Darn Good Blog — handmade


11 Reasons to Crochet Afghans

So, it's cold out there! Yes,  most of the Darn Good Yarn team is in the northern part of the U.S. and we should just buck up and take it. I mean we choose to live here right?  I have lived in the north my entire life and this time of year I crave the warmth! I love the idea of a warm weather escape but it's not in the cards every winter.

So what makes me happy during those winters when I don't get away? Being warm is key and along with some good tea or wine, I love crocheting afghans! What a great craft project for keeping warm!  Here are a few ideas about crocheting blankets:

1. Winter can seem long for some of us. I actually find the gray days of November and December to be tough but with the months that start the new year, comes a lot of deep cold. I love being outside but as I get older, I want to be warm, too! By starting an afghan in the late months of the year, I have a great project to look forward to all winter and that makes me happy!

2. While I have knit afghans, crochet is just quicker! As the days get colder, my afghan continues to grow...and keeps me warm, too!  In making crochet afghans, I sometimes get a couple done a winter!  

Is Bigger Better?

3. Bigger hooks mean your crochet project will work up quicker, too. Take time to consider your crochet hook as this will make a huge difference as to the size of your finished throw and the gauge of your stitches.

4. With the hook size, you also will want to consider the type of fiber used. Remember, with any project, the yarn weight does matter! If you are working with a small hook, a light lace will be best and for a larger size hook (say K and up), you will want a chunky yarn. Perhaps some of our Yak Wool? Warmth factor? Very high!

5. Its' just darn good to see something work up so easily. I love having one big project where I can see the results. In the dead of winter when things seem a bit frumpy, big needles and big fiber like our chiffon make great sense! So yeah, sometimes big is better when it makes you happy!

Snuggle In and Get Creative!

5. Speaking of fiber, I tend to think of afghans as being just about warmth where I live in the north. Not always the case.  Are you making this afghan for Project Linus? Or perhaps for someone at your local nursing home?  Alternative fibers such as cotton make lovely throws and are the perfect fiber for those needing comfort more than warmth.

6. Crochet patterns are abundant. Yes, you probably have a serious collection but are they for afghans? Here is a thought, and a simple idea, really. Take a pattern such as our crochet scarf pattern, work on a sample gauge, then consider what size you want your afghan. Once you have figured out stitches needed, you can simply follow the pattern to get the design you want on a larger scale!

Time Is On My Side

7. Why take the time to play around with crochet patterns to adjust for an afghan? Let's face it, granny square afghans are beautiful and yes, I have and will make them again. The main reason I continue to devise an afghan look from a pattern that isn't for a throw is this-it makes me happy to mastermind an idea and I love to create unique, one-of-kind throws! Now, that keeps my winter going!

8. Don't feel you have to work solely (or is it soul-ly?!!!) on your crochet afghan. Find happiness in the large project you have created. Work on it when you wish, and always feel free to jump into another crochet project. Have a few smaller craft projects around so that nothing gets stale. Taking breaks are a good thing!

9. Yes, these handcrafted throws take time but make an incredibly worthy winter project. It's great to have long range projects because, well, um, winter is long, too! Like that warm weather trip that you might not be doing, a crochet afghan gives you the diversion and warmth that will bring you to Spring before you know it!

10. Crochet afghans are beautiful and can be a family heirloom. Be proud of the amazing work you do and remember how much love and time goes into your handcraft. Whether gifting to yourself, a loved one, or a stranger, your commitment to this project shows how much joy you find in creativity.

11. If you really want a quicker blanket idea, have you seen our arm knit  blanket kit? Don't let the idea of arm knitting scare you! It's super simple and will give you a beautiful chiffon blanket in no time at all. Whether you crochet, knit or are just a beginning crafter, arm knitting is sweetly simple!

The gang here at Darn Good Yarn loves helping you with your projects. Whether its that long winter project like a crochet afghan or something quick and easy, we thrive on being able to answer your questions or help with fiber choices. Stay warm and inspired, Darn Good Yarn family!


8 Valentines Day Gift Ideas for Creative People

Feed the Passion

Crafters are passionate about what they do, the materials they use, and creating incredible handmade gifts.  This is the season of love, though all things at Darn Good Yarn "start with love", and we want to share with you some really awesome Valentine's Day ideas for gifting your crafter and those seeking the creative lifestyle.

Yes, we love our wine! We love our chocolate! Here is what really will set our creative hearts a-flutter this Valentine's Day! Pick out a gift that really sparks our fires and makes us fill up with love and happiness. Here are a few suggestions of what Nicole and the DGY team are loving right now:

1.We created this one just for you! Ogle over our Best of Darn Good Yarn Packs which will give your crafter both an amazing selection of our yarns and a darn good sale price! Note the gorgeous "Struck by Cupid" color choice-perfect for your love! 

Struck by Cupid contains 1 skein of white yak, 1 skein of pink suede ribbon, 1 skein of pink windswept ribbon and 1 skein of red multi-colored banana fiber.  All packs come with a free DGY silk bag! What's not to love? 

2. Hand crafted yarn bowls are the perfect gift for the knitter, crocheter, or fiber arts person in your life! These amazing bowls are better than candy because they have over 550 great reviews AND provide work for over 50 people. Providing sustainable work is something we can all feel happy about and is oh, so sweet!

We offer several options for bowls so check it out. Our Designer Craft Pack makes another almost-better-than-chocolate Valentine's gift! With fiber, pattern, needles, bowl, and bag this is an impressive gift all in one! This is going to have you looking good!!!

Writing You a Love Letter


3. Honestly, with crafters if you buy any beautiful fiber, you have it covered. The truth is we all have a fiber addiction and you may as well feed it! Take a look at our gorgeous fiber options and throw together skeins of love. This wool is "Love Letter! Believe me, you can't go wrong with that Valentine's gift!

4. Does #3 above make you a bit nervous? Hey, we want to make this fun so don't go there. If you are not sure about what to choose (though you can't go wrong), how about giving the gift of choice? The Darn Good Yarn gift card allows you to encourage your crafting person the extreme pleasure of choosing fibers, clothing, or other goods right from our site!

Wrapped with Love

6. Speaking of clothing (yes, we support the creative lifestyle even if you are not crafty), have you seen our amazing skirt line? Through Nicole's collaborative efforts with co-ops in India, we are able to carry the most amazing, fair trade handmade skirts while providing year round work for women! Buy this Gift Giver Pack for all your loves!

7. Or how about our cotton skirts? Our maroon maxi skirt has a feel of Valentine's colors with an exotic flair. Our cotton skirts, with amazing color choices, might just be perfect for your vegan love, too!

Special Delivery

8. Wanna give a gift that keeps on giving? Over the moon in love and want to have a Valentine's Day gift that goes far beyond a one time gift? We love creating happiness and our monthly gift subscriptions are the perfect way to have a special delivery go to that special someone! Check this link for details on how they work!

We offer both yarn and bead subscriptions so if you have a mixed media artist in your life, the monthly bead delivery is just perfect for keeping those heartfelt feelings going! A great way to put a bit of sparkle in your love life, we know this one is sure to win hearts!

One of Nicole's goals for this year is to create happiness. The Darn Good Yarn Team is on it and taking action on ways to bring more happiness to you. Whatever and whoever you love, this list of things we are passionate about is sure to be a hit-and hey, be sure to gift yourself this Valentine's Day! xo


7 Locker Hooking Fibers and Bling

Locker Hooking-have you tried it? I have experimented with fiber for weaving and crocheting rugs but had not heard of or tried locker hooking. We found a simple, basic description of locker hooking thanks to Livingston's-not a new craft, locker hooking originated in the UK and has been around for close to a century!

Wanting to try a tutorial to learn more about the process? YouTube offers many locker hooking tutorials which will help to understand the process better, discuss supplies needed, and give a great overview of this craft. With some of our darn good yarn family including Jainnie J. who made this gorgeous piece and for sharing their mixed media projects with us, thank you! We want to share what we have to offer!

So how does Darn Good Yarn connect with this craft? Well, we support all types of crafters and their paths of creativity. We have had crafters mention how wonderful our unique fibers are for locker hooking so we knew it was time to learn more about locker hooking and which fibers our crafters are loving and wanting to use!

1. Locker hooking is all about fibers and our  2"  wide ribbon is already cut and rolled into strips of reclaimed silk. This take some work out of cutting strips for you!

2. Our DGY block prints on sari ribbon are handmade! Colorful silk ribbon has block prints to add another element of design. Yes, you can buy them individually but I suggest one of the Block Printed Handmade Sari Silk Packs because this price feels like a sale!

3. And while I am mentioning sari ribbon, did you know that each 100g skein is made by hand from start to finish! Vintage silk saris are first torn by hand into quarter inch strips, then sewn together to make this wonderful recycled sari silk yarn. Great for locker hooking as there are gorgeous colors and again, it is already in strips, thanks to the women working at our co-ops in India!

4. Locker hooking is not new but like many traditional  arts and mixed media, it's definitely hip to recycle these artisan crafts.  Wool is another timeless fiber that brings interesting color and texture to locker hooking. Known for its durability, wool is great underfoot and here is a link to a instructables.com page on locker hooking rugs!

5. Silk cocoons are uniquely original. If you are wanting to get that fiber and card it yourself, this is a great selection that you may want to use in finer locker hooking and other mixed media arts.

6. Creativity is all about messing around and our sample cards are great for experimenting with different fibers in locker hooking. We created these cards just for you- we know fiber is something we love and now you can test out some of the crazy, unique ones found at Darn Good Yarn!

7. Here's an even better idea! Our DGY Mixed Media Sampler Pack gives you a fabulous selection that you will absolutely love trying for your locker hooking project or other crafting ideas! It's just a fun, inviting sampling of what we are all about!

I am excited to explore locker hooking fibers and to educate myself more about this old time craft. The recycling of  crafts fits super well with our philosophy of carrying lots of recycled materials. In learning more about this craft, I notice that beads and bling are used...

8. Our Beads of the Month Subscription is a simple way to have an easy delivery to your door of beautiful beads and bling that you just might work into your next locker hooking project!

Check out our mixed media products because locker hooking is all about color, texture, bling, and integrating the unlikely and that IS something we know about.  I've included lots of possibilities here because we love making you happy and this eye candy will get the creative spirit thinking!

We'd love to hear from you as to whether you have tried locker hooking and which Darn Good Yarns you are loving for this new trend in an old art!

8 Ways to Become a Better Knitter and Crocheter

It's that time of year when we consider ways to become better. Better at taking care of chores, ourselves, and those around us. Sometimes our resolutions and reflections on how to be better are attainable and yahoo to you for reaching your goals! Sometimes we set ourselves up for failure and that's okay, too!

Today I want to write about happiness! Keep your goals in mind and remember to have your goal be happiness at the end, not "better". For me, happiness comes in doing for others and I have some great suggestions for how to incorporate impacting others with my love of knit and crochet projects!

1. Love what you do! Stay away from the guilt train. You love crafting and why not make that super cute, scarf for your grandchild? The chores and errands will be there, no doubt!  Consider the happiness you personally get from finding the next project and who it will be for.


2. We crafters are a generous bunch! Yes, I am stereotyping and yes, I think this is 100% true! I do love to make a pair of socks or scarf for myself, but what gives me greatest joy? Craft projects where I am knitting or crocheting every stitch with my dear loved one in mind that I am giving it to!  Love that ripple affect!

3. Projects for those we do not know is also just part of what we do. Have you seen the recent blog post about some of our Darn Good Yarn family?  Be sure to read about our friend Janet who is  making plarn mats for the homeless! Or in Canada, there is a project for making scarfs for the Special Olympics or in the U.S., blankets for Project Linus! I make baby blankets for the needy and also chemo caps for Hope Lodge.

By now you must realize my thought process for being a better knitter or crocheter is about happiness. Being a better knitter or crocheter is not necessarily about your level of skill, as we pride ourselves in reaching out to others. The joy of creativity has broad ripples and brings much happiness!

4. Start at Love is how Darn Good Yarn was founded and almost 9 years later, we continue to work hard and with thought-full intent to make the world a better place!  Creating jobs for over 600 women around the globe where year round sustainable work means families now have improved education, services, and quality of life.

5. Recycled fibers and skirts make of reclaimed sari silk are another way that your DGY purchase brings happiness to the world! Along with providing employment, DGY has kept over 1 million pounds of sari remnants from going to landfills. Caring for Mother Earth is essential and thanks to you, we continue to offer a large line of recycled materials.

6. Are you wanting suggestions on how to become a better knitter as far as skills?Here is another blog post thanks to nobleknits.com that offers a list of knit skills to aspire to. Guess I am not ready to tackle charts but I do like the idea of increasing my abilities. Keep in mind that Nicole has a flair for being on camera and has some entertaining and useful tutorials to help you with crafting.

7. Another avenue for becoming a better knitter and crocheter is our yarn bowls! Did you know that our Indian Rosewood Yarn Bowl has gotten rave reviews on our website? While we love that, it's the 50 plus jobs we are able to provide that makes this a beautiful way to bring happiness to your life and many others, too!

8. Take time for yourself (see #1 again)! Better is just a word and yes we all want to improve on something. Why not take some of that Darn Good Yarn philosophy and "retreat from the everyday"? Becoming a better knitter or crocheter might just mean doing what you love, allowing yourself to be creative, and giving back. Happiness is a far "better" goal!

The Darn Good Yarn team supports you in your endeavors. Smile! It may just be the start of something!






How to Meld Super Bowl LI and Crafts

Okay, so I love to have fun with writing blog posts for Darn Good Yarn. I think I've really scored with this idea and its super simple! Embrace football and other things that give you time to craft!

Like me, perhaps you have been following American football for many decades? Like many New Englanders, the Patriots are my team. But I also need to make a confession. I am not really engaged with a lot of what this game is about; I know my team and will engage in conversation with my husband, but over the years I have become surreptitiously engaged in winter crafting!

Show Me The Numbers

My husband knows players stats like we had them over for a "bar-b" last week! He remembers plays from years ago and last week as well (though has no clue where he left his car keys)!  From August through February, our social life is dictated around game schedules (including all other months for trades, deals, and NFL data)!  So what's the super bowl to me?

Yep! I love my wooden yarn bowl and use it religiously. I chuckle quietly through the Fall as we head toward football playoffs. Just like those teams, I have a strategy and stealthy plan for my season of projects. I learn new techniques (like the players) and thrive on challenging new moves! My play book is my patterns, my equipment is my unique fibers.

Yes, I craft year round but I also know that I want to spend time with my husband as we both work hard and value our time together. Between my never ending quest to understand why people want to pummel each other  to get a pigskin and my desire for time to craft, this is a coin toss where all win! He queries me about my knit or crochet project and we all our happy!

Time Out

So, yes! For those of you who never have enough time to craft, I recommend football, a sport that is on several days and can literally take up your Sunday. With my minor attraction to the game and my major attraction to my crafts, this has been a great score for family time!

Designated family time is tricky in our busy lives! In our home, we love our football time together. Conversation varies from  a call on the field that I don't understand to what my "next" project will be. Yes, Super Bowl has a whole different meaning for me but we love our time together. And sometimes, I even know the score!

Super Bowl LI is Sunday, February 5th this year and here are a few other details about the game.  Good friends and family, good food, and good craft projects will make for a great finish to another strong season of crafting!!! Darn Good, you might say with a super bowl finish!

A Maroon Maxi Skirt and 7 Reasons to Have One

Just wanted to make a quick note to all of you! We have some amazingly beautiful skirts and today I want to run by you the incredible 100% Cotton Skirts. Available in different lengths and colors, I am loving the maroon maxi and will focus on that!

1. Having grown up in the 70's when maxis were huge, I am excited that the style is coming full circle. Our ankle length is approximately 33" in length, perfect for covering what needs to be covered!

Marooned in Maroon!

2. As found, in dictionary.com, the definition of maroon as an adjective pops and I know this is true of the skirts! 

    1. Dark brownish-red.
    2. Chiefly British
       1. a loudly exploding firework consisting of a cardboard container filled with gunpowder
       2. a similar firework used as a danger or warning signal, as by railway brakemen
Maroon is an eye-catcher, for sure! The fireworks definition was new to me but is so true!
3. Another reason to wear maroon? The color represents courage, bravery, and strength. Wearing our gorgeous maroon maxi gives you confidence to get out there and tackle whatever the day brings knowing you look amazing while doing it! Wearing what makes us feel good makes us happy! We choose happiness every time!
4. Did you see the colors we pair with our rich maroon? This really opens up options for what to pair with our maxi skirt (and we all love options)!  I am loving the orange with the maroon as it's snappingly (okay, so I make up words!) beautiful and two colors I would not think to partner! Break out that beautiful peasant blouse!


5. Speaking of pairing, I have a few other suggestions for what to wear with your maroon maxi!  Boots are so in and look great with these skirts. Add a turtle neck and your warm sweater for a great winter look. DGY skirts also looks great with a pair of flats and a solid t-shirt and for warmer climes and vacations, tanks and sandals will do it. 
6. Not sure you are ready for the confident, strong maroon design? Then please consider our  black and white skirts, there is nothing gray about this decision! Perhaps a bit more subtle, black and white patterning still leads you to many color and clothing choices! Think accent colors!

Fair Trade

7. Our cotton skirts provide sustainable fair trade employment to women around the globe. Your purchase helps families to have meaningful work to support their families year round! Now that is happiness!
Whatever the day brings, how we dress influences our day! Our 100% cotton skirts provide you with options for dressing for the creative lifestyle and feeling beautiful inside and out. Bring it on and bring on happiness!