21 March 2012

Spring Is Here!

For some of us in the United States, there still may be snow on the ground or in the forcast. For those in the Southern hemisphere, things are moving towards fall. I'm in central North Carolina, and it's been quite a warm winter. It's also been spring-like temperatures and weather for a couple weeks already. While I'm not trying to rush away the winter, I love Spring!! I love seeing new plants coming out of the ground and flowers blooming all over the place. One of my favorite flowers is the Bradford Pear Tree (but they're often considered an acquired smell).

The equinox was yesterday. My partner and I celebrated with a small fire outside and a dinner of spinach quiche (eggs and grass for springtime).

In order to celebrate spring, I wanted to share a few pattern ideas with you.

I love this Butterfly Garden Square by Chris Simon

A quick, fun, Tiny Butterfly by Emi Herrington

Some super cute daisies by Annemaries Breiblog

And this lovely Melinda Miller design, Thankful Stitches
This one I made just last week :)

Do you have any favorite springtime pattterns?

11 March 2012

Reading Charts

Have you ever gotten a pattern that came with a chart? Maybe the pattern was only a chart. The first time I saw one of these, I thought, "And how am I supposed to crochet from this?" Since then, I've learned some of the symbols and gotten a chance to practice reading charts that had written versions as well. If you've never used a chart before, I highly recommend that approach. To get you started, I present to you this lovely graphic of symbols thanks to the Craft Yarn Council. There's actually all kinds of useful information on their website, for both knit and crochet.
There's a downloadable pdf available on their website.

And for fun, I wanted to share with you this video put together by The Crochet Crowd.

Reading a chart can sometimes be frustrating. Sometimes they aren't done very well, or you really need a note of clarification on which direction to go when. If there's a curve to the work, it can take some practice to know where to put your stitch. Working in rows is much easier to understand; the stitches tend to line up. Like always, be sure to read any special stitches, tips, or extra directions given with the pattern.
In this chart, the clusters of dc go into the chain space (except for the center dc and the first and last stitches of a row). via Lion Brand's Reading Charts page

via Smart Knitting-Crocheting (Pattern 4) The dc clusters go in the chain space. The sc goes in the stitch directly below it.

Maybe one of these days I'll make a pattern that'll be well suited to charting. There's computer programs to help make them, but until I'm making them regularly, I think I'll wait on that.
Happy chart reading!

02 March 2012

Crochet as Spiritual Practice: Being a Beginner

In case you missed it, here's a summary of the five previous posts about Crochet as Spiritual Practice:

A spiritual practice is an activity that you do regularly which either pulls you into your inner space or connects you with the greater universe. Try spending 10-15 minutes each day crocheting and only focusing on the yarn and pattern in front of you, pushing other thoughts aside.

Incorporate some special breathing to help relax yourself at the start.
1. Breathe in deeply and let it out slowly
2. Count your breaths up to 10 and then start over.
3. Alternate nostril breathing. (see how here)
4. Three short breaths in, one slow breath out.

Three is a common part of many religions, faiths, and spiritualities, as well as quite pervasive in our culture. In crochet: shells of three, repeats of three stitches or rows, three loops or pull throughs for a stitch. Think about how you can incorporate 3 into your crochet practice and how it already is a part of your crocheting habits. More examples on the original post.

Remember to keep your hands and wrists happy while you work! They carry our intentions from our minds & hearts into the work.
Some suggestions: warming them up before you work; stretching before, during, and after; taking regular breaks; stopping if they hurt; giving yourself a massage before and after an especially large or difficult working.

Silence is beautiful. It can be difficult to find true silence, but it's necessary for clearing the mind. The mind gets cluttered with thoughts, so we need to find quiet time for emptying it out. Having a task during meditation allows the quieting of the mind without feeling like you're doing nothing.

Be a Beginner
Some of you readers may be beginners, and some of you may have been crocheting so long you don't even know when you started. For those experienced in a craft (or any repetitive task), it can sometimes be done mindlessly, without looking, or really paying attention. When using crochet as spiritual practice, it needs to be done mindfully. To help you focus on the work at hand and to help quiet your mind, practice being a beginner.

Remember when you first started to crochet? Every stitch was a labor. It had to be slowly pulled out of your hands. The yarn painstakingly took shape. To encourage your meditation, imagine you're a beginner. You'll slow down and and focus more on what you're doing. It can be frustrating, so you can alternate between rows of beginner concentration and rows of your normal pace. Good luck!