5 Tools Every Crocheter Needs

There are basic tools every crocheter needs; tools of the trade that you will find in almost any crocheters bag. There are some you need, and some that are just nice to have. For those just starting out on their crochet journey, I’ve compiled a list of 5 told every crocheter needs.

 

5 Tools Every Crocheter Needs - Plus, find out which brands I use & recommend.

 

5 Tools Every Crocheter Needs

 

I’ve come up with a list of 5 things every crocheter should have in their project bag. Most of these are obvious, especially if you’ve been crocheting for any amount of time, but if you’re a just learning to crochet or haven’t started yet but want to learn, this list is a great list to help you get started.

Note: There are so many brands out there,that you may have to try a few out to find what’s right for you. I am just recommending brands I currently use and am happy with.

 

Crochet HooksTulip Etimo is hands down my favorite hook. I actually bought two entire sets to have just in case one (or more) of them disappears….because my hooks seem to grow legs! If you’re unsure about trying these hooks, or any ergo hooks, read my post Choosing the Right Ergonomic Hook.

 

 

Stitch Markers – I’ve tried many over the years and I’ll use a few different brands, but the Clover Lock Ring stitch markers are definitely my first choice. They are sturdy and they lock (if you want them to).

 

 

Scissors – I love fold up scissors. There’s nothing worse than poking your yarn with the point of the scissors. I’ve been very happy with my Fiskars. They fold up, they’re sturdy, and they work well on yarn.

 

Fiskars Travel Folding Scissors

 

Yarn Needles – There are all different kinds of yarn needles. Everything from plastic to metal, straight to bent tip. About 2 years ago I switched from plastic to metal and I will never go back. No more snaggin on the yarn! I use Chibi needles by Clover and I love them. I prefer the bent tip, but straight works well too.

 

Clover Chibi - 5 Tools Every Crocheter Needs

 

Measuring Tape – I love my crochet happy tape measure. I own quite a few from when I was a retail distributor for them and am sad to see my stash dwindling.

 

Crochet Happy - 5 Tools Every Crocheter Needs

 

Extras

 

While there are many other tools you could add to your project bag, I don’t consider them necessities. Things like hook cases, row counters, support gloves, and even a gauge checker. (This one will check your gauge, needle size, and hook sizes for you.)

For those who have been crocheting a while, what tools would you recommend?

Happy Crocheting!

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Choosing the Right Ergonomic Hook

Most crocheters look forward to that moment in time when you can just sit down, relax, and crochet. After crocheting for 30 minutes, or 15 minutes, or sometimes only 5 minutes your hand may start to cramp or just get tired. It may be time to invest in an ergonomic hook.

 

Choosing the Right Ergonomic Hook - Tips to decide if you should invest in an ergo hook and which one might be the right fit for you.

 

How to Choose the Right
Ergonomic Hook

 

I remember being pregnant with my 4th child (back in 2004) and all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, my hand would start to ache after about 5 minutes of crocheting. That was before ergonomic hooks were available – or at least none that I was aware of being sold at craft stores. Now we have so many options between craft stores and the internet!

I resisted trying the ergo hooks for a long time after they came out. My excuse was always the price. And I didn’t want to buy one if it wasn’t going to work. If you suffer from similar hand or arm symptoms, I’m going to encourage you to take the plunge. You may have to try a couple to find the one you love, but once you do you’ll never go back.

 

Why an Ergo Hook?

 

An ergonomic hook is designed in such a way as to alleviate pain that occurs while crocheting. Most ergonomic hooks have an enlarged handle that is shaped in such a way as to relieve pressure on the hand and joints, and can be more comfortable to hold.

Below are 5 that I have personally tried.

 

Clover Soft Touch – This was the first ergo hook I invested in. I liked them, but in the end they weren’t my favorite. I can’t really pinpoint why, because they did help. They just weren’t my #1 choice. I keep the ones I purchased as back ups.

 

 

Tulip Etimo Crochet Hook Set – They feel weird, almost slippery, at first. But these are by far my favorite hooks! I use them so much that I have invested in a second set to have because my hooks seem to grow legs and disappear.

 

 

 

Clover Amour – I have 2 of these. One was to replace a size that went missing and one was a size I didn’t have. Simply put, I like them. They are very similar to Tulip hooks, but available locally. If I didn’t already love my Tulip hooks I would probably invest in these. I’m going to say these are my 2nd choice.

Addi Swing Hooks – I’ll be honest, I didn’t like these, BUT my daughter loves them! The difference is I hold my hook like a pencil and she uses the overhand grip. Because of that, I’m going to assume this design is better for those who do not hold their hooks like a pencil.

 

Boye Ergonomic Aluminum Hook Handle – This hook handle can be used with the aluminum hooks you already own. This handle is better for overhand crocheters because of the design of it. If you have a ton of hooks and don’t really want to make the investment this is a great option.

 

Tips for Buying

  1. See if anyone you know owns any you can try out (or at least test grip).
  2. Buy a single hook before you invest in a whole set.

 

Did I miss a brand that you love? Share what has worked and what has not worked for you.

 

Happy Crocheting!

 

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Currently… during June 2016

I thought it would be fun to share what I’m currently up to during the month of June.

This is my spin off of Lisa’s post over at Marketing Creativity.

 

Currently working on.... come check out what I'm currently watching, reading, and doing with my summer.

 

*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! Not all links are affiliates.

 

June is a crazy month at my house. Five daughters that all take dance….which makes this recital month. I know it’s not the whole month, but sometimes it feels like it. Now that school is done (I homeschool) it’s time for me to come up with a good schedule for next year. I’ve decided I need “working hours” instead of just winging it whenever I can fit it in. A lot of times just winging it will keep me busy, but I don’t get very much accomplished. I’m hoping with dedicated working hours I’ll do less busy work and do more real work that will move some of my projects forward.

 

CURRENTLY …

 

Watching: Aran Crochet: Craftsy class (We’re not big TV people, so I don’t even know what’s on that’s good!)

Reading: Living Forward by Michael Hyatt & Daniel Harkavy (Excellent book! It walks you through creating a plan for your life/business/etc.)

Listening:  Kill The Lights

Making: A stunning, drop your jaw afghan….or at least I hope that’s how it looks when I’m done!

Feeling: Grateful for my marriage, my family, and my business.

Planning: A series of posts on how to design crochet patterns.

Loving: Living on the lake with this as my view.

 

HOW ABOUT YOU?

 

Either leave a comment or leave a link to your own “Currently” blog post! I would love to read your list.

 

Happy Crocheting!

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10 Reasons Not to be a Crochet Designer

Have you ever wanted to be a crochet designer? I recently took a survey and you (my readers) wanted some more info on the design process. I decided to have some blog posts focused on just that, but before I get into how to be a designer, I thought I would go over some reasons why you might not want to be.

 

10 reasons not to be a crochet designer - a list of practical reasons why you wouldn't want to be design your own crochet patterns..

 

10 Reasons
Not to be a Crochet Designer

 

 

  1. No desire – Not everyone has an interest and that’s a good thing!
  2. You don’t like math – Sometimes there’s a lot of math involved because of sizing.
  3. Time – It takes a lot of time to make something pattern worthy.
  4. Customer service – If you write a pattern you should be available if anyone has questions or needs help. It’s not required, but this is my personal soap box. I can’t tell you how many emails I get because someone needs help and the designer of the pattern they bought won’t get back to them.
  5. Too many other designs out there you want to make – There are tons of great designs already out there! Some people just want to sit and crochet as a way to relax. They have no desire to make more work for themselves.
  6. Lack of patience – You will need lots of it!
  7. Not enough experience – There is so much to learn about crochet. Take your time and get good at crocheting. Practice! There will come a time when you’re ready to design something.
  8. You don’t feel like you’re creative enough – If you don’t have any ideas, don’t try to force a pattern to come to life.
  9. Fear – You’re afraid no one will like/buy your patterns. I had to overcome this. Some of my greatest patterns were ones that sat here unfinished because I hesitated and wondered if anyone would really like them.
  10. Passion – If a passion for design is missing you will come to resent it and not finish what you start. You need that passion.

 

Being a designer is more than just publishing a pattern. You have to design it and make it (and keep frogging util you get it just right). Then you write the pattern, have it tested, make corrections, have it edited, etc. It can be a very long process at times. I can’t tell you how many times I have to frog a project because it’s not perfect. And when you’re writing a pattern, it needs to be perfect.

If you think you’re ready to design something, take the next step and read these 2 articles I wrote:
The Truth about Pattern Design
3 Simple Steps to Writing Your Own Pattern

 

***Word of caution*** If it’s not your passion, don’t do it. You will just end up burned out and not loving what you’re doing. Stick with what fuels you and makes you excited to crochet. There are so many great designers out there. We need to support each other. Plus, we don’t need a million designers!

 

Happy Crocheting!

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Progress Not Perfection – May 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! Not all links are affiliates.

 

Progress, Not Perfection - Tips for moving forward in life and business

 

Progress not perfection. We usually hear that phrase about fitness and healthy living. But it’s so much more. It’s about life! Most of us have an endless list of things we want to change about ourselves. I struggle with organization (most creatives do). I’ve been working on it for a couple years….and still working. But because we live in this “fast food” society we expect everything instantaneously….and then get frustrated that we can’t just be someone else tomorrow!

Can you relate? Are there things about yourself you want to change but can’t seem to break out of your old routines? Do you have goals that you’re aiming for but somehow can’t seem to reach? Some changes seem easy, while others seem to be too difficult to change or overcome. There’s something that most of us seem to forget at times.

It’s about progress, not perfection.

 

 

Progress not perfection. We usually hear that phrase about fitness and healthy living. But it's so much more. It's about life! Most of us have an endless list of things we want to change about ourselves. I struggle with organization (most creatives do). I've been working on it for a couple years....and still working. But we live in this "fast food" society where we expect everything instantaneously....and then get frustrated that we can't just be someone else tomorrow! Can you relate? Are there things about yourself you want to change but can't seem to break out of your old routines? Do you have goals that you're aiming for but somehow can't seem to reach? Some changes seem easy, while others seem to be too difficult to change or overcome. There's something that most of us seem to forget at times. It's about progress, not perfection.

 

What does it take to see changes? How long before you feel like you’re making progress? The answers will vary for everyone, but there are certain things we can do to get us closer to that point of being happy with our lives, even when everything isn’t perfect or going as planned. Here are 4 things you can do daily that will help you reach your goals.

Personal Development – Take time every day to read non-fiction. Personal development / self-help, books are a key factor in changing your life. Why? Because it is a constant, in your face reminder, of who you want to be and what you’re striving for.

Not long ago I had a conversation with my mother. She said something to the effect of, “You put positive quotes and messages up on FB all the time but sometimes you still get an attitude.” Yes, I do. I’m not perfect, but those daily reminders remind me of what I am aiming for and who I want to be.

Workout – I know some of you cringe at that word, but hear me out! Crocheters as a whole sit still….A LOT! And it’s not healthy. I’m not saying you need to get a gym membership, or even do a 60 minute workout every day. But if you don’t get up and get moving regularly you’re going to create a whole new set of health problems. Just getting out and going for a 30 minute walk will have a huge impact on your body and your mind.

If you don’t know, I have a fitness page called The Fit Crocheter. I’ve gone from overweight and unhealthy (people asking me when I was due – even though I wasn’t pregnant) to regularly working out, being active with my kids, and still having time to crochet and work, etc. I still have a ways to go, but remember….. it’s progress, not perfection.

To-Do List – I’m a firm believer in making a goals list. But once it’s made, how do you make sure you reach those goals? Write a daily to do list. Most guru’s will recommend not more than 5 things on your list, otherwise it can become discouraging because of time constraints, etc. and you’ll actually be setting yourself up for failure. Most days I try to stick with 3 personal and 3 business. (The mathematical side of my brain needs things to be even, so for me 6 works better than 5.) Sometimes I will put 5 personal things and 5 business things on my list, but that’s a big list and it’s rare I’ll accomplish everything.

Also make some long term goals (3 years). Then decide what you want to accomplish in the next 3 weeks. Finally make your to-do list for the next 3 weeks. I got this method from the Your Best Year planner by Lisa Jacobs and it’s packed with so much useful info!

Laugh – I’m a firm believer that laughter is the best medicine. Sometimes all we can see is the struggle in front of us and we forget that there is always, always something to be thankful for. I went through a rough couple months last year and once I was in that negative thought cycle it was so hard to break free from it! I decided I needed to go back to being grateful and enjoying my life instead of focusing on the bad. While this has nothing to do with keeping your business goals on track, it has everything to do with how you view life. And the more positive your thoughts, the more likely you are to succeed.

Commit to evaluating your progress each month for an entire year. Accountability and commitment are great motivators. Find someone who will check in with you to make sure you’re staying on track with your goals. Be committed to finding what is working and what isn’t. You can’t change if you don’t evaluate what you can do differently. It’s ok to not be exactly where you want right away. Baby steps are still steps in the right direction. If you stumble and fall, or get off track, just hop back on and keep moving forward.

 

Goal Setting

Here are my results for May and new goals for June. Just look at how many things I “failed” at. Just going to pick myself up and try again. Progress, not perfection!

 

MAY GOALS:

  1. Finish creating editorial calendar for 2016.
    This seems to be a WIP for me and I struggle to get more than a month ahead.
  2. Create new file/doc for customers (It’s still a secret).
  3. Create 2 new patterns to publish.
    YES!!!  Tea Time Baby Sweater Set & Jacob’s Prayer Blanket
  4. Finish and publish 2 unfinished patterns.
    Working on them, but haven’t finished.
  5. Publish 10 blog posts.
    Nope. Only 5 posts…..fail.
  6. Spend 10-15 min/3x day on social media growth.
    Growth Goals:
    Blog Newsletter – 1,214 to 1,300 – 1,215
    Facebook – 6,637 – 6,800 – 6,831
    Pinterest – 4,499 to 6k – 5,339
    Twitter – 597 – 700 – 620
    Instagram – 151 – 200 – 195The only one of these I hit was FB, but I’m ok with that. My focus wasn’t totally on growth but it was on consistency and I did ok with posting regularly.
  7. Get back on track with my goals that I made using my Your Best Year 2016 planner.
  8. Track income and expenses.

What worked & what didn’t work – I’m not sure if anything “worked” for me in May. I feel like the month flew by and I had no real focus to keep me on track with my goals. I’m going to be changing things up a bit for June to see if that will help me stick to my goals better. I need to keep my long term goals front and center.

 

JUNE

When I read The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod I had this revelation that maybe I’ve been doing my mornings wrong. I still haven’t tweaked them enough to make them perfect but since I’ve implemented his strategy I get much more accomplished during the day. Now I just need to clear the path I’m on to make sure I stay on it. ‘

I decided that, for me, it made more sense to have daily goals on top of my monthly goals. There are things I want to do daily and if I don’t have them on a list they get forgotten about, pushed to “later” (which usually never comes) etc. I’m a mother of 6, I homeschool my 5 daughters, spend 5 days a week at the dance studio, and run my own business. And then I wonder why I can’t remember my goals half the time. HA!

 

DAILY GOALS:

  1. Personal/Business Development – I’m a huge believer in self-improvement. I try to read 10-15 min of a “self-help” book every day. For the second half of the year my focus will be on my word of the year – confidence – as well as business growth and finances.
  2. Review my monthly goal list daily – Review my monthly goal list every single day to make sure I’m staying on track. Hopefully the constant reminder will help me stay focused and prevent the last week of the month scramble to get stuff done and crossed off.
  3. Track my business income daily – This was an idea from my business mentor, Lisa Jacobs from Marketing Creativity. I didn’t see what good it would do, but since I started last week my income seems to have doubled. I’m going to continue to use my Your Best Year planner to write this down every day for June and see how it goes.
  4. Track my personal expenses daily – I hate finances, which is ironic considering I was an accounting major in college. Some of my “fear” comes from the “not enough” mentality both growing up and as a single mom in my early 20’s. I’m ready to face this head on hoping that by tracking things daily it will help me overcome and get our long-term goals on track.
  5. Workout – It’s good for you mentally, as well as physically. (“Daily” has some grace built into it – 4-5 days a week is ideal for me.) One of my goals this year is to get crocheters to see the importance of getting/staying healthy – especially because we sit all day! I have been using beachbody workouts for the past year and love the variety they offer.

 

MONTHLY GOALS:

  1. Track income and expenses.
  2. Finish creating editorial calendar for 2016.
  3. Create new file/doc for customers (It’s still a secret).
  4. Create 2 new patterns to publish.
  5. Finish and publish 2 unfinished patterns.
  6. Publish 10 blog posts.
  7. Spend 10-15 min/3x day on social media growth.
    Growth Goals:
    Blog Newsletter – 1,215 to 1,300
    Facebook – 6,831 – 7K
    Pinterest – 5,339 to 7k
    Twitter – 620 – 700
    Instagram – 195 – 300
  8. Get back on track with my goals that I made using my Your Best Year 2016 planner.
  9. Create new chore chart for my kids.
  10. Finish unpacking.

My #1 priority for June is tracking expenses and income – both personal and business.

Are you making progress with your goals this year? June is the perfect time to reinvigorate those this you wanted to focus on this year. It’s never too late, so don’t give up! Every morning is a great day to start new.

 

Happy Crocheting!

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Exploring Color Changes in Yarn

*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! Not all links are affiliates.

 

Color….it’s what makes our yarns pretty. But do you ever find yourself confused with the terminology that is used when color changes are referenced? There are terms like ombre and variegated that have been around forever. (While they are two very different things some people still use the two interchangeably.) Then there are newer terms popping up like chromatic.

While none of these terms will likely stop you from using or buying a new crochet pattern (or yarn), having them compared may bring some clarity and make it easier to know when and where to use them.

 

Exploring the terminology used when yarn changes colors.

Exploring Color Changes

 

I decided to break down only terms that reference color changes. It’s funny (ironic funny), the thing that almost all of these have in common is that when you look them up, the color definition isn’t the first thing they refer to. But for the sake of this post, I’m only going to go over the definitions where they reference color changes in our yarns.

Colorway – I started with this specifically, because in essence it means “any of a range of combinations of colors in which a style or design is available.” Basically, you’ll see something to the effect of “available in these colorways.” It’s just letting you know the color(s) that a specific yarn is available in.

Two common terms that I hear confused often are ombre vs variegated. These are not interchangeable and mean 2 totally different things.

Ombre means having tones of color that shade into each other, graduating from light to dark. Terms like gradient and shaded will also be used. Example: black, to grey, to white.

Variegated means varied in appearance by adding different colors. Yarn will have streaks, spots, stripes, or patches of different colors. In essence, yarn that changes colors completely. Example: Yarn that changes from pink, to teal, to white.

 

Ombre vs Variegated - Red Heart With Love Yarns

Ombre vs Variegated – Red Heart With Love Yarns

 

Gradient – is used when there is a temperature (color) change. It usually refers to yarn with subtle changes – like the 5 different shades of grey I used with my Gray Skies Gradient Shawl.

 

Gray Skies Gradient Shawl - $4.50 crochet pattern by Ambassador Crochet

Gray Skies Gradient Shawl

 

Graduated – The term graduated – in terms of color – is similar to gradient. They both gradually change. But the more research I did, the more I realized that graduated can change the scale more drastically. So basically through enough change it could change white to red (using pink) etc. So while they may be able to be used interchangeably in some instances, graduated refers to a larger scale of change.

Chromatic – I’ve seen this reference floating around recently and decided to see exactly what it refers to. Here’s the thing…. it just relates to color in general.

Dictionary.com – pertaining to color or colors.
Merriam-Webster: a. of or relating to color or color phenomena or sensations; b. highly colored
The Free Dictionary – a. relating to colors or color; b. relating to color perceived to have a saturation greater than zero.

I finally looked up “chroma.” The definition is: a quality of color combining hue and saturation. My take….I think this term is/can be used for any yarn with bright, variegated, color changes or striping.

 

Are there other terms that have you confused or wondering what they’re referring to?

 

Happy Crocheting!

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What to do When a Prayer Shawl Doesn’t Fit

The original prayer shawl ministry began in 1998 and has spread so much in the last 18 years. If you’ve never heard of it, to quick, overall concept is, you make a shawl and pray for the recipient before and while you’re making it, in hopes that once the shawl is received it will bring both the recipient and the maker some comfort. (My definition of their purpose was adapted from the shawl ministry website.) I think the part that states “bring the maker some comfort” comes from the fact that crocheters (and knitters) are not only generous, but we want to help others and do more, and that’s what we know how to do. So we make…

 

A prayer shawl is a great way to pray for others and give them something to help comfort them. But what happens when a prayer shawl doesn't fit?

 

What to do When a Prayer Shawl
Doesn’t Fit

 

While I love the prayer shawl ministry – I have made and given some away – I recently came to the realization that sometimes a prayer shawl doesn’t fit. But I don’t mean that in the literal sense of the “fit” meaning.

I recently wrote the post Crochet from the Heart and talked about a little boy from our church who has brain cancer….and the doctors prognosis wasn’t good. But we are praying God has a bigger plan for Jacob’s life, so our church prays….and prays. I wanted to do more, and thought about the prayer shawl ministry. But a prayer shawl just isn’t a good fit for a little 5 year old boy. Then I wondered, “Why does it have to be a shawl?” So I made up my own rules. I decided to make Jacob a prayer blanket.

If you’ve been around for any length of time you know I don’t make anything with a trademark, although I have been known to Break My Own Rules on occasion. This is one of those occasions. While Jacob lay in the hospital clinging to life, I needed to do something because, as a parent, my heart was broken. I can’t imagine having to walk through that trial. So I decided to make something and focus on what he loves best….hockey.

His favorite team is the Montreal Canadiens, so I set out to work. I made a prayer blanket, but I made it to look like the jersey (same color stripes) and then created the logo. I have had requests for the blanket pattern, so it is available for purchase, but the logo is NOT part of the pattern.

 

Jacob's Prayer Blanket crochet pattern - $3.50 crochet pattern by Ambassador Crochet ***Logo is NOT part of the pattern!***

 

The prayer blanket is the perfect lap throw size, or toddler size if you choose to use it for a child. There are instructions on how to easily adjust the size if you choose to.

 

Jacob's Prayer Blanket crochet pattern - $3.50 crochet pattern by Ambassador Crochet

 

For more information on where to donate crochet items, please see my post – Crochet from the Heart.

 

Happy Crocheting!

 

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