Saturday, February 25, 2017

Mandalas for Marinke

At the end of June in 2015, a young lady named Marinke Slump (nicknamed Wink) lost her fight with depression and passed away. Her death led to an outpouring of grief and sadness, dare I say throughout the world. She was well known through her crochet blog and patterns. Her death was a shock but brought about an awareness of mental illness that had not perhaps been felt before.

Marinke's blog is still active. I think her sister periodically posts.

One person chose a very special way to honor Marinke and bring awareness to the plight of those suffering from depression. Kathryn Vercillo of Crochet Concupiscence put out a call for crocheted mandalas in Wink's honor. The effort is called Mandalas for Marinke. Little did she know the response would be so great.

Who is Kathryn Vercillo? You can read about her here.

You can also support Kathryn's work financially if you are so inclined. Refer to her Patreon page and this update for more information.

Here is Wink's story for Kathryn's book Crochet Saved My Life.

If you'd like to see all the articles written about the different mandala submissions, you can find them here.

I recently contacted Kathryn to get an update on the project, which entailed putting out a book of pictures of all the mandalas and an art display of the mandalas themselves.

Here is the update, directly from Kathryn.
Both the book and the art show are slated for 2017 after some unexpected delays that were caused by receiving a surprisingly large number of submissions. This is a wonderful thing, of course, and it just led to some changes in the format of both the show and the book. In short ...
- The book is completely written and almost all layout is complete. I have been waiting to publish until I get photos of all of the mandalas in one space together as I believe that has the most powerful visual impact. I have found it difficult to secure a large enough space to layout all of the mandalas in one place for photographing. I am still working on this although I've found some workarounds that I can implement if the full photo does not come through. The book is to be published in advance of the early summer anniversary of Marinke's death. A notice will be sent as soon as I have a specific publication date. 
- I really wanted to keep all of the mandalas together for one cohesive art show. I completely underestimated how difficult it is to find a space to host a full exhibition. The few spaces available in San Francisco are prohibitively expensive, so I've been looking into varied options (hosting it elsewhere, with a few options available in Tucson, AZ to start, and separating the work into smaller pieces for exhibition in different spaces). I have two meetings in the next month for possibilities - one with a hospital to hang pieces locally and another with an amazing performance art troupe that may be interested in incorporating them into a mental health themed performance. So it's all still being worked out; the art world moves much more slowly than I knew but it's happening step by step.
There are a couple of other things of note regarding Marinke. Her sister-in-law Christina created an afghan pattern with Marinke's standard mandala patterns. You can find the afghan pattern here and here. The second article contains a few interesting little tidbits to go along with the mandala posts. It's a gorgeous afghan. A great way to honor Wink's memory.

This CAL is the last thing Marinke was working on in the crochet world. The CAL is long over but the patterns are still up and I imagine you can still buy the yarn. The complete CAL is available as a pdf. The only U.S. outlet I saw listed was Paradise Fibers, but I also saw Deramores listed (U.K.) and I've ordered from them several times. They are quick and efficient. Sometimes there is even free shipping if you purchase a certain amount. Of course, you can download the patterns and use whatever yarn you wish.

IMPORTANT: Note that the instructions for the CAL use UK terms, not US terms.

And listed in reverse in case you're trying to translate the patterns from Scheepjes.
UK      =       US
sl st (slip stitch) = sl
ch (chain) = ch
dc (double crochet) = sc
htr (half treble) = hdc
tr (treble) = dc
dtr (double treble) = tr
ttr (triple treble) = dtr
quad tr (quadruple treble) = ttr

There is a  Facebook group for the CAL. I don't know if people are still working on it as I'm not a member but the group still exists.

This is the CAL afghan as pictured on Scheepjes web site. They offer three different color palettes.

Happy crocheting!

Friday, February 24, 2017


With all the things happening in my life these days, I've gotten away from consistently donating to charity. However, I firmly believe in helping others with our skills, whatever they might be. I ran across this list and thought I'd share it with you as well as having it at my fingertips for future donations. You do have to mail out items in most cases, but in general they are small items that would not cost much to mail. 

I highly recommend using the poly mailers which are light and don't add much to your mailing costs. I get mine on Ebay. Just search for poly mailers or poly envelopes. They can be easily folded over if you have a small item but only have larger envelopes.

Here's a list I saw on Facebook to get you started.

Of course there are several charity efforts that I am familiar with which could also use your help. Here are a few of my favorites.

The first one that comes to mind is The Bridge and Beyond run by my good friend, Sandy in Ohio. Scarves, hats and other items are donated to the homeless in her area. I trust Sandy and have no hesitation at all in recommending participation in her efforts. Along the top of the blog page, Sandy lists a bit about each item so you can make your donation especially useful.

Another effort that I have long supported is Knit Your Bit, making scarves to be given to veterans. Our soldiers do so much to keep us safe and free. They and their families make so many sacrifices. I find it most appropriate to give back to them. Knit Your Bit coordinators see that every scarf meets their criteria and finds a home with a veteran. Scarves are sent all across the country though the effort headquarters is at the WWII museum in New Orleans. I have met the sweet Lauren who began this effort and who continues to coordinate the happy volunteers. She hosts a local knit-in every now and then at the museum where you can bring your knitting and work on a scarf for a veteran.

Author Debbie Macomber supports an effort called Knit One Bless Two. The goal is to make blankets/afghans for children. The main thing to know is that the size of the ghan has to be 36" x 42". 

Christmas at Sea keeps mariners warm both physically and with a warm, fuzzy heart knowing that others are thinking about their comfort. Most of the patterns listed are knit but there are three crochet patterns: Crochet Seafarer's Cap, Crochet Scrappy Scarf, Crochet Mariners Scarf. There is a Facebook group for this effort. Other patterns are allowed as long as they "sit tight to the head (no slouchy hats) and scarves are under 50" long. No pompoms, fringe or tassels please as they're a hazard".

Having had a preemie myself, they are close to my heart. When I was working with Preemie Afghans for Charity, Danette donated many little blankets. Now she has her own effort which has been around for many years. Check out God's Tiny Angels for more information.

Another charity effort I want to  mention is Heartmade Blessings. They make afghans at the request of individuals for folks who are going through a difficult time and would benefit from being reminded that others care. There is a Facebook group and a yahoo group. Many hands make quick work. A dozen people donate squares which are assembled into afghans by another person. I like the idea of thirteen people working together to give comfort to someone they don't know.

I know there are many other efforts out there. If there is a particular thing you like to make, there is a good chance there is a charity somewhere that needs it. 

Happy crocheting!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

2016 temperature afghan

2016 temperature afghan has begun! This is about halfway through January. I just wanted to note the day I began for reference. The beginning went much more smoothly this time around. No knots. No do-overs. :-)

I used an F hook for the foundation chain. There is still a little gathering but not nearly as much as before. In retrospect I think this time it may be from not making my chains between single crochets loose/wide enough. In any case, I'm okay with it. I'm trying to pay attention to those chains a little more and keep them the same as much as I can.

I'm using a G hook for the body of the afghan. I'm using my little cheat sheet for starting each row but am finding I don't need it as much as I did on the first one. Of course, it's early on.

Happy crocheting!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

big button beret

While waiting for the yarn to come in so I could start the 2016 temperature afghan, I pulled out a WIP started in July of last year.

The pattern is the Big Button Beret from the Adventures of the Gingerbread Lady blog, July 2010.

I used the Knit Picks Felici yarn colorway Time Traveler. You know I had to have that yarn. LOL It's special reserve yarn made in Italy and the colorway is only available at certain times. It is fingering weight, 75% Superwash Merino Wool, 25% Nylon, 218 yards / 50 grams. That is just over 1.7 ounces. I used about 1 1/2 skeins which is about 2.5 ounces for my hat. Note I have a small head so you may use more if you work this pattern.

I used an F crochet hook.

I haven't put a button on it though I'm thinking about it. :-)

I tried to take selfies of myself wearing it. I'm not great at selfies. Also, the lighting wasn't great. Of course, the model is not great. Those are my excuses. I am wearing it as a slouch hat. Note the Adipose earrings my husband made for me. :-)

The pattern is fairly simple to work. You just have to keep track of how many double crochets between the increases and decreases. There are lots of pictures to help too. Although I don't often work with fingering yarn, I found this a nice change. 

I worked this pattern before with Patons Kroy Sock variegated yarn in Cyan Stripes. Here's a pic - from January 2011. (The Gingerbread Lady herself commented on that post!)

In my blog picturing the previous hat I commented about the join. "One of the things I love about this pattern is the start of round. Rather than ch 3 and then work double crochets, the designer has you ch ONE, then work a dc in the same stitch." I want to add that I now use this method almost exclusively when I'm working in the round. 

Great pattern! Well done!

Happy crocheting!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Yarn Yak

Did you know the CYCA (Craft Yarn Council of America) has all sorts of useful information for knitters and crocheters? 

For example, this chart for yarn weights is very handy.

There is a fairly new yarn weight classification listed there - #7 Jumbo.  Click on the picture below to see all the categories but do go to the web site to get all the information. This is just a small snippet.

If you're a beginner crocheter or trying to teach someone who is a beginner, you might want to check out this page on how to read a crochet pattern. It gives a lot of useful information. It's written by the wonderful Jean Leinhauser who has since passed away (2011).

If you have a pattern with skill levels listed and you want to know where your own skills fall, check out this chart.

You can get all the information together in one document if you download the pdf

Happy crocheting!