Vascular Birthmarks Foundation

During the month of May 2020, I will be running a fundraiser with 50% of my pattern sales going toward Vascular Birthmarks Foundation.  My patterns can be purchased on Ravelry and Etsy. To donate directly to Vascular Birthmarks Foundation HERE.

Vascular Birthmarks Foundation has become a cause that is near and dear to my heart. In 2015, my son Gavyn was born with a Port-Wine Stain Birthmark (PWS) on the left side of his face and head.

Our Journey

When Gavyn was first born, the pediatrician at the hospital told my husband and me that the redness on his face and head wasn’t bruising from the delivery, but was a Port-Wine Stain Birthmark.  She gave us a quick overview but wanted to wait to talk to his normal pediatrician and go from there.  That evening we did our own research and learned that every birthmark is individually unique, just like the person who is born with it.

Some birthmarks are small, some are large; some can be dark, some can be light.  Depending on where the birthmark is, it can cause other medical issues. One main medical concern with Gavyn’s birthmark, since part of it is over his eye, is that he can develop glaucoma. We see an ophthalmologist every year to be proactive regarding this concern.

Gayvn sleeping in the car with a clear picture of his birthmark
Gavyn at around 2 weeks old. You can clearly see his birthmark, and how much of his face it covers.

Another concern was the psychological effects Gavyn’s birthmark could have on him as he grew older. Would kids bully him because he is different? We didn’t know if he would wear his birthmark as a badge of honor or if it would make him self-conscious. After consulting with a few dermatologists, my husband and I decided that laser treatments to help reduce the redness of Gavyn’s birthmark would be best for him. Four years later, I’m really glad that we made the decision we did.

Gavyn sitting up after his first laser treatment
The afternoon of Gavyn’s first laser treatment.

In March 2016 Gavyn had his first laser treatment. Both my husband and I were nervous wrecks the whole 20 minutes he was having the procedure done. Over the course of the rest of the year, Gavyn underwent five more treatments. Each one was easier than the last, except the final one.  He was 18 months old at that point, and I think by then he became more aware of what was going on. We were happy with the results and came to the conclusion that if he wants to have more laser treatments in the future, it would be up to him.

The appearance of his birthmark is almost gone, except for the small section on his cheek.

Spreading Awareness

Every year on May 15th, International Vascular Birthmarks Awareness Day, we participate in the #putonyourbirthmark social media campaign. My daughter and I draw hearts on our left cheeks and post our pictures to help spread joy and awareness for vascular birthmarks. I also send a note to her teachers about the reason behind the heart on her cheek, and they are just as supportive.

A collage of the first four years of our #putyourbirthmarkon campaign
May 15th is International Vascular Birthmarks Awareness Day. We help spread awareness by participating in the #putyourbirthmarkon social media campaign. Before school of the hearts on our left cheeks.

My Hopes For The Future

Gavyn’s birthmark and his story are uniquely his. In Gavyn’s case, he has the “ideal” birthmark — it’s just on the surface and doesn’t affect his brain or mouth. The laser treatments worked and lightened how red his birthmark was. Many people and families aren’t as lucky as we were.

With the money raised, other families that aren’t as fortunate as ours will have access to the best resources to help themselves or loved ones who are born with vascular birthmarks. I don’t want other parents to worry about the costs of the many surgeries that their child needs. I don’t want kids to feel like they are “less than” because they are different.

No matter what the decision, I hope that each person born with a vascular birthmark learns to wear their birthmark as a badge of honor. They were born uniquely different for a reason!



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Diamond Shawl

My Diamond Shawl is the fourth pattern available in the ‘Birthstone Collection.’  The theme for 2020, where each month I have a cowl, scarf, or shawl pattern in the color of that month’s birthstone.

Other patterns available in the Birthstone Collection:
Garnet Cowl – January
Amethyst Scarf – February
Zoe’s Aquamarine Infinity Scarf – March

The Yarn

Months ago when I had decided that I would design a collection around each months birthstones, I knew that I wanted a white yarn, but with a little extra something to it. When searching the shelves of my local craft store, I finally found it. Bernat Baby Coordinates is perfect for the vision that I had.

As you can see in the picture below, the yarn is white with an added shimmer to it. With this extra shimmer within the yarn, it will help bring the illusion of the facets of a cut diamond.

The Pattern

From the beginning, I just knew that the design had to be in the shape of a diamond. I had a ton of questions going through my head. How was I going to get this to work out? How would I set my design apart from others? What’s the extra something that I could add to the original thoughts?

I then had my “Eureka” moment. I can make the shawl in the shape of a diamond made up of smaller diamonds! That’s when I got to work on the design.

Once I figured out the shape of the diamond I was looking for, the design just starting working up so quickly. It did take me a little while to get the wording down correctly though.

Standing Double Crochet/Long Chain Double Crochet/Chainless Starting Double Crochet

When I first started the design, I wasn’t liking the traditional chain 3 (or even 2) at the beginning of the row. There was too much of a gap between the first and second stitches. This gap was throwing off the clean look of the diamond shape.

I’ve done a few variations of the Starting Double Crochet/Long Chain Double Crochet/Chainless Starting Double Crochet in the past. They are essentially all work up the same and create the same result. I advise trying each one and seeing which one you prefer the most. I used the ‘Long Chain Double Crochet’ in this pattern and called it ‘Starting Double Crochet.’

My favorite videos for these types of stitches are:
Improved Chainless Starting Double Crochet – Tamara Kelly of Moogly Blog.
Long Chain Double Crochet – Michelle Ferguson of Two Brothers Blankets *note – left handed version, but still the same technique for right handed.

Stitch Definition:
Pull up your loop to the height of your usual Double Crochet. Yarn over, insert into the 1st St, yarn over, pull through the Stitch, yarn over, pull through two loops on the hook, yarn over, pull through the remaining two loops on your hook.

Supplies:

– Approximately 750 Yards of Bernat Baby Coordinates
– H/5.00 mm Crochet Hook
– Measuring Tape
– Scissors
– Yarn Needle

Availabilty

The Diamond Shawl pattern is now available to purchase on both Ravelry and Etsy.


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Staying Focused

During this trying time its hard to stay focused on your usual everyday tasks. If your home is anything like mine, its definitely a change to the routine.

I’m temporarily out of work, the kids are home (possibly for the rest of the school year) and my oldest has shifted to doing an online learning plan. With all these changes to our daily routine, I still have a business to stay on top of.

I’ve been a stay at home mom since becoming a mom, so I’m used to the kids being home when they aren’t in school. My son usually goes to prekindergarten for a few hours a day during the week.

Schooling

We were able to borrow a computer from our school department so my daughter could stay connected to her teachers. This has been a great asset for her to have, and it makes me think of what the less fortunate families are going through without access to technology.

Back when I was 18, my major in college was education. If I hadn’t had the three semesters of the education courses back then, I’d probably be up a creek without a paddle right now. I’ve even been able to give her real life applications of what she’s reading and doing in her lessons. Just the other day I had her adding fractions by filling up a measure cup with water, and helping me cook.

With my son, I’ve been having him stay on top of his numbers and letters of the alphabet so he’s ready for kindergarten in the fall. In all honesty, I haven’t been putting as much effort into his school work as I have been with my daughter’s.

Schedule

Ideally, I try to get the bulk of business related work, school work, and household duties done before lunch. With this schedule it gives me (and the kids) a break to do our own things in the afternoon. Some days are easier than others.

We’re all still adjusting to what works best for all of us. The kids are also starting to see that I just don’t sit around and crochet all day and that a bulk of my work is on the computer and networking with other designers and crochet business owners.

We have a pretty lax schedule.

  • Wake up anywhere between 7:00/ 8:00 AM
  • Breakfast and morning reading
  • School work / Business Computer work 9:00 – 12:00
  • Lunch
  • Playtime/Screen time and any other work I need to do 1:00 – 3:30
  • Clean-up time and dinner prep 4:00 – 5:00
  • Dinner
  • Family movie time/showers/get ready for bed
  • Bed 8:30 PM

Outings

We’ve barely left the house in the three weeks that the schools here in Massachusetts have been closed. We might run errands such as going to their school to pick up learning packets, to the bank, or the pharmacy, but the kids don’t leave the car and we practice social distancing.

When the weather is nicer I try to get them to go outside and play. Its been raining (and even snowing) the last week so its been a little tough. I’m going to try to add in a daily walk into our routine when the weather is nice, keyword try. Maybe even get them nice and dirty while doing work out in the yard and garden.

My Business

I just did a review of my business goals from the last three months. I didn’t meet my initial goals but I came close. When planning out my goals for the next quarter, I took into consideration that my kids might not be going back to school for the remainder of the school year.

If we continue with our routine now, maybe with a few tweaks, I think we can make it the next six months until school starts again in September.

I still need to get my stuff done for my business. A lot goes into the designing process, so even though it doesn’t look like a lot on the calendar, trust me IT IS.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts, including my designing process.


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Lettuce Wrap

This pattern is part of the E’Claire Makery March Blog Hop. Each day a different designer offers a free PDF download of their pattern. There are shawls, wraps, scarves, earrings, cardigans, hats, and sweaters.

The Concept

I wanted a design that way perfect for the spring or summer. Something that was lacy and lightweight but still warm. We’ve all gone for a walk in the park and its too hot long sleeves but too cool for short sleeves. I needed to make something that would work for that type of weather, but it needed to be fashionable.

The Pattern

I love the look of the “double v-stitch” and wanted to use it in this design. I grabbed some yarn from my stash and after a few days work and a skein later, I didn’t like the results. First, I wouldn’t have enough yarn to finish the project. Second, the stitches were pulling on each other, so there wasn’t great drape and was wonky.

What did work?

The pattern was great and just what I was looking for, I just needed to make a slight adjustment. The results… AMAZING!!!!!

The "Lettuce Wrap" hanging from a pine tree.

The Yarn

After a trip to a local craft store and feeling and squishing all the yarn, I decided on Lion Brand’s Baby Soft in the colorway Sage/Sweetpea. The store has it listed as one color but the company has it listed as another, either way its the same.

Baby Soft is a light worsted weight yarn, or baby weight. The fiber contents are 60% acrylic and 40% Nylon.


Trista from Crochets By Trista modeling the crocheted "Lettuce Wrap" in a wooden landscape
The “Lettuce Wrap” kept me warm during the photo shoot. It was chilly and breezy spring-like winter day in New England.
"Lettuce Wrap" displayed on a rock wall.
There is a beautiful rock wall at the state park just down the street from where I live.

Supplies:

Approximately 1100 yards of Lion Brand Baby Soft yarn, or comparable #3 weight yarn.
H – 5.00mm Crochet Hook
Scissors
Measuring Tape
Yarn Needle
Blocking Materials

Gauge:

15 Hdc x 12 Rows = 4″
Finished Dimensions – 24″ x 74″ (before blocking)
Blocking isn’t necessary, but will keep border and edges pretty.

Stitches

Ch – Chain
Dc – Double Crochet
Hdc – Half Double Crochet
Sk – Skip
Sp – Space
Tr – Treble Crochet

Availability

Available in my Ravelry Shop.

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Zoe’s Aquamarine Infinity Scarf

Birthstone Collection


Zoe’s Aquamarine Infinity Scarf is the third pattern available in the “Birthstone Collection.” The theme for 2020, where each month I have cowl, scarf, or shawl pattern in the color of that month’s birthstone.

Other patterns available in the Birthstone Collection:
Garnet Cowl – January
Amethyst Scarf – February

The Yarn

My daughter Zoe’s birthstone is aquamarine. My husband has spoiled me over the years with jewelry that include the kids’ birthstones. When looking for a yarn, I wanted to find one that matched the stone in my ring. I had the hardest time finding one that would work, since its a different color blue.

I finally found a yarn that would work, at my local Hobby Lobby. Yarn Bee’s ‘Fresh Haven’ in colorway ‘Light Blue’ turned out to be the perfect shade of blue I was looking for. The yarn itself is 100% Tencel, which is made from wood pulp.

The Pattern

Zoe helped me design the scarf. I showed her so many pictures of scarves on Pinterest and Ravelry just to figure out what style she wanted. She obviously picked the infinity.

Next came the stitch pattern. This was the hardest part. We sat down with my “Crochet Stitch Dictionary” by Sarah Hazell and just started flipping through the pages. Zoe fell in love with the shell/scallop stitches. I then got to work.

I would ask her opinion on the scarf every step of the way. I’d finish a few rows, “Zoe, come look, what do you think?”
And this went on for the whole week until I got to a point where I felt I was almost done. She agreed! Can you imagine, my daughter (my mini-me in almost every way) finally agreed with me on something.

I still can’t get over how great this pattern came out. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Supplies

– Approximately 360 Yards of Yarn Bee – Fresh Haven or similar worsted weight yarn, such as Caron Simply Soft
– I/5.50mm crochet hook
– Scissors
– Measuring tape
– Yarn needle

Trista from Crochets By Trista wearing “Zoe’s Aquamarine Infinity Scarf”

Zoe’s Aquamarine Infinity Scarf Pattern is now available to purchase on Ravelry and Etsy.

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