Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hearts for Paris

Nous Somme Tous Paris

  On November 13th, 2015, I didn't sit watching the news on a television. I didn't hold hands with anyone and pray. The events in Paris didn't affect me physically, but on November 13th and the days that followed, I sat there dumbfounded, wanting to help and not knowing how; wanting to write and not knowing what. Wishing I could feel helpful instead of helpless. Hoping this would be the last time the world would see such cruelty, but knowing it won't be. The news this morning: More violence. Terrified that any of us could be next. And that's one way that terrorists win.

hearts, free crochet pattern, Paris, November 13th

  My heart goes out to Paris, but at the time, my words and money could not. My good friend Jenn's words and pattern reached me first. As she asked "Do you remember?", I didn't. I was just teenager then. Distracted by the birth of my only niece on the same day, I was unaware of the support from Paris after the events of 9/11. Although I knew what was going on and was just as scared as everyone else, I was being a kid, not reading papers. But, as I read the words Jenn wrote and let them sink in, the memories started flooding in. Was it the inattention of being young, or had I blocked everything out from fear? The attacks on November 13th again left me feeling like that clueless, scared kid that didn't know what to do or say.

  I found my voice through crochet. I had to start working on the Paris stitch. Then I began a pair of the fingerless mitts Jenn designed. And as I "prayed" for Paris over my stitches, I knew one small thing I could do. I can crochet.

  After putting the mitts down, I crocheted a black heart. I'm not sure if it just seemed fitting at the time, or if it was a reflection of my mood. Staring at the finished piece, again not knowing what to do next, I made another. I thought about the lives lost; destroyed; altered for all time. Then, I read in the news: There will be war. I made a purple heart: For all those injured or killed in past wars due to terrorism, and for those who will be in the future.

free crochet pattern, heart, Paris, November 13th

  Then, something for Paris. A heart in blue, a heart in white, and another in red for the French flag. But, it still wan't right. Each color was separate. The stitches were lacy and far apart. I needed to make something that represented "togetherness". I wanted the stitches to be closer, and the colors to be joined, just like the United States and France are joined and together in our mourning after acts of terrorism.

free crochet pattern, heart, Paris, November 13th

  I redesigned my pattern into something that fit. A heart in the colors of the French flag. But, now what? How can I use it to do something? The thought became a pulse in my head: "Do something, do something, do something". I want to personally hold each person and say "I'm sorry". I want to go there to help somehow. I wish I could donate money...

  Wait, I can! I don't make a ton of money by making guides on Guidecentral, but at least I make something. I created a step by step tutorial for my "Heart for Paris", with the promise that my earnings for the guide will be donated to the French Red Cross. And that's how you can help, too. Each "like" the guide gets on Guidecentral will make me a tiny, little, itty bitty bit of extra money, which will increase my donation. Signing up for a Guidecentral account is free and easy, so please, please, please go give the guide a like if you want to help but can't donate. This isn't some useless Facebook spam: For every hundred "likes" the guide gets, I can donate another dollar on top of my original earnings.

  Now, on to the pattern: There are two versions of this heart. The exact written instructions are for the tri-colored Heart for Paris. You will find an explanation to alter the pattern for the lacier single-color version. Gauge has not been measured because the pattern was made to fit any size yarn. Adjust your hook size according to your yarn manufacturer's recommended hook, and see additional notes for how I made the extra-lacy version of the black heart.

free crochet pattern, heart, Paris, November 13th

Skill level:

Any size yarn
I used Aunt Lydia's #10 thread for the black hearts, Loops and Threads Woolike for the purple, and Caron United in Blue, White, and Red for the rest. 

crochet, yarn, thread, materials

Recommended hook size
I used two different sizes of steel hooks for the black hearts (see notes after pattern), a size H/8 - 5.00 MM for the purple, and a size I/9 - 5.50 MM for the tri-color and separate blue, white, and red hearts.

crochet, hooks, gauge

Yarn needle
*Optional* accessories for pattern: You may wish to use this piece as an applique, brooch, decoration, etc., in which case you will need things such as needle and thread, jewelry findings, or additional yarn/thread for hanging.

Not important. Finished pattern made with worsted weight yarn and size I/9 - 5.50MM hook (in half-double crochet stitch) measures 2" (5 cm) wide by 2" (5 cm) high.

Chain-2 at beginning of rows 1 - 3 counts as a half-double crochet stitch.

Chain (ch)
Slip stitch (sl st)
Single crochet (sc)
Half-double crochet (hdc)
*Optional* Double crochet (dc)


Begin with Red and a slip knot on the hook.

Row 1:
Chain 2, make 1 hdc in the farthest ch from the hook, changing to White on the last yarn over of the stitch. Cut red.

Row 2:
Ch 2, turn. Make 1 hdc in the first (same) stitch. Make 2 hdc in the next (last) stitch. (4 hdc)

Row 3:
Ch 2, turn. Make 1 hdc in the first stitch. Make 1 hdc in each of the next 2 stitches. Make 2 hdc in the last stitch, changing to Blue on the last yarn over of the last stitch.

Row 4:
Ch 1, turn. Make 1 hdc in each of the next 2 stitches. Ch 1, sl st in the same st. Sl st in the next st. Ch 1, hdc in the same st. 1 hdc in the next st. Ch 1, sl st in the last st.

Bind off, weave in ends.

free crochet pattern, heart, Paris, November 13th

*Directions for lacy heart:
Follow pattern above, replacing (ch 2) with (ch 3), (hdc) with (dc), and (ch 1) with (ch 2). Extra-lacy black heart was made with #10 thread and a size 0 steel hook. The less-lacy version was made with the same material and the manufacturer's recommended hook size of 7.

free crochet pattern, heart, Paris, November 13th

GrĂ¢ce crochet nous sommes un

Nous Somme Tous Paris!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Gift That Can't be Given

  I suppose I made a promise that I couldn't keep... In the post before I published the Bandanna Baby Bib pattern, I mentioned the Little Cutie that the project was intended for. Since Halloween is over, I guess I won't be spoiling the surprise if I tell you he was going to be a cowboy. Smart Cookie Mommy's plan was to use simple jeans and a button-up shirt he already has, plus a new pair of boots that would last him through the winter season. I intended to make the bib as an accessory for his costume. And I promised you all some photos.

crochet, baby bib, pattern, accessory, gift

  So, where are all the pictures of Cutie in the whole getup? There are none. One of my kids' old stuffed animals had to double as the model. Having already made a commitment to another project, I was worried I wouldn't finish the WIP in time for Halloween. I dumped a little of the housework on the Other Half and worked a few evenings to get it done. And I did get it done.

  One week before Halloween: The Other Half talks to Cutie's daddy. Daddy says that Mommy will bring the little guy over tomorrow for a fitting and pictures... So I wait. And wait... And wait. No Cutie. A phone call and a promise of a visit the next day: And I wait all day again. Daddy promised that he'd bring Cutie over the next day... And again, for the day after that when he failed to show.

  Four days of waiting, and I gave up. They never bothered to contact me in the remaining three days to Halloween. It came and went, and the accessory never was added to the costume. Here it sits in my house, waiting for a Cutie to wear it. Sad and lonely without a little one's companionship, my WIP seems to be destined as a dust collector.

Halloween, crochet pattern, bandanna baby bib

  What's the deal? I pondered over the situation a few times. Did I offend them in some way? I was worried that I had, but then, why promise you'll show up? Why not say "thanks, but no thanks"? I never would have wasted the yarn to make the bib, if I had known they didn't want it.

  But... They sure acted like they did! When I asked Mommy if she would mind me adding to his costume, there was no indecisive "hmm...", "maybe", or "no, that's nice, but you don't have to". There was only: "That would be cool!" And when Daddy came back in the house, she made a point to tell him what I would be making. And yet another: "That's cool".

  I'm over 30 now... Have I finally passed the age where I don't understand the language of youngsters? Does "cool" now mean that you don't care? To me, it means awesome; great; super; wonderful. But after my idea was called "cool" multiple times, I'm left wondering what they meant by it. At least I know it wasn't a horrible design of the pattern itself that sent them running... They never saw it.

crochet, bandanna baby bib, pattern

  This isn't the first time that someone turned down a gift! What seems like a long, long time ago: I made a beautiful CD case with a beaded cover for a friend. I used her favorite colors, and stocked it full of some music she would enjoy. I presented her with the gift, told her 'happy birthday', and she replied "That's pretty. Here, you keep it."

  What is wrong with these people? Better yet: What's wrong with me? I have a history of creating things that aren't appreciated. Is my work horrible and I just don't know it, because I have some mental disease that makes me think my work is awesome? How hard should you have to work to give a gift?

  But, wait... You don't really have to answer that, because I already know. Those questions were only fleeting thoughts in my head. I spent more time typing those sentences than actually thinking them. I have my own gift: Indifference. It's a gift that's learned more than given, but other people sure have a hand in developing it. Long ago, it used to cause some true emotional damage when one of my projects was mistreated or under-appreciated. And now, I just don't care. If you don't want it, then fine. I can sell it. I can save it for when the mommy-to-be I know pops. Or, I can donate it to charity. For every one person that doesn't appreciate my work, there's countless others that are praising it. Why should I let those few get to me?

  Some might think that indifference is a bad emotion, but I feel like it's usable here. You shouldn't be indifferent towards your work, home, or your family. (Well, at least most of them, lol.) Excuse me for the following sentence, but... Does it really matter if I don't care that they don't care, as long as there's others that show they care? You can't make everybody happy. So, concentrate on making sure you stay happy. You know what would make me happy? If I finally got to that afghan I was designing for myself. It's time to be selfish.

afghan, design, WIP

Happy Crocheting!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

An Ode(r) to Sheep


Oh, mighty Sheep, who live in a barn
Your fleece can be used to make wonderful yarn
You are important, oh mighty Sheep
As you are counted we drift off to sleep

Oh mighty Sheep, we love your wool
Fiber this fabulous won't come from a bull
Your roots in our history run quite deep
We owe much to you, oh mighty Sheep


You are a beast that is often ignored
At the mention of "sheep", most become bored
Your popularity is now a bit less slight
After you recently managed to stop a flight

Interest was piqued when we received word
That trouble was caused by some of the herd
You caused a fiasco, oh mighty Sheep 
When you were packed on a plane, two thousand deep

It must have been miserable down in the hold
But you got your vengeance a hundredfold
The pilots and crew met with some trouble
When the airplane filled with your methane bubble

Oh, mighty sheep, you don't smell like roses
Your odor began assaulting their noses
In midair, with nowhere to run
They had to endure the deed that was done

In distress, the flight was grounded
As fire alarms and warnings sounded
Oh, mighty Sheep, as you flew through the sky
Did you laugh while you made the pilots cry?

The air was cleared and the flight resumed
But the crew had already been properly fumed
It must not be fun transporting sheep
The smell is quite bad, and the -ahem- gets deep.

Oh, mighty Sheep, may your conditions be checked
And you treated with much more respect
For your wool is so loved among the fiber arts
That we can forgive your smelly farts


  For those of you who haven't heard, quite a debacle was caused recently by some sheep on a cargo plane. In transport from Australia to Malaysia, the 2,000+ sheep packed in the cargo hold managed to ground the flight due to an excess of methane gas. The beasts released so much manure and flatulence that the gases set off the fire alarms. I found a report of the incident here. Apparently, after airing out the aircraft for two and a half hours, the flight was able to resume.

  In closing, I'd like to add that over 2,000 sheep on a plane seems extreme, even if they were lambs instead of full-grown sheep. If they were full-grown sheep, then holy cow! I mean... Sheep! No wonder the flight was grounded. Being unable to find an example of how packed in they were, I can't condemn these people. Who knows? Maybe the sheep had plenty of room. But when your flight is being grounded due to sheep farts, perhaps that's too many.

Happy Crocheting!

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