Help Fund-raise to Fight the Fires in British Columbia

I’ve got something close to home to talk about today. Summer is a difficult time for most of Canada. We are fortunate enough to have so many different types of climates in our country, but the summer takes a toll on the more barren and desert-like areas.

Right now there are hundreds of forest fires burning throughout British Columbia and parts of Alberta. So many thousands of families have been displaced and have even had their homes destroyed.

We need to band together in this time of need. We need to stand strong and help each other in every way we can.

For the entire month of August I will be donating 80% of the sales of my most popular crochet pattern to the Canadian Red Cross. I know this isn’t a very large amount, but together we might be able to make a small difference.

One thing that I love about Canada is our desire to support each other. Canadians are such a tightly-knit group of people. Nothing can stand in our way if we are all able to work together to get through tough times such as these.

RED CROSS FUNDRAISER

“The Great Canadian Beanie” made in Caron Cakes in the colourway “Cake Pop”
Share this picture with your friends who crochet and let them know about the fundraiser that I am organizing. I’m hoping I’ll be able to make a sizable donation! I love my yarn community and I hope that we can work together to help support the Canadian Red Cross (and learn some crochet tips and tricks together).

You can purchase the Great Canadian Beanie pattern for $5.00 CAD in my Etsy shop and Ravelry page.

Reach out to me through Facebook and Instagram so I can see your progress on your Great Canadian Beanies!

Happy crocheting! xo

Miss me? Here’s a quick little update on my life.

Hey everyone. It’s been a while (again).

I feel like I owe a bit of an explanation to my horrendous lack of online activity lately. There really shouldn’t be an excuse, but I needed a break.

The last post I made anywhere was on May 18th, which was just over 3 weeks ago. I didn’t really tell anyone I was taking a break from social media, my blog, and everything relating to Strings & Things. I just did it.

In those three weeks I struggled a lot with the transition I am experiencing right now. For the past five years I have been a student who works evenings and weekends and usually had every single morning to herself. My scheduled contract jobs were quickly coming to a close so I was feeling the pressure to do some real job hunting. As much as I love yarn and love Strings & Things, it wasn’t feasible for me to attempt to turn it into a full-time source of income. In order to live properly, I needed something a little more “9-5ish”.

During those three weeks, every spare moment I had I was on my computer searching for jobs, applying to jobs, and attending interviews. I was picking up extra shifts where I could in order to save up enough in case I was unable to find a job before my contract work ended. I was feeling extremely stressed out.

Usually I turn to yarn to help relieve my stress, but whenever I would sit down and attempt to relax, the anxiety of “I should be looking for a job” would creep back up and I’d drop whatever I was doing and keep looking. I wasn’t getting a whole lot accomplished in the world of yarn, which was furthering my looming feelings of stress and anxiety.

In those three weeks I also was quite sick, and still am rather sick. Now it’s nothing serious, I assure you. But normal healthy people don’t experience three types of colds/flus/infections within a two month period. I was having really frequent migraines and headaches that would last all day, forcing me to hide in the dark and nap, hoping they would fade away and I would be able to get some work done. That usually didn’t work out. They have died down a bit in frequency since, but they are still happening more than what is considered normal. I am working with my doctor to try to figure out why I have been so Β unhealthy lately and it is turning out to be quite the mystery.

My feelings of stress, anxiety, and overall unhealthiness were debilitating. I was exhausted, confused, overwhelmed, but still trying to fight through every day. I found the time to finish one project during those three weeks, a personal project, that didn’t even turn out the way I had hoped. My relationship with yarn was starting to become more of a burden than an exciting and fun thing. I had to take a break.

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For anyone who is interested, this was the one project I finished – a smaller-than-intended camping blanket.

I was blessed enough to find a full-time job that would work with me to accommodate my last few shifts teaching dance, but I am still working more than I ever have before. I simply do not have the time to make and make and make the way I did only a few months ago. I am trying to figure out what that means for Strings & Things in the future, but I am still unsure. All I know is that I am prepared to fight to keep this little project of mine alive, it just might require me to switch my focus a bit to allow for this new “adult” schedule I have.

I won’t dive to deep into my new ideas that I am trying to create, but I promise you my mind has been racing trying to think of new things I can do to keep Strings & Things going.

For the amazing yarn ladies out there and other business owners I have been working and collaborating with, don’t worry! I am still working diligently through our agreements and I am trying my hardest to make things work. I appreciate everyone’s patience with my lack of consistency and availability lately.

A PSA to all my fellow knitters and crocheters: I already know that I won’t be able to attend any Christmas markets this year, so I won’t be preparing a whole bunch of stock over the summer. That means the yarn I have been hoarding that was waiting to turn into winter stock is no longer something I need to keep. In the next few weeks I will be posting tons and tons of great quality, brand new, unused yarn here and in my Etsy shop for purchase. If you know of any other yarn ladies out there who are looking for some goodies that will be much cheaper than they should be, follow my blog so you can get the update when everything goes live!

Thanks again for all of your patience with me. Hopefully I will have some more exciting news soon!

The Long Awaited Final Square in the Marvel Graphghan Blanket

Hey everyone. It’s been a while. Just about 5 months to be exact.

I know I’ve lost a lot of you over the past few months, and for that I want to apologize. I have received every message, seen every comment asking for the next square, and I have been following along with your progress on the blanket over the past 5 months. I beyond excited to see how many of you took the time to follow along on this longer-than-anticipated journey. I am forever grateful for your support, persistence, and dedication to the project.

So why was I absent? Why did I neglect to follow up on my promises to have the last square posted before Christmas of 2016 so many of you could finish up gifts? Two words – mental health.

I won’t go into too many of the details here (I plan on writing a longer blog post next week explaining everything), but I wanted you to know that there was a reason. I didn’t ignore you guys. In fact, I was checking your progress regularly and admiring your work. I didn’t give up on the project. I had the final square planned and prepared for months, it was just a matter of making final edits and creating the post.

I was starting my final semester of my entire Bachelor’s Degree. It was a huge workload, the amount of coursework I had was insane, and I was still working my other jobs, trying to exercise, trying to see my few friends, see my boyfriend, and spend time with my family (on top of attempting to sleep normal amounts and cooking myself actual food). In all honesty, creating the final square to the Marvel Graphghan would have taken me about two hours tops. But I literally did not have two hours to spare. Ever.

My semester ended a few weeks ago. I was so excited to sit down and prepare this blog post and get to work on my own squares (I have only actually made two)! Part of me was so embarrassed by the fact that it had taken me so long to get myself organized that I neglected posting for even longer. I’ve been seriously debating what Strings & Things will turn into now that I am no longer in school, but again, I’ll save that topic for a different post.

In short, I know my negligence ruined some of your Christmas gifts. I know you have been (im)patiently waiting for this post. I know many of you have unfollowed me out of frustration and disappointment with my lack of presence. But I’m here now, and I am deeply sorry.

For those of you who want to finish up the last square, I chose Vision to be the final installment.

Vision Square

I went with a really classic silhouette for this character. Only the true die-hard fans will recognize the outline of this powerful character’s face. I used the movie costume for colour inspiration, choosing a golden yellow, an orange-y red, and a teal/robin’s egg blue for the background.

As always, it is helpful to use the grid layout below to help track your progress through the square. Print it out and use a pen to tick off each square as you work your way through the rows. I used R for red, B for blue/teal, and Y for yellow.Vision Grid

Please note: I just realized that in the image of the finished square the cheeks are not symmetrical! I have adjusted this in the colour-coded grid, so please follow along with the grid to ensure everything is even.

Again, I just want to extend my biggest thank you ever to those of you who are still following along and working on your Marvel blankets. I am hoping that I will finally be able to finish my own!

As a big SORRY for being so behind with this project, I am offering all of my knitting and crochet patterns in my Etsy shop for $0.50 CAD (I wanted to do free, but Etsy won’t let me). Enter the code [ SORRY ] in the checkout to get your pattern for 50 cents!

Take me to 50 cent patterns!

(Coupon code info: It is a $5.00 off any purchase coupon. There is no limit to how many times the code can be used, but if you would like to purchase multiple patterns, you need to make multiple transactions otherwise it will only take $5.00 off of the first pattern and the rest will remain full price).

And as always, don’t forget to use the hashtag #marvelgraphghan so I can look at your beautiful work and admire your talent from afar!

New Year, New Projects, New Patterns!

2017, it’s nice to meet you.

So far my new year has been wonderfully lazy. Yesterday I had breakfast for every single meal. Today I am still lounging in pajamas as I try to get a little bit of work done. I go back to my teaching job tomorrow and I don’t have to go back to university until next Monday, so I am pleased with how much more relaxing I can do before things really start up again.

I’ve been avoiding this particular blog post for a while because I know for a fact it will make me feel a tiny bit anxious, but it must be done. Part of being a maker is constantly having to be creative and come up with new ideas that actually work. I’ve had thousands of ideas of things I could make or patterns I could write, but they weren’t all necessarily good. It’s finding the good ones that is the hard part.

I tried pattern for the first time last year and it was terrifying at first. The very first pattern I ever wrote and published for sale, The Great Canadian Beanie, took me about 20 hours to test, write, rewrite, remake, publish, republish, etc., before I was happy with the final outcome. And even after it was published, I was still so terrified of what would happen once it was released into the wild. Images of copyright infringement and pattern stealing and finding out that I accidentally copied another pattern raced through my mind for literal days. Once I started receiving feedback on the pattern, positive feedback, I was finally able to calm down. So I suppose my neurosis was beneficial to the whole pattern-writing experience as I haven’t had a single negative remark yet!

My main goal for 2017 is to become a business that doesn’t just cater only to the public. As much as I love making things for people and seeing them wear what I’ve made, I also love helping other creative minds. The term “made for makers” has been on my mind a lot lately. I want to help other makers thrive and learn how to be successful. I want to be able to share my yarn knowledge with others and help them make beautiful new things for themselves. It’s such a rewarding feeling.

best-nine

I hopped on the “Best Nine of 2016” train that everyone was doing and I was almost brought to tears when I saw my best nine picture collage. They were mostly all images of my original designs that I had written and created that year. Seeing these images stacked together just sort of confirmed in my anxious and worrisome mind that what I am doing is appreciate by others (and that you all really enjoy the mustard yellow colour).

I learned so much in 2016. I didn’t know how to make a hat (crochet or knit) until last year. I learned different tricks for crochet to make things look more finished and professional. I took on some of my biggest knitting and crochet projects ever last year and they went over smoothly. I finally learned how to do more than just basic knit stitches, and I even managed to make two cardigans!

I need your help. I’ve got a few ideas in mind for patterns that I plan on writing, some even for free! I want to hear from you. What would you like to see more of from Strings & Things this year? Tips and tricks for photography and keeping organized? More patterns? Specific patterns? I’m hoping your ideas will help kick-start my own inspiration and motivation for this year!

Have a crafty New Year everyone, enjoy the last day of winter break!

Marvel Square #8 – Scarlet Witch

Hello again, and happy December! Wow, we’ve made it almost to the end of 2016. I usually lose track of time this time of year. I’ve had a running “to-do” list since about the beginning of November with “Finish Marvel Squares” on there, and all of a sudden, woah it’s December.

Thankfully, I have them all prepared and ready to go! I am determined to have these prepared and posted for all of you wonderful crocheters BEFORE Christmas. So without further adieu, here is the 8th square: The Scarlet Witch.

scarlet-witch-square

I really like the way this one turned out! It kind of looks like an M, but it’s supposed to be a silhouette outline of what her helmet looks like. The colour scheme was a bit tricky to figure out. Most of her costumes from the comic books have quite a strange collection of shades of red, burgundy, and pink in them. I didn’t think pink would fit too nicely with the rest of the blanket squares, but maybe that’s just my own general aversion to pink. So I decided to stick with a dark burgundy and a nice red. Of course if you think pink is amazing, throw some pink in there!

The grid has the letter B for burgundy and R for red. Pretty obvious. Please feel free to switch colours around, just remember to change your own grid and legend so you don’t accidentally switch things around. Again, I always suggest printing out the grid so you can cross each box off as you complete it in the square. This helps me keep track of my progress, especially if I have to set the square down for a while.

scarlet-witch-grid

Good luck with this square! I am loving seeing everyone’s progress on this blanket and each individual square. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #marvelgraphghan if you post on Instagram or Facebook, and make sure you tag @strings.and.things so I can marvel at your beautiful work! Like that pun?

Another Marvel Square for you Patient People!

Forgive me! I’m a little disorganized sometimes when it comes to following a schedule. There are only 3 squares left (2 after this one) and they will certainly be completed in time for you lovely people to complete your blankets by Christmas. I can’t wait to see pictures of the finished product!

One of the main reasons I’ve been so delayed with writing more patterns for squares is because I was originally hoping that I would be able to catch up to you guys! I’ve come to accept the fact that it simply will not happen. My university courses are in full swing and I am madly trying to prepare for my upcoming markets as quickly as I can. This little project will have to wait until I have my winter/semester break.

I’ve chosen the infamous Falcon as the next Marvel square. I thought he was deserving of having his own square for a few reasons. 1) He’s super cool and super brave to fly around all of the time with essentially a winged backpack on. 2) He started off being somewhat “anti-Avenger” but eventually joined the party anyways. 3) Falcons are just really cool birds.

Let’s get started!

falcon-square

I tried to be a little more detailed with this one, so I included some shading! Consider this shading to be optional, as you need very small amounts of the different shades of gray.If you don’t have any scraps of gray lying around or don’t want to buy three whole balls of yarn just to get the shading right, don’t worry about it. Choose one (or two) and work with that! I would suggest definitely sticking with a dark gray and then if you want to try adding a second colour, use a medium gray or classic gray and opt out of the light gray.

I think this is my favourite grid so far. I was nervous about the shading, but I think it adds a little extra “something” that the other grids haven’t had yet.

My boyfriend took a look at this grid and didn’t understand what the little “sideways 8” was in between the two wings. It’s Falcon’s goggles, just in case anyone else was wondering!

Here is the grid:

falcon-grid

As always, I highly recommend printing this out and crossing each square off with a pen as you go. This will help you not get lost in the multiple different shades of gray. This pattern was designed in a mirror image effect, so if one side is different the whole thing will look a little off-balance.

I used a D for dark gray, and G for gray (medium gray), and an L for light gray. R is obviously for red, but I’m planning on using a nice dark burgundy that matches his outfit in the movies/comics. Hopefully this isn’t too confusing!

I can’t wait to see your finished squares and blankets! Don’t forget to use the hashtag #marvelgraphghan so I can see your beautiful progress. This is going to be an amazing piece once it is all finished up, and if you are planning on giving it away as a gift, the recipient is going to be ecstatic!

 

Granny Square Triangle Scarf – Free Pattern!

You might as well go to your local yarn store and buy a ton of yarn right now, because I can guarantee you will not be able to stop making these.

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For the longest time, crocheting triangles seemed impossible. I couldn’t figure out how to make such a sharp point. It’s honestly a little embarrassing how long this took me to do! I found a similar pattern a while ago and I never got past the third step because I didn’t see the triangle taking shape, so I thought I was making a mistake somewhere. Finally I just sat down and tinkered with the pattern and voila, a large triangle was made.

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See? Look at how happy I am that I figured out how to crochet a triangle!

You can get away with making a medium sized triangle with one skein of Caron Cakes (my new personal favourite yarn). Want to try making something a little bigger? Just keep adding more rows! I am in the process of making another one of these out of the Lion Brand Scarfie yarn. I am only about half way through the ball so far and it’s almost as big as the one I made with the Caron Cake yarn, so we will see!

What you will need:

  • Pretty much any hook between a 4.5mm – 6.00mm
    • I used a J/10-6.00mm
    • Gauge does not matter for this pattern
  • At least 350 meters of worsted weight yarn
    • The more yarn you use, the bigger your triangle
  • Scissors
  • Yarn needle

How to start:

  • In a magic circle [ ch 2, dc 2, ch 2, dc 3 ] pull circle tight, ch 2, turn
    • You should have two double crochet clusters with a ch2 space in the middle
  • Dc 2 into the first stitch from the last round, work [ dc 3, ch 2, dc 3 ] in the ch 2 space, dc 3 into the space between the dc and the ch 2 from the beginning previous round, ch 2, turn
    • You should have 4 double crochet clusters
  • Dc 2 into the first stitch from the last round, dc 3 in the space between the two double crochet clusters from the previous round, work [ dc 3, ch 2, dc 3 ] in the ch 2 space, dc 3 into the space between the two double crochet clusters from the previous round, dc 3 into the space between the dc and the ch 2 from the beginning previous round, ch 2, turn

Keep repeating this pattern, adding two double crochet clusters for every row, until you are happy with the size of your triangle. I managed to make 28 rows with my Caron Cakes yarn before I needed to stop in order to save enough yarn to make my tassels!

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Once you are satisfied with your triangle width, weave in your tails and get creative! You could leave this scarf plain the way it is, or you could add some fun tassels! I made three large tassels for each corner of my scarf and I love the way it turned out. Each tassel was about 4-5 inches, so it added a lot of length to my scarf.

Like I said, you are going to have a hard time NOT making these. Try using some chunky yarn and see what happens! Lace weight? That could take quite a while but I’m sure it would be beautiful.

I want to see your beautiful creations, so use the hashtag #grannytrianglescarf so I can see your marvelous work!

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Thanks for reading, and happy crocheting – xoxoΒ