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Organizing New Ideas for Future Crochet Projects

Organizing New Ideas

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Sometimes, when you get new ideas for future crochet projects, you aren’t ready to start working on them right away. You need time to think about them — to refine and perfect them — until you’re ready to begin the project. So, how do you keep those new ideas stored and organized until you are ready to start working on them? I have several things which I do that help me keep new ideas in mind.

1. Take a Photo with My Phone

I will take pictures of things that  inspire me or trigger ideas in my mind. My phone is usually always with me and a photo is worth 1,000 words. The thin and thick stripes in this wrapping paper would make a great crochet blanket, scarf or sweater.

Inspirational stripes

And here’s an example of a striped fabric that caught my eye. I like the colors in this, although they do seem a bit dark. The widths of the various stripes and the color sequence would lend themselves easily to being repeated in an afghan.

Fabric inspires new ideas

This blanket was inspired by the yarns within it since they inspired me to see the Autumn landscape of Oklahoma: the browns of the plowed fields; the golds and rusts of the trees; the blue from the sky and lakes; and the green of the old dried grasses in the pastures.

Inspired by nature

2. Pin It to My Secret Pinterest Inspiration Board

Yes, I do have several secret boards. (Doesn’t everyone?) If it is online, I will pin it to my secret inspiration board which no one else has access to. When you choose to create something based on what someone else has created, you need to be very careful about claiming too much of their work as your own. You can use it as a springboard to a new idea, but downright copying and passing it off as yours is piracy.  While I do have a secret Pinterest board, it isn’t filled with just other’s work — it has photos of color mood boards, stitches that I want to try, and other things that I think will make beautiful projects.

3. Go “Old School” (Paper and Pencil) and Write the New Ideas Down

(Affiliate links are included for the products I use. I will receive a small percentage of any item you purchase, but it will not affect your pricing.)

Often, I will draw out new ideas or write them down. I find this method increasingly hard to manage, though, as papers tend to get shuffled and lost. Here’s an example of a couple of my composition books (which I love!) full of ideas and crochet patterns.

Storing new ideas

I also love the post-it note brand of tabs and file folder labels.  I use them to mark the beginning of each pattern or idea that I put in the composition book. It helps keep the patterns organized and easy to find.

Keeping track of new ideas

Another thing I use all the time is a legal pad and clipboard. I write the pattern and notes furiously and then flip the pages. You can even see the paper sometimes in the background of my photos. Nearly every pattern I write has its beginnings on paper in some form. I always try to date and take progress photos as I work. This helps me keep track of how I put it together as well as document my thought processes. This all translates to detailed patterns, with photos, for you!

organizing new ideas

4. Pin It to a Real Life Bulletin Board or Magnet Board

saving new ideas
Check out more cool bulletin boards here:

Sometimes I’ll see a photo in a magazine I own, or maybe the  colors in fabric or yarn in my stash will catch my eye. When that happens, I will actually pin the photo or the materials to a bulletin board. I haven’t been doing this as often as I have been taping them into the composition book. The book is working better for me at this time, since I don’t have a dedicated working space. I often find myself in my chair, at the dining table…basically, working all over the house.

How Do You Save Your New Ideas?

Now that you’ve read about the methods that I am using right now, I’d love to know what you do to keep your ideas organized. Leave a comment below to start the conversation!
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Talk to you later,


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A Reason to Rip Out: Color Pooling

Family and friends often ask me what it’s like to design crochet patterns. Recently, I answered that I crochet and rip it out, crochet and rip it out, crochet some more and rip that out, too. I have just finished trying a new technique called color pooling.  Finally, I finish the prototype and let it sit for awhile. Eventually, I take it apart all the way down to the beginning. I can almost hear you sigh as you ask, “Why are you telling me this, Karen?” The answer is simple: learning a new technique means that you must be willing to rip out old work.

I get it–I really do–that feeling of ahh, it’s finally finished! That sense of permanence and finality that comes when you put the hook away, clean up the snippets from weaving in all those pesky ends, and fold up your creation and set it aside. I love that feeling of accomplishment.

The Need to Rip Out

However, there are times when that project just isn’t working out; the colors, the size, the density–something just isn’t right. In your heart of hearts, you know that you are going to hate working on the project and that it will sit unfinished if you don’t correct the problem. You are hesitant–you’ve already put in so much hard work–but you know what you should do. You should rip out that row, those 25 rows, down to the beginning and start over, and simply give the yarn away and start over fresh!

A Reason to Rip Out

I’m talking about the need to rip out in order to prepare you for the next wonderful thing in the world of crochet. It’s big! It’s addicting! And it will cause you to rip out as you work (or design) patterns!

You’ve seen those beautiful variegated yarns on the shelves, the ones that have 2-5 different colors in them, with each color about 10-25 inches in length.  There is this Wow! thing you can do with it, if you space things just so, and crochet the yarn with just the right tension. I know you’ve probably seen projects that use this technique, and you’re wondering about this addicting craze. And, IT IS addicting–In the biggest sense of the word! But, you must get used to ripping out because you will crochet and rip out and crochet and rip out, over and over, again and again.

Color Pooling

I started last night with some Loops & Threads® Impeccable yarn from my neighborhood craft store and my favorite G-size hook. It worked perfectly! I crocheted, ripped out, and crocheted again; in between, I surfed the Internet for clearer instructions. I worked all evening and finally ended up with what you see in the photo below. This is about 34 stitches wide, plus two for turning.  color pooling

What is this mystery? Where did the argyle come from? This, my crochet friends, is called color pooling. Color pooling is when you crochet with variegated yarn in the correct length, tension, and stitch to make the colors show up where and when you want them. It isn’t hard, but it does take determination (and a certain amount of bull-headedness) to want to crochet something in rows for about 3 inches before you rip out and start over to get the patterning right. This method of crocheting isn’t for the faint of heart.

Playing with Color

I love it! What a great way to play with color and buy lovely yarn that already has the pattern built right in! There are so many variegated yarns to choose from, too. Some have larger color sections than others, so keep that in mind when you are shopping.

I will show you more in a later post, as I am off to play with the yarn and see if I can’t make it wider. What did I do with the 18 inches of skinny, skinny scarf, you ask? I ripped it out to make a wider one (after the photographs, of course)! So far, it isn’t working, but I will figure it out. I’m not quite sure whether it is the tension, number of stitches, or what.

Remember: crochet, rip out, repeat.

(I’m hooked! This is like Sudoku, or spider solitaire with four suits. I just can’t put it down, and I will win in the end! As you can see below, it’s time to rip out again.)

time to rip out

Talk to you later,


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Yikes! Stripes Blanket Pattern

The Yikes! Stripes blanket pattern is so fun and easy to crochet. The colorful stripes and long length make this a great gift for the man in your life. The soft, chunky yarn is not what I normally use in my patterns, but that’s exactly what makes it more masculine: the bold colors and thick, warm strips.

Like a Favorite Scarf

Just look at these stripes! This pattern reminds me of the “team” scarves that so many people wear to sporting events. Can you imagine presenting this to the sports fan in your life? I’m sure he’ll find the colors of his favorite team in there!

I’m so excited for you to see this pattern and make it for yourself! Keep reading for links to my Etsy and Craftsy shops, where you can find the pattern.


Yikes! Stripes Blanket Pattern,

This pattern is perfect for a beginner. It really is fun to crochet it and watch as each stripe continues the lovely pattern.

Yikes! Stripes Blanket Pattern,

This blanket works up super quick, but you will need to know how to weave in all of the ends as there are quite a few of them.

Yikes! Stripes Blanket Pattern,

Yikes! Stripes

The yarn for this pattern is easily found and relatively inexpensive. If you’re looking for a second project to squeeze in before the holidays, or for an upcoming birthday, this is it.  You can find the pattern in either my Craftsy store or in my Etsy store.

No time to crochet and need this blanket now? You can purchase the Yikes! Stripes blanket at either Amazon or Etsy. Thanks for shopping; I hope you will consider making this fun pattern in all of its wonderful stripey-ness!

What I’ve Been Up To

If you haven’t had a chance to check out my YouTube videos that I’m making for the studio yet, I hope you will take time soon to stop by and see them. I have an Okie accent, which will hopefully bring a smile to your face as you listen. I honestly had no idea it was so thick!

It is truly amazing and humbling to see my videos out there in the world for all to see. I just can’t get over it! I am sure my family is getting tired of hearing me talk about them. Besides the videos, I am also working on two different afghans, along with writing new patterns and blogging. Life is never dull around here!

School has started; it’s my daughter’s senior year. She’s the last child, and that means I am almost at the end of what feels like a lifetime of teaching. It will be the end of an era for both homeschooling and motherhood. I will have 26+ years of “always being there” under my belt. Where did the time go?!

Are you transitioning this year? Perhaps you’ll soon have an empty nest, like me. Or maybe you have elderly parents for whom you have taken on caregiving duties. Leave a note in the comments and tell me what’s going on in your life! Then take time to sign up for our newsletter, so you’ll always know when new patterns are released.

Talk to you later,


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How to Join Yarn in Crochet

This past couple of weeks I have been posting new youtube videos once a week. This week I am adding  a new video to the series So, You are New to Crochet: Joining yarn. This is such a short video and takes a little bit of the mystery out of joining yarn. It is one of my favorite joining methods and a little different as it takes care of weaving in one end of the yarn as you go.


The week has been full and busy with family and business pulls on my time. I have spent quite a bit of time at the library this week as one of my daughters has had a commitment 4 days this week from 8-12.How to Join Yarn in Crochet, Chocolate Dog Studio, chocodogstudio, chocolatedogstudio

This was the view from the second floor of our library one day this week.

A direct consequence of her time commitment has been extended time getting work done, just not housework. I need to head out to the library more often. It is quiet and there are no dogs barking or household chores pulling at my time.

I have a neat opportunity heading my way at the beginning of August. I can’t wait to tell you about it.

Crocheting has been simple and direct. Right now, I have 4 afghans started and I have finished 4 quick and easy projects. I am working with some neutrals in shades of grey, beige, cream and brown in a wide variety of textures and incorporating some stash yarn. I love how the colors blend.

How to Join Yarn in Crochet, Chocolate Dog Studio, chocodogstudio, chocolatedogstudio

I am not sure of the pattern as it is bugging me right now.How to Join Yarn in Crochet, Chocolate Dog Studio, chocodogstudio, chocolatedogstudio

The orange is reclaimed yarn from a sweater. It has been hanging around in my stash mocking me. The yarn is very low twist and exceedingly hard to crochet into anything that looks great. It is turning into something strictly utilitarian. I think I will get rid of what is left. I am very disappointed in the yarn.

The lovely purpley blue is turning out quite nice. I’ll show you later what it is turning into.How to Join Yarn in Crochet, Chocolate Dog Studio, chocodogstudio, chocolatedogstudio

Remember the hexies, they had a couple of rounds added and some joining in a bright red yarn. It is about 1/3 the size that I need it to be so I am going to lay it aside for awhile. I will let it grow organically as I am left with little balls of stash yarn. It is making quite a nice afghan and I love that each hexi is different.

zHow to Join Yarn in Crochet, Chocolate Dog Studio, chocodogstudio, chocolatedogstudio

I have also been working on the home front and there are odds and ends to finish up before school starts next month. I was painting my daughter’s bedroom a couple of weeks ago. It was this horrible cafe au lait color with a muddy green wallpaper accent wall. It was dark, depressing, and made the room feel incredibly small. How to Join Yarn in Crochet, Chocolate Dog Studio, chocodogstudio, chocolatedogstudio

I have it finished and it looks wonderful. Pardon the lumpy quilt. I originally took this photo to show my Mom and it ended up here as well.

How to Join Yarn in Crochet, Chocolate Dog Studio, chocodogstudio, chocolatedogstudio

There is more work to do in her room. There is a little bit of wallboard repair that needs to be finished and then I will need to touch up the paint. Needing to repair the wallboard didn’t show up until we were in the middle of the painting. Her room looks so much better, even needing the repair. I need to get back to work on it and finish it up!

What have you been working on lately, home chores, crochet or other things?

Talk to you later