Comfort and Finding it in Crochet and Knitting 2020

Finding comfort when people are sick and dying, how ? For example, knitting and crochet is one way.

It has been a while now since my last blog post. With Baggy cat’s passing, I did not have the energy to sit and write about something I created or learned. Slowly as time went by, I took to hook and needle to seek some comfort.

My comfort has been knitting and crocheting afghans, lap throws, baby blankets, table toppers. On average, the big blankets can take 2-3 months from start to finish. When my hands are stiff and achy, I give them a break and I continue to sew facemasks. As you can see from the photos here, I have been busy.

The patriotic throw came to me during the summer. I wanted to do a solid granny square, and instead of just one color, I wanted to use several colors from my yarn stash that I have.

The baby blanket with tassles uses the technique called Join As You Go Corner To Corner. I learned this from a YouTube video by Fiber Spider. There are 3 parts to this video and the designer is very thorough in his instructions. It uses the same technique as Corner To Corner, but instead of working from one corner to another corner, you crochet in squares and rectangles.

The knit log cabin baby blanket was a custom order for a friend. She requested 2 blankets, about the same size for her grandbabies. Looking at my yarn, I chose this stripe yarn that has 4 colors in it, and to finish it off, I framed it with crochet edging.

Plus my knitting guild has been doing a year-long knit-a-long and crochet-a-long. Even though we do not meet in person, there is a monthly zoom meeting. Each month, in our newsletter, a sample of a knit square and crochet square are given. You are learning a new technique that will, at the end of the year, create something as small as a lap throw to as large as a blanket. These are a few samples of what I have created. I stepped aside from these blocks for other projects, and now have 3 months to catch up.

This is my current comfort project that I just finished a couple weeks ago: Oversized Granny Square Blanket . The original design was going to be solid squares, but after crocheting a few rows, I would run out of yarn quickly. Therefore, I ripped back a few rows and continued by changing colors every round. Furthermore, gray is a great accent color.

The queen size granny square blanket took on a life of its own. Each square consists of a rainbow of color interspersed with several shades of gray. The 16 blocks are 20 inches square and are stitched together using the slip stitch method. Each row is one color of the blanket along with each column.

The blanket lays on top of our quilt which adds a layer of warmth. Gizmo kitty takes full advantage of the blanket, as its his favorite spot to nap. As sleeps against my legs, the blanket keeps him warm, likewise my legs stay warm too.

Gizmo cat + crochet = Comfort

Be safe, wear your face mask and don’t stress. Here is a sneak peak into my next project: Crocheting with gradient yarns.

gradient yarn, crochet hat

Sewing Face Masks And How We Came Together in 2020

After many weeks of stay at home, and sewing face masks, I wanted to find out how this endeavour started. I sent out this questionnaire to our group leader, Susan Mitchell Mattera. She was kind enough to reply and here is the story.

How did you become involved in sewing face masks?

 A group of friends were sewing face masks and I was assisting in distributing masks to my fellow healthcare workers. The need was so great they were unable to meet the demand. So I decided to gather some of my friends who sew and together we formed a group of Masked Angels.

My mom became the cutter of the fabric and assembled the kits of fabric, elastic and pipe cleaners to distribute; my family and I did social distance drop offs of kits and pick up of completed masks at doors; while many talented ladies began to sew.

Face Mask Supplies: fabric for 12 masks, 24 pieces of elastic, pipe cleaners for nose guard

Where do you get your materials from? Have you received donations, money, supplies?  

Donations of fabric came from many of the ladies who were sewing. My family and I purchased elastic and pipe cleaners for the kits. When we were running low on fabric; my church “First Pentecostal Church of God in Long Beach” purchased fabric for us to continue sewing masks. I purchased some fabric and donated fabric to a local group sewing masks for the community.

The generosity of so many have made this into a work of love for the community. We have not sold any masks or taken any money donations. We wanted to do this from the heart to serve the community. Each person participating wanted to make a difference with their contribution of time and skills.

Are you buying the materials yourself?

We purchased about 60 yards of material; but for the first seven weeks, we have been grateful for each person sewing who not only donated their skills and time, but also remnants of left-over fabric for the masks from their stash. Their kindness and willingness to give made this possible. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to find or afford the materials.

How many people are sewing the masks? Putting the kits together?

Our nineteen (19) talented cutting, sewing and distributing angels are: 

Carson Residents-Susan Mitchell Mattera RN, MN Project Leader of Carson, Neil Mattera,

Rita Manley, Pamela Mitchell, Kathie Campbell, Melanie Campbell, Charlotte Cox, Lajuana Willet Lopez, Marianne Miller, Christy Tam, Josephine Rodriguez, Diane Johnson;

Harbor City Resident- Rebecca Montes; 

Lomita Resident- Nancy Christianson;

Long Beach- Linda Kam

Redondo Beach Resident- Kathy Bartholomew;

Torrance Residents- Nola Glass , MaryAnn Lynch, Theresa Heywood and Raelyn Duffy.

We appreciate all the donated time, skills, supplies, and travel they have donated to this project which has benefitted our communities.

4 sets of face masks sewn, 12 face masks in each bag.

Who are the recipients of the masks? Are people asking for masks?

Masks were delivered to healthcare workers and their families in hospitals, home health and hospice agencies, nursing homes, pre-schools, churches, book clubs, food distribution centers, congregate living facilities, frontline workers, grocery store workers, food services workers, homeless shelters, businesses throughout our communities. They were given to our community officials, local clubs serving our communities and state organizations who serve health care organizations.

Masks were mailed from Carson California to 31 States and Canada with postage being supported by Susan and her husband Neil.

People were so grateful to receive a mask and we collected pictures of some people who were kind enough to send us a snapshot of them in their masks.

There were great stories of masks arriving on special days like birthdays, an Air Force mask that arrived on a Dad’s birthday to a daughter whose Dad in still Missing In Action from the Vietnam War, and people who could not find or afford a masks.

May of these stories brought tears to our eyes but joy to our hearts, making all the time and effort worth every moment.

How many masks are you making? Do you have a goal on how many to make?

As of May 10, 2020 on Mother’s Day; we have made over 3000 masks. We will sew face masks until we run out of donated fabric or until the pandemic is declared over. Our goal is to provide everyone a mask for their safety if they wish to have one. This group is saving lives by providing masks. The masks made protects people and people have expressed a sense of relief to receive a mask; you can see anxieties go down on people’s faces.

When we felt we could do something for someone else, this group stepped up and did. I am so proud to know each one of these caring individuals.

Anything else you would like to say?

This project has brought together such a diverse group of individuals to help someone they may or may not know. It spread kindness and generosity when our world needed it the most.

Staying Safe at Home… Ideas For The Homebound

Safe at home, stay at home, self-quarantine. These are common words we hear every day, hour, minute of our lives. Scary words, scary time. Since we are all in the same predicament, I have come up with some ideas to help you get out of the doldrum of boredom.

These ideas are not just fiber related. Things I have come up with while thoroughly looking around my apartment. Some may sound crazy, but when you think about it, a little more organization never really hurts you. These will keep your mind off of the news, and onto a more tranquil life.

Music. Who doesn’t like listening to music. You don’t need a stereo or boombox anymore. Look at your cable network, mine is Spectrum, it has music channels on it. Scroll up from and you will see Music Choice channels based on genre like Classical, Party Favorites, Jazz, just to name a few. Or you can take your phone and Bluetooth speaker, hook them up and you have music from your phone.

Puzzles, Games, Legos. Whether, jigsaw, crossword, scrambled words. Puzzles can bring families together to create time well spent. Grab a jigsaw puzzle you find interesting likes these, clear your table and get working on it. Before you know, several hours have passed. My husband and I like to test ourselves with crossword puzzles. I work the across clues, he the down clues and see who can answer more clues.

While we stay at home and feel safe at home, here are a few crafty ideas that will not only create fun items but you may even clear out those remnants that have been sitting around.

Scrappy Blanket. Comfort is what we need these days and nothing says comfort more than a blanket, afghan, or lap throw. The idea here is to use up remnant balls of stash yarn. You know those balls of yarn that are not enough for a project. Knit or crochet a few rows, or until that ball runs out, change to the next color and so on. Random choice of colors. Just go with the flow and have fun. When done, you can curl up, and relax with your pet.

Placemats, washcloths, coasters. Solids, stripes, mix & match colors. The possibilities are endless. You choose the yarn and play with it. Many patterns and ideas are out on the web. Try Pinterest for inspiration. But be careful, before you know it, many hours can slip by… but isn’t that a good thing?

Inventory Your Yarn Stash. While you are safe at home, do you really know how much yarn you have? How many skeins/hanks/balls of a particular color, brand you own? Now is a great time to work through some angst and sort through those bags, bins and bundles and organize your stash. Don’t forget to turn up the music for some background sounds.

A friend and fellow knitting guild member showed me her massive list of yarn. I went home and wanted to see how much yarn I really have. My list has categories that include yarn brand, color, weight, quantity of skeins, yardage, location of purchase.

This is just one page of my list. It took me 2 days to inventory my yarn. Amd now every time I pull yarn off the shelf and use it, it is either deleted from my stash or if a portion is used. It is then weighed and inventory adjusted.

Try a new craft. Last year I started sewing after 20 years. My hands get quite sore from knitting and crocheting and I needed something crafty to do. I used to make clothes while working at a fabric store when I first moved to So Cal back in 1983. I pulled out my old Sears Kenmore sewing machine. Guess what? It no longer works, so last fall, I purchased a new machine.

That machine worked great for clothes, now for my 2020 project: Pillowcases, flannel pillowcases. Using 2 different fabrics, pillowcases can be sewn quickly. Remember as a kid, you would go to a friend’s house for a sleepover and you brought your own pillow. That is where this project came from.

Each one unique, a fun project for friends, family. My family were the first to get personalized pillowcases. I chose fabrics that I thought were reflected who they are.  I am always looking for new projects, keeps the mind focused.

Limit the social networking. While we hunker down safe at home, we need a little social networking, i.e. facebook, Instagram, twitter. But how much is too much? When you look at what is posted, if you find that more and more posts are all about the pandemic, that can cause anxiety and stress. Lighten the load. Don’t hang out on the site for too long.

For me, I check-in in the morning, read some posts, and comments on my page and change my background picture. I play a game or 2 and when I feel my time is spent, I leave the site and work on something else. Currently my wallpaper has plumeria flowers on it.

I love flowers, recently I asked my friends to send me pictures of their flower gardens. I choose a different flower to post to my page. This makes me feel good. No bad news, all flowers.

Most importantly, turn off the news. I found that after watching many hours a day of the same, horrifying news, I became withdrawn, depressed, angry. I had enough of the news.

As I went outside, I sat on the stairs and let the sun soak into my head, neck and face. It felt good, so I pruned my geraniums of dead flowers and brown leaves, very calming and meditative.Sun and flowers are good combination for calm.

I stay safe from my neighbors and enjoyed the warmth I got from the sun, that natural vitamin D. I started to feel better, my attitude more upbeat. A little bit of sun every day makes you feel better, get outside and enjoy it for yourself.

I stopped watching hours of the news, now I only watch about 15 to 30 minutes a day. I take time for myself, my husband and my cats.

Now what are you going to do to feel better mentally?

The Baggy and the Gizmo safe at home.

Baby Blanket Crocheted With Crochet Alphabet

The baby blanket was ordered from my favorite grocery checker. She ordered 2 blankets: a boy and a girl blanket. I crocheted the girly blanket pretty quickly as I had a plan for the yarn and the design. The boy blanket was a little harder.

baby blanket with stitched alphabet letters

And with the boy blanket, do I use just one color, many shades of that color? Little boy blue? Green, yellow? What will I choose? Now its time to get into my work space.

As I was sitting in my home office, looking my shelves of yarn, one shelf has Encore Worsted in red, blue, green, yellow and orange. Perfect color choices for baby blanket. How will I use these primary colors in a blanket?

Encore Worsted yarn, primary colors are chosen

Now to set up the color sequence. Open Excel spreadsheet and start to paint with color stripes and blocks of color. For instance, I came up with these blocks shown below. All primary colors and each column the colors shift one space to the left. Therefore, red was chosen as the beginning of the blanket.

The sequence followed a color wheel: red, blue, green, yellow, orange. No purple for this blanket. Most importantly, its fun to mix with colors. As you can see, using Excel to play with the gives you ideas on how the blankets will turn out. I highly recommend trying it.

I found the crochet letters on Moogly blog. Be sure to check out the blog for caps and lowercase letters, with easy to follow instructions and pictures. With 25 squares and 26 alphabet letters, I crocheted the M & N smaller to fit into one square. You could do that for Y, Z if you want.

baby blanket closeup of M,N to fit into color block

To finish up, putting a border around the blanket will frames the blanket and smoothes the edges of the crochet stitches. This blanket has a border of 4 colors, each side has one color edging. This blanket can be crocheted in a weekend. If you want the pattern for the alphabet baby blanket, just click the link and it will take you to my shop page.

2020, Animals, and More Crochet Animals

Gizmo recharging himself

This is 20-20. My year begins with a bang. My ocean themed crochet animals have made their way home to me. After several months of reflection, I decided to end my consignment and the end of 2019. The last 8 years crocheting hundreds of animals for her shop. It was a great run, now it’s my time.

Here is a sample of a few of them. What you see are the actual animal. Each one crocheted by me. I choose bright colors, it makes me happy. Kids of all ages, adults too, like these animals.

All of the animals I will be listing are from my consignee. All ocean themed animals, with an exception of a couple that were requested. Best of all, they are machine washable and dryable. Place inside a mesh laundry bag, gentle cycle wash, and delicate dry for 15 minutes then let air dry.

Ally the Mermaid. This sea creature was very popular at the shop. The customers did not know it takes about 2 days to crochet. Hair takes 6 hours to attach to her head, each strand one at a time. She stands about 12 inches tall. Three colors of yarn used. My favorite yarn for animals is Red Heart Super Saver. Its acrylic, and holds up to stitches and does not stretch when stuffing the animals. Purchased the pattern on etsy from seller kandjdolls.

Ally the Mermaid

Nemo-like Clown fish. These big, chubby fish are two toned in color. Again, love the bright colors. Does it make you happy? Can you see your kids giggling at those ball shaped tail fins? Fishes measure a whopping 10 inches long and 7 inches tall. Give to your favorite fisherman who can finally say “the one that got away” did not happen.

Stanley the Starfish, one of the first ocean themed crochet animals to go on consignment, this one is a favorite of mine. I love how easy it is to crochet. Just 5 legs and a body, add a couple eyes, a smile and its ready to its new home. Stanley stands at 9 inches wide, the legs are poseable, turn the tips, squeeze the legs to make it stand taller or push down the body to make it lay flatter. The pattern was purchased on etsy from seller DaveyDreamer.

Stanley the Starfish

Norman the Narwhal is a newer crochet animals. The pattern, too cute to bypass. The pattern was a duo. Actually, the whale and narwhal are the same, just add a horn to the whale and you get a narwhal. Purchased from etsy seller TheresaCrochetShop.

Norman the Narwhal

Cleo the Clam, another great aquatic animal to crochet. Elizabeth at DaveyDreamer designed this animal. Her crochet animals have great detail. Extra large big eyes, and a jumbo shell. Lots of fiberfill stuffing, those eyes, 24mm. The possibilities are endless. Solid color, stripes, variegated yarns, many to choose from.

Cleo the Clam

Paddy the Platypus is a “classic” pattern I found over 10 years ago. This little platypus has a big tail, big beak and small body. My version of it uses thick yarn, making it bigger to hold and cuddle. Paddy is an adorable crochet animal. This FREE pattern came from Craftster https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=298640.0

Patty the Platypus

These next 3 crochet animals all came from the Lion Brand website. The first 3 animals I ever crocheted. Fifteen years later, I still crochet these animals.

Torty the Turtle the very first animal I crocheted. After participating in a few craft shows, selling blankets, wraps, scarves, I wanted to try to crochet in the round. Not many websites back in 2004 had crochet animals, except Lion Brand yarn. I found several animals to attempt: octopus, turtle, ladybug. Torty was the start of 15 years of crocheting animals. My love of crochet for many turtles have found new homes.

Lulu the Ladybug was the second animal I crocheted. How fun was it to work with 2 colors to create such a cute little ladybug. One thing that I did change with the ladybug, the safety eyes. The original pattern calls for 6mm eyes. They are quite small, and were difficult to place within the stitch. Little fingers could possibly pull out the eye, making it a choking hazard. I use larger eyes, 9mm. Much better, with the special locking disc that goes on the inside of the animal, makes it hard to pull out.

The Party Penguin, a classic crochet animal. Thanks to my choice of yarn, this penguin is the hit of the party. Penguins are aquatic. The Pen stands at 8 inches, 4 inches more for its party hat, total of 12 inches in height. Hat and scarf sewn to head and neck.

“Tomorrow is another day”and so I shall be back to officially list these animals.