February’s Crochet Challenge

johnsie4:

I was recently involved in a community afghan making project. It was incredibly satisfying and inspiring. What a simple and effective way to help out. This blog is asking crocheters to donate 1 granny square a month to make blankets for charity. Granny squares are so easy and my favorite thing to crochet. I’m really excited to have found this blog.

Originally posted on CROCHET GRANNY SQUARES OF LOVE:

“Love only grows by sharing. You can only have more for yourself by giving it away to others.”
― Brian Tracy

A few of the beautiful granny squares that were donated.

A few of the beautiful granny squares that were donated.

Once again, we are in need of granny squares to stitch together to make afghans and baby blankets. I was thinking….If one person in every state in the United States sent only one granny square, then we would have 50 additional granny squares for the month of February. Fifty granny squares would help us make 8 baby blankets!!! It may not sound like much to you, but it means a lot to those who are in need of them.

We are looking for 50 volunteers, anywhere in the U.S., who will send us at least ONE granny square each month, to join us in our effort to keep others warm. One granny square is easy and inexpensive to…

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Me, As a Fighter

Disclaimer:this is long and intense.

Lately I’ve been picking apart my natal chart and really trying to understand myself.  Who am I really?  Why do I do the things I do?  What makes me truly happy, or truly mad? 

Truly mad… this is what I want to write about today. 

One of the most hurtful things anyone has said to me was, “Janelle, you’re so full of hate and anger!”  This has been said to me a few times, and it caused my heart to shatter into a million pieces.  This phrase, this criticism, has brought me so much… pain.

The biggest reason this is so hurtful is because that’s not how I view myself.  I actually view myself as quite the opposite, I feel like I am a very loving person.  But when this has been said to me, I begin to question how I am percieved by the world and consequently, begin to question reality as I know it.

I’ve only been in a few fights in my life, and very few have been intense enough for people to see me at my worst.

I’ve turned to my natal chart in attempt to understand Mad Janelle.  Aries Ascendant (quick to anger, but quick to release it), Mercury in Aries (aggressive in arguments),  Taurus sun (slow to provoke, but mess with the Bull, you get the horns), and my chart ruler is Mars and he can be found in Capricorn (a practical fighter, but only engage in a fight when I can see it will be worth it).  Mars is also in the 10th house, the public personna, so I have an unconscious tendency to fight my battles in a public manner. 

Mars in the 10th house is a very interesting aspect.  Do I fight my battles in public?  Absolutely!  I have been writing on this blog for 4 years now, and have brought bits of my biggest fights here. 

The biggest battles I have engaged in always have the same theme.  It’s not necessarily about the people involved, but an idea or principle close to my heart I feel is being violated and I just have to say something!  That’s what initiates them anyway.

I have always been a very vocal supporter of Marriage Equality, even to my extremely conservative relatives.  I have been so vocal about this issue I have inadvertently severed ties with extended family. 

A relative once commented on my Facebook profile picture. She said my breastfeeding photo was nasty and I should not put that out in public.  I need to cover up!  This fight was rough because I percieved this criticism as an attack on ALL breastfeeding mothers.  I felt it was my duty to make a stand.  Breastfeeding is not something to be ashamed of or to hide from society whilst doing.  I felt, and still feel,  like people needed to see it, we need to normalize it. 

This fight was the first time I got the comment that I am so hateful, so full of anger.  Being 3 months postpartum, I took it very hard.  I questioned my ability to love my own child.  A new mother doesn’t need to be told that!  A new mother doesn’t need to be told to hide away while she nourishes her child to the best of her ability! 

Now my heart is pounding again reliving these emotions.  It’s in the past.  Breathe.  

A got into another fight during my first child’s first year.  An aquaintance had a new baby.  She said on a Facebook update she wasn’t getting any sleep and her baby was eating all the time.  He was less than a month old.  She got a lot of good advice, then someone came along and told her to put the baby down and let him cry it out.

I was livid.  What kind of advice is that?  I jumped in, fists up and said that was HORRIBLE advice!  Of course, this turned into a huge argument on a new mother’s Facebook page so I brought it to this blog.  I was so mad because, again, it was an attack on all mothers and babies.  I see crying it out as straight up neglect and I think this terrible practice needs to end.  Now. 

In the end I lost a lot of friends over it because I am “so hateful, so angry.”   

My husband deployed in 2012.  That was a really difficult 7 months.  There literally are no words to describe what we all went through.  The people that were supposed to be there for me weren’t.  I had 2 very small children and I was absolutely alone.  One of the people who was supposed to be supporting me was posting all over Facebook about my husband.  They were saying they were so pround of him for serving our country.  This person had not spoken to my husband or myself in months.  No call to see how I was doing.  This person was pretending to be supportive publicly, while ignoring my husband, me and our children.  They had no right to post on Veteran’s Day how they support the troops and how proud they were of their Veteran when in fact they were showing anything BUT support.

Who wouldn’t be angry about that?  I sent this person a private message and said, hey, this isn’t right!  I laid it all out for them and told them this behavior needs to stop.  I invited them, in a very calm manner, to tell me what I was doing to upset them (because why else were they ignoring me during my time of desparation?).  I was ignored completely.

I pressed the issue.  I said this is serious, please stop ignoring me.  They responded by saying everything was my fault.  They have never shown anything but love for me, I just have anger issues. 

That relationsip is still active, but I’ve cut emotional ties with them.  I obviously can’t rely on them    During the 7 hardest months of my life I fell off the face of the earth to them.  These are not people I want to have in my inner circle.

I recently was involved in the biggest battle of my entire life.  It involved a lot of people.  This happened on Facebook as well (seeing a trend here).  One of my brothers has been out of the closet and open about being gay for about a year and a half now.  My conservative family has had a difficult time accepting his alternate lifestyle. 

He posted a picture of him and his boyfriend being romantic (I think one of them was kissing the other’s cheek).  Our oldest brother commented on this picture and told him something along the lines of how he was worried for his soul when he is openly sinning against god.  I can’t remember what it was he said exactly, but he stated very clearly that he was absolutely unapproving of our brother’s life choices.  And he chose to say this very publicly.  These days it doesn’t get more public than Facebook.

I was so mad.  I was so mad I was shaking.  I tried texting our oldest brother, but he was ignoring me.  So, I reactivated my several months dead Facebook account so I could fight the fight where it was happening. 

My brother who is gay made it clear to everyone that he was done with being treated poorly.  If they can’t be loving and accepting, there’s no room in his life for these toxic relationships.  He wrote this out so well, so clear and I was so proud of him. 

I confronted my entire family about their intolerant behavior and said we need to work this out. 

I fight very much like a horned animal.  I am straightforward, direct, unrelenting.  I plod up the mountain just like Capricorn, stomping as I go.  I’m not saying this is a good way to fight, but this is how it’s done for me.  I have to get it all out and deal with it.  Right now, here it is, let’s do this.

Most everyone in my family has Mars in Leo and a Scorpio moon or sun.  They are not pleased with my style of fighting.  They much prefer fighting more privately and stinging where it really hurts.

Here we have concentrated Leo, Scorpio, Taurus and Capricorn energies fighting each other.  It’s intense.  Long story short, there were no winners.  We’ve all lost each other.

One of the worst parts of the fight for me, was when someone told me that I was “so hateful, so full of anger” but the thing of it was, it was relatively unprovoked at the time it was said. It hit a very raw nerve and my anger escalated past a controllable level.  The Capricorn in me was ashamed. 

That makes it at least 4 times people have told me this about myself.  But it’s something I don’t see, just like my Aries Ascendant.  Maybe it’s an Aries energy that I’m unconscious of.  When it was said in the most recent fight was when it hurt more than any other time.  It just didn’t make sense.

Then one day, in a sudden jolt of insight while grocery shopping, I realized why this person said that.  I felt like I had been slugged in the chest.  I couldn’t breathe!  I was teetering on the verge of a full-blown panic attack at the grocery store.

The only thing that saved me from intense public humiliation was exercising meditation techniques.  Be present.  There is no actual danger in the present moment.  I am upset about the past.  Be present.  Look at the food on the shelves…. make conscious note of how my body feels and what I am seeing in the real world.  Breathe.

So what was the fight really about and why did it escalate so rapidly?  People who are supposed to love and support me don’t!  2 relationships who are seemingly unrelated to each other are getting together and talking about me and laughing!  I got wind of some of this gossip a few months ago but didn’t understand that it was an ongoing thing.  My family chose to believe false rumors about me.  They didn’t ask me for my side of the story, they didn’t stick up for me.  They chose to hate me based on rumors. 

There’s something else in my natal chart that plays a huge role in every part of my life.  It’s an aspect that I’ve misunderstood quite a bit and possibly will for a long time.  The way I interpret it right now though, is this.  Jupiter conjunct Moon in Pisces in the 12th house.  The moon is the planet of emotions, Jupiter is the planet of expansion.  Pisces is the depths of the sea of human emotion and the 12th house is the house of all things hidden.   

Translation:  I experience my emotions in a BIG way.  What are the comments I’m getting, anger and hate?  Emotions!  Just as I experience the negative emotions very powerfully, I also experience the positive emotions very powerfully.  When I love, I love with every single fiber of my being.  When I get hurt emotionally, I get cut very very deeply.  I get sad in a big way.  I get happy in a big way.  And I communicate to you about my big emotions… in a big way.  I can honestly tell you I am not a drama queen.  Drama hurts me so much.  But I respond to drama dramatically.

I can honeslty say that I was first provoked before I engaged in these battles.  And when I did engage, because the universe knows I’ve been passive about most battles, they always involved something much bigger than just myself.  I will always fight for the ideals I hold near and dear to my Jupiter-fused heart. 

I could go on and on and on, but this doesn’t need to continue at this point.  If you’re still reading, I love you.  Thank you for going through this with me. 

I’ve lost a lot of relationships lately.  In fact, most have been dissolved or destroyed in the past year.  I’m pretty much down to the people I live with, 2 of my 5 brothers,  and that’s it.  And I am so grateful to have them.  They deserve to be in my inner circle.  They have always been so loving and supportive of me. But I’m still very sad.  I’m very insecure.  I’m drinking too much coffee, eating too much processed foods.  I’m not really working out or taking good care of myself. 

I’ve lost myself in a sea of yarn and making things for babies I will probably never meet, but they need a snuggly wool blanket, hat and booties.  Every baby deserves to be wrapped in cozy wool.  Yarn doesn’t make everything better, but it is very soothing to work with.

 

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Felted Wool Dryer Balls

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Wool dryer balls are awesome.  They are a great natural alternative to liquid fabric softener and dryer sheets.  The harmful chemicals in commercial fabric softeners can cause central nervous system damage, among other potential horrors!  Wool dryer balls soften your clothes and reduce static cling in your laundry without any harmful side affects (unless of course you’re allergic to wool, then I most definitely wouldn’t use them).  Wool dryer balls are a very popular topic people are searching for, and most of the traffic on my blog have come here through search engines looking specifically for knit and crochet patterns to make them.  In my wool dryer ball post, I did not include the pattern and I feel bad that I wasn’t helpful to the people coming here looking for them. 

The patterns to these dryer balls have been bumping around in my head for years and it’s about time I get them out into to world.

One commenter in the wool dryer ball post suggested going to the big box craft stores with a coupon or during a sale and stocking up on Fisherman’s wool for making the dryer balls. 

You’ll need to start your project by making a ball of yarn, wound very tightly.  This is a fantastic project to use up leftovers in your yarn stash.  Any 100% wool yarn will work, in any weight for the wound up ball that goes inside the knit or crochet pouch. 

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When the ball is 9 1/4 inches in circumference, thread the yarn tail onto a tapestry needle and secure the ball together.  It doesn’t have to be seamed very much, just enough that it won’t be coming apart inside your knit or crochet felted dryer ball pouches.

I’ve done quite a bit of felting and I have found Knit Picks Wool of the Andes to be the best felting yarn ever.  It felts up so easily, I swear this is what it was meant to do.  I have had success with other brands of 100% wool, just make sure you aren’t using superwash wool.

 

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Now, I’m going to be very direct and honest here. Felting is hard work! Some of the felting instructions I’ve read say something along the lines of, “Oh just throw your project in the washer and it will come out felted!” I have not found this to be true even once. I have a front load washer so felting is more of a challenge and I have no doubt it is easier in a top loading, agitating washer.

Here’s how I felted my dryer balls. First, I boiled them. I let them boil for a few minutes, then with tongs, plunged them into ice cold water. I put them back in the boiling pot of water for a few minutes, then once again, plunged them into ice cold water. I repeated this once more. I squeezed them out, put them in a mesh laundry bag, tied the slack, then put them in the washer on hot/ cold cotton cycle. I repeated this entire process (boiling and washing) 3 times before they were felted to my liking. My balls ended up being 10- 10.5 inches in circumference after all the felting. Both knit and crochet versions came out about the same size.
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Another question I get is how many balls to use? I personally like 6-8 balls in my dryer at a time. I’ve heard of people using up to 12 and as few as 2. It’s really up to you!

The crochet pattern is easier and faster to make, but harder to felt. The knit pattern takes longer to make, but easier to felt. I am glad I got to do both. It was a really fun adventure.

Crochet Felted Wool Dryer Balls pattern

Knit Felted Wool Dryer Balls pattern

Happy stitching!

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Crochet Felted Wool Dryer Balls

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This pattern is crocheted in the round, amigurumu style so there will be no joining and chaining.  Just keep crocheting in a continuous spiral.  You’ll need a stitch marker to indicate the beginning of the round.

You will need to make a wool ball of yarn that is 9 1/4 inches in circumference to place inside the outer pouch.  See more information here.

Tools:

Size J Hook (6.0 mm)

Stitch marker

Tapestry needle

Yarn:

Worsted weight yarn in 100% wool  (make sure it’s not superwash).  I highly recommend Knit Picks Wool of the Andes for felted projects.

Abbreviations:

2scinc: 2 single crochet stitches in the same stitch, one stitch increased.

sc2tog: single crochet 2 stitches together, one stitch decreased.

Directions:

Starting with a magic ring, sc 6 times in the loop.  Pull tight.

1. 2scinc, repeat around. (12 sts)

2. 2scinc, 1 sc.  Repeat around (18 sts)

3. 2scinc, 2 sc.  Repeat around (24 sts)

4. 2scinc, 3 sc. Repeat around (30 sts)

5. 2scinc, 4 sc.  Repeat around (36 sts)

6. 2scinc, 5 sc. Repeat around (42 sts)

7. 2scinc, 6sc. Repeat around (48 sts)

Rounds 8- 15 sc in each st.

16. sc2tog, sc in next 6 sts. Repeat around (42 sts)

17. sc2tog, sc in next 5 sts. Repeat around (36 sts)

18. sc2tog, sc in next 4 sts. Repeat around (30 sts).  Put the yarn ball inside the pouch.

19. sc2tog, sc in next 3 sts. Repeat around (24 sts)

20. sc2tog, sc in next 2 sts. Repeat around (18 sts)

21. sc2tog, sc in next st. Repeat around (12 sts)

22. sc2tog around (6 sts)

Cut yarn, thread onto tapestry needle and seam the hole closed.  Weave in ends.

The pouch will be large and loose before felting.  Felt as desired.  For more information about felting, click here.

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Knit Felted Wool Dryer Balls

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This is the pattern for the pouch that will go over the wound up balls of yarn to make felted wool dryer balls.  You will need to start this project by making a ball of yarn 9 1/4 inches in circumference.

Tools:

US 10 (6 mm) knitting needles, either DPN or 40″ circular for magic loop

Stitch marker to indicate beginning of round

tapestry needle

Worsted weight 100% wool yarn (make sure it’s not superwash)

Directions:

CO 6 sts, divide evenly between needles.  Place marker to indicate beginning of round.

1. KFB around (12 sts)

2. K all sts

3. K1, KFB repeat around (18 sts)

4. K all sts

5. K2, KFB repeat around (24 sts)

6. K all sts

7. K3, KFB repeat around (30 sts)

8. K all sts

9. K4, KFB repeat around (36 sts)

10. K all sts

11. K5, KFB repeat around (42 sts)

12. K all sts

13. K6, KFB repeat around (48 sts)

14. K all sts

15. K 7, KFB repeat around (54 sts)

16. K all sts

17. K8, KFB repeat around (60 sts)

Rounds 18-21, knit all sts.

22. K8, K2tog repeat around (54 sts)

23. K all sts

24. K7, K2tog repeat around. (48 sts)

25. K all sts

26. K6, K2tog repeat around (42 sts)

27. K all sts

28. K5, K2tog repeat around (36 sts)

29. K all sts

30. K4, K2tog repeat around (30 sts)

31. K all sts, place ball inside pouch.

32. K3, K2tog repeat around (24 sts)

33. K2, K2tog repeat around (18 sts)

34. K all sts

35. K1, K2tog repeat around (12 sts)

36. K2tog around (6 sts)

Cut yarn, leaving a 6 inch tail.  Thread yarn tail onto a tapestry needle, and draw it through the live sts.  Pull tight to close the pouch.  Secure and weave in yarn ends.  Felt as desired, or for more information, click here.

 

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In the Halls of the Dead

Yesterday I had several conversations with different people about Martin Luther King, Jr.  When I looked up information about him later, I was surprised to learn that yesterday was his birthday!  I thought it was odd that these conversations came up on this day and not any other day.

As I was going to sleep last night, my mind drifted off and I began thinking about him.  I wondered, if reincarnation is real where is his soul now?  How does one go from being so influencial and historically significant to being an average Joe again…. and slowly sleep began to overtake me.  I heard the words, “He walks among the dead”, whispered in my ear and I was jerked back to consciousness with my heart pounding.  It was one of those moments when I realized that information did not come from me.  I decided that was ok and let myself fall asleep.

 

I am sitting on the floor looking through a bag of yarn.  I am so excited, I have just finished all these projects and I get to start working on a project I have been planning for a while.  I pick up each ball and examine it, then begin to sort out the colors.  It’s nice yarn!

I am handing someone the balls of yarn.  Someone who I don’t know the identity of but it doesn’t really concern me because I’m so involved with the yarn.  He telepathically asks me what I’m planning to make.  “A baby blanket!” I respond excitedly.

“Oh that’s really nice!  I can tell it’s going to come out well.  I really miss my babies.”

Suddenly I see the faces of children projected into my head, along with this heavy feeling of guilt, remorse, shame and homesickness.  The pain is so much I can barely breathe.  The emotional pain is gone as quickly as it came and I know it came from him.

Knowing the faces of the children, I look up.  I know this man.  I never knew him well, but he has definitely been on my mind since his death.  In the real world I know I would be extremely disturbed by this encounter, but in my dreamworld I am non-judgemental, just compassionate.  I am truly sorry for what has happened.

We pick up all the yarn and sit on a couch together and start this project.  He sits down and I can feel that he is comforted by simply sitting next to me in silence.  He truly shares my excitement for this project.

As I begin working on the blanket, I feel the weight of a hand on my head.  It’s very familiar.  The hand tousles my hair and I hear, “Ol’ Janelle-a-bug!” 

Startled, I look up and see this face, this familiar face with the crooked smile and mischevious eyes. It’s my Grandpa!  My Grandpa who has been dead for nearly 9 years now.  He’s so happy to see me.  He wants me to know he loves me.  He slowly wanders away.

I look up and take in my surroundings.  I’m in a place of never-ending hallways and doorways without doors.  I see souls slowly wandering around this place.  They are not really doing anything, not talking with one another nor have any kind of agenda.  They simply exist with their emotional baggage, slowly healing and letting go.

This place is not deep underground.  There is no fire.  Nor is it in the sky, eternally feasting with angels.  They exist right here alongside us, on another plane of existence.  Just as TV channels exist on the same TV, they don’t mix or interact with the incarnate.

This dream has had a huge emotional impact on me.  I feel quite confused.  Is it possible I was interacting with the dead on the astral plane?  Or was it just a dream?

 

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Rainbow Striped Beanie

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I wanted to make my 4 year old son a new hat, so I gave him a pattern book to look through.  He seemed to get a little frustrated that he couldn’t find exactly what he wanted, so we searched on Ravelry for patterns together.  Again, he was frustrated he couldn’t find exactly what he wanted. 

I asked him to tell me what he was looking for.  He told me he wanted a hat with red, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, gray, and white stripes.  I got out a huge pile of yarn and had him pick out the colors for his hat.  He piled up 9 balls of yarn and said those were the colors he wanted.  We worked together to arrange the colors. 

We ended up with a Roy G Biv rainbow plus a few more colors.  What follows is the pattern to the cheerful hat my sweet 4 year old came up with. 

Pattern Gauge: 5 stitches and 7 rounds per inch in stockinette stitch

Tools:

US 5 16 inch circular knitting needle (or size needed for gauge)

US 7 16 inch circular knitting needle (or size needed for gauge)

US 7 DPNs or US 7 40 inch circular needle for magic loop

Stitch marker

Tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Yarn:

I used 9 colors of worsted weight yarn, most of which were Cascade 220 and Knit Picks Wool of the Andes.  The sequence for the hat was red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, white, gray, black.  This is an excellent project for using up all those obscure yarn ball leftovers so you can use whatever worsted weight yarn you have on hand.  You will need approximately 120 yards.

Directions:

With smaller needles and red yarn, cast on 96 stitches.  Place marker to indicate beginning of round. Work K2 P2 ribbing for 8 rounds.

Switch to larger needles, cut red yarn and begin working with orange, knit 4 rounds stockinette stitch. 

Knitting 4 rounds per color, knit in stockinette stitch until hat measures 7 inches from cast on edge.  (color sequence for this hat was red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, white, gray, black)

Continuing to switch colors every 4 rounds, begin decreasing.

Round 1: K 10, K2tog around (88 sts)

Round 2: K all sts

Round 3: K 9, K2tog around (80 sts)

Round 4: K all sts

Round 5: K 8, K2tog around (72 sts)

Round 6: K all sts

Round 7: K 7, K2tog around (64 sts)

Round 8: K all sts

Round 9: K 6, K2tog around (56 sts)

Round 10: K all sts

Round 11: K 5, K2tog around (48 sts)

Round 12: K all sts

Round 13: Switching to DPN’s or 40″ circular for magic loop, K 4, K2tog around (40 sts)

Round 14: K all sts

Round 15: K 3, K2tog around (32 sts)

Round 16: K all sts

Round 17: K 2, K2tog around (24 sts)

Round 18: K all sts

Round 19: K 1, K2tog around (16 sts)

Round 20: K all sts

Round 21: K2tog around (8 sts remaining)

Cut yarn, leaving 6 inch yarn tail.  Thread onto tapestry needle, thread remaining sts onto needle and pull the top of the hat closed.  Secure, and weave in all ends. 

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