Inspiration, July 31st 2020

Where do you find inspiration for your next project? This summer I’ve been drawing on gratitude for everyday objects, meditations, prayer, and the outdoors. Here are some photos of my outdoor inspiration:

This weekend when I’m not basking in the sun, I plan to spend time knitting, crocheting, walking, and writing.

A Prayer Over Humble Objects

CSBWcloth3Lord, accept my gratitude for the time, materials, skill and physical ability to make this humble dishcloth.
May it help bring cleanliness and order into the life of the one who uses it, and through this may it bring them peace and calm.

Have you ever noticed how both knitting* and washing dishes are calming? For me, both activities are contemplative and restorative for my soul. They are windows of opportunity to reflect and express my gratitude for blessings received. I suppose that’s why dishcloths are one of my favourite projects. I’ve written before about how each project represents a block of time – they are time made tangible – and I feel like my quiet time has also been productive. But that is not my focus today. It’s about how making and using such a humble object has many benefits, both to the maker and the user. There’s a particularly satisfying twist if you’ve made your own dish scrubby or cloth, exactly how you like it.

I pray when I knit and when I do the dishes. I pray at other times also, but these two activities are recurring themes in my life. It’s a way for me to ground myself and regain perspective, during a humble activity, with humble objects. The dishes never end, and neither will my need for humble, utilitarian objects like my dishcloth.

So what do these two activities have in common? Both use repetitive motions that are easily done while your brain is on “auto-pilot”, freeing your mind to wander and relax. Both are also done in relative comfort (gazing out the kitchen window, or, relaxing on the couch.) For knitting, this only holds true if you are working an easy pattern that can be memorized, not some crazy all-over cable or intricate lace pattern. The patterns I post here have easy stitch repeats and basic stitches.

Knitting has been used as therapy in the past and is widely regarded as a way to improve mental health. I personally find it a great help for reducing anxiety and depression. I’m also not the only one who finds washing dishes therapeutic – Mark Mason wrote about it in this article, The Tao of Washing Up, in The Spectator:

*I use the term knitting loosely – I feel the same sense of calm when I crochet.

Here’s an easy pattern for a dishcloth. May you, the knitter, find a sense of calm and peace as you work this pattern and satisfaction with the finished object.


Candy Sprinkles Basketweave Dishcloth

Knitting needles: 3.75mm

Yarn: Any cotton, medium/worsted (4) weight yarn, such as Bernat Handicrafter. Shown here with Bernat Handicrafter Cotton Twists in Candy Sprinkles. My sample used nearly all of one 1.5oz/42.5 gram ball.

Gauge: Approximately 22 stitches and 34 rows to 4 inches square. Gauge is not critical, but try to work tightly to make a firm and durable fabric. Use smaller needles than the ball band indicates.

Finished size: Approx. 8.25″ wide by 8.5″ high.

Basketweave pattern: This pattern is a multiple of 5 stitches and 5 rows. To make a wider (or narrower) cloth, use a multiple of 5 stitches. To make the cloth longer, work in multiples of 5 rows.

Cast on 45 stitches.

Rows 1-6: knit. These rows form the bottom garter-stitch border.

Row 7: (Knit 5, purl 5) four times. Knit last 5 stitches.

Row 8: (Purl 5, knit 5) four times. Purl last 5 stitches.

Row 9: repeat row 7.

Row 10: repeat row 8.

Row 11: repeat row 7.

You have now finished the first basketweave “band” of five rows.

Row 12: (Knit 5, purl 5) four times. Knit last 5 stitches. This is the same as row 7 but just in case, I wrote it out again.

Row 13: (Purl 5, knit 5) four times. Purl last 5 stitches.

Row 14: repeat row 12.

Row 15: repeat row 13.

Row 16: repeat row 12.

You have now finished the second basketweave “band” of five rows.

Continue in this manner until the cloth has 12 “bands” of basketweave stitch, as in the photo above. This will be 60 rows of basketweave pattern.

Top border: knit the next five rows. Bind off knitwise, fasten off and weave in ends.







Time Made Tangible

My days are filled with the ephemera of spreadsheets, memos, emails, phone calls and presentations, all so easily lost and forgotten with the flick of a switch. All transitory. With evening comes balance and recovery. Most evenings after all my work and teaching and chores are done and the kids are in bed, I sit down on the couch, put my feet up, and choose a knitting project to work on. Knitting transforms spare time into a tangible, useful object, solidifying the ideas and effort expended. There are several on the go; a quick dishcloth, a shawl, a sweater. Small, medium, large; easy, intermediate, advanced. Which one wins depends on my mood and how much time is left before bed. The texture and colours matter. Maybe a bright pick-me-up, or a soothing neutral shimmer, or minimalist monochrome. Instant gratification of quick completion usually wins. After that, the satisfaction of finishing touches.
Meanwhile, on go my headphones with the latest audiobook, (this week it is Fierce Conversations by Susan Craig Scott M.D.), or the classical playlist of the month from Year of Wonder by Clemency Burton-Hill. Perhaps some moody piano by Chilly Gonzales or a sacred mass from the Renaissance, or a guided meditation. Washing away the arguments and egos of the day. Recovering a sense of capability and accomplishment.


(This post was originally published on my writing blog, Tea and Quiet.)

Quick Velvet Scrunchies

Need a quick gift for the holidays or a birthday? Try this super-quick pattern for Velvet Scrunchies.



1 ball of Bernat Baby Velvet yarn (or scraps – one ball will make many, many scrunchies!)

Crochet hook size 5.5 mm

Thick hair elastic (pony-tail holder), any brand, standard size. I used dollar-store elastics.



You will be covering a purchased hair elastic with crochet stitches.

Round 1: single crochet

Make a slip knot, then slip-stitch into the ring (elastic). Chain 1. Work at least 40 to 50 single crochet (sc) into the ring, filling it up as much as possible. Tip: work over top of the loose yarn end to cover it up. Stop after every ten stitches and push the stitches together. When you get all the way around the elastic, slip stitch to the first sc.

Round 2: Double crochet

Chain 2 (counts as first double crochet (dc)). Work 2 dc into each sc around. Slip stitch to top of first dc. Fasten off and weave in ends.

Wear as a bracelet or a hair scrunchie. Enjoy!

Yarn Cravings and Amazon Adventures

Happy January…I’ve been battling an illness for the past month, and am still not well. The bugs swirling around in winter at schools finally caught up to me. The past 2 weeks it’s getting progressively worse. You know I’m sick when I miss my precious ski days! It’s depressing. On the bright side, I have had extra time for net-surfing, reading, writing, and knitting. Surfing for patterns and yarn, of course. Here are some of the goodies I found and the adventures along the way.

Since finishing the Baby Surprise Jacket (see last post), I started an adult-sized version for one of my daughters. It is progressing nicely. Here’s a photo of the work in progress. The yarn is Elann Peruvian Highland Donegal in Oatmeal and blue, with bits of Patons Classic Wool in blush, and a Caron Cake in Rainbow Sherbet.

While knitting I was also surfing, planning out the next jacket, and browsing through more garter stitch patterns. Here’s one I absolutely drooled over: the Hue Shift Afghan from KnitPicks. Wow, it’s stunning, and it’s offered as a kit and a pattern. Although the kit is low-priced, it’s from the USA and I would have to pay exchange and duty. I may just get the pattern and shop for yarn in my stash or LYS.

Shop local is my mantra (I love my LYS), but I just couldn’t help myself with this one. There is a yarn supplier & pattern designer I’ve been a fan of for years, Elann, based in Vancouver. (So, they’re kind of local.) Elann now outsources their shipping to Anyway, I ordered a 5-pack of the Meander wool in the Bohemian colourway. It arrived last Friday as promised, but when I opened the box, my order was sprinkled with, of all things, SOY SAUCE. It was actually spilled inside the box. I guess the Amazon warehouse order-picker-packer was eating his lunch while he packed my box. Thankfully the yarn was packaged in a plastic bag, so it was not damaged, but it stunk like soy sauce. Awful, except, Elann’s customer service was fast and amazing. They replied to my complaint within a couple of hours, and offered to replace the yarn and give me a free pattern. I decided to keep the yarn (the smell will easily air/wash out), and chose the Pinwheel Sweater pattern. You can find Elann on Ravelry, and on Amazon. Check them out. I am still a loyal customer thanks to their fabulous customer service. The Meander yarn is delicious and is destined for my next project, probably another Surprise Jacket, or a cozy “swoncho” (poncho-sweater-thing, thanks Knitting Daily emails for the name).

What are you working on? Feel free to post links in the comments here.

I hope you are all healthy and well. Happy knitting and crocheting!

4 ways to get organized and clear your mind

It’s spring, and even though it’s raining in Castlegar, I’m still excited about all the new ideas for 2013. Is your craft room a mess? Have you been putting off new projects? Here are four ideas for you to get a fresh start with your crafting without the stress.

Clear the Clutter

With two kids, school, work, and hobbies, my family is constantly fighting clutter. My goal is to not to bring in new supplies into a cluttered, messy craft room. I know, it’s hard to keep things organized, especially with crafting. At least it is for me! Get some boxes or a bookshelf and organize your supplies by type and by colour. This could be as simple as having a labelled bin for each of your stamps, inks, pens, punches, dies, paper, and embellishments. You don’t have to go all Martha Stewart, but it helps. (Martha’s a genius and I wish I could be half as good!)

This video from ChicnScratch gives excellent tips on how to organize your desk.

Make a List

You probably have a whole list of to-do’s and half-finished projects floating around in your head. (Or maybe you don’t, maybe that’s just me.) Stop wasting your brain power trying to remember everything. Do a “brain dump” and write all those things down on a list. Pick the top three and save the rest for another day. Try the Epic Day This-n-That bundle from Stampin’ Up! – it’s a fully customizable, colourful journal for notebook-lovers. Or, try the Up to Date Planner digital kit if you prefer to type out a list.

One Thing at a Time

It’s way more effective to work on just one thing at a time. Turn off your iPad and focus on the scrapbook page in front of you. Or load the dishwasher without watching television. If you’re a mom focusing on just one thing will be difficult – try it anyway, maybe after the kids go to bed. Tune out the world by putting on your headphones and cranking up the music while you work. File away all the other projects so you can work on a clean desk. Multi-tasking is not worth the stress.

Sketch it Out

My absolute must-have is the big pad of grid paper from Stampin’ Up! I use it to sketch out craft projects, test colour combos, and even for analyzing data and outlining reports and flowcharts for work. Being able to see how everything fits together makes a project clear and easy to tackle. It also helps you to organize your approach for big, multi-step projects.

Happy spring, and happy crafting!

Winter Sheep

This guy stood still and let me photograph him from the truck.
This guy stood still and let me photograph him from the truck.

This is a common sight on the road to our place, but I never get tired of stopping for the sheep. Sometimes there will be a couple of males butting heads – wow! These photos were taken in Syringa Creek Provincial Park in BC. City folks might be surprised at the size of these creatures: an adult male sheep standing next to my SUV can look me in the eye almost level. You must not get out of the vehicle for a closer look, even though they seem tame.


Copyright 2013 Blueberry Creek Crafts, All rights reserved
In Syringa Park, BC


Copyright 2013 G Higgins. All rights reserved.
in Syringa Park, BC

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