Scrumbling – Crochet Run Amok

Scrumbles (Freeform Crochet) is a word that describes small crochet ‘patches’. When the patches are all joined together, they are called… I don’t know, maybe Many Scrumbles? It is a good craft to do in the car when we travel between Alberta and Arizona because I don’t need a pattern and I don’t have to count stitches or rows.

These are my newest two Scrumbles:

Pinkly Purple

Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
– Regina Brett –

The Vegetable Garden that Didn’t Grow in Straight Rows

My other Scrumbles (with links to the post they are featured in): Red Hatters at the Berry Farm
Snails lost in a Flower Garden, Denizens of the Coral Reef, Snails and Pacman with Octopus Tentacles

Crochet – Red Hatters At the Berry Farm

This is my latest crochet Scrumble – I call it Red Hat Ladies at the Berry Farm.

The project started off with a few red yarns. That got boring real fast. So I went shopping – but all the red yarns were fairly close in colour to the yarns I already had. Time to rethink the Red Theme. Green seemed like a logical addition; purple a bold choice. Pink and gold just crept in, uninvited, but reasonable choices, as it turned out.

When the project was finished – and I have no idea how that is determined – the piece  announced it was Red Hat Ladies touring a berry farm.

You’ve heard about the “Red Hatters” haven’t you? The Red Hat Society is an international social group for older women. The inspiration for their attire (red hats and purple clothing) came from the poem Warning, by Jenny Joseph.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
– Warning by Jenny Joseph –

Do you have a Red Hat? Do you ever wear Purple?

Crochet – What Does Enough Look Like?

The Car Guy retired permanently a few years ago. He thought we’d have enough money and he knew his body and brain were no longer interested in the work routine.  I sort of retired when he did, though my career as a stay-at-home domestic ‘manager’, wasn’t one I could just walk away from. (Well, I could ‘walk away’, but that would probably mean I was either dead, or The Car Guy had decided to replace me with a younger ‘manager’…)

I used to have some ‘staff’, but they left home many years ago – so I turned to The Car Guy. Turns out he was willing to take on the evening sustenance routine and culinary procurement duties – but he balked at any task that involved removal of foreign substances from hard and soft surfaces. His foodie help was great, but it still left me many hours and tasks short of a leisurely retirement.

That led me to ask and answer my own Retirement Question – what does Enough look like? What is the intersect between dirty enough and clean enough? Enough stuff or too much stuff? Enough or not enough exercise? Enough or too much news? Enough or not enough…

I don’t have all the answers yet, but regular rounds of rightsizing – belongings, tasks, routines, etc  – has given me the mental energy to carve out more free time and be more creative.

Which leads me to a new craft I started in November. Scrumbles  (Freeform Crochet). Apparently Scrumble is the word that describes a small crochet ‘patch’. When the patches are all joined together, they are called… I don’t know, maybe Many Scrumbles?

This was my first Scrumble. I started this one on the car trip we took last fall from Alberta to Arizona. Three days of sitting in a car, in the silence that comes when the other person in the car is not a talker… I call it “Snails lost in a Flower Garden”

Going on a trip. Need about 4 skeins of yarn. I’ve packed 152 just to be safe.
– thecrochetcafe –

Ta da! Crocheting is a bit like being a magician… you mumble to yourself and waggle a stick around and no one else has a clue how you did it!
– crochetnow uk –

This Scrumble took exactly  one ball of yarn. It was one of those yarns that changes colour every few yards or so. I wonder how they dye it so it turns out like that. I call it “Snails and Pacman with Octopus Tentacles”.

This is where the enough aspect comes in. It is hard to know when the Scrumble is done because there is no pattern. You just make stuff up as you go along and unless you run out of wool, like I did on this Scrumble, it is hard to know when it is finished.

Marry the one who gives you the same feeling you have when you enter the yarn store.
– hooked –

I should learn to crochet something I’ll actually use… like a martini!
– –

This is my third Scrumble. I call it “Denizens of the Coral Reef”.  I knew it was done when I found a new ball of yarn that I liked a lot and it didn’t fit with the colours of this Scrumble. A quick finish to this Scrumble and I moved on to the next.

Yes I’m Bilingual – I speak fluent Crochet! Ch6, DTRC in base of ch 6, SC in next cluster. Repeat from * around, join with sl st to first st.
– Author Unknown –

Crocheter’s Hourly Rate:
$20/hr minimum
$30/hr if it requires black yarn
$40/hr if you require it by tomorrow
$80/hr if there is no pattern
$90/hr if your example photo was knitted.
– Author Unknown –

What Say You – Have you asked, and answered, your questions of “What does enough look like”?

Crochet Owls and Great Horned Owl Update

We haven’t seen the Great Horned Owl Family very often this past month, but I now have a permanent set of Owlet triplets to remind me of how special it was to watch the Owls.


I crocheted my own owls from a pattern at Jacquie’s Website. Jacquie says “If you are proficient at crochet you will be able to make one of these sweet little owls in no time at all.” Proficient is the operative word. My crochet skills were rusty, and apparently my counting skills were too. ‘No time at all’ took several weeks. There are many fiddly bits to the project.

The hardest part, however, was getting a decent photo of them. Their light weight little bodies didn’t want to sit on the branches of the trees. I finally had to wedge them between branches or skewer them a bit with the poky thorns.

As for real owls, two of the owlets were hunting here on July 19. There were several other owls too, but they didn’t land.

Here are photos of the two Owlets, altered with a Super Sharp filter in Topaz Studio.

Happy August! How is your summer or winter so far? Decent weather? Travel? Visitors? Done anything crafty lately?

Crochet – A 3 Dressed Up As a 9

I don’t think people should be judged by their looks, do you? There is a catchy song by Trooper that confirms the stereotype that men are only interested in women’s looks, and that women will do what it takes to meet a man’s expectations:

You looked a whole lot better to me
From twenty feet away
You’re just a 3 dressed up as a 9 ….
– Trooper –

The Fashion and Beauty Industry have certainly capitalized on the desire of women to be younger, thinner, firmer, smoother…. and if the product can’t actually do what it claims, then the Advertising Industry will find a graphic artist who will make sure that expectations and reality appear to be one and the same. (If you Google ‘Airbrushing Celebrity Before and After’ you’ll see  some excellent examples.)

red and whiteLet me demonstrate how simple it is to alter a photo to make a model ‘more beautiful’. In the photo above, Sondra the Snow Goddess is modelling the latest in scarf wear.

Here is Sondra after a session in Photoshop. Her eyes are more symmetrical, her lips have been plumped up, and her whole body has been elongated. Do you think she looks more ‘beautiful’? The right answer is “No, of course not!” Any other answer is dead wrong.

Perhaps the simplest way to make Sondra’s photo more dramatic, without altering her body, is to add a frame to her photo. If your Blog theme doesn’t add a frame, you can do it yourself before you upload. I use a program called FastStone Image Viewer to add my copyright and a simple frame.

Would you like to make your own Sondra the Snow Goddess? The directions for these Mini Crochet Snowmen are at Cut Out and Keep. I used Crochet Cotton, and though this made a very cute snowman that was only 1.75 inches tall, next time I would use a heavier wool and bigger crochet hook.

Crochet – How to Preserve and Use Grandma’s Doilies

Nostalgia – I am just one generation removed from a time when my people covered the tops of almost every piece of furniture with doilies! I don’t want to recreate that era in my home, but I would still like to display a few of these intricate pieces of art.
Here are a few ways I have either done this (or might try someday):

1. Mount a doily in a metal ring. To do this, lightly spray the doily with spray starch and press flat, using a pressing cloth. Center the doily on the inside of a metal hoop that is big enough! Using crochet thread, stitch the doily to the hoop at all the points.


2. Tack a doily to a stretched piece of fabric, then frame the fabric in some manner, such as inside quilt hoops.

3. I used to make small crochet snowflakes for my Christmas Tree. I used a white glue and water mixture to stiffen them. Some of them yellowed, and some of them didn’t – don’t really know why. I probably should have used a cornstarch stiffener.



4. I used cornstarch stiffener on doilies, then pinned them on a wall. The stiffened doilies look quite dramatic on a dark wall!


5. Stitch the doilies onto contrasting plain fabric and use them as a block for quilts or as cushions.



6. Doilies can be tacked together into “fabric” that can used as runners on tables or draped onto furniture.

7. Doilies could be pressed between two layers of glass. You can buy picture frames that work that way. I haven’t tried to do this, but I would suggest using the cornstarch recipe below to stiffen the doily. When it was dry, I’d carefully brush on a small amount of some more cornstarch stiffener  on one side of the doily to use as a glue. I’d mount the “glue” side of the doily onto one of the pieces of glass. When that was dry, I would finish assembling the frame. Be sure to leave an air gap between the top glass and the doily.

8.  I have several tables with glass tops. I could lay the doily, and maybe a few old photos of grandma on the table top, then cover it with another piece of glass, being careful to leave an air space between the two pieces of glass.

9. Doilies can be used with other archival materials to make a collage for a scrapbook.

10. Doilies can be starched into a bowl shape.

11. Doilies can be hung at different heights from a rod to form a wall hanging or lacy curtains.

Washing the Doilies
I hand washed them in cold water and Woolite. Some of them had stains on them, so I soaked them in a mixture of Woolite and OxyClean in hot tap water. The stains gradually lightened. It might take more than one soaking.

Corn Starch Stiffener
Apparently Corn Starch Stiffener is the best archival method to starch doilies because it can be washed out. Handle the doilies carefully when they are stiffened, because they may be more brittle.
– To make the stiffener, add 1 part cornstarch to 6 parts cold water. A small batch of 1 tablespoon cornstarch to 6 tablespoons water would stiffen three or four doilies.
– Stir until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Then heat the mixture over a medium low heat until it thickens. Stir frequently, but not too vigorously, while heating.
– It can also be heated in a microwave, as long as it is in a bowl that is much larger than the mixture, and you check and stir the stiffener every 15 to 30 seconds or so.
– Let the mixture cool for a few minutes. Then dip the doily in the mixture until it is thoroughly coated. Carefully wring out the excess, and blot between paper towels. Or, with your fingers, “paint” the mixture onto the doily until it is coated.

Blocking the Doily
There are many methods of blocking the doily until it dries. Some involve plastic wrap or tin foil and pins. But the easiest method I have found is to simply lay the doily out onto a melamine work surface. Carefully stretch it until it is evenly arranged, then leave it to dry. I tried laying it on a piece of glass to dry, but that didn’t work because it stuck to the glass too well. I had to get it wet again to remove it. The melamine is slightly textured, so the doily doesn’t stick nearly as firmly but still sticks well enough to keep it stretched. I suppose the degree of “stickiness” would also depend on how much stiffener had been used on the doily.

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Nostalgia.