A Precious Miracle

A Precious Miracle

Disclaimer: This blog contains sensitive pregnancy photos. I ask everyone to be respectful and any negative comments will be deleted. It took a lot for me to be vulnerable to share these images. With my health history, I wanted to be as transparent and open as possible with this miraculous pregnancy.

 

 

Many of you already have been following my journey and know that my health history has been plagued with illness, numerous surgeries, and plenty of setbacks. I had my colon removed in 2008 because my Crohn’s disease was so progressive. Doctors, worried about the dangerous potential of colon cancer and with fast deterioration of my colon, removed it to save my life. That journey was wrought with so many setbacks and ongoing severe illness. Chemotherapy, biologic treatments, thousands of procedures, multiple ostomies, hospitalizations, and repeated surgery had severely impacted the quality of life I was living in my late teens into my 20s. Most of my dreams were put on hold just to survive.

The one dream I held onto and hoped for was to one day be a mother. Doctors could never give a definitive answer as to whether or not pregnancy could even be possible. It was always a “wait and see” possibility. Without my large intestine or parts of my small intestine, even carrying a baby to term was a huge risk. And, it has been. This miraculous pregnancy has been filled with many issues, illness related problems, and so much worry. Yet, this sweet little boy growing inside me is a fighter. Just like me.

That is why, as we came closer to my due date, I dreamed of having pregnancy photos taken to mark this extraordinary time in our lives.

My colo-rectal surgeon told me last week, despite all the complications, try to enjoy this. “Enjoy being pregnant, Nadia.” She said, “Time goes so fast, we forget these moments. Try to remember how exciting it is to feel him moving…” And it is! This is so true! I have to appreciate everything I am going through to bring him here, and I love him so much that I don’t care how much I have to endure. This is temporary and so worth it.

Next week, I stop the last of my medications needed to keep my disease in remission, so our baby has the best chance and can be his strongest at birth. That part is very unsettling because I don’t know what my body will do without those medications. I am hoping that the last dose will sustain me through the final weeks until delivery and beyond. With that in mind, I decided now was the best time to do these photos. While I felt as good as I can expect to feel, I wanted to capture the power of this moment and the profound feelings of this health and pregnancy journey. I channeled my inner “life-giving goddess” for these powerful images!

I want to thank my mom and dad for their help in bringing my vision to life through these photos, and a huge thank you to Nate for being the most amazing husband and best friend on this journey. I couldn’t have done this without him..obviously..haha!!

“Life reveals her beauty one precious miracle at a time.” ~Flavia

Enjoy the photos.

~Nadia

 

 

 





Tips to Help Manage Your Time

Tips to Help Manage Your Time

Life is busy and there is never enough time in the day for most of us. Between jobs, family, appointments, and obligations, most of us are left with less and less time in a day for enjoyment. Crochet projects get started and set aside forgotten. Oftentimes, we take on a project in hopes to complete it by a specific deadline – a wedding, birthday, or holiday. It is in this time of hustle and bustle, a little time management can go a long way! Let me show you how!

Here are some of my tips to help maximize the time you have and make the day as productive as possible.

Set your goals. Now let’s plan a way to support and reach those goals!

  • Prioritize your day/week/month: When we begin a project, most of us have more than just the project deadline ahead of us. Know what time frame you are working with and determine the other activities you need to juggle simultaneously with these projects. Getting a planner is a great way to keep yourself organized. Several apps can be useful or I use a planner like this one here. One glance at the week ahead can give me an idea of how I can plan out my projects around other things I am juggling in life. Work and work related activities, appointments, family activities, and plans with friends-it is all right there in my planner!

  • Another great tip is to invest in a white board! I have one and write my daily “to do list.” My white board is near my office where I spend most of my time. I see it nearly all day long. When I get busy, it is hard to remember everything I have to do, so seeing it RIGHT in front of me every time I walk past is a great way to keep me on task! Once I complete a task, I erase it. I LOVE seeing those “to-dos” disappear every day!

  • Always plan ahead: Know what is necessary to reach these goals and be sure to have your project supplies available. How many times have you started a project and then ran out of supplies and needed something and now you have to stop working or put your project off until you have what you need. Plan it out, write a list, and shop for supplies, double check.

  • Get rid of things that distract you. Are you drawn in by social media and realize that you just spent 45 minutes with time sunk on Facebook or Instagram? Ummm me neither haha! But for those that get distracted by social media, television, or even the birds on the feeders outside the window, remove those distractions NOW! I am NOT saying permanently, NO-keep your bird feeders filled with birds!! I am saying this; Set a timer for 20 minutes or an hour (or the allotted time you’re planning on working on your project) now, put your phone in the other room, shut off TV if it is a distraction, close the curtains-do what you need to do in order to have that one hour free and clear to work. Sometimes, I only have time to set my timer for 20 minutes and push myself just to concentrate for that 20 minutes, shut my mind off to everything else and get to work! I try to capitalize on those timed sessions! Remember to have your supplies all available before getting started.

 

  • Sometimes you have to just say NO. We all want to be the kind of person that can do it all. However, sometimes that is not possible, and there comes a time that to be the most productive in our own lives we have to say NO to things. Not everything, just the things that bog our schedules down to the point where there is no time for enjoyment. It’s ok-give yourself permission to say NO and tell yourself it is ok!

 

  • Last on our list is TAKE CARE OF YOU!! No matter how much you want to finish a project, no project is worth going bonkers stressing over it! There might not be enough time in a day. It is ok! Look at your week and plan it out in days-Tuesday/Thursday or Monday/Wednesday projects, or maybe just weekend projects. Whatever you have time for, don’t put extra pressure on yourself that you HAVE to get it done NOW even on a deadline. Pace yourself, plan ahead, and give yourself permission to relax. I promise, with some effective time management, you can accomplish your goals!

 

Now that you have some great tips, you will have much more time to do what you love!

 

This post contains affiliate links, which I may be compensated for when you make a purchase. That means if you click on any link and buy from the linked websites, I will receive a small percentage of the value of your order. The amount you pay is not changed. Thank you for all your support in clicking the links in my blog!! You all are so amazing!! ~Nadia

I Know I’m Not Alone

I Know I’m Not Alone

I am typically pretty upbeat and positive by nature. I have had to overcome a lot in the past decade, and I have spent some of that time feeling situational depression due to battling illness, surgery, dealing with body issues from having so many scars and a permanent ileostomy.  When I found out I was able to get pregnant, and subsequently carry this baby, I was over the moon! Depression wasn’t even on my radar at that time.

I Knew It Wasn’t Going To Be Easy

I am extremely high risk. I have a team of doctors and specialists across three hospitals that will be involved in bringing this baby into the world safely. Of course, I am a bit nervous, but I also have great faith and trust in this team to do everything to help bring this baby boy into the world, keeping us both healthy and happy.

Here’s where I struggle. I am supposed to be happy. I AM happy. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to feel baby move and happy to know I will hold him in just a few short months. However, what is happening to my body is bringing me so low. I am just not feeling overall happy, and I didn’t expect that.

 

A Complex Medical History

Without delving too deep into the graphic details, I’ve had 14 surgeries which have left my entire abdomen full of scars. I have numerous scars running up and down, diagonally, and across my torso. Drain scars, former ostomy scars- just scars, scars, scars! Following one surgery, I had a serious infection so my abdomen had to be re-opened, and I was put on a wound vac to help heal by secondary intention. That process left my tummy full of puckered and thick scar tissue. All this scar tissue causes adhesions. As my abdomen stretches, the scar tissue is stretching and tearing both on the surface and internally. It has been challenging to deal with. This, along with changes in my ostomy with my intestine prolapsing outside my body, has left me feeling depressed over all these reminders that my body isn’t quite the same as others.

Pre-Partum Depression

This pre-partum situational depression has hit me hard. I am struggling with my body and disease and with my hormones running amok. I have found myself in tears quite a bit lately. I am not writing to complain, NO, but to confront what is happening to me and to share this with others who may struggle with these same feelings during pregnancy or at any time. I know that this is supposed to be the most blessed and happy time of my life, so why am I feeling so blue? I don’t have the answer.

Crochet IS Therapy

During this time, my comfort and refuge is found in my craft. I am so grateful for a loving and supportive husband and the support of a fantastic family, but when I am alone, I find solace in the stitches and the repetitive nature of crochet to help distract and focus my mind on something other than these feelings and the pain from my scars.

Lately, I have been working on so many crochet projects for not only my little guy, but also for my sister-in-law who had a baby girl in January. My niece is the perfect model! These projects, alongside my work here at YARNutopia, has given me a deepened purpose, and these goals have helped me focus on more than the issues I am dealing with.

 

Self-Care

I know I’m not alone. I know that this is only temporary. I know this is a very small price to pay for bringing my baby into the world. I know I have support and love of an amazing husband, family, and community. I know all these things. I also know it is ok to feel. It is ok to be sad. It is ok to hurt. It is ok to ask for help. It is ok.

After spending a little time yesterday on self-care – I bought myself some springtime flowers to brighten my home, I did some retail therapy and bought myself a few feel-good things, I had my nails done, I took a long walk in the sunshine, a short drive and played my favorite music, and I talked for hours with my mom-I am happy to say that I feel a little better. Today has started off on a good foot and writing this has helped. Also, it has helped to be working on some crochet projects, and I went to brunch with Nate. Each day may present a challenge, but I am thankful be able to face each one in strength and resolve and overcome those challenges!

Share with us:

Please share your stories of pre-partum or post-partum depression or your struggles with feeling out of control. Share your stories of how crochet has brought you comfort during a time of need.

Thank you for letting me share.

Be love, Be light.

~Nadia

Dance the Night Away

Dance the Night Away

One year ago, and the memories are fresh as if it were yesterday!! I think we can agree that Nate and my dad are pretty good on the dance floor.

See our First Dance here:

See our Father-Daughter Dance here:

(And how cool is the surprise dholi we had enter during the father-daughter dance?! Watch the video to see my surprise reaction. On a scale from 1-10 that was a solid 10 epic surprise)

It’s a…. Gender Reveal!!!

It’s a…. Gender Reveal!!!

It didn’t matter – girl or boy – we would still be filled with the same joy!! We are over the moon excited to announce that we are having a….

 

Thank you for sharing in the joy of this experience. We are so happy!!

My mom found the onsie on Etsy, you can see it here.

The tutorial for the baby booties is coming soon!!

~Nate and Nadia

The Cat’s Out of the (YARN) Bag!

The Cat’s Out of the (YARN) Bag!

It’s no secret that my battle with my health has been mostly an uphill one. Numerous surgeries have taken their toll on my body for the past ten years as I continue my fight. My Crohn’s disease has to be considered in every facet of my existence. My life, daily decisions, activity, diet, my body, and my future are ruled by this illness and how it will affect my daily living. After ten years, it is “Normal for Nadia” to be at the mercy of this condition. It just is that way. Like a habit, living with severe Crohn’s disease becomes part of my routine.

Doctor appointments, daily meds, regular testing, procedures, and so many details have worked their way into the fiber of my ordinary existence. Even getting married in March was overshadowed by the very real possibility that I may end up sick or in the hospital on our wedding day. It’s just the reality of living with chronic illness. Fortunately, adrenaline was my friend on March 17, 2018 and it helped carry my aching body through the day without incident! Our wedding was the most glorious day ever. Sure, I paid for it afterwards, but I would do all of that 1,000 times over just to relive that beautiful day!

Hardcore family planning

Nate and I always knew we wanted a family, we also knew that it would not be an easy path to having one. Several months after getting married, we sought help from my doctors to find out if I can safely support a pregnancy since I have such a challenging health history. I underwent a series of tests, some incredibly invasive (dignity be damned). A team of specialists were assembled to oversee my care if we were able to get pregnant. According to all these insane tests, there was no reason, despite my health battle, that I couldn’t get pregnant. We were so relieved! We were aware it would be very risky; the warnings from the medical staff came across loud and clear, but we have confidence in the high-risk team overseeing my care. They were very realistic but also reassuring. I was facing my 28th birthday, and although we weren’t aggressively trying, we weren’t being careful either. So, in early November–two days after my birthday–with symptoms that screamed that I might be pregnant, I went to the store and bought a half dozen pregnancy tests.

My internal dialogue was: “I just spent a small fortune on something I  am going to pee on. Who cares!??? I need answers!”

It all comes down to a (+) sign

It was a Friday afternoon, November 9th. My friend Sarah was coming to town for a visit, and I was planning on picking her up at the bus station in a few minutes. I only had a small window to privately check out my pregnancy suspicions. So like millions of women before me, I peed on the stick and nervously waited through the minutes that could change everything. I was pacing, nervous and fidgety. How do you distract yourself for those moments without constantly checking if you have your answer? If “a watched pot never boils,” does frantically fanning a pee stick prolong the results?! Because that 5 minutes felt like a flippin’ lifetime!

The test read (+) and I freaked out! I  called my mom on Skype immediately, and I was hyperventilating and crying and couldn’t get out what I needed to say. I completely freaked her out because she thought something tragic had happened. I couldn’t speak, and my dramatic reaction had her thinking the worst. I was able to show her the pregnancy test and get her expert opinion on what it was saying. (Like I didn’t already know, right?!) Were these tests saying what I thought they were saying?  Of course they were, but I needed Dr. Mom!!! She talked me through it and asked me what Nate said about it…

Oh. My. Gosh. Nate!!! I had yet to tell Nate! How did I not think of that?

She suggested that maybe I should have called him first! Oh my goodness, absolutely! I was a bit of a frantic mess. Where’s my coat?! I’m wearing it. Where are my keys?! In my hand! I had only a few minutes because Sarah’s bus was about to arrive!  I jumped in the car and decided to stop at his work! Woops! Was that a stop sign? Just kidding! I am grateful I didn’t receive a citation on the way to tell my husband!

We are having a baby… What do we do now?

Nate came out to the car and I had the test stick in a Ziploc bag. I told him I have to tell him something and without asking, he just said, “You’re pregnant.” I cried, I laughed, and I shoved the pee stick in the Ziploc at him and told him to look at it. We were so happy! He said he had a strong feeling. He knew. What emotions! So high, but then reality started to sink in like “What are we going to do now”? Even though we didn’t know what direction to take at that exact moment, we would figure it out together. We called my mom again from the car in the parking lot at Nate’s work. After talking to her, we knew I had to see my doctors first. We had to keep this quiet for a while. By all calculations, I was only about six to seven weeks along. Things were so precarious with my health and we wanted to make sure the pregnancy was viable and baby was healthy. We also needed to be sure I was fully healthy enough to actually support a pregnancy. On a scale from one to ten our emotions were off the chart. What ARE we going to do now?! GAHHH! WE ARE HAVING A BABYYYY!!

Game Face and A No Colon Surprise Party

Nate went back to work, and I had to pick up Sarah. How was I going to keep a straight face? How do I keep this from my best friend? Although I was busting to tell her to the point I was getting twitchy, I knew I couldn’t. I am the WORST at keeping a secret, God knows, and it was stressful to not blurt it out! I put on my best game face and decided to get it out of my mind (yeah, right!) and enjoy the weekend. Little did I know that the reason Sarah was really coming to visit was because my mom, Nate, Sarah and Nida were planning a surprise party to celebrate my birthday tied into a No Colon, Still Rollin’ – 10 years later party! WHAT IS HAPPENING!??? Saturday afternoon my entire family and all my friends surprised me and I couldn’t say a word to any of them! I ate three poop emoji cupcakes just from the stress of it all. Only Nate and my parents knew, and I couldn’t talk to them with everyone around! Again, ALL THE EMOTIONS!!!

Thank goodness for poop emoji cupcakes. That’s all I’m sayin’.

Well, it’s true! We’re pregnant.

I scheduled my first appointment and we had our first ultrasound. I knew going into this that it wouldn’t be easy. Nausea, heartburn, extreme fatigue, restless legs, extremely sensitive boobs that have grown 10 times their size, body pains off the charts, visits to the ER to check scary symptoms caused by adhesions from past surgical scar tissue, phantom sharp pains in my non-existent anus, my ostomy is shifting to the side as my tummy begins to grow, the scars on my tummy are being stretched, back pain, sciatic pain, vivid dreams and nightmares, itchiness, sleeplessness, aversion to certain foods, no appetite to ravishing hunger, even more profound vitamin deficiency (particularly folic acid and magnesium), chronic asthma symptoms to the point I need my rescue inhaler constantly and now a nebulizer, and more issues are plaguing me night and day, and I’m only past my first trimester!

But, it’s all worth it.

Especially at that very moment when we saw our baby on the ultrasound.

Suddenly, it all became real. We heard the heartbeat and we laughed and cried.

We called it our “little bean.”

We instantly fell in love.

Our baby is due in June 2019, and our hearts are so full.

What now, doc?

We had our first minor complication. There was a subchorionic hemorrhage (a blood clot) that was found on the ultrasound. The doctor said it happens in implantation, and unless I had excessive bleeding (I was only having some bleeding), not to worry too much about it, and it would be monitored.  I also had to cease a bunch of my medications. In stopping the meds, I risk some complications, but I have been managing things pretty well. One medication I can’t stop is my biologic injection. I am so worried about taking it, but I can’t risk getting sick to the point it would put me and baby in danger. My team has warned me over and over not to stop it.

I have to be truthful, I was contemplating stopping my biologic injection. The grave warnings from all my doctors have me reconsidering as I face having to take it this week. There is no evident risk to baby, but to me, if I stop, it would be very grave. I could become too ill and not be well enough to sustain the pregnancy, putting both of us at risk. Every doctor concurs. I do have to stop taking it at thirty weeks into the pregnancy to best insure that baby comes into this world the strongest and healthiest it can be. I am concerned without the protection of any medication to control my disease, my body won’t cooperate. I am hopeful. I am optimistic. I am scared. I won’t lie, I know what I am facing, and I know it will be worth it, but I also know this isn’t going to be an easy journey. Nothing this wonderful ever is. I have learned this lesson over and over in my life; I am familiar with how this goes. I am familiar with the bargaining process.

Now we are three!

We are now in the planning stage. I am almost 14 weeks pregnant, and have been following all the doctors’ instruction and am closely monitored. I am also chronicling my pregnancy on The Bump Phone App! According to the app, today our baby is about the size of a lemon! I have regular doctor appointments both with my standard team as well as a high-risk OB-GYN in Rochester, Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic. I couldn’t ask for a better crew of docs overseeing our care! They are so thorough. My last appointment with the specialist was two hours! We are in great hands, and we’re hopeful that things will continue to go well. I just pray that I stay healthy and strong for our little sweet pea. My heart is so full and all I want is to provide the best for this tiny baby despite my challenges.

Merry Christmas to Us!

We told Nyle, Nabeel, Samantha and Des over Thanksgiving. We also went to visit Nate’s dad and gave him a special “Grandpa” shirt.

We also told Nate’s brothers that weekend, too.  Other than immediate family and a couple close friends, we decided to wait and reveal our news to everyone else over Christmas! Our family and friends are elated, and some told me they “just had that feeling!”

Today, I wanted to share this with our YARNutopians now that our extended families and close friends received the news. Now, my crochet project list grows! Baby stuff galore! I already have some baby projects on our agenda! What an exciting year of crochet we have ahead of us! I hope to continue with our filming and projects as long as I can and will continue after baby’s arrival! We all have so much to look forward to in the New Year. Not only are we expecting a new addition, but my brother and his wife are also expecting a new baby in January! So many reasons to crochet! Haha! I am excited and filled with joy to share our news with all of you. Cheers to 2019! Thanks for being with us on this crazy and wonderful journey!

“You are so loved, little one.”

~Your Mommy and Daddy

~Nadia and Nate

Memory Lane 2018

Memory Lane 2018

Each year, at this time I find myself becoming very reflective. I look back and see how far I have come in the past 12 months. This particular year has been a year of big changes and growth not only here on YARNutopia, but in my personal life as well. The following blogs are my top memories of 2018.

#8:

One of the highlights of the past year was day-trippin’ through three states just for yarn. We are all crazy like that…amiright? Follow this link below to read about this fun adventure I had with my mom!
https://yarnutopia.com/2018/07/17/nadia-goes-on-a-yarn-hop/

#7:

Well it is no secret that 2018 was a BIG year for me! As we work our way through these memories, one of the best parts was getting to share my wedding day with my squad! My girls lived all over the globe, and it was such a special event for us to all get together for my wedding. Sarah came from Comoros, Africa, Nida arrived from Texas (and now is studying medicine in the Caribbean!!), and Samantha lives on the complete opposite side of the state from me. My wedding was one day where all my beauties could be with me and share in my joy. To commemorate this occasion, I made each of my bridesmaids these beautiful shawls! This memory is such a special one that holds such a dear place in my heart. Click the link below to read all about it and to discover the pattern for a great shawl!
https://yarnutopia.com/2018/05/30/gifts-for-my-bridesmaids/

 

#6:

2018 we launched our first mailing list! I did my first email blast and sent out a fun newsletter! So much to share in the new year so be sure to follow the link below so you too can be part of my email inner circle!
https://yarnutopia.com/newsletter/

 

#5:

Oh boy! One of the most hilarious and wild weekends I had this past year was a trip to Chicago for Stitches Midwest! That was one weekend I will never forget! Have you attended one of these events? If not you will have to check it out! Go to the blog below and be sure to read all about our weekend adventure with The Marly Bird, Erin Lane, Leon Alexander and so many others! I still smile when I think of all the fun!
https://yarnutopia.com/2018/08/29/stitches-midwest-my-first-time/

#4:

Drop everything and hear this! 2018 was EPIC in more ways than I can count! You know why?? Because this year marked my 10th year without a colon. You know the old saying No Colon, Still Rollin’ – yeah, I know that one isn’t popular among the masses, but that one is practically my life motto! LOL That is because I am living it! 10 years of an insane roller coaster ride with illness that has pretty much commandeered my life. It hasn’t always been pretty, but I have survived, for 10 years, and I thank God every day. I’m not cryin’ nope, not me 😢 It really is a miracle. There’s not much more to say than that. Go read about it…
https://yarnutopia.com/2018/10/30/ten-years-later/

#3:

Ok, well, we all know that my list of fave memories of the past year can’t pass us by without paying a bit of homage to Halloween! Each year, I try to outdo my past costume ensembles, and this year was definitely a challenge. So much thought, planning and preparations go into making these costumes that Nate and I wear each year. Nate was born to wear that Oompa Loompa Costume! We always have so much fun and enjoy bringing this to our YARNutopians each and every year! We already are thinking ahead to 2019. I wonder what’s in store for us next year?! Go check out more great pictures of our costumes here:
https://yarnutopia.com/2018/10/11/happy-halloween-2018/

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Characters

 

#2:

Queue the ooooooohhs and ahhhhhhs! Seriously one of the best memories of 2018 was adding these two furballs to our family! We rescued Fern and Jade in April 2018, and for the past 8 months they have brought so much joy and happiness to our home and our lives. I know you will all be seeing them much more in the year ahead. They love the camera! Read about how we rescued these two kitties and how excited we are to have them!
https://yarnutopia.com/2018/04/08/meet-jade-and-fern/

#1:

Ok, so our countdown to the best memory in 2018 goes without saying…It was our wedding. I crocheted so many details for our big day and here I share all the highlights along with some special photos of our wonderful event. Thank you all for being part of not only this special day, but the journey of this past year. I love that you are a part of all these memories! ♥ ♥
https://yarnutopia.com/2018/05/15/its-all-in-the-details-crochet-wedding-flowers/

 

Thank you for sharing this journey with me and letting me stroll down memory lane. The holidays always bring out the nostalgia in me as I look back at all that lead me to this moment and look to what is ahead. Stay tuned for many more exciting events in the new year!! Thank you for joining me on this memorable, yarn-filled journey!

Share in the comments some of your memories of the past year and what is in store for you in the year ahead!

~Nadia

 

 

12 Days of Christmas 2018

12 Days of Christmas 2018

Here are all the 12 Days of Christmas projects compiled in a one stop blog post! You can click the image or the link above it to view the video tutorial and written pattern for each project. Enjoy and happy holidays!! ~Nadia

  1. Polar Bear Cup Cozy

2. Christmas Tree Canvas Art

3. Santa Bottle Topper

4. Mistletoe Sprig

5. Christmas Tree Greeting Card

6. Festive Teapot Cozy

7. Paw Print Ornament

8. Peppermint Candy Garland

9. Poinsettia with Pearls

10. Rose Flower Headband

11. Mitten Gift Card Holder

12. Festive Holiday Wreath

Ten Years Later…

Ten Years Later…

When I was diagnosed, it wasn’t clear right away whether I had ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. My disease was so progressive, and I was so sick, that each treatment was like grabbing straws in the hopes that something worked. I prayed to avoid surgery, I prayed to survive.

On the cusp of colon cancer and failing treatment, there was no way to avoid the inevitable. Surgery was the only choice. Well, surgery or quite possibly death. But I was 17 years old and the idea of losing my colon was terrifying. I remember the team of doctors-specialists, surgeons, students, all filing into my hospital room to deliver the news.

I remember my surgeon drawing a picture with a black pen on white paper. “We will cut here, remove this, and make an opening there, create an ostomy out of that…” each scribble demonstrating what he planned to do to me. It was all so abstract and unreal. It was like I was that paper person and it was as simple as drawing a cut across my tummy and pulling my intestine through my abdomen. JUST. LIKE. THAT. But I am flesh and blood and not a series of sketches on paper.

All I knew is that my life would forever be changed. Illness changes everything, losing my colon was collateral damage that this disease was leaving in its path. It was killing me from the inside, and if my colon wasn’t removed, then there was not much hope for a future. I prayed to just survive.

Go ahead then, take it out.

Surgery was scheduled, my Living Will intentions were made, I signed the papers and cried when they wheeled me away from my parents, holding my mom’s hand until I couldn’t anymore. Until I had to let go… It’s so hard to describe that fear of the unknown. I was sick. Not just sick but deathly ill. If this was my chance at survival, would I really survive? I prayed to live through surgery. I prayed to survive.

I survived the surgery, but I was left with a body that was so unrecognizable to me. Cuts across my abdomen, part of my intestine on the outside, an abnormal anatomy that was hard to comprehend when I was just a teenager. Actually, no matter how old you are, this is something so incomprehensible. Who goes to the bathroom in a bag? Who lives this way? How do I live my life going forward? I am just a kid. Why me? The litany of unending questions each one more palpable than the last. I prayed to survive. Now how do I do that?

That was 10 years and more than a dozen surgeries ago. That was 10 years and more than 100 hospital stays ago. That was 10 years and 1,000 procedures ago. That was 10 years and a lifetime ago. I will never forget that scared young girl. Now, 10 years later, although I am still in a battle with this disease that has finally been diagnosed as Crohn’s disease, I am stronger and I am a survivor. Today, I live with a permanent ileostomy and a permanent positive attitude. I survived. 10 years. I survived.


This is the surgeon who performed my first surgery

 

YARNutopia’s 50K Facebook GIVEAWAY!!! (Closed–we have a winner!)

YARNutopia’s 50K Facebook GIVEAWAY!!! (Closed–we have a winner!)

Congratulations to Candy Lynn for winning the prize!!
The top voted costume was letter “A” the Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter Costumes!!
Thank you to everyone for participating and sharing your thoughts on the costumes so far!! We can’t wait until next Halloween!!!

We are close to 50,000 “Likes” on Facebook so we decided to have a GIVEAWAY for all our YARNutopians!! I want to share my appreciation for hitting 50K followers by doing a fun little Facebook GIVEAWAY!!

I am offering a magical Halloween Themed Box of yarn that retails $200+ USD!!!

Goodies include:
5 Balls of Red Heart Yarns Soft Essentials
2 Balls of Red Heart Yarns Super Saver Stripes
2 Balls of Red Heart Yarns Soft
2 Balls of Red Heart Yarns Super Saver
1 Ball of Red Heart Yarns With Love

Follow the directions below to enter! All tasks must be complete for you to be entered into this giveaway. You MUST have a US Address to participate in this giveaway! If a winner is chosen and they do not have a US shipping address, a new winner will be chosen.

To enter this giveaway you must do the following:

1. Make sure you are following YARNutopia on Facebook, if you are not, give the page a “Like”
2. Choose your favorite costume from years past in the photo below, then go to YARNutopia’s Facebook Page, Leave a comment on the pinned post about this GIVEAWAY with the letter of your favorite costume! (A, B, C, or D)–Your comment MUST be on the Facebook post. Any comments on this blog post will not be entered to win the yarn.
3. For an extra entry, share the post on YARNutopia’s Facebook Page about this GIVEAWAY with all your friends. (Be sure your share is public so I can add you in for an extra entry)

How to win???

The participants who vote on the costume with the MOST votes will all be entered in a RANDOM drawing to win the giant bundle of yarn in the photo above!! 

This giveaway will run starting TODAY, RIGHT NOW, October 12th, 2018 and end on October 14th at 11:59pm CST. The winner will be randomly selected on October 15th. I will announce the winner here and on Facebook and I will try to contact you personally.

This giveaway is in no way affiliated with Facebook.

A. Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter

B. Belle and the Beast

 

C. Link and Zelda

 

D. Willy Wonka and the Oompa Loompa

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Characters

Stitches Midwest: My First Time

Stitches Midwest: My First Time

When I first heard of Stitches Midwest I had no idea what it was and although it interested me, I initially didn’t pay much attention to it and it wasn’t on my radar to attend. Little by little, more information popped up on my News Feed and each bit of information provided me with a more comprehensive idea of what Stitches would be. The more I knew, the more I was intrigued. Soon, I could not get enough of what this show was going to be about. I became more excited the more I learned about it. My mind was made up! I was going to be there this year!

Let’s do it!

It didn’t take much to convince my mom to go along because the two of us are always tag teaming these events, but soon after talking about it with Nate, he said he could maybe take a vacation day on Friday and go with us. My dad was on board too! We decided to make an entire weekend out of it and since it was in Chicago, there was so much we could do!

We left Wisconsin and headed down to Illinois on Friday morning. We had reserved a room right near the convention center so we were only a hop, skip, and a jump away from the event. It was about a 5 hour drive but we broke it up with a little sight-seeing and a stop for lunch. Before we knew it, we were pulling into our hotel and things were about to get real!

We walked into the lobby and the first thing we saw were groups of ladies knitting and crocheting! Just witnessing those sharing the craft had my excitement building! We checked in and first thing we did was to head over to the convention center to make sure we had our reservations for the events in place.

What happens here, stays here!

As soon as we walked into the convention center at the Renaissance Convention Center and Hotel the atmosphere was electric with the excitement from all the fiber loving community! I could not wait to attend all of it! First thing’s first, we got our reservations confirmed. Friday night was the Pajama Party, Saturday: the Trade Show, Saturday afternoon: a Crochet Class with The Marly Bird! We were all set!

We decided to spend the few hours before the Pajama Party grabbing some dinner and doing some shopping. Well, being in Chicago it is NO SECRET that my favorite place to be is on Devon Avenue! Sabri Nihari, HERE we come!! Sabri Nihari is my FAVORITE restaurant for authentic Pakistani Cuisine. After a fabulous dinner of Chicken Makhani and garlic naan, topped off with a mango lassi, we were ready to head back to the convention center to attend my very first Stitches Midwest Pajama Party!

If you have NEVER attended one of these events, you are missing out! I never knew what I was missing until I went and saw for myself! I have to say there is NOTHING like a Pajama Party hosted by a yarn loving community. Before I go further I have to say that I HIGHLY recommend you going to one of these events near you! Be sure to take along your project bag and an adventurous spirit! There is a rule: What goes on at the pajama party, STAYS at the pajama party! This means you will have to attend one in the future to see all the fun of what goes on at one of these crazy parties! And by crazy, I mean, “you will never forget how much fun it is” crazy! It was a BLAST!! Nate and I went and of course we dressed in matching pj’s because..well we are that couple!

I’m such a fan-girl!

One of the highlights of the weekend was meeting Marly Bird! I was so excited to finally connect with her in person and meet face to face! She is as warm and bubbly off screen as she is on screen! She couldn’t be more welcoming and friendly and it felt like I have known her for longer than the few minutes it took for our initial real-life introduction! I had a fan-girl moment, too! I mean come on, it is The Marly Bird!!! Squeee!!!!

Holy Yarn Balls, Batman!

On Saturday, we planned to head over to the convention early on in the day with a late plan to meet Marly for lunch. So off we went to the trade show and OH MY GOSH! I was overwhelmed by the enormity of this event! It literally took my breath away! I walked into the convention hall and had to take a few deep breaths. It was YARN HEAVEN!!! As far as the eye could see, it was everything yarn! *Insert a wide-eyed Nadia with drool coming down her chin* For real though, it was unimaginable for lil’ ol’ me who comes from a small town where the most yarn in one place is at the local JoAnn’s or local yarn shop. It was crazyyyy!

As I started to make my way down the aisles, there were certain booths I wanted to make sure I made a stop at. However, it was easy to get pulled into all the beautiful booths that were bursting with color and fiber! Demonstrations were taking place that were alluring as well! Spinning, weaving, and other crafts were being shown all day! I was taken by all of it! Along the way, I found so many treasures! I bought an Erin Lane Bag and found some amazing Leon Alexander Yarn! Nate gifted me a pair of socks with sheep all over them too!

Always an education!

Around noon, we met Marly for lunch and enjoyed a little down time while we got to know one another. I was excited to share our love for the craft and a few laughs about the party the night before. It was a nice way to decompress from the overwhelming feeling of being in overdrive from the proverbial YARN-utopia I just came from inside the convention center! Shortly following lunch, she was instructing a class that I attended: Crocheting with Beads. I rarely crochet with beads, but her class made it easy to follow and I am sure I will be using this technique in future projects. I left with such a positive feeling of friendship and look forward to more events together!

 

 

Special Thanks!

Once the class was finished, we did a quick once over at the show to make sure there wasn’t anything I missed, and from there we headed home. It was a fun-filled jam packed couple of days, and by the end I was exhausted. Nate and I curled up in the back seat of the car and fell asleep for the ride home, me dreaming of all the beautiful things I was going to make with my new yarn and Nate dreaming of ways to find room in the house to keep it all! Haha! Just kidding, he was probably dreaming of getting home to have a beer because he spent two days immersed in all things yarn, attended a pajama party in matching pajamas and all the while his wife dragged him around 500,000 square feet of fiber arts! That’s what true love is, folks!

Anyway, it was a great weekend all the way around, and one I will not soon forget. Until next year! A special thanks to Stitches Midwest for hosting such a phenomenal event and to Marly Bird and Lindsey from Erin Lane Bags for being such entertaining emcees for the Friday event.

Thank you to Red Heart Yarns for providing the prize yarn that was part of the Pajama Party giveaway, as well as Stunning String Studio for the wonderful set of hooks, and Crafty Flutterby Creations for the beautiful shawl clasp. These few items will be a part of a future giveaway here on YARNutopia!


To all the fabulous vendors who made my very first Stitches event so memorable, thank you so much. I will never forget all the fun I had. Thanks for the memories!

~Nadia

 



 


This post contains affiliate links, which I may be compensated for when you make a purchase. That means if you click on any link and buy from the linked websites, I will receive a small percentage of the value of your order. The amount you pay is not changed. Thank you for all your support in clicking the links in my blog!! You all are so amazing!! ~Nadia

 

My dad will continue to be the videographer, editor, and photographer for our videos when I move away.
Support YARNutopia today so we can continue to bring you clear, quality crochet tutorials even after I move into my new home!
There will be an added expense of more travel and hopefully this won’t deter our ability to provide consistent videos on a weekly basis.

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Help Make Turtles for Mental Health Awareness

Help Make Turtles for Mental Health Awareness

Recently, one of our followers reached out asking for some assistance for an important cause. She is a mental health advocate and public speaker. She asked me for help to make small crocheted turtles.

MHATs or Mental Health Awareness Turtles, will be distributed to patients who are dealing with traumatic experiences that led to their ongoing struggles with mental health. This individual is working to help others who, like herself, have endured horrific experiences and SURVIVED.

In the aftermath, they are now left with lifelong battles. We can HELP! These little turtles have provided big benefits to patients dealing with these traumas. The goal of the MHATs is to provide comfort and start conversations. A reminder for people to come out of their “shells” and discuss mental health openly without fear of stigma.

Patients who are living with ACE or Adverse Childhood Experiences, Agoraphobia, cPTSD or complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Severe Dissociative Disorders and many others both inpatient and out-patient will benefit from this project. She needs to meet her goal of 100 turtles by October 1st,2018. All the turtles we make and send to her will be 100% donated to this cause and help patients. If anyone would like to help, please read and follow the pattern below.

 

THIS IS NOT MY PATTERN AND THERE IS NO VIDEO TUTORIAL. I have provided photos of my own turtle which I made using this pattern to show you the end result. You can find the address to ship your turtles to at the bottom of this page.

I have made it big and bold so you cannot miss it! DON’T forget the deadline is OCTOBER 1st, 2018. She will be speaking at an event on OCTOBER 11th, 2018 and will need to have the turtles well in advance. MHATs Pattern is property of Erika Reva Memering.

 

Address to send your turtles to:

Erika Reva Memering
MHATs Project
2956 Allen Street
Lake Station, IN 46405

 

 

Pattern:

Body and Head: You can use any colors you want. Scraps of yarn even work, since this doesn’t take too much yarn to make this project.
Color I used photographed above: Red Heart Super Saver Freshmint

Shell: You can use any color you want. Scraps of yarn even work, since this doesn’t take too much yarn to make this project.
Color I used photographed above: Red Heart Super Saver Stripes Polo Stripe

Materials You will need:
Yarn (Any colors you want)
Crochet Hook Size G-4.25mm or H-5.00mm
Stuffing
Scissors
Yarn Needle
Stitch Markers

Special stitches:
Ch(s): chain(s)
YO: Yarn Over
St(s): Stitch(es)
Sl st: slip stitch
SK: Skip
SC: Single Crochet
HDC: Half Double Crochet
DC: Double Crochet
BLO: Back Loop Only
RS: Right Side
WS: Wrong Side

Body:
Using Your Main Color, work in BLO and in continuous rounds.
Put Stitch Marker at the beginning of each round to mark your rounds if needed.

Ch 2
Rnd 1: 7SC in 2nd CH from hook. (7)
Rnd 2: 2 SC in each st around. (14)
Rnd 3: [2 SC in next st, SC in next st] 7 times. (21)
Rnd 4: [2 SC in next st, SC in next 2 sts] 7 times. (28)
Rnd 5: *Ch 7, Sl st in 2nd ch from hook, SC in next 3 Chs, HDC in next ch, DC in next ch, Sl st into next st on body and next 6 sts, repeat from * around. (4 legs made)
Fasten off weave in ends.

Head:
Using Your Main Color, work in BLO and in continuous rounds.
Put Stitch Marker at the beginning of each round to mark your rounds if needed.
Ch 2
Rnd 1: 5 SC in 2nd Ch from hook. (5)
Rnd 2: 2 SC in each st around. (10)
Rnd 3: [2 SC in next st, SC in next st] 5 times. (15)
Rnds 4-5: SC in each st around. (15)
Embroider eyes on turtle (optional)
Rnd 6: [SC2TOG, SC in next st] 5 times. (10)
Stuff the head
Rnd 7: [SC2TOG] 5 times. (5)
Stuff head a little more if needed.
Fasten off with long tail for sewing.
Sew to body between 2 legs.

Shell:
Using Your Accent Color, work in BLO and in continuous rounds.
Put Stitch Marker at the beginning of each round to mark your rounds if needed.
Ch 2
Rnd 1: 7 SC in 2nd CH from hook. (7)
Rnd 2: 2 SC in each st around. (14)
Rnd 3: [2 SC in next st, SC in next st] 7 times. (21)
Rnd 4: [2 SC in next st, SC in next 2 sts] 7 times. (28)
Rnds 5-7: SC in each st around. (28)
Fasten off with long tail for sewing.

Be sure to have the Right Side facing out and sew shell to the body. Once you have it 3/4 of the way sewn closed, be sure to stuff the shell, but do not stuff too firmly.

Weave in all ends.
Enjoy!

Please send your finished turtles to:

Erika Reva Memering
MHATs Project
2956 Allen Street
Lake Station, IN 46405

 

 

This post contains affiliate links, which I may be compensated for when you make a purchase. That means if you click on any link and buy from the linked websites, I will receive a small percentage of the value of your order. The amount you pay is not changed. Thank you for all your support in clicking the links in my blog!! You all are so amazing!! ~Nadia

Nadia Goes on a Yarn Hop

Nadia Goes on a Yarn Hop

With my move to a new city, much of my free time is spent exploring my new home. Nate has lived here for almost 10 years and as familiar as he is with this area, there are a lot of places in our city that I have discovered that he wasn’t aware even existed! One of the first places I wanted to scout out was the area yarn shops. Because it would be a travesty if my husband didn’t know where the yarn is!

You may recall in previous blogs how much I enjoy the quaintness and feel of a local yarn store. I love to support small businesses, and I will do my best to try to frequent them as often as I can. Fortunately for me, my city has a few in and around the area! Insert a visual of wide-eyed Nadia looking like a kid in a candy store each time she enters one of these shops running around squeezing all the yarn balls!

Last week, I popped into one of the local shops, Unwound Artisan Yarn Shop here in La Crosse, WI and found out they were having a Yarn Loop! Squeeee! How did they know I needed that in my life right now? What it entailed was a 200 mile route through three states, hopping from yarn shop to yarn shop along the route. Six shops in total were part of this event! You have no idea that I could hardly sleep the night before!! I was THAT excited.

The first thing I did when I found out there was a Yarn Loop was call my mom. Who better to join me on this adventure than my crafty partner in crime?? I was hoping she would be able to come the night before to have a pre-yarn-hop slumber party where we would stay up all night and plot out our plan and get an early start, but she was so busy she couldn’t make it until early that morning. She had over a two hour drive to get to my house, and of course I insisted we be ready to go by 8am. Even though the shops didn’t open til 9!

She was at my house by 8am the morning of the yarn hop and by 9 we were walking into the first shop! Our first stop was Unwound located right in Downtown La Crosse. I love their shop and how welcoming the staff is! The minute you walk in is a burst of warmth and color. Here we were given our “passport” to have stamped at each of the shops participating. Each shop was giving away some door prize swag, there were great deals and sales on yarn, and some had additional prizes and giveaways. Unwound had a nifty needle measure as their giveaway. I also scored some great purchases. I bought some wonderful yarn by Abacus Dyeworks. Along with fabulous fibers, I found some patches to add to my yarn bag. All in all it was a great start, despite the fact that as soon as we stepped out of the shop it was a torrential downpour! Meh, no rainstorm would dampen my spirit when 5 more shops await!

Follow Unwound Artisan Yarn Shop on Facebook!!

Check out their Instagram here!!

Next was Fitting Knit Shop, another store in downtown La Crosse. We arrived and had our passport stamped first thing. They were giving away free knitting patterns and I grabbed a couple skeins of Bamtastic Bamboo Yarn. I plan on trying my hand at knitting to see how I do. One really special point about this stop was the history of this little yarn store! It was established in 1946! They are still in business today. What a remarkable claim to be able to make! In the days of internet, it is pretty cool to see a business like this survive through so many decades.

Follow Fitting Knit Shop on Facebook!

We were quickly on our way to Viroqua, WI to Ewetopia Fiber Shop. I love this shop! With wall to wall fiber and lots of fun products that go beyond the yarn, I felt my excitement rising! What made Ewetopia stand out was the fact that they farm their own woolly animals that provide them their own AMAZING yarn! You all know me, I had to try THAT yarn! I purchased their own yarn which was 100% Blue Faced Leicester Wool. How incredible to have a sustainable farm to provide your own wool and fibers to their customers as well as stocking additional fabulous fibers! The staff at the shop was so endearing and wonderful. I had my passport stamped and I met some friends along the way! They gave out stitch markers for free, and of course I had to purchase some of the other fun items they had in their shop! I can’t wait to go back!

Follow Ewetopia Fiber Shop on Facebook

My mom and I were now off to Decorah, Iowa to our fourth stop of the day. By this time it was closing in on lunch, but we decided to wait until we arrived in Decorah, made our stop at the yarn shop Blue Heron Knittery, before stopping for lunch. Oh. My. Gosh! What a wonderful city Decorah is! This was my very first time visiting and right away we noticed the strong Scandinavian heritage of the area! It was wonderful. What was even more delightful is the yarn store had a wonderful selection of yarns that were specific to Norway and Denmark. We marked our passports to make note that we found our way to the fourth place on our route. I picked up some Kauni 100% wool and some Rauma Finullgarn. The shop had some fun swag giveaways and I walked away with a cute notepad with sticky notes and a pen.  A cute stash bag also caught my eye and I had to have it!

Follow Blue Heron Knittery on Facebook

By now we were starving and the Blue Heron Knittery shop staff recommended us to Ede’s Angry Pickle! Yes you read that right! It is a little sandwich shop right across the street a bit from the yarn shop. You can follow them on Facebook here! What a delightful diner! We had artisan sandwiches with fresh lemonade and it hit the spot! We even left a little bit of art behind to commemorate the day! My mom drew Pickle Art for the wall inside the diner which was filled with the art of past patrons.


By 3pm, we were on our last leg of the trip headed towards Minnesota. A little tired from all the day’s activity, we were determined to finish the yarn hop. The next stop was Just Stitch It Meisch Upholstery in Caledonia, Minnesota. As soon as we walked in the door, we were greeted by wonderful staff in a small shop inside what looks like a home. It was a combined fabric and fiber shop that was very cozy! They handed us wonderful pouches of swag as a sweet giveaway and had us register for a special giveaway of a bag, magazine and ball of yarn. A few days after the Yarn Loop was over, I received a phone call from this shop that I won their giveaway! They had some wonderful yarn selections and I was able to purchase their pattern selection they had featured which used Schoppel yarns. We wrapped up our visit and were on our way to the LAST stop of the day!

Follow Just Stitch It on Facebook

Winona, Minnesota was the next city on the map for our fabulous Yarn Loop Day. Yarnology was the last shop and last stop for us! And what a way to end the day!!!!! Yarnology was packed full of fun and fabulous products! I scored myself some Universal Yarns Bamboo Bloom Handpaints in the color Kanji and the swag they gave away was AWESOME!! They handed us gift bags upon arrival filled with lots of fun do-dads! One big highlight of the day was meeting Lisa who is the owner of Abacus Dyeworks! Remember, I bought that yarn from Unwound Artisan Yarn Shop from our first stop?! How awesome was it to meet the dyer of the yarn I purchased earlier in the day!! I also discovered the product SOAK Wash! You can learn more about SOAK and how awesome it is by following them on Facebook here! I absolutely loved this store, the atmosphere, the staff…the list goes on. It was THE PERFECT way to end this hop.

Follow Yarnology on Facebook

Follow Yarnology on Instagram

Follow Abacus Dyeworks on Instagram

Follow Soak Wash on Facebook

My mom and I had such a great adventure as we always do, and a yarn hop was the best way to spend a Friday. We met so many friendly and welcoming people. We enjoyed driving through the countryside, and when the rain cleared, the scenery was breathtaking. We found new places to go back to and explore. A special thank you to all of the participants in this 1st annual Driftless Loop Yarn Shop Hop! It was a blast! And I found out Yarn Hopping is as fun as it is exhausting! Until next year everybody! Share your yarn hop adventures in the comment section! I would love to hear from you!

~Nadia

 

Help Endorse me for a WEGO Health Award: BEST IN SHOW (Endorsements Closed)

Help Endorse me for a WEGO Health Award: BEST IN SHOW (Endorsements Closed)

WEGO Health is a mission-driven company connecting healthcare with the experience, skills and insights of Patient Leaders. They are the world’s largest network of over 100k Patient Leaders, working across virtually all health conditions and topics. Their network collaborates with pharmaceutical and life sciences companies, agencies, consultancies, startups and all types of organizations across healthcare.

The WEGO Health Awards program was created to recognize and honor those making a difference in the online health community. It provides the opportunity for community members to thank and support the Patient Leaders and patient-centric initiatives they admire. I was nominated for Best in Show-for my blog YARNutopia.com.

You can see my Endorsement page to vote for me here

(ENDORSEMENTS HAVE CLOSED)

Since being nominated for this award, I need to get endorsements to help boost my chances at winning. There is an amazing plethora of individuals who are all using their platform for building awareness and I am privileged to be among so many wonderful nominees.

If you could take a moment to read more about my story here on my home page and also the following blogs listed below:

Keep Your Face To the Sunshine

Ostomy Awareness Day 2016

Yay! I did it!!

Broken Roads Point the Way

A Promise of Hope

Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Blog Post

World IBD Day 2016 Blog Post

World IBD Day 2017 Blog Post

Shenanigans the Sheep

My battle with Crohn’s disease is an ongoing journey. The latest news in my health update is that Nate and I started to discuss having a family, and we are on a new journey to someday maybe have a baby. It has been dramatic and a bit worrisome. I will be visiting a specialist who deals with very high-risk pregnancies and consulting about that. There have been many recent discoveries that will make things very complex moving forward, but we will get through this together.

Please consider endorsing me for this award, I would appreciate that gesture tremendously! It is wonderful to have recognition for crochet, but having a voice to spread awareness about debilitating diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis may bring us one step closer to a cure and makes what I do so much more meaningful. Thank you.

~Nadia

 

UPDATE:

The WEGO Health Awards program was created to recognize and honor those making a difference in the online health community. It provides the opportunity for community members to thank and support the Patient Leaders and patient-centric initiatives they admire. I was nominated for Best in Show-for my blog YARNutopia.com, and after the endorsement round was closed, the numbers were tallied, and I was notified that I am a FINALIST in this category!!! Thank you to everyone who has endorsed me to win this award!! It means so much to me to have the opportunity to use my platform and raise awareness and share the journey I have been through with Crohn’s disease. I know this isn’t a health blog, but it’s because of my health that crochet is such a huge part of my life.

What’s Next? WEGO Health will be announcing the winners live on Facebook during an online ceremony September 26-28th. Winners will then be invited to an in-person ceremony during the Connected Health Conference in October. Stay tuned!

Gifts for my Bridesmaids: Wrapped in Jewels

Gifts for my Bridesmaids: Wrapped in Jewels

I have shared the details that I crocheted for my wedding, but I held back one very important project that I made for my bridesmaids. Back in December 2017, I made the Wrapped in Jewels Shawls for each of my girls. Using Red Heart Yarns Ombré Yarn, I chose colors that best suited the color dress each of my bridesmaids would be wearing. I also made a deep red one for myself to match my gown.

I made the shawls early on and gifted one to each of them upon their arrival to the wedding. Nida was traveling from Texas and she would be wearing deep teal for my wedding, Sarah was traveling from Comoros, Africa and she would be in dark navy blue, and Samantha was wearing magenta and although she was here in Wisconsin, she still had a more than three hour drive to join me for our epic wedding weekend. By Thursday before the wedding everyone arrived safely and the festivities began!

My side of the wedding party consisted of both my brothers serving as “men of honor,” my sister-in-law, Samantha, was my matron of honor, Nida and Sarah both bridesmaids and my nephew was our little ring bearer. With everyone together for the first time in over a year, we decided to do a ‘bachelorette’ night and headed out for hibachi and sushi. Before heading out the door, I had gifts to share with everyone to thank them for making the trip and being there for our special day.

Although each “Glad you are here” bag consisted of a few fun items for all, the one thing I was most proud of was the handmade shawls I had made for the girls. I could already imagine how amazing they would look dressed in their gowns and wrapped in the shawls. It was on my “must have” photo list!

It did not disappoint! Here are a few photos of my girls and I on my wedding! These could not have turned out more perfect than this!

This shawl was such a wonderful keepsake from the most special weekend of my life. Each of the girls were in tears and excited to have a matching shawl to wear with the dress. These came in handy that evening when the temps dipped down with the sunset! Rather than lugging around a heavy coat we could wrap up and keep out the chill as we enjoyed the reception on the patio and headed out afterward to continue celebrating!

Now each of the girls has this special memento as a reminder of our wedding.

If you are getting married, or know of someone who would love this shawl, this one is very special and will be a hit with anyone who is on the receiving end of such a fabulous gift! Enjoy!

This post contains affiliate links, which I may be compensated for when you make a purchase. That means if you click on any link and buy from the linked websites, I will receive a small percentage of the value of your order. The amount you pay is not changed. Thank you for all your support in clicking the links in my blog!! You all are so amazing!! ~Nadia

The yarn provided for this pattern is courtesy of Red Heart Yarns

 

 

My dad will continue to be the videographer, editor, and photographer for our videos when I move away.
Support YARNutopia today so we can continue to bring you clear, quality crochet tutorials even after I move into my new home!
There will be an added expense of more travel and hopefully this won’t deter our ability to provide consistent videos on a weekly basis.

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It’s All in the Details: Crochet Wedding Flowers

It’s All in the Details: Crochet Wedding Flowers

When planning a wedding, one of the very first things you consider is the type of wedding you want and the budget to go along with your dream. It isn’t always easy to have those two things come together seamlessly unless you have all the resources available without the concern of finances. That’s why DIY (or do-it-yourself) is a great way to cut costs and bring some of those wedding expenses down – and dreams to life – using your own creativity. Be aware – there’s a cost to that too, just not always in dollars.

It Starts With YES!

When Nate proposed, we were in Amsterdam, Netherlands on a high – figuratively not literally. (read about it here) Excited from the thrill of getting engaged on this European trip, planning a wedding in that moment was not on the forefront of our minds. We hadn’t even chosen a date for our wedding until weeks following our engagement. I am such a planner, so I needed time to organize our wedding with guests from overseas, so we decided on March 17, 2018, St. Patrick’s Day. This was the perfect day to have our Pakistani/Irish fusion wedding. I wanted the Pakistani features and Nate is Irish, so he wanted to incorporate some Irish elements into our special day.

Looking a year ahead gave us much needed time to sort out details for this fusion wedding and put finances on paper. Thankfully, our parents were able to help, but how much would this all cost?

We visited vendors which was exciting and full of promise. Yet, when we started to talk dollars and cents, we began to realize that we needed to scale down considerably on some of our “wants.”  Our budget was limited. One of the more shocking realizations was finding out that for flowers; personal flowers such as bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages along with centerpiece arrangements and other floral décor, would cost over $2000 USD. As much as I LOVE fresh flowers, spending $2000 on that one detail was out of the question.

Famous Last Words

Ideas began to formulate. I knew I wanted to incorporate elements of crochet into my wedding, and the more I considered it, the more it made sense for me to make all of the flowers. I knew it would be a lofty goal. Hand crocheting 200+ flowers for all my floral elements, as well as 200 place card meal flowers, was no easy task. But spending $2000 on bouquets and arrangement fresh flowers, which will wilt and be discarded was hard to contemplate. I could save a huge chunk of money if I did these myself. So, it was decided almost a year ahead of time, I would crochet the flowers. I had plenty of time, right?

I think I remember vaguely in the fog of my over-zealous wedding-muddled mind, Nate saying to me,

“Are you sure you want to do that? I don’t want you to get too stressed out…..” Brides and stress? Phfft…

Oh, how prophetic that conversation would be.

My flip response was something on the lines of,

“No worries, I won’t get stressed. It’s a year away. I have plenty of time.” Eye-roll please…

The Best Laid Plans…

Eleven months in advance may seem like plenty of time to take on a project like this. That is if you have NOTHING to do BUT this. I started out pretty well. I decided on using Red Heart Yarns Aunt Lydia’s Thread in the colors of my bridesmaids’ dresses for their bouquets and a throw bouquet. I would pair the groomsmen’s boutonnieres in coordinating colors. My bouquet would be shades of red and Nate would have a matching flower to mine. I could get a jump start on place card flowers once I decided on the coinciding meal. I would crochet similar coordinating flowers to use for my table centerpieces. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Puhll-eeaaazzze…I got this!

I mapped out the year. I could crochet three flowers a day which would put me on a course to finish in plenty of time for the wedding. It would give me an ample time-frame to make bouquets, plan those centerpieces, decide on any other arrangements, and color code all the seating place cards. The only thing is, I had to stay on task. One missed day meant the next day I had to make six flowers. One missed week meant making 21 flowers to catch up. Do you get my drift? Don’t even ask what it required to catch up on a lost month. There are no words…

(If you are looking for a tutorial on how to make these flowers, click here)

Fast forward to six weeks before the wedding and my fingers felt like they were falling off due to the insane flower making schedule I had going on. Every plan and deadline shot to hell. I even sliced my hand with that tiny 1mm crochet hook I was using! Haha! I remember at 2 a.m one morning, my eyes going crossed and mind delirious, thinking up curse words while miscounting my stitches, and repeating over and over that I will NEVER crochet with thread or make another flower in MY LIFE ever again. I must have asked myself a hundred times…WHY!? Why did I decide to do this?!

Honestly….This is why….

This Is What Dreams Are Made Of

I am such a detail person. It comes from my mama. And just like my mama, I believe those tiny details matter. Every single one of these details mattered to me. I would not have done it otherwise. Looking back, I know I complained, I may have even cried, but the results of all the hard work and late nights paid off. Each detail, each flower, each element came together in perfect harmony on our wedding day and it was so worth it! So, so worth it! Details, details, details….

The bouquets I designed consisted of 12-14 crochet flowers in the final assembly. I accented the burst of color using gold beads, gold tulle, gold ribbon, and gold jewels to wrap the handle of the bouquet holders I chose. I crocheted roses for my bridal bouquet and crocheted an assortment of handmade flowers for the bridesmaids and the throw bouquet. My sister-in-law/maid-of-honor and I still have the scars from the blisters burned on our hands from the hot glue! Bouquet assembly was not easy!

Each boutonniere consisted of a coordinating crocheted single flower attached to a stem and leaf. For Nate’s two younger brother’s, I created a trio of crocheted small flowers as an alternate look since they were our ushers and groomsmen! Even our little ring bearer had his own!


The wrist corsages for my mom and Nate’s Grandma were a single flower crocheted in gold thread and fastened to gold glitter elastic wrist bands.

Each centerpiece was a combination of Moroccan Lanterns alternating with floating candles on opposite tables. Small votive candles accented each table, along with the gold framed table number we added Salal Lemon Leaf and Evergreen Huckleberry for a splash of deep green on our black table cloth linens. I accented the leaves with a combination of three crochet flowers on one side and an accent flower on the opposite side of the arrangement for a splash of crochet color and balance.

For the last table detail, we added small place card holders that were tiny replicas of brass oil lamps. Each name card was paired with a tiny crochet flower detail indicating the meal choice of each guest and inserted into the place card holder. I had four meal options, and each option had a color coordinated flower that matched the meal choice of each guest. Each place card was printed with our guests’ names, and I attached a tiny flower on the end with a gold brad using a paper hole-punch. This tiny, but impressive, element was a huge hit with our guests!

 

It Doesn’t Stop There

Aside from the details that adorned our tables, we had a couple other crochet specifics that I incorporated into our wedding day. Since it was a Pakistani/Irish Fusion wedding a few live flower arrangements had elements of plants indigenous to Ireland. Bells of Ireland mixed with Fringe Cups, Burdock, Thistle, Ladies Mantle, Clover and an assortment of other greens decorated our reception room. I decided to add crochet Calla Lilies to this greenery mix! I found an amazing pattern by Happy Patty and purchased it from her Etsy Shop! I fell in love with these Irish fused greenery arrangements even more with this added detail. Bittersweet Florist was fun to work with and loved the idea of adding crochet Callas. They had never seen crochet lilies before!

It may seem like an overwhelming amount of crochet flowers and crochet elements added to the wedding day. I did not want it to look like too many crocheted components pulled together, hoping it appeared as attractive as imagined when I started on this project.  When we put it all together, it wasn’t at all over the top or too much. It was just the right amount. I even added the Henna Inspired Mandala as a table top cover in our reception area. I used it under some Huckleberry leaves to accent our seating chart table. Subtle yet lovely…a tiny splash of crochet color made it just the perfect element to add in this one spot.

It’s All in the Details

It took a lot of planning, but that’s my thing. I love planning, and details can make all the difference. Like I mentioned, I am a detail oriented person and being a bride didn’t change any of this. In fact, it amped it up! Just be careful not to get caught up in too many little things. It can suck you in!  Doing all these crochet elements made this uniquely my own. It was such a wonderful feeling that I made each of these details come to life with crochet.

In the end, each guest had a small crochet take-away aside from their wedding favor. My bridesmaids, men of honor, groomsmen, ring bearer, and family, each had their flowers to have as a keepsake from our special day. One lucky guest caught the Throw Bouquet! Even the centerpiece flowers became souvenirs for some guests. We could not ask for more! This is what every bride should feel. I accomplished this incredible feat and brought a lot of joy not only to myself but to each guest who attended our wedding. It truly mattered in showing each person who attended how special they are and how much it meant to us that they were to celebrate our love.

In the end, I crocheted 140 centerpiece flowers, 70 bouquet flowers, 19 boutonniere flowers, 3 wrist corsages, 200 place card flowers, as well as the Calla Lilies to accent the greenery arrangement, the Henna Inspired Mandala and lastly, I did make each of my girls a special wedding shawl which I will share in a separate blog. I did this work all in the months leading up to our wedding. It wasn’t easy, but it was so very special. I saved more than $1,500.00 USD by doing this myself.

Do-It-Yourself: Lovely But Not Easy

My advice for anyone planning to take on the task of DIY projects for your wedding would be to plan it out, give yourself plenty of time to tackle a project of this magnitude, know the commitment you are making because it can overwhelm you, and it is ok to get frustrated. Just don’t take on a project that consumes you to the point that you lose the joy in the reason you started this in the first place. With the right frame of mind, in the end, you will have a wedding that has the special added touches that make it your unique day with elements that are talked about for years! Always remember: This is YOUR special day do what feels right for YOU. Have fun and enjoy it all!

Watch this video tutorial to learn how to make wedding flowers:

A special thank you to the following:

Our amazing parents for supporting us and making all our dreams come true.

Our entire wedding party for helping us through this whole journey and being the best wedding party ever!!

All of our guests, you are so special to us, and we were so happy to celebrate our special day with each and every one of you!

Cook Photograph Company for the wonderful photos (See more of our wedding photos on their Facebook Page here)

Bittersweet Floral for the lovely Irish greens added to our reception hall

Nite Lights Entertainment for the AH-MAZING Music, Lighting, and Photo Booth! That was the best party I have ever been to!!

The Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern for such a great venue to celebrate our wedding at! Everything was so elegant and regal.

This post contains affiliate links, which I may be compensated for when you make a purchase. That means if you click on any link and buy from the linked websites, I will receive a small percentage of the value of your order. The amount you pay is not changed. Thank you for all your support in clicking the links in my blog!! You all are so amazing!! ~Nadia

 

Meet Jade and Fern

Meet Jade and Fern

Transitioning to so many new changes following the wedding, I found myself spending a lot of time alone. I live quite a distance from my parents now, in a new city, and have slowly begun to fully settle in to my new life here.

Working from home, I found that now the planning for the wedding is no longer consuming my days, I am finding a lot of extra time on my hands and hours to fill while Nate is at work all day. I stay busy. I have my YARNutopia blogging and tutorials to keep me quite active, but 10 hours a day I find myself alone. This is something I have been trying to adjust to and it hasn’t been easy.

Living with my parents, there was always a flurry of activity in our house. People coming and going, lots of stuff to do and very high energy made time pass quickly. I was never lonely. Here, my new house is very quiet all day, and it has taken some getting used to.

Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

Fur-baby First

Nate and I have been considering adding a pet to our household for some time now. Even before the wedding, we really felt a fur-baby would be a welcome addition to our new family. We decided on a kitty cat just to have some companionship for me while Nate is away.

On Saturday, we spontaneously decided to go check out a pet rescue called Chasing Daylight. We went with an open mind and heart. Since we have been planning to adopt a cat or a dog, it wasn’t too surprising to fall in love with a pet right away. Nate has always wanted a cat, I wanted a small dog. We ended up seeing both, cats and dogs yesterday and fell in love with one little kitty right away.

For a pet to be available for adoption, the facility (Chasing Daylight Pet Rescue) has to spay/neuter the animal, give the animal a full check-up and shots. We loved that the facility was very clean and all the animals were very well cared for. They let the cats all run around in an open room together for socialization.


She captured our hearts

We immediately were drawn to a little kitty that was approximately 6-8 months old. She was a stray and had never been previously owned. She was so sweet and such a cuddly little thing. She was fully vaccinated and spayed and ready for adoption.

We filled out an application. They needed full disclosure on info; the obvious- if we have ever been arrested for animal abuse and other important necessary facts. They needed to know who lives in the household and who will be the main care giver. Basically the rundown on making sure we would be good pet parents.

They were so kind to us and we were approved with no problems. We told them we were recently married, and it is just us two living in our home. I work from home and Nate works outside of the home. Someone will always be home and a full-time companion for this little sweetie!

It was set. We could come to pick her up 10am Sunday morning and take her home!

So, like all excited pet parents, when we got home last night to prep for our new arrival and we headed straight to the store and purchased EVERYTHING a cat needs. Litter, litter box, cat dishes, cat food, cat toys, mats, more toys, collars, cat crate, treats, shampoo, brush, 2 beds, Cat Tower, more toys, scratching posts, and catnip. You name it, it was in our cart!

To say we were thrilled is an understatement!

When we arrived Sunday morning to pick up our little kitty we went in, we were expecting to just adopt one cat, but when we got there, another cat was super social and was playing with “our” kitty, so we were so moved by their antics, we just could not resist and within a couple of hours we were bringing home two!


The second cat was previously owned, the owners moved to Georgia. She is approximately 1 year old. She has been spayed and up to date on all her distemper, ringworm shots as well.

We packed them in the carrier and off we went home to start this new adventure!

What’s in a name?

First line of business was giving them a name! We waited to get them home and watch over them a bit, but Nate and I were both so transfixed by the color of their eyes. They both have such beautiful green eyes that it soon became evident that those would be the defining factor in finding their forever names.

We decided on Jade for our older cat and Fern for our little kitty.

We are looking forward to this newest adventure in pet parenting and sharing our lives with these two darlings-Jade and Fern.
I know for myself, it will help make my days feel a bit less lonely with these two around, and I will love having some crochet companionship! I can’t wait to share their antics with all of you!

Share a bit about your fur-babies in the comments!

 

UPDATE: 4/5/2019

We have had these kitties for a year now and they have made our life so much better! We really don’t know how we lived without them! They are always putting a smile on our face! Fern is the best snuggle bug and Jade loves on us when she’s hungry. Haha!! They are both so different, but they love each other and you can always find them together! Here are both of their birthday photos when they each turned 2 years old.

Jade’s 2nd birthday was September 7th, 2018

 

Fern’s 2nd birthday was March 26th, 2019

As you can see, they are extremely spoiled and deserve all the delicious treats in the world! We love them so much and we’re so happy they chose us.

~Nadia

 

This post contains affiliate links, which I may be compensated for when you make a purchase. That means if you click on any link and buy from the linked websites, I will receive a small percentage of the value of your order. The amount you pay is not changed. Thank you for all your support in clicking the links in my blog!! You all are so amazing!! ~Nadia

Wedding Plans: 8 Weeks Left

Wedding Plans: 8 Weeks Left

There are eight weeks left before our wedding, and this week the invitations were sent! I will be waiting for the RSVPs to come in and will be busy crocheting the color coded “meal flowers” immediately.
My colors are all jewel tones – an amethyst purple, dark sapphire blue, and an emerald/teal green and of course gold. Each flower indicates a coordinating meal and will be attached to each escort card.


Our reception will be a plated dinner and our selections are the following:

Chicken Option:
(Nadia’s Favorite Food)
Chicken (Murgh) Makhani
A Pakistani dish consisting of a spiced curry mixture of cream, tomato, and butter,
blended together with full flavored roasted boneless chicken pieces served with Basmati rice.

Beef/Seafood Option:
(Nate’s Favorite Food)
Steak/Salmon
6 oz. center cut sirloin steak with king salmon, paired with house whipped Yukon gold potatoes and fresh garlic hericot vert

Vegetarian Option:
(Combined Favorite)
Classic Pesto Linguini
Linguini in light pesto cream with artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, onions, and shaved parmesan served with garlic toast

For all kids, we will be serving signature Mac & Cheese.

Before planning a wedding, one never realizes the details that go into coordinating such an event!

Since we are having a Pakistani/Irish fusion wedding held on St. Patrick’s Day weekend, there are fun details from both of our cultures being incorporated into our special day.

My Mehndi is being held a day before our wedding and this event is a fun day for the ladies.  The Henna Ceremony, or the Rasm-e-henna ceremony, typically takes place one or two days prior to the main wedding day. Mehndi is a form of body art from Ancient India, in which decorative designs are created on a person’s body, using a paste, created from the powdered dry leaves of the henna plant. The henna is symbolically placed on the bride’s hands and feet by a professional mehndi artist. The designs are very intricate. Often hidden within the mehndi pattern the name or initials of the groom are applied. In Pakistan, the Mehndi is often one of the most important pre-wedding ceremonies. This ritual is supposed to bring good luck and longevity to the bride’s married life.


The wedding day will all be held at the same place with our ceremony being held in one part of the venue and reception and dinner in the banquet room.

The Walima (Groom’s Reception) is a meal that is held the day after the wedding. It is a feast of traditional Pakistani foods. It is at this ceremony that the bride and groom are formally and publicly showcased as a married couple.

Thankfully we are able to do much of the wedding DIY ourselves. My mom and I have been on the go for the past week, (well since I got engaged, but more so in the past week!) and we have been able to check a lot off the to-do list. We are definitely do-ers and planners! Nate has been sooo incredibly helpful as well, and of course, my dad weighs in to share ideas about the Pakistani parts of our wedding.

We met with our amazing DJ and planned out the music for the best dance party!

I may have mentioned in an earlier blog post that I plan to make all my flowers myself. I have been working on all the flowers for the bouquets, boutonnières, corsages, and centerpieces.


We started to put together an arrangement this past weekend to come up with how to incorporate the crochet flowers into our centerpieces. This was just a rough start, but we are loving how they look against the Lemon Leaf greenery. I have gotten a good start on the flowers and have about 150-175 left to crochet aside from those tiny meal flowers which I will know more when those RSVPs come in.


I crocheted my girls the Wrapped In Jewels Shawl which I will be gifting to them at our Rehearsal dinner. I shared those with you at the end of last year, and I was able to cross that off my list. I also have the Henna Inspired Mandalas that I crocheted and hope to somehow incorporate those into the weekend but not sure where.

Details, details, details!! I love the creative parts of the planning, but the logistics are giving me a touch of worry trying to keep everything straight and organized. So far, it is all coming together very well. My excitement is growing by the day! More updates to come!! Thank you for joining me on this journey!!

~Nadia

My dad will continue to be the videographer, editor, and photographer for our videos when I move away.
Support YARNutopia today so we can continue to bring you clear, quality crochet tutorials even after I get married and move into my new home! There will be an added expense of more travel and hopefully this won’t deter our ability to provide consistent videos on a weekly basis.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

 

Aunt Lydia’s Crochet Thread Patterns Redheart Now Has Crochet Thread Red Heart Blog – laikas.info

Letterboard Inspiration

Letterboard Inspiration

Remember when I made my wish list blog? I had listed some nice additions that I was hoping to put in my craft room in my new home once my room was finished. Well, one of those items happened to find its way under our Christmas tree this year. My brother, Nabeel, bought me my very first (and much wanted) letterboard! Obviously, I squealed with childish delight because this truly was something I was hoping to get!

My creative energy is on high alert to find inspirational quotes to post each week to keep me motivated and share with all of you! I decided to try to post a photo twice a week; something fun written on my brand new board.

I am off to a great start and I hope to continue with this mini project throughout the year. This blog is where I plan to keep track of these fun shots and hopefully you will come back for inspiration from time to time to see the new ones added!

Have a fun crochet, crafty, creative quote to share? Feel free to post it in the comments!

Perspective

 

Reason #99,998 why I married him… 😍

 

 

Filling up my cart.

Get the cart from Michaels by following this link!

 

My mantra includes counting stitches

 

On today’s agenda…

I’ll let you in on a little secret…
#amirite

Oh geez…. A cat-free zone means nothing to these two renegades! #mutiny #troublemakers

Heading on a road trip with some of my favorite people! We are driving across a few states to attend a wedding of one of my really good friends! Definitely packing some car ride crochet projects! What are your travel essentials?

Get the YarnPop Bag in the photo here.

Get the Crochet Hooks Here.

Get the Yarn in this photo Here.

 

Relevant.

On a scale from 1-10 I hit an 11 on the frustration scale working on my latest project. So much so that I CUT my yarn! You read that right. I CUT IT!! First time ever doing that. Share with me how far you will go to untangle your knots. Will you EVER cut your yarn?

Ha! I’m Baaaaaack!!

Things are getting crazy over here! My hook and I are on fire tonight! Who’s with me?
Crochet Party on Friday Night!
Who: You
Where: The most comfy spot in your house
When: Tonight!
RSVP: let me know what’s hot on your hooks tonight! Comment to this post!

Who’s with me??!

Tough choices! I’ve been so busy, I’m not sure what I need most! I’m thinking yarn. Like the luxurious fiber shown! Find it here!

Put it on the calendar!!

 

Yarn balls, people! Yeesh!

Can’t argue with the facts!

 

You bet! ‘Nuff said!


hobby lobby

What are your plans in the New Year? A project you plan to finish? A goal you want to acheive? A resolution? Complete something on your ‘to do’ list? Or just see what happens in 2018? Share here! No matter how you approach this #newbeginning, may it be a fantastic year ahead!!

 

My dad will continue to be the videographer, editor, and photographer for our videos when I move away.
Support YARNutopia today so we can continue to bring you clear, quality crochet tutorials even after I move into my new home!
There will be an added expense of more travel and hopefully this won’t deter our ability to provide consistent videos on a weekly basis.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

This post contains affiliate links, which I may be compensated for when you make a purchase. That means if you click on any link and buy from the linked websites, I will receive a small percentage of the value of your order. The amount you pay is not changed. Thank you for all your support in clicking the links in my blog!! You all are so amazing!! ~Nadia

My Top 10 Crochet Patterns of 2017

My Top 10 Crochet Patterns of 2017

My top ten pattern blogs of 2017 are compiled here in one place! Maybe you have made one or maybe you have made them all, or maybe there are some on your “to do list.” Whatever the case, these great projects are sure to be great hits for gifts or for yourself!

Some of these patterns have consistently been popular for many years. Some have just gained popularity this year. These great crochet pieces have all gained a lot of attention and continue to do so to this day! Let’s see what 2018 brings our way! I am looking forward to new projects that will be just as popular or even more so in the year to come! Here is to 2018 and many more crochet masterpieces! I am excited to crochet with you in the NEW YEAR! ~Nadia

1. Adult Mermaid Tail Afghan

369,014 blog views

 

2. 365 Days of Granny Squares

164,731 blog views

 

3. Knee High Socks

99,681 blog views

 

4. Adult Shark Blanket

56,811 blog views

 

5. Spring Sun Mandala Vest

53,658 blog views

 

6. The Gentleman’s Scarf

52,609 blog views

 

7. The G. G. Cardigan

48,283 blog views

 

8. Cheshire Cat Hoodie

46,765 blog views

 

9. Flamingo Feet Baby Booties

32,703 blog views

 

Granny Square Cardigan

28,621 blog views

 

This post contains affiliate links, which I may be compensated for when you make a purchase. That means if you click on any link and buy from the linked websites, I will receive a small percentage of the value of your order. The amount you pay is not changed. Thank you for all your support in clicking the links in my blog!! You all are so amazing!! ~Nadia

Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis Awareness Week December 1-7

Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis Awareness Week December 1-7

December 1-7 is one week out of the year that is designated to Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness. So, as a voice for building awareness and being an advocate for myself and patients battling this debilitating disease, I wanted to share with you a few facts about these diseases. I know this is not crochet related, but the reason I started crochet was to help cope with my illness and also help pass the time in the hospital when I would be in for months at a time.

Crohn’s disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It affects the entire gastrointestinal tract and can affect anywhere from the mouth to the anus.

Ulcerative colitis affects the large intestine/colon, and rectum. Symptoms include Inflammation and ulcers, diarrhea, internal bleeding, fatigue, fevers, abdominal pain and cramping, reduced appetite leading to significant weight loss. Complications from this disease and sometimes treatments can be life threatening!

THERE IS NO CURE.

 

Oftentimes serious drugs like chemotherapies and biologics are needed and/or drastic surgeries are necessary to stave off the progression of the disease. Most people who suffer from these diseases can appear “normal” or “healthy” from their outward appearance, but are silently suffering from the inside. Many are among our friends, family, co-workers, community members – millions of people worldwide have some form of IBD!!!!

It is an invisible illness that oftentimes is not discussed in everyday company. Unless you know ME or someone who has Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis you may have never heard of these before.

 

Have questions? Want to learn more? Ask me anything-I am an open book when trying to educate about this topic. One thing over the years I have learned is there is no shame battling illness and the stigma surrounding it. I may not look it, but I am battling this disease Every. Single. Day. It affects nearly every aspect of my life. I am not alone. I have so many friends suffering!! I am devastated to say people were lost by complications of this disease.

If we can educate just one person through our journey, through disease, then our suffering is not in vain and there is some purpose in all we have gone through and continue to face. Please, Please take time to learn more this week (and beyond) and understand how devastating Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis really is.

Crohn’s disease has impacted every aspect of my life including School, Employment, Relationships (Romantic or Familial), Socially, Financially, and Emotionally.

You can find more information about these inflammatory bowel diseases at CCFA.org

Taking Crochet to Elementary School

Taking Crochet to Elementary School

YARNutopia was invited to share about our love of crochet at High Interest Day sponsored at a local Elementary School. High Interest Day (HID) is a way to expose kids to things they may learn to love. It’s also a way for students to see people who have worked hard and created careers based on their passions. We spent the morning talking about crochet and how my parents and I have made this small idea into a fun and inspiring career, blogging and vlogging YouTube crochet tutorials. It was a morning that flew by because, like it is always said, “time flies when you’re having fun!” And FUN was had by all.

My sister-in-law, Samantha, is a kindergarten teacher, and the school where she teaches hosted this dynamic event. She was part of the committee that organized this interactive day filled with many demonstrations where kids could participate and learn through hands-on activities. From chemistry fun, crochet demonstrations, yoga instruction, learning about snakes, or decorating cookies, each segment offered the opportunity to get the children involved in thinking creatively of ways to make hobbies and activities they love into a possible ‘someday’ career. With so many bloggers making careers on the internet, it was a good fit to participate and teach children how they can develop a craft and turn it into a career. The children were various ages ranging from kindergarten to 5th grade.

The kids were given the chance to participate in three workshops throughout the day. They could pick their top five choices of offered interests, and then they were assigned to attend three of those top choices. In our workshop we had three different 40 minute sessions with approximately 12 children in each group. It was a perfect size to give every child a chance to work with yarn and a crochet hook. They loved getting a feel of how it is to crochet and create with YARN!

 

The classroom I was teaching in offered me access to the internet as well as a document camera, or doc cam, to project my hands on a big screen to help the kids see up close. I started out sharing what I do and how I began crocheting as well as sharing photos of my various projects. The Beauty and the Beast costumes and baby items were big hits with everyone. It was fun to hear the kids shout “You made THAT!!!??” And then following that with “I want to learn how to make stuff like that!”

My dad was hamming it up with the kids when I was sharing how my videos demonstrate the patterns. I used my Watermelon Bib as an example and had a prototype of the bib to show the ‘finished product.’ Of course, being my dad, he has to add his silly antics and get the kids laughing. And laugh they did when they saw a grown man modeling a baby bib!! I was able to play the video while showing the children basics of what I do, how we film, walking step-by-step through a tutorial and skipping to the end, ending up with a great finished product.

Once we covered those basics it was time to get hands on! We provided crochet hooks and yarn balls for each child and I demonstrated using the doc cam on how to make a basic chain. My parents, Samantha, and I were able to go around to each child and help them with this technique. The classroom ran the gamut of emotions once we got started. In each group, there were kids who caught on right away, others not so much, and a couple even ended up near or in tears. It pretty much sounds like all of us when we start out crocheting for the first time, am I right??


Samantha explained there’s a huge emphasis in education right now on helping students develop a “growth mindset.” Learning a new skill is a great way for them to understand that mistakes help them learn and that they need to push past frustration and setbacks if they want to grow. We saw that in our sessions with students who cried or got frustrated. They’re working on developing grit and learning it’s okay if something doesn’t come easily the first time they try. From an educational standpoint, that’s what HID is about. We watched many push through and stick with it to accomplish making a foundation chain. Once they were able to get the hang of it, we fastened off and made the chain into a bracelet. They were pretty excited about this small take-away from the session.

Over half of the students have families who work very hard to meet their basic needs, and these students may not have the opportunities or resources to explore their interests. HID is an opportunity for them to explore possibilities that were presented in these sessions that they may have never considered otherwise. The program was appreciated by all, and it meant a lot to the kids and has lasting impact.
Volunteering and participating in these activities can really take the art and craft of crochet to an entirely new level. The beauty of what we do can reach further than the items we create. It can open up a whole new world.

On this day of Thanksgiving, I am so thankful for this experience to share my passion with so many children that were as eager to learn as I was to teach. In a world that is not always kind, I was given such a gift and watched kids of all ages work together helping one another as they learned to crochet. It is a moment that warmed my heart and will stay with me for a long time to come.

I want to extend a special Thank You to my sister-in-law Samantha, the school, and especially the children for the invitation and welcome I was given as a presenter for HID. I appreciate being provided a platform to explore this opportunity and share my craft with everyone. It means so much to me to get involved in such an important program and share the love of crochet with so many growing minds. I loved it!

~Nadia

KNITCRATE, LLC

UPDATE:

In November 2017, I presented at High Interest Day and spent the day teaching children how to crochet. The purpose of the event was to provide kids with opportunity to discover something new they may learn to love. All of you know how passionate I am about children and education. If you combine those with crochet, you have my perfect day! After the event, the children wrote “Thank You” letters which I received just after the holidays. Here are a couple I wanted to share. Kids are the COOLEST! This is my LIFE right now and I couldn’t be happier! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this! Enjoy! ~Nadia

 

Written in the letter above states:
Dear Ms. Deane
Thank you for coming to Kozy to be a High Interest Day presenter. It was very thoughtful of you to give up time out of your busy schedule to share your knowledge with us. Learning new things helps us with our growth mindset, believing that we can learn new things if we put effort into them.

I enjoyed your presentation on “yarnioutopia.” (sic) I learned how to make a bracelet with yarn. With this information I plan to keep practicing.

Thanks again for presenting at Kozy, I hope you come back next year to teach kids that you can use yarn in different ways, keep up with your youtube videos.
Sincerely, Camila

Written in the letter above states:
Dear nadia (sorry if I spellt it rong) (sic)
I loved learning how to crocet. Im so glad you took time out of your schedul to visit us here at Kozy.

I love love loved your presention on crocet. I leard how to make a bracelet out of yarn. Now I plan to use this information to make a blanket
I hope you come back next year!
Sincerely
Kaylee


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My New Blocking Station Product Review

My New Blocking Station Product Review

I’ve always wanted a blocking unit for my crochet pieces. For someone like me having a handy tool like this makes my work a little easier. Recently, I received The BlocksAll Station from Chetnanigans. Chetnanigans has an Etsy Shop and is definitely worth the look. Today, I had the opportunity to give this product a try. Here is my assessment of this fun tool.

If you are like me, you have practiced many tricks when you are blocking your items. My tried and true way is to spritz a little water on my finished piece, shape it and pin it down on a towel using stick pins or stack my squares on skewers stuck in a Styrofoam block. Then, I leave my piece to dry overnight and wake up the next day to my item blocked, hopefully in the correct form I want. For larger projects this is still the best way I have found to achieve a decent result. However, there are times when making granny square items such as my G.G. Cardigan, my New Beginnings Afghan Block, or we all remember my colossal project the 365 Days of Granny Squares, when blocking single squares become necessary for the best appearance of an overall project. Not everything crochets up as neat and tidy as we hope. That is when the BlocksAll is great option to achieve these results. I set out to give this a test run and was not disappointed!

First, when the item arrived and I opened it, I was very happy to see how well this was packaged. Included were the board, a stand, stainless steel pins, and instructions, all neatly packed and secure on arrival. Seeing it for the first time was thrilling! I always get that excited feeling when a new crochet or craft item arrives at my doorstep. I am like a little child when I see the delivery driver pull up! Once it was opened, I was eager to give it a try!

I decided to give it a test run blocking some squares that I am making for a baby blanket. I sprayed my squares lightly with a bit of water before placing each square on the block. Although I blocked individual squares, you can stack them on the pins and do multiples at the same time. I think approximately 3-5 squares would fit stacked up. There are 50 stainless steel pins included in this set and there are a series of holes on the block. This is important as the placement of the holes make it easy to block items in a variety of sizes! The pins do not rust so if your item is damp, there will be no risk of rust getting on your pieces. It was a bit tough to insert the pins on the first try, but being as this is brand new, I suspect this will become easier the more I use this item. By the same token, the pins were a bit tough to remove once I was finished blocking. Again, with repeated use, this should rectify.

 

The BlocksAll is very sturdy, durable, and it has some weight to it. The stand has rubber grips for anti-slip if you want to stand it up while blocking your pieces. This is a nice feature when you need to apply a bit of force to either push the pins in or pull them out. Otherwise, there is felt on the back side of the BlocksAll station if you wish to lay it on a flat surface to do your blocking. One detail to point out that many will appreciate as I do, is that the pins are NOT sharp. I can’t tell you how many times when blocking my crochet items the standard way that I jabbed a stick pin into my fingertip or thumb and drew blood! It gives new meaning to putting blood, sweat, and tears into a project and hopefully, having this new item will take those elements out of the equation! There is no risk of that happening while using the BlocksAll pins! Another observation, you will want to store the pins in a small case. Because of the amount of pins included in this set (50), it will be a good idea to have a storage container for these small but important parts.

 

Once my pieces were blocked overnight, they came out perfectly shaped for my project!! The size of this board allows for pieces up to 12 inches x 12 inches to be blocked easily. I was so happy with the results of each square and they look perfect with the clean straight edge achieved from using this handy device! I love the look and they stack up nicely in piles waiting for me to sew them together! This is exciting stuff!
I love this wonderful gizmo and working with the Chetnanigans crew was a pleasure! Be sure to check out their Etsy site and all the great items they have for knitters and crocheters!! These would make a great gift for any crafter on your list–including yourself!

Also, be sure to use coupon code YARN15 to get a 15% discount on your purchase!!!  The discount code is only available until November 19th, 2017 so place your orders soon!! That is an AWESOME deal! You won’t be disappointed! Now back to making more squares and playing with my new toy!

~Nadia

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Public Speaking for a Media Summit

Public Speaking for a Media Summit

On Sunday November 5th, 2017, I had the pleasure of participating in the 2017 Collegiate Media Summit hosted by Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. This summit highlights professionals across the media industry. I was invited to speak via Skype to the attendees on how I became a blogger and teacher on YouTube. Although quite nervous, I found it to be a very good experience and was thrilled to take part.

I’ve got friends in HIGH places

My friend, Dr. Dennis Frohlich, assistant professor in the Department of Mass Communications at Bloomsburg University, approached me some time ago to be a part of the summit. Some of you may remember if you followed my earlier blog posts that Dennis and I actually began blogging and video logging about inflammatory bowel diseases many years ago after meeting online. Early in my diagnosis, I started blogging and making videos discussing my journey through Crohn’s disease. During that same time, Dennis also started a channel on YouTube to talk about his journey through ulcerative colitis. We corresponded over our similar journey through illness. Together we decided to combine our channels and work together. In 2009 we began the United Colon Vlog. Our vlog (video log) provided education and awareness about inflammatory bowel diseases and it solidified a lifelong friendship.

The birth of YARNutopia

Those early days of vlogging helped lay the foundation for me to segue into starting YARNutopia. We decided to dissolve the UCVlog after five years of pioneering to bring a spotlight to IBD. Dennis was on to bigger and better things as he worked toward graduate school, eventually earning his doctorate. I continued to struggle significantly with my illness. After SIX attempts of trying college and having to withdraw for medical reasons, I resigned myself to the realization this won’t work out for me. During a particularly dark moment, my mom gave me a ball of yarn and a crochet hook and the rest is history. YARNutopia was born!

Exciting, but nothing goes off without a hitch

My appearance in this Media Summit was to discuss how I have made my career on YouTube. The summit was bringing professionals together who have made their careers through some media platform. It was such a privilege to be included among so many esteemed professionals. It is one of those surreal moments when you have to pinch yourself to tell if it is real life. How am I part of this?! It was pretty exciting!

Unfortunately, I woke up on Sunday morning with a terribly sore throat and was hoarse. The night before, I attended a family wedding, and I was already feeling under the weather. Adrenaline carried me through the wedding and subsequent party afterward, but everything came crashing down by Sunday. Three Ricola throat lozenges, honey laced tea, and a salt water gargle allowed me to have some semblance of a voice and would have to do as I addressed a room full of participants and students.

I prepared an outline for discussion with the help of my mom. As prepared as I felt, nerves started to settle in. Dennis prepped me ahead of time and in our preparations, he let me know that it will seem as though I am talking to him for the most part. Although there were students present, Dennis let me know he would guide the presentation and that put me a little bit at ease.

One Hour. A lot to cover

The presentation was approximately an hour long. In that time, we covered how I began my YouTube channel with my dad, how my mom and I handle all the creative design, blog, marketing, and social media, wha