Tommy and Tammy Tortoise

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Last fall my daughter asked me if I would crochet animals for the grandchildren’s 2017 Christmas gifts. While watching her mother crochet her entire life, it never occurred to her that she was taking me down a road I have never traveled. I have crocheted my entire adult life, but I had never really attempted animals. I agreed with her and thought they were cute, but my  passion lies with afghans.

So unbeknownst to her, I accepted her challenge to my crochet skills. With seven grandchildren to surprise and only four months, I quickly searched and found the patterns I wanted to work. One of the ones I liked was this Tommy and Tammy Tortoise by Janine Holmes at Moji-Moji Design. The download pattern was $5.00 and that included the two large tortoises and a baby one.
(https://www.amigurumipatterns.net/shop/Moji-Moji-Design/Tommy-and-Tammy-Tortoise/)

Although this was the last one I crocheted, I thought it would be the first one to share with you.  This was a perfect pattern for the novice that I definitely was feeling like. It was very detailed and loaded with pictures and I used a larger hook than suggested since I wanted to make them a little larger.

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I crocheted the 2 larger parents in less then a week each. For the smaller ones I brought Lion Brand Bonbons Yarn. They are a set of 9 miniature skeins, the perfect size for the small, very quick to crochet turtles. I loved all array of colors that came in the package as well, because it allowed for no duplicates.. Now I could give each of the children a small turtle for a Christmas Eve gift. That something small for them to play with until we opened the larger gifts.

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The larger ones went to my four year old grand daughter. I used the safety eyes for hers and made sure everything was securely sown. It has been three months since she has received them and I am told that she still enjoys playing at her tea party with them.

If you have crocheted animals and would like to share your experiences please feel free.

Until next time, keep those hooks flying.

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Annie’s Hook & Needle Club – Kit 58 – Learn a Stitch Dishcloths

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I have always loved crocheting dishcloths since my first year of picking up a hook and skein of yarn. They were small projects that helped me to learn many new stitches in a short amount of time. So as I opened the 58th kit of Annie’s Hook & Needle club showing me the supplies to crochet or knit three dishcloths – I was delighted indeed.

Although the kit bears the same title as my second kit, that is where the similarity ends. The kit comes with six patterns, and you can choose crochet or knit them. If you have been reading my blog any amount of time you know that I always choose crocheting.

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The yarn is Premier home cotton yarn, and this was the very first time I had an opportunity to crochet using this yarn. I have to say that the colors are beautiful -Annie’s had chosen – Ocean Splash – Honey-dew Splash and Tangerine Splash, all 3 bright and colorful.

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The yarn was easy to work with and I was glad to see that they were available at my local JoAnn’s store. Only time will tell if they pass the test in my kitchen after a few nights of washing dinner dishes, at the moment I have no reservations that there will be a problem.

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Once you receive your kit, you will have to have an I-9 crochet hook and a tapestry needle on hand. Once that is obtained just open your kit and relax as you crochet three dishcloths while with each one you learn a new stitch. The three Annie has chosen for this kit were, the eyelet stitch, the ribbed stitch and the seed stitch. Although I have worked the ribbed stitch and seed stitch it was the first time for me crocheting the eyelet stitch. I opened and finished this kit in the same day, but if you wanted you could spread it over three days.

I am rating this kit a perfect 10. Based on my grading scale:
-5 points for good, clear and easy to read patterns
-3 points for the yarn: easy to work with, enough to finish projects and be able to repurchased it if I like it.
-1 point for overall enjoyment of the kit itself
-1 point if I could ever see myself reaching for the pattern for a second go around.

Let me know if you enjoyed this one as much as I did.

Until next time, keep those hooks flying.

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Annie’s Crochet Afghan Block-of-the-Month Club – Kit 2

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This year for the first time my hubby decided to be an election judge. To him it meant getting up at four in the morning and to go to the community building to get everything ready for when the polls opened at six. For me it was a time to schedule a day of crocheting. The timing of second Annie’s Block of the Month club was perfect, as it arrived the day before.

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So while my hubby was helping people vote, I sat down and excitedly opened my second kit from Annie’s Block of the Month club. The pattern booklet was for block 4 (half doubles),

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block 5, (an open lace )

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and a block 6 which was was composed of three stitches to form a pattern.

The blocks do not have names, so I will attempt to describe them as best as I can. The blocks are still all at an easy level. So between the way the patterns are written and the DVD instructions, I would have no problem recommending this to a beginner.

Included in the kit were two skeins of Deborah Norville – Everyday Soft Worsted Solid Yarn by Premier, and this time in off white and not in taupe. I am so glad they chose a yarn that not only looks great, but is easy to work with.

At this point, I boiled some water for a cup of Twinning’s Lady Gray tea, slipped in the DVD and sat back to enjoy the start of a very relaxing and enjoyable morning. The instructor on the DVD was the same as in the DVD of the first kit sent, Kristi Simpson. I think she did a wonderful job in explaining the stitches, and not to the extent of overkill. She did a very clear presentation and then moved on to the next step. The whole DVD can be watched in under an hour.

Tips:
1. Make sure you keep all unused yarn, as it will be needed to finish afghan.
2. I like to keep my squares in 1 gallon zip lock bags. A year is a long time and I do not want to lose one of the blocks, or get them dirty. You can fit 6 in each bag with plenty of room to spare. Also this way I can keep them in order.

So I guess I am hooked, and I am now looking forward to next month and the arrival of my next kit. Six blocks crocheted and twenty four to go. YAY!!!

Until next time, keep those hooks flying.

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Annie’s Crochet Afghan Block-of-the-Month Club – Kit 1 –

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I have been a part of the Annie’s Hook & Needle club for over five years and I was told that my kits will become more sporadic in the future because of kits I have completed once before being sent. Having not received a kit for over five months I have decided to try a different club that they offer.

I have always enjoyed learning new stitches and have crocheted several sampler afghans throughout my crochet journeys. So, after receiving several email’s for Annie’s Crochet Afghan Block-of-the-Month Club – I have decided to try it for a month and see for myself if it is worth pursuing. I can see right away it is a club in which you are sent a good quality yarn, and patterns for three squares -to help you complete a 30 square stitch sampler afghan.

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In every kit you will receive the following:
Written patterns for three squares
Enough yarn to complete the squares
Easy-to-follow DVD lessons

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In the first kit there were patterns for a single crochet square, double crochet square and a V- stitch square. Annie’s said in the description that the square skill level would increase as you advance in the club.

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The first kit also had four free gifts for you…

FREE Gifts #1 and #2: Crochet hooks “H” and “I” are the tools you need to make your afghan!
FREE Gift #3: Illustrated Stitch Guide. This must-have reference will become your favorite go-to guide!
FREE Gift #4: Tapestry needle — perfect for weaving in ends and picking up stitches.

The yarn was Afternoon, worsted weight light taupe which is always very enjoyable to work with. It is a little early to tell if I will enjoy the club or not, it will depend on the stitches that are chosen for the afghan. The DVD was very well done; an excellent camera view of how to perform stitches was very easy to follow and I believe it would really help for those of you unfamiliar with the stitches that you will need to work. I thought it was a nice added feature to help a struggling crocheter’s to finish.

Let me give you a tip just in case you miss it in the DVD – it is suggested that you save all left over yarn to help with the edging of the afghan. I could not get confirmation on this one thing. I am assuming the club will run its course in one year. I deduce this because there are 30 blocks in the afghan and with three a month, even with additional kits for the edging, I can’t see it running more then 12 months. But no one at Annie’s could confirm my conclusions.

With the warmer weather just around the corner, my timing was great as this is the perfect club. The small very portable blocks can easily be carried with me for the more livelier and on the go spring season.

Only time will tell if I will enjoyed this club, but I can state Annie and I are off to a good start. With the DVD tutorial’s accompany this kit makes it more likely for me to recommend it to a beginner crocheter. For me a lot will depend on the stitches that have been chosen for the future blocks.

Until next time, keep those hooks flying.

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Valentine’s Gift: Luxja Small Tote Bag

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The Lord had blessed me with a very thoughtful husband. This year instead of the traditional candy and flowers, my loving hubby surprised me with a gift off of my crochet wish list. I awoke on the 14th to a Luxja Small tote bag which can help store and carry all my crocheting tools in one bag. No more running to one of three bags looking for the right tool!!

Last year my goal was to have a fully stocked and organized Kitchen for easier baking and cooking. This year, my attention has turned from my kitchen to my crocheting needs. One of my first and most aggravating problem was, that I would prefer to go to one spot and grab one bag or container and have all my tools for easy use. Naturally when I was done, I could return them for easy storage. I also would like one bag to carry to class that contained everything I needed to teach any crocheting class. The solution was a compact bag with lots of pockets, a place to hold hooks and a large inner pocket to hold the larger tools.

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The 10.5″ x 5.5″ x 10.5″ Luxja bag is made of heavy duty nylon, with well padded lining and lots of pockets. The front is sporting a large zipper pocket that is holding my most used aluminum crochet hooks. It is like having a built in crochet hook holder- just unzip that, and there they are. One caution here though, the flap holding the hooks – if not on a flat surface will allow all the hooks to fall out of their holders. If there is one suggestion I would make to the designers it would be to place a double zipper here. By doing this I could zip the pocket half way and still remove my hooks without them falling out.

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The back of the bag has 7 slots for inserting my Afghan crochet hooks, my double ended crochet hooks and my broom sticks needle. I place a small pom pom in each slot to hold my hooks a little more secure and less likelier to fall out.

There are two pockets on each side holding scissors, markers, pens, a highlighter, ruler, gauges and more hooks.

This brings us to the the large inside pocket surrounded by four smaller inside pockets. Three are open and one has a zipper. This is holding all my other tools from the pom pom makers to stitch dictionaries.

It was not the original bag I had chosen (that one was discontinued), however, I found out through experience, that when God closes a door He will open a window and that is usually a better way to go. So it is for this gift.

My hubby found the bag on Amazon for $26.99, and chose gray instead of black for the color. If you are looking for a small bag, this one is a good quality bag. You might not want to use it to store your tools, but for a project bag instead. It said in the description that it holds two skeins of yarn leaving a little room for a project.

Finally after carrying the bag for a few weeks, I would like to take this time to thank my hubby for a helping me inch a little closer to completion of my goal this year.

Until next time, keep those hooks flying.

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Crochet Tools Wish List:

I wanted to take a small detour from reviews and travel a different road on this post. I spent most of last year updating and organizing my kitchen so that I am now just two items away from having my kitchen completely organized and ready for Christmas baking. I don’t know how, but it seems to be just around the corner. Next year, I would like to devote more of my attention to gathering some new crocheting tools, because although I have been crocheting for many years, I have not kept up with all the latest tools and gadgets out there.

So one of the resolutions for 2018 that I will focus on are obtaining the things I don’t have that make finishing a project so much easier, and a lot more enjoyable. Before we continue, I want to clarify that I am not saying that I have definitely decided on each and every item on this post nor endorse anything at this point. I am still in the research stage. Reading reviews from others crocheters and deciding if it is something that would really benefit me and adding it to, or removing it from my final wish list- is the first step here. Please, I do so covet your input and comments on any item listed. Please help me to become more informed so that I can make better buying choices.

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My first and most aggravating problem is that I would like to go to one spot and grab one bag or container and have all my tools for easy use and return to them for easy storage. As of the time of this post I have tools scattered in three different spots. I have been looking at the DeNOA hanging knitting and sewing accessory tote as item number one. It is a portable, hanging tote with three center pockets and many outer pockets. It appears to have met some of the criteria I am looking for to organize my tools and keep everything handing in one spot. The thing holding me back for being certain is that I can find very few reviews on this products.

Second on my wish list is Blocking board puzzle pieces. This is high on my list. They are 9 foam interlocking mats thatare Extra Large and Thick. Each one is 12 inch x 12 inch making 3ft x 3ft sturdy blocking board, .78 inches thick, so T-pins don’t stick out the back. This is one tool which will make blocking so much easier and therefore more likely to get done. In my life, the easier things are, the quicker they are completed.

Third is a Fold Up pattern holder. This a device that is designed to hold your pattern for easier viewing and helping you keep your place and your hands free. There is many varieties of these and I have not pin pointed which one I would like, yet it is something that I know I would enjoy and benefit from having.

Fourth, I have small clover pom pom makers (which I truly love but that is for a future review) however I do not own the large pom pom makers. So I am adding that to my list as desirable tools for the future.

Yes I know my list is growing, but the wish list is for dreaming and I enjoy dreaming large. So the fifth thing is to help me with my ever growing yarn stash. It is a WPI Dachshund Dog Wraps Per Inch Tool. The description with the tools describes it best so I just copied and pasted what it said. ( This cute little WPI Dachshund is a handy little tool for measuring the thickness of any yarn. Simply wrap the yarn around his long little belly into the inch wide notch. Compare the number of times your yarn fits in the slot with the key under his chin and you’ll know if you’ve spun up a bulky, worsted or sport weight yarn. All weights of yarn from Bulky to Lace are represented in the key that’s engraved right on the tool. )

Sixth; is The Gleaner. It is a tool that is said to be the most effective pill remover out there, and so far I have read really great reviews on. If you have been crocheting as long as I have you will have pillows, afghans and etc laying around that are starting to look old from pilling. This is a device to help your projects look like they are brand new.

As much as I hate to admit it, I am not as young as I used to be. Sometimes when I give into a crocheting binge my body does not seem to enjoy it as much as my mind does anymore. This is why I am considering a Body Rite Posture Pleaser. It is a device that slips over the shoulders, and straps around your waist. This helps your shoulders and back to settle into proper, comfortable alignment. It is an ergonomic treatment for pain caused by prolonged activities like crocheting. If this works, we should have some happy people around.

Eighth on my list is a Sock Blocker. This is a perfect tool for blocking wet socks; they dry to the sock shape and size. Made of sturdy and flexible acrylic material. Unfortunately, it is not one size fits all, instead they come in small, medium and large. So if you are wanting to crochet socks for you and your husband, you will need to buy two. If I decide I would like one I also need to decide on wood or plastic. I don’t know the advantages of one versus the other.

Ninth, and last on my list is something you might not think of as a crocheting tool. I crochet to not only make amazing things, or to challenge myself to learn a new skill but above all- to relax. Crocheting is my escape from a very hectic world. So for me, this next product is a tool for crocheting. It is the Syntus 300ml Wood Grain Diffuser for Essential oil’s. Now if you may not be into oil’s, in that situation maybe you could add a nice scented candle to your list. Whatever it is that helps you relax and take in the full benefit of enjoying yourself while you crochet, utilize it. In this very busy and very demanding world of 2017 I found I needed to make time in my schedule for relaxing and collecting my thoughts and relieving the stress. When I didn’t the world had a way of taking over my time.

Do you have a wish list of your own? Have you already had experience with one or more of the products I listed? Or is there a tool not mentioned here that you would love to have added to your crochet tool supply? If you can say yes to any of these questions please share it with us all.

I want to remind you all again, in no way yet- is there an endorsement of any of these things. Possibly in the near future, with hands on experience and speaking with manufacturers, that could change.

Until next time, keep those hooks flying.

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Annie’s Hook & Needle Club – Kit 50 – Nesting Stash Baskets

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As I received the Nesting Stash Baskets, the one thing that struck me the most upon opening it, was the realization that this was my fifty kit. How the time fly’s when your fingers are moving so! Once I opened the manila envelope I thought, “My how perfect!” I gazed upon a pattern booklet that could create either three crocheted or 3 knitted colorful baskets.

In addition to the written instructions , the Nesting Stash Baskets kit came with three skeins of yarn. Approximately 160 yards of red bulky (chunky) weight acrylic yard for the larger basket, and 140 yards each of of aqua and taupe bulk (chunky) weight acrylic yarn for the medium and small baskets. As for me, I needed to provide a size I crochet hook, a tapestry needle and stitch markers.

The pattern is an easy level one, written very clearly and easy to follow. I loved the fact that they added lots of illustration to help with any misunderstandings. To complete this kit you will need to have a working knowledge of chain stitch (The Chain Stitch), half double crochet (Half Double Crochet), single crochet (The Single Crochet) and double crochet (The Double Crochet). And for those of you who enjoy a little challenge, you will be working this project in rounds, and will need to know the single and double crochet decreases. (Single Crochet Decrease and Double Crochet decrease)

My first two baskets worked up very easily and I had no problem with the desired outcome. However, when I finished my large red basket, I could not get it to stand on it’s own. So I decided to call Annie’s and ask for their advice. To my disappointment I was told they no longer give help over the phone and that you now have to seek any advice over the internet. I really liked the fact that you had the option for both, as some people who are not as computer savvy would shy away from the computer and struggle through on their on. Below you will fine a copy of mine and their emails. I opted for a smaller hook and it helped to resolve the problem.

E-mail to Annie’s;
First, so disappointed about no longer being able to call. Not everyone is computer smart, so that will stop several people from going to you for help.

The problem: I am crocheting the Nesting Stash Baskets that I received as a kit. Love your club. My first two baskets came out really nice, but the larger one is not standing as I would like. Any suggestions?

Lastly, on the back of the pattern is a statement that there is a video tutorial available (which is a great idea) I am having some trouble locating, could you send a link? Thank you. Pamela

Hello Pamela,
Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding Nesting Stash Baskets. First, apologies. You should have received an insert with your instructions stating that the mention of a video was inaccurate. There is no video accompanying this pattern. Second, as for the larger size not wanting to stand up as straight, there are a couple of things you can try.
1. It may stand just fine once filled. Sometimes they just need that weight in the middle to push the sides out and up.
2. You could redo it on a smaller hook. It might be that your gauge is just a bit looser on this larger basket. But even if it isn’t a tighter gauge, ie smaller hook, would make sturdier sides.
There are a lot of resources available on the internet that you may find helpful with your query. You can try our Stitch Guide at http://www.StitchGuide.com or do a Bing or Google search about the topic of your query.
Sincerely,
Britt Schmiesing
Pattern Services

I am not crazy about the plastic containers that I had in my bathroom, so I replaced them in my bathroom. The baskets are now housing my bandaids, hair doodad’s and bath items. They definitely brighten up the otherwise inconspicuous area.

Sidenote: Just incase you did not receive the insert with your pattern. On the pattern it states that their is a video tutorial for this kit on the Annie’s Websight. (Which I think is a brilliant idea) Unfortunately in this instance some thing happened and the video is unavailable at this time.

I am rating this kit a 9, losing one point for the yarn labels arriving in unmarked, and unable to repurchase again labels. I loved the vivid colors and the yarn was easy to work with, even after I ripped out the red one and reworked it. I am disappointed that I am not able to work with it again. Other than this one point, the pattern was very well written and the outcome of the end results were great. I could easily seeing my self enjoying this pattern again in the future.

Until next time, keep those hooks flying.

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