Dreaming of Autumn and Overflowing Creativity

I’m not quite sure why, but it seems I usually crochet an afghan in neutral colors about the same time I start dreaming of autumn. The summers here get outrageously hot and spending time inside seems to be the best answer. This year, this neutral afghan is a palette cleanser for me; a change from all the bright, cheerful colors that I use most of the time.  Almost like getting new back-to-school clothes or new notebooks and pencils, using a neutral palette helps me to reset and prepare myself for the rush that is autumn. This blanket will not be available as a pattern since it required too much tweaking to make it easy to follow, but it will be available in both the Etsy and Amazon shops on September 2nd. Isn’t it gorgeous? I love the different textures and the super soft yarns.

neutral afghan for autumn

Dreaming of Autumn

I am ready for autumn colors and fall leaves. All the craft stores have their fall decorations and plastic pumpkins out on their shelves already.  I have been busy designing some new fingerless glove patterns for fall, and they will be available for free to subscribers and in the shop in the first weeks of September. They are super quick and easy to crochet. I promise you will love them.

Back-to-School Schedule

It is back to school time here. Photos of students with cheerful faces eager to start a new school year have flooded my Facebook page.  We are also starting our new school year. It means getting back to a firm routine and trying to balance all of life + school +crochet. I usually struggle with starting a new schedule but this year seems to be different and easier. New ideas and patterns are flitting through my mind as I sit here supervising my daughter’s school work.

Autumn projects

These granny squares are part of a new afghan– one of the new ideas I have in mind for this fall. There are new YouTube videos coming out soon, as well. I can’t wait to show you everything! The weather is finally cooling off here, and with it has come an overflow of creativity.

Talk to you later,


PS: What’s your favorite thing about autumn? Leave a comment and let me know!

Swimming Lessons (Not the Kind You Think)

This post is about swimming, and I’ll get to that in a moment. But first, I want to share with you a sneak peek at a couple new crochet patterns I’ve been working on this week.

crocheting and swimming

Both of these photos are part of the step-by-step instructions for the new patterns I’m working on. I’m really looking forward to sharing the patterns with you.

crochet and swimming

Besides working on several new crochet patterns this week, I’ve been swimming for exercise. Recently, I had an epiphany at the pool; it was almost funny.

Lessons at the Swimming Pool

I have been making a huge effort to exercise more, and this particular day I was at the pool. I had just finished doing my exercises and decided to try to swim a lap or two since there was no one else there to see me. (Am I the only one who prefers to exercise alone?)

I strike out to start my lap, and soon I start floundering; I’m flailing at the water and failing miserably. I couldn’t seem to stay above the surface. Panic was setting in.

I’m going to drown. I can’t swim, anymore–I’m going to drown. There is no one around to see me. I’m swimming all alone. It’s against all the swimming rules. My mother will just kill me for swimming alone. What am I doing? I am failing! 

All these thoughts were running through my mind at lightning speed. Then, suddenly, I heard a voice–

Karen! This is silly, put your feet down. You can stand up! I did it; I was standing. What a relief, I was not going to drown! (Please, don’t tell my mom I was swimming alone.)

I was swimming in what is known as an arthritis pool. At the deep end, it is 4’5″ which allows me to stand flat-footed in all depths. I knew that I could stand up, but I forgot in the struggle of the moment. It took serious, conscious effort to override my adrenalin surge and stick to the truth; the truth that I can stand up and I will not drown. (My mom does not need to know that I’ve broken the cardinal rule of swimming: never swim alone.)

Life Lessons

The swimming pool isn’t the only place where we can feel like we’re drowning. I have been feeling out of my depth in much of life these days as well, but I am sticking to the truth so as not to drown.

The first truth I am remembering is that if you are called to do something, it will not always be easy. Sometimes it will feel overwhelming, but the Lord is always there to help carry our burdens.

The other truth I am remembering is that even when you know how to do something, you can still fail miserably. Keep your courage up and keep trying. Think of all those Olympic athletes that trained so hard and failed so many times. The would not have made it to the Olympics if they had given up. You can’t have success without failure and do-overs.

Talk to you later,


Priorities Come in All Shapes and Sizes


Grapes and PrioritiesOur family has always worked together to bring in the fruits and vegetables. I remember doing this as a young child at my grandma’s house. Back then, it was either corn or purple hull peas. Our treat at the end of the work session was cold, homegrown, ripe watermelon. Grandpa and Grandma always had a big garden–that’s how they put much of their food on the table–and any family who lived nearby came to help. Family helping family has always been one of our priorities. Yet we don’t think of it as a priority, even though we make it one. It’s just something we do, like other families who attend football games together.

Our children have grown up with this tradition of helping as well. When we had an apple tree, all of the kids helped with the apple harvest; they helped make applesauce, apple pie filling, and apple jelly. Last week we worked on the grape harvest at my father-in-law’s. It was hard work, but many hands made light work. It was incredibly hot at 102–August in Oklahoma is always pretty hot–but the grapes were good.

After lunch, we loaded up and headed home for more work in the air conditioning. We juiced the grapes and placed the juice in the freezer, where it is now waiting until we are ready to make jam. It’s going to be so good!


Crocheting (another one of my priorities, of course!) has been fun the past week as I have finished up an afghan and also several fingerless gloves. The pattern writing was hit or miss, but thankfully more hit than miss. These particular designs are fun, quick and easy, which will make them perfect for the Fall. Watch for their release in a week or two.



The end of summer has come all at once in a rush, and BOOM! school is starting soon. The get-ready-to-start-school meetings have begun, and they keep me out at night, which means less time at home to crochet. Yesterday I spent time mapping out our weeks, trying to make sure that the necessary and important times are listed first.  Rather like the jar of rocks story. Have you heard that story? It goes something like this …

The teacher stands in front of the class. He has in front of him a pile sand,  a pile of pebbles and a pile of larger rocks next to a jar. He fills the jar with rocks until it is full.  Then he turns and asks the class is the jar full. They all nod yes, the jar is full. 

Then he adds the pebbles, and they slide in around the rocks until no more pebbles fit in the jar. He asks the class is the jar full. Yes, they all nod.

He then takes the sand and it slides in around the rocks and the pebbles completely filling the jar. Is the jar full he asks his class? Yes, they all say.

They are surprised to see him pick up a bottle of water; he then pours the water in the jar over the rocks, sand and pebbles. Now the jar is full he says.

The rocks represent things that have real value; the people in your life,  and your health. The irreplaceable things; we must make sure to make time for them.

The pebbles represent things like your job, house, car, etc…

The sand represents small stuff–laundry, dishes, returning the library books, errands–things that will always be there.

The water represents the spirit or attitude that we have when are doing everything else. It will color our lives and make or break relationships and jobs. It will touch every grain of sand, pebble and rock in that jar, just as being happy or grumpy can affect everyone we meet.

This story is in my mind as I go about writing a schedule for our school and work. Rocks first, then the pebbles and finally the sand. All encompassed in a spirit of prayer.

Talk to you later,


PS: How do you get ready for school? Leave a comment and share your planning tips with me!


So You are New to Crochet: How to Weave in the Ends

Here is my next installment of So, You are New to  Crochet: How to Weave in the Ends. Crocheting so many granny square afghans has given me so many chances to learn how to weave in the ends. I have used several different methods on weaving in the ends and have finally stopped with this method. I like it best.

The week is a busy one with the brick and mortar shop Lokal and Main’s Grand Opening last night and some gardening later in the week. The shop was overflowing  with people so I didn’t take any photos. I will try to stop by later this week and take a few photos so you can see how lovely it looks.

So You are New to Crochet: How to Weave in the Ends, Chocolate Dog Studio, chocolatedogstudio

Today is bittersweet for me. I remember my father today as this is the day he lost his fight to cancer 10 years ago. He fought a long hard fight for 15 years, and it was devastating when the news came that there was nothing more that could be done. He was cheerful  and sweet tempered to the end and I never heard him complain. Dad was usually the first to share a joke and a laugh.  One of Dad’s gifts was the ability to change the mood in the situation by making people laugh. I watched him time after time enter a hospital room or hospital waiting room where family was waiting nervously and by sharing funny stories help people relax and laugh. He did that for me more times than I can count.  Today, I want to remember him as he lived, laughing.

I don’t normally share so much that is close to my heart but today I  just had to share. I am doing  a little planning today and later I hope to be spending time with the crochet hook as I keep working on a new afghan. I can’t wait to show it to you. It uses such beautiful wool yarns and it is another granny square afghan. It makes me so thankful that I learned how to weave in the ends. It truly is a crochet skill worth having!

So You are New to Crochet: How to Weave in the Ends, Chocolate Dog Studio, chocolatedogstudio

Talk to you later,


P.S. Remember long ends are easier to weave in!