14.4.14


 

This is what I have been busy with th past week. I am sorry I couldn't come here and tell you guys about it. All my free seconds were going listening and taking notes.

The Mom Conference was a FREE week-long online event packed with 30 inspiring interviews and videos with some of the top bestselling authors, parenting experts, fitness gurus and DIY pros!

I have had an awesome time (and there are three hours left for it to finish and I have three more videos to see. Aaaaagh! )

I also have a bad cold.. you know that kind when you sound like youre speaking into a fan? Did you that too when you were young?

Right, yes, I know that conference ended today but good news is you can collect al those videos and more here.
That is not a affiliate link. I don't do affiliates.

More on this later.

Did you attend the conference?

11.4.14

Fishing Line In Crochet

Fishing line in crochet

Have you ever noticed how neat and perfect those russian crochet hats look? Notice the edges and decorations?
 
If you or I were to try our hand at making those hats we would go crazy starching and blocking them trying so hard to make them stand still. Do you know how the ladies in the pictures above  got their edges to come out so stiff?

They used this:


That is a fishing line. More commonly called the Spenzi Line and very commonly used in making artificial jewellery. It is also used in beading to hold the beads together and it gives a rather magical effect. You can't see the line when worn but it does it's job of holding the shape.

In crochet too, it is used for the same purpose: to give shape to the object yet still remain transparent. When used right this has many advantages. You can use Spenzi line to make the edges stiff and stand out or you can give a curled and spread out appearance. It depends on how you use the wire and how many lines of it you do actually.

How do you use fishing line in your Crochet?

Just carry it around with you and make the stitches over it. If you add it just to the very last line in your hat (no not on a cap!) like I did in my Gold and Diamond hat, only the end of the hat will stay stiff. leaving the rest of the hat to be soft. It will be just enough to keep the edge from curly over and around the face. If instead, like in the above picture, I had added it to all the single crochet on the band of the hat, it will stand hard and stiff and away. 

If you use a very thin yarn or crochet cotton, you can use the wire for the whole hat. The end result will be a very feminine lacy hat and people are definitely going to wonder how you got it too stand so stiff. No starch (no modge podge) either!

In what projects can you use a fishing line? You can use it in flowers, edges of hats and collars, decorations of all sorts, any place that you want to stiffen.

Spenzi line comes in different sizes. I used the size 0.6mm for the Gold and Diamond's hat. You can use a smaller or a larger size but remember that the thicker the wire the more stiff it will be and chances of it being seen.

Where can you find Spenzi Line for Crochet? Most craft and crochet places arw stocking them these days but you can most definitely find it in shops that have jewellery making materials.

There is so much you can do with this wire. I am just experimenting around.

Have you used Spenzi Line before? What do you do to get your crochet to hold shape?
pictures copyrighted to Legandasun and LimaGi

8.4.14

DSLR Photography: Learning to take better photographs

Better Photographs

So... you have bought your very first DSLR and you have read your manual and you take pretty amazing photos on Auto Mode with or without flash. Then you start feeling uncomfortable and try your hand at the Manual settings and trying to get your camera off the Auto Focus. It turns out so bad that you want to scream that you will never make that mistake again. But... you do want to make that mistake again... you want to keep on making mistakes till you get it right!

If you are like me, that is your story too. The first night that I had my camera with me, I stayed up past 2am to take pictures of everything and anything in my house. Kids, furniture, smudges, the rug, the label behind the rug... everything. Then I read and read the manual till I was sure, I knew everything there was to know.

I wrote about reading the manual when I shared How To Buy a Camera. Let's presume you have read it. How else can you learn to take better photographs? Here is what I do:

  1. Practice. Keep on trying. There is nothing that beats practice. Try to find your own style. Don't just take photographs, observe them too. Learn to recognise what does what. Don't go for the accepted norms or what others say work. Find out for yourself. Experiment, play, enjoy your camera.
  2. Shoot eveything, all the time. Take pictures of everything that you get your eye on. And... then look at your pictures with a very keen eye. Take your camera everywhere and play with it in all kinds of light and conditions. I discovered some amazing stuff this way!
  3. Get into a company of peers. Look for photographers online, offline, in books, collect info by not just reading but talking to them too. See videos. Nothing teaches better than a teacher. Join clubs, forums, groups.
  4. Participate and Compete. You can find groups that host competitions and learn alongs. You can learn from them. When you join forums or groups, there will be many that you will come across. Even if you are not comfortable sharing your pics, take a few yourself and observe others.
  5. Jump in with both your feet. You cannot learn something unless you are passionately interested, I feel. Buying gear isn't the same as becoming a photographer. Look at photopraphy everywhere. Try to copy what you like. Copy others styles too. Teach yourself. Remember when you first started to ride a bike? Yeah like that.

The best place to find articles and material on photography (and a lot of everything) is Pinterest. Find boards on photography and then move on from there. Here is my board if you want a starting place. I discovered photo ladies. Here are the details of what we are doing. If you are a lady, come join us we are a fun group.




photo credit: Louish Pixel via photopin cc

6.4.14

Never Head East, I Say!

Life skills

My best friend asked me to write a post on time management. She thinks I can give lessons. I had to laugh. Ask my mom and siblings, is what I wanted to say. They really know me well but, then again... I do manage to do a lot more than an average mum to three.

I am Attention Deficit and I have Obsessive Compulsion Disorder. For those of you don't know what that is, let me explain. In simple terms, I keep jumping from one thing to another and often forget what I was working on. I can get crazily obsessed with something and you'd think I will be doing it for the rest of my life but the next day, I will forget about it. I am passionately writing or speaking on a topic by day and a few hours later or by evening, I would have forgotten and cannot recall even a word. That is called ADD with OCD.

I find it very surprising that I was never diagnosed as a child. I don't think many people knew about the condition then, but I was always labelled as 'highly charged'. The consequences to that was that sometimes I suffered and sometimes I succeeded. Everyone thought I was 'moody' or 'driven'. Over the years, I have taught myself to deal with my moods. When my friend asked me to write about time management or more precisely how to work with three kids, I thought I'd share with you one trick that has saved me a lot of mess.

I never head EAST! EAST is abbreviation for Everything At the Same Time. I read a lot of books on organisation. I didn't know why I did that until I was diagnosed and somewhere years ago I had read about not heading EAST. It has stayed with me ever since. In fact, it has become a Life Skill.
 

Why should you never head EAST, you ask?

Well, the answer is because when you do everything at the same time, you accomplish nothing. It is like opening a closet with the intention of decluttering and pulling out everything on to the floor. You just sit there in the middle, find nothing and you have no choice but to put it all back where it belongs. There will be confusion too. Instead, if you took things out one at a time, you'd atleast know whether to keep or throw what you are holding in your hand. If you have to leave the job half way, atleast half the things have been discarded and you can pick up where you left off the next time.

How can this apply to managing my time, you ask?
Get your priorities set right, I say. Understand what your needs are first. Next, identify what your limitations are. Then put it all together. You will then know what really matters and what doesn't.

Yes, that is all nice but I still don't understand what I sholuld be doing, you say?

I can't tell you what to do because I myself don't have a to-do (or rather a how-to-do) list. What I do have, is a 'what not to do list.'

Here is a list of things that I think you should never do.

  • Never do everything at the same time: The compulsion to get it done is always very high but remember, it is the least successful. Nobody ever got anything done by trying to do it all at once.
  • Never hobby/craft when kids/you/spouse/family is sick or in crisis. Health and family first.
  • Never post/create more than thrice a week. I always make sure that whatever hobby I am doing, I am concentrating on only one per week. I am either writing or I am making or whatever. That is one of the reasons why when I am crafting my posts take longer to be published.
  • Never work on weekends. I don't follow that anymore because I blog now and weekends are when my posts get scheduled. Previously, I didn't work on weekends. It was like I saved my hobbies and busy-ness for the week days when I needed something to ward off boredom. Isn't that what hobbies are?
  • Never do chores all the time: House work will always be there. You will always have errands to run, cleaning to do and all. Priorities and manage. If you can outsource... all the more better! You can hire help, get the kids and family involved. Remember somethings are more important for your sanity than for anything else.
  • Never ignore your kids when they want to talk. Sometimes we are so busy running with the clock or trying to find that me-time that the little ones never voice out their needs or we ignore them. You have to be a mother first. There is an advantage to talking to your kids. You make allies out of them and they help you eliminate the stress factor associated with time management.
  • Never miss eating a meal together. Say it with me 'a family that eats together stays together!!'
  • Never do laundry all the time. Oh please. Don't ever do laundry all the time! It is viscious circle of wash, iron, fold, put away, wash iron fold, put away. Just three days. Never ever more!
  • Never cook all the time. When I first got married, I was beginning to think that married life meant he got a cleaner, a cook and an entertainer all in one. Then I got some sense kicked into me when my son was born. Plan your meals, freeze some, prepare in advance, get creative!
  • Never clean all the time. You are not the vacuum cleaner. Nobody hired you either. It is your home. Homes should be lived in.
  • Never be a perfectionist. It will kill you. I am serious. I have my example to share here. I wasn't always this smart and I am seeing the results now.
  • Never give up on sleep. You need that me time but not at the expense lf your health.
  • Never forget to drink water, snack healthy and excercise. Think about including this as number one on your me-time list.
  • Never forget to charge your batteries: yourself and your camera. Apart from eating and sleeping we need time to be ourselves. That isn't me-time, it is nothing time. And... Oh pictures! More pictures. Memories. Go making, taking and collecting memories.
  • Never forget the love of your life. I am talking about your significant other not your mobile phone. We often get so busy with kids, our hobbies, social networking, our jobs... that we forget that we all started with love and vows.
  • Never forget God. Never forget God. Not just to thank but to ask... For blessings, for health, for love and for life. You wouldn't want Him to forget you, would you? Never forget His love either because we all need more of God's love then of anyone else's.
  • Never forget vacations. We go years after years thinking 'as soon as---'. We get older, our's gets older, life changes, health changes, then we just cannot. Go now and then go again next year and every year after that.
  • Never underestimate the power of a routine! No, no not for you. The kids. Put kids on a routine. They will make your life easier and they will stay in order. It is a win-win solution for everyone. I know what most people think about routines but trust me, you have no idea unless you try it. More on routines coming soon.
That's how I manage my time: I never head EAST. What say? What direction do you go?


photo credit: iphwin via photopin cc
photo credit: FutUndBeidl via photopin cc

3.4.14

March Blog Report


April is really nice. She actually did something about it 'cause I have just returned from my three days of a Getaway. What was more amazing about it was that I actually proved a few things to myself and those who thought it wasn't possible.
  • It is possible to pack, round up and get out of the house in two hours with two babies wide awake, a kid just back from school and all three wrecking-havoc-active.
  • Three kids and a road trip is no problem.
  • It isn't that bad being in a hotel room all alone with a six year old, a toddler and a baby. There are quite a lot of things you can do.
  •  Some hotels are really kid friendly! I mean really kid friendly.

All right now, it is another month and time to take a look at the month gone by with the blogging prespective.

 

March Blog-Report:

  1. Bad news. My readership dropped a bit as I wasn't around much. I had no time to promote or share as I was out and about most of the time.
  2. Good news. I have had new followers almost everywhere inspite of my minimal promotion and lack of socialising. Yes, I have almost doubled from last month again!
  3. Thank you: To those of you who wrote in with your encouragement and pat on the back. I have been through so much this past month and trust me, you made my day every single time. Thank you so much and bless you.
  4. What works: I have been trying to pinpoint what kind of articles people really enjoy here and you know what? It is totally contrary to what I thought worked. People actually enjoy the blogging and photography articles that I write more than all the other stuff. I am not sure if it is because of the SEO that it gets or if it is that I have more bloggers reading me than crafters.
  5. Some topics need extra coverage: I am talking about crochet and tatting here. I worked so hard on this pattern and found that it ranks among the lowest viewed artcles this month. The day I post about tatting, ooh boy! I can understand tatting because I don't post much more than eye candy there. Anyway, lesson learnt is that when I post those topics, I will need to follow up and take it to those readers.
  6. Google+, it actually works! I think, I finally figured it out. In one month I have more followers on Google+ than facebook and twitter taken together! I am still exploring and everything is love love on it now.
  7. I have discovered Sverve: That officially makes me an influencer now and one place where I hang out more often.
  8. There were no scheduled posts this month. The surgery has been postponed. It means more bad news than good for me because I am still very sick and getting sicker than better. Don't you just wish the storm to just be over with??! Yeah, that is how I feel too. I really want to be able to talk about it in past tense.
  9. My top 5 posts this month: 

 

April Blogging Goals:


I really don't know what to expect this month but as long as the surgery decision is still bouncing around I hope to make full use of my time and get things done around here.
  1. What to expect: More fun parenting posts, a diy, another crochet pattern, some tatting, more photography posts and more life skills.
  2. Social networking: I am really trying hard to find more like minded people here and more discussions than just a random like and run aproach that is fast becoming common.
  3. More practice at scheduled posts. I have more than 30 drafts saved. If only all those could be converted to scheduled, life could be so easier!
  4. Sponsors: I am officially looking for sponsors. You will have to be family friendly and related to my content. If you are interested in sponsoring Words n Needles, you can write to me at {aysh (at) wordsnneedles (dot) com}
That's all.


What do you think about my blog reporting habit, every month. Do you think all bloggers should do that?

31.3.14

Gold and Diamonds: Crochet Hat Pattern

And... it is finally here. Two weeks of hard work with no previous skills to go by, I have created my very own, graphical Crochet pattern! *Yay... applause*
 
It isn't perfect. There are a lot of things that I need to get polished down there but I think it is workable. I am sure a crochet addict can understand fairly easily. This pattern is not for beginners because you will need quite some crochet skills here. (It is better if you have loads of patience and problem solving skills too.)
 
This pattern is an adaptation. I made a similar cap last year from here. That pattern is for a cap and trying to make it into a hat doesn't work and it was too short as a cap itself. I needed the cap to start to spread out so that it would turn into a hat. I extended it and created this. I highly recommend that you visit the original pattern even though it is in russian. She gives a very detailed description of how to make front and back post stitches
 
If you are a crocheter, please do take a moment to read through the pattern and point out if there are any mistakes or if anything is confusing. I have literally worked with a baby in one arm and the other maneuvering the mouse!
.
  
 

Materials:

Crochet cotton - 2 balls approx. 100gms
Crochet needle- 3.14mm
Ribbon lace - for the flower
Button-1
Fishing line- 0.5mm

Crochet Symbols

Pattern:

Please note: The diamonds are all made up of fpdc. That is, the outline is created using fpdc. Each diamond further divides into four segments and each of the segments are filled with dc stitches. The space between the diamonds is filled with bpdc. The fpdc alternating with the bpdc gives the hat a knitted  and purled look.
  • 1. Chain 4, join to 1st ch to make a ring. Ch 1, dc 8times into the ring. Join to first dc.
  • 2. Ch1 and crochet, 1fpdc and 1dc on each dc of last row. Continue around joining to top of first fpdc at beginning of row.
  • 3. Ch 1 and crochet 1fpdc on fpdc of last row and 2 bpdc on dc of last row. Continue around join last bpdc to top of the 1st fpdc at starting of row.
  • 4. Ch1 and crochet, 1fpdc on fpdc of last row and (2bpdc on first bpdc)(bpdc on remaining bpdc). Continue around.
5-9. Follow into the pattern (Figure 1) by adding one more bpdc to each row till you have 7bpdc between the fpdc in each segment at the last row.


That is one triangle before it gets shaped into a diamond. Follow around and join up before coming to next row.




Shaping the diamonds:


This how to shape the diamonds. Please tally with the written instructions to understand better.

  • 10. Start decreasing the triangles now and introduce the diamonds. Ch1. (2fpdctog, 5bpdc) all around and join to first fpdc. Remember that you will not be crocheting on one bpdc before and after the fpdc of previous row. This is to decrease the triangles.
  • 11. Ch1, (fpdc on first fpdc of previous row, 1dc on the same fpdc of previous row, fpdc on second fpdc of previous row, 5bpdc) all around. Join to top of first fpdc.
  • 12. Ch1, (fpdc on fpdc of previous row, 2 dc on dc of last row, fpdc on fpdc of last row, 4bpdc) all around and join.
  • 13. Ch1, (fpdc on fpdc of previous row, 2dc on first dc of last row, 1dc on the second dc of last row, fpdc on fpdc of last row, 3 bpdc) all around and join.
  • 14. Ch1, (2fpdc in fpdc of previous row, do not crochet in first dc of previous row, dc in next two dc of previous row, 2bpdc) continue around.
  • 15. Ch1, (fpdc in first fpdc of previous row, 1dc between the two fpdc of previous row, fpdc in second fpdc of previous row, 1dc between the two dc of previous row, fpdc in fpdc of previous row, 1dc between the two fpdc of previous row, fpdc in second fpdc, 1 bpdc) continue around.
  • 16. Ch1, (fpdc in fpdc of previous row, 2dc in dc of previous row, fpdc in fpdc, ignore the dc of last row and proceed to make fpdc in the next fpdc, 2dc in dc of last row, fpdc in fpdc of previous row) continue around.
  • 17. Please note: In this row you will be crossing over the fpdcs. This is done by doing the second fpdc before the first fpdc of previous row. Ch1, 2dc in first dc of last row, dc in last dc of previous row, (fpdc on second fpdc of last row, fpdc in first fpdc of last row (you are creating a crossover here), 3dc in the 2dc of last row) continue around and join to top of first dc at beginning of row.
  • 18. Ch1, (two dc in the 3dc of previous row, 2fpdc in the fpdc cross over of previous row) continue around and join to top of first dc at beginning of row.
  • 19. Ch1, (1dc between the two dc of previous row, fpdc in first fpdc of previous row, 1dc in between the two fpdc of previous row, fpdc in second fpdc, 1dc, fpdc in fpdc of previous row, 1bpdc, fpdc in fpdc of previous row) continue around and join to top of first dc made.
  • 20. Ch1, (Join 2fpdc together using the last fpdc made in previous row and the first one, ignoring the dc in between them, 2dc in dc of previous row, 2fpdctog in the two fpdc of previous row, 2bpdc in bpdc) continue around.
  • 21. Ch1, 1fpdc in the 2fpdctog of last row, 3dc in the two dc of previous row, 1fpdc, 3bpdc in 2bpdc of previous row) continue around.
  • 22. Ch1, fpdc in fpdc of previous row, 2dc in the 3dc of previous row, fpdc in fpdc, 4bpdc in 3bpdc of previous row) continue around.
  • 23. ch1, fpdc in fpdc of previous row, 1dc, fpdc in fpdc of previous row, 5bpdc) continue around.
  • 24. Ch1, 2fpdctog, 5bpdc, Continue around.
Depending on how big or small you want the hat to be, you will have to increase or decrease the rows towards the end. That means, it is possible that your diamonds will remain incomplete if it is for a baby. Mine have been cut short.

You can continue into the pattern referring to Figure 2 as that piece of pattern gets repeated to increase the hat. Also note that the size of the thread decides how much you will have to repeat. I used bamboo yarn in this pattern. Last year, I had used crochet cotton. You can use chunky too.


This is what the pattern looks like. Depending on the size you may have more or less rows. That means, your diamonds may remain in complete too!


I have made every single stitch on that graph and arranged it all by hand on Paint. In fact, I don't think I have every worked so hard on anything. If you make this pattern come back and leave a comment. You have no idea how much happy you will make me! I'd love know that somebody actually enjoyed my pattern.

If you decide to post pictures, please link back to original pattern here and do not copy paste the pattern elsewhere. Thank you.

26.3.14

DSLR Photography: How to Buy a Camera You will Love




A few years ago, somebody said to me that I wasn't really a blogger unless I had a DSLR Camera in my blogging gear.

No, it isn't true that you actually need a DSLR to take good photos because your iPhone or your Smart device is just as good and I have personally taken great photos with mine. There is an advantage to Digital SLRs, though. You can manipulate them better and yes, the photographs pass the 'acid' test and you are considered 'professional' by many standards but that is just that: Standards. We don't set them. God knows who does but, they do the perfect job of judging someone!

Blogger or not, I believe, a DSLR is a good investment. I got one for my birthday last year. As always, as all my birthday gifts are, it was a well thought, debated, mused, stressed over affair. I did a ton of research. Yes, a ton, really. It took me three months to get all my facts straight and to decide which one and where to get it from.

The reason why you need a DSLR is not just to take great photos but for the sheer fun of it. The adventure... the feel... the joy of holding something so precious! Yes, precious. You will hold one very dear to your heart and will actually let yourself get injured trying to keep it safe and healthy. No kidding.

Buying a DSLR, always remember:

  1. When you buy a DSLR you are buying into a family. Whatever brand you buy, you will be buying accessories that will fit another camera in the same brand. For example, if you bought a Nikon, whichever model, the lenses that you buy, the flash guns, the filters, whatever... will fit other Nikon models. If it is a Canon then it will fit all other Canons.
  2. Try the camera out before you buy. I honestly feel that you should try the models out before deciding which to buy. Especially so, if you are a beginner. You can never be sure if you will like it better or even if DSLR photography is suited for you before you buy it. Don't blindly choose a model.
  3. Yes, don't blindly choose a model. Research. Compare the models that you find interesting online. Talk to people who have the model that you have or any of the similar ones in the category. Read all the reviews and all the criticism if you can find too. You don't want to be the one who got something that doesn't work for your lifestyle or style of work.
  4. Let someone show you how to use a DSLR(This is tip #2 again but I couldn't stress enough.) This is especially true if you are a newbie and have never handled a DSLR before. I got the guy at the counter who sold me the camera to show me how. I had been to him quite a few times to do my research and had asked him so many questions. That guy clearly knew everything there was to know and he was all too happy to teach me his skills. He knew he was selling it  to me well and that I was impressed too!
  5. Read the Manual. (Again!) If you can do it before buying it, then that is even better. You can easily download the manual to almost everything online. Just type in the brand, the model and manual into your Google search bar. Download it. Read it. You will know a lot more about what you are buying.
  6. When buying Camera Lenses, don't be greedy. Honestly, you don't need all that there are. Find out what you will be working with and what kind of photography you are interested in. Most of the time you can do with just two lenses, I believe.
This post was supposed to be about my gear. But... I guess, that will have to be another post. Clearly, DSLR photography will need to be a series of posts here.

Do you own a DSLR? What is one tip you would give a newbie?


photo credit: Khánh Hmoong via photopin cc
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