Crocheters … Don’t throw out those old cassette tapes!

If you can crochet, you can make one-of-a-kind, waterproof coasters.

Just crack open the cassette case, remove the spool of film, and start crocheting.

Here’s the simple pattern I used:

Materials: 6 mm hook, scissors, stitch marker, yarn needle

Terminology: ch = chain; sc = single crochet; dc = double crochet; sl st = slip stitch; st = stitch; pm = place marker; rep = repeat; sp = space; sk = skip 

COASTER

Make a ring: ch 4 and sl st in first ch to join.

Round 1: ch 1 (does not count as a st), sc 9 times in ring (pm in first sc), sl st in first sc to join. (9 sc)

Round 2: ch 1, 2 sc in each sc around (pm in first sc), sl st in first sc to join. (18 sc)

Round 3: ch 1, 2 sc in first sc (pm in first sc), 1 sc in next sc, *(2 sc in next sc, 1 sc in next sc), rep from * around, sl st in first sc to join. (27 sc)

Round 4: ch 2, 4 dc in same sp, ch 1, sk next 4 scs, 5 dc in next sc, ch 1, *skip 4 scs, 5 dc in next sc, ch 1; rep from * around, sk last 4 scs and sl st in top of beginning ch 2. Fasten off and use yarn needle to weave in loose end.

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Free crochet pattern: Half & Half Pocket Scarf

Featuring WOW colours and convenient pockets for carrying your phone and car keys, it’s a scarf that’s as great-looking as it is functional.

Materials: Red Heart super saver yarn (or any worsted weight yarn in your desired colours) (7 oz/198 g/364 yds/333 m), 1 ball black, 1 ball hot pink / 6 mm hook

Instructions: You will make 2 panels, one in each colour, each panel approximately 9” wide x 31” long (unblocked). Then, with right sides together, you will seam together the ch-37 end of each panel, using a yarn needle and piece of black yarn. Next, you will make two pockets: one in black, the other in hot pink. The pockets are each approximately 7” wide x 5” deep (unblocked), or you can make them to your desired size.

Scarf Panel #1: Using hot pink, ch 37

Row 1: 3 dc in fifth ch from hook; skip 3 chs; sc in next ch; *ch 3, 3 dc in same ch as sc, sk 3 chs, sc in next ch; repeat from * to end. Turn.

Row 2: ch 4; sc in first ch-3, ch 3, 3 dc in same space as sc, *sc in next ch-3 sp, ch 3, 3 dc in same sp; repeat from * to end, ending with sc in last ch-3; turn.

Repeat Row 2 until approximately 31” long. Fasten off and weave in end.

Scarf Panel #2: Using black yarn, repeat same process above to make Scarf Panel #2.

Finishing Scarf piece:

Seam both panels together as described in Instructions above.

Pocket #1:

Using hot pink, ch 25 and repeat the same instructions given for Panel Row 1 and Row 2. Repeat Row 2 until pocket is about 5” deep, or repeat a couple more rows if you want a deeper pocket. Leave a long tail for sewing onto scarf.

Pocket #2:

Repeat above instructions, using black yarn.

Using long yarn tail and yarn needle, sew black pocket onto pink panel, and pink pocket onto black panel (placement as shown in photo).

Easy Crocheted Wrap: Peppermint Tea on a Cloudy Day

This shawl pattern is one of the easiest I’ve worked on. It’s really just a case of repeating two rows over and over until you reach your desired length.

I found the free pattern at CrochetKim.com (thanks, Kim!). Here’s the link: https://crochetkim.com/berry-bubblegum-fling/

For my shawl, I used one ball of Lion Brand Mandala yarn (5.3 oz/150 g/ 590 yds/540 m) in “Genie” and a 5 mm hook.

My finished, blocked shawl is 51.5” wide x 14” deep, and I added fringe to both ends.

Donna’s Darla Asymmetrical Shawl

How cute is this shawl? I’ll be throwing it over my shoulders this winter to jazz up a sweater.

A big thanks to Clare at Truly Crochet: Simple & Modern Crochet Patterns, for sharing this lovely free pattern. I’ve included the link below.

Materials I used:
Lion brand Mandala yarn (5.3 oz/150 g/ 590 yds/540 m), colour: Pegasus /5.5 mm hook

You’ll find complete instructions for the pattern at the link below:
https://trulycrochet.com/darla-asymmetrical-shawl-free-crochet-pattern/

Note: I used the Mandala yarn to make two-tone pom poms to attach to each of three corners.

Finishing a creative project feels SO gratifying

In these trying times, there’s absolutely nothing better for the soul than having one or more beloved hobbies to lean on. When you have a creative passion to turn to, you reap a wealth of healthy benefits:

  • Working toward a goal that you’re passionate about gives you a sense of purpose, which makes you feel happy and content.
  • Working with your hands as you immerse yourself in a project of your choosing is beyond relaxing. It’s the next best thing to meditation!
  • When you complete a project, you feel new stirrings of excitement as you think about the next.
  • Seeking out and experimenting with fresh ideas and new challenges takes you on a learning journey that never ends—your mind is ever expanding onto new pathways to discovery.
  • Finishing a project gives you a deep feeling of accomplishment. It’s a confidence-builder.
  • You are never bored. Your hobby is always there, waiting for you to dive in.
  • You learn more about yourself. Hobbies help you to explore and discover new skills, as well as unearth hidden talents that you may never have realized you had. 
  • It’s this simple: not only is it FUN to create new things, the act of doing so fills you with pure JOY!

With that said, here are some projects I’ve finished over the past few months. I still have to write out the patterns for some of them, which I’ll post for you at a later date.

Happy hobbying to you!

Toronto Blue Jays baseball cap and booties for a special new baby
Little drawstring bag
Easter bunny headband
Lemon meringue slouchy hat
Grey & cream pocket scarf
Blue jeans blue crocheted hippie skirt
Teal tie top
Rose lace top
Pen & ink doodle drawing: The most priceless things are wild and free
Pen & ink doodle drawing: You already have what you’re looking for

Easy Crocheted Chunky Hoodie Cowl

Why fiddle around with a hat and a scarf when you can wrap up in an all-in-one hoodie cowl! This super-warm accessory is handy to have for outdoor winter walks. Best of all, it’s easy enough for a beginning crocheter to make.

Materials
2 balls Bernat Roving yarn (100 g/3.5 oz/109 m/120 yds), Colour: Lichen / 10 mm hook / 3 medium-sized buttons to blend with yarn colour / Finished piece is 38” L x 11” W before blocking or finishing.

Instructions
Ch 48

Row 1: (sc, hdc, dc) in third ch from hook; *skip next 2 chs; (sc, hdc, dc) in next ch; repeat from * to last 3 chs; sk next 2 chs, hdc in last ch, turn.

Row 2: ch 2; *(sc, hdc, dc) in next dc; repeat from * to end; hdc in top of turning ch-2, turn.

Repeat Row 2 until piece is approx. 11” deep.Finishing: Block first, then fold in half lengthwise and seam approx. 10” down from fold. Sew on 3 buttons (spaced as shown) and use spaces between stitches to fasten over buttons.

Make a Mug Hug!

This is an ideal project for using up scrap yarn! These Mug Hugs make great gifts for coffee/tea lovers, and they’re useful for protecting hands from a hot cup. So easy to make—they’re perfect for beginner crocheters.

Hook: 6 mm hook for ceramic coffee mug; 5 mm hook for disposable takeout coffee cup
Yarn: Your yarn of choice (can use either worsted weight or Bernat handicrafter cotton)
Other: Yarn needle, scissors

Larger Mug Hug for a ceramic mug: 
Ch 32.

Row 1: hdc in third ch from hook and in each across, turn.

Row 2: ch 1, hdc in same space and in each across, turn.

Repeat Row 2 until piece is approximately 3.5” deep.

Using your yarn needle, sew short sides together for about ½” from the top and bottom, leaving approximately a 2-1/2” opening for the mug handle. Can just leave this part open, or sew a small button at one edge of the handle opening, and use one of the spaces on the opposite side as the button hole (as shown in photo). 

Smaller Mug Hug to fit disposable cup
Ch 25, slip stitch into first chain to make a ring, taking care not to twist.

Round 1: sc in each chain around, slip stitch into first sc to join.

Round 2-4: ch 3, dc in each sc around, slip stitch into top of ch-3 to join.

Round 5: sc in each dc around, slip stitch into first sc to join. Fasten off and weave in end.

Embellish using your favourite pattern of crocheted flowers, hearts or any other applique-type embellishment. Or use felt embellishments. Or use embroidery—the sky’s the limit!

Looking for a craft to work on that’s uncomplicated, totally relaxing, and highly rewarding?

You’ll find all of that and more with the fun craft of cross-stitch.

The art of cross-stitch was so popular when I was a young mother in my 20s. I remember getting hooked on it as a relaxing way of spending “me” time while my toddler napped in the afternoon. 

This was a lot of fun to work on, with all the different colours.

It was easy to learn, simple to do, and always produced the most rewarding results. A finished cross-stitch looks a lot like a painting—but instead of paint, you use different colours of embroidery floss (thread) and follow the very clear pattern instructions by simply stitching X’s onto the little squares in the cloth.

For all the gardeners out there!

Over the years, my love affair with cross-stitch fell by the wayside as I experimented with other pursuits such as quilting and sewing, painting and drawing, and crochet. But every time I caught sight of one of my finished cross-stitch pieces, I felt a strong yearning to get back to it. 

This comes out of storage every Christmas.

And didn’t it take a pandemic to reset my focus on cross-stitch again after all these years! I have some storage bins filled with cross-stitch supplies that I’d had been keeping in the cellar for the past 15+ years. As I sorted through them, I rediscovered a beautiful kit that I’d bought eons ago, that I’d put away to work on “someday.” 

Still have to frame this one. Would look lovely in a child’s bedroom.

Well, “someday” had finally arrived. 

Last summer every time we went out on our boat for the day, I took my cross-stitch project along. Talk about relaxing. Cross-stitching while lounging in the middle of a lake, listening to the gentle sounds of water lapping against the side of your boat is stress relief on steroids!

This takes centre stage on my fireplace mantel.

By September, I had completed the adorable “Beach Babies.” Every time I look at it, I’m reminded of being out on my boat during the summer of 2020—it’s proof that beautiful things can still come out of the bleakest of times.  

“Beach Babies”, summer of 2020

Cross-stitch is the oldest form of embroidery, practiced as far back as the middle ages. Here’s a link with some fun facts about the art of cross-stitch: https://crossstitchacademy.com/fun-facts-history-of-cross-stitching/

Loved working on “The Toy Box”.

I would love to see cross-stitch taught in elementary schools to both boys and girls—needlework skills offer so many benefits to kids: improved fine motor skills, patience, self-confidence, improved math skills, and stoking imagination and creativity, to name a few.

As a writer and editor by trade, I couldn’t pass this one up!

Think you might want to learn how to cross-stitch? You’ll find lots of instruction on the web, but here’s a good YouTube instructional video for beginners offered by Bucilla, a popular needlework supply manufacturer:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Kiuy4ZwIDI

I made this cross-stitch into a cushion for my dad for Father’s Day. He loved it.

It’s easy to find cross-stitch supplies online at your local craft store sites. Beginners can buy a kit that contains everything you need: the pattern, Aida cloth, floss, and cross-stitch needle. 

Worked on this while sitting in the stands during my daughter’s baseball games.

Try it. I guarantee you’ll love it!

This is a tribute to my good buddy, Otis.

Here are some of my finished projects from the past. I have good memories of working on every one of them.

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… 

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