Sashay Cowl Main

Crafts for Kids: Sashay Chunky Cowl Crochet Pattern

Hi, guys! I’ve decided to take things in a different direction with my blog feature this year, and use my posts to share some fun craft tutorials — specifically easy crochet patterns — with you. This cute cowl is something kids, teens, and adults will enjoy wearing, and uses only three stitches: chain, single crochet, and slip stitch.

If you know how to crochet (and know the names of the stitches), but are not sure how to read a crochet pattern, I’ve included a quick tutorial below.

If this is your first time looking at a crochet pattern, you may be wondering what all these letters are for. To save space and time when writing down a pattern, designers use abbreviations. The nice thing is that most of these terms make a lot of sense since the first letters of the stitch (i.e. sc = single crochet) are frequently used in patterns written in American English.

Here are a few common stitch abbreviations and their meanings:

  • sl st = slip stitch
  • ch = chain
  • sc = single crochet
  • hdc = half double crochet
  • dc = double crochet
  • tr = treble crochet
  • BLO = back loop only
  • FLO = front loop only

Many patterns also have extra information that will explain special stitches, or additional notes on how to work the pattern. It is important to read all the notes before you start; otherwise, you might have to rip out (undo) all your hard work! In the crochet community this is referred to as “frogging” (“rip it” sounds a bit like “ribbit”). 😉

The way you would interpret terms in a pattern is as follows. (I’ll be using part of the cowl pattern below to explain).

Round 1: ch 30, join with sl st to form a circle
Rounds 2-4: ch 1, sc in each stitch around, join with sl st to first sc (30)

In simple English, Round 1 tells you to make 30 chain stitches, then instructs you to join the ends of the chain with a slip stitch. This will form a circle. Round 2 tells you to make one chain as you start the new round, then to make a single crochet in each chain (these are the chains you made in Round 1). Rounds 3 and 4 will be the same as Round 2. The number 30 in parentheses () at the end tells you how many stitches you should have in your round when you finish it. Proper stitch counts are very important for quality crochet work! One extra item of note: If you see instructions between two asterisks (*), that means you need to repeat what is inside of those asterisks until you reach the end of the round.

Measurements will tell you how big your project is supposed to be when it’s completed, and gauge tells you how big or small your stitches are supposed to be. In this particular cowl pattern, each stitch should take up about an inch. The yarn is very thick, so that shouldn’t be a problem! However, if you crochet tightly, you may want to use a larger hook than the one I used. Everyone’s tension varies, so making a gauge swatch before starting can be helpful, especially if the piece you make will be fitted (gauge is not as important with this cowl as it would be for a hat, for instance).

If the above instructions make sense, let’s move on to making the cowl!

Chunky Cowl crochet pattern for kids

Sashay Chunky Cowl
Materials Needed:

  • 16mm Q hook, or hook needed to obtain gauge
  • 8mm M hook (a smaller hook will work though, since you will only be using it to slip stitch the ruffle on)
  • 1 ball Red Heart Boutique Sashay in the color of your choice (I used the colorway “Mambo”)
  • 25 yards of Super Bulky (#6) yarn in a complementing color of your choice (I used Red Heart Boulevard in “Society”, which is labeled as a #7 “jumbo” yarn, but it is comparable in size to the Sashay and other #6 yarns I’ve worked with)
  • Bow or flower accessory (here is the one I used, but you can use whatever you like)
  • Large-eyed yarn needle
  • Scissors
  • Sewing needle and thread, or hot glue gun

Stitches Used:

  • sl st = slip stitch
  • ch = chain
  • sc = single crochet

Additional Terms:

  • BLO = back loop only. Work all stitches for the round in the back loop.
  • How to find the back loop: look at the top of your stitches, they should look like sideways V’s. The part of the V that’s the closest to you is the front loop, and the other one is the back loop.
  • Working in the back loop will create a small line around the outside of the cowl. You’ll be working in the front loop when slip stitching the ruffle on.

Gauge:
4 stitches in 4″

Measurements:
24″ around by 4.5″ tall

Additional notes:
This cowl will fit pre-teens/teens and adults the way this is written. If you would like to make it to fit kids, reduce your starting chains by two or four stitches. This would give you a starting number of 26 or 28. You could even make it smaller, but you may want to leave off row four or seven, depending on how small the child is. Because of the danger of choking, please do not make this with the glue-on/sew on flower accessory for children ages three and under.
Ch 1 at the beginning of a round does not count as a stitch.

Pattern:
Round 1: ch 30, join with sl st to form a circle


Rounds 2-4: ch 1, sc in each stitch around, join with sl st to first sc (30)


Join next color through last sc stitch of Round 4. Pull the old color forward so the end is hanging out the front of the cowl. Don’t cut it yet! Join the new color with a sl st to first sc of round. Now you’re ready to begin Round 5.


Round 5: ch 1, working in the BLO for this round, sc in each stitch, join with sl st to first sc (30)

Round 6-7: ch 1, sc in each stitch around. Join with sl st to first sc.

Fasten off second color. You can either fasten it off with a slip stitch, or try this invisible join. If done correctly, you won’t be able to tell where you joined the round when you finish.

Go back to Round 4 and pick your first color back up (your cowl should still be upside down). Note: If you have made a typical “Sashay” scarf before, this next part will be very similar to the steps you took to create that project.

Using an 8mm hook, sl st into the front loop and pull up the thick part of the Sashay yarn, move forward an inch or inch and a half, and put your hook through the thick part of the yarn and pull it through your first loop, move to the next stitch *2 sl sts in each front loop only, being sure to move an inch or so up the Sashay yarn each time* repeat * to * in each front loop around, this will create a ruffle around the middle of the cowl.

Fasten off securely, and weave in ends

Ask an adult to use hot glue to attach a bow or flower accessory to the cowl, or use a needle and thread to sew the accessory on. If you use a hair clip bow like I did, you can simply clip it to the cowl. The nice thing about this is that it can be unclipped and worn separately when not wearing the cowl. I love things that have multiple uses!

I hope you have had fun with this tutorial, and I look forward to sharing another one with you in a couple months!

If you enjoyed this, and want to take a look at some more of my patterns, you can check out them out here.

Sashay Cowl Main

Looking Forward to Change — A Message to Those Heading to Academy or College

It’s that time again! Summer break has already started or is just around the corner, and for some of you going back to school in the fall will mean transitioning out of homeschooling and off into to academy or college. My topic today is geared toward you specifically, although your parents are welcome to read along.

1. Even though you don’t know me, I’m proud of you and your hard work, and your dedication to your studies, family, and friends. Nothing worth having comes easily, and you’ve proved yourself through hours of study, outreach events, and kindnesses to those around you. Heading off to a new school and environment requires continued courage, determination, and the perseverance not to give up when deadlines loom; and, class requirements take more out of you than you ever thought possible. Keep up the good work!

2. All that character you and your parents have focused on building? It’s going to be proven in a big way once you’re out on your own. Decisions to continue to take your education seriously, or to avoid spending time with those friends who have suddenly begun making poor choices regarding drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc., are going to make a huge impact in your future. In the moment it can be hard to see how certain things will affect you positively or negatively five, 10, or 15 years down the line, but take it from someone who has lived a little longer than you: poor decisions can haunt you for years afterward. By that same token, wise ones can benefit you, and be a source of reassurance and strength in the years to come.


3. Know that you’re not alone. You have these intense feelings, emotions, and thoughts (about the big project that is due tomorrow, or significant others, for instance) that you’re absolutely certain no one has felt before. Ever. Especially not your parents? Think again. There are a lot of similarities between you and your parents. You do share 50% of your DNA with each of them after all. They might understand more than you’d think. They also raised you since you were born, and understand you better than anyone alive on this earth (It took me years into adulthood, and having several children of my own to realize the truth of this!) Your parents have wisdom and insight into many situations that you are facing. They’ve probably spent countless days and sleepless nights praying over you that you were unaware of — and you know how important sleep is now, right? They love you, and want your best.

4. Know that you’re not alone (part 2). As much as a parent loves their child, nothing can compare to the love that God has for us. He knows you on a molecular level! He knows your family history farther back than even your grandparents can remember. He knows your strengths and weaknesses. He knows and understands the very essence of who you are, and He wants to fight for you. Your heart is precious to Him. So, why not spend time talking to him about the next big test, a failed relationship, or future job plans? (You wouldn’t be the first person to change their major in the middle of the year).

5. And finally, work hard on your studies, but don’t forget to make time for fun events with friends who will uplift and encourage you. The friendships and memories you make here will most likely last for years to come. Sometimes former homeschoolers can seem like the “odd man out” to uninformed persons. Use the social opportunities to reach out to others and show them you’re anything but “awkward” and “unsocialized.” 😉

I pray the coming year brings growth and wisdom, and helps you discover more about who you were created to be. While this journey into independence may be a little scary at first, I have confidence that you will soon adjust, and even thrive! And, if you do make mistakes or fall flat on your face, know that God is always there to help lift you up. So are your parents, teachers, and school counselors. They love you and are in your corner.

Here’s to new adventures in the coming year!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

See also Psalm 27:1, Psalm 56:3-4, Proverbs 3:5-6, and 2 Timothy 1:7.

Inspiration: Finding Your “Treasure” and Your Purpose

This past week I was filling in the “About me” section on a crafting site I run, and one of the questions that was proposed was, “What inspires you to come up with original designs?” This got me to thinking more about inspiration and motive. What is it? Why/how do I use it? And ultimately, what does it reveal about God’s heart?

I invite you on this journey today, and believe this is something that will not only benefit us as parents, but can also be a good tool for teens who are just starting to grapple with the bigger questions of life, such as purpose, and how inspiration/motivation can lead to finding our purpose, especially when we keep God at the center. I would highly recommend taking the time to write the questions in this article down in a journal, and prayerfully answer them for yourself.

Inspiration

It should be noted that inspiration (or motivation), in the sense that I’m writing about today, means taking an idea or emotion, and expanding on it, either mentally or physically. And, not only expanding on it, but applying the results to my life in a broader perspective — that is to somehow be a clearer reflection of God’s character, and heart, as mother/wife/daughter/business woman/teacher. Inspiration put toward a higher purpose, if you will. This is different than perfectionism, and should not be used to compare yourself to others.

What inspires you? When you find that out, you will find where your heart is.

Personally, I’m inspired by beauty in many forms, both the physical — such as flowers, sunrises, family, lace, ruffles, cozy pajamas, and clean sheets (I can almost hear angels sing when climbing into a clean bed); and intangible — like kindness, love, confidence, and selflessness.

I can either look at these things in a passive/dismissive way, or dig deeper and find some truths that may not be so initially obvious about God, and how He designed me. But, not just me; rather, the whole of humanity. You can also think of inspiration as being where your treasure is.

Now it’s your turn: What inspires you? What breathes life into your heart? What makes “birds sing and flowers bloom” in your soul? What is the “treasure” that draws you to a place so lovely, and sweet that you wish everyone knew about it, and could experience it for themselves?

But why?

Once you’ve discovered what it is that inspires you, look deeper. Why does this inspire or motivate me? What place does this touch in my heart? Take some time and write these down in a journal and answer them for yourself. The way I answer (based on the previous paragraph) is because beauty is comforting, it is healing. It reminds me that there are good things in this world. That there are things worth believing in. That all I have dreamed for and of is not in vain, and that one day, all that is ugly and miserable and sad will be removed. That one day I will behold Him face to face — the One who first dreamed of us, and then created the world and everything in it — purposely. Notice how inspiration came before creation, even for God.

What do the things that inspire me say about God’s heart? How does this reveal a greater plan or purpose? And finally… How can I pass that inspiration on to others?

For one, I need to stay connected to the ultimate source of inspiration, blessings, and love. When I seek to know and understand God’s will through prayer and Bible study, the desire for competition ends. I don’t harbor hate, bitterness, and anger, because perfect love drives out fear (fear being the root cause of anger, hate, negativity). I am free to let the peace that passes all understanding take up residence in my heart. I am free to be the person God made me to be, and He becomes my ultimate inspiration.

It is He who inspires me with grace to become a more effective and focused teacher, He inspires me with patience when my children are having a difficult day, and He inspires me with mercy when a friend says something unintentionally hurtful. He shows me that my purpose is to glorify Him in all things. That by seeking His will, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, I will bear the Fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). I can’t think of anything more beautiful or inspirational than that.

“…Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things,” Philippians 4:8 (NIV).

Below, I’m including the questions asked in this article in one easy-to-see area to make this study more simple.

Questions to Ask Yourself

What inspires or motivates me?

  • What breathes life into my heart?What makes “birds sing and flowers bloom” in my soul? What is the “treasure” that draws me to a place so lovely, and sweet that I wish everyone knew about it, and could experience it for themselves?

Why does this inspire or motivate me?

  • What place does this touch in my heart? Why do I believe in it?

What do the things that inspire me say about God’s heart?

  • How does this reveal a greater plan or purpose? How can I pass that inspiration on to others?

Planting Seeds of Joy

It’s that time of year again. For many of you the presents have been opened, Christmas dinner preparations are old news, family have returned to their homes, New Year’s resolutions have been made (or at least considered, right?), and life is starting to get back to the “pre-holiday” routine. This can be a relief for some, a letdown for others. So, what now? We often idealize the holidays as the stuff dreams are made of, and we regularly go to great lengths to make sure our family members and friends feel that extra bit of love. How can we continue to encourage our families to live the joy, thanksgiving, and dream-like utopia that we aimed for only days ago, throughout the rest of this year?

seedlings

Today, I have a few suggestions for helping to maintain the “Christmas spirit,” and plant those seeds of joy for the other 11 months of the year. Because, really, whether you celebrate Christmas officially or not, it’s the spirit of giving, goodwill, and hope that makes this world a better place, and I strongly believe those are concepts that come directly from the heart of God.

1. Continue the tradition of saying what you are thankful for at mealtimes, family worships, or bedtimes. Thanks begets more thanks. Let your family know what blessings you have experienced during the day, even if it’s as simple as finding a toy that has been misplaced, or making it to a doctor’s appointment on time (in my home, these are actually huge). “Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth,” Isaiah 12:4-5.

2. Look for ways to reach out to others. It may take extra effort, but making someone smile always brings one to my face. Drawing pictures, writing encouraging notes, delivering homemade goodies — it may sound clichéd, but it works! “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed,” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8.

3. Spend time connecting with your spouse. One of my favorite memories with Josh is sitting on the couch sipping hot chocolate, and looking at the lights on our tree, while he read stories from a book we both enjoyed. It was spontaneous and simple. A date doesn’t have to mean going somewhere expensive. Talk about what you most admire in them. Discover their love language if you don’t already know it.

4. Take time to make your children feel extra special, whether it’s a “date” night once a month, or a surprise “break” day to go do something fun. Tell them what you most admire in them. Discover their love language if you don’t already know it.

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff. The world will not end if the toys are not picked up, or laundry isn’t folded and put away. I say this to myself as much as to you. Order and cleanliness are near the top of my list, because I generally feel more relaxed looking at a clean house, but there are times when it’s ok to let that stuff go. In general, your family is not going to remember you for your spotless livingroom, perfect kitchen, or whether your children’s rooms look like something out of Good Homes Magazine. They’re going to remember you for your warmth, interest, and caring; it’s the memories of being together that will leave warm fuzzies in their hearts.

6. Last, and most important on this list, take time out to restore your soul. We as parents don’t always do a good job of taking care of ourselves. With 948 other things calling our names (along with the children and spouse of course), the struggle to take care of our hearts is real. I, for one, need a lot more time to recharge than my husband does. It is crucial that recharging time happens because without it, the energy to do the other five things on this list won’t be there. When the primary caretaker (whether husband or wife) is running on empty, the whole family suffers.

My prayer, as usual, is that you will continue to grow in grace (2 Peter 3:18), that you will lack no good thing (Psalms 34:9), and that the God of hope will fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

Many blessings and blossoms of joy for the new year ahead!

~Kirsten

A Different Kind of Superhero

wonder-woman-552109_1920

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak,” Isaiah 40:29.

I’m a control freak. There I said it. I like things to be predictable, well-ordered, and consistent in my life. If I could find a way to keep my house spotless, turn the children into skillful masters in their preferred fields, and save the world at the same time, I would. More often than not, though, the living room is a convention center for cars, airplanes, and Legos; my children sometimes struggle with the three R’s; and, to top it off, my Super Mom uniform shrunk three sizes the first time I washed it, and hasn’t fit since.

My shortcomings become even more obvious as I scroll through my Facebook news feed, and see updates telling about how much my friends accomplished that morning. They finished their shopping, home improvement, gardening, and laundry, all in 20 minutes! WOW! (Okay, maybe not 20 minutes, but close, right?) I cast a weary glance at my half wilted plants, while tripping over clothes/toys/shoes on the floor on my way to the pantry (which is still unfinished), just to find shelves full of nothing I want to prepare or eat. Why did I sign up for this job again? My sink is still full of dishes, and it’s 4:30 in the afternoon. Order is hardly reigning in my house.

Of course there are also other days that I can get the kids’ schooling done, dishes washed, laundry run through, house picked up in a couple of hours, AND have a nice meal cooked and waiting when my husband comes through the door. Martha, eat your heart out!* I have even been known to post my accomplishments for the world (all 200-some of my Facebook friends) to see. But, my reasoning, and I’m sure most other mom’s as well, is more to show myself that I am capable and competent — not to make others feel like they have no chance at a “Mom of the Year” award.

Oftentimes there are more important moments and interactions that are not shared publicly. These consist of siblings playing and sharing nicely, an encouraging word said to a family member, or listening to my children sing a favorite song they heard on our Christian radio station. They may not seem as outwardly impressive as having a sparkling bathroom, but they are significant because they reflect the character training that goes on here. The character training that is being blessed, despite my own character still being a work in progress. Praise God for his mercy towards us!

Looking again to the story of Mary and Martha, Jesus told Martha that some things could wait, and others couldn’t. When I see my house as a disaster area, it’s usually because I took extra time to read to the children, go over a difficult lesson, or fix them a nutritious meal. And, by spending time with my children, educating them, doing social activities, and providing moral, and spiritual guidance, I am a “superhero” saving the world — their world. No, I can’t control their decisions or the ultimate outcome of their lives, but I can give them a solid platform from which to launch. I can infuse their hearts and minds with the building blocks to lead fulfilling, God-centered lives. I can’t guarantee that my life will be predictable, well-ordered, or even consistent, but when I put my trust in God to provide the strength and grace I overwhelmingly lack, He gives it ever so abundantly. That’s exactly the kind of superhero I need.

*Luke 10:38-41