Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Top 10 Crochet Gift Ideas for Grown-ups

Need a crochet project gift idea for an adult?
  Don't stress!  Just consult my top 10 list!

When holidays, birthdays, showers, or parties roll around, it's pretty easy to hop online or flip through any crochet book to find an easy-to-make gift for a new baby or a child. Practical gifts for older teens and adults are not-so-easy to find. Although some grown-ups appreciate amigurumi characters or granny square sweater vests, most would prefer something more usable.

However, even when you are in a hurry to whip up a W.I.P. for an adult friend or family member, there are many projects to consider.  Here are my top ten crochet project ideas for grown-ups, listed in order of general, relative difficulty.  Links will take you to instructions and patterns.  Enjoy!

Use finer yarns for tablecloths and bookmarks.

Beginner to Intermediate Crochet Projects

Each of these projects can be made with single crochet or double crochet stitches worked back and forth across rows or with granny squares.  In other words, if you can crochet a rectangle, you can make any of these projects! You can use acrylic yarns or pure cotton for the kitchen and bath items, and you can use any number of beautiful natural fibers for scarves: For winter wearables, the softer the better. Bookmarks and tablecloths can be made as dainty as you prefer using finer yarns and smaller hooks to match.  Always check the yarn labels to find the recommended hook sizes, and plan your time wisely. The smaller the hook and finer the yarn, the longer a rectangle will take to make.

As you progress, try working in different stitches to add unique elements to your designs. Tablecloths and bookmarks are great first filet crochet projects, and Tunisian crochet is an excellent method for making placemats.

Intermediate to Expert Crochet Projects

Try making jewelry using the cro-tatting method.

Each of these projects generally is worked in the round, yet most can still be created using the single or double crochet stitches.  Ties and jewelry are made using finer yarns and take longer to make, while hats and bags can be made fairly quickly.  Again, the only limitation is your imagination, as you can add beads, bobbles, tassels, and art yarns to your projects, or you can experiment with another method for making jewelry, cro-tatting.

The next time a gift-giving get-together rolls around, skip the worry about "What to make?" or "How much time do I have?"  There are plenty of ideas for unique crochet gifts that can be personalized to the giftee from the gifter - even for grown-ups!

Want to learn more about crochet? Try

Blog Post with Patterns - Crochet Christmas Tree Ornaments

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess.  Please contact the author for permission to republish.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sentence Diagramming: Grimm Wednesday

"She'll sting you one day, Oh, ever so gently, so you hardly ever feel it.
'Till you fall dead." - Jacob Grimm

If you are in the mood to work with beautifully macabre language today, interpret and diagram the following quotation.

Today's sentences come from Jacob Grimm, one of the brothers who famously authored Grimm's Fairy Tales.  

Darker than new readers might expect, the first sentence in this quotation relies on adverbs and adverbial phrases for its grim message. Furthermore, the second sentence is actually a sentence fragment, so I have diagrammed it here as an additional part of the first sentence, an additional adverbial phrase.

The complete Kellogg-Reed Diagram

To begin the diagram, I first identified the nouns in the sentences and determined if they were each subjects or objects.  After placing the nouns in their proper places on base lines, I began pairing each of the subject nouns with their respective verbs.

Once I identified the nouns and verbs and how they worked in pairs, I went back to the second sentence because I identified it as a sentence fragment.  There is no noun the precedes the preposition "'till."  That made it easier to identify the noun clause because a preposition should be followed by an object.  In this case, the object of the preposition "'till" is the noun clause, "you drop dead."

The beauty in this quotation lies in its use of adverbs and adverbial phrases.  None of the adverbs work alone; each is accompanied by another adverb, making the sentence pleasing to the ear. This includes the prepositional phrase, which is  used here also as an adverbial phrase to describe how long "she'll sting," or when she will cease stinging.

I was sure to place the coordinating conjunction, "so," that links the two independent clauses, and I checked to be sure I had correctly indicated the prepositional phrase with its base line crossing the preposition line.  Lastly, I checked to be sure I had correctly incorporated the interjection, "Oh," which is capitalized in the quotation.

My final interpretation and diagram includes two independent clauses connected by a coordinating conjunction, a fragment used as an adverbial prepositional phrase with a noun clause as its object, and a stand alone interjection.  Adverbial phrases add to the beauty of the quotation, its specific, visceral language.

Want to read more about diagramming sentences? Try

Diagramming Vonnegut: "So it goes."
Diagramming Pangloss: "All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds."
Diagramming Hamlet: "To be or not to be."

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess.  Please contact the author for permission to republish.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Which Weaving Loom is Best for Beginners?

The Prima Fiber Arts Weaving Loom Kit, The Home Made Modern Kit, and a Cardboard Loom
Frame Weaving Looms Are Great for Beginners

There are many types of weaving looms, all with varying degrees of mechanical complexity. From rigid heddles and cards to treadles, pins, bobbins, and dobbies, there are a multitude of ways to work a warp, weft, and weave.  By far, however, the best weaving loom for beginners is the simple frame hand loom.

Although there are some variations even among the different types of hand looms, most are made up of a frame on which warp threads can be wound, and . . . well, that's it. Even a square of cardboard can be used as simple hand loom. There are many commercial looms to choose from, as well, all of different prices and quality.

The beginner's  weaving loom I've found to be of the greatest value is the Prima Fiber Arts Loom kit. However, I also paid half the price for a simple loom from Target, on which I made one of my favorite wall hangings. When in doubt, there are also several ways to make a loom for yourself!

Prima Fiber Arts Loom Kit Review: Special and Substantive 

The Prima Fiber Arts Loom kit came with everything I needed to create a wall hanging, minus scissors: the loom, a shuttle, the shed, a large tapestry needle, a weaving comb, and instruction manual.  The kit even came with all of the yarns and bits and bobs needed to create a piece "right out of the box." All of the hardware needed to hold the loom together was present and accounted for.

The adjustable loom and wooden tools are all made with high-quality materials, and  I am especially pleased with the weaving comb and wooden tapestry needle and shuttle.  They feel substantial when held in the hand, more like "real" tools than toys.  Additionally, the loom is decorated with flower "doodles," which adds to the feeling of its specialness.

I do have two reservations about this loom kit, however.  First, I did have to sand the tools before I could use them.  Although the loom is made with quality materials, I feel as though the workmanship is a bit shoddy.  There were splinters and rough edges on the tools when they arrived.  Second, the warp thread that is included is very slippery and shiny.  Although it looks lovely, I would never recommend this slippery thread for a beginner's project.  It makes it very difficult for knots to hold and for the project to be tight.  Of course, a different thread or yarn can easily be substituted.

Hand Made Modern Tabletop Loom Review: Lightweight and Simple

The Hand Made Modern Tabletop Loom came with almost everything I needed to create a wall hanging, minus scissors: the loom, a shed, three shuttles, an instructional flyer, and a traditional (metal) tapestry needle.  It also came with a cotton thread to use as a warp thread.  However, the loom is made with much lower quality materials, and it feels more like a toy than a "real" tool.  The loom is held together with the tension of the warp, not with hardware.  Because the shed is a bit wimpy, it did flip on me a few times during my project.

On the other hand, the cotton thread was much easier to work with, and the loom is much lighter, making it easier to hold to work or to pack up and take away from home.  Furthermore, although I love the wooden tapestry needle that came with the Prima kit, a traditional tapestry needle is very useful in a tight spot.

Homemade Loom Review: Free and Portable

There are several Pinterest Pins about making and using handmade looms, from using copper pipe and fittings, to using dowel rods, to picture frames and finishing nails, to scraps of cardboard and cardboard boxes.  Although I opted for the simplest-looking handmade loom made of a square of cardboard, I was not successful in making a cardboard loom with a straight warp.  However, I was able to make a crooked little weaving.

The best part of the cardboard loom was that is was free, and it was a creative way to spend an afternoon; not only in the weaving, but in the making of the loom.  As for being portable, the cardboard loom also wins by a longshot.


The important thing to remember when choosing a beginner's loom is the beginner's preferences and needs.  Portability, quality, weight, and price are always worth considering.  Starting a hobby with lower quality materials can sometimes work out, but more often than not, the wrong tools will stymie the user's desire to continue.

Want to read more about fiber arts or arts and crafts? Try

Make a Celtic Tatting Shuttle
Learn to Crochet for Stress Relief
Are Adult Coloring Books Worth the Money?

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess.  Please contact the author for permission to republish.