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Just for Fun

Book Review: Women in High Gear


During ice-cream-after-work that turn to dinner-and-tea, my friend Rachel told me about a book her husband’s aunt had written. (Her husband, Andrew, and I studied Entrepreneurship together and can’t help but chat  about web stuff when we’re together. He’s brilliant and runs a growing inbound marketing agency in Pittsburgh).

The book is about successful women in business, as told by Anne Deeter Gallaher and Amy D. Howell. Rachael and Andrew both said I’d enjoy and gave it to me to borrow.

They were correct.

I was able to finish the short, 13-chapters this morning (while eating vanilla granola from Trader Joe’s).

The book, Women in High Gear, is packed with practical advice for women who want to take control of their professional developments. It was inspirational and one of those, “Let’s get out and do it!” books. The kind that wants to make you forget your friends and pour 20 hours a day into making your business dreams a reality.

As a lifelong business-lady (read: business camp during high school, career day speaker, FBLA, B.S. in Entrepreneurship, and JJCrochet), I can’t get enough of material like this.

I especially appreciated the charge to create strong networks with respected people in the industry and local communities, as well as the advice tailored to corporate women in their 20s. Often the only content us 24-year old girls hear is how to make our gel manicures last longer (prime your nails with lemon juice), but never how to advance our careers.

Amy advises:

I often tell young women in their 20s without children yet to work hard while they can and use this time to invest in their careers. It’s so important to their futures… Assume you know nothing. Don’t try to exert your wisdom if you don’t have it. You must earn your place by working hard and self-study. If you try and push, you’ll get the push back you are looking for. If you do, be ready.

What great advice.

The women also talk about having emotional intelligence and resilience, being decisive, and the power of being able to tell your own story–both on and offline. Though a short book, I found it refreshing to hear from women who have used social media and business accumen to transform their careers into “high gear”. Both the women are Christians which to me, makes their stories more relatable.

If you have an hour of two and are looking for something to give you that boost you need–whether for your craft business or corporate job–I’d encourage you to check out this book!


Crochet, Pictor Granny Square, Projects

Crochet Granny Square Picot Afghan – Part II

grannyblanketIn March, I shared the beginning of the granny square/picot flower blanket. Since then, the blanket has grown from just 5 squares to 18 beautiful rainbow squares, including a large 8-rounder. Each little square is 4 x 4 rounds of granny, but the larger square takes up twice that, so 8 rounds–or the size of two squares.

Non-coincidentally, the  release of Arrested Development, Season 4 has seem to cause an exponential growth  in my available crochet time. I am enjoying quiet nights at home with this project and Netflix.

Progress pictures for those wandering how the blanket is growing. I’m planning to have a couple more squares added by the end of the week.



Crochet, Projects

Knit the Bridge Pittsburgh


Two of my good friends sent me info on Knit the Bridge – Pittsburgh while I was in Cleveland (thanks, Hannah and Amanda!). I thought it was the coolest concept and wanted to participate, but I wasn’t in Pittsburgh. Until 3 weeks ago.  Now living within the city limits of the ‘Burgh (and being a library card holder in Allegheny County – yay!), I finally felt I could show some crochet love for my hometown.

You might be asking yourself, what is “Knit the Bridge?”  Stop and think what it might be about. It is literally knitting a cover for a bridge. More specifically, the Andy Warhol Bridge in Pittsburgh.  A project like this is called “yarn bombing” and it’s where crocheters and knitters cover public items–statues, parking meters, trees, a bridge– in crocheted/knitted panels.

Here’s a definition from KTB’s website:

What is Knit the Bridge, Pittsburgh?

Knit the Bridge is a vision for a grassroots, community-led arts project that would bring the many diverse communities of Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania together to create a large-scale, aesthetically stunning, fiberarts installation on a bridge in downtown Pittsburgh.

Two years ago, I came across a yarn bombing of Fred Rodgers in Pittsburgh sporting his classic red sweater. Yarn bombing is a quirky way to introduce more people to fiberarts and sometimes raise awareness for specific projects or foundations.

One of the reasons I really like this Knit the Bridge project is because they recycle the panels once the installation is over. They’ll wash and donate the yarn panels (which can be sewn into blankets) to local shelters, nursing homes, and other organizations.  Very cool!

I signed up to crochet a railing which is 105 inches x 9 inches.  I got out my I hook and some bright pink, orange, and yellow acrylic yarn until I read this requirement for panels: “Yarn: Please use black acrylic yarn only.”  Not as fun as I originally planned, ha, but I guess all black railing covers are fine, too. Everyone’s got to play her part.

No picture of my WIP, but it’s just a black strip of crochet, so I’ve taken the liberty of recreating it in Microsoft Paint:

My work in progress panel for Knit the Bridge. **Digital representation created in Paint.
**Not actual photo – Digital representation

You can read more about KTB – Pittsburgh here.  If you’d like to be part of the project, it’s not too late!  Panels are due Saturday, June 1st and range in size from 17″ x 17″ (partial panel) to 34″ x 72″ (full panel).  You can register to make a panel here at the Knit the Bridge website.

The Knotty Knitters

Return of the Knitters

These past days were filled with exciting change and teary goodbyes.  After much thought and many prayers, I took a new job which led me back to old friends and my family. I packed my humble belongings (and bins of yarn) to move from downtown Cleveland to Pittsburgh. Taking a week off between jobs meant I had the chance to see my all-time favorite people: The Knotty Knitters.

Wendy, Jean, Nancy, Gloria, Dolores, Marge, and me

If you’ll remember, I wrote about “my grandmas” before and they were the inspiration for the article that was published in Good Housekeeping last year.   Their spunk for life–“I love going to Mexico”–coupled with an adamant defiance of age–“I was watching the news and they said an elderly lady was stuck in a building. She was 61! If that’s elderly, I’m ancient at 78!”–led to laughs and shared stories around the table.

Tonight, as is common most nights, little knitting and crocheting actually took place, but we passed the minutes talking about ironic K-mart commercials, complaining about expensive bridal showers, and sharing pictures of grand-babies.  Even gone, time continued. It was energizing to be back with these ladies and I was so happy to see them doing well.

Monday, I’ll be fully moved into my apartment and will start my new corporate job. Tonight’s group was a reminder to me that one: there will be a time in life when the highlight of my week is attending knitting group at my local library and two: I hope to have a close group of friends when I’m in my 70’s to “shoot the breeze” with. One day… one day.

Giveaways, Guest Post

Giveaway: Crochet Hooks from ZhuZhu’s World

You could win one of these hooks!
Size J crochet hook from ZhuZhu’s World

Ever since I got them, I’ve been hooked (pun very much intended) on my custom-made crochet hooks from ZhuZhu’s World.  I started using them for the granny square picot afghan I’m working on. They are unique. They are comfy. They are all around lovely.

Meet Julia, the mastermind behind these hooks. Julia hand-makes the coverings out of polymer clay so the crochet hooks are stylish and comfortable. She sands, waxes, and buffs the hooks to make them fit perfectly in your hands.  Suffering from fibromyalgia herself, Julia wanted to create hooks that were easy on the hands, yet delightful to the eyes. The hooks are especially good for people who have arthritis or experience pain when crocheting.

After telling her how much I enjoyed her handiwork, Julia agreed to host a giveaway!  Yay!  Now you can get your hands (literally) on some gorgeous, one-of-a-kind ZhuZhu hooks.   You can check out her full line of hooks here at ZhuZhu’s Etsy Shop.

Now it’s time for the giveaway!

Crochet hook from ZhuZhu's World
Crochet hook from ZhuZhu’s World

Giveaway Details

  • Prize: One custom crochet hook of your choice from ZhuZhu’s World (up to a $12value!)
  • One entry per person
  • Givewaway April 24 to May 31, 2013
  • A winner will be chosen May 31st

How to Enter

  1. Like ZhuZhu’s Facebook page:
  2. Fill out the form below to submit your entry
  3. Wait for May 31st to see if you’re a winner!

Crochet Hook Giveway from ZhuZhu's World

Complete the form below to be registered to win a custom crochet hook!

  • Do you blog or craft? We'd love to hear where! If not, no worries, just leave blank.
    To enter this giveaway, please "like" ZhuZhu's facebook page.

Size 8 (1.4mm) crochet hook from ZhuZhu's World
Size 8 (1.4mm) crochet hook from ZhuZhu’s World

Special thanks to Julia and ZhuZhu’s World for making these hooks and sponsoring this giveaway. xoxo


Yarn Treats

Red Yarn
Yarn overlooking Downtown Cleveland

This past weekend, I visited Ann Arbor, Michigan. We stayed at a quaint little bed and breakfast in Ypsilanti and had a great weekend exploring the city. While walking down Main Street, we came across Busy Hands, this little yarn store tucked in the back of a tiny shopping center. Never being one to ignore a yarn store, I went inside.

I walked away, $50 lighter, but 3 skeins happier.

I splurged and purchased some lovely yarn by Malabrigo.  A skein of “Rios” in the color 850 Archangel  caught my eye. I bought a skein, deciding to make myself a treat (as any crocheter will know, it’s a rare day when you crochet something for yourself).

I finished a lovely small cowl yesterday.  Free pattern is “Cardiff Cowl” by Lion Brand.  I made 10 rounds on one side, 7 on the other until I ran out of yarn (pattern calls for you to work off both sides of the foundation chain so the edges of the cowl are scalloped).  Here’s a quick shot I snapped of me heading off to work, wearing the cowl. Forgive the selfie, cell-phone pic at 7am. 🙂

crochet cowl

Rios: Pure Merino Superwash; 210 yards; Made in Peru.

Red Yarn

crochet yarn

Crochet, Pictor Granny Square, Projects

The Beginning: Crochet Granny Square Picot Afghan


Spring keeps trying to make its way to Cleveland, such a brave little guy.  Persistently optimistic, yet unsuccessful.  The weekend was 72 degrees and blissfully sunny, while today saw snow flurries and temperatures below freezing.  I couldn’t think of a better way to help lure the warm weather to stay than crocheting another cheery afghan.

It’ll belong to the same family as the ripple blanket from a few months ago and the hexagon afghan I finished in 2011.   I was commissioned with creating this rainbow granny square based off Attic 24’s lively design.

Project Details: 

Debbie Bliss Yarn

Crochet Hook - Custom

Debbie Bliss Cashermino Yarn

Beyond the lively play of colors (and getting to use my fantastic new hooks), what makes this afghan great is that it’s not your typical granny square blanket.  The center of each square starts with an 8-petal picot flower (chain 3 picot) and 4 leaves peaking out the sides that replace the center round of the “typical” granny.

I started the pattern this past weekend and have 5 squares to show for my work.  I’m already in love.  The colors, joining each square as I go, and the slightly raised flower-centers have the potential to make this afghan a unique, brimming-with-life, custom treat.  I’ll share pictures as the afghan grows so you can monitor my progress along with me.

Also, I am currently seeking volunteers to help me sew in the infinite number of ends that are a result of  the numerous color changes.  Serious inquiries only. 🙂


Picot Granny Square

Granny Square Flower

Crochet, Free Patterns

Crochet Shamrock Pattern (Free)

crochet shamrock patternSt. Patty’s day is quickly approaching.  Which means: Shamrock Shakes at McDonald’s (yum!), a free crochet pattern for you (yes!), as well as celebrating my older brother’s birthday (yay!).  Brother Bill was born almost 26 years ago on this famously Irish holiday and for some reason, my parents felt an obligation to pay homage to the motherland, though we are very much German and Ukrainian.  I get my pale skin honestly.  And so was born William Brian… But I’ve always wondered – Is “Brian” Irish? Ha, apparently it made sense at the time.

Enough of the family history – onto the pattern!

Crochet Shamrock Pattern

Finished size – about 4 inches from stem to top.  Adjust your hook size to make a smaller or larger clover.


  • Crochet hook size H (5.0mm)
  • Worsted Weight Yarn

Crochet Pattern

Make a beginning loop by using a slip stitch or the magic ring method.  The shamrock’s petals will be worked into this center ring.

Petal 1: * Chain 4 (counts as Ch 3 + first sc), Work 3 treble crochet into center ring.  Chain 3, single crochet into ring.*

Repeat instructions for Petal 1 twice more to make 3 petals, or 4 if you’re feeling lucky!

Stem: After working petals, chain 4.  Work 4 slip stitch in chains just made, working back towards the petals.  Join with a slip stitch to last sc of final petal.

Fasten off.

Crochet Shamrock Pattern (Free)

Each St. Patrick’s Day when we were younger, my mom used to throw green-themed St. Patty’s Day parties for Brother Bill.  Poor guy – always had mint chocolate chip ice cream, shiny green garland, and treatbags filled with shamrock-covered pencils and any other holiday items Oriental Trading happened to carry.  If only I had thought to make this pattern sooner, I’m sure my mom would have somehow worked crocheted shamrocks into the decor!

Hope you enjoy the pattern.  I could see these being used for garland, a pin, or be adorable sewn onto a headband for some Irish spirit. Best of luck and happiness to you!

large crochet shamrock pattern


Crochet, Giveaways

Crochet Quiz: Test Your Knowledge & Win!

Harmony crochet hooks by Knitpix
Harmony crochet hooks by Knitpix
Harmony crochet hooks by Knitpix
Harmony crochet hooks by Knitpix

Would you consider yourself an expert crocheter?  If you know techniques, yarn plies, and needle sizes,  take this 20-question crochet quiz and find out how you compare to other crocheters.  The best part is there’s a prize for the crocheter with the highest score.


  • One entry per person
  • The person with the best score and lowest time will win
  • No cheating or Googling for answers!
  • Contest runs now through March 20th, 2013

PRIZE:  The crocheter with the top score will receive JJCrochet’s complete pattern collection – A total of 6 patterns for 5 hats and 1 shrug (a $30 value).


Test Your Crochet Knowledge

Think you’re an expert on all things crochet? Take this 20-question quiz to challenge your knowledge and see how much you know about the craft you love.


Leaderboard: Test Your Crochet Knowledge

maximum of 20 points
Pos. Name Entered on Points Result
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Think you knew your stuff?  Challenge your friends to take the quiz and see how they add up: Share on Twitter or Share on Facebook.

Just for Fun

Best “Hey Girl” EVER: Ryan Gosling + Crochet

I love Ryan Gosling (who doesn’t).

I love crocheting (who doesn’t).

And I love yarn (as any crocheter should).  So when my sister-in-law sent me this “Hey Girl”, I had to share.


If you don’t know about “Hey Girls”, it’s pretty much sexy images of Ryan Gosling saying romatinic/ridiculous/dreamy things that every girl wants to hear.  A browse through a Pinterest search for “Hey Girl” will help you get caught up.

Aaaand, if you want some truly corny laughs, check out Hey Christian Girl – the Christian version of these.  Nothing like Bible jokes to get you roaring, ha.  Some of my favs:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt


2010 Sundance Film Festival - "The Kids Are Alright" Portraits

Crochet, Projects

Crochet Coasters/Flower Pattern

I saw these beautiful crochet coasters by LuLu Loves and pinned them to make later.  Last night, my roommate commented we needed coasters for our new coffee table.  Out came the hooks and this first flower coaster was born.

Free crochet coaster pattern can be found here:

Crochet flower coaster pattern

crochet flower

These coasters worked up in just a few minutes and have four simple rounds so they’re a breeze to crochet.  Project Details:

  • Lionbrand Wool Ease Yarn (gray)
  • Size G crochet hook
  • Finished size: 5.25 inches in diameter
  • Free coaster pattern here: LuLu Loves

I think these little guys would make a great house warming present or hostess gift… Enjoy!


Free Patterns, Giveaways

The Crochet Challenge

Happy New Year!  So here’s the deal.  Let’s make a pact and together take “The Crochet Challenge”.  What, you may ask, is the crochet challenge?  Great question!

The Crochet Challenge

You have three options to choose from:

  1. For the beginner – Learn to crochet
  2. For the crocheter – Write your own crochet pattern OR complete 5 unfinished crochet projects
  3. For the serious crafter – Try 5 new patterns and give what you make as gifts OR crochet and donate 10 crocheted items to the charities of your choice

crochet -challenge

Are you up for it?  It won’t be easy, but what a great way to start out 2013!  To help you begin, here are some links:

Learn to Crochet

Writing a Crochet Pattern

New Crochet Patterns

Crochet Charities


If you’d like to take the 2013 Crochet Challenge and make it the year of crochet – Let’s go!  Make sure you spread the word and let others know about the CC.

I’ll be posting a follow-up entry in a few weeks and if you’ve completed the CC, you’ll have a chance to win fun crochet things – more free patterns, crochet supplies, finished crochet items, etc.  And if you’d like to submit what you’ve made as part of this challenge, you can have your photo featured!

Free Crochet Newsboy Hat
Free Crochet Newsboy Hat

Don’t forget to pass along: Click to share on Twitter or Click to share on Facebook.

Copy and past the code below to display the “I took the Crochet Challenge” badge on your blog:

<a href=””>
<img alt=”i-took-the-crochet -challenge” src=”×137.jpg” width=”300″ height=”137″ /></p></a>


P.S. This post is to celebrate my 7 year Etsy-versary celebration!  Seven years ago on December 30, 2005, I opened JJCrochet’s Etsy store.  Every year, I like to celebrate the day by having a giveaway.  This year, I’m combining a free crochet pattern giveaway AND a New Year’s Crochet Resolution. Happy Etsy-versary to me and a very Happy New Year to you!  **Thanks to all who participated in this free crochet pattern giveaway!  Over 125 patterns were given away during a two week period.  Enjoy!!**