My First Granny Square

Granny squares are one of the simplest motifs that could be created using basic stitches. It can be mastered in a short time even by beginners. One of the first things I made while learning to crochet was a granny square. For me, crochet is a self-taught skill. Thanks to the Internet and the millions of wonderful photo and video tutorials out there. These are the efforts of beautiful people who try to help others learn, most of whom they have never ever met in their life.

My first ever granny square was crocheted in October 2013. It is 2019 now, and I made my fourth granny square a couple of days back. Though granny square is a versatile motif and a lot of things could be made out of it, I now realise that I had not really done much about it. It’s time I started making a granny square blanket, which would become my biggest, and probably my longest, project for now.

Since it has been a long time, I made a classic granny square using the tutorial from “theSprucecrafts”. Though I would love to believe that I have improved a lot, I think the first one is better since I put a lot of effort and care to it to make it look perfect (or is it nostalgia?). However, today, I do not have to go back and forth to the pattern or the stitch tutorial for every stitch like I did in 2013. What do you think? Has it improved?

When did you crochet your first granny square? Do you think you could crochet something better than you did for the first time?

If not crochet, is there anything that you learnt to do long back, which was again picked up recently after a long time?

 

 

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Cooking Indian Food in an American kitchen

I happened to read a post “First time cooking” by “Cooking without limits”. It made me think about my first experience with cooking. Do you all remember the first time you cooked something? I only have vague memories of my first time cooking experiences in my early childhood: flipping dosas in the iron tawa and deep frying pappadam. Like most children, I was very impatient for one side of the dosa to get cooked so that I can flip it. But my grandma used to make me wait until it is the right time. While frying pappadam, I always used to get fascinated by seeing the pappadam puff up. There were some cooking experiments that I did along with my brother. Together, we had made besan laddoo (which kept melting every time we made it into laddoo), aloo paratha and chana curry, and pasta, among other things. Maggi noodles is essentially part of most kids who grew up in India during the 1990s and early 2000. Me and brother, too, didn’t miss that.

My cooking was limited to making coffee in the kitchen for a very long time. Only when I was about 20 years old did I start cooking dinner, which was mostly roti and a vegetable curry. Over time, I learnt to cook more from different people. Though I did not cook regularly for a very long time, I did know how to cook if there be a need. And when I got married and moved in with my husband, I started cooking on a daily basis. For the last three months, I have been cooking and learning.

Currently, I live with my husband in San Francisco. I have a relatively descent-sized kitchen, which is enough to cook food for about 4-6 people. I cook three meals every day. I try to recreate the food that I have had growing up. I am very picky when it comes to food. If the taste doesn’t appease my taste buds, I cannot eat it. So, I gather recipes from my mom, mom-in-law, and other people in the family whose cooking I love and also from Pinterest. I go to different people to get recipes for different type of foods. There is always this one person you know who makes rotis really soft, one who makes tasty pickles, one who makes a variety of chutneys, one who makes a certain type of cuisine really well, one who uses creativity to fix anything that had gone wrong during cooking, and many more. While using recipes from Pinterest and other websites, I alter the recipe to make the taste of the food more appeasing to me.

Being a Tambrahm, I was exposed to a variety of cuisines that belong to both Tamil Nadu and Kerala and also those that are very peculiar to the Tambrahm community. My husband and I try new cuisines when we get a chance, but being a vegetarian brings in a certain percentage of restriction. I cook Indian food at home, occasionally trying to learn new things. Cooking Indian food in America is not that easy unless you have an Indian store near you where you can run to every time when you need an ingredient. I adjust the original recipes to adapt to the ingredients and the cooking utensils I have. I will share in this blog the recipes of the food that I make.

My husband cooks too. He has his own methods, or style, of cooking and his own recipes. I tell him I am hungry and he makes something for me in no time. There are some things that I like only if they are made by him. Good food makes me happy.

Teach yourself something very simple to make if you are new to cooking. I am sure you will enjoy it. You can make it fun by making this a group activity; ask your partner or a friend to join you. If you are like me who enjoy cooking, try to find new recipes and make something new at least once in a week. 🙂

Happy cooking every one!

Mini crochet sling pouch and reading a crochet diagram

Anything is difficult to learn until you learn it. Learning to read a crochet diagram is like that. It would look all Greek and Latin until you know how to decode it. Recently, I had been searching for crochet patterns for making dresses, but what I found were mostly crochet diagrams. The pretty dresses that I wanted to make required me to learn to decode the complex diagram and dissect them into each stitch and then make them. It is not an easy task, but I did not want to give up. I read a lot about crochet diagrams and how to read them and was confident I could do it.

Since I did not want to be greedy and did not want to unwind a lot of yarn if it did go wrong, I decided to create something small. That’s how I ended up creating this mini crochet sling pouch. I am very proud of my intuitive skills. The circles I created weren’t perfect, but I found out that I really messed up with the pattern when they began to curl . After a lot of research, I found that I had been adding one extra stitch in each stitch making the number of stitches almost double that of the actual one. It means that the stitches are cramped and the pattern will begin to curl up. I found this article, and it is really helpful to understand what has gone wrong when the a round does not come out perfect. Now, I had to unwind one whole round that I had created, which means that I was undoing about at least a half an hour’s effort.

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Though I was disappointed, I did not want to give up. I wanted to complete the project to see if I can fix the mistakes in any way possible. So, I made the pouch smaller in circumference than what was intended.

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Many people start crocheting as a hobby, but they get addicted to it. For those who love to crochet, it is similar to how books are to book lovers. How many times have you gotten yourself immersed in a book so much that you forget your surroundings and feel like you are actually part of the book? Some books are so interesting that they take you to another world of fantasy; crocheting is like that when you get addicted to it. I think this is true for anything that you do out of passion. You make mistakes and learn from them to make more improvised mistakes only to learn from them too. But once you are hooked to something, you don’t give it up until you get it right. You might even become creative while rectifying your mistake. That’s how I landed upon my own creation of this mini crochet sling pouch. Below is the pattern for the mini sling.

Let’s make more mistakes and learn to make more, better mistakes; but never give up 🙂

Mini crochet sling pouch pattern

To make this mini sling pouch, I made two identical circles and sewed them together and added a sling. Make sure that the tension used is almost the same for both the circles since they should be identical in size so that they could be sewn together. Here’s the pattern to make one circle. The pattern is written using US terminology.

Abbreviations used:

ch – chain

sl st – slip stitch

dc – double crochet

ch sp – chain space

Circle

Make a magic loop: ch 4, sl st into the first chain.

Round 1 (16 stitches in total): ch 3 (counted as 1 dc), 15 dc into the loop, sl st in the 3rd chain from the beginning.

Round 2 (32 stitches in total): ch 3 (counted as 1 dc), 1 dc in the same ch sp, 2dc in each of the 15 ch sp, sl st in the 3rd chain from the beginning.

Round 3 (64 stitches in total): ch 3 (counted as 1 dc), 2 dc in the next ch sp, 2dc in each of the 31 ch sp, sl st in the 3rd chain from the beginning.

Sewing the rounds

Place the right sides of the circles facing each other. Mark the width of the opening on both sides. I made the opening 20 stitches wide and sewed the sides of the circles together leaving this opening.

Sling

Make chain stitches until you get the desired length for the sling and sew it on both sides of the opening. Sew any open ended yarns and flip the bag inside out so that you get the right side.

Note: In my pouch, the stitches came very tight and close to each other, and because there are more stitches than necessary in the outermost round, it tries to curl up. Hence, I did not have the need to add a zipper or any other addition to close the opening of the bag. Feel free to add a button or a zipper if you want to. 🙂

 

 

Square or Squared

Most of us are busy doing a lot of things every day. Whether one is employed or not, every one has a list of things to do on any day. Some of us are busy at work, some busy taking care of the house or babies, some doing crafts, reading, or cooking, and so on. The list is endless. Amidst this ceaseless routine, we do not realise that we forgot to take a deep breath in between. That’s when stress finds its way into our minds. Maintaining a good physical and mental health is not an easy task. It is important to take breaks even when you have work piled up that may demand more than 24 hours a day for you to complete it.

I am a home maker, and most of my days are filled with a variety of tasks. Many of these tasks may be nonproductive, but they too need to be completed. Unless I monitor the time, it just flies leaving me no time for my breaks and by the end of the day, I realise that there are still ten things left to do for the day. I get all worked up and stressed out  and need to focus on each task rather than worrying about the amount of work left to do.  That’s when I start doodling. It helps clear the mind and focus better on the tasks at hand. “Take a break and doodle” is my principle when I am stressed!

I tried many mandala patterns in circular forms. Though there are still n number of circular mandalas I can make, I wanted to try something different. So, this time, I went with a square. And here’s what it turned out to be.

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The structure reminds me of the floor plan for an old village.  What do you think?

Easy and Quick Summer scarf

The last month of summer doesn’t feel like summer at all. The warmth moves away, giving its place to the cold air. The sun hardly shows up, and even when he shows up, he’s touched by the cold air that he is not hot anymore. This is the best time to go out; so many summer festivals, sales, and other fairs that cannot be missed when you have a really good, comfortable weather. What could be a better companion than a lacy, summer scarf when you step out in the sun!

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This scarf is made using the love scarf pattern by Fiber flux. I added pompoms at the corners to give the scarf a finish. The scarf is 60 inches long and needs less than a skein of yarn (You may need more yarn if you desire a scarf longer than 60 inches). This is a good project for beginner-level crocheters as the pattern uses only slip stitches, chain stitches, and double crochet stitches. The scarf is easy to make and pompoms even more easier 🙂

I chose off-white color because it could be paired up with any summer colors. I used Red Heart super saver yarn.

 

Wrap it around your neck and enjoy the summer!!!

A 30-Minutes Crochet Mini Pouch

It had been a very long time since I had crocheted. I was not even sure I can remember how to cast the yarn onto the hook, but I could (after so many attempts of failure). Whether you are learning something new or you are trying to dig out the talents inside you that are long forgotten, what is important are patience and perseverance. Few hours of practicing and long hours of finding simple patterns and tutorials to begin with are what got me back on the right track.

For some reason, I had always been hooked on to making things that used a circular pattern. I decided that I will make a coin pouch, which would be a good start. I found a tutorial for making coasters here. It uses only double crochet stitches and slip stitches, and hence is very easy to make. It takes around 20 minutes to make one coaster (it may vary according to your speed). I made two of them and seamed the ends together by leaving a small slit to make a pouch. Since I was still only an advanced beginner, the seaming did not come out the way I wanted it to be. So, I added a flap by using the same double crochet stitches. The flap wasn’t the perfect one, so I wanted to add some finishing at its end. That’s how I found this tutorial on making a pom pom stitch here.

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Here’s the pouch I made. Aren’t the tassels and pom poms adorable? 🙂

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To make this pouch, I used Lily Sugar’n Cream Cotton Ombre yarn. The pouch is ideal to carry coins, a couple of credit/debit cards, and keys.

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I use this when I go out and I know that all I gotta carry with me is my keys and my cards. If you want to change it to a bag, a sling can be attached easily by making chains of desired length and just seaming the ends to the sides of the pouch.

A simple distraction to get distracted

Mandalas, doodling, zentangling—names could be different, but they all bring out the creativity inside you. It is a freeform drawing, which, in a way, means that anyone can draw them the way they envision them. It helps increase concentration and makes anyone get hooked to it because all one needs to do is to draw simple patterns, shapes, or letters. Here are some that I drew.

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Hope these inspire you to get started on doodling! Start doodling and share your creations with the link to your posts in your comments. Happy doodling!