After a long pause from writing, I’m back. Last fall I was teaching group crochet classes and coordinating a local charity crochet group at the local senior center. I got so busy and so exhausted, I neglected my webpage and blog. Up through Christmas I was ignoring my increasing shortness of breath. Then reality struck in late winter when two blood clots formed in my lungs and I learned that the viral pneumonia I had in 2021 had permanently damaged my lungs and sped up the aging process in them. So, I put a hold on everything I was doing outside my home so that I could recover from the blood clots and decide how I was going to adapt to the changes necessary to maintain and hopefully, improve my health.
I sadly stopped teaching crochet classes and coordinating the crochet for charity workshops, but I did not stop crocheting. I’m crocheting more now, than ever -mostly small projects, easy to complete in a short amount of time. I think I’ve made over one hundred dishcloths and washcloths since the beginning of February. I’ve given away many to family and friends and will be selling them, too. I have to pay for my yarn addiction somehow! Seriously, crochet is my mind therapy.
In the next few months my goal is to add more handmade items to my Etsy shop @Sharon’s Craft Cupboard. I’ll be posting more about my shop, so keep an eye out! I have a few items already available online. If you are interested in buying any of the items listed and you live locally, save yourself the shipping charges and contact me through my email at email@example.com to arrange a local drop-off or pick-up.
This scarf was a small project that was fun, quick, and easy to make after a very busy September with more than one big project on my hook and my calendar. It was made with one skein of Unforgettable, a medium weight yarn by Red Heart in Stained Glass and a J (6mm) Clover hook using the Crochet V Stitch Triangle Shawl Free Pattern by crochetforyoublog.com. Additional skeins would make a full size shawl. Though listed as a #4 weight yarn, the J hook gives the fabric of the scarf a flowing drape that highlights the rich colors in the yarn. This scarf is lightweight, yet warm and will look great with a dress or a denim jacket this fall. Adding tassels to the corners of the scarf is optional and will take additional yarn. I may choose to add them to help keep the scarf in place when I wear it.
Many years ago when my girls were 4yrs and 7yrs, I stopped at Woolworth’s on the east end of town during my free hour and a half that I got twice a week when the youngest was in pre-school. That is where I found a crochet kit with supplies and a book that would teach me how to read a crochet pattern. I was off and crocheting small things one at a time.I eventually tried crocheting bigger things like sweaters and blankets for babies and adults- again, one at a time. What I learned about myself was I either took F O R E V E R to complete the big things or I didn’t complete them at all. The incomplete projects would be stuffed into a bin for later and then forgotten. It was easy to blame this on being a busy mom, wife, and nurse. I felt guilty. Later, I would come to realize, I wasn’t being truthful to myself nor knew what to do to remedy the problem.
Five years ago, I started crocheting more on a regular basis. I only crocheted small things avoiding anything big and the guilt from not finishing. Following a handful of crochet pages on Facebook, I learned that many a crocheter will have several WIPS (work in progress) at one time. What! Why? For multiple reasons I learned, it’s common to have multiple WIPS at one time.
I no longer feel guilty, admitting the truth to myself that I get bored crocheting the big things. 😮 It was ok to break up a big crochet project with smaller crochet projects. I have learned by taking breaks from a big project by crocheting smaller projects I am more likely to complete the big project in a timely manner. I have also learned switching out projects with different weights and textures of yarns can give my hands a break on those “arthritic” days when my hands and fingers hurt. I keep a tote to take small crochet projects such as soap sacks for charity with me. I work on them while waiting for appointments or when riding along in the car with my husband. And, to get through those bigger projects in life overall, small incentives like crocheting the scarf above helps a lot!
As for those unfinished big projects tucked away in bins….I sorted through them and unraveled and re-wound the yarn into balls that I either passed on to fellow crochet friends or repurposed for new projects. Having multiple WIPs at one time is OK especially when they help you finish the bigger ones.
Keep crocheting all those big and small projects- Sharon
Our 3 1/2 year old granddaughter loves unicorns, especially those displaying a rainbow of colors. According to the article, Unicorn Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit, & Omens) by Garth C. Clifford updated on 9/24/2021 on http://www.worldbirds.com, “only those with the purest souls can see a Unicorn”, a symbol for purity, innocence, freedom, divinity, and magic. Small children do have the purest hearts. Maybe this is why they have such an affinity for these magnificent creatures.
Several weeks ago I found this Red Heart Super Saver yarn in Retro Stripe and I instantly thought it would make a wonderful rainbow mane on a unicorn hoodie for my granddaughter. Next, I searched for a pattern. Many were for scarves or sweaters with attached hoods. I decided on a cowl with an attached hood. She’s too little to wear a scarf and a sweater with a hoodie could only be worn during the coldest months where she lives.
The pattern is the Unicorn Hooded Cowl by LovableLoops on Pinterest @ https://pin.it/6B49flX. I didn’t have any bulky yarn in white, so I used a double strand of Red Heart Super Saver worsted weight yarn and a 9mm hook. I made the hoodie in the child size, but it looks like there is plenty of grow room!
I had a lot of fun making this rainbow unicorn hoodie! Tomorrow, I’ll pack it to mail to our granddaughter. I’ll post a pic if she likes it!
My last blog I wrote about crocheting a sweater vest. I finished it several weeks ago, but hadn’t woven the ends in until last evening. Thirty-some years ago I crocheted my first sweater knowing nothing about gauge or adapting a pattern for a better fit. Though the stitch pattern and the yarn used to make the sweater were very pretty, the sweater was a bit too long for my short stature and the sweater grew longer each time I wore it. I eventually donated the sweater to the Goodwill. Hopefully, someone a lot taller than me found it and liked it.
This summer I decided to jump back onto the path of learning how to fit a crocheted garment. I still have a ways to go, yet this time I know better where I need to improve and what questions to ask. And, practice, practice, practice.
Below are pictures of the sweater vest with a hoodie-with the ends woven in! I took the free pattern Happy-Go-Lucky Hoodie Crochet Pattern @ http://www.hookedonhomemadehappiness.com that I found on Pinterest and experimented with the stitch pattern and also added additional rows of HDC along the front edges. It was a good place to start my venture into garments. Now, I’m going to challenge myself by crocheting another sweater with sleeves and a neckline.
Hot, humid weather has me chillin’ inside where it’s easier for me to breath. We keep the air conditioning set at a reasonable temp and supplement with the ceiling fan. It’s comfortable while I’m up doing my work, but I need a light sweater if I sit for a bit.
Speaking of sweaters….I started crocheting a sweater vest with a hood yesterday. At the beginning of the summer I bought two skeins of the Lion Brand Pound of Love acrylic yarn in Antique White. I had purchased it for a different project, but was busy at that time making a baby blanket and bibs for a friend’s daughter who is expecting a baby girl. Then I started writing a pattern for a baby bandanna bib. After a couple weeks I finished the baby blanket and bibs and I’m almost done proofreading my pattern. So, getting back to the two skeins of yarn….
I had purchased a popular sweater pattern and thought the yarn would work for the pattern. I was wrong. The yarn, though a 4 wt. yarn, is more like an Aran than a worsted. It’s beautiful, soft yarn, but not what I wanted for the sweater pattern I had purchased. So, I spent a few evenings searching for a new pattern and found one on Ravelry.
The sweater vest is a sporty style and the pattern uses the half double crochet- my favorite crochet stitch. This morning I measured my gauge on the piece of fabric I started crocheting yesterday and I’m on target. Yeah! Many years ago I learned the hard way the importance of gauge- especially when putting a lot of time into making a garment. Always check your gauge! The yarn crocheted in this stitch is soft and the fabric drapes gently over my hand.
These skeins are huge! To keep the yarn clean and away from the cat, I placed it in a tote. I’ve learned if I remove the label and pat the yarn on one end to flatten the skein into a round, it’s easier to find that elusive end to pull it from the center.
I’ll post pictures when the sweater vest is done. If this hot, humid weather continues, that could be soon!
Sometimes out of necessity is born an idea. We always stayed at the same hotel when visiting our oldest daughter and her family when they lived in Fairfax, Virginia. This hotel was popular with travel groups – sports teams and international tour groups. We would see and meet people from around the world every morning getting breakfast in the common area of the lobby. It was fun, friendly, and busy! Each morning at the hotel, we would start with a cup of coffee while scoping out a table. Fresh, hot, halfway decent coffee in a paper cup with a lid and one of those cardboard sleeves to protect your fingers from the heat. 0ne morning, after a particularly busy weekend at the hotel, we poured our coffee, placed the lids on and looking around, there weren’t any cardboard sleeves anywhere for our hot coffee cups! We managed to get our hot coffees over to a table. While my husband watched the morning news, I pulled out my crochet. He looked at me and asked, “can you make me a cozy for my coffee cup? One, that covers the whole bottom?” Why, yes, I can! My husband has large hands. So, I knew why he wanted a cozy that covers more of the coffee cup than the usual cardboard sleeves. So was born that sunny morning in Virginia, The Fairfax Coffee Cozy. The cozy is made from 100% cotton and fits snugly over a size small or medium “fast-food” coffee cup. Not only does it protect your fingers, but it also helps insulate the cup to keep your coffee hot longer. I keep extra cozies in our cars for road trips and give them to friends and family when they need to take a coffee for their trip back home. Since this time, more and more places no longer offer the cardboard sleeves. So, another reason to keep these cozies on hand. If you find the cozy you have made has stretched out, throw it in the washer and dryer. It will return to its original size.
The pattern includes tutorial pictures and a link to a video on how to crochet the reverse single crochet stitch also known as the crab stitch. One ball of yarn makes several coffee cozies and it’s a great way to use up cotton scrap yarn, too! The digital crochet pattern is available at Miss Sharon’s Craft Cupboard on Etsy.
Through this new venture of teaching crochet I have met new people and have made new friends along the way. One of those new friends contacted me a few weeks ago. Her summer schedule filled with gardening, camping, and watching her grandson had not allowed time for her to practice her crochet. She asked, “can we start again in the fall? “Yes, we can!”, I quickly responded. I have not had much time lately for crochet, either. So, I was grateful for the break!
Knowing my new friend has a passion for gardening, I asked if I could come see her garden and flower beds sometime this summer. She responded, “come soon while everything is in bloom”. I actually went over to her house that afternoon. It was wonderful taking a stroll around her home and through the side yards and back yard looking at her flower beds and gardens. I asked so many questions and enjoyed learning from her answers! Along the way she shared berries from her strawberry plants and blueberry bushes with me. We finished our tour on her patio drinking a shrub made of berries from her garden. If you don’t know what a shrub is for mixing in drinks, I’ve shared a link below. It makes a delicious, refreshing drink that is healthy! And, she gave me a lovely bunch of lavender tied with a pretty ribbon to take home. This is exactly what I needed that day to clear my scattered mind! Enjoy your summer, new friend. We will crochet again together in the fall.
Here is the link on Pinterest for a strawberry shrub recipe that I tried this week. I want to make a watermelon with basil shrub next!
Summertime means family gatherings and cook-outs to me. I get nostalgic for “comfort” food which means I’m making my mom’s potato salad. My mom was a good cook, but she had her “short-cuts” in the kitchen. Considering the time it takes to boil potatoes, let them cool, then peel and cut them into bite-size pieces, I don’t blame her for using a short-cut when she made potato salad! Now, when I make potato salad, I use red skin potatoes so that I don’t have to peel them and I cook them in the microwave. Still, one has to cut up the potatoes, the onion, the green pepper, and the celery. If you like hard boiled eggs in there, too, you’re boiling, peeling, and chopping eggs. Homemade potato salad is a lot of work! But, oh so worth it!
I make my potato salad the day ahead so that all the flavors of the vegetables, potatoes and dressing marinate together. Below is my mom’s recipe in it’s original form, but feel free to update and use your short-cuts to fit your schedule and what your family enjoys!
Mom’s Potato Salad
6 hard boiled eggs peeled and chopped; set aside.
Boil until fork tender 3 lbs quartered potatoes. Drain and let cool. Peel and cut into bite size pieces. Place in a large bowl.
Chop one small onion. Add to the bowl.
Add 1 Cup chopped celery.
Add 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped.
Add the chopped eggs.
Add salt and black pepper to taste.
Gently combine all of the above ingredients in the large bowl.
Pour 2/3 of a large bottle of Marzetti Slaw Dressing over the potato salad and gently stir together. Yes, the slaw dressing was her “short-cut”! She would slice up rings of green pepper and decorate the top of her potato salad with those slices along with slices of hard- boiled egg and paprika sprinkled over the top. Her potato salad looked like a masterpiece when served. It tasted so good!
Immediately cover and place in the refrigerator. This potato salad must be kept cold at all times and returned to the refrigerator immediately after serving.
Memorial Day weekend brings a flood of memories back to me from over the years. Visiting cemeteries to plant relatives’ graves, Memorial Day parades, going to the lake to swim, and cook-outs with family were some of our traditions when I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. Also wearing a red poppy from the VFW was our way of remembering those who had fallen in battle for our country. The Veterans of Foreign Wars still continue the Buddy Poppy program today and the donations help support veterans and their families. If you see someone collecting for the VFW Buddy Poppy program, please donate and wear your red poppy in remembrance. You can also donate to the Buddy Poppy program online @https://www.vfw.org/community/community-initiatives/buddy-poppy.
If you would like to make a few extras poppies to decorate a wreath or your home, I’ve written a free crochet pattern with pictures below.
Crochet Pattern for Red Poppy Flower
by Sharon Andreani
Supplies needed: 100% Cotton thread in Size 10 in colors black, red, and green. I had the red thread size 10 in my stash. The black and green were thinner threads, 20 and 30 respectively. I doubled those threads to crochet the center, a leaf, and a loop using the same size hook.
Round 1. With the black thread, chain three (counts as first stitch). Half double crochet into the third chain from the hook. Hdc eight more times into the same chain. Slip stitch to the top of the first chain. Total 9 stitches. Finish off and weave ends in.
Round 2. Attach red thread into top of one of the Hdc in Row 1 with a slip stitch. Chain 2 (this counts as first stitch). In the same stitch, crochet 4 Dc for a total of 5 stitches. In the next stitch crochet 5 Dc stitches. Continue around repeating the 5 Dc stitches in each stitch until there are 45 Dc stitches. Slip stitch into the top of the first stitch.
Round 3. Chain 2 (counts as first stitch). Dc in next two stitches. Tc in next three stitches. Continue pattern of 2Dc and 3 TC around. Sl st into top of chain 2 stitch. Finish off and weave in ends.
Round 4. Place hook behind and to other side of Dc stitch in the second row. Attach red thread around the Dc stitch using a sl st. Chain 2 (counts as first stitch). Dc around each of the next 4 Dc in Row 2. Tc around each of the next 5 Dc. Repeat 5 Dc and 5 Tc around and sl st into top of the Ch 2. Finish off and weave in ends. Flower should be about 2.5 inches wide when completed; 3.5 inches wide with leaf attached.
Optional: attach a free form leaf in green thread to the back of the flower and chain a loop of 20 and attach. The flower can be worn over a button or attached to a small decorative wreath.
Have a safe Memorial Day weekend, enjoy those family traditions, and remember, freedom is not free.
We can have goals, even dreams, and sometimes life gets in the way. So, we pick up the pieces and get back on the path. Despite a steep climb this past year and a fork in the road, I arrived at my destination today. I published my first instructional crochet pattern. It’s beginner friendly and includes written stitch instructions and pictures for the alternating half double crochet stitch and also instruction on how to crochet into the back bump of a beginning chain. The very affordable pattern is available as Pattern Only-Soft Textured Washcloth on Etsy at Sharonscraftcupboard.
You can also find me on Ravelry at CraftCupboard. Be happy-crochet!
We went to bed with thunderstorms last evening and woke to another cool, damp, rainy day. Oh, Spring where are you? I am grateful for the beautiful flowers blooming in our yard and garden, but warmer temperatures sure would be welcomed here! This morning I felt like baking. So, I made a loaf of tea cake. The recipe I used is one I developed from a basic soda bread recipe. I make our bread gluten free, but regular flour can be substituted. My understanding is when nuts, berries, eggs, and sugar are added to a soda bread recipe, it becomes a “tea cake”. I’m okay with that! In fact, I enjoy a slice of my tea cake with my coffee about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. And, so does my husband, Alan! So, this Mother’s Day weekend, consider making a loaf of tea cake for your mom or for yourself. Slice it while it’s still warm, slather it with butter or your favorite spread and enjoy with your tea or coffee!
Miss Sharon’s Tea Cake Recipe
5 quart French or cast-iron oven, well-oiled with cooking oil ( a pre-warmed baking stone with parchment paper can also be used)
Large mixing bowl
Measuring cups for dry ingredients and wet ingredients
Fork or large spoon
4 cups gluten free flour with xanthan gum already added. I like using King Arthur Gluten Free Flour
1 3/4 Cup buttermilk
1/2 Cup dried cranberries
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons sugar
4 Tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat over to 400 degrees.
Measure the flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Blend together with a fork. Add the dried cranberries and chopped walnuts and stir into the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center of the dried ingredients in the bowl. Measure and pour into the center well the buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla. With a fork slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir until the dough comes together. If it appears to be a bit dry, add 1-2 Tablespoons of buttermilk and stir. The dough should come clean from the sides of the bowl and there should not be any dry ingredients left on the bottom. Take a length of parchment paper, enough to cover the bottom and up the sides of a French oven, and lay it flat on the counter. Sprinkle the parchment paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the floured middle of the parchment paper. Sprinkle the dough with flour. Knead the dough 2-3 times and form it into a slightly flattened ball. Lift the parchment paper with the ball of dough on it into the French oven. Take a sharp knife and cut a cross into the top of the ball of dough. I tend to cut my cross about a third of the way down to ensure the cake bakes all the way through to the center. Place the French oven into the oven with the lid on for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Remove the tea cake gently from the French oven by lifting the sides of the parchment paper. The tea cake can completely cool on the parchment paper or be moved to a plate. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Slices of the cake can be warmed up in the microwave or in the toaster.
If you’re like me, just reading a recipe is fun! In the meantime, watch for my new crochet pattern to make soft, textured, all cotton washcloths. This pattern will be beginner friendly and teach you a new stitch pattern and a new skill.
Hi! I’m Sharon and welcome to my craft cupboard! My family and friends know how much I enjoy making things and how much I love to crochet and create with my crochet. Forty years ago I first learned how to crochet from my mother, then my grandmother. Follow my page to see what’s happening in my craft cupboard – from crochet designs, patterns, crochet “how-to’s”, handmade items, fun crafts we do together as a family or with friends, and sometimes a yummy recipe!