Sunday, April 28, 2013

Avoiding the gap...

I often see people complain about the gap which can exist in their crochet squares.  Here's the solution I found:

First of all, after the first round, rather than do the standard ch3, only do ch2. 
Rather than go into the top of the ch_ of the previous row, 
you go into the front two loops of the stitch to the left of it. 
Then ch2 and go back into the same space.
Once your square is finished, this is the way it will look.  The arrows indicate that your join ch and first stitch of each row are in the top of the same stitch from the row before.
Et voila; no gap.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

With a little help from my friend...

I am a visual learner; one of those people who has to be shown how something is done, to fully understand how to do something new.  This can be a challenge when trying a new crochet pattern.

In the midst of making blankets for Stitches from the Heart (SFTH), a wonderful charity where we make baby items and donate them to over 1,400 NICU centers and hospitals around the country, I looking for a new pattern.  I saw one from my friend Carol, stitched in diagonal rows, who said it was very easy and she was nice enough to send it to me.

I started the blanket and immediately ran into trouble.  Carol sent me another version of the pattern which she'd broken down into simple steps and even a diagram.  Nope, didn't help, so I picked up the phone.  "Carol, I don't get it."  After about five minutes, my cry for help became "That's so simple!".

Then I came to the middle where you start decreasing.  Once again, a phone call of "Carol, I don't get it." changed to "That's so simple!" with a bit of coaching.

Once it was done, I looked at it, picked up the phone and, cried, "Carol, what about the border?".  Another five minutes again resulted in "Carol, that would be so simple!".

My thanks to Carol, for her pattern and her patience.  Blanket #9 for SFTH is done.  

This was a good reminder that we all learn in different ways.  Part of life is discovering the way in which we each learn best; part of teaching is taking time to realize how each student learn. 

Now that I know how to do it, another diagonal-striped blanket is underway.  This will be Blanket #10. 

My goal is to have one dozen done and ready for pick up on May 25th.  We'll see how I do.

Monday, April 22, 2013

From Jmarie Gray

Jmarie Gray (with her granddaughter Tooter)

I started crocheting 52 years ago. My grandmother taught me her stitches and patterns. My grandmother was Choctaw Indian and my mother raised me as white child. None of her patterns have ever made it to publish or internet...... yet, they are still stuck in my brain.

I crochet squares for my friend Pam who takes the squares and makes them into afghans for the Elders/Children on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation through her group. My first year with Pine Ridge Reservation, I was with a group who did Challenges. My Challenge was Crocheted Hats. I made 200 for kids and 300 for Elders in 10 months. I did a Challenge once with Pam's group. For every 50 squares she got from other members, I would send 100 squares--the square was my choice.

After that I joined a group in New Orleans to help with the Katrina victims by making squares. I made 1,500 squares for that group. When this group closed after 2 years, I was referred to the Yahoo group Loveafghans4prr and been there ever since.

I enjoy making afghans and squares for the Reservation. I do not use any colors with white (variegated) or white as most of the Indians don't have any washing machines. They wash in the creeks.  I sponsored a lady up there who lived in a Tipi. That was so cool, I learned a lot. It's hard to get the Indian people to trust the whites (as they call us) as they say all whites "LIE".  I know there are other Reservations who could use help, but it's hard just getting your foot past the door.

In 3 years I have almost completed 22,750 squares (still lack 484 to finish). It seems that last little bit takes the longest to do. Somehow, and I didn't think it was possible, I have grown a little tired of squares. So I've gone back to working on my afghans. I have 1 that I work on from time to time for a lady up north (non-reservation) who has a type of blood cancer.

Why do I make the squares? 'Cause I want to! and I feel that I am giving something back. I've been told that Crochet is a dying art. I missed out on my grandmother's culture being raised in a different race group and I have always felt that the Indians have gotten the short end of the stick especially from our government. If you think you can trust our government, ask an Native American Indian (and they were here first).

I get a bit of Acrylic yarn donations from women who find yarn in bargain stores, Goodwill etc. etc. or they come to me in small balls. I don't turn down donations, but there is lots of yarn that I have bought or a friend will buy for me.  I'll bet you there are quite of bit of people that have yarn balls stuck somewhere they don't know what to do with........... send them to me.

How do I pick where to stop? I don't really pick any number where to stop. Some balls are small.  However many squares I get out of that ball is ok with me. It might be 2 or it might be 20. I try to make at least squares 20 of every color I have. And when I get tired of that color, I move on to a different one. I had a gallon ziploc bag of circles in red, there was 102 in that bag. So I evened it out to 105. I just stop where I want to stop, there is no certain amount. But after 15,750 I figured that would be a good number to stop at.

I also make tacked lap quilts and lap afghans for a local Kidney Dialysis Clinic here in my town. There are 2 clinics. Some people prefer the quilts and some prefer the afghans. They stay at the clinics. I have made quilts for the elders. I go to my Hotels here in town & get free sheets that they can no longer use. Bring them home and get ready to set up in the yard to dye the sheets. The sheets will be the back of the quilts. I use old blankets/bedspreads/fleece whatever I can find to use for the middle of quilts (needs to be warm). So I've made the top, got the blanket in the middle & a dyed sheet for the bottom. I put my quilts together on the patio and tack/tie them out on a frame.

I also enjoy gutting and tearing down old wooden houses, barns and sometimes sheds. I use the wood for Repurposing Furniture.  And if that's not enough, I care for my grandkids after school, on holidays and school breaks. I get paid a little for this. It helps to get yarn or mail a box out to Pam.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

With a little help from my friends....

Crocheting for charity introduced me to the wonderful group Share-A-Square created by Shelly Tucker for making afghans donated to children with pediatric cancer.   When Shelly decided to move on to other pursuits, she asked whether I would take over the group's Facebook page.

Thus, I began SASsy Stitchers, both on Facebook  and on Ravelry. Doing so has introduced me to talented, generous, funny and kind fiber artists from around the US and outside of it.

With the creation of "With Hook in Hand," I knew I didn't want it to be all about me.  Instead, I decided to invite--okay, beg--my creative friends to share their stories as well.

The first, which will appear tomorrow is from the remarkable Jmarie Gray.  Thank you, Jmarie!

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Welcome to "With Hook in Hand".  This is where I'll be talking about all things crochet; projects I've completed, patterns I've developed, and charities for which I stitch. 

Although I did crochet for several years, I moved to needlepoint in my early 30s and only returned to my hook in 2010.  

How embarrassing to admit I could remember how to do Tunisian crochet but had forgotten how to get the yarn on the hook or to change colors.  So I went back to basics and made potholders.  I made them for me and every friend I could find.

Happily, time has moved on.  I hope I've improved.  Nonetheless, I do find it relaxing and gratifying.  So pick up your hooks; feel free to join me.  Knitters are always welcome, too.