Learning Something New–Tapestry Crochet

So far, I am really enjoying the fall season this year. I tend to appreciate it every year, even though I am always sad to bid summer goodbye. One of the things I like about it is experiencing a renewed sense of energy with the change of seasons. This translates for me into organizing, planning and a desire for new learning–like this little pot holder I recently finished.

This is the Pumpkin Potholder by Rafaella at Raffamusa Designs. It is a Tapestry Crochet pattern, which is something I had not done before. I am usually cautious about trying new things in crochet because I like the anxiety and stress relief I experience when crocheting.  Learning a new stitch can sometimes be stressful for me. But I REALLY wanted to do this pattern. Plus, she has several more adorable tapestry potholder patterns I would like to try in her Farmhouse Collection.

It was a bit challenging as Tapestry Crochet requires using two or more yarns at one time.  The non-working yarn or the one you’re not currently stitching with is carried behind the working yarn and enclosed in the stitches. I am not a big fan of this method because the yarn can get so twisty and globbed up. But I never stop feeling surprised at what I will endure if I really want something. *chuckle*  Rafaella has a link on her blog, under the Tapestry Crochet tab, to a method on keeping yarn tangle free, but I didn’t understand it. To be fair, I read through it and didn’t try it, but I didn’t quite track with the directions. I just had to adapt to the fact I wasn’t going to crochet as quickly as I normally would. Once I adjusted to the slower pacing, I had a good time! 

 I am quite proud I stuck with it as I’m extremely happy with the result! It’s elegant and eye-catching.  (I just need to block it.) In fact, I liked the process and result so much, I started another one right away! This interfered with my plans for finishing up other projects, but I couldn’t help myself.  I am excited to try her other Tapestry designs, including the Christmas Tree Potholder.

I think the only thing I would have liked more, would have been a YouTube tutorial for this pattern. I see she has a YouTube channel. She does have a couple of photos on the printed pattern, but photos, unless there are lots of them and they are large, are not enough for me. I am one of those people that needs things spelled out in detail. Also, I have mature eyes and the finer points in small photos are almost impossible for me to really see.  There are other YouTube tutorials on Tapestry Crochet, but the ones I found tended to be specific to a certain pattern.

Other than that, I consider the experience overall to be an enjoyable one. If you’re looking to improve your crochet skills or would like to learn something new, I would recommend trying Tapestry Crochet in a small project like these potholders. . 

What new skills or stitches have you tried recently?

Lost Your Crojo?

#OrganisedOctober21 and #WIPalong21 on Instagram

Sometimes, even for the hardcore crochet enthusiast, the motivation slips and one finds it difficult to pick up the hook. This can be baffling and frustrating. Maybe the cause is going through extra stress and feeling low or maybe your current stash of WIPs (works in progress) suddenly seem uninspiring. Whatever the reason, it can be helpful to understand motivation and where it could use some sparking up. 

There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. There is lots of content out there defining what they are and their differences, but simply put, intrinsic motivation is when you would do the work simply because you enjoy it and extrinsic motivation involves something outside of yourself compelling you to do the work or complete the task. There are many types of extrinsic motivation: reward, compensation, threat of punishment or negative consequences, disapproval, etc. For myself, one of the best extrinsinc or external motivators is the response or support I receive from others and being accountable to them.

As I reflect back on my accomplishments, I’ve achieved the most challenging goals when I was experiencing this type of extrinsic motivator. It helps me to keep on keeping on when the emotional thread to my intrinsic motivation has gone missing. So I was quite excited to find a group of Instagram crocheters who are hosting, #OrganisedOctober21 and #WIPalong21 to address those abandoned crochet WIPs.

My WIPS had recently begun to pile up. Usually, I try to stick with no more than 2 or 3 projects in progress, but for some reason this fall, that flew out the window. I got distracted by too many CALs and MALs (crochet along or make a long) or feeling overwhelmed by projects that weren’t going well.  Then I started feeling scattery and guilty. (If you saw my blog post Organization, you know I’ve been on a mission to be better organized as feeling unfocused reduces the satisfaction I get from crocheting.) So, finding a group of like minded souls working with the same goal was just the kickstart I needed! Plus, it’s fun cheering others on and seeing their projects take shape.

If you’re on Instagram, you can find directions for the WIP along on the bio page of one of the following host accounts: @andintothetrees (Hannah), @goslingandplumb (Laura), @laboursoflovecrochet (Ruth), @marta.mitchell.designs (Marta Mitchell), or @sewcraftynaz (Nasreen). They’re providing fun weekly prompts, tips and Live IGTV episodes to keep you going. Laura @goslingand plumb even has several free printouts to help you plan your goals for the month. I find the Bingo sheet, pictured above, to be especially motivating as I chose rewards for myself based on how many bingos I complete. You can also add in a few other projects you’re wanting to keep up on, such as exercise, reading, or whatever!

If you’re missing your inspiration to create, it’s not too late to join in. You’ve still got almost 4 solid weeks to participate and I’m finding it to be a lovely, welcoming community.

I love hearing about methods for boosting productivity/creativity. Let me know what you have tried.

Bye-Bye Synthetic Fibers

Cozy Sunday Shawl pattern by KW_Knits. Made predominantly with natural fibers.

I recently made a painful discovery–acrylic yarn is a type of plastic called acryonile. Ugh! I feel a bit foolish that I just figured this out. I mean, what was I thinking it was made of? But worse than the foolish feeling is knowing I will for the most part, need to give up yarns that are primarily artificial blends. This is a tough thing for me because I love acrylic yarn!

I love how soft it can be, I love the easy care and of course, I love its affordability! However, I love the earth too and I have made a conscious effort to reduce my consumption of plastic since it can hang around in the dump for many, many years.

According to the blog on Darn Good Yarn acrylic yarns can take up to 200 years to biodegrade! I don’t want to be a contributor to the glut of plastics already plaguing our planet.

However, I am aware I am fortunate to be able to afford natural fibers. And I am also fortunate not to have a wool allergy. So there is no judgment from me about others’ choices for their crafting. I just know that for me, I wouldn’t love my finished items as much if I were to continue to buy and make with synthetics. Once my stash is used up, that’s it! I will be supporting local yarn stores and indie dyers much more.

One excellent small business I have discovered is The Frogger Niagara or Maria Derkach on Etsy. She takes clothing made of luxury yarns from second hand stores, frogs them, and cakes or skeins the yarn. I have bought several recycled cakes from her and I was very happy. Her prices are budget friendly too!

I know I will miss going into a chain or big box store and choosing whatever catches my fancy. I love the rush of creativity I feel with endless possibilities. But in the end, I think this small sacrifice will bring me a feeling of lasting joy and satisfaction.

What’s your opinion? What type of yarn do you prefer to use?

Organization

A small part of my crochet queue

I recently decided I didn’t want to keep haphazardly buying yarn without a project in mind…at least for most of the time. (*wink*) I wanted to be more deliberate and focused. So, I thought I would create a spreadsheet of all the patterns, pins, and favorites I had on Ravelry, Pinterest, Instagram and stored in my computer. I listed the oldest first and then created extra pages for seasonal and gift items. I had a hunch it would be a long list. I had no idea!

The project took about two weeks. In the process, I discovered there were some pins’ links that were broken or removed or there were patterns I no longer liked. I deleted a fair amount. But the larger my spreadsheets became, it caused me to look at the patterns much more critically. Did I really want to commit to and could I see myself making the pattern? Quite a few more were deleted. If I absolutely couldn’t bear to part with it, I created a spreadsheet titled, Inspiration, for those I probably wouldn’t make but loved.

During my project, I watched Marie Kondo’s new show on Netflix, Sparking Joy.

You might be familiar with Marie Kondo because of her first show on Netflix, Tidying Up .

But, if not, Marie is an organization guru. She teaches people how to pare down their overwhelming clutter and disorganization so their space is tranformed into a practical and inviting environment. Part of Marie’s method involves holding an item in your hand and noticing if it sparks joy. If not, it should go as it’s probably causing some stress to keep it.

As I worked on my spreadsheet, I found this to be relieving, freeing advice. Although I couldn’t hold the items in my hand, I gauged my emotional response as I looked at the pattern. I have so many things in my life which I keep out of obligation or fearing I will miss it later. This causes me feelings of pressure (not joy!) and I can’t utilize the resources I have to their best use. I feel scattery, unfocused and even confused sometimes. This is definitely not how I want to feel with a hobby that provides me so much pleasure and satisfaction!

Since I have finished my spreadsheets, it has helped me be less impulsive and more selective in favoriting or purchasing patterns and yarns as I have a renewed realizion I have only so much time to complete them all.

I encourage you to try an organization project for your crochet or other craft patterns if you haven’t already. For me it was revealing and renewing.

Do you have favorite methods you use to organize and stay focused with your patterns or craft projects?

My First Post and My First Pattern!

The Autumn Double Stitch Placemat

Hi everyone! I am super excited to start a craft blog. Thank you so much for visiting.

I used to blog years ago about relationships and some other issues that were important to me. Then I went to graduate school to get a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and I got burned out on writing. I didn’t think I would go back to blogging but I had an experience that brought me back to it.

I created the above pattern last year and posted it to an extremely popular site for knitters and crocheters. I won’t mention the name, but let’s just say it’s the one that changed their site and has been unresponsive to people who have experienced accessibility issues. I was confused by the instructions on uploading a pattern and emailed the “Support” team. I never received an answer. I went ahead and did the best I could with it. A few months later, I got a snippy email from “Support” which informed me my pattern had been removed, despite being “favorited” by several people. I was so disgusted and even hurt. If you have put the time into writing a pattern, you will know how much work it is. But, even though that was a negative experience, it propelled me to set back up my blog. So, not all bad!

Anywho, here is what you probably really want–the free pattern!

I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to contact me at crochetatthelodge@gmail.com if you find any errors or have questions.

Happy Fall and Happy Crocheting!