The Granny Square

I’m just going to come out and say it – I LOVE GRANNY SQUARES!  I can’t really say exactly why, except that this was how my grandma taught me to crochet.  I still have the first project I can remember making.  Here are a few pics:

Granny scarf 1 Granny scarf 2 Granny scarf 4When I was in high school, my grandma taught me to crochet and opened up a whole new world of obsessive addiction.  I loved it so much I would take it to class because I was one of those students who always had her work done before the rest of the class.  I just couldn’t stand to waste a moment.

This particular scarf is made in a cheap acrylic yarn, something that came into popularity in the 70′s.  It’s a little stiff and not as comfy as today’s fabulous natural fiber yarns and modern acrylics.  I would never choose a yarn like this now.  But, let’s consider that this was made over 35 years ago and it still looks great.

The granny square has become my go-to project.  For me, it’s so satisfying to make.  It’s like a whole series of mini projects.  I find the repetitive nature of the granny square and of crochet itself cathartic and healing.  It makes the absolute perfect traveling project.  And, let’s talk about the infinite number of color combinations that make every granny square project look different. There’s a trade-off, though – sewing all those squares together.  You don’t really think about that when you’re making the squares.  When presented with stacks of squares, however, the join-as-you-go method looks pretty darn great!

I’ve made many granny square items since that first scarf.  My most recent is a trio of baby blankets for the newborn triplets of extended family.  That pattern will be arriving on the scene soon.  Here’s a teaser:Granny's little baby 1Granny's little baby 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s your favorite granny square story?

NYC Playdate!

Most people go into New York City to see a show or visit a museum.  I do, too, but not this time!  Recently, on a frigid day, my daughter and I spent some time in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn to experience tasty food and beautiful yarn with a side of do-it-yourself terrariums.  I have her to thank for most of the places we visited – she’s become quite the adventurer.  We had a wonderfully fun day!

The big highlight of the trip for both of us was our visit to the Lion Brand Studio.  If you’re ever in New York you need to make this a priority.  Lion Brand is one of our favorite yarn companies!  We’ve been a fan of Homespun for a number of years and Heartland, one of their newer yarns, is definitely a close second.  It’s especially fun to visit one of their only brick and mortar stores, and to have the chance to experience firsthand all of the yarns we normally order online.

Outside the Lion Brand Studio in Manhattan

Outside the Lion Brand Studio in Manhattan

Inside Lionbrand Studio

Inside…

Homespun Thick & Quick - AnnaHomespun continues to be our go-to choice for warm, cuddly scarves.  Now, with the advent of the Thick & Quick version, a scarf knits up in no time.  My daughter finished hers within a week of our visit.  I just finished mine but I have to weave in the ends before I can wear it.

 

 Here’s the color I picked…
Homespun Thick & Quick

 

 

 

 

 

The scarf it’s replacinOld Homespun scarfg is one I made when my daughter was still in high school.  The red, black and white colorway – Easton’s school colors – was discontinued but I was able to snag a skein before it disappeared.  I wore it to every football game and I still pick it up and wear it before any other scarf.  It’s been through the wash a number of times and comes out snuggly soft every time.

The rest of the day was equally fun.  Enjoy some pics from the other great things we did.

Shrimp and Potato Champ from Wilfie and Nell's

Shrimp and Potato Champ from Wilfie and Nell’s

Fried Reese's Peanut Butter Cups at the Chip Shop in Brooklyn

Fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups at the Chip Shop in Brooklyn

Twig Terrarium Shop in Brooklyn

Twig Terrarium Shop in Brooklyn

 

A beautiful sunset over the East River

A beautiful sunset over the East River

 Don’t you wish you’d been along?!

Accessorizing

Because of Christmas spending in December, I felt overwhelmed with the flow of cash out of my wallet.  As most of us do, I made a commitment to myself not to spend money on unnecessary items for the month of January.  (What constitutes “unnecessary”, really?!)  Well, that didn’t last long.  I received the latest catalog from my favorite clothing store and it was all over.

Most of the time, I choose clothing items according to what I might need to round out my wardrobe or to match items I already own.  But, this time, I saw the items in the catalog in a new light.  What accessory could I make to go with each of my favorite choices?!

Who wouldn’t want this outfit for a sunny spring day?  Surely I can make that skinny scarf and not have to buy it, right?

And this cute outfit…the black and white t-shirt would be stunning with my black jeans and a new scarf or triangular shawl that adds a pop of color to the neutral colors of the outfit!

Wow…I just created new projects for my already busy and full queue.  This is why my yarn stash overflows.  Unfortunately, that’s never stopped me from visiting the local yarn shop before ☺

I learned a long time ago that accessories make or break an outfit and can add just the right amount of interest to turn an otherwise plain outfit into one that pops.  When I was newly married in my early 20′s, I had no idea how to put together a terrific outfit.  A woman in my church choir looked fabulous all the time – even her name was fabulous!  She was a stunning woman and could have worn a burlap bag and pulled it off!  But, what she did with accessories was amazing.  A shawl here, a piece of jewelry there – she was brilliant in her choices.  I don’t always fully accessorize but, when I do, I feel like a million bucks.  Plus, when I change accessories for an outfit, I can make it look like a completely different outfit, stretching my wardrobe choices.

What’s my next step?  You guessed it – I have to go to the Knitter’s Edge and get yarn to start accessorizing.  Perhaps I should wait until the clothes arrive to be sure they fit and look good.  Nah, I should just go to the Knitter’s Edge!

Are you ready for Christmas?

Funny Confession Ecard: More ideas than time...

Yes, I know.  It’s only the end of October.  But, seriously, Christmas and the holiday gift-giving season is less than 2 months away now.  I’m having a mini panic attack because I haven’t really started my Christmas list for this year, something I usually do in the summer.  Whatever shall I do but pull out all my magazines and head to the Knitter’s Edge?!  It’s a shame I’ll have to spend part of my weekend immersed in projects and yarn.

I love giving handmade gifts.  It’s as much for me as it is for those who receive the gifts because I absolutely adore the process of planning and making the projects.  It’s not about saving money, although I don’t have to pay for therapy!  I just love the thought of investing my time and energy in something that’s personal.

http://www.theloopyewe.com/sheri/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Knitters-Gift-Timeline-via-Pinterest-250x193.jpg

I have every confidence everything will be finished on time.  This year will NOT be like the one where, on Christmas Eve, I sat in my jammies knitting until late afternoon when I had to get ready for church.  Not cool…

Is your holiday gift-giving on track this year?

Are you wearing pink?

As you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Pink is everywhere – clothing, hair, nails, ribbons, you name it.  Many are showing their support and pride by sporting the color pink as well as participating in a number of walks and runs to raise funds for ongoing research and administration.

Almost every year since 2005, my daughter and I have participated in a walk of some kind.  For 3 years, we walked in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day 60-mile walk in Philadelphia.  Now we participate in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in the Lehigh Valley.  This year’s will take place on Saturday, October 26.  We’ll be walking with hundreds of others through beautiful historic Bethlehem.  You can make a donation directly to our team, Treasured Chest.

You can also support us this year by purchasing a copy of my pattern Side Stripe Breast Cancer Scarf.  The pattern can be found on Craftsy and Ravelry.  10% of all sales from this pattern will go toward our team.Side Stripe 2 Side Stripe 1

This scarf is simple to make up.  It employs the crochet woven stitch (sc, ch1 space across).  By changing colors every row, the scarf looks as though it was make from side to side instead of lengthwise.  Using Plymouth Yarn Company’s Encore Worsted and a size H hook, the scarf has a wonderfully warm drape to it.

Show your pink spirit!!!

Look What’s Up…

Unfinished Pink for the Cure scarfLook what MadameStitch has been up to lately.  This scarf isn’t finished yet but I love how it’s turning out.  The stitch is single crochet, chain 1, done lengthwise.  With 2 colors, it creates horizontal stripes!  I’m using Plymouth Yarn’s Encore, giving the scarf a soft, drapey feel.

It’s almost done – I just have to add fringe.  Soon you’ll see the finished project and not long after that a pattern will appear.  So, stay tuned…

Bear Hugs 2013

Bear Hugs Knit2In the summer every year, I start thinking about what I’m going to make for Christmas presents.  I also start thinking about Bear Hugs and how many scarves I’m going to make for those in need.  Bear Hugs is incredibly close to my heart.  Every year since 2005 I’ve collected a large number of scarves and hats for New Bethany Ministries in Bethlehem.  I’ve made a fair number of those scarves, too!

I want this year’s collection to be huge and I want you to be a part of it!  I’m setting a goal of collecting 500 hand-knit and crocheted scarves and hats.  All the information you need to participate is on the pages under “Bear Hugs”.  Start thinking about what you can do to help and get started knitting or crocheting!

Lionbrand Yarn Studio in NYC

Yesterday my friend and I made our annual trip to the NYC area for a day of yarn, wine and good food.  Our typical day begins at Fort Tryon Park with lunch at the New Leaf Restaurant followed by a visit to Scarsdale where we purchase wine at Zachys and visit the local yarn shop there, now called String Theory.  Most years we follow the same itinerary but this time we decided to fit in a visit to the Lionbrand Yarn Studio in lower Manhattan first.

Lionbrand Studio

 

Lionbrand yarns are some of my favorite with which to work.  They are affordable, feel lovely on the hands as you work and are available in beautiful colors.  Of course, my all time favorite is Homespun and the newer Homespun Thick & Quick.  However, my store visit introduced me to a new yarn that I’ve fallen in love with.

 

 

Heartland in Olympic

Heartland, a new acrylic yarn in worsted weight, surprised me with its beautiful color choices and soft pile.  I found it hard to choose but I finally landed on color #109, Olympic, a rich, deep blue. I never would have known how beautiful this color is if I hadn’t seen it in person.  The website doesn’t do it justice.

 

 

The pattern I’ve chosen is The Design Studio’s “Aran Garter Stitch Cardigan”, available on Craftsy.  Other than some shaping, this project should knit up quickly.

Aran Garter Stitch CardiganCertainly, other yarns caught my eye but I’ll have to let this be it for now.  As is the case with every crafter, other projects are in process, like the 3 granny square baby blankets I’m making for a set of triplets.  I wouldn’t want to get bored though, would I?!

Another successful year for Bear Hugs!

Yes, you’re reading the calendar correctly.  It’s April and I’m just now posting about the 2012 Bear Hugs delivery.  Things have been pretty busy in my life since the new year began so I haven’t had time to write.  The good news is that slowly but surely major projects are being completed, leaving more time for MadameStitch!

My trunk was full to capacity!

My trunk was full to capacity!

I collected scarves, hats and gloves from many caring individuals and even a youth group looking for ways to serve.  When all items were counted, I ended up donating 95 scarves, 72 hats and 74 pairs of gloves!  As you can see, my trunk was pretty full.

When I arrived at New Bethany Ministries on a very sunny day, the bags were loaded in a shopping cart for transport into the storage room.  They didn’t all fit in the basket.

A basketful of scarves, hats and gloves.

A basketful of scarves, hats and gloves.

Any time is a good time to begin your scarf or hat for the 2013 Bear Hugs collection.  You can mail your donations to the address listed on the website or, if you’re local to the Lehigh Valley, email MadameStitch to make arrangements for pick up.  I always have a scarf in progress – why don’t you?!

Bear Hugs Launches for 2012!

Yesterday the first chill of fall arrived on the East Coast.  The heater has been turned on, even if just to take the edge off the chill in the house.  As we pull out our warm sweaters and scarves, we have visions of sipping hot chocolate by the fire. Knitters and crocheters start pulling out all the cold weather patterns they own, looking for projects to start.

So many people, though, have no place warm to stay, and cold weather simply signals another hardship they must endure.  They may not even have clothing warm enough to protect them against the extreme weather that’s right around the corner.

That’s where Bear Hugs comes in.  During the months of October and November, hand crafters of all ages are called upon to put their skills to work, knitting and crocheting warm cozy scarves – hats, too – to be donated to Lehigh Valley area agencies.  These organizations such as New Bethany Ministries and Family Connections distribute the scarves and hats to kids at the bus stop, clients who come in for a warm meal and anyone else who needs them.  Every year MadameStitch gives an average of 100-130 scarves to these worthy organizations.

This is the crochet version.

And a garter stitch version.

I’ve set the bar high for this year – 500 scarves!  I want to be so deluged with donations I have to work to find places for them to go.  Check out MadameStitch for the story behind Bear Hugs and patterns that take the guesswork out of your project.  So get out your hooks, needles and yarn and get started.  I’ll keep you updated with a count throughout the fall!