be here in just a few short months.

The two months of no school and my adjusted work schedule have been nice but I am looking forward to the routines that the school year brings us.  I’m always sad when the summer bugs (the singing ones, not the biting ones) go away.  I love listening to them while I crochet on my back porch.

Magic balls of yarn made with yarn scraps

Crochet and Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, Part 2

The 3 Rs and Crochet, Part 2- Reuse and Recycle

Our last post discussed a few ideas on how we can incorporate REDUCING in our crocheting and crafting.  By practicing the 3 Rs we are not only helping the environment be greener but in many was, but you can save a little green too!  So…

Let’s discuss REUSE!

Reusing can also be called repurposing or upcycling.  This is my favorite part of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle waste hierarchy.   Once something is no longer useful in its current state, see if you can find a new use for it. Let’s explore how we can do this with our crochet.

FROG it!
One of my favorite ways to reuse is to take a damaged sweater (sock, scarf, hat, anything) unravel it and knit or crochet it into something new (reclaimed yarn).  Beth Graham (BethGraham on Ravelry) does this with hand knit socks and dishcloths.  She saves the good bits of yarn from worn-out socks for darning and for sock scrap blankets and she saves the good yarn left from worn-out dishcloths to reknit fresh cloths. Check out this blanket she is working on where she recently added a square that was made with the yarn from the very first pair of socks she ever knit!

Market bag crocheted from a thrift store sweater. Upcycled, reclaimed yarn.A few years ago I found a beautiful coral cotton Eddie Bauer sweater at a local thrift store.  It was damaged so I bought it for about $1-maybe 50 cents-and unraveled it.  I cleaned the yarn, removed the kinks, balled it up and then crocheted it into a market bag which I then gifted to a favorite teacher of my boys.  This is a great way to get great yarn for next to nothing, if you don’t mind putting in a little effort to unravel, clean, and dekink the yarn.  You can often find silk, linen and other expensive fibers for very little money.  There is a trick to this technique though.  You want to make sure you pick up the right type of sweater.  Sweaters with selvage seams will not unravel.  Check out this Reclaiming Yarn Handout created by Angelia Robinson (Quarternity on Ravelry).  She wrote the step by step instructions when she taught a class on reclaiming yarn at her local knitting guild.  http://www.quaternityknits. com/freebies/

Turning a damaged sweater into a market bag makes a unique gift most everyone will appreciate.  Seriously, who can’t use an extra bag?  And for fun, sew the sweater label in the bag.  I bet the recipient will love it.  And of course, you aren’t limited to crocheting market bags with reclaimed yarn.  Knit or crochet scarves, shawls, hats, mittens, anything and everything.  I have two damaged 100% cashmere sweaters in my stash waiting for the yarn to be reclaimed and crocheted into something beautiful.

Felted sweaters ready to cut up and turn into a crocheted kitchen throw rug.  And my cat. :)

All the sweaters are felted and ready to cut up. My kitty is anxious for her wool rug!

FELT it!
We’ve all done it, whether on accident or on purpose.  We have all shrunk a wool garment to teeny tiny proportions.  No worries, that sweater can be repurposed into many things.  In the past I have made lunch boxes, ice scraper mitts, a tea cozy and backed hot pads with felted sweaters. Check out this previous post about felting with a purpose.  Many of the wool sweaters I find in thrift stores have accidentally been partially felted already.
What about a rug?  Cut felted sweaters into strips and crochet them into a rug. I have two boxes of damaged wool sweaters collected over the past 5-6 years.  2015 just may be the year those sweaters finally turn into a kitchen rug!

RIP it!
Turn old, damaged sheets into rugs or baskets.  Cut up damaged cotton blouses into strips and crochet them.  I’ve seen jeans crocheted into rugs.  There are so many crafty options to use our worn out or damaged fabrics.  Think about it.  Caroline Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie) didn’t run to Oleson’s Mercantile when she needed something.  She saved all of her and Mary’s and Laura’s and Carrie’s and Pa’s old clothing and turned them into squares for quilts or strips for rag rugs.  Here is a video on how to turn a sheet into a rag rug. http://startingchain.com/2015/03/scrap-project-learn-how-to-crochet-a-rag-rug-out-of-old-sheets-.html

TARN!
Tarn = T-shirt yarn.  Yup, you can use the old Ts too.  I’ve started saving white Ts and undershirts once they are past wear-ability with a goal to crochet them into something.  Don’t forget, it is easy to dye T-shirts.  You aren’t stuck with dingy white.  Remember summer camp and tie-dyed shirts?  A little dye to transform them and you may have an awesome bright pink laundry basket crocheted out of your hubby’s previously dingy and underarm stained undershirts. 🙂  Here is a great tutorial on how to make TARN. http://www.myrecycledbags.com/2009/06/05/making-t-yarn-from-recycled-tee-shirts/

Japanese Knot Plarn Tote bag.  Crochet pattern by Cindy, aka RecycleCindy.

Japanese Knot Plarn Tote bag. Crochet pattern by Cindy, aka RecycleCindy. Click for pattern. Photo by RecycleCindy.

PLARN!
Plarn = plastic yarn.  This is such a great solution to all the extra plastic bags you accumulated BEFORE you started using your market bags.  Sure, we could always dump the extra bags in the blue recycling bin but recycling uses energy.  If we can reuse that plastic, we can save energy.  I made a bag and a trash can out of plarn.  Because I bring my own bags everywhere, I don’t get a lot of disposable plastic bags.  About 9 years ago I belonged to a knitting/crochet group.  I asked if anyone had extra bags sitting around the house and one lady jumped on it.  She came the next week with a lawn and leaf bag full of random plastic bags.  It was gigantic and took up my entire trunk.  I sorted, cut and wound the plastic into really large balls of plarn.  Eventually some of the bags did end up in the recycle bin but I was able to use a lot of them.  At the time my boys were in Tae Kwon Do and I would work with the plarn while they were in class.  One day the instructor couldn’t stand it any more and asked what in the world was I working on that was so crinkly. After that I decided I better finish it up at home.   Both the bag and the trash can were improvised, no pattern.  I always get compliments on my bag and the trash can is used in our hallway bathroom.  I’ve also seen people make doormats with plarn.  Here is a great tutorial on making PLARN.  http://www.thecrochetfoyer.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-to-make-plarn.html and another by RecycleCindy who designed the awesome Japanese Knot Plarn Tote Bag pictured here, http://www.myrecycledbags.com/tutorial-for-making-plarn-yarn/ for tutorial, http://www.myrecycledbags.com/2015/04/23/japanese-knot-plarn-tote-bag/ for pattern.

magic balls of yarn made with scraps to be used for crocheting a lapghan for donation

Magic Balls of Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice scraps soon to be a laphan.

SCRAPS!
Save your scraps and turn them into MAGIC BALLS.  A Magic Ball is when you take scraps of a few yards each, join the ends and then wind them into balls of yarn.  Once you have enough, crochet something with it.  If you do neat joins, like a Russian join, you can make anything and you will have a self striping ball of yarn.   Or you can just knot them together securely with a square knot and not worry about the knots or the ends and crochet a dish rag.  Let the ends poke out all over the place, who cares.  This might even be an added benefit if you make a Swiffer cover.   I suggest grouping yarn by type (cottons with cottons, acrylics with acrylics, etc).  That way you know what you have and you can make cotton dish rags or an acrylic bag or wool pot holders.  You can also group by color choice, all blue hues for example.  You are in control of the striping and only limited by the scraps on hand.  Here is a tutorial for a little more information on Magic Balls.  http://www.scribd.com/doc/ 19680430/The-Magic-Ball-Tutorial  This was a new concept for me and I’m so glad I found it while doing research for this post.  I’ve started working on a lapghan made with lots of scraps using the Magic Ball method.

Save all the teeny tiny ends too.  I’ve used them to stuff cat toys.
This suggestion came from Kaila via my Facebook page

“I save all my small scraps of yarn (like from weaving in ends) and the little pieces from sewing and put them in a zip lock. It makes a fluffy filler that my 8-year-old son has decided to use to make smaller pillows for people who sleep on the streets.”

What a sweet and caring little 8-year-old!
I’ve seen others put the tiny scraps out for the birds to use as nesting materials.  I believe this is best for wool scraps.  Acrylics and other synthetics should be avoided.  Wool provides warmth and water resistance to the nest.  I’ve read the synthetics can be dangerous to the birds’ respiratory system.  I don’t know if it is true or not but makes sense.  Wool is found in nature, fun fur isn’t.

SEW!
Can you sew?  I found this Craftsy class, Project Upcycle, Thrifty Sewing Projects.  It is on my to-do list waiting for a day my sewing skills improve some.   And Angelia has a great tutorial on how to add a fabric lining to your crocheted or knit bags.  I bet you can find some fabric to upcycle for these awesome ideas.

THINK!
The one thing I would like to stress when it comes to reusing is to make sure the item is no longer useful in its current condition before you reuse it.  For example, if you decide to shop thrift stores for sweaters to frog or felt try finding ones that are damaged first.  No one wants to wear a sweater with moth holes but that doesn’t matter for felting.  Maybe you can talk to the manager of the store and get the damaged clothing for a discount or even free.  And with plarn, please don’t buy plastic bags to crochet them.  I have seen folks do this because they wanted pink or purple plarn.  Or they go to stores and asked for a stack of unused bags.  If that is what you really want to do then fine, just realize you aren’t “recycling” that way.  It is the same as buying a skein of yarn.

Recycle

OK, I’ve Reduced my waste, I’ve Reused as much as possible, now how do I recycle?
Wkikipedia’s definition of Recycling

Recycling is a process to change waste materials into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for “conventional” waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions as compared to plastic production. Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” waste hierarchy.

Choose yarns and products made with recycled materials.
Unfortunately, it seems this must not be a profitable area for major yarn manufactures. Most yarns I found that contained recycled materials have been discontinued.  I did find these.  If you know of more, please let me know!

Berroco Remix is made with 100% recycled fibers.
Lion Brand Fettuccini is made from the remnants of garment manufacturing.
Red Heart Silk Sari is made from the remnant fibers from the manufacturing of silk saris.

Reclaimed-yarnI’m sure (hope) there are other, smaller manufactures of yarn that use recycled materials.  However, if you don’t want to reclaim your own yarn, you can buy recycled (reclaimed) yarn and support some small business owners too.  A quick Etsy search yielded many sellers of reclaimed/recycled yarn.

I was pleasantly surprised when I was stuffing my Bloodshot Eyeball Pillow with polyester-fiber fill that not only was stuffing made in the USA but was also of recycled materials.  https://www.fairfieldworld.com/store/big-bag/poly-fil-premium-fiber-fill-32-ounce-bag/

Recycle it.
Finally, when your crafted items (or any another clothing, fabric or scraps) are beyond repair or reclaiming for another use, don’t throw them out, recycle them!!  Many of the larger donation stores (Goodwill, Salvation Army) sell the unsaleable clothing and fabrics by the pound wholesalers for recycling.  Our little local charity thrift store does as well so check with the small ones too.  Or drop them into the clothing drop boxes around your town.  We have USAgain in this area of the county.  http://www.usagain.com/  http://www.smartasn.org/ collectors/

And last, but not least, recycle the paper label wrapped around your skein!

Black Raspberry Shawl Crochet Pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Crochet and Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, Part 1

The 3 Rs and Crochet

TreeHuggingKingsCanyonI’ve always been a little bit of a nature girl.  You can call me a tree hugger if you like, I don’t mind. I grew up where curbside recycling began in 1980 and therefore separating trash became second nature to me.  I try to do my part to keep the air clean, the water pure and the land pristine.  If you love this big blue marble we call home as much as I do you likely practice the three Rs as much as possible.  You know them, reduce, reuse and recycle.  The 3 Rs are important and it’s important to understand the proper order.  First and foremost we want to REDUCE the amount of waste we create or the items we use.  When we can, we should try to REUSE what we have.  Once something has fulfilled its purpose, can we reuse it as something else (repurpose, upcycle)?  If we still end up with trash after we have reduced our consumption and reused what we can, then we want to RECYCLE whatever is possible to keep from having to use virgin materials.

We can incorporate the 3 Rs in our crochet, knitting and general crafting too.  The suggestions below are practices I use every day to reduce, reuse and recycle as well as suggestions that were made by readers of my Facebook page or other ideas discovered while researching this post.  All are great ways to do your small part to help our Mother Earth, no tree hugging required, I promise.

REDUCE

First and foremost we want to reduce the amount of trash we produce.  Less waste means a healthier planet.  Anytime you substitute reusable items for disposable items, you are reducing!  This is good!

Plarn Crocheted Bag Plastic Bag Upcycle Practice the 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) with your crochet, knitting and craftingIdea #1-Crochet a sturdy market bag or two or ten and reduce the amount of disposable plastic bags you use when shopping.  There are A LOT of patterns out there for bags of all types.  This would be a great use of that scratchy purple and orange yarn you bought on clearance and have NO IDEA what to make with it.  Keep the bags in the trunk of your car and bring your bags with you everywhere!  They aren’t just for farmer’s markets.  Take them to the grocery, to the yarn shop, to the home improvement store.  Anytime you shop, if you need a bag, use your handmade market bag.  Not sure you can give up your disposable plastic bag addiction?  Trust me, you can and don’t worry, a few of those pesky bags will still make their way into your home. I’ve been bringing my own bags to stores since the mid-1990s yet I still end up with plastic bags. When I get them, I use them for various things like collecting items for donation or for household trash.   I end up with just enough to use for my household needs with no unnecessary extras to throw away or recycle.

Idea #2-Crochet some napkins and use them instead of disposable paper napkins.  You can use any larger dishcloth pattern.  We use cloth napkins made out of some worn out flannel sheets.  My husband had the sheets when I met him in 1995!  About 5 years ago the sheets were worn so thin in spots that it was time to replace them.  I cut up the good parts and sewed them into reusable table napkins we use every day.  The worn out parts of the sheets were sent for fabric recycling and the pillowcases are still used today.

Best-Little-Crocheted-DishclothIdea #3-Crochet dishcloths, this is my favorite, The Best Little Dishcloth EVER!, and use them instead of disposable sponges or paper towels.  Get a fresh one every day and you won’t have to worry about icky bacteria build up.

Idea #4-Bonnie (via Facebook) suggested crocheting some Swiffer duster covers and use them instead of the disposable ones.  This is a great idea and would also make a really nice housewarming gift when paired with a new Swiffer. Check out this pattern for the floor mop and this one for the duster.

Idea #5-Reduce paper usage by either using your tablet only when working on a pattern or, if you are like me and don’t have a tablet, print your pattern then place it in plastic sleeve.  Use a dry erase marker to mark your spot.  When done, clean the sleeve and the paper can be saved for the next time you want to use the pattern.  This fantastic idea was suggested in the From Trash to Treasures Ravelry group.

Idea #6-For the ladies only-reduce your use of disposable sanitary products and switch to handmade.  I’ve not seen any crochet or knit patterns but here is a link for many sewing patterns. http://clothpads.wikidot.com/patterns.  I switched to cloth liners for every day use quite a few years ago and I’m extremely glad I did.  Another idea is to switch from disposable diapers to fabric diapers you make yourself.  Confession-this isn’t something we did with our boys but now that I’ve switched to cloth liners, I really kinda wish I had tried it with my babies.

Idea #7-Make some dryer balls and ditch the disposable dryer sheets.  Check out this video for more information. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8hbYKET6Rs This is something I’ve been wanting to try.  Let me know how it goes if you do it.

cotton and cotton blend yarn stash for charity crochetIdea #8-Reduce your stash-yup, I said it.  Buy less yarn or at least use what you have before you buy more.  Some people love their stash, and that is fine.  If your stash brings you comfort then this isn’t for you.  I read somewhere where a lady purchased yarn while on vacation and then she used the yarn to decorate her craft area.  This isn’t the type of stash I mean when I say to reduce.  The yarn I am referring to are all those random skeins that you have no idea why you bought.  Find a good home for it-maybe turn it into market bag.    What about the miscellaneous partial skeins that are tucked away at the bottom of the stash bin?  Maybe you can make something beautiful with it.  Would the yarn make a good chemo hat for donation?  Or what about a lapghan to donate to an assisted living home for the elderly?  Maybe a cute teddy bear for a sick child and his siblings (Team Lewis)?  Or maybe there is a place to donate the yarn?  A charity group that crochets for needy or someone who teaches knitting or crochet at a local senior center or a library or a church or a school.  Find a use for what you have before you buy more.

Idea #9-When you purchase yarn, reduce by doing research.
Everyone has to decide what is most important to them and use that knowledge to make decisions.  Knowledge is power and use your power to make informed decisions.  What is important to you-saving energy? reducing pesticides? reducing waste caused by production?

Buy local
Reduce energy consumption by buying locally.  Not everyone has a cotton plantation or an alpaca farm in their backyard but maybe when you do buy yarn, you can buy yarn that was made in your country with domestic materials.  Check labels.
Commercial yarn options:
*Lily Sugar ‘n Cream is made with 100% USA grown cotton.
*Lion Brand has yarns that are made in the USA (some are made in the USA of imported fibers, read the label!)
*Red Heart Medley, Super Saver and With Love are made in the USA of imported fibers.
*Caron Simply Soft is made in the USA of imported fibers.

Some smaller companies use domestic fibers as well.  Check out:
**Made in America Yarns, www.madeinamericayarns. com
**Brown Sheep Yarns, brownsheep.com
and many indie dyers use domestic fibers too.

Maybe you don’t have an alpaca farm in your backyard but there may be one in the next town over.  Search the web, go to farmer’s markets and ask around.  You may be able to find a local producer of yarn.

Buy eco
Support the reduction of pesticides by buying organic cottons and natural fibers.  Lindsay Lewchcuk (KnitEcoChic on Ravelry) is a bit of an expert on this subject.  She says,

“The more you know about the yarn you use, the better able you are to access whether it is an eco yarn. The skein wrapper is a great place to start. Look for words like “organic,” “vegan/ natural dyes,” or “low-impact dyes,” or on animal fibers “humane,” “GOTS certified,” or “virgin.” Next, look into the company that created the yarn. In this technological age, most companies will have websites. Check out the “About” page, they love to tell you how they are working to be environmentally and/or socially conscious in their manufacturing processes. Ask around and read reviews. Have people complained about chemical residue on the yarn? Or do people rave about the company’s commitment to the environment?”

Check out Lindsay’s blog, http://knitecochic.com/ blog/ and her commitment to designing with eco yarns.

Is it better to only use organic yarn or natural materials? or to buy non-organic yet made with domestic materials yarn? What about reclaimed/recycled yarn (see next post)?  I don’t know-that is a decision that is up to you and what you feel is most important.  How nice would it be if we could all buy the most locally produced, least toxic in production and most organically grown option for $1 a skein?  We have to make choices we are comfortable with but ones we can afford too.  If you are thinking about your choices and the environmental impact your choices may have, then you are doing your part for Mother Earth.  Yay for you!

Idea #10-Reduce by reusing!  Check out my next post for a number of ideas to reuse, reclaim and upcycle everyday items while we crochet, knit and craft.

Whispers

Sunny Days Baby Mobile crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins #CbyDH

Time for Spring, April 2015

Springtime Crochet

Spring was late to north Georgia this year but when it finally did arrive, it brought the beautiful and bright colors of the springtime flowers.  First the sunny yellow daffodils, then the bright purple pink of the redbud trees and the sweet purple of vinca.  Currently the white and pink dogwoods are in bloom and azaleas in many shades of pink to red and white are starting to show their colors too. Of course the new green leaves are popping out and to the dismay of many, the light green of pine pollen covers just about everything in sight.  It is because of the pine pollen that I am always happy to see April showers.  Springtime is beautiful and colorful and often wet.

I finally had a chance to peruse the latest issue of ILikeCrochet.com, April 2015.  And just like the colors Mother Nature brings us in the spring, this issue is full of gorgeous and bright patterns and projects to bring a little springtime to everyone, even if nature is a little late.  From the bright Flower Power Throw on the cover to one of my favorites, the Retro Flower Cushion (adorable!). Blooms abound on hats, bags and in the lace of shawls, wraps and tops.  There are some wonderful gift ideas for new baby and Mother’s day.

Sunny Days Baby Mobile crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins #CbyDH

photo courtesy of ILikeCrochet.com

And because we are always thankful for April showers that not only bring May flowers but clear the pine pollen from the air and the cars, the Sunny Days baby mobile would make a great gift to any expectant parent.  I just had to give a shout out to my design. 🙂

I’ve already started a Darling Baby Hat in extra large as one of the hats for my 2015 Stash Bust Challenge.  What will your first project be?

Crochet to do list and a hat challenge

Hats, and Lists and Bears, Oh MY!

Hats for Halos of Hope; bears for a sweet charitable project called Team Lewis I just found out about and has a very special meaning to me; a new design currently in progress; new design ideas I’m dying to get started on; the CGOA Master Crochet Program I’m determined to start and finish in 2015; and EYEBALLS, gotta have more eyeballs in lots of colors.  So much to crochet and so little time.

cotton and cotton blend yarn stash for charity crochet

How many hats and bears will this yarn make?

What do you do when you can’t decide what project to crochet first?  Do you have multiple WIPs going at once, skipping from one project to another or do you just crochet as fast as possible to finish one item and then move onto the next?

Me, I’m a list girl.  Growing up I remember my dad making lists.  They’d be in the corner of his desk blotter with the items crossed out as completed.  I don’t remember or know what the lists were for, “to do” lists of some sort, but I can still visualize them on his desk in the house I grew up in.  I guess that is why I make lists for everything.  I make them at work, I make them at home.  I make lists for my kids of chores to do when school is out and my husband and I have to work.  I make lists for the grocery shopping (sectioned into quadrants: grocery, non-food, cold stuff and produce).  And I make lists of items to pack for when we go on vacation.  Lists for everything!

See UPDATE below! So here’s my list of crochet items I plan to stitch in April.  I tend to get bored making too much of one thing so I have to mix it up a little.  I’m going to try to stick to it and in order…

1) Finish WIP hat for Halos of Hope
2) 2 bears for Team Lewis
3) Cotton hat for Halos of Hope
4) Work a night or two on WIP design
5) 2 more bears for Team Lewis
6) Work a night or two on WIP design
7) Cotton hat for Halos of Hope, ship all hats made to date
8) 2 more bears for Team Lewis, prepare for shipping
9) Finish brown eyeball
10) Start that new design you want to do so badly!!

UPDATE:  After drafting this post but prior to publishing, I received a challenge from Pat.  She bet me 2 skeins of cotton yarn that she could make more hats for Halos of Hope this month than I can.  I say GAME ON!  I may have to tweak the order of my crochet to do list a bit due to this new development and pick up in May what I don’t get to this month.  Halos of Hope is such a great organization so I want to make as many hats as possible.  Also, I want to WIN!   And I do want to make at least 6 bears this month as they need to be in the mail by the end of the month.

Revised list
1) 6 bears then as many hats as physically possible.

Looks like my crochet time will be spent mainly on hats and bears.  And it looks like we may be eating a lot of frozen dinners this month.  Less time cooking = more time crocheting!  So much to crochet, so little time.

Silly hats for silly kids crochet patterns by darleen hopkins