Have You Ever Done a Make-Along?


Depending on what you choose to do as your creative outlet, a make-along could be a crochet-along (CAL), knit-along (KAL) or something else.
This year, I participated in my first ever crochet-alongs. One was in March for the Crochet Guild of American (CGOA) in honor of March being National Crochet Month. The second was with Toni Lipsey of TL Yarn Crafts and Furls Crochet on her desig, the Bronwyn Shawl.

I made a cowl and a short scarf for the CGOA CAL. I’m almost finished with the Bronwyn shawl. Both designs turned out absolutely beautiful. I have to admit, though, the Bronwyn shawl kind of tested my patience, especially at the beginning when I kept getting a trapezoidal shape to what is supposed to be a triangular shawl. But after starting over five or six times, I LOVE it!

The question that serves as the title for the post is a real one. Have you ever participated in any kind of make-along? What was your experience like? Tell us in the comments.

March is National Crochet Month

I recently joined the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA). Why?

There are several reasons. One is that I’ve wanted to for a while, but I assumed the dues would be out of my price range. I found out that isn’t so. It’s $35USD a year for individuals.

A second has to do with plans I have for the near future. I want to teach some classes at a local store and I thought it would look better for me to be a CGOA member. (I also discovered they have a certified instructor program that would be good to do too.)

Third is I’m really interested in some of the events coming up. For example, they have a conference in July. I don’t know yet if I’ll be able to go or not, but it’s good to know. The website is also why/how I discovered March is National Crochet Month.

With all this, if you’re a crocheter, you might be interested in membership benefits. From the welcome email:

CGOA membership offers great inspiration and connection with other crochet enthusiasts as well as the following member benefits:

  • Annual free subscription to Crochet! Magazine
  • CGOA Member newsletter “Chain Link”
  • Bi-monthly eNewsletter
  • FREE Patterns
  • Quarterly Crochet-A-Longs
  • CGOA BLOG
  • Educational Opportunities:

– Discount on Craft Yarn Councils’ Certified Instructor Program

– Discount on Master of Advanced Stitches and Techniques programs

  • Access to a teacher contact list for CGOA chapter workshops
  • Networking

– Join or start a CGOA chapter to connect locally – there’s even a cyber chapter

– Volunteer for one of the many committee opportunities

  • CGOA Annual Conference benefits:

– Class discounts

– Free entry into the Marketplace

– Meet top teachers in the field of crochet

– Members free or reduced rates on ticketed events

– Members-only Design Competition

– Attend Professional Development courses

There are some other benefits, but instead of showing everything here, click the link above to go to the website.

My Favorite Crochet Hooks

It’s no secret I crochet. A lot. This summer, I actually crocheted myself into tendonitis, but that’s not the point of this post.

I want to talk a little bit about my favorite crochet hooks.

My go-to hook is a size J/10 6.0 mm hook. In the picture here, you can see the wear on my absolute favorite hook in the middle. It’s a blue-green with the underlying silver showing through.

Who thought you could wear the color off of a metal crochet hook? I didn’t. Now I know.

My second favorite hook is not pictured. It’s also a size J. The handle is gray with purple flowers and the hook itself is purple.

I have a third favorite hook. It’s also not picture because there’s a project on it. It’s a size L/11 8.0 mm Tunisian crochet hook. I’m making a shawl designed by Toni Lipsey of TL Yarn Crafts. I love the pattern. I love the hook. I’ll share pictures of the finished project if you’re interested.

There you have it. A few if my favorite crochet hooks and why.

What is your favorite tool you use in your creating/making?

January Wrap-Up

Is it just me or was January both the longest and the shortest month ever? I didn’t quite meet all of my goals for the month, but I did pretty good.

My theme for the month was “content.” As in, creating content. To help with this, I participated in the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I ended up not completing the challenge, for a variety of reasons. However, I did get more posts up than I usually do in January. That’s a win itself.

Other things I did for January is

  • 5 Days to Increased Creativity challenge
  • 5 Days to Planner Peace challenge
  • Signed up for and started a Tunisian crochet class with Toni Lipsey of TL Yarn Crafts.
  • Finished two crocheted shawls.
  • Planned out the next JEN Enterprises Presents title (hybrid planning).

January was a challenging month, but it was ultimately a good one. I’ll have another wrap-up at the end of this month too.

Begin at the Bell

The following is an excerpt from 80 Creativity Tips.

A friend of mine said this before writing exercise we did at the kick-off party flash meeting with a lot for the local National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) group.

“Begin at the bell” is actually pretty good advice. When it comes to working on our creative projects, we almost always say we don’t have time.

Make time! Otherwise, it will never get done.

Get a timer. Set it for no less than 15 minutes, preferably 30. If you can, have a bell ring to signal the beginning. If not, start the very second your hand comes off the timer.

Whatever it is you do, then do it. Right. Draw. Paint. Cook. Dance.

Create!

When the timer goes off, you can stop, but not before. Give yourself at least that 15 minutes. If you are going good when the time is up, turn the timer off–or reset it–and keep going.

At the end of your time, step back. Look at what you have done and pat yourself on the back.

This is important: Do not evaluate or critique what you have done. Now is the time for creating, not for editing or judging. There will be time for that later.

Here are some tips for you on your work with a timer:

  • Don’t look at the timer. Turn it away from you. If it’s on your phone, turn the display off or turn your phone over.
  • Don’t stop and wonder how much time you have left, no matter how much you want to know.
  • Time isn’t important except as a way to get started. Unless there is a hurricane or a fire, the amount of time that’s passed isn’t important.
  • If you’re writing or drawing, keep your hand moving. Pause as seldom as possible to work out a hand cramp if you need to. (As a side note, if you’re getting cramps like that, it means you’re holding your pen/pencil/paintbrush/knitting needles/crochet hook too tight and need to loosen your grip.)
  • Focus on what you’re doing. This music or TV on in the background? Tune it out. There are people who said they have to work in complete silence. Those people really get any work done. Distractions are a fact of life, even if it’s just your cat jumping up on the desk. Learn to deal with it.

Remember you’re creative in your life, not separate from it.

Selecting Yarn for a Pattern

I have a lot of patterns. I have a lot of yarn. I don’t necessarily buy yarn for every pattern I have that I want to make. That would be a bit much, even for me. So what do I do?

First, I go through the yarn I already have (and can access because some of it is in storage in the garage). Honestly, I usually find something to use in that. If I don’t, then I go yarn shopping.

It’s such a hardship.

I couldn’t even type that with a straight face.

But seriously, what do you do if you have a pattern you want but you don’t have the yarn that goes with it? Read the pattern and find the recommended yarn. Then check the labels on the yarn you have. Is any of it comparable?

Check the fiber. If it’s a wool blend, do you have a similar yarn? What weight does the pattern call for? If it’s chunky and you only have worsted, can you hold two strands together and make it work?

I do this often enough that I honestly don’t really think about it. I’ve even substituted different weights of yarn. I have one pattern that calls for DK or sport yarn. I don’t have any. Instead, I’m using worsted weight yarn (probably what you think of when you think of yarn) and went up to a larger crochet hook to accommodate it.

The only advice I have for selecting yarn for a pattern or for substituting yarn is this: If you like it, use it. You might need to experiment to get the right hook or needle for the look you want, but it will (usually) work out.

Why usually?

It doesn’t work so well if you’re making garments. Then you do want to use as similar a yarn as possible to what the pattern calls for.

 

 

Other Creative Work

I talk about writing often enough here that you might wonder if I do any other creative work. I do.

I knit, crochet, make jewelry, do handlettering, and make greeting cards. I primarily crochet, though.

I love shawls and scarves. I’ve recently made an infinity scarf and a cowl for Christmas gifts. I’m working on one that’s called a “Dragon Belly Shawl.” It’s gorgeous! After it’s done, I’m going to make a pair of dragon-scale fingerless gloves/mitts.

I do offer things for sale, but most of what I make is gifted to different people for different reasons.

Recently, I’ve had to slow down. I’ve developed tendonitis and it’s taking forever to get well, even with a brace and exercises. (Yes, I even type with the brace on.)