Category Archives: Milestones

Yay! I did it!

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I DID IT! I CROSSED THE FINISH LINE!

It has been no secret that for the past 8 years, I have been battling severe illness as I continue to fight Crohn’s disease. By the end of 2015, I had spent a good portion of another year hospitalized after having 2 major surgeries. I was determined to go into 2016 with hopes for better health. There was a scary episode at the end of 2015 where I went septic and things were pretty bleak. That experience, and the fact that it brought me too close for comfort to no longer being here on Earth, was what inspired me to take on the challenge of a 365 day project. Yes, I know, nothing like a brush with death to make you want to look forward in life! Seize the day; or, in my case, more than 365 of them!

This was my status on Personal Facebook Account on the very last day of 2015. Thank you for being my stars! I love you all!!

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I wanted to start the new year with a project that would chronicle days I could try to stay out of the hospital. Following surgery in December 2015, I remember late night talks with my mom about challenging myself to work toward a long term goal. This particular challenge had to be something that wasn’t too overwhelming. (Note: a 365 day project, no matter how small it seems at the time, can sometimes get overwhelming) I decided on crocheting a single granny square each day with the help of my dad who would record a video tutorial of each afghan block. Each day that I was able to stay out of the hospital was another day that I would work toward health and wellness. Each square represented a step in this journey. I was able to make it nearly 8 months before I ended up in the hospital again, but even then, I was able to continue filming my tutorials from my hospital room. I remember saying often that nothing could happen to me all year because I HAD TO get that daily square filmed and posted! Not only were people counting on me, I was counting on myself!

And so it commenced, we started filming our first granny square on December 31st, 2015 to launch on January 1st, 2016. YARNutopia’s 365 Days of Granny Squares tutorials were born.

Beginning and Near Endings

This project began as a very personal goal, I had a small following on my Facebook page and YouTube channel, and wasn’t sure if this would even be something that would catch on. Would I just be on my own for a year making squares? Honestly, I had zero idea of how this would turn out, and because of that, I failed to foresee a few issues that arose during the process. For the most part, it went quite well right out of the gate. I was keeping up the pace, squares upon squares, one a day with no problem. Until…I had a problem.

In my zeal to get started, I failed to garner the proper permission to film some of the squares that had free patterns available online. I was contacted by some of the designers that I filmed their squares without their OK. They had a totally valid position, and for the most part, handled professionally and successfully. It was my own misunderstanding to not consider going through proper channels, and it resulted in a few squares being removed from the early part of the project. This helped to change my course. I went through the correct procedures moving forward. It forced me to push myself even further to design my own squares. A total of 33 of my own designs were part of this project. It taught me extremely valuable lessons in the process. That can be humbling to go through.

Sometimes, it takes finding yourself in an uncomfortable position to really push yourself to get more creative. I remember considering giving up. That was until one particular keyboard warrior wrote to me with a few intense, nasty, and unnecessary insults to really push me right back up again. To anyone I hurt in this process, my sincerest apologies. For anyone who tried to come at me to hurt me or get me to quit, thanks for everything. It was because of what you did that made me want to finish. That was a turning point. Moving forward things were otherwise very successful and positive.

A Debt of Gratitude

There is no way a project this lofty could have been accomplished solely on my own. As mentioned earlier, I was able to garner permission from a wide array of incredible designers that allowed me the opportunity to use one or many of their patterns in my project. There is a list at the end of this blog linking every designer that contributed their designs. PLEASE, I implore you all to visit their websites, blogs, Ravelry stores, and Facebook pages. “Like” and “Follow” these amazing, creative people. There would be no 365 Days of Granny Squares without their help. I wish I could gather everyone who helped me on this daily endeavor and give these ladies and gentlemen a standing ovation! I owe each of them a debt of deep genuine gratitude. I learned so much from every square. I am literally in tears writing this part of the blog because it is difficult to put into words what this entire process meant to me. I can look at certain squares and remember what they represent in this journey. There is a square on the day I had to have another biopsy. There are squares that represent health victories and squares that represent some rough patches. 2016 brought so many highlights, and there is a square that reflects many of those amazing personal moments. Although this started out as my own journey, it became so much more than I could have ever imagined. These granny squares truly became my journal written in yarn.

The hunt for squares

The process of finding squares for my year long quest was somewhat of a challenge to search online for free patterns from designers. If their written patterns were easy to follow and understand, I would contact them to ask permission to use their design. As I said, were numerous amazing designers that lent their patterns. Up until the very end I was receiving requests and replies to use patterns, but the year ran out of days! Their patterns are an incredible tool for those who are participating in the 365 Days of Granny Squares project. Having the accompanying written instructions to assist with the tutorial has helped tremendously for people wanting to learn how to read patterns, as well as those who prefer that over a video tutorial. At the bottom of the 365 Days of Granny Squares blog, I listed the designers’ links to their written patterns. In my video tutorials, I mention the designer and pattern name for that particular square, and I share a link to the written pattern in the description of each video tutorial on YouTube. I also share a link to their written pattern on social media when I share the square of the day every morning. All of these things help followers network with so many in our crochet community.

Yarn for days!

When taking on a project of this magnitude, planning ahead was a necessity. Thankfully I had scrap yarn to get things started which saved me from having to purchase a bunch of yarn for this monumental project. This ENTIRE task was accomplished using ALL scrap yarns that I have collected in my stash over time. I began the project using Red Heart Yarns in Super Saver and kept that constant through the entire year. There was no waste when using yarn scraps, and it keeps everything consistent by using the same fiber and brand for each square. I tried keeping the supplies for this project as modest as possible.

You can’t plan for everything!

Taking on this mission also meant that I had to plan for all sorts of situations. There was so much concealed when I took on this project that lasted for 365 days. Over the course of the year, we experienced many technical difficulties. We had upload fails, we accidentally released videos in the wrong order, and we mixed up footage. If you can imagine all the possibilities of accidents that could go wrong over an entire year adventure, we probably encountered a majority of them. My dad and I had a very good system worked out, and filming a daily video went fairly smoothly. However, nothing about this was predictable. Filming in the hospital became necessary at one point during this journey. If I was able to keep the squares in order, and not have any breaks, it meant having my dad bring the studio to my hospital room. Again, at this point while feeling so ill, I thought about giving up on this project, but I had gotten so far, so giving up was no longer an option. Sometimes it was necessary to film a few days in advance to bank up some tutorials in case I was unable to be in the studio. Whether I filmed one video a day, or filmed a few in a day to take some time off, I would always add the daily square to the blog, and I posted the new square to my social media sites every single morning when I woke up. Although we had a few mix-ups and personal mishaps, there have been no late granny squares, and I was able to accomplish everything I had hoped for.

To those who participated in the journey

The feedback throughout this process has been unbelievable. Along the way, I was lifted up in ways I cannot put into words. The growing following that came every day to post, discuss, and share their thoughts about the day’s square was incredible.

I want to take a moment to thank every one of you who were here. Even if I didn’t comment on each post every day, I read and saw it all — every single square, every beautiful color combination, and every kind word you said to me and to each other. How do I say thank you for all that you did for me and for one another? I’m so proud of my YARNutopia community! Thank you for showing up every single day. You may not know this, but it was each of YOU who inspired me each day to show up, work hard, and keep going. Every message and kind word went straight to my heart. This project was a collective effort from all of us. WE DID IT! Myself, my dad, the designers, and YOU the crocheters. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being part of this epic journey. I witnessed something truly remarkable as this year unfolded. It makes me sad to see this project come to an end. I won’t have you here with me every single day for our daily square, but I’m so grateful this brought us together over our mutual love of crochet. I feel like I know all of you as we crocheted together through it all. There are seriously no words. #uglycry

What the future holds

I will be keeping the 365 Days of Granny Squares page up for a while and may replace a few squares here or there at some point. This one year commitment to a project of this magnitude was satisfactory to achieve. Many have asked me to do another year, but I think one year was sufficient to prove to myself that I could do this. I am happy and have no regrets looking back. I learned invaluable things about our crochet community, about myself, about commitment, about the power of positive thinking, about having a passion to pursue a goal, and about how yarn can tie so many across our globe together. I was happy to be the one to share this experience with all of you who came every day or just stopped by for a few favorite squares. This isn’t the end of what I am capable of doing. I look forward to new challenges in 2017 including some fun monthly projects! The work to do this project took a lot of effort not only on my part but also for my dad. We both look forward to a bit of rest and relaxation before we get back in the studio. There is much more to come from us in the future! So stay tuned!

To my Daddy

First and foremost, I could not have done this project without my supportive family, and of course, Nate! I cannot finish this blog without a huge mention of what role my dad played in this yearlong endeavor. Where do I start when it comes to thanking him? How does one encapsulate the gratitude I feel for someone who was with me at every single moment of every single project? He stood tirelessly by my side and filmed 365 squares (plus our bonus square). There he was, right by my side, ready to go each day until the very end! I don’t think anyone could understand what a colossal task this project was other than my daddy. His exemplary video and editing skills made every square come to life on the screen. He was the one who worked tirelessly through the year, late into the nights making our videos, making edits, taking out the bloopers (yes, one day, we will have a blooper reel), corrected me, helped me, supported me, challenged me, encouraged me, energized me, untangled yarn for me, laughed with me, and by indirect means, learned crochet along side me! He never gave up. He never complained. His dedication and commitment to this project cannot go unnoticed. Thank you, Daddy. Your patience and sense of humor made doing this monumental project so much more fun than I could have ever imagined. I love you so much! SHOUT OUT TO MY AMAZING DADDY!

All these squares

Throughout this project, I demonstrated how to make each granny square in a video tutorial. Participants are then on their own to decide what to make using their squares. Some have participated from the beginning of the year making each square, and some jumped in on occasion to make a square that stood out. The creativity of what we’re sharing has been fabulous! Projects that have been made and shared on our Facebook page have left me speechless! You are all so talented!

Throughout the year, I have collected the squares and have been using them in blanket projects. From the start, I planned to pay it forward and make blankets for people in need. So far, I have managed to make 3 blankets using a variety of the squares. Each blanket has found its way to a very special home or charity and will continue to do so as I finish using all the squares in this project. This was my way of giving back for a year of healthier and happier days.

Read about my first project I made using the Granny Squares from this year so far.

Read about my second project I made using the Granny Squares from this year so far.

Read about my third project I made using the Granny Squares from this year so far.

Goodbye 2016

Now the year has come to an end. It will be strange not having a square to post tomorrow morning, but at the same time I am thrilled over a successful goal achieved. Today is so bittersweet! Not many can say they crocheted a granny square every day for an entire year and got healthier doing it! That’s a pretty great ending to 2016 and an even better way to start out another great year! Together we came so far! Here’s to a year ahead of more epic crochet days! HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Cheers to 2017 being a wonderful year for all!

~Nadia

Find the list of contributing designers here: (AGAIN, please visit their pages, “Like” their work, and “Follow” them on social media!)

Murray Stewart at http://www.madebymurray.co.uk

Amelia Beebe AKA champygirl at http://www.crochetville.com/

Kinga Erdem at http://www.myhobbyiscrochet.com/

https://thegiraffeshat.wordpress.com

Leonie Morgan’s Ravelry Store

Margret Willson’s Ravelry Store

Eline Alcocer at www.pastaandpatchwork.com

Ali Burdon at http://veryberryhandmade.co.uk/

Jackie Tyler at http://www.crochet-knit.com/

Maz Kwok at http://www.beacrafter.com/

Ali Crafts Designs’ Ravelry Store

Vicki Brown at http://www.vickibrowndesigns.com/

http://www.vickibrowndesigns.com/

Joanne Jones’ Ravelry Store

Megan Mills at http://megan.cc/MotifWheel/

Cyberspnr

Natasja King from Crochetime.net

Red Heart Design Team

Ruth C. Roy at 365grannies.blogspot.com/

Yuli Nilssen at Yuli Handmade

Beverly A. Qualheim at Bev’s Country Cottage

Nina Leon at Hookers Don’t Bite

Fiona Kelly at Tangled Blossom Design

Pia Thadani at StitchesnScraps.com

Manda Robertson at Raising Robertsons

By Hook

Lois Everett

Laura Avery Home Makers Insanity

Jeni Entwistle at Messy Mama Makes

Sonya Blackstone at Blackstone Designs

Naomi Garcia lanadebaa.blogspot.com/

Sara Palacios

Yarn In Yarn Out Designs

Wieke van Keulen

DROPS design

Vogue Knitting

Josie Calvert Briggs

Sandra Paul of Cherry Heart

Shelley Husband

Elaine Phillips

Christine Harvey

Adaiha Covington

Lucinda Ganderton

Kara Gunza from Petals to Picots

JLyn Spencer

Corinne Bradd

Lynne Samaan

April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio

Carola Wijma

Claire Hayes

Sandra La Madeleine

Annoo Crochet

Betina Juchem Clemens

Jennifer Ofenstein from Sew Hooked

Patricia Stuart

JudyK

Sandra Åhlberg

The Snail of Happiness

Patricia Stuart

mille makes

Carol Bryant

CreativeCrochetWorkshop

Helen Shrimpton

Tamika Joyeux

Amanda Weenk

Shan Sevcik

Jeni Entwistle at Messy Mama Makes

Susan Hinton

Donna Mason-Svara at Smooth Fox

Emily H.

Melissa Beth

Celina Lane

Melinda Hobgood

Sadie Cuming

Carola Wijma

Jennifer Lynn Carter

Claire from Crochet Leaf

Amber Schaaf

Cylinda D. Mathews

Crochet- atelier

Julie A Bolduc

Jennifer Tucker

Shannon Thayer

Oombawka Design

Donna Kay Lacey

Cynthia Boylan At SpinnyThingy.Blogspot.Com

Black Sheep Creations

Kris Kelln

Marta Chrzanowska

Melissa Green

Aurora Suominen from MyBlueAngels.Blogspot.com

zelna olivier

Marjan Hoebeke-Pfaff

Marie Segares

Joanne Jones

Buttonnose Crochet

Bonnie Pierce

Jen Tyler

Edith E Smith

Maria Summers

BabyLove Brand

Thank you YARNutopians!

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Usually it’s only my hands that are seen. As we passed over the 100,000 subscribers mark on our YouTube channel, we felt the best way to express our gratitude to those who are watching, sharing, and recommending our videos was to post this small personal video of thanks.

Thank you doesn’t even begin to express all we wish to say to you for the love you have shown us over the past two years. Because of you, we have been able to do something we love. It is hard to believe that a few of years ago, I picked up a hook and a skein of yarn to help me cope with long stays in the hospital and that would lead me on this amazing path, but here we are!!!

I could not have reached this amazing goal without YOU, but my family has been instrumental in making YARNutopia what it is as well and deserve a mention of sincere thanks. My mom is my creative guidance, the person who helps me bounce around ideas, a constant support and best friend. My two older brothers and my sister-in-law are one of the most encouraging teams around! My nephew, who shows up from time to time as a model, is the cutest little guy anyone could ever ask for. And of course, Nate. He is the one who is there to cheer me on when I am frustrated and helps me untangle my yarn when my projects go awry! But the most important Thank you behind the scenes goes out to my Dad! His camera skills are unsurpassed and he does so much work in the studio that no one sees.

In this video, I am onscreen with my Dad, Fuad Azmat – yes, my dad comes out from behind the camera to give a huge shout-out to everyone and to tell you how much it means to us to have you as a part of our YARNutopia community. We love bringing you crochet tutorials and hope to continue to grow for years to come!

Thank you once again YARNutopians, you are the BEST!!

Happy Hooking! 
~Nadia