Wednesday, November 28, 2012

3,000 Words Down, 9,500 Words to Go!

I am obsessed with my word count lately. I am writing a crochet book! It's a how-to crochet book that will be available for download on It's not what I originally wanted when I started this quest, but it's a great opportunity!

I had originally wanted to publish a book of crochet stories. Along the way, publishers said that people were more interested in crochet pattern books. I began to think that I, as an avid, but impatient, crocheter would do well to write a crochet book for impatient crocheters like me. Actually, it was my loving husband who initially implanted that idea in my head. He knows me pretty well, So I have to give him credit, THANKS ROBERT!

Some of the patterns came along quickly. There's the crocheted disco ball and the crocheted Teddy Bear Skin Rug. There's the crocheted Chef's Hat and the adorable crocheted Faux French Maid Apron (Excuse my SEO!)

So I'm obsessing over my word count. I've got to add 9,000 words to my copy AND I've got to crochet samples to go along with them. I've got at least half of the crochet done already. The company is a how-to publishing firm, not necessarily a crochet publishing firm so the pattern testing and pattern editing will be up to me. I've got my pattern tester and reader waiting in the wings (THANKS CHRISTI AND DENYSE!) So I'm not worried about that.

I am a little worried about getting up to that 12,500 word count, with 200 pictures!

 To s-t-r-e-t-c-h it out a bit I've decided to add a little bit about the history of the crochet hook and a little story about the creation of each pattern, I'm all about the story! That should pad the book out a little. I'm going to add a little about the difference between big and little hook crocheting, and a little bit about...wait I'm padding here...I should save that for the book!

I'd love to chronicle this GREAT adventure but I feel that I'll be pretty busy up until January 20, 2013. Look for me and my blog to continue later next year. After that, DOWNLOAD MY BOOK!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Danielle Branch, Crochet Writer!

I have just been hired as a real life crochet writer for a real live company! This means:

 1) After years of searching I have finally found a legitimate Work At Home job,
 2) I get to write about what I know :CROCHET!
 3) I can never ever mock another granny square again!

We crocheters all cut our teeth on granny squares. When my mom taught me how to crochet many years ago, she first taught me the granny square. For variety she threw in a popcorn stitch, but other than that everything we made was a granny square in some form or fashion.

We made granny square afghans and granny square potholders, granny square purses, and granny square hats.We made granny square slippers in every color and every size under the sun. I had always been tempted by a granny square skirt/dress but...didn't we malign poor Cate Blanchett enough! If you check the linked page, you will see that no one even has the words to comment upon this sheath.

But I digress. Granny Squares have progressed from this monstrosity and that monstrosity. 
(Third picture down!)

In fact, in my adulthood, I purchased, The New Granny Square, by  Susan Cottrell and Cindy Weloth.This book actually had some really cute, not square patterns! I did not happen to keep the book in my collection; I think granny squares and I have too much angst to try to start up another relationship.

Still  I love(d) the old gal! She was my first foray into crochet and I appreciate(d) the monotony of her process. Chain 3, 2dc, chain 3dc,ch2, 3dc, ch2, 3dc, ch2 ad nauseum ....kinda sounds like my new job as a crochet writer for a national crochet website...turns out I don't really get to regale tales of crochet,or really write what I know, BUT I do get to write the word CROCHET many, many (many) times. For those of you familiar with SEO writing, you know what I mean!

I'm not sure my first professional writing crochet job and I are a good fit BUT like the old granny square, it started me off into  a world with endless possibilities, the least of which is SEO writing, the most of which is...and that's why I started this blog, MY BOOK!

Friday, October 19, 2012

What NOT to Crochet

A post on a weblog at Crochet asked if any of we ladies were planning on crocheting and/or wearing a crocheted bikini that season. The responses were filled with vitriol. 

I’ve seen many patterns in many books and on many websites around swimsuit time, but never considered making or wearing one. They are quick and easy, which just screams “DANIELLE!” but would I ever wear it to the beach or pool? Not likely.

One poster said she’d use cotton thread but that would weigh it down, stretch it and make it sag. You would never consider using acrylic because it is itchy and hot. Something stretchy might work, like that new sock yarn, but I imagine you’d have to make the stitches pretty small for it to be functional. I see some comments that you could line it with fabric, making it more useful, but I side with most of the ladies who said it was a definite “What Not to Crochet!”

Have you seen that cute little website? It’s a hoot! Once you get past the obscene (cock sheaths, 3-D vaginas, and tampon holders) you see that there are really some kooky things out there that should NOT have been crocheted!

I have seen what would amount to a pair of flip flops but since I only have nine toenails, I’ve trended away from things that accent my feet.

I like a sock monkey as much as the next gal, but I don’t see the purposeful in an entire dress made out of them. One look at the face of the model and you can see that she doesn’t see it either.
When Baby #4 was born I wanted a handmade sling for him. Not wanting to shell out forty dollars for something that I could easily crochet myself, I found a pattern! The designer warned all takers that her first pattern ended up looking like a hobo bag. The poor baby would fit inside the “sling” and it would stretch and sag like a wet bathing suit. Her subsequent pattern fixed those boo boos, she said, but I figured that with the time and expense of the yarn it would take to create it, I’d be better off buy it from Target. They had cuter colors anyway.

Lest I continue to poke fun at others I have my very own What NOT to Crochet tale. When ponchos were all the rage, the second time( didn’t we all have one in the 70’s), I decided that I wanted one. I found the pattern in a leaflet with a sassy young girl modeling with her hands on her hips. You kinda had to have attitude to make a poncho work, in my opinion. Sure, Martha Stewart made them really HOT again, but to me they were still little relics from my youth. I liked the model’s sassy
 “I-can-pull-this-look-off” attitude.  

I bought the pattern. 

I also bought the expensive soft yarn that it called for, but only 3 skeins of it. 3 skeins would do for the short version, but you’d need a couple more for the longer version. Three was perfect for quick and easy me.
I toiled on the pattern so that I could wear it the following weekend while visiting with friends.  Choosing the short pattern was probably NOT the best idea. It was completed but looked weird.  I wore it with trepidation, waiting for comments from my friends, but crickets were all I got in response. Finally one good friend said, “Hey, Danielle, I’d like to wear a skirt around my neck too…” I took off my “skirt”, pulled out the yarn and repurposed it. Maybe I didn’t have the “sassy” attitude I needed to pull it off.

“Because it’s there” Said George Mallory when people asked him why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.

“Because I found the pattern on the internet, and really I think I can make it work for me as long as my toes don’t show and it’s really not going to take me…”


Friday, October 12, 2012

I Love a Cat!

In honor of I Love Yarn Day, I have reluctantly and unwittingly adopted a cat.

For those who know me well, my reputation as a lover of all things canine should precede me.  This cat, though, persists in pushing herself into my life.

We recently moved into a house where the previous owner left her as they departed. My son dubbed her Remycat after a little dog that my sister has. The cat made its presence known as we attempted to move our things into our domicile. She tried to get inside on two occasions. I dog-blocked her because I was not about to let a yarn-tangler inside of our new home. No animal would come between me and my yarn. That is why I have always prefered to company of canines.

We were away for eight days last week. Failing to call the local ASPCA to get her, I left poor Remycat to fend for herself while we were away. I wondered if, upon our return, I would find her body curled up and expired due to lack of food and shelter.

I did not.

In fact, I almost stepped on her as she tried to get inside of the house again. I had to admire the moxy of this feline, but could I really let her into my house ( and heart?)

Cats, known for their love, nay obsession with yarn have not always been my favorite. However, friends and family member have been posting the most adorable, heart-rending photos of cats and kitties on facebook! One friend in particular enjoys chronicling the tales of her Tomcat Brock as he frolicks on his cat tower and stares menacingly but lovingly into the camera. I believe that is why subconsciously I have begun to actually like cats, even allowing my son to give this feline a name. I was even thinking of letting this one into my house.

There would be one sure way to see if I could co-exist with this kitty. I got out a leftover ball of Red Heart Gold yarn and dangled the string in front of the kitty. She came to it, batted at it, then nuzzled up to my leg! I screeched in delight and surprise! She didn't fight me for my yarn, but actually turned into one of those adorable little facebook cats that I have grown to love. She was so cute!

So, now, I am surprised to say that I love a cat...that just so happens to love yarn! Happy I Love Yarn Day, Remycat!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Crochet for Men

Since interest has picked up amongst strangers and friends about my little blog, I asked my husband what he thought about it. He said that he had visited it, but that it was too girlie for him!

 I told him that men do have interests in crochet. I mentioned The Crochet Dude, who has a line of crochet accessories. The Shibaguyz have a whole  design team behind them,  and Mike from the Crochet Crowd is known on Facebook. My husband, not unlike the aforementioned macho men, is very manly and looks the part. He is bearded and mustached,  stands 6 feet 3 inches tall, and weights 303 pounds, most of which is muscle! GRRRRRR.

 Was there room for crochet in his testosterone-filled body? I wasn't sure!

When Crochet Today recently queried, "Would your guy, or any guy you know wear a granny square sweater?" my answer, with 203 other crocheters was am emphatic  "NO WAY!" I would love to be like the 9 crocheters who answered, "Yes, because I made it"  But I know my husband.

Still, he has been helpful with my obsession with crochet. He never stops me from buying yarn, which is a big plus, and he put up with my crocheted toilet paper cover AND slept next to my crocheted bed doll. He loves the crocheted gifts that I make and asked me to make sure to make the best baby afghan EVER for his brother who just had his first child.
He was brave enough recently to offer a critique of my art, though.  I told him that although my handle is Dani Does Doilies, I don't care for doilies because I am not used to working with small needles. Ironically I I am  now inundated with requests for doilies!  I was grappling with whether I should "change with the change" or stay in my comfort zone.  A post on my new favorite facebook page(Change Your Attitude...Change Your Life) said it all.

Since I want to SUCCEED with crochet and in  life, I decided to take his advice and buy the special yarn and tiny hooks required to make dainty doilies. I've already scoped out a "My First Doilie" pattern on Crochet Pattern Central, so I'm ready...all thanks to my guy!
 Although he will likely never wear a cool granny-squared sweater (how much yarn would it take to cover those muscles!) he has prodded me out of complacency and into and a new, exciting world. He has noticed my efforts, causing change in me, making him a great LEADer! I don't know what is more manly than that!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"Say Thank You"

I recently listened to a podcast where the speaker complained about giving gifts made from the depths of her heart. She did not even receive a simple thank you. That statement sent me down a serious thought spiral.

I, too, love making and giving gifts. I love surprising people with homemade gifts made from the depths of my heart.

I gifted one friend, named after a famous line of dolls, with an adorable little doll key chain. I "broke" into her place of business, snuck past receptionists and strangers and put the key chain in her mailbox. "Lalaloopsy" never acknowledged receipt of the gift, nor did she question where it came from. Wanting to remain anonymous,but still found it, I made sure that she saw that I had had the exact same key chain as the one that mysteriously showed up in her mailbox.She never said a word about it. I hoped she hadn't thought I was a stalker.

At school's end I love giving my children's teachers appreciation gifts. One year I filled a mason jar with Hershey kisses, crocheted a little Hershey kiss onto the top and snuck it into one teacher's car. This time I signed the names of my children."Hugs and Kisses from the Branches" read the card. She never once said thank you. Come on!

After that, I made crocheted Peruvian-styled hats for every student in my daughter's class. Granted her class was small but I crocheted day and night for days and nights! This time I made sure that my children told them that their mother had made the hats specifically for them. It didn't make me feel better that only one out of the 12 parents said "THANKS!".

I then questioned why I felt so compelled to give people things that they hadn't asked for. Just last week as I prattled off the list of crocheted gifts I was in the process of making as gifts, my son asked me something that had obviously been on his mind for a while.

"Don't you get tired of making so many gifts?" He asked

"Nope" I responded. "I need something to do."

"You don't care that you don't get paid?" He challenged

I am getting paid, I told him, in my soul. There is benefit in giving things with no strings attached.

"What if you run out of yarn?" Was his last postulation.

"I will NEVER run out of yarn!" I stated emphatically.

A simple THANK YOU does not fill the criteria of "strings attached". Saying thank you is polite and mannerly. If we lose that ability to vocally express gratitude for given objects then we have lost all of our humanity.

A recent post on Facebook by Change Your Attitude, Change Your Life told me why I felt compelled to give things, even if I'm not given so much as a simple THANK YOU in return.

Be The Type of Person You Want to Meet, said the post. That made things crystal clear.

I really wanted someone to break into my place of business and leave a secret gift for me! If they didn't go all out, as I tend to do, they could at least be mannerly and vocalize receipt of the efforts that was done in their honor. Say THANK YOU!

With that being said, I would like to finally say, Jane Doe, it was I who put the  cute doll key chain in your mailbox 12 years ago! PHEW! Feels good to finally say that!

Don't worry, now that she knows I gave it, I can hear her say it.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fight the Power?

Yesterday was school shopping day at my house! While my children got things they absolutely needed for school, I got some things I absolutely needed too; the newest crochet magazines!

One of the many things I like about living here in Monroe County is the availability of crochet magazines. In Berks county I could only find the mags at Wal-mart and the local Barnes and Nobles bookstore. I complained at the Michael's that they had ever knit magazine in creation, couldn't they make room for at least one crochet magazine?


Here in Monroe County, they speak my language. I have found copies of different magazines all over the place. They are at every grocery store I frequent and at the A.C. Moore in town ( so there, Michael's!) I have even found one at my local library. Piecework is dedicated to all of the fiber arts, and they seem to give equal time to crochet.

I was pleased with my purchases (Love of Crochet and Interweave Crochet) until I happened to look down at my receipt. Crochet again, was being given a kick in the face! See for yourself!

Although I had purchased crochet magazines, the department stores reckoned them with knit magazines! I was so mad that I did what I hadn't done in a long time... I went to the magazine racks at Wal-mart and I...I...moved the knit magazines to the back and pulled the crochet magazines to the front. I was only brave enough to take one picture of my "misdeed".

When I lived in Berks county I would do this all of the time. I would move the Interweave Knit magazines to the back and put the Interweave Crochet magazines to the front. I would take the copies of Crochet Today;( their covers are so pretty!), and place it prominently in front of all of the other craft magazines. I would fold my arms and feel pleased with my little act of civil disobedience!

Now that I am living in a county that is so in LOVE with crochet, I hadn't felt the need to be so bad! That was, until yesterday.

So crochet magazines take heart! I am on the job!

By the way, I hear that a brand new crochet magazine, Crochet 1-2-3 will be available (at Wal-mart!) on September 8th.

I will be watching and waiting...