Do you ever have pain when you crochet? I do, and I’ve tried a bunch of different things to figure out how I could keep up my creative outlet and still be pain free. I was a hairdresser (in cheap heels!) in my 20s which really wreaked havoc on my now 50 year old body. So I have to be extra sensitive to my wrist health. I never had surgery but have a few tips to keep your wrists in peak form.

First, consider your hook. When my old pain started flaring back up, I got the fastest solution I could find. The Crochet Dude Ergonomic Crochet Handle It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s available at most big box craft stores, so you can get your hands on one easily. It fits most aluminum crochet hooks, whether you’re a Bates or a Boye loyalist, so that’s extra handy.

Which brings me to the next consideration. How do you hold your hook? I prefer a knife hold personally, and my pinkie is what grips the hook in pace against my palm. The egg works great for knife holders like me, and I’ve read that pencil grippers also like it. Try it out if you’re in an urgent need.

The downside of the egg handle is that it requires extra parts and I’m prone to losing things. Because it’s designed to be univeral, and crochet hooks are not all the same diameter, it requires a rubber stopper to be placed around the hook and then through the inside (which screws apart) to secure it in place. Great concept, but if you lose a stopper, you’ll need to improvise or your hook will rattle around and the egg won’t hold it tight enough.

You can also buy foam grips which slip over your hook. They come in multiple sizes and are typically inexpensive enough that you could probably purchase a few and leave them on your hooks permanently. This is a good solution if the grip is the right diameter for you. I, personally, need a larger grip to open my hand up and prevent cramping.

Which is how I started searching for alternative ergonomic hooks. I started with inexpensive sets from Amazon like this one. They’re cheap enough that I keep a set in my car for emergencies, but they had a few problems. First, I’m a Bates Hooker, and these are more Boye like. It’s exceedingly hard to find an ergonomic handle with a Bates hook. And secondly, the diameter is just not big enough for my grip.Paragraph

My search continued until I found these beautiful wooden hooks from Too Shay Crochet. I started with a 7 hook set and I’ve ultimately replaced every hook in my everyday collection with them. I’ve even sent them my favorite steels and they placed handles on them for me.

Once I figured that out, my wrist pain has virtually disappeared. I do have to pay attention to my posture and make sure I’m seated comfortably and my work is well supported.

It was touch and go there for a while though! I was afraid I would have to give up my beloved hobby. But, I persisted and found a solution that works for me. If you encounter pain, just know that there are a number of options before you have to give up. Try a few things out and I bet you’ll find the solution!

Do you have a favorite item to crochet? I do. Shawls! I never really wore shawls before I started crocheting. Sometimes scarves, back in my hairdressing days, but never a shawl. Now, I have a massive collection that’s still growing!

I love the way they incorporate color and texture into my wardrobe. I can put on a crummy pair of jeans and a plain shirt and suddenly BOOM! It’s an outfit when I add a shawl.

I also love that they work up reasonably fast and are so portable. I can make a shawl in just a couple weeks and use bright colors to add whatever I feel is lacking in my wardrobe.

And the stitches! I learn so many new stitches and stitch patterns by making shawls. It’s exciting, fun and learning new things is supposed to help ward off alzheimer’s so it’s beneficial too!

My very first shawl was a blue variegated merino wool in a fingering weight. I had never used such nice yarn before and it was definitely stretching my comfort zone to work with something so fine. But, man am I glad I did! I think fingering weight is my favorite weight to work with. You get a lot of warmth and can make beautiful lacy patterns. And, it’s really cost effective. Most fingering weight yarns come in 400ish yards, so you only need 2 to make a nice sized shawl.

As a plus sized woman, I also love that there’s no size to shawls. They really do fit everyone. I’ve heard other plus sized women say shoes fill that niche for them, but I have wide feet with very high arches, so shoes have always been an issue for me. I ruined my feet in my twenties as a busy hairdresser in cheap heels so I have to stick to supportive shoes which aren’t quite as fun – currently Danskos in a brightly colored patent leather. But, shawls? I can wear whatever I want!

So how about you? What’s your favorite type of crochet project? Is it socks? Afghans? Shawls? Anything made of yarn??

Happy hooking!

I’m tired of the dreary weather that isn’t quite winter here in Raleigh. I need something bright and summery to bring some cheer into the world. So I started this.

It’s working up super quick. I can’t wait to share the details!

I’m sitting down and typing this baby up right now! It looks so good without blocking I may not take the time. But here it is pre-blocking!

I don’t know about you, but we’ve had a very mild winter here in Raleigh, NC. It’s made it really hard to get into warm comfy blanket making as I usually do this time of year.

Instead my mind is full of summer tees and swimsuit wraps. The beach is on my mind and I’m torn between starting two new designs. Should I go with a bias wrap with turtles or a beachy coverup? Both are calling to me.

In the meantime I’m writing up a beautiful shawl I just finished. The yarn has me so excited! It’s a new to me yarn with long, one ply at a time color changes. It goes from a bright green to a deep navy and it travels through several fabulous shades of blue along the way. I’m so in love!

Yes! The location is official! We are meeting in New Orleans this year! I’m not sure how much sightseeing I’ll actually do, but Laissez les bon temps rouler!

We will be at the Downtown Marriott at the Convention Center. More information is available here:

Mouse over CGOA Conference and that menu will pop up. Lots of good information available. I love going to conferences and I think this year I’m going to take the certified teacher’s class so maybe soon I can start teaching!

Will you be there?

So I have shared my story about how I was diagnosed with Type 2 (T2) Diabetes, and how Diabetes works in the body. This post is about relearning what I knew about nutrition, and how we used to treat Diabetes.

Historically, if you were diagnosed with “sugar disease” you would be instructed to follow a low carb, high fat/high protein diet. The next few images come from a book dated 1917. Artifical insulin wasn’t discovered until 1922, so this is what people did before they could medicate.

Table 1 shows acceptable proteins in the Diabetic Cookery Diet, some fats, and starts to list vegetables. Some are a little, um, gross? REALLY? They eat MOUTH in Germany? But, mostly it’s foods that most people know to be low carb.

The page on the left is a continuation of Table 1, more vegetables, nuts, flours, condiments. The page on the right are the foods you would eat less of, but are still acceptable in controlled amounts.

And my favorite table: Table 3 shows highly nutritious foods that will fill you and keep your energy up. Table 4 shows foods you should avoid at all costs. These foods will raise your blood sugar unsafely, so just don’t eat them. And then a list of beverages.

Notice anything? If you’re at all familiar with the Keto Diet, these items should be pretty familiar to you. There are a few exceptions but mostly the allowable foods align with Keto, and the avoid at all costs foods do as well.

Why did we ever stop doing this????

If you are over 40 and overweight, Type 2 Diabetes is a real risk for you. Get a physical every year, and if your fasting blood sugar is over 100, that’s the first sign that something is starting to go wrong. If you catch it early, you can prevent further damage and major stress. I ignored my doctors when my fasting levels were starting to creep up because my A1C was still “acceptable”. And I had a horrible experience with hospitalization as a result.

Once I got home from the hospital, I started reading everything I could. I had heard of keto, and having dealt with gestational diabetes during both of my pregnancies, I was familiar with carb counting. But, Keto limits you to a total of 20 carbs a day. The American Diabetes Association diet recommends 1-2 carb servings of approximately 15 carbs each 4-6 times a day. And suddenly I was going to limit myself to one carb serving for an entire day???? Seemed impossible.

The first night, I was overwhelmed. I hadn’t eaten anything other than one hard boiled egg in 3 days. Food was intensely frightening to me. I was checking my blood sugar constantly and despite having no food in my system, my blood sugar was still in the high 200s. How could this be happening?

Fortunately, my kids are both foodies and my sweet daughter came to my rescue with a beautiful salad prepared with low carb items – grilled chicken, sunflower seeds, cheese, and I don’t even remember what else, but it had olive oil and vinegar drizzled over top. It was presented beautifully and with so much love.

I ate it tentatively, but it was delicious. I was terrified that my body was going to betray me further and my blood sugar was going to sky rocket. But, that didn’t happen. This was the beginning of learning to trust my body again, recognize what I really needed, and resume loving food.

It was extremely scary those first few weeks relearning everything I thought I knew about food. My mantra in the beginning was “more butter please!” and I put butter on everything!

The strangest part of going keto was recognizing that fat was totally okay. I was always the person who picked the skin off the turkey and snuck a bite when nobody was looking. Or put gobs of butter on my bread, because bread was just a vehicle to get butter in my mouth. That fat I always trimmed off my steak was really just for show. If I thought nobody was looking, I’d totally eat it! I was so full of shame for loving fat and avoiding lean. But suddenly, that was my goal! All the fat! None of the lean! And it was okay?!?!?! Yes. It is okay!

I have always heard that high cholesterol is caused by eating too much fat. I started to learn that is simply not true. With all the things that were wrong with me, my cholesterol was perfectly fine. So, this was not something I needed to worry about. I decided to dive in to keto, monitor my health markers, and see how things went.

My starting point: – March 17, 2018

Average daily glucose278
Cholesterol/HDL Ratio3.0

Next up we’ll look at what I started eating! I know it will surprise people who aren’t familiar with keto.

This is my personal account about why I went and continue to stay Keto. It’s not crochet related but it’s an important part of who I am. Occasionally I might share recipes that I really love, but this is a crochet blog, so it won’t ever be frequent. 🙂

On March 17, 2018 I woke my husband up in the middle of the night because I was doubled over in pain for hours and was unable to sleep. I was fighting through as hard as I could, but no amount of ibuprofen was working and I knew it was time to go to the Emergency Room. Fortunately our kids are teenagers so we left them a note and headed out.

They put me in a room and started observing me and running tests. I’d had kidney stones before, so I was pretty sure that was the problem, but my previous stones had never hurt like this. The first eye opening test was my blood glucose. It was 414. If you’re unfamiliar with what normal might look like, mine should have been 100 or lower as I hadn’t eaten for at least 8 hours. At that point a hospital admission was pretty much guaranteed, but they needed to stabilize me first so they kept monitoring me and trying to manage my pain and high glucose

They gave me a few different meds, insulin to bring down my blood sugar, something for bladder and kidney related pain, I think there might have been some percocet, and I don’t even know what else. Nothing helped my pain, but my blood sugar did start to come down so they were able to rule out ketoacidosis, which is a very dangerous situation for people and is not at all related to ketosis, but more on that later.

They kept asking me what meds had worked before. I knew that I’d been less responsive to morphine in the past and had to have fentanyl after my gall bladder surgery many years ago. But I’m also aware of the opioid crisis we’re in and the room next to me was housing a person who was clearly drug seeking (plus he had two police officers stationed outside his room and he was handcuffed to the bed) so I felt uncomfortable asking for fentanyl. I told them I didn’t know what helped, which I deeply regret. We should be able to ask for the meds that help us when we really need them.

They gave me a low dose of morphine and watched. It did nothing so they gave me more. Still nothing. At this point I’d been there a few hours and they started talking about transferring me to the hospital. My blood sugar was still coming down (still in the 300s though), but I was clearly diabetic and needed some medical intervention for my kidney.

For the ride over to the hospital, they gave me fentanyl. At long last my pain was starting to subside. My husband drove home to get some food, tell the kids what was going on and gather some things to keep me comfortable in the hospital (like my crocheting!) and then met me after I was settled into a room.

The next couple of days are a blur of surgery – I needed a kidney stent as my left kidney was blocked by stones, more testing, and a variety of stern lectures by various doctors about the severity of my Type 2 Diabetes. I received all kinds of bad advice from hospital personnel. One nurse told me that diabetes was not a death sentence, I could still eat whatever I want as long as I countered my intake with insulin. The hospital nutritionist told me to eat 1-2 carb servings (of up to 15 carbs each) 6 times a day, but absolutely no more than that!

The most important thing they wanted to impress upon me was that Diabetes was a progressive and degenerative disease. I would without doubt die from complications related to Diabetes. The risks included loss of vision, loss of extremities, heart disease, kidney problems, and many more.

So, what did they do? The first meal they brought me in the hospital was chicken parmesan – breaded chicken with tomato sauce on pasta, with green beans, a piece of sheet cake (with frosting!) and a sweet tea! At least 100 carbs worth of food, probably more than that. I refused to eat it. I told the nurse I was newly diagnosed with diabetes and I didn’t think that I should eat anything on that plate so she replied “honey, you have to eat something! At least eat the cake!” I don’t think I’ll ever get over that statement.

I was filled with anxiety and dread about eating. I have always loved food and cooking. This fear of eating was completely foreign to me. I knew there had to be a way to get through this but all the conflicting information just felt so wrong. My body couldn’t manage carbs normally. Eating carbs caused my blood sugar to go crazy. Doctors and nurses were saying eat carbs. My brain couldn’t handle it.

Fortunately, I had a little exposure to keto. My best friend had recently lost 30 pounds doing keto and I’d actually planned to start the Monday after St. Patrick’s Day. But, let’s be honest, who knows what I would have done if I hadn’t had my medical crisis.

I left the hospital without really eating, but went home and started research. They’d equipped me with insulin and a diet plan which involved almost 200 carbs a day. My glucose had only dropped to the low 200s while in the hospital eating nothing except a single hard boiled egg (which I knew was keto and ate under duress). I was clearly sick and I had to tackle this. I went home and started researching.

The research blew me away. And it changed my life for good. More in another post.

Every year since 2000, Pantone has released the Color of the Year. The idea is that this is a color trendsetters predict will be the hot color of the year, whether it’s fashion, home decor, graphic arts, product packaging, even automobile colors.

I see this year’s color as a definite hit. Who doesn’t love blue? This image evokes calm, water, the endless night sky – it’s a peaceful color and one can always hope that’s the direction our world is taking, right?

Here are the past colors in one image. 2016 had two colors for some reason. I guess they couldn’t narrow it down to one popular winner that year? But other than that, each year is represented by one color. How well do you think they did?