DIY- Crochet Dishcloths

IMG_4957The very first, and easiest, of the homemade gifts that I tackled was the crochet dishcloths. There are literally gazillions (is that a number?) of free patterns out there on the internet, and I think I tried about 10 of them before I finally settled into a very simple Double Crochet dishcloth pattern. You can get fancy, but for something that is going to scrub your dishes everyday I really prefer practical and durable.

Materials:

  • 100% cotton worsted weight yarn
  • 5.0 mm crochet hook
  • needle to sew ends in

Terms/Abbreviations:

  • ch-chain
  • dc-double crochet
  • sc-single crochet

Pattern:

  1. Chain 28
  2. 1 dc into third chain from hook, 1 dc into each ch to end (26dc). Turn
  3. Ch2, 1 dc into each dc till end (26dc). Turn
  4. Repeat step 3 (1dc into each dc), 14 more times. (15 row of dc in total)
  5. rotate clockwise On what was previously the left side 25 sc. At the corner 3 sc in same chain. Rotate clockwise and continue the same pattern (25 sc and 3 sc in same chain) until you finish all four sides.
  6. Fasten off, sew in ends.

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Notes:

  • If you are like me and you find it very difficult to keep track of what row you are on justIMG_4954 fold your work in half diagonally, and if it makes a perfect triangle you are ready to finish the edges.
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Homemade Christmas Gifts 2013

I get a little thrill when a gift I give goes over particularly well. It is even more gratifying when the gift is homemade. This year the vast majority of the gifts I gave out were homemade. A big part of the reason was that I couldn’t find anything in the stores that seemed to fit the intended recipient. And I won’t lie, money was a part of it too. I can make a nice gift for a fraction of the price of buying it in the store, even if I have none of the materials on hand. I’ve been so anxious to get this list online and all of the gifts have finally been opened. So….

Finally, the list from this year!

Dish ClothHeating PadsFishing GameOwl OrnamentsBBQ BasketMinecraft Tablet CaseIMG_4932Soft Crochet Ball

If you want to have a homemade Christmas please realize homemade gifts take a lot of time. I started before Thanksgiving, and even working on it every night I didn’t get done until a day or two before Christmas. If it was sewn, it was done by hand with lots of finger poking and exclamations. If it was crocheted I probably had to re-do it once or twice to get it right. I don’t claim to be great at these crafts because I don’t really have a lot of experience, but I think the end result was worth it. I’m proud of my work, and so very thrilled that people enjoyed their gifts.

Christmas Savings Plans

Christmas is over and many of us are remembering the holiday with joy, but groaning inwardly at the bills we know are coming in January. I know I am one of many who have trouble planning ahead, and budgeting for Christmas. I almost always find myself having to put something on a credit card when I swore I wasn’t going to do that this year. And then I am stuck paying for Christmas many months later when I would much rather be saving for next year.

I’ve done some research into Christmas savings plans and although the ones available at many banks are wonderful they don’t work for everyone. Many blogs are talking about the 52 Week Money Challenge. (Photo credit: unknown, but it’s not mine)

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This looks interesting, but when it comes to my family I can already see some problems with how this would likely play out.

  • In the beginning we would look at the trivial amount of money and say “We’ll catch up next week.”, but we wouldn’t.
  • Anything more than $40.00 a week would just smash our budget to pieces and it would unfortunately happen right when the holidays start to pick up and we would most need that little wiggle room. Lets face it, almost no one plans perfectly.
  • In our household we typically find our budgets to be the tightest starting in the fall with the smaller summer vacation paychecks coming in, and back to school expenses, and that is when this really starts to pick up.
  • We get paid bi-weekly, so we budget bi-weekly, shop bi-weekly, and save bi-weekly.

To better suit my family’s financial needs I’ve come up with a slightly modified version of the original 52 week savings challenge. This savings plan starts small, grows to it’s maximum savings amount by the middle of the year, and then tapers off to a small and completely do-able amount by the time the holidays roll around.

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  • This plan starts small, but not so small that we would feel like we can just catch up next week.
  • It takes into account that there are some extra bills for us in the early months of the year such as registration renewals and yearly subscriptions.
  • It does pick up in amount fairly quickly, but then tapers off again just as fast.
  • By the time back-to-school rolls around the savings amount per paycheck is small, and continues to get smaller as you transition into the holidays.

Some people will be thinking that this plan doesn’t save as much as the original version. You’re right, but if you can’t come up with a plan that works for you then odds are you won’t save anything at all. I challenge you to find what works best for you and your family, even if that is just tossing all of your spare change in a jar. Every little bit helps. If your resolution for 2014 is to get your budgets and savings in order then give this a try. It just might work for you.

Holiday Excitement

It’s not even Thanksgiving yet and I am already working on Christmas. Maybe it is because I have so much seemingly free time, or maybe it is because I really feel a need to create things… Either way, I am making many of the gifts this year. I really want to tell people and of course I can’t because then the gift receivers may find out what they are getting. It goes without saying that it would probably ruin the ooh’s and ahh’s if they know what is in the gift before they open it. But all the same I am practically bouncing in my seat with excitement. I can share my label, and so I will.

  I am just so excited. I only hope that they like them, because of course with homemade there is no gift receipt. Back to crafting!