Crochet Challenge: How did you learn to crochet?

Week 4 (03-27-14) Challenge: How did you learn to crochet, or who taught you?
Crocheted ripple afghanAnswer: My grandmother "nana" taught me to crochet when I was 13.  That was 45 years ago, and I still have that first project - this ripple afghan done in Red Heart Super Saver in variegated green, with 2 strands of yarn held together and a size K (6.5 mm) hook.  After I learned to single crochet, she helped me through the first few rows of the pattern.  I worked about 1/3 of it, but didn't actually finish until I was about 17!   Mom and dad were both working and away so much, and my sister was 4 years older and had other interests and friends, so I was with nana a lot, and very close to her.  When I crochet, I think of nana, and my heart feels her love and warmth.

Until next time!

It's never too late to join the 52 Week Crochet Challenge by Julie at Red Berry Crochet!
One simple task per week - your skills, style & knowledge will evolve by just having fun!

Free Crochet Pattern: Door Prop / Guardian

Free Crochet Pattern - Door Prop / Guard
Click for free Door Prop / Guard Pattern
Necessity is the mother of invention! Have a door that you want to “pull to”, but not be able shut all the way? Maybe baby is sleeping in the other room, and you want the door to be shut enough to muffle activity, but not shut all the way so you can hear? Or perhaps you have cats and dogs that you want to be able to go in and out of a door that you want to keep closed off, but not latch. Well, I did - hence, this handy little gadget.  No more wedging towels or shoes or whatever was handy down on the floor between the door and jamb!

Crocheted with the easy-to-learn-and-do single crochet thermal stitch used in hot pads, and quick to make with a Q hook and 4 strands of worsted / aran yarn held together, it stays handy and neat just hanging on a door knob waiting to be used. A thoughtful, unique little shower gift for a new mom - you can bet she won't get one from any one else!  A great stash buster, too, if 4 different colors are used.

Item shown was made with: Red Heart Soft Baby Steps in Baby Blue

Enjoy, and share a pic of yours!

Until next time!

#baby #free-patterns #crochet #door-prop

Crochet Challenge - Celebrate Spring - Crochet a flower

Week 3 (03-19-14) Challenge: Celebrate the First Day of Spring (March 20, 2014) by crocheting a flower, or make a project that has a flower motif or theme.
Answer: I'd been working on this design of a blue iris, and managed to come up with the ALMOST finished product! Before I publish the (free) pattern, I'll add a stem and leaf and make a couple of tweaks.
Photo of blue iris   Crocheted Blue Iris

Until next time!

It's never too late to join the 52 Week Crochet Challenge by Julie at Red Berry Crochet!
One simple task per week - your skills, style & knowledge will evolve by just having fun!

#crochet #iris

Granny Squares Color Pattern Generator

This looks so cool!  Even with a color scheme of 5-6 colors, it is about impossible for me to envision the proper color combinations to make so they'll work with all the future finished squares.  And then, with all the squares in hand, to place them randomly enough to look right.

Found this on Debbie Does Handmade.  You put in the # of squares across and down that you will use in whatever (for example, an afghan), select the colors you're using, then the number of colors that will be in the squares.  Voila!  It generates a "blanket" using your colors.

The example above is a sampling I did using the colors I chose for the grannies I'm doing for a monthly crochet-along.

Until next time!

It's never too late to join the 52 Week Crochet Challenge by Julie at Red Berry Crochet!
One simple task per week - your skills, style & knowledge will evolve by just having fun!

#crochet #color-generator

Housewarming throw - Delicate Shells

This is shell stitch throw was made as a housewarming gift.  It was fast to make with two strands of yarn held together and a size P crochet hook.  Too bad I am not a better photographer, because it is such a pretty color, and the stitch is so lovely.  It was pleasant to make, and very soft.   Click on the pics to view pattern info and my notes.

 Housewarming Throw - Delicate Shells
Grandson wanted to get in the picture - how could I refuse?
 Housewarming Throw - Delicate Shells    Housewarming Throw - Delicate Shells

#shell #crochet-stitch #afghan #quick

The Best Hummus Recipe. Ever.

Hummus:  The Recipe.  The Answers.

In this article:

HummusI never knew what the big deal was with hummus.  That’s all I ever heard…eat hummus.  I didn’t think it sounded all that great.  Then I tried this recipe, and now I can’t get enough of the stuff.

The lettuce in the picture is not just to be pretty.  I like to roll the leaves up and dip in the hummus.  Or, swipe some hummus on the leaves and roll them up (cool for a party platter).

What is Hummus?

Hummus is a creamy dip or condiment made with chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and, often, cumin. It originated from the Levant (a large portion of the Eastern Mediterranean).  Alternative names are hommus and houmus.  The full Arabic name for the hummus is hummus bi tahini (chickpeas with tahini).

It is a good protein snack, contains healthy fats, is high in fiber, contains key nutrients like zinc, iron, manganese, potassium, magnesium, copper, selenium, calcium, phosphorus, betaine, choline, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, and B vitamins like folate, B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6, and also includes omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Eating hummus is has a number of health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, managing blood sugar levels, helping with irritable bowel syndrome, reducing cancer risks, lowering cholesterol, boosting energy, and more.   (See 10 Reasons to Eat Hummus Every Day).

What Hummus Tastes Like

The texture is creamy and smooth, but not-quite-silky.  The taste is slightly nutty and slightly starchy.  The flavors of garlic, lemon, and olive oil come through, and play well together, each enhancing (not overpowering) the other.  After you eat and swallow a bite, the flavors are the kind that make your taste buds go WOW, and crave another bite.  Because it packs such a big flavor punch, and is high in fiber and good fats, it is very satisfying.

About Hummus ingredients

Are they chickpeas or garbanzo beans?

They are the same.  Chickpea, or chick pea, is the most widely used name.  The current form of the word garbanzo comes directly from modern Spanish, and is commonly used in regions of the United States with a strong Mexican or Spanish influence.  There are different types of chickpeas.  The variety of chickpea used in hummus is Kabuli. (source:  Chickpea - Wikipedia) Chickpeas are one of the 10 Foods That May Help Those With Diabetes (and hypoglycemia).

Should chickpea skins be removed? (And how to do it)

I prefer the skins removed.  It takes about 15 minutes sitting in my chair watching TV to do it.  But they don't have to be removed.  Here are the pros for each method, and the how-to.

Pros of removing skins
  • Makes a smoother hummus
  • There is no nutritional value lost by removing the skins because all they are composed of is cellulose, an insoluble fiber (chickpeas still retain all the soluble fiber).
  • The cellulose (the skin), is extremely difficult for some people to digest. The unpleasant, sometimes painful, result is frequent flatulence, which of course varies from person to person.

Pros of leaving skin on
  • Faster and easier
  • It doesn't affect the flavor, and many like the more "rustic" texture.
  • Retains the insoluble fiber, cellulose, which aids in defecation (but also difficult for some people to digest and causes flatulence - see Pros of removing skins, above).

How to remove the skins
Canned chickpeas have a slippery skin that separates easily from the pea.  Drain (reserving liquid for the recipe), and rinse the chickpeas. Hold the pea between your index finger and thumb and pinch - the skin slips right off.

What is tahini?

Everyone knows what peanut, almond, and cashew butters are. Tahini is sesame seed butter.  Also known as Ardeh, it is a condiment made from raw, or toasted, ground hulled sesame seeds.  It is served as a dip on its own or as a major component of hummus, baba ghanoush, and halva.

I buy the 16 oz. size Kevala organic (raw, not toasted, but many use the toasted) tahini online at Amazon for about $9.  Tahini can also be found in your local store.  After opening, it keeps well in the fridge for months.  If the cost seems high to you, each recipe uses just  2 tablespoons so it makes a lot of hummus.  You can find non-organic cheaper, or make some yourself using a food processor, but it will be slightly grainy because commercially processed tahini is made with special equipment to get it silky smooth.  If you want to give it a go anyway, do a search for "tahini recipes".


Makes approx 2 cups
Hummus prep
15 oz. can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
4 tblsp. lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
2 tblsp. tahini
1 clove garlic*
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 tblsp. extra virgin olive oil, DIVIDED
Paprika (preferably Sweet Hungarian)
2 tblsp. minced parsley
See "Options and garnishes", below

1.  Drain beans, reserving 1/3 c. liquid.  Rinse beans and remove skins. [see Should chickpea skins be removed? (And how to do it), above].
2.  Put drained beans, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, salt, and 2 tblsp. olive oil in a food processor.
3.  Process for 2 minutes, scraping bowl once or twice.
4.  Add 1 tblsp. reserved liquid and process. If necessary, add more a bit at a time until hummus is the consistency you want, and process 2-4 more minutes while you clean up, scraping the bowl once or twice.
5.  Taste for salt, processing in more if desired.
6.  Scrape into a bowl, drizzle with remaining 2 tblsp. olive oil and sprinkle with parsley and paprika.  Best served warm or at room temperature.

* I use up to 2 large, or 3 small cloves because I love garlic.

Options and Garnishes (choose one or any combination):
  • Sprinkle top with sliced black olives.
  • Add 1 tsp. cumin at beginning of processing.
  • Reserve 2-3 tbsp. whole chickpeas and sprinkle on top.
  • Add 3/4 cup roasted red peppers on step 4, before adding reserved liquid from chickpeas (add reserved liquid only if necessary). There are bottled roasted red peppers, or roast your own: Roasted Red Peppers by Ina Garten

Serving Suggestions and Storage

  • With crackers, chips, and veggies - anything "dippable".
  • As a sandwich spread instead of mayo.
  • A dollop beside steak, chicken, pork, or fish.
  • A dollop beside grilled vegetables, instead of butter.
  • Spread on leaf lettuce and roll up, or before rolling up, add, in any combination: thinly sliced meats, sliced olives, shaved veggies (using a parer) - use your imagination!
  • Or use tortillas, instead of the leaf lettuce in the previous suggestion.
Keep covered in the refrigerator up to 7 days.  You can freeze hummus, if you're not going to eat it up before then (although I never have that problem).  Here is a good article on storage and freezing if you want more information:, Middle Eastern Food, Can You Freeze Hummus?

Crochet Challenge: Start a crochet notebook, journal, scrapbook, or blog

Week 2, 03-12-14  Challenge:  Start a crochet notebook, journal, scrapbook, or blog.
Answer:   I've spent HOURS this past week working on this blog to be practical, and hopefully, user-friendly.

As for a journal, it is here on Ravelry; it keeps all my projects, complete and to-do, along with pictures, and keeps track of my yarn and crochet tools.  A great resource for help and patterns, it's wonderful!

My crochet scrapbook is here on Pinterest, where it's loaded with aids, techniques, color schemes, stitches, patterns, etc. etc.!

I also have a lot of it downloaded to my computer.

Sometimes technology is great, isn't it?  But just in case I do regular computer back-ups LOL

Until next time!

It's never too late to join the 52 Week Crochet Challenge by Julie at Red Berry Crochet!
One simple task per week - your skills, style & knowledge will evolve by just having fun!

#crochet #organization

Free crochet granny square patterns: January, February, March 2014BAMCAL

So fun!!  I joined a group on Ravelry, the 2014 Block-A-Month Crochet A-Long.  Every month we are given 3 granny squares to crochet - two 12" squares, and one 6".  We have the option of crocheting one, or all three.  No hard and fast rules, and it’s such a nice a supportive group!  Members can post pics of what they've done, and it's a lot of fun to see all the color choices and variations!

Here are the “official” ones I've done so far, for January, February, and March (click the pics for patterns & notes).
Free crochet pattern:  Easy Daisy Square 6"
Easy Daisy - Jan 6"
Free crochet pattern:  Frostbloom Square 12"
Frostbloom - Jan 12"
Free crochet pattern:  Mitered Square 6"
Mitered Square - Jan 6"
Free crochet pattern - Flower Tile Square
Flower Tile 1 - Feb 12"
Free crochet pattern - Flower Tile Square 12"
Flower Tile 2 - Feb 12"
Free crochet pattern - Center Heart Square 12"
Center Heart - Feb 12"
Free Crochet Pattern - Rippling Loops Square 6"
Rippling Loops - Mar 6"
Free Crochet Pattern - Spring Fling Square 12"
Spring Fling - Mar 12"
Free Crochet Pattern - Le Vesinet Square 12"
Le Vesinet - Mar 12"
These squares are “unofficial”, or “NONCAL” squares, I’ve also done to go with the CAL squares:
Free Crochet Pattern - Crocodile Dahlia Square 12"
Crocodile Dahlia - 12"
Free Crochet Pattern - Crocodile Flower Square 12"
Crocodile Flower - 12"
Actually, I prefer, and therefore make, 9" squares instead of the 12" the pattern calls for (the "Crocodile Flower" is the only 12").  I do this by using Caron Simply Soft worsted yarn (a thin worsted), and a G hook.

#crochet #free-patterns #granny-squares

The Giraffe Afghan Project: Patterns and customizations

Crocheted Jungle Afghan Scene w/Giraffe toy
Click pic for pattern info

Crocheted Jungle Scene Afghan with Giraffe Toy

Features:  Giraffes, Tree w/3D leaves, butterflies, bird, clouds, sun, 3D elephant, caterpillars, snake, rocks, flowers, crocheted with worsted / aran weight yarn and eyelash yarn grass 

This is an afghan and toy that I made for my second grandson. (Clicking the pic above will take you to the page to view all pattern info, my notes and tips, and lots of close-up pics).  The original pattern (Giraffe Afghan, Pillow and Toy by Maggie Weldon), had giraffes, tree, clouds, and grass.

I designed and added the sun, caterpillars, butterflies, and elephant, which also served as my very first forays into pattern-writing!  You can click the afghan pic (above) to get the patterns and links for these, but thought I'd add them here, too.  They are all FREE:

Free Crochet Pattern - Rays of Sunshine Applique
Rays of Sunshine Applique
Free Crochet Pattern - Fuzzy Wuzzy Caterpillars
Fuzzy Wuzzy Caterpillars
Free Crochet Pattern - Itty-Bitty Worsted Butterflies
Itty-Bitty Worsted Butterflies
Free Crochet Pattern - 3D Worsted Elephant Applique
3D Worsted Elephant Applique
I also made rocks (one of the rocks is above with the fuzzy wuzzy caterpillars), and a snake, though I didn't write the patterns for them.
Crocheted Snake on a Crochet Rock with flowers & grass
Snake on a rock
The other things I did were to add flowers, including one in the grass held in the elephant's trunk, use fluffy yarn for the clouds, chenille yarn for the tree trunk, add about twice the number of tree leaves, add a mane and tail to the giraffe appliques, and add a mane to the giraffe toy.

It was a lot of work but sooooo much fun and I was so proud of it!

Until next time!

Crochet Challenge 2014: National Crochet Month!

Challenge - Week 1 (03-05-14):  How do you celebrate National Crochet Month?
Answer:  I celebrated by joining this challenge!!

Until next time!

It's never too late to join the 52 Week Crochet Challenge by Julie at Red Berry Crochet!
One simple task per week - your skills, style & knowledge will evolve by just having fun!