The Halstead Shawl…Like a warm hug

This is a good choice for beginners who have mastered the basic stitches and now want to expand their skills by trying their hand at making a shawl. The entire shawl is made with simple double crochet stitches, and the pattern is very easy to follow. 

Get the free pattern at the Berroco website
You can find the pattern at the Berroco yarn website (along with lots of other free crochet and knit patterns). Here’s the link: https://www.berroco.com/patterns/halstead

To make the shawl pictured, I used:
– 2 balls Red Heart super saver Stripes (5 oz/141 g/236 yds/215 m) Colour: Sutherland Stripe
– 1 ball denim blue yarn for edging (I just matched a blue yarn I already had on my shelves to the shade of blue that was in the Stripes yarn—feel free to use any colour of preference that will match one of the colours in the striping)
– 6 mm hook 

With the Red Heart yarn, my shawl is more of a chunky look, and I’ll use it as a warm shawl/scarf under my coat. I would definitely like to try the same pattern again with a fine, lace-weight yarn that would give it more of a slinky/drapey appearance—more of a dressy result. The type of yarn that you use makes a big difference to the look you’re trying to achieve.

Refashioned Blue Jeans… My salute to late 60s/early 70s Hippie Fashion

I believe in trying to recycle rather than just trashing—especially when it comes to a lovingly worn and torn pair of blue jeans. After spending some time thinking about what to do with them, I came up with the idea to fashion them into a tribute to the late 60s/early 70s—transforming them into a replica of hippie style from back in the day.

As a child of the 60s and 70s, what better way to memorialize a simpler time—a time when we didn’t need social media to communicate with each other, when TV shows and movies were truly entertaining, when some of the hands-down best music in history was produced.

If you grew up during the 60s/70s, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Here’s a step-by-step pictorial of how I transformed an old pair of denims.

I saw this picture in a fabric applique book and thought it would be perfect for covering up the big hole just above the knee. From there, a leafy vine growing up toward the pocket would cover up a couple more tears.

I drew a rough sketch of what I wanted to achieve, then I chose the colours of fabric that I wanted to use. I also turned the pants to the wrong side, used some iron-on patching fabric to strengthen where I would be appliqueing over the holes, then turned them back out to the right side.

Using the templates in the book, I cut out the flower parts and leaves, and pinned them into position, starting with the flower that would cover up the largest hole on the right leg. 

Then I began placement on the left leg. I used lace edging to make the vine. I also found a piece of fabric I had with a similar colour of floral print on it, so I cut those flowers out and incorporated them. When I work on a project, I might start out following a set pattern, but I rarely stick with it—I like to shake things up as the project moves along, so I can never really predict how something will turn out. I guess that’s my way of challenging myself. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it absolutely tanks. It’s all a learning experience.

I used one of the flower cutouts from the printed fabric to decorate a front pocket.

Once each piece was pinned down, I used white thread to temporarily baste everything into place.

Then I used thread that matched the flowers and leaves to hand sew each piece down permanently, using a blanket stitch. Talk about time-intensive! It wasn’t long before I got fed up with the hand sewing (I am a VERY impatient person), so I pulled apart the leg seam along the inside of each leg, and used the zigzag stitch on my sewing machine to sew the flowers and leaves down. A much quicker choice.

Once the main parts were secure, I began to embellish using hand-stitching, starting with the left leg. I used copper metallic thread (in an embroidery chain stitch) to embellish certain flowers and leaves. The flower on the pocket was one. It’s hard to really see it in the picture, but it adds a pretty glitter around each petal.

I also used some old broken jewelry as embellishments. I used one brooch as a flower center, hand-stitching it on securely. (I knew I’d kept that in my junk cupboard for a reason!)

I used another old brooch as a leaf on the vine, again, hand-stitching it onto the jeans securely. That brooch once belonged to somebody who was special to me, so I was glad I could incorporate it into the design.

Of course, I can’t have a vine without a ladybug!

Or a beautiful butterfly.

Next, I began on the right leg, using metallic thread to stitch around the berries. I added a sparkly button too—because, why not?

Another broken brooch used as a flower center (instead of landfill).

Once I’d finished both legs, I decided that the back pocket couldn’t remain bare. So I stitched on a ribbon rose, then decided to incorporate a saying in hand embroidery. First, I sketched out the saying on tissue paper, then I pinned the tissue paper into place on the pocket. (I wanted to transfer the saying onto the pocket using a transfer pen and an iron, but my transfer pen had run out of ink.) Instead, I just stitched over top of the paper, then picked the paper off afterward. More of a hassle, but works just as well. (Re the saying I chose: everything I make is perfectly imperfect… but, hey, it’s perfect enough for me!)

And it worked! Using a chain stitch and embroidery floss, I stitched over it a couple of times, and it turned out perfect enough for me.

Last, I went back to my sewing machine, turned the pants inside out, and re-stitched the inside seams together. Voila! Bring on the Pink Floyd… Deep Purple… Led Zeppelin… 

Merry Christmas to all!

It’s been a year of sheer insanity, but if I were to sit down right now with a pen and a piece of paper, I know I could still make quite a list of things to be thankful for.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone, and let’s hope that 2021 is filled with more sunny days than cloudy ones.

Here’s a quiz to test your tech intelligence (or lack thereof :))

Before you buy your loved one a tech gift, have them take this quiz so you’ll know whether or not you’re about to waste your hard-earned money.

ARE you a Technology: 
1. Crackerjack  2. Geek  3. Drama Queen or 4. Digi-Dunce?

Take this quiz and find out!

802.11a. A hard drive is:

  1. The road in to my cottage. Too many potholes. 
  2. OMG! My last golf game!
  3. Duhhhh—it’s the guts.
  4. A high-capacity, self-contained data storage device inside a sealed unit.

802.11b. Where do you use your computer most?

  1. I hammered four newel posts into my old laptop and now I have a handy little TV table to eat on while watching “Diff’rent Strokes” reruns. 
  2. Um…It was sitting on the stove and…OMG! I don’t know how it happenedbut somehow…I turned on the wrong burner by mistake! So, now only three burners on my stove are functional!
  3. While I chill inside the stainless-steel privacy pod I ordered from Amazon. 
  4. Anywhere I need it. It goes wherever I go. 

802.11c. Do you know what cache is?

  1. Naturally. It’s what I get out of the ATM. 
  2. I had a lot more of it before my laptop had a meltdown.
  3. Dumb question. It’s where I store all my internet porn.
  4. Basically, it’s storage. Cache stores recently used info where you can quickly access it.

802.11d. At the end of the day, do you shut it down or keep it running?

  1. With gas prices the way they are today, I shut it off. Most definitely. 
  2. Another time…by mistake…I left it running under my bedcovers (whoops!) while I was away for the weekend! The firefighters managed to salvage my garage…where I am now living.
  3. I’m on it 24/7. I can sleep and keyboard at the same time. 
  4. I shut it down and unplug to conserve energy. 

802.11e. Your laptop is really, really warm. You…

  1. Slip on my Speedo and go for a swim. 
  2. I make sure I haven’t turned on the wrong stove burner again!
  3. Where there’s no smoke, there’s no fire. Clearly, I keep on keeping on.
  4. Just run it on a cooling pad and you shouldn’t have that problem. 

802.11f. If you’re using Safe Mode, it means…

  1. Heh heh. Just take a look in my night-table drawer. 
  2. I’m picking up sushi tonight instead of going anywhere near my stove! 
  3. I don’t need Safe Mode. My computer is an extension of me. It is a superpower. 
  4. Your operating system is running in a diagnostic mode with minimal configuration and generic drivers, in order to attempt a correction of system errors.

802.11g. Where do you see the future of Artificial Intelligence?

  1. Back at Mar-a-Lago, where it belongs.
  2. You mean, like, aliensOMG! Have you seen one?!
  3. I could show NASA a thing or two. My entire house has been robotized since 2003.
  4. I believe that technology will continue evolving even faster to make our lives easier.

802.11i. Your keyboard is filled with snack crumbs. What do you do?

  1. I never eat while playing my piano. 
  2. Eat them! Especially if there’s chocolate in there! I LOVE chocolate!  
  3. Never happens. I designed and built a vacuum system into my keyboard.
  4. Use a can of compressed air to blow them out and it will be good as new.

802.11k. Your friend gets a new notebook that’s much cooler than yours. Reaction?

  1. So what? Maybe I prefer loose-leaf in a binder. Who really cares?
  2. Which friend? Is it Marcia? She owes me money! Can I put a lien on her notebook?
  3. Moot point. I have no friends. 
  4. I admire it…then I head over to my tech supplier and pick one up for myself.

ANSWERS:

MOSTLY A’s: You’re a Digi-Dunce
You live for reruns of “That 70s Show” and “All In The Family.” Contrary to what you believe—people are not always laughing with you—they’re often laughing at you. The only belonging that you can’t live without is your ratty La-z-boy chair with potato chip crumbs between the cushions and a pocket organizer filled with TV remotes hanging over one armrest. Your biggest-ever tech purchase was a pair of wired headphones that you use to listen to Neil Sedaka.
Helpful Tip: If you want to learn some basic tech instruction, try offering the second-grader next door a case of Mountain Dew and a family-size pack of Sour Patch Kids in return for his advice. If the kid gets frustrated and ditches you for the ice cream truck, just forget about it and go lose yourself in some more crossword puzzles.

MOSTLY B’s: You’re a Techno Drama Queen
You have watched every reality show ever produced (OMG! Jersey Shore! Big Brother! Laguna Beach! Naked and Afraid!!) People no longer bother emailing you blonde jokes because you just don’t get the punch line. You’re harmless as long as you don’t go within ten feet of a kitchen. You love your many friends as much as they love you, but you will never understand why their eyes cloud with puzzlement every time you tell a story…and then they roar with laughter because they think you’re joking—You’re not. 
Helpful Tip: Meal-delivery services were designed with you in mind, so please sign up for one. Then have someone help you to disconnect your stove and drag it to the curb for garbage pickup. Last, fill the empty space between your…cupboards with a desk unit—don’t even bother attempting to search for one online…you’ll have to visit a local furniture store where a nice salesperson will set you up in a wink. They’re trained to be nice to everybody—even people who watch reality TV.

MOSTLY C’s: You’re a Techno Geek
You own the original film reels for every Star Trek episode ever made; how they came to be in your possession is one of the great mysteries of the universe. You have dreams of arm-wrestling your idols: Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, but not one of them have responded to your relentless rounds of email requests. Your long-time live-in girlfriend was built using a Roomba and other electronic odds and ends.
Helpful Tip: It’s time to donate your authentic Spock ears and Vulcan uniform to a Disney park, and go buy yourself a nice golf shirt and jeans. It’s also imperative that you cease and desist using your military-grade drone to spy through the neighbors’ bedroom windows; peeping toms are totally uncool. Most important: dude—get out there and make yourself some human friends! 

MOSTLY D’s: You’re a Techno Crackerjack
You are technically savvy and you’re also really cool and everybody likes you a lot. Although you have the ability to hack into any computer system on earth, your great sense of integrity prevents you from invading anyone’s privacy—unless of course Homeland or Mossad were to offer you a contract for gazillions of dollars. Aside from that, you techno-rock!

Frosty the Crocheted Snowman

Always experimenting with my crochet hook, I decided to make myself a snowman. I didn’t follow a pattern—just winged it. I didn’t write down specifics, but I’ll describe the basics below.

First, using a 6 mm hook, white worsted weight yarn, and the single crochet stitch, I crocheted two “snowballs” for the body. Then I switched to a 5 mm hook to make a slightly smaller snowball for the head. 

To make a standard ball shape, you’re crocheting in rounds: chain 4 and slip stitch closed to make a ring; 8 sc in ring; increase the first 3 rounds; do a few rounds with just one sc in each sc; decrease the last few rounds, stuffing with fiberfill before completely closed, then fasten off and leave a tail for sewing the three balls together.

Next, I made a hat using black yarn and the 5 mm hook, again crocheting in the rounds: just a few rounds of sc for the top of the hat, and increases to make the brim. 

For the “carrot” nose, I used orange yarn and basically a few sc stitches over and over again to make a long shape, decreasing to a point near the end.

For the scarf, I made a rectangle shape with some red yarn, and added a bit of fringe at either end.

Last, I sewed the hat and carrot to the head, the scarf to the body, and used 2 black seed beads for the eyes and a snowflake button to decorate the scarf. Later, I decided to stick a couple of tiny tree branch arms on either side of the body.

If you’d like to make your own snowman and my instructions are too loose, you’ll find tons of different crocheted snowman patterns to try at this All Free Crochet link: https://www.allfreecrochet.com/Seasonal-Crochet/34-Snowman-Decorations-and-Crochet-Snowflakes

And while I’m on the topic of Frosty the Snowman, here are the lyrics in case you want to exercise your lungs!

Frosty the snowman was a jolly happy soul,
With a corncob pipe and a button nose
And two eyes made out of coal.

Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale, they say,
He was made of snow but the children know
How he came to life one day.

There must have been some magic in
That old top hat they found.
For when they placed it on his head
He began to dance around.

O, Frosty the snowman
Was alive as he could be,
And the children say he could laugh and play
Just the same as you and me.

Frosty the snowman was a jolly happy soul,
With a corncob pipe and a button nose
And two eyes made out of coal.

Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale, they say,
He was made of snow but he came to life one day.

There must have been some magic in
That Old top hat they found.
For when they placed it on his head
He began to dance around.

Frosty the snowman
Knew the sun was hot that day,
So he said, “Let’s run
And we’ll have some fun
Now before I melt away.”

Frosty the snowman
Had to hurry on his way,
But he waved goodbye saying,
“Don’t you cry,
I’ll be back again some day.”

Crocheted Unisex Pocket Scarf

This so-easy-to-make winter scarf not only looks great, it also features two pockets that you can use to carry around your phone and other odds and ends when you’re walking outdoors. It was quick to make—I finished it over a couple of nights while watching Netflix. It makes a great gift too!

Materials: Bernat CozyStyle yarn [16 oz/454 g/978 yds/894 m] / 6 mm hook / Scarf is 68” L x 6” W / Each pocket is 5” W x 6” D [Note: If you use this particular yarn, you’ll still have half the ball left over once the project is finished.]

Scarf: Ch 250

Row 1: sc in second ch from hook and in each across, turn.

Row 2: ch 1 [does not count as a stitch], sc in first sp, skip 2 sps, *(sc, ch 1, sc) in next sp, skip 2 sps, repeat from * across, end with sc in last sp, turn.

Row 3: ch 1, sc in same sp, *(sc, ch 1, sc) in next ch-1 sp, repeat from * across, end with sc in last sp, turn.

Row 4-Row 17: repeat Row 3. [If you want a wider scarf, just keep repeating Row 3 until you’ve reached your desired width.] Do not fasten off.

Last Row: [You’ll now use the (sc, ch 1, sc) to create a border around the scarf]: ch 1, sc in same sp [use a marker to mark this sc], work (sc, ch 1, sc) in each ch-1 sp, place 3 sc in the first corner, and when you’re working along the short ends, place your (sc, ch 1, sc) in spaces as evenly across as possible. Keep working around to marked sc and sl st in that sc to close. Fasten off and weave in end.

Pockets [make 2]: Ch 17
[Now, you’ll follow the same pattern as the scarf.]

Row 1: sc in second ch from hook and in each across, turn.

Row 2: ch 1 [does not count as a stitch], sc in first sp, skip 2 sps, *(sc, ch 1, sc) in next sp, skip 2 sps, repeat from * across, end with sc in last sp, turn.

Row 3: ch 1, sc in same sp, *(sc, ch 1, sc) in next ch-1 sp, repeat from * across, end with sc in last sp, turn.

Row 4+: repeat Row 3 until you’ve reached your desired pocket depth.

Fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing onto scarf.

Finishing: Working on the right side, pin one pocket to one end of scarf and sew [with a whipstitch] onto scarf using long yarn tail and yarn needle. Repeat this process with the second pocket on the other scarf end.

Crocheted Red Filet Poncho

EASY TO MAKE
The poncho consists of a crocheted rectangle, folded in half lengthwise, then seamed together along the upper side, leaving a 11” space that creates the neckline hole. I finished the neckline with one row of sc around, and added fringe along both open sides.

MATERIALS
1 ball Loops & Threads Woolike yarn (678 yds/3.5 oz/620 m/100 g) in Red / 5.5 mm hook / To resize, use multiples of 12 + 3 / Rectangle size 56” wide x 18” deep / Fits most adults in the S/M range

RECTANGLE PATTERN: Ch 192 + 3
Row 1: dc in 4th ch from hook, dc in each of next 5 ch, (ch 1, sk 1, dc in next ch) 3 times, *dc in each of next 6 ch, (ch 1, sk 1, dc in next ch) 3 times, rep from *, turn.

Row 2: Ch 4, sk (first dc, 1 ch), dc in next dc, (ch 1, sk 1, dc in next dc) twice, dc in each of next 6 dc, *(ch 1, sk 1, dc in next dc) 3 times, dc in each of next 6 dc, rep from * with last dc in 3rd ch of turning ch, turn.

Row 3: Ch 3, sk first dc, *dc in each of next 6 dc, (ch 1, sk 1, dc in next dc) 3 times, rep from * with last dc in 3rd ch of turning ch, turn.

Row 4: Ch 3, sk first dc, *(dc in ch-1 sp, dc in dc) 3 times, (ch 1, sk dc, dc in next dc) 3 times, rep from * with last dc in 3rd ch of turning ch, turn.

Repeat Rows 2-4 until you reach the measurements listed above, or your desired size.

FINISHING
Fold in half lengthwise and, working on wrong side, seam as shown in picture below.

Working on right side, sc one row around neckline space to finish.

FRINGE: Cut 10” lengths of yarn, fold each in half and pull through each ch-1 space along bottom edge. Also add fringe in spaces along both side edges, spacing them as evenly as possible.

Crochet a Shimmer Poncho

IF YOU CAN DO BASIC CROCHET, YOU CAN MAKE THIS

The poncho consists of a crocheted rectangle, folded in half lengthwise, then seamed together along the upper side, leaving an 11” space that creates the neck opening. I finished the neckline with one row of sc around, and added fringe along both open sides.

MATERIALS

Loops & Threads Shimmer Shawl yarn cake, Pink N Black (962 yds/10.58 oz./880 m/300 g.) (You can make this with any similar cake yarn.)

5.5 mm hook / Rectangle size 57” wide x 17.5” deep / Fits most adults

RECTANGLE PATTERN: Ch 211

Row 1: sc in second ch from hook and in each across; turn (210 sc)

Row 2: ch 2 (counts as first hdc); hdc in next space and in each space across; turn (210 hdc)

Row 3: ch 1 (does not count as a stitch); sc in same space and in each across; turn.

Row 4: ch 3 (counts as hdc + ch 1); skip next space; *hdc in next space; ch 1; skip next space; repeat from * across to last 2 spaces; hdc in last 2 spaces; turn.

Row 5: ch 1; sc in each of first 2 hdc; sc in ch-1 space; sc in each hdc and ch-1 sp across; turn. (row of sc)

Row 6: repeat Row 2 (row of hdc)

Row 7: repeat Row 5 (row of sc)

Row 8: repeat Row 2 (row of hdc)

Row 9: repeat Row 5 (row of sc)

Row 10: repeat Row 4 (row of hdc+ch-1)

Row 11: repeat Row 5 (row of sc)

Row 12+: repeat Row 6-Row 11 for pattern, until you reach your desired length. Mine measured 17.5” deep, and I ended up with eight hdc+ch-1 rows (Row 4). To make your poncho longer, just keep repeating pattern rows. End your rectangle on a Row 10.

FINISHING

Fold rectangle in half lengthwise and, working on the wrong side, seam as shown in the drawing below.

Working on the right side, sc one row around neckline space to finish.

FRINGE: Cut 10” lengths of yarn, fold each in half and pull through each ch-1 space along bottom edge. Also add fringe in spaces along both side edges, spacing them as evenly as possible. (See photos below.)

A fall colour celebration

I wanted to capture Mother Nature’s glorious fall colours in a simple acrylic painting. To add some extra texture, I incorporated a side border of real dried leaves, then sprayed them with a gloss acrylic sealant.

“October gave a party … and the leaves came by the hundreds.”

SO EASY Sweatshirt Refashion

Want to try a fun project? Dig out an old sweatshirt that you have no intention of ever wearing again, and recycle it into a top that’s actually quite cute.

Here’s how.

Carefully cut away the ribbing around the neckline, at the end of each sleeve and around the bottom. 

Then, working on the wrong side, fold in a ¼” hem at each place and secure with pins.

Using either a sewing machine or hand stitching, straight stitch around each hem.

Once hemmed with the straight stitch, I sometimes use my sewing machine to do a zigzag stitch around the edges to double-secure the hem.

Once the neckline, sleeves and bottom have been hemmed, you can use any trim you like to embellish the edges.

Some ideas: lace or fabric trims from your local fabric store; coloured beads or sequins; bits of tiny fabric patches in a “quilt-look” design.

I decided to crochet a border using lace-weight yarn and double-crochet stitches combined with loops. Once I finished crocheting the right length of border for each area, I sewed tiny pearl beads onto each loop for the sleeve and neck borders. 

For the bottom border, I crocheted extra-long loops to along the border edge to create a tassel-like look, and sewed larger pearl beads at the top of each tassel.

Voila! From old sweatshirt to pretty nice top!

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