Crocheting at Miss Remmers’ Review

Pop over and visit Reagan at Miss Remmers’ Review and you’ll see a familiar face — er, body! I’m a guest blogger at the site and chat about crocheting, my love of “Harry Potter” and my Gryffindor-and-Slytherin-inspired Etsy business. I talk about learning the craft (thanks, Mom!) and other good things about my illustrious start in the world of crochet.

I have to cop to being lazy about the whole thing, though, if I’m being honest. (And y’all know I try to be.) I learned one stitch as a child — the afghan or “Tunisian” stitch — and I’ve never branched beyond that. Mom and I have sat down, hooks in hand, as she showed me others, but I became easily frustrated — like, you know, usual — and gave up. Last spring, I did learn to make flowers and was quite excited that I could make this scarf with my newly-acquired skills, but I’m pretty sure that floral knowledge is gone now.

Crocheting is like riding a bicycle — or so I’m told. Once you learn and do it enough, your muscles remember the movements and you could finish a project years after beginning it. But I can’t imagine not crocheting long enough to test that theory!

Crafting hope one stitch at a time

I have a serious love affair with the Internet — and things like Twitter. And furthermore, I love bloggers who become friends — and share their inspiration with the rest of us! I was innocently tweeting away the other day, as I often do, about the crochet projects I’m working on — for customers on Etsy and to appease my own creative energy. The lovely and talented Lexi of Tea and Crumpets responded to one of my tweets about crochet by asking: “Have you heard about the Red Scarf Project?”

“The wha?” was my initial reaction, but it didn’t take long for me to get myself over to Google and investigate. The Red Scarf Project is a “unique initiative to warm the hearts (and necks) of college-found foster youth.” A charity drive by the Orphan Foundation of America, the Red Scarf Project is rather simple: knitters and crocheters are asked to simply make and send red scarves to the foundation, which distributes them via care packages to their students in college as reminders of those who are cheering them on and thinking of them as they study, work and live. Even if we’ve never met them.

Sounds awesome, right? And as someone who has a hard time even watching TV in the evenings without a hook and chunk of yarn in my lap, this sounded like the perfect project for me. I like charity! I like helping! I like making scarves!

Only problem? The deadline for this year had passed. The scarves collected through Dec. 15, 2009 will now be distributed to the college students on Feb. 14. With a sigh of dismay, I closed out the 10 million browser windows open on my computer (seriously, multi-tasking is in the blood) and slunk away to find a Diet Coke and drown my misery in caffeinated, fizzy and noncaloric goodness.

Enter Lexi — and Craft Hope, a crafting website and community dedicated to helping others through crafts! Their sixth project is for — you guessed it! — the Red Scarf Project, and Craft Hope got special permission to extend the deadline for submitting red scarves to the initiative! YES!

You’d have thought someone handed me a multi-book publishing deal, I was so excited. And I made my first scarf this past weekend, with plans to make at least one more before the new Feb. 14 deadline. The group asks that the scarves be unisex — or as close to unisex as possible — and I can’t really see any gentlemen rocking the little number I have on at left! Therefore, I’m making another red scarf — wider, a little darker in color. Hopefully a young man won’t feel too awkward sporting it. Or, at the very least, he’ll make it his own!

In all seriousness, I think this is such an awesome project — and I’m so glad to have discovered it from Lexi! I really, really love to crochet and had no idea there was such a world of charitable crafting. Being all Internet- and blog-obsessed, I suppose I should have figured that out sooner, but I’m really happy to have learned about it now!

If you’d like to get involved, please do — Craft Hope has all of the information on the project. You can also see more about the Orphan Foundation of America or learn about the ways Craft Hope is now helping Haiti through crafts.

Crafters are such a devoted, generous crew, and I really feel like nothing beats handmade. At the risk of sounding cheesy (but it’s never stopped me before), there’s a little bit of love in every stitch. Aww.

Slytherin scarves now join the ranks

When I started my Etsy business in February, I never dreamed that I would someday spend all of my time making . . . “Harry Potter” scarves! And let me say this: I love every minute of it. I sold my first two scarves — in Gryffindor colors — to a customer for a movie premiere in July, and I couldn’t even begin to recreate the Supreme Dance Of Joy I did when that order came through. Especially since I was just about to throw myself an epic pity party and begin whining about how things just don’t seem to work out for me (which is patently untrue, but sometimes it feels true — trust me).

Since that fateful day, I’ve made more than twenty “Harry Potter” scarves for Halloween costumes, birthday gifts and just-for-me presents for people all over the U.S. and in Canada (!). Each has been in the classic burgundy-and-gold color scheme of the Gryffindor House at Hogwarts, the boarding school which teaches witchcraft and wizardry to its magically-inclined student body — which includes one Harry Potter himself.

I’m a huge fan of the series and originally created my first Gryffindor scarf to be worn by yours truly! I was still working at the bookstore when Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows was released, and I got the great idea that I would dress as a Hogwarts student . . . until I was named mistress of ceremonies for our store-wide event. Because I’m awesome. (And, well, because no one else was willing to speak publicly and lead themed games for more than a thousand people in a very confined space. But let’s just go with I’m awesome.)

So the Gryffindor scarves have been a hit, and I’m very thankful — having projects to complete each night adds a totally new dimension of productivity to my evenings! And getting emails from folks who opened my work and are thrilled to death with the final product warms my wizard-loving heart. But this past weekend? I decided it was time to expand my product line. I have other scarves for sale, sure, but nothing else in the HP line. Allow me to present . . .

The Slytherin Scarf.

Will evil now triumph over good? I’ll keep you informed . . .


“Potter” scarf up and ready to rock

scarf_tableI’ve finished my latest “Harry Potter”-inspired creation! Fresh off the heels of selling my first scarves at my Etsy shop — both for burgundy-and-gold “Harry Potter” creations — I’ve crocheted a scarf with the newest design from the films. I’m very proud of it!

me_scarfAnd as a devoted fan of the series myself, if for some reason it doesn’t, um, fly off the shelves, so to speak, I’ll look forward to wearing it around town this fall! As the colors are the same as those of hometown team the Washington Redskins, I doubt anyone would even blink.

If you crochet/knit (I guess it would work for knitting?) and are interested in the pattern, I started out by chaining 18 across. Next, I crocheted ten rows of burgundy, then two rows of gold, two rows of burgundy, and two rows of gold again — and then started all over with the ten rows of burgundy, etc. It’s a pretty simple pattern and goes fairly quickly, especially with my favorite stitch — the afghan stitch! It’s the only one I use; it involves no real counting, persay, and I never lose a stitch anymore.

The BookMooch Journals

img_5964While perusing Korianne’s blog a few weeks ago, I came across an exciting and curious link — for something called The BookMooch Journals. I know I’m constantly extolling the virtues of BookMooch, a community of literature lovers who swap books. I’ve gotten so many awesome titles over there, many of them in like-new condition. And all for my cost of mailing one of my own books to another member — around $2.23 in shipping, via media mail. I joined BookMooch last October and have, to date, sent out more than 50 novels — and gotten 50 in return. Sometimes it’s tough to find first-run books there, but I’ve managed to claim titles as varied as Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies, Laurie Notaro’s The Idiot Girl And the Flaming Tantrum of Death and Geraldine Brooks’ March, all of which I’ve reviewed here at write meg! So it’s not impossible to get new books — just a little tougher. But I’m persistent.

Well, I have new BookMooch obsession to start taking up my time and energy — the aforementioned Journals. According to the project website, more than 400 of these art projects are currently in circulation, via BookMooch, around the world.

So how does it work? From their page:

The rules are simple: Begin one or more BookMooch-only journals, created out of a hardcover blank journal, a used hardcover book, or a sturdy softcover book, and create a theme and name for your journal. After you’ve made the first art entry in your journal, set it loose into the BookMooch world.

Participants can mooch your journal just like any other book listed on BookMooch. Each person that mooches a journal adds their art entry, and within two weeks re-posts it into the BookMooch system to be mooched by another member, who adds their art entry to the journal and again adds it back to BookMooch for the next moocher, and so on. When the journal is completed, it is sent back to its owner.

I love, love, love projects like this — and I just contributed to my very first journal! It’s called “A Year Of Poetry,” started by Milano in Florida, and is a recycled, hardback calendar. Since it began circulating in May 2008, it’s made stops in Oklahoma, Georgia, New York, Utah, Alabama, Virginia and, most recently, Maryland. In the future, it’s heading to the Phillippines, England, Australia and lots of other places here in the States.

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I contributed three poems — two by me and one of my favorite poems ever by Kim Addonizio. I had a tough time choosing the “dates” on which to paste them. In the end, I went with the most personal ones available, but I’m really happy with my pages. To maintain a bit of an air of mystery, here’s just one of them — with Addonizio’s poem:

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And, since it’s tiny, here’s one of my poems — added on the date I graduated from college! Despite actually graduating from the creative writing program, I think I’ve only written a handful of poems over the past few years. That pretty much broke my creative spirit! Ha. But I’m getting it back!

the english major
by megan

Your grammar enraged me
far more than
your cheating ever did,

And I’ll always love language
far more than
I ever loved you.

A brief crafting victory

pink_scarf_with_flowersSo victory was mine . . . however brief! I finished my first spring scarf and am really happy with the result. I think it’s cute and fun, and I love the bright colors! Hey, if it doesn’t sell, I’ll just have to wear this baby around myself. I added it to my Etsy shop.

Of course, I sat down last night to create a few more flowers and start a new scarf — this time with a yellow and black motif — only to discover that I could not remember how to make those flowers again. My mom kindly printed out a sheet with the pattern and even highlighted the directions she knew I would need, but as I was sitting there with my needle and chunky black yarn, recreating said flower seemed impossible. I figured out how to make that middle part of the stem, but when I actually went to add the petals, I somehow wound up with five instead of eight. Yeah, not sure how I did that. So it’s back to the drawing board tonight.

Plans and catching up on books

img_53472I was getting nervous before — and that was nothing compared to the growing insanity that is my TBR pile! I’m actually getting nervous now. And a little frightened. How am I going to get caught up? Less working, photography, crocheting, hanging out with friends, family and boyfriend and . . . more reading! Seriously. How am I going to read all these books?

Most of them I acquired through BookMooch. Some I bought at Borders; others at a library sale. I definitely want to read most of them, but I don’t know how I’m going to have any space for anything new pretty soon! Those stacks above are just the ones in my room. There’s still a whole bookcase downstairs filled with TBR books, too!

I feel a bunch of giveaways coming on!

But this weekend, I will finish The Anglophile. And I will start a new book, work my way quickly through that one and hit the next title. I will be unstoppable — a reading tornado. I’ll have that TBR stack halved in no time!

But I really do want to finish the first scarf that’ll be part of my new spring collection. And I think we’re finally going to see “Slumdog Millionaire” tomorrow night! I’ll be dancing in the aisles to “Jai Ho,” which hasn’t gotten out of my head since watching the Oscars last Sunday. And I have to complete an assignment for my photography class, and I’m really at a loss for a cool backdrop with which to photograph Kate, my sister/model. And I really want to crochet more flowers, now that I actually know how! The photo I wanted for yesterday’s post is just above.

Looking forward to a busy weekend! Hope everyone enjoys the last few days of February and gets ready for March. I can’t wait for spring! And I’ll be randomly choosing the winner of my keep warm while reading giveaway Sunday afternoon — you can still enter here through noon, Feb. 28! Then I’ll be announcing my next prize in conjunction with the Book Giveaway Carnival, sponsored by Bookroom Reviews. The fun starts Monday, March 2. Can’t wait!