Crafting Tuesday: Crochet Cats

Y’all, I have a new obsession: crocheted cats! Before I begin this post, I need to point out that this pattern isn’t mine. All links and credit are at the bottom. However, I’ve had a blast making them and have even sold some to a friend. I’m making several to take them to author signings next year, so if you’re at any of those events, come snag one!

But why cats? First, the pattern is adorable, and second, I started making them when I began writing this year’s Diner book, which includes another black cat. Nightshade is one of my favorite characters and inspired me to crochet a little black cat to go with the book. I enjoyed the experience so much that I wanted to make more, but didn’t know what to do with them. That’s when I decided to take them with me to events and sell them because I don’t know what to do with a bunch of little cats in my apartment.

Nightshade, my first cat. And her cupcake.

I hadn’t crocheted much since last fall, but after losing Gunney, I couldn’t write for a while and stress from work and life was getting to me. So, I picked up crocheting again and immersed myself in it. I’ve been making more than the cats, but they are my favorite because of how cute they are. There’s just something about crocheting that relieves my stress, and it’s so enjoyable to me.

I’ve been crocheting for about 12 years, right after graduating from college. A dear friend of our family gave me and my sisters a crash course in it, and I’ll be honest, I stunk at it. Like, I couldn’t even figure out how to get the yarn onto the hook to even start it. It wasn’t really surprising to anyone, but it was obnoxious to me that I was having such issues. The next time we went shopping, I grabbed a beginners book on crocheting and some yarn and I started practicing all the time. It was a rough start, but I’d throw a movie on the TV (usually one of the Tremors movies since I’ve seen them enough it’s easy to just listen instead of watching) and I’d struggle through the pattern I was working on until one day, I got it. It was all so clear.

Now, I haven’t crocheted all the time for the past 12 years. It’s been off and on, but it’s always been when I needed to relax and enjoy the feel of yarn in my fingers. I’m no expert and I’m still learning, but I’m far more confident in my work now than when I was first starting out. I’m willing to try the harder patterns, and I’m able to manipulate patterns and make them mine, and I can create simple patterns that are all mine. Such as the book cozies. I recently took a cupcake pattern that I found and shifted it so that the pattern was completely different and all mine, and even more adorable. When I was first starting out, I never could’ve imagined it.

Like writing, crocheting has taken practice. Once that time has been put into it, there’s a sense of freedom and a need to break free and test new ideas and bend the rules. I haven’t done that with the cats yet, but I will be doing it eventually.

The funnest part of making the cats is the crocheting part. I’m not a fan of sewing pieces together. The second best part is choosing the colors, like what color ribbon to put with each cat. Some are easy choices while others are a little tricky. Sometimes, just choosing the eye and nose color can be tricky as well, especially with darker yarn for the cat. I’ve had so much fun choosing what color these cats should be. Some have turned out not quite as fun as I’d expected, while others are far more remarkable as I expected. It’s hard to choose a favorite, but I do love the way the black yarn with gold thread comes out. Even the plain color instead of variegated turn out better than I expect each time.

Life can be stressful. That fact is certain. But if we find hobbies that can relieve that stress, we need to hold onto those and not let go. Do I crochet to monetize my hobby? No. It’s a nice side effect from having excess cats and other projects, but not why I do it. I just love making them. Now I’m branching out into using cotton yarn and making washcloths/dishcloths and other items. I search for fun patterns all the time, and can’t wait to find my next favorite that’ll be a hit. I’d love it if it was book themed as well.

What are your favorite crocheted items? Both to crochet or to look at or receive?

Pattern by Tilly at:

Where The Grass Is Greener

You know that saying that goes something like, the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence? We’ve all been there. We’ve all watched what other people have or their position in life and life for them just seems so much better. We all do that. It’s become something I do even more since becoming an author. They say don’t compare your journey to others, but it’s hard when you feel like so many are passing you up and being successful, and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t keep up and get there too. You work and work but you’re just not doing something right.

But the truth is, you are doing something right. Hard work never goes unrewarded. It may not give you the rewards you thought you deserved or that you were aiming for, but you do get rewards. As long as you keep pushing in the direction you want to go, you’re doing it right.

Let’s go back to this idea of a journey. When we take vacations, none of us goes the same route, stops to see the same things, notices the same stuff, or makes it to the destination in the same amount of time. The same goes for our journeys through life. You can do the exact same thing as someone else (like me and a friend had a release at the same time and we had pretty much the same release plan and she soared right past me) but have different results based on so many things. Sometimes we don’t even know what those differences are. Sometimes it’s all luck with our hard work or their hard work.

But it all boils down to making your grass greener.

So first, stop staring at everyone’s grass. In today’s society with social media, that’s super hard to do. It’s always in your face how amazing everyone’s life is (or for those who constantly complain, how miserable they are). Unless you avoid social media altogether, this false view of everyone’s life only gives a partial view of what their life is like. Very few people actually post about the bad in their lives. This, my friends, is what we call AstroTurf. It’s not real. It’s a false concept of their grass. The grass may look green from a distance, but up close, you can tell it isn’t real. Stop drooling over the AstroTurf. You don’t need it.

Next, once you’re no longer looking at other’s grass, you can focus on your own. How much time do we spend fawning over the every so lucious grass of our neighbors’ and neglect our own in the process? This will never help us. Creating real green grass in our lives requires not only hard work, but our time. If we refuse to put in the time, it’ll never be as we’d like it to be. We all have brown spots in our grass, but how often do we take time to work on those spots to make them green again? Old habits you wish to change? Focus on that over watching others do it, or appear to be doing it. That brown grass is yours and only you can fix it, and you can’t fix it watching someone else’s grass grow greener.

But what if we’re putting in the hard work and spending the time on our grass but it just doesn’t seem to help? There’s a lot to consider when pondering this question. Even in our every day real lives, no two lawns are the same. You and your neighbor can treat it the same way, and one will still come out better. It’s a fact of life. The terrain may play a part, the amount of weeds to be removed, or what time you run your lawn sprinkler. The same goes with our lives. There are so many variables from the challenges we face to our personal circumstances. What type of job we have, how we manage our finances, where we live, our background and education. That doesn’t mean that our grass can’t become as green as we’d like it to be. It just means that it may take longer.

I often struggle with this and too often forget to remind myself of it. But the above quote always seems to ground me in remembering where my focus should be. Are other authors where I want to be in my career? Have they had those successes I’m dreaming about? Are they so far ahead of me on this path that I feel I can’t catch up? Yes. You bet they are. They work hard for it, just as I work hard to get there, only our grass is different. Mine obviously needs a lot more TLC. It can be frustrating, but there’s nothing wrong with it.

What I try to remind myself of is what am I learning on this journey and what steps am I taking to make sure my grass is actually getting greener instead of spinning my wheels. If we do nothing to change how our grass is looking, or just keep up the same maintenance of it, we can’t expect a change. Unless we’re extremely lucky, it will not happen. I’m trying to take the time to study more about what I can do to make those changes in my life and in my business to make sure I get that greener grass as a result of what I’m putting into it. If I’m constantly watching others and become jealous of their grass, I’m not putting enough effort into my grass, and after all, if I have to look at my grass more than my neighbors’ grass, why am I not putting more effort into it?

So, if you take nothing away from this save one thing, it’s to keep your eyes on your own grass. Forget about the AstroTurf on the other side of the fence.