Whatever-You-Have-On-Hand Green Smoothie

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Green smoothies are easy to make

Green smoothies are easy to make

Crocheters have to eat, right? There are probably some things we can do nutritionally to keep our minds sharp and our joints healthy so we can keep on wielding our hooks.

I’m slowly transitioning processed foods out of my diet and organic foods in and eating a lot more fruits and vegetables. The best way I’ve found to get my daily allotment of fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods is with smoothies.

The Basic Green Smoothie

It’s “green” because you’re supposed to use more vegetables than fruit to keep the sugar content down. But you do want some fruit to sweeten the smoothie naturally. A good ratio of vegetables to fruit is 3:1 or 2:1.

I made the smoothie pictured above using ingredients I had on hand in the refrigerator and pantry. If you include lots of vegetables and fruits in your diet, you shouldn’t have a problem creating a smoothie from the “on hand” items in your fridge and pantry.

Ingredients

  • 3 small ice cubes
  • couple of handfuls of organic frozen mango (about 1/2 to 3/4 cups)
  • a handful or two of organic baby spinach leaves (about a cup)
  • 1/2 cup alkaline water
  • a little less than a 1/4 cup organic grape juice
  • 1/4 cup orange/mango juice (not organic but it needs to be)
  • couple of dolops of French Vanilla coconut milk coffee creamer (essentially coconut milk and cane sugar)
  • 1 tbsp organic coconut oil
  • several dashes of ground turmeric
  • 3 drops of liquid stevia (optional – meaning, I don’t really need to add it because it’s sweet enough without it)

Directions

  • Add all ingredients in the Magic Bullet jar or whatever blender you have on hand.
  • Mix until creamy smooth.

I love the pretty shade of lime green, and the smoothie is absolutely delicious. I try to use organic ingredients exclusively, but it doesn’t always happen So I make due with what I have on hand until I can find an organic version of the ingredient.

Make It “Your Way”

With the 3:1 or 2:1 vegetable-to-fruit ratio in mind, create your green smoothie using your favorite vegetables and fruits. My “go-to” dark-green leafy for smoothies is organic baby spinach. I haven’t tried kale yet, but I have some organic baby kale that I use for salads that I’m looking forward to trying.

For fruit, I use frozen organic mangoes or fresh mangoes when they’re in season. Needless to say, I LOVE mangoes.

I look forward to experimenting with different vegetable-fruit combinations. I plan to substitute organic avocados for the coffee creamer to create a more “nutritious” creamy texture. I also intend to phase out the juice and use the plant-based sweetener, stevia, as a sugar substitute to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Finally, I supplement my smoothies with turmeric and coconut oil because they have so many health benefits. The coconut oil will keep my brain sharp so I can keep figuring out those advanced crochet patterns. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric will keep my fingers, hands, and wrists agile for all the projects I want to complete.

What do you do nutritionally to stay healthy for all those projects on your crochet to-do list?

Prince Crochet Photo Pattern

Prince crochet photo pattern

Prince crochet photo pattern

I was shocked and saddened to hear of the death of one of my all time favorite musicians and performers, Prince.

To celebrate his life and music, I’ve done a crochet photo pattern of him which you can find HERE.

There’s a color chart at the end of the pattern that includes shades in several colors, including purple. So yes, you can create a purple masterpiece. The pattern is 225 sts and 100 rows. The finished piece will measure about 55″ x 25″ and will make a great wall hanging.

UPDATE: Several people have asked me for a Prince pattern that will produce a smaller finished piece. So I created one that will give you a finished piece of about 38″ x 15″. You can find it HERE.

Easy Diagonal Knit Baby Blanket

Diagonal Knit Baby Blanket in Red Heart Super Saver and #10 needles

Diagonal Knit Baby Blanket in Red Heart Super Saver and #10 needles

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I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I like to switch up from time to time and knit something, as long as it’s a pattern I can work up relatively quickly.

At my Sunday Ladies Craft Gathering last month, one of our members was knitting a baby blanket which I couldn’t take my eyes off of. Finally, I asked her for the pattern and was shocked to discover how easy it is to make.

The pattern is Lion Brand’s Diagonal Knit Baby Blanket (Pattern # khs-diagonalBabyBlanket). I would supply a link that goes directly to the pattern, but you have to log into the Lion Brand site to get to their patterns.

  • Go to www.LionBrand.com.
  • Log in (or register if you haven’t already).
  • Click the Patterns tab at the top.
  • Enter the pattern # in the search field and press enter.

Here’s the url for my search. You still have to log in or register to view the pattern.

My blanket is only 24″ square (the pattern calls for 36″ square) because I wanted to use just the one skein of Red Heart Super Saver yarn I had in my stash. I also used a slightly smaller pair of knitting needles (size 10). It probably would have gone a whole lot quicker if I had used the yarn, Lion Brand Homespun, and size 11 needles the pattern calls for.

I highly recommend using circular needles for this project, like these lovely Deborah Norville 32″ circulars, especially if you’re going to make a larger blanket. The circulars allow the fabric to spread out across the wire as it increases in size instead of being all bunched up on straight needles.

The pattern uses a "corner-to-Corner" stitch offset by a nice border.

The pattern uses a “corner-to-corner” stitch offset by a nice border.

The blanket is knitted like a crochet corner-to-corner blanket. You start at one point, knit until the two sides are as long and wide as you want them, then decrease to the opposite point.

You can alter the size based on how many rows you knit before you start decreasing. There’s a wash cloth pattern that uses the same pattern (with a border of 2 stitches instead of 3). And since it only calls for the garter stitch (i.e., knit every row), the blanket pattern was a no-brainer for me.

At some point, I’ll probably make one with Homespun and the right size needles, but I’m really pleased with the result I got with what I had on hand.

Some fiber friends have suggested that it can be used as a changing pad or a blankie for a car seat. It will definitely be a gift for a baby I know will be here soon.

 

Lisa’s Crochet Photo Pattern Heart Afghan

Lisa Murchison Collins' Heart Afghan

Lisa Murchison Collins’ Heart Afghan

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My crochet photo pattern customer, Lisa Murchison Collins, designed this beautiful afghan, using my Heart crochet photo pattern (the link to the pattern is at the end of the post).

She put a lot of planning and work into the design and graciously agreed to share how she modified the pattern to create the different hearts. I show her design notes in italics and offer some commentary that I hope will help you recreate these hearts.

Note: This Heart is crocheted vertically. You can also use bobbins and  “carry the yarn” instead of using the “cut and tie” method to change colors since you are only working with four colors or less.

THE LARGE HEARTS

Creating the large heart involves doubling stitches and rows.

Creating the large heart involves doubling stitches and rows.

Creating the large heart is a matter of doubling the number of stitches and rows in the pattern. So for every stitch in the pattern, Lisa did two, and then worked that row a second time.

For example rows 1 and 1a (the duplicate row) were 120 stitches in C0; pattern row 2 was 30 in C0, 20 in C2, and 70 in C0; row 2a (the duplicate row) was 70, 20, 30, so that the color changes match up.

In other words, you reverse the pattern instructions in the duplicate row, going from the last color/stitch set to the first. In this way, all of the colors will line up. Lisa adds …

In addition, duplicating the row always results in starting the next new row on the opposite side from where you would normally start it. Instead, you start a new row on the side of the piece where you started the previous duplicate row.

This duplication process is illustrated in Figure 1 below.

Duplicating Rows_Heart_crpd

To summarize –

  • Duplicate each stitch in the pattern row.
  • Then crochet that row again (duplicate row) but reverse the order of the stitches in the pattern instructions.
  • Begin the next new row at the opposite side of the piece, where you began the preceding duplicate row.

You’ll have some ends to weave in, but this shouldn’t take much time. Or you can crochet a border around the finished piece and crochet over these ends as you go.

THE SOLID HEART

The solid heart requires only two colors.

The solid heart requires only two colors.

These and the outline hearts are regular size hearts (60 rows and 60 stitches) that don’t require any duplication because they aren’t enlarged.

The key to the hearts without shading is that C0 was always consistent with your pattern as written. For the solid ones I simply added all the inside stitch counts together.

In the pattern, C0 is the background color. The heart colors are the three shades of red – C1, C2, and C3. Start each row with the C0 stitches. Add up the heart-color stitch counts and crochet that number of stitches in another color to create the solid heart. Then change to C0 and finish the row.

THE OUTLINE HEART

The outline heart requires some planning.

The outline heart requires some planning.

In the Outline heart, the background color is C0; the outline color will be either C1 or C2 in the pattern instructions.

The outline ones were slightly more complicated but again, C0 is always as written (i.e., C0 is always the background color; use the number of stitches for C0 that the pattern calls for). Row 2 was as written as well. For row 3, I started C1 (i.e., the outline color) as normal but only used it until it overlaps the C1 from row 2 by one stitch; change back to C0 until there is one of the previous row’s C1 left; C1 until C0 is supposed to start; finish with C0 as written.

Thus the outline color of a given row always shares one stitch with the outline color from the previous row. … In some cases … I had to look ahead to the next row to calculate how many of the outline color would get me to that “overlap by one stitch” location.

To create the pattern-size outline heart:

  • Complete Rows 1 and 2 according to the pattern. Row 2 is the beginning of the heart outline.
  • Row 3 and succeeding rows always begin and end with C0, the background color. The heart outline unfolds between these two colors.
  • The color changes you have to be most concerned with are the ones that occur between the beginning and ending C0s. These are used to form the outline of the heart against the background color.

Figure 2 below illustrates how this is going to work.

Fig2-HeartOutline_crpd

For each row, count the number of stitches from the first heart stitch to the last heart stitch. The number of stitches you use to create the outline and interior background should be the same number of stitches between the beginning and ending C0 in the pattern instructions.

For example, in Pattern Row 3, there are 14 stitches devoted to the heart. In the outline row, there are also 14 stitches that form the heart. The bold C0/# in the Outline Rows is the background color inside the heart.

Two Ways to Make the Outline More Solid

Lisa’s Way

Because the image includes diagonal lines, Lisa made sure that –

“… the outline color of a given row always shares one stitch with the outline color from the previous row.” … It just looked better to me for the outline color to touch from one row to the next, rather than starting the stitch after. [The outline] just looks more connected in my opinion.”

For example, if an outline stitch on the next row begins a stitch before or after the outline stitch began on the previous row, then you copy the outline stitch from the previous row (the overlap) and then make the outline stitch the pattern calls for.

Another Way

Or you can follow the pattern as it is written, and …

  • Crochet the background (C0) stitches.
  • Change to the outline color after crocheting the last background stitch.
  • Crochet the first heart stitch which is your outline stitch.
  • Change back to the background color and crochet the interior heart stitches.
  • When you reach the last heart stitch before the background color begins, change to the outline color and crochet the last heart stitch.
  • Change back to the background color and crochet the C0 stitches to the end of the row.

If the outline looks “jagged,” you can use surface crochet to make the lines smoother. Here’s an article that explains how to do this.

Another version of Lisa's Heart afghan.

Another version of Lisa’s Heart afghan.

It’s going to take some planning to create these hearts, but it’s worth the effort when the end result will be an afghan as spectacular as Lisa’s. You can download my Heart crochet photo pattern HERE  to get started.

If you’ve never done a crochet photo pattern before, use my free Butterfly pattern to practice until you feel confident in tackling a pattern with more colors.

3 Ways Freeform Crochet Boosted My Crochet Confidence

Freeform crochet booth at the 2006 CGOA Conference

Freeform crochet booth at the 2006 CGOA Conference. The purple/blue piece in the center is my piece.

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I first learned about freeform crochet back in the mid-2000s. I must have stumbled on it during an internet search because the exact details of how I discovered it elude me.

Freeform crochet combines a variety of colors, stitch patterns, and yarns to create a piece of fabric art. Except for a few guidelines, you are free to improvise and experiment as you build your fabric. In addition to creating abstract pieces of art, you can use freeform crochet to create and embellish functional pieces like bags (my favorite!), pillows, and garments.

Coat of Many Scrumbles, 2006 CGOA Conference

Coat of Many Scrumbles, 2006 CGOA Conference

Needless to say, I was mesmerized by the incredible art created by such freeform masters as Prudence Mapstone, Myra Wood , and Margaret Hubert, all of whom I met at the 2006 Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) conference where we manned the freeform crochet booth.

After returning home, I applied myself diligently to learning this technique and even entered pieces in two of the International Freeform Fiberarts Guild’s online exhibits. Pretty soon, I discovered I had become a much more confident crocheter.

3 – Freeform Crochet Took the Fear Out of Experimentation

Freeform crochet tote I made a CGOA Regional Conference

Freeform crochet tote I made a CGOA Regional Conference

Because there are no hard and fast rules in freeform crochet, it requires a healthy dose of experimentation and improvisation. In order to do this, I had to put a muzzle on my inner crochet critic because there were times when I didn’t like what I had created. But instead of beating myself up about how awful a piece looked, I searched for ways to do it differently to get the effect I wanted.

I also had to let go of my expectations of how the piece was going to turn out. I had an idea in my mind of what I wanted to create, but it almost never turned out that way. I learned to let that be okay. In fact, I was often surprised and pleased at the unexpected end result of many projects.

Experimentation and improvisation, letting go of expectations, and freeing myself from that nasty inner critic have given me the confidence to start designing my own patterns.

2 – Freeform Crochet Increased My Crochet Knowledge and Skills Bank

A birthday gift for my daughter

A birthday gift for my daughter

Freeform crochet encouraged me to draw on everything I knew about crochet to figure out how to combine different colors, shapes, and textures into a pleasing whole. But I didn’t know as much as I needed to know and had to learn new skills to complete some projects.

Of course, you can’t be expected to know all of the stitches that can be used in freeform crochet, so I came to appreciate how essential stitch dictionaries are, no matter what kind of crocheting I’m doing.

Now, if there’s something new I need to learn to complete any crochet project, I’m confident I’ll be able to, not to mention the boost in confidence knowing more gives me.

1 – Freefrom Crochet Taught Me There’s More Than One Way to Do Stuff

 

My entry in the 2009 International Freeform Fiberarts Guild online exhibit

My entry in the 2009 International Freeform Fiberarts Guild online exhibit

In freeform crochet, you use whatever skills and techniques are available to you that will result in the effect you want to achieve. It’s the most freeing aspect of this fiber art for me. I can basically do whatever I want because if my experiment fails, I’ll find another way to do it.

Now, if pattern instructions tell me, for example, to start a round piece with “Chain 4, slip stitch to the first chain” to begin the round, I usually ignore it and start with a  magic circle. I’m not afraid to change a pattern if I know of a better way of doing something. And I now have no problems altering patterns to fit my personal tastes.

Add Freeform Crochet to Your Crochet Skills Bank

I highly recommend freeform crochet as a fun way to become a more confident crocheter and create beautiful fiber art in the process.

Craftsy has an excellent freeform crochet class that I’ve taken and benefitted from. It’s taught by renowned fiber artist, Myra Wood. To find out more, click HERE.