The “Choose Your Own Adventure” Crochet Project

We all want our finished crochet project to look as gorgeous as the pictures we see online or in a magazine. But what did it take for that project to look that good? With Pinterest, and so many other social media outlets portraying the “perfect” project, it’s making it harder and harder to know the reality of something. All we see is perfection, but what did it take to get it perfect? I thought I would add a little humor to the reality that we don’t see.

 

The "Choose Your Own Adventure" Crochet Project

 

 

CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE

 

5 Realistic Stages to a Crochet Project

 

    1. Search the internet for hours and hours….and hours. Sometimes it feels like hundreds of hours to find that perfect pattern! Once you find that perfect pattern, you….
    2. Head to the craft store to find the perfect yarn. Yes, you could order it online, but you wouldn’t be able to see it, touch it, and yes, sometimes I even smell all the pretty yarns. Once home with your new yarn you….
    3. Search endlessly for the hook you need. It’s missing again?? Trust me, you’re not alone. It’s time for your first set of choices….
      a) Search endlessly…
      b) Head back to the craft store for another one…
      c) Both
      Don’t worry. Most of us chose “c also. Once home with your new hook(s) you….
    4. Begin your project on that new project high. We all start out a brand new project excited. But how long that excitement lasts is dependent on a few things. How small/large is the project? Are you able to follow the pattern? Are you beyond your skill level? Etc, etc…. Which always leads to the next step. (This is where the real “fun” begins.
    5. There are usually three choices here….
      a) Finish your project with no glitches or problems! Yay! You did it. You have this gorgeous project to show off to your friends and family, or wear, or sell.  You now get to start the process all over again with your next project.
      b) Run into some snags, frog it and begin again. Many of us know this step all too well. We miss a stitch, add one too many, or just can’t figure out what went wrong. Time to rip it, rip it. I am not a fan of frogging projects, but sometimes it just needs to be done. If this is where you end up you go back to step 4 and repeat.
      c) Leave the project in a bag as a UFO. This ending is usually based on how frustrated you are paired along with how much you’re determined to finish. If you’re not loving the project you’ll end up here. And if you’re totally frustrated and throwing your hands up in the air (or your hook across the room) you’ll end up here also. I used to do this a lot more than I do now. I’m getting better at knowing which kinds of patterns and projects will get me to this ending, and I try to avoid them. If this is where you end up, you get to go back to step 1 and begin again.

So many pattern choices. So many outcomes. But one thing is for certain, we’re willing to do it over and over again.

So, be honest, how many UFO’s (UnFinished Objects) do you have in your closet?

Happy Crocheting!

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How Goal Setting Turned Me Into a Dance Mom

How Goal Setting Turned Me Into a Dance Mom - Insight and practical tips to help you reach your crochet goals.

 

I have 5 daughters. All of them dance and the 4 oldest are on the competition team at our studio. My oldest daughter (14) is aware that she struggles with stage presence. She really does try, but she gets up on stage and admits that she is so focused on making her feet do the right things that she forgets to smile and act the part. So, last year I told her if she tried her hardest I would buy her a book as a reward – she’s a HUGE reader! (Bear with me. I promise this will relate to crochet.)

She did great with that reward as her motivation, so I decided this year I was going to up the stakes on her. She’s a little bit older, she said she wants to do better, and I know she can. I don’t want to just give her a reward for getting up there, I want to give her a reward for giving it 100%. So I told her this year she had to place in the top 5 for her age category. (Please note: I am not one of those moms who pushes there kids beyond the point they should be pushed. This was a mutual agreement that my teenager and I came up with.)

So, the other day she was telling one of the moms at the studio about our agreement, and gave her the rundown with the new terms that she had to place in the top 5. The other mom’s response to me was, “You’re such a dance mom.” I tried not to let it show that I was crushed. (For those that have never seen the show Dance Moms, it’s not a compliment to be compared to those women.) I’ve known this mom for a long time and I couldn’t believe she would think that I am like that. All the way home I tried to figure out why she would say that. (I believe we can learn lessons from everything in life and I was willing to learn something from this if I could.) Then it hit me. I wonder if she thought the “place in the top 5” comment was so that my daughter could beat her child or the other kids at the studio? Honestly that thought had never even crossed my mind! The only thought I had ever had was that I wanted my daughter to learn to push past her own limits and know that she could do anything she set her mind to.

 

The only competition we should have is being better than we were yesterday.

 

It was then that I realized I’m ok with the title “dance mom” if it means helping my daughter reach the best version of herself that she can be. I don’t have to accept the negative connotation that goes along with it, and I made the decision I’m not going to. Now, I bet you’re wondering, how does all that relate to crochet?

 

Confidence + Determination + Character

 

  • Confidence – You need to believe in yourself. I need to take some of my own advice as well, which is why confidence is my word of the year for 2016. And because I lack confidence I am trying to build that in my girls at a young age. Adding confidence to your crocheting can be something as simple as trying a new stitch or beginning to selling your finished items. Believe you can and you’re half way there.
    Note: There is however a difference between confidence and conceit, and if someone doesn’t know you well enough it may come across the wrong way. Based on interaction with this mom recently and in the past, I wonder if she sees my competitive nature, mixed with my excitement when I overcome a challenge, and maybe she’s seeing it as conceit? Just be aware of how you come across.
  • Determination – Determination is what keeps you going despite the obstacles in front of you, and you will need determination to be successful. I want my daughters to know they can do whatever they put their minds to. The same goes for your crochet. Be determined to learn that new stitch or finish those UFO’s (unfinished objects/projects) that you’ve been wanting to finish. Or maybe you want to start earning money with your crochet. Whatever it may be, be determined.
  • Character – When I overcome and obstacle or challenge I have set for myself, I need to be careful how I come across. Based on the reaction of my friend from dance (and other interactions I have had with her) I am now aware that maybe I’m portrayed as trying to be better than others. That’s totally not the case, but if that’s how I’m seen then maybe I need to re-evaluate my actions. I’m a firm believer that mistakes are ok as long as you learn from them. The same goes for crochet. One of the 5 Things I Will NOT Do in 2016 is compare myself to other crocheters or crochet bloggers. You need to do the same. Keep your character genuine and be the best version of you possible.

 

Making and Achieving Goals

 

* This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. Please note: I will never become an affiliate partner for a product or service that I don’t use and love!

One of the first goals I set for myself was to do a monthly goal setting and then post it here because it’s a proven fact that accountability works. With our first dance competition of the season this coming weekend I’m posting my January review and February goals a few days early so I don’t forget. Here’s how I did:

 

JANUARY GOALS:

  1. Create my opt-in freebie that I’ve been planning forever – I need to get this done first thing in Feb!
  2. Create 1 new pattern to publish  – My Grapevine Scarf pattern is now available.
  3. Finish and publish 1 unfinished pattern – 2 patterns done; will be published next week.
  4. Post 2 new blog posts/week, every week in Jan. (8 total) – 10 posts published!
  5. Grow my crochet readership (newsletter) from 1,100 to 1,500 – 1,136 
  6. Grow my Pinterest followers from 1,332 to 2,000 – 1,455
  7. Grow Facebook followers from 6,432 to 7,000 – 6,474
  8. Grow Twitter followers from 489 to 1,000 – 516
  9. Continue to work through Your Best Year 2016 planner
  10. Finish unpacking my school/work room – Unpacked about 5 boxes. Hopefully I will finish in February.
  11. Track income and expenses

I also started using Instagram on Jan. 20 and already have 40 followers. (not too bad for 1 week)

Now, the whole point in doing this every month is two-fold. Not only do I have a goal list to work from, but I want to actually review it and see what worked and what didn’t, and what could I possible change for next month. The one thing I did notice is that my numbers I chose to grow my social media to were a little – ok a lot – out of reach. They weren’t realistic and I want my goals to be just out of reach so that I have to try really hard, and yet not so hard that after a couple months my desire to keep moving forward wanes. So, I’ve tweaked the numbers and changed things up a bit. Here’s what I’ll be aiming for in February.

FEBRUARY GOALS:

  1. Create my opt-in freebie that I’ve been planning forever.
  2. Create 1 new pattern to publish.
  3. Finish and publish 1 unfinished pattern.
  4. Post 10 new blog posts in Feb.
  5. Grow Facebook from 6,474 to 6,550.
  6. Grow my blog + each of my social media accounts by 10%.
    Starting numbers:
    – Blog – 1,136 to 1,250
    – Pinterest – 1,455 to 1,600
    – Twitter – 516 to 568
    – Instagram – 40 to 44
  7. Continue to work through Your Best Year 2016 planner + Luminaries Club.
  8. Finish unpacking my school/work room.
  9. Track income and expenses.

Many of these goals are the same. Once they become habit I will be replacing them with new goals. By applying the principles above – confidence + determination + character – it will be easier for all of us to achieve our goals this year.

What are some of the goals you set for this year? I’d love for you to share them.

Your Crocheting Dance Mom,

 

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Crochet a Farm Book Review

Crochet a Farm book reviewAll images from Crochet a Farm by Megan Kreiner, Martingale, 2015; used by permission.
Photography by Brent Kane. All rights reserved.

Publisher: Martingale

Author: Megan Kreiner of MK Crochet

Number of Pages: 80 pages

Number of Projects: 19 patterns total

Types of Projects: Farm animals (many have both adult and baby sizes included – ex: both ducks & ducklings patterns available) and farm items (hay, milking bucket, veggies, etc)

Difficulty:

easyintermediate

  • Easy – Projects using basic stitches, repetitive stitch patterns, simple color changes, and simple shaping.
  • Intermediate – Projects with a variety of stitches, such as basic cables and lace, simple intarsia, double-pointed needles and knitting in the round needle techniques, mid-level shaping and finishing.

Yarn Used: #3, #4, & #6

Sizes: 1.5″ – 6″ tall; no sizes given for the veggies

First Impression: Lots of detail, even on the small items.

My Favorite Project Pick: Horse (6″ tall) and rooster (3″ tall).

Crochet a Farm book reviewHorse & Foal

Review: Kids love farm animals and Megan delivers on a cuteness factor with these. Megan made these look very realistic instead of amigurumi or cartoon-ish. They are the perfect size for little hands. (Eyes with safety backs are recommended in the book.)

Tech Review: ***Because the focus of my blog is now more behind-the-scenes, pattern based I have decided to have my reviews come from that perspective. I love tech editing and want to start adding that perspective as well.***  

While the patterns are well written, the format is slightly different to what I am used to. For instance, the pattern may say: “sc 3, sc 2 in next st”. While this is not wrong, I would be more inclined to have it read, “sc in next 3 sts, 2 sc in next st”. For me, the “sc 3” would not necessarily be clear to someone just starting out. Please note: This is not wrong, nor is it bad. It’s just my preference and perspective. I have heard through the industry people who don’t like patterns written this way, so I’m just pointing it out.

The only thing I wished would have been different (but it’s definitely not detrimental to the patterns) is that the skill levels and finished sizes aren’t always in the same place. On single patterns (donkey) it’s in the banner at the top of the page. One the patterns where there are multiples (rooster, hen, chicks) the skill levels and sizes are in the materials list for each project. Again, not a show stopper, just something I was aware of.

The benefits are that there are tons of graphics and photos for placement of pieces (eyes, ears, tails, etc), which I think is super helpful. Martingale has included general information (gauge, terms, abbreviations), as well as templates for the felt pieces.

Crochet a Farm book reviewCows

Crochet a Farm book reviewFruits & Veggies

Overall a great pattern book if you love animals. I’ve only shown you a few of my favorites. You can click on any of the photos to go to Martingale‘s website and see the rest of the projects. I would love for you to come back and tell me which project is your favorite.

Happy Crocheting!

 *Disclaimer* – This book was provided to me for a review, but all opinions are strictly my own.
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Top 5 Crochet Patterns of 2015

Last year I did Top 10 Crochet Patterns in 2014 and I was surprised at which of my patterns made the list, so I decided to do it again this year. Some of the patterns didn’t surprise me (Chevron Infinity Scarf & Boot Cuffs), while others did surprise me (Textured Star Blanket).

From today (1/22/2016) through Monday (1/25/2106) at midnight these 6 patterns will be 50% off in my Ravelry shop. Please use coupon code TOP5 at checkout.

 

Top 5 Crochet Patterns of 2015

 

#1 – Chevron Infinity Scarf & Boot Cuffs

 

Chevron Infinity Scarf & Boot Cuffs pattern set by Ambassador Crochet - pattern $4.50

Chevron Infinity Scarf & Boot Cuffs pattern – With thousands of pins on Pinterest, this is by far my #1 selling pattern. There are so many color possibilities!

 

#2 –  Crocheted Bows

 

Crocheted Bows - pattern by Ambassador Crochet

Crocheted Bows – With 6 sizes included you can do anything with them. Add them to a hair clip or headband, or even to a gift for a little extra gift topper. With so many possibilities it’s easy to see why this makes my top 5 every year.

 

#3 – Textured Star Baby Afghan

 

Textured Star baby blanket - crochet pattern by Ambassador Crochet

Textured Star Baby Afghan – I took a popular design and added a slight twist.  By adding some texture it just gives this star blanket a little something extra. This was one of the first patterns I ever designed (2007?), so I was shocked this made my list.

 

#4 – Textured Slouchy Beret

 

Textured Slouchy Beret crochet pattern by Ambassador Crochet

Textured Slouchy Beret – If you love texture, and are looking for something beyond the basic slouch, this hat pattern may be just the challenge you’re looking for. (It is listed as an intermediate pattern.) It makes my top 5 list every year!

 

#5 was a tie

 

Chevron Waves of Grayce Blanket

&

In Memory Of… Skinny Scarf

Waves of Grayce ripple baby afghan - crochet pattern by Ambassador Crochet - $3.50In Memory Of... crochet scarf pattern by Ambassador Crochet

Waves of Grayce Baby Blanket – Take a classic design and add modern color combos for an amazing finished baby blanket.

In Memory Of… – This scarf was created with the sole intent of keeping those you love close at heart. Whether you’ve lost someone to cancer or lost them unexpectedly use the colors of the awareness ribbon to show your support. The models were made in the awareness ribbon colors of brain cancer/asthma (gray) and neck/throat cancer (ivory & burgundy).

Click on any photo or link to be taken to that pattern in my Ravelry shop. Don’t forget, pattern sale is only good through Monday! Use coupon code TOP5 at checkout.

Happy Crocheting!

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Grapevine Scarf Crochet Pattern

One of the things I love most about crocheting is sharing my creations with others. At Christmastime there tends to be even more to make. Our focus is on making gifts for loved ones (as it should be) and because of that we rarely think about making anything for ourselves. But, now that the gifts have been given and the decorations are down (well…..mine are still up), ELK Studio has a great idea! Every day during the month of January she is featuring crochet patterns that you can make specifically for yourself!

 

Grapevine Scarf crochet pattern - Design by Ambassador Crochet

 

When I set out to make something for my featured day (1/21/16) I knew I wanted 2 things. I wanted something that anyone, with any skill level, could make. Second, I wanted trendy. I wanted something that even my teenage daughters would want to make if they saw it. Introducing….

Grapevine Scarf Crochet Pattern

Whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced crocheter, you’ll be able to make this. I wanted something a bit more trendy that even my teenage daughters would want to wear.

 

Grapevine Scarf - free crochet pattern - Design by Ambassador Crochet

Download Now

 

If you’d like to see more great patterns from other designers, or see more from this blog series, please visit Elk Studio directly.

ELK Studio Make it for Me

 

Happy crocheting!

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Tackle Advanced Crochet Patterns in 3 Easy Steps

We’ve all seen them….. those gorgeous crochet patterns that you just have to make. Then you notice that it’s marked “advanced”.  At this point you have 2 choices. Keep looking for something else, or try to tackle it. I know from experience that if you love the pattern enough you won’t be able to get it out of your mind! But do you love it enough to give it a try? Now may be the time…

If you haven’t been crocheting for long your first choice may be to move on and keep searching. Please reconsider! Now, I’m not saying every level of crocheter should tackle an advanced pattern. But there comes a point in time where you need to stretch yourself beyond what you’ve tried in the past.

 

How to Tackle Advanced Crochet Patterns in 3 Easy Steps

 

How to Tackle Advanced Crochet Patterns

 

in 3 Easy Steps

 

1) Read through the pattern – I can’t tell you how many times I haven’t done this. I used to just skip right over this step. Just do it! It’s amazing what may jump off the page at you. You may notice that the pattern only has stitches that you already know and they’re just combined uniquely. Or you may realize that even though it’s a new stitch, the pattern repeat is only a few stitches so once you get the pattern down it won’t be so bad. This may be the step that can convince you to give it a try.

2) Gauge swatch – If the pattern has a gauge swatch it, make it. Period. End of story. I won’t go into all the reasons why gauge swatch’s are important – that’s what the postIs Crochet Gauge Important? was written for. In terms of advanced patterns, it will help you decide if you can tackle the pattern on a larger scale.

3) Have Confidence – This is the most important step! (It’s also my Word for the Year) You need to believe that you can do it. If you don’t believe you can, then either you won’t try or you’ll be setting yourself up for failure.

You may not be able to make it today, or tomorrow, or even next week but if you keep trying you will eventually be able to do them.

How do you tackle that advanced pattern?

Happy Crocheting!

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5 Things I Will NOT Do In 2016

I recently read a blog post from The Art of Simple called 3 Things I’m Not Doing in 2016, and it got me thinking. We get so busy making our New Year’s resolutions and “Things to Accomplish in 2016” lists (which are great things to do by the way). But have you thought about what you don’t want to do? Believe it or not, I’ve actually done a lot of thinking about it, but I never thought to actually make it visual. So, I’m going to make a list to remind myself in a few months…

5 Things I will NOT Do In 2016

* This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. Please note: I will never become an affiliate partner for a product or service that I don’t use and love!

 

  1. I will not compare my business (or myself) to others – This goes back to my 2016 Word of the Year, which is CONFIDENCE. Lack of confidence has been my downfall in past years. Comparison kills momentum so I’m ready to overcome it.
  2. I will not design anything I don’t absolutely love – In the past I’ve designed things just because others ask me to. While I love ideas and suggestions, I have found sometimes I don’t have a passion for a design and I’m only doing it because I said I will. This year I will either find a way to love it, or nicely reject the idea.
  3. I will not pursue unhealthy relationships – This is more personal, but I will also be applying it to business relationships. I recently told my girls that you become like the 5 people you spend the most time with….and then I realized it. I’ve been trying to repair relationships with a couple friends that, if I’m honest, probably shouldn’t be repaired. If I don’t like the way someone is acting, or treating me, do I really want to be like them?? Eye opening revelation for me! I knew it was time to stop worrying about what others think of me and move on, when I heard this quote from Crystal Paine over at Money Saving Mom….

    “Your worth is not dependent upon what other people think of you.”

  4. I will not sign up for any new coaching groups/emails – The first thing I learned in the Luminaries Club was to “silence your phones.” I’ve decided I’m also putting my emails on silence. I’m unsubscribing to almost all my coaching emails. While they are probably amazing and have great things to offer, it’s just overwhelming my inbox and making me feel like I’m drowning.
  5. I will not give up on my goals for 1 full year – Thanks to Your Best Year 2016, I have a dollar figure in place and a subscriber list goal for this year. I will do everything in my power to provide my business with exactly what it needs to grow to what I envision it to be!

Here’s to an amazing year!

 

 

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