Heroes Who Help

I’ll be honest. I’ve struggled with what to put on this blog in the face of current events. I thought about skipping this week. Then, a couple things happened that helped change my mind.

Joann’s is the main one I want to focus on. They are one business among many coming from a place of “how can we help?”

If you don’t know (quite possibly because of being in another country), there is a shortage of non-surgical masks and gowns for medical personnel. Joann’s is just one place that is stepping up to help with that.

On their website, they have an explanation of what they’re doing and how you can help.

I can’t sew except to sew a button on to replace one that has come off. However, I know that many others can.

I suggest that you get together with your nearest Joann’s and help them meet their goal of 100,000,000 masks.

As I am writing this, they have currently donated 18,188,850 masks. That’s a lot, but they have a long way to go. Let’s do what we can to help them meet their goal.

Plans Change

I recently published a post about some in-person events coming up that I would be attending. With current events being what they are, many things are being canceled.

The events I mentioned in that post are among them.

Well, the craft show is for certain. The writers’ conference is currently up in the air. However, I will go out on a limb and say that I’ll be surprised if it’s not canceled too.

Meanwhile, if you want to purchase any of my books or any of my custom-made accessories, send me an email and we’ll talk.

Meet Sally

White dress form I named “Sally”

One of the things I have had problems with is taking good pictures of my finished items for Etsy. I tried various methods.

I tried using furniture to drape items. I tried doing what they call flat lays where you lay the object to be photographed on a flat surface and style around it. I tried to get people I know to model for me.

Nothing really worked.

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Yes, sometimes I would get a good picture. But not consistently.

More than once I wondered if my eyesight had something to do with the problems I was having. While that is possible, I knew there was a solution. Somewhere.

Through it all, I wanted a dress form. It would solve so many problems.

I wouldn’t have to coordinate schedules with a reluctant model. My things wouldn’t look flat and dull. I could show how shawls and such would drape.

But dress forms were expensive. At least, the ones I looked at were. And are.

I wanted a dress form with a realistic size. Let’s face it: I’m not little. And I wanted a dress form that wasn’t little either.

Plus-size dress forms cost over $100. That’s not in my budget. I wanted to find one at least half that.

I finally did, once I gave up the idea of having a plus-sized dress form.

I found several affordable dress forms on Amazon and made my decision.

Meet Sally

Why did I name her Sally?

There’s a tongue twister that goes, “Sally sells sea shells on the sea shore.” Well…

This Sally sells scarves, shawls, and so much more.

Start looking for her in my Etsy shop.

Upcoming Events (1 Crochet, 1 Writing)

Things have been a bit busy on the home front. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you swing and hit it out of the park. Other times, you miss. The past two weeks have felt like a miss.

But that’s not the point. I’m excited to tell you about a couple things I have going on.

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Crafter’s Marketplace

First up, Crafter’s Marketplace is on April 11, 2020. I’ve done this show in the past, but it was a few years ago.

I’ve been thinking about doing more craft shows and since this one is local to me, I thought it would be good to start there.

On that note, mark your calendar. It’s April 11 from 9:00 to about 4:00 at the Pontotoc County Agriplex (aka the fairgrounds).

OWFI Writers Conference

The OWFI writers’ conference takes place the first weekend in May every year. It kicks off Oklahoma Writers Week. This year, the conference is April 30-May 2 at Embassy Suites on Meridian Avenue in Oklahoma City.

I will not be speaking at the conference. I am going as an attendee. However, if you’re in the area and would like to meet, send me a message and I’ll see what arrangements can be made.

There will be more events as the year goes on, but I’m not going to get too far ahead of myself here. I’ll let you know what else is going on as times get closer.

3 Upcominng Changes

Microphone on a blue background

Back at the first of the year, I mentioned that there will be some changes coming to this blog. Now I’m going to tell you what they are.

Well… To be honest, only one of them is directly related to the blog. The other two things are upcoming events. If “event” is the correct word.
I’ll stop rambling. Here’s what’s coming up.

1. The Blog

First, this blog will be moving. It isn’t anything you will notice, but I wanted to let you know just in case things seem to be in disarray for some reason. When I started this site, I signed up on WordPress.com.
At the time, I didn’t realize that option would limit me in what I can do.

I’m going to stay with WordPress, but I’m going to move to the .org side. That will allow me to have it on a different server and will allow me to offer some additional features that I can’t do right now without upgrading to a more expensive plan.

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2. A Course

Yes, you read that right. I will be offering a crochet course soon. My goal is to launch around the first of March. I have my videos outlined. I do not have them fully scripted because I don’t want to sound like I’m reading.
Why a course? Several reasons.
One, several people have mentioned they would like to learn crochet from me. Some of these people live in my town, so we could arrange to do things in person. Others live in other towns or other states, so in-person classes can’t be as easily arranged.
Two, the first time I learned how to crochet was in college. Then I didn’t do anything with it for a long time. I forgot how to do it. Then I decided to figure out how to do it from books and from videos. Now, because of my eyesight, that didn’t work out well. Soon after that, I found out about a class being offered locally. I signed up and learned that way. After I had the basics down again, I could watch videos and read books/magazines and learn that way.
However — and this is reason number three — sometimes those videos weren’t as clear as they could be. I know that sounds odd, but bear with me.
As someone who is visually impaired and has no depth perception, some of the videos looked too … flat. I couldn’t tell exactly what I needed to do, especially for some of the more intricate stitch combinations. (To this day, I can’t do a Solomon’s Knot.) The course I do will have extra verbal instructions for those who are legally blind or otherwise visually impaired and learning to crochet.
That’s one reason why I’m planning to launch in March. The videos are taking a little longer to do than I planned for. But I want to do this right.

3. A Podcast

I had a podcast before, but it was more general. It was about creativity in general. That was kind of too broad and I experienced what is called “pod fade.” Pod fade is where a new podcast fades to nothing after a few episodes.
This new podcast will be called “This Loopy Life.” It will be about all things crochet — patterns, yarns, fibers, craft shows, and so on. This includes the business side of things sometimes, including product photography.
When is it going to launch? Well… I was thinking March, but I want to get the above-mentioned course out first. So I’m thinking April. I’ll let you know for sure when the time gets closer.
That pretty much sums it up. None of the changes or upcoming events are earth-shattering, but they are some kind of big things for me. I hope you will think so too and follow along to see how it all goes.
What are some changes you would like to see? I’m open to suggestions.

3 Pattern Accommodations for Visually Impaired Crocheters

 

Sometimes the most difficult part about crocheting is reading the patterns. It’s not because of the abbreviations. After more than 10 years, I pretty much have those down. Many times, it’s because of the print size. Many magazines simply don’t have print large enough to make reading their patterns feasible. 

With some magazines, I’m fortunate enough to find the patterns I want online. That doesn’t happen very often, though.

 

So what am I — and other visually impaired crocheters — to do? Here are three ways I adjust to patterns, or adjust patterns to me.

1. Use a magnifier.

This seems decelptively simple. What an easy solution, right? Well… Yes and no.

For short patterns, a magnifying glass or a page magnifier will work. It will allow me to see the pattern and know what comes next.

2. Use a tablet.

This is what I usually do. I download the pattern PDF (or open the website on my tablet) and enlarge the print to the size I need. I prefer this for more involved patterns, like many shawls and some amigurumi. I use my Kindle Fire for reading 99% of the patterns I use.

3. Have someone read it to you.

I actually have not done this, but it is an option if you have someone willing to do it. The thing is, those people are pretty rare. Another option under this is to record the pattern and listen to the directions as you need them. (This also leads me to a question, but more about that in a minute.) 

What else do you suggest? I know there are options that I have left out. I thought about including Braille as an option but I don’t know if there are patterns available in Braille. I woud assume so, but I’ve never used it. In fact, I don’t know very much Braille beyond the basic alphabet (and sometimes I struggle with that because I don’t use it regularly).

Now for the question.

As a visually impaired crocheter (or even a sighted crocheter, if you wear glasses for reading and such), how do you prefer your patterns? I have a few available on Ravelry and even one on this blog (there will be more). Do you prefer large print? Would you be interested in auditory versions of patterns?

Designers are working on being more size-inclusive, which is wonderful. I want to promote being accessible to visually impaired crocheters, too. If there are any of my patterns that you would like to see in a larger print or an audio file, let me know and I will work on getting that to you.

3 Ways Visually Impaired Crocheters Hold Their Hooks

I have been crocheting for ten years or so. (This time.) I never really thought about how I hold my hook or why until I decided I needed/wanted to share some low vision tips for crochet on this blog. I mean, I knew I hold my hook with a pencil grip, but I never thought about why other than it’s more comfortable.

I’ve tried to change my grip over the years, but I always go back to the pencil grip. There are other ways to hold your hook and I talk about two of them and share a video for a third.

Pencil Grip

I’ve mentioned this a couple times now. With a pencil grip, you hold your crochet hook like a pencil. I use a similar grip with a fork and chopsticks, if that helps you imagine it any better. For me, I can hold the work as close as I need to in order to see what I’m doing. However, depending on the hook, sometimes my fingers tingle/go to sleep. I’ve been told that this grip can aggravate tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.  I crochet a lot by feel. I move the fingers of my left hand along with my chains and stitches as I form them. This way I can feel a mistake before i see it. But that’s more a topic for another post than for this one. 

Knife Grip

This is an overhand grip, like using a knife to cut your food. I have tried to use this grip several times, but it doesn’t work well for me. My tension isn’t good and I can’t get it close enough to see well unless I have my elbows out like chicken wings. I know with practice, my tension would improve. I can’t figure out a way around the elbows being out, though. If you use this grip and have low vision, would you give me some tips on how to make it work?

Body Brace

This isn’t a grip, per se, but more a method. In it, you brace your hook against your body, wrap the yarn, and then lift the loops up and over the yarn and the hook. This video shows it better than I can describe it.

https://youtu.be/Z_VkPUK-12M

What grip, or method, do you use? Or do you do something entirely different? I’d like to know so I can figure out how else to make adjustments and accommodations as they’re needed.

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