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Craft Yarn Council – Level II

So I just received my email instructions for level II of the Craft Yarn Council’s program. Umm…it looks tough! I just glanced over the assignments and there are a few things in there I’ll have to learn in order to complete the swatches. Like what’s a Flame Stitch? I looked on YouTube and it doesn’t look at like the diagram in the assignment sheet! The instructions are confusing too. That’s ok, I think I figured it out.

Then for the final assignment, I need to follow the pattern for a baby sweater without deviating from the pattern and making sure the measurements match. I think that’s the part that has me the most nervous. I hate following patterns. Their is a second option: making your own design making sure to include all the requirements. Normally I would choose this option but making clothes isn’t my strength in crochet.

I can make clothes but I usually just measure off of my own body or the body of the person I’m making clothes for (which isn’t very often) so I don’t think I want to do that. I can follow a pattern so I will do theirs. I just need to make sure I follow gauge and we all know I hate doing that. LOL

I’ll probably have to buy yarn because the pattern and some of the swatches call for yarns I don’t think I have. I don’t think I have baby yarn in my stash, although I might actually have some. How sad that I have so much yarn I don’t even know what I have! If you know me, you also know I hate wasting money and although I love buying yarn, I hate buying yarn to make something I have no use for. {What a whiner}. I will make the baby sweater and then make a big baby doll to put it on. Or better yet, I will pick the size that fits the life-size doll at work. She will now have a new sweater. 🙂

Overall, I’m excited to start this level. It looks like it will push me to learn some new things and test my skills.

Here goes…

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Confession time, I already started! That’s the flame stitch in the middle. That one gave me some trouble. The one on the left is giving me trouble now. I can sort-of cross stitch but the way they want me to do it is new to me. It’s a learning curve for sure. The bottom one is my practice swatch. I kept having to undo the cross stitches. I think I have it figured out now but we’ll see. 

A Nudge From Mom – Swatch Found

Yay! I found it! {Jumping up and down with glee} Where was it? I’m embarrassed to say, but I will confess. It was nowhere near where it was supposed to be. I’m also pretty sure I checked there already and didn’t see it.

See that mess that is the top shelf of my craft closet? See those clear bags with junk in them? The one on the top left has scraps of rags I sometimes use for stuffing my dolls. It’s sitting on top of the looms.  I rifled through that yesterday (among every other place in my office/craft room) looking for the swatch. And I do mean RIFLED! I didn’t find it. The clear bag on the right sandwiched  between a white bag on top and a white bag below was pulled out as well. That one has baby clothes in the event I want to make large dolls.

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The swatch was on top of and to the back of the clear bag on the top left.

Knowing it was originally in a clear pouch that had other mis-matched pieces of crochet I didn’t know where else to put (things like little flowers and bows, disembodied doll arms and legs and my mom’s swatches), I opened up my big blue bin. Continue reading

Freebie Friday – Double Crochet Reversible Square Pattern

My mom used to love making us all (my siblings and I and our children) beautiful crochet blankets. We all have a variation of one in particular. It is a reversible blanket that looked like a series of little squares made using double crochet where the posts are interlocked, woven, interlaced or what ever other language you want to use.

When my mom passed away a few years ago, I kept a little swatch of this pattern in case I ever wanted to try to make it.

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Mom’s swatch

I had made one of these blankets with her guidance 29 years ago.  I was pregnant and I was trying to get it finished before my baby was born. It was one of thee most frustrating experiences of my crochet life up to that point. It’s a super simple pattern to make once you get going. After all, it’s just double crochets. But if you mess up, it’s like ripping back two blankets because of how it works up. Equally, it took me a long time to make it because it’s like making two separate blankets at the same time.

So it took me forever to make it and when I messed up, it hurt even more to rip it back. And it was only a baby blanket so it wasn’t that big. Admittedly, I was a lot slower then than I am now and I didn’t know how to fix my mistakes. All I knew how to do was rip back to fix a mistake. Now, I would finish much more quickly and I would know how to fix it and keep going without having to rip.

Needless to say, I felt on the verge of tears when I was working on it, thinking I would never finish it in time. I did though. I didn’t give up and I finished it right before my daughter was born (I think she still has it lying around somewhere). The satisfaction I felt when I finished it can’t be described but lets just say I was extremely happy it was done and I never made another one.

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This is my daughter’s blanket. It’s a little beat up because it’s 29 years old!

Fast forward many years and my mom started making them for everyone. My daughter got several new ones and my son got one.

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This is my son’s. He loved orange and picked the colors. He was about eight or nine. He’s 17 now and he’s still using it. 🙂

We all loved (and continue to love) them. When mom passed, I had no desire to make any. I’ve since figured out how to make other blankets she’d made but not the ‘squares’ one even though I have the swatch.

More recently, I’d say within the last two years, I went on an internet search looking for the pattern. I tried all kinds of language looking for it and never found it. I always told myself I could probably figure it out from her swatch but I wasn’t 100% sure I could. What if I undid her work in an effort to make one and couldn’t? Her work would be unraveled and I wouldn’t have the swatch anymore. Then it would be lost! So I never undid it and kept searching the internet.

Then one day within the last six months or so, a blogger I follow wrote a post about that same pattern! I was so excited. The name for it was so simple that I thought I would never forget it. I was going to respond but I got distracted and forgot about it. Then when I remembered, I couldn’t remember which blogger it was. I spent hours and hours searching through all the blogs I follow looking for it and never found it (if you’re that blogger, let me know who you are!). At first, I searched the ones I thought most likely to have posted it and then I searched through all of them going back months, to no avail. I finally gave up and tried to remember the title she used to describe it. It was something like interwoven double crochet but that didn’t bring up what I was looking for.

Then a couple of days ago, I tried searching the internet again, using as many descriptive words as I could and I found one video on YouTube! It’s mostly the right pattern and I got busy working up a swatch.

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My swatch

Then I went looking for my mom’s swatch to compare and I couldn’t find it! Oh no! At least I know it’s here somewhere. I must have put it someplace safe, so safe I can’t find it. Heh! But at least I know how to do it now. Luckily I took a picture of the swatch and used that to compare to my swatch.

Mine is slightly different. Mom’s edges look better and neater. I need to find her swatch so I can make the adjustments. I think she started her’s a little differently than what I found.

I am so grateful for that video but I think I’m going to make my own version. Her video is very long and I think I can make one that is a little more condensed but still useful. I also want my video to match my mom’s pattern (as soon as I find her swatch). Plus I worry that the video could disappear and I  would be out of luck again. At least if I shoot my own, I’ll always have it. It certainly can’t hurt to have more than one tutorial on the pattern.  🙂

Craft Yarn Council Certification- Pass or Fail

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I passed! I passed! I had my exit call with my master teacher. It was a great phone conversation. Right off the bat, she was really nice. As the time drew nearer for our scheduled talk, I got more and more nervous. Was my portfolio any good? Did I make any mistakes that would cause me to fail? Were my lesson plans too long or not clear? Was she going to ask me something I didn’t know how to answer? This call could be disastrous! Yep, I was getting pretty wound up there.

But none of that happened. She put me at ease right away and was very conversational and friendly. She told me my portfolio was beautiful and very impressive but that I must know that already. I did not! It was very organized, that I knew. I did the best I could with the swatches but you never know what someone else might think but I knew I could present my work in the best light possible. So it was nice that she noticed. Continue reading

Crocheting at Disneyland

After a hiatus from Disneyland, we have once again purchased passes. It’s been a few years but we can return to the magical kingdom and it’s overcrowded premises any time we want (blackouts and restrictions apply 😜). But I’m not complaining (maybe just a little) because we knew what to expect and got passes anyway. Having passes makes it easier to strategically plan our visits. We don’t have little kids to worry about anymore so we can be stealthy and hit just the rides we want to get on and then skedaddle.

Which is exactly what we did on Sunday. We wanted to ride the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride (formerly the Tower of Terror) but the wait times have consistently been over three hours! So we planned our sneak attack. We would get up really really early and get there before the line grew too long. We did manage to get up early-ish and made it before the line got to two hours (it took us a mere hour and 40 minutes). It wasn’t the dream scenario (an hour or less would have been better) but at least it wasn’t three hours. It didn’t help that it turned out to be a very hot day and I didn’t take any sun block. I didn’t think I would burn in the short time we were supposed to be there. Boy was I wrong! And half the time we were in line, we were in the shade! Woefully unprepared!

I concocted a plan that involved taking my crochet along with me to make the time pass more quickly while we were in line. I did feel a little guilty that I might embarrass my hubby and my 17-year-old son but I went prepared anyway (and they didn’t care either way). I pulled out my hook and yarn and started crocheting a Mickey-ears headband. While I was busy keeping myself entertained with crochet challenges, my son noticed a sign behind me.

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It says Yolanda!

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I’m Yolanda! You can see the hook and yarn in my hand too. 🙂

Continue reading

Craft Yarn Council Lessons 3 and 4

Now that I’ve started blocking, I’m blocking everything! I kept a big, rectangular piece of foam board that was part of the packaging for my standing desk. I thought it might work well for blocking my lesson swatches. I like it so far. I have a spray bottle on my desk and am looking around my office looking for other things to squirt, I mean block. Blocking is fun! Waiting for the pieces to dry, not so fun. ☹️ Running around squirting my family, fun🙃

Not sure I’m blocking right. I know I’m wetting and pinning right, I’m just not sure I’m shaping them right, but it’s the first time I’ve blocked anything so I’m sure I’ll get better.

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The hardest part of my swatches is making a perfect 5″ square. I’ve had to adjust all kinds of things to make the squares come out the right size but it’s been fun figuring it out. I’m totally committed to making this work.

The hardest square for me was the popcorn stitch. The pattern calls for two rows of double crochets, seven rows with popcorn clusters and two more double crochet rows. I had to use medium weight yarn. I just couldn’t get 11 rows and I went down to an F hook and crocheted very tight!

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My toughest swatch!

I got up to nine rows so I went with that, one row of double crochets (instead of two) at the ends with the seven rows of popcorn stitches. My other alternatives were to use a bigger hook and skip some of the non popcorn rows (only seven rows total) or still have the two rows at each end intact but  eliminate some of the rows with popcorn stitches. I think my solution was the best one. I kept the integrity of the popcorn stitch design. The directions say you can alter the stitch count and hook size to attain gauge but hopefully what I did falls within the parameters of what I can change to make it the right size.

The last thing I need to do for lesson 4 is create or use someone else’s pattern for crocheting in the round without joining. It has to be something a beginner can make. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to make but settled on making a handle cover for a pan. I have cast iron skillets and actually need handle covers so this is perfect. I finished it and realized I don’t want to send it in as an example of my work. It’s going straight to my pan.

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Instead, I made a small happy face emoji keychain instead.

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Now that’s something more up my alley.

Lessons 1 and 2 – Crochet Certification

Hmm. I started my first lessons of the Craft Yarn Council Teacher Certification Program. I thought it was going to be easy. After all, how hard can be to make a 5 inch square of each basic stitch? Not hard, right? I can make a stinking square. I make squares all the time. But it has to be a perfect 5 inch square with even tension throughout. And the double and treble crochet has a color change exactly halfway through. Again, I can DO color changes. I have to  block too (pouting and whining).

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Lesson 1 on top (sc, hdc, dc, tr) and lesson 2 on the bottom (sc, hdc, dc, inc and dec). 

Lesson 1: Basic Stitch Swatches

The assignment: 5″ squares in the basic stitches, not too loose and not too tight, in a light color yarn, medium weight. Block as needed.

So I’m limited to medium weight yarn which means there are only so many hook sizes I can choose from when I have to adjust for gauge. The single crochet square was pretty easy to figure out. I think I have that one covered.

Then I got busy with the half double crochet…and that’s when I ran into problems. Getting the right stitch count was fine, until I grew the rows, then it seemed to get wider. I undid and redid quite a few times to get the right number of stitches. I also needed to work on keeping my tension the same. I’m an experienced crocheter here! What was going on? I knew I hated gauge! The number of rows were fine and I finally got the square right.

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single crochet swatch and half double crochet swatch

Moving on to the double crochet square had me extremely frustrated but it was the treble crochet swatch I kept having to redo. I couldn’t get the right hook to get the perfect height on the stitches to have half the square in one color. I tried moving up in hook sizes to make the stitches taller, but I couldn’t make them tall enough to get the right number of rows to reach the mid point without going over or under. I tried going down in hook size so I could get more rows in but that wasn’t working either. In the end, I went with an F hook with a tighter tension. I was worrying about this because the instructions stated not to crochet too tightly. Oh well, I had too! It looked good and not too tight so I’m going with it.

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double crochet and treble crochet swatches

Lesson 2: Increases and Decreases

The increase and decrease swatches seemed easier. I only had to reach 5″ with the width. Not too bad.

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single crochet increase and decrease swatch

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half double crochet increase and decrease swatch

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double crochet increase and decrease swatch

Now I have to write up all the information on paper and put them in plastic sleeves (after they dry from their blocking of course).

Learning

Did I learn anything? Yes. I didn’t necessarily learn anything new but it’s more about showing that you can follow directions and showing that you know what you’re doing. I did learn more about my shortcomings. Namely that I need to work on my tension to get more even stitches throughout my work. And it’s forcing me to face gauge and blocking. I’m mean, really, I shouldn’t shy away from these things. I’m glad I’m being forced to do them even if I don’t usually need to use them with the things I make. You can never have too much knowledge and knowledge is power and all that. 🙂