Good Reads: Crochet Therapy, review and giveaway

Almost a year ago, I was asked to contribute two patterns to a new book that would combine therapeutic exercises with complementary crochet projects. The idea was literally crochet as therapy. I thought this was a wonderful idea and I couldn’t be more happier with the end result. This beautiful book arrived a few weeks ago and was released in the US, a few days ago.

crochet-therapy-betsan-corkhill

Behold, Crochet Therapy by Betsan Corkhill. First off all, let me brag a little: the mandalas on the cover are my project. I actually crocheted each of those! The photography and styling in this book is phenomenal. Every scene is light, calming, and downright gorgeous. All of the projects compliment each other so well.

Crochet Therapy
This photo is opposite the introduction page.

Let’s get down to the book itself. Betsan Corkhill is a well-being expert with a background in physiotherapy. She combines her medical knowledge with her craftiness and is a champion of the use of fiber arts as a therapeutic tool. The book is comprised of ten exercises, each accompanied by two crochet projects to enhance the benefits for your well-being. The exercises incorporate mindfulness, visualization, relaxation, daydreaming, and motivation. You can start from the beginning, or choose which you need specific help with. Why does crochet (and knitting!) work so well at creating a healthier, calmer, more creative mind?

It’s known that two-handed, coordinated patterns of movement that cross the midline of the body take up a lot of brain capacity. The brain can’t fully focus on two things at a time, so the more absorbing the task, the less capacity it has to pay attention to issues that are detrimental to your well-being.

Crafing will help take your mind off things that are making you anxious, or stressed out in general. I think we can all use a little bit less stress and anxiety, don’t you think?



Crochet Therapy: pillow

Crochet Therapy: pillow2

Crochet Therapy: pillow3

My two projects, the mandalas (seen best on the cover) and a round pillow, are part of the “Calm” chapter. The mandalas are a simple 9-round pattern that is easily memorized. You can take your hook and a bit of your yarn in your bag to crochet one whenever you find yourself in need of a calm few minutes. The pillow emulates rippling water. It’s a simple round construction with a few three-dimensional rounds (like ripples!). It’s crocheted in bulky yarn (I used Lion Brand’s Wool-Ease Thick & Quick) and works up very fast. It would make a fantastic calming housewarming gift.

Some of my other favorite projects in the book:

crochet-therapy-10

crochet-therapy-06 crochet-therapy-08

crochet-therapy-07 crochet-therapy-09

I’m swooning over that puff flower quilt!

Overall, I really love Crochet Therapy. It’s a book for every level of crochet, beginner to expert. Even the most seasoned crocheter will get something out of it. I always knew crochet was something to do when I needed to destress and focus, but now I have something I can utilize to help me gain even more benefits from the craft. I highly recommend the book to anyone who would like to learn about how crafting in general can help you be more mindful in your everyday life.

GIVEAWAY
I have an extra copy from the publisher and would LOVE to give it away! Enter with the widget below and a winner will be chosen late Friday night.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Crochet: A Study in Blue

Crochet: Study in Blue

Pattern: Rainbow Ripply Baby Blanket
Size: 33 rounds, plus one round of crab stitch
Hook: 5.5mm (US I/9)
Yarns: Hobby Lobby’s “I Love This Yarn!” in four shades of blue, completely replicated from the wonderful AFwifeCrochetNut, who hit it out of the park, again. Here’s her blanket: Little Boy Blue. I only changed the darkest color. I found a more…greenish(?) teal for that.

Crochet: Study in Blue, full Crochet: Study in Blue, edge

Do you remember my Study in Pink blanket from last year? Well, I loved it so much I HAD to make it in blue. We were blessed to have a cousin expecting a baby and I knew it’d be the perfect blanket. By the way, she delivered a beautiful baby boy, last month! I think he’s grandma’s tenth or eleventh great grandson. Can you believe that out of thirteen or so great grands, only two are girls? Bananas! I don’t complain because I love love love blue.

closer

side

just the blues

crab stitch border

Have you made any baby blankets, lately? Do you find yourself gravitating to the same patterns over and over?

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Crochet: Granny Four Square

granny four square baby blanket

I started and finished this blanket for my cousin’s new baby, waaaaaay back in March. That’s over 4 months ago! If you couldn’t tell, I’ve been on hiatus for a while. How the heck are you?! Any cool projects I should check out? I haven’t had a chance to hit up my blog reader in a while. Is anyone still out there? Say hello in the comments! I would love to get back to sharing my crochet and knitting projects, so I figured this would be a good start.

Granny Four Square, folded

This blanket started with the yarn. I chose 3 shades of pink, 2 shades of blue, a yellow, and white. I used Hobby Lobby’s “I Love This Yarn!” because they have a ton of colors in store and it’s pretty dang soft. After I had my colors in front of me, I used the nifty granny square generator at granny-square-colors.com to get a completely random granny blanket. I kept refreshing until I saw one that I LOVED. I took a screen shot of my result, so I could keep it handy while I worked.

Granny Four Square close-up

Since I was using worsted weight yarn, I used a 6 mm (US 10/J) hook for a looser feel. I was feeling a bit anxious around this time and it was definitely reflected in my yarn tension. The larger hooked helped a lot! As did the crochet work. Interesting enough to keep going, mindless enough to help me relax.

Each square was three rows of each of the six colors, minus white. I used white to make a final round on the squares, employing my favorite granny square join (between the chains, pretty much) until all four were connected. If there is an official name for this join, let me know. You aren’t crocheting into the other square so much as THROUGH it.

Here’s how it went:


When you get to the first corner of the second square’s white round, make a DC cluster into the corner, chain 1, then take your hook completely out of the current chain. Insert it into the corner you want to join to, put the chain back on the hook and THROUGH that space and then simply continue as you were: chain 1 again, and make the next DC corner cluster. Before your next “Ch 1” in the granny square (space between each cluster), you repeat the process of removing your hook from the chain and pulling it through the space you want to connect to. It looks like this:



You continue the final white round, connecting in the chain spaces as needed. When you get to your third square, you have to connect the corner in two squares, but it isn’t that much more difficult than connecting to one. My granny squares have a “Ch 2” corner, but I still chained 1 before taking the hook out for my first join. I brought the chain through one of the squares, chained 1 again, then brought that chain through the other square and chained 1 a final time. This makes it a “Ch 3 corner” but that’s OK for the final rounds.



Attaching the fourth square is just as easy; attach the corner to the square on the right and the square above.

Granny Four Square joined

Granny Four Square edging

Granny Four Square corner

Granny Four Square folded blue

After joining all four squares, I made a round of SC and then a round of 5-DC scallops. This blanket was perfect for people like me who have problems completing projects with a lot of parts, like regular granny square blankets. Four big squares with different color patterns keeps things interesting and is finished before you know it.

Granny Four Square, laid out

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Knitting: February Baby Sweater

February Baby Sweater

Pattern: Baby Sweater on Two Needles (February) from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac
Yarn: KnitPicks Hawthorne Kettle Dye in “turkish delight”
Needle: 3.5 mm (US-4) circular

I started this sweater in February, on my way to Las Vegas. I worked on it a few times while I was there–in the mornings with coffee, or when my husband had to work–and nearly finished the yoke by the time I left. I finished the body at home and immediately started the sleeves, because I am prone to putting projects aside, halfway finished, and never ever picking them back up again. So, two sleeves were done in two days and then…it sat. March rolled around and I finally got around to blocking this baby and sewing in the most perfect little vintage buttons. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

round garter yoke

Do you have any Spring projects on your needles? Let me have a look!

Crochet: Amigurumi Bunny Food Eggs

Crochet: bunny food

Last Easter, I made a fluffle of amigurumi bunny eggs for my favorite kiddos. This year, I’m branching out into bunny food–carrots and strawberries! They’re little amigurumi crocheted and glued onto Easter eggs. You can fill them with whatever treats your tiny humans might want.

amigurumi egg supplies

The perfect eggs for these amigurumi are from Target. The plastic feels a little thicker, so I feel like they’ll last longer, and they’re a great size! They’re large Spritz brand eggs and come in a pack of three. I may have a bag full of them under my desk, right now.

My favorite orange for carrots are bulky yarns from Lion Brand, specifically Hometown USA in “Syracuse Orange” and Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in “pumpkin”. For the strawberry, I used Wool-Ease T&Q in “cranberry”. My hook for both was a 6 mm (US J). The green tops on both is worsted weight cotton held double. Use your favorite shade!

crochet carrot egg, open

crochet strawberry egg, open

The “body” of the egg for both is pretty much the same. Start with a magic loop and do NOT connect at the end of the rounds. Place the cover on the egg part as you go, to ensure the fit. Add a stitch or two, if it’s too small. If it’s too big, skip an increase. Remember you will be gluing, at the end, so it doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be able to cover the egg with minimal stretch or scrunch. Here’s the pattern I use:

Work in the back loops only for the carrot.
Egg Top
Round 1: 6 SC into ring
Round 2: 2 SC into each st (12 SC)
Round 3: [SC into 3, 2 SC into next] 3 times (15 SC)
Round 4: [SC into 2, 2 SC into next] 5 times (20 SC)
Round 5: [SC into 4, 2 SC into next] 4 times (24 SC)
Round 6: [SC into 3, 2 SC into next] 6 times (30 SC)
Round 7-9: SC into each st (30 SC)
Round 10: slst into each st (30 slst)
Fasten off.
If working the strawberry, you may need to make round 10 SC instead of slst.

Egg Bottom
Round 1: 6 SC into ring
Round 2: 2 SC into each st (12 SC)
Round 3: [SC into next, 2 SC into next] 6 times (18 SC)
Round 4: SC into each st (18 SC)
Round 5: [SC into 2, 2 SC into next] 6 times (24 SC)
Round 6: [SC into 3, 2 SC into next] 6 times (30 SC)
Round 7-8: SC into each st (30 SC)

Fruit tops
Using 2 strands of worsted, or a single of bulky
Round 1: Ch 1, 8 HDC into ring, slst to top of first HDC
Round 2: [Ch 8, slst into third ch from hook, Ch 4, slst into same HDC], *slst into next HDC, rep from [ to ]; repeat from * for 8 chain loops total, slst to first st. Fasten off, leaving long tail for sewing.

If making a carrot top, weave tail through the loops, and cinch it together, so the loops stand up. Sew onto egg bottom. For strawberry, sew the solid hdc circle onto egg bottom, leaving leaves free.

Use the green yarn to embroider strawberry seeds all over, before gluing.

Use hot glue to attach your pieces to your eggs. Start with the tips and work your way around and down. Be careful and don’t sacrifice any finger tips for perfection!

Fill eggs to your heart’s desire.

crochet carrot egg top

crochet carrot egg

crochet strawberry egg

If you want to make a bunny with this thicker yarn, use the same pattern for the strawberry body and then add some ears. Mine were super simple, start with 5 SC in a ring, increase to 10, then to 15 and work for however long you like. Fasten off, leaving a longish tail to sew onto your egg top. Sew the ears and embroider the face before you glue! Let me know if you make any!

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