A Cup Koozie

After mastering, and I use that term very loosely, the single crochet stitch, I am moving on to the half double crochet stitch. I found the following YouTube tutorial to help me.

Again, I picked an instructional source that would allow me to end up with a product. I liked feeling of accomplishment I had when I completed my coaster and it allows me to show the new stitch I’ve learned. My learning of the half double crochet stitch resulted in a cup koozie. The next time I hit up Tim Horton’s or Second Cup, I won’t need one of their cardboard koozies, I’ll have my own.

koozie selfie

Not only will I be able to show off my super cute koozie, but I’ll be saving the environment too. Now that is a double win!

I think that I like this stitch better than the single crochet. I found it easier to count my stitches and didn’t seem to make near as many mistakes. I may just be getting the hang of this crochet thing! I did do a practice run before I started my koozie to make sure I had the basics of the stitch. I still had trouble figuring out exactly where to start and end. I watched several videos to make sure that I was inserting my hook in the right loop to begin with. The videos all explain it a little bit differently which can be a good thing, but it can also be a little bit confusing. I rewatched them several times and had to end with the one that made the most sense to me.

Here’s a picture of my koozie before I joined the ends together.


You can see that the one end bubbles out a little because I was adding stitches. Once I got that corrected though, it went pretty smoothly.

Joining the ends was pretty simple. It was very similar to weaving the yarn ends in. Once I was all finished I turned it inside out so the seam wasn’t as visible. I should have weaved in my other yarn end before turning it inside out but you can’t really tell. Once it was all together you can barely see where I messed up!

I didn’t get to complete this project all in one sitting (I don’t get much uninterrupted time these days!) so I’m not sure how long it took me to finish. I think it went faster than the coaster though. It is a bigger stitch than the single crochet so you need less of them.


Snapchat…What’s the Big Deal?

Snapchat, I really don’t get it. Why would you want to take a picture or send a message that only last a few seconds? I can really only see negative consequences as a result of this. Someone takes a risqué picture but then it gets screenshotted and now it’s forever, or an ingenious bullying app that leaves no proof that it ever happened. I do not see the appeal. I saw an article on Twitter @courosa shared,  “My Little Sister Taught Me How to “Snapchat Like The Teens” After reading it I still wasn’t inspired to download the app and start snapping. Now, I know I am not the most avid social media user, I’m actually pretty terrible, but I can see the usefulness of other social media sites. Facebook can be used to connect with old and new friends and there is interesting news bits and groups you can join. Twitter has huge educational benefits. I can find many interesting articles and thought provoking tidbits that will positively impact my teaching. Pinterest, I love. This is one social media app that I rock. I am a little bit addicted actually, to the point where I limit what I pin so people don’t get annoyed. I think it is very practical. I can use it to find ideas for school, cooking, cleaning, crafting, DIYing, etc. Snapchat seems to serve to no purpose, so why would I invest my limited time in it.

“Of teens ages 12 – 17, 81% use social media”

24331490695_22bc552d2a_o (1)Photo Credit: The one place for all businesses! via Compfight cc

After reading the articles for class this week, I am starting to see the draw. It does make sense that people don’t want all pictures of themselves posted to a place where they stay forever. When universities and potential employers check social media to decide whether or not they want you, you may not want them to see you engaging in certain extracurricular activities. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it doesn’t always give context. Also, having your parents know your every move, although a great parenting technique, isn’t every teenager’s dream. I think it is a positive move that teens are thinking about their online profile and what it says about them and how it can impact their future. When making a hasty, not well thought out post in the heat of the moment can literally get you fired, maybe Snapchat is the better alternative.

“41% of smartphone owners between 18 and 29 use messaging apps that automatically delete sent messages, like Snapchat”  

One of my big hang ups with Snapchat is the disappearing pictures. When I take a picture I want it to last, so I can look back and remember that time. I feel I can’t remember half my life so capturing those special moments is important. When I look at photos they bring back the memories like the of feeling of the sun on my face as I laid on that small remote beach by the ocean in Spain, the giddiness I felt when dating my now husband, the excitement of buying our first house, the happiness of our wedding day, the joy felt when our daughters were born. I know these are big moments, but photos also capture those little moments of life that are easily forgotten. However, when I think about all the pictures I took in my teenage years, which I had to pay to develop, I’ve thrown most of them out.  So, I guess having them disappear after a couple seconds or hours isn’t such a ludicrous idea after all.

“Instead of posting generic and sanitized updates for all to see, they [teenagers] are sharing their transient goofy selfies and blow-by-blow descriptions of class with only their closest friends”

I did a little more research about Snapchat to get the full picture. “What’s the point of Snapchat and how does it work?” was a very informative article and has lots of short entertaining videos. What I found may have just lead me to believe that Snapchat isn’t so bad after all. Teenagers want to be in the moment and Snapchat is a great tool to express that. From the standard snaps, to stories, to chats, and even live video chatting, Snapchat is, I have to admit, a pretty cool app. You can even transfer money using it. Many young people are leaving social media sites like Facebook and Twitter for the more intimate space of Snapchat. This could have potential drawbacks like parents not being able to monitor their children. Snapchat also doesn’t provide opportunity for new ideas to enter young people’s social networks. When youth are not exposed to social justice issues or political ideas they may develop a very narrow view of the world. Snapchat Discover is a new way to get information from editorial teams like CNN or Daily Mail and this could bring the news to Snapchatters and expand their views. However, the personal learning network that other social media offers is still lost and these networks may become increasingly important in the push to stay connected in this modern age.

Finally… A Completed Coaster!

I wasn’t satisfied with my fourth attempt at a coaster so I set out to try, try again. It didn’t go well at the start. I had to pull it apart another 3 times and then I decided to leave it for the night. The next morning it went much better. I had my coaster in just under 2 hours. I know, 2 hours is a long time for a 5″ by 5″ coaster, but I guess it’s a process and hopefully I’ll get a lot faster.

I had trouble again with losing stitches. My last stitch was always difficult for me to see and so tight it was hard to get my hook into it. The thing with losing stitches is you can’t tell you’ve lost them till several rows up. This is extremely frustrating. I also would sometimes get lost in the middle of a row and have to rip out stitches till the start of the row. Despite all my mistakes I managed to get a pretty good looking coaster.

Final coaster

Not going to lie, I was pretty proud of myself!

Now I had to learn how to weave the yarn tails into my project. That was actually the easiest part. I needed that yarn needle sooner than I thought! I’m glad I had already bought one.

Coaster weaved in

Here is a short video of me weaving in the tails.

I wanted a little assistance in solving my problem with losing stitches. I watched the YouTube video Learn How To Crochet~Lesson 1of 6 “Basic Crochet Stitches Series” by Made With Love By Glama to learn how to make this coaster. I left a comment under the video asking for help. I also joined one of her Facebook groups where people share their crochet projects and asked questions. Hopefully I’ll hear back from her soon with a little advice.

Third time’s a charm…or is it?

I’ve been practicing my chain stitch and even though it isn’t great, I feel I need to move on to learning a new stitch. It is also kind of boring just doing a chain stitch over and over again! I thought I would try my hand at a single crochet stitch. One of the videos I viewed taught the stitch and in the end I’d end up with a coaster. I thought this was great. I would actually produce something.

My wanting to produce something may mirror my students’ feelings in school. Putting all their knowledge together to make a product feels better than just completing a worksheet or a test. You also get a sense of accomplishment and product you can show to your peers, parents, etc.

My first attempt went horribly and I didn’t make it very far before I pulled it all apart to start again. My second attempt didn’t go much better. I was losing stitches quickly. My square coaster would soon turn into a single chain. Third time’s a charm, or is it?

Here’s what the coaster is supposed to look like…

ideal coaster

Here’s what mine looked like…

coaster attempt

I hadn’t quite got the hang of it to say the least! All I had got was a killer hand cramp. I knew that I was losing stitches again, but I decided to keep going for the practice. I think I figured out where I was going wrong and the seven or so top rows I managed keep my number of stitches consistent.

I made one more attempt because, let’s face it, attempt #3 was an epic fail. Here is my finished coaster (I haven’t learned how to get rid of the ends yet).

fourth attempt coaster

It isn’t perfect by a long shot. I was so focused on not losing stitches that I actually managed to gain a couple. Again, I think I’ve learned from my mistake. I also stitched the first couple of rows much too tight. I could barely get my hook in between the stitches. That is part of the reason the bottom curves like it does. A blog I read warned beginners of this, now I know what is considered too tight. I may make one more just to be sure. Yes, I am a bit of a perfectionist!

Here’s a video of the basics of the single crochet stitch.

Now to figure out how to get rid of the ends.



Writing in the Digital Age

Collectively as a society, “we compose some 3.6 trillion words every day on email and social media — the equivalent of 36 million books.” That’s amazing amount of writing. To think that Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and emails are getting people to write, when a short while ago, they wouldn’t have. Not counting social media or email, how much have you actually written since you finished school? Probably not a lot. Social media, blogging, etc. is keeping people writing, which should lead to a more educated and better informed world.

“We compose some 3.6 trillion words every day on email and social media — the equivalent of 36 million books.”

Michael Drennan, a high school teacher, made a commitment to have all his students’ writing be through blogging. He found it to be a positive experience and observed a number of benefits over traditional writing in school. Students were more motivated. For students to have an audience, other than their teacher, made their writing better. When you know that anyone in the world might see what you’ve written, it ups the ante. Clive Thompson explains, “Having an audience can clarify thinking. It’s easy to win an argument inside your head. But when you face a real audience, you have to be truly convincing.”  Studies have found that communicating to an audience forces people to pay more attention and learn more.

"Blog" button Photo Credit: alphinytx via Compfight cc

Blogging in the classroom is an excellent way for students to see the progress they have made. They can actually see how their writing is improving by scrolling through their previous entries. This in itself, is motivating. Parents can also have a window into what their child is doing at school and how well they are doing it. Students can learn from each other by reading and commenting on each other’s blogs. Drennan also noted that students were enjoying the writing they did, and they were thrilled when they acquired world-wide followers.

Student’s get to participate in a global community. This allows connections to happen and more and deeper learning to take place. As we have learned and discussed in my graduate class, learning is a social experience. We are shaped by our environments and the conversations going on around us, whether those happen face to face or through the internet. If the world was as connected in 1890s as it is today, penicillin would have been discovered years earlier and thousands of lives would have been saved.

“Making connections is a big deal in the history of thought—and its future.

Disorganized Communication - People Speaking at Once Photo Credit: The Idea Desk via Compfight cc

So with all the comments, blogs, tweets and links, how do we organize it all? This is something I struggle with. There is so much information out there. When I come across an article I don’t have time to read at the moment or a great idea for a lesson I’ll be teaching in the future, how do I keep it for later viewing and not spend hours looking for it again? Enter Digital Content Curation.

The new definition of content curation “is the act of selecting and collating digital content, organising it so that it may be better used to meet a particular need.” There are now online tools that have the sole purpose of helping us file and organize resources for later use. I am excited to start using these tools and organize my life! Kay Oddone also explains that, “students too can benefit from learning effective curation skills as being able to quickly and critically evaluate a range of information sources, and then curate these into a meaningful collection is a vital research skill.” Content curation can also be a valuable study skill for students.

6651377591_8be89e2d01_o Photo Credit: Aivar Ruukel via Compfight cc

Part of our goal as teachers should be to move students from being knowledgeable to knowledge-able. In order to do this students need to be connected and social media and blogging is one way we can enable this to happen.

Crochet is Cool

I have all my supplies and I’m ready to actually start crocheting. One of the blogs I read said it was easier to learn from pictures than it was from a video. I found some step by step photos and was completely lost! I couldn’t follow them and didn’t know how they got from one photo to the next. Panic was starting to set in. I went to youtube to see if I’d have better luck there. It was so much easier to learn from the videos. Crisis averted. I found a number of very helpful videos. They went through the process slow enough that I could follow along and repeated steps so I didn’t get lost.

This is a good reminder for me when teaching in the classroom. Sometimes I may go through things too quickly because I want the students to be able to finish before the bell rings. Then, because I’ve gone too quickly, they are confused or do the task wrong and it ends up taking more time. At times, I feel they really should have gotten it with the instructions I gave, forgetting that they have never done this before and I’ve done it many times. The feeling of panic I experienced when I wasn’t understanding the process is again a good reminder for me of what my students may be experiencing when they aren’t catching on to a concept right away.

Not all videos showed everything I needed so I had to watch more than one. To begin I learned the parts of the crochet hook, how to hold the hook, how to hold the yarn, how to make a slipknot, and finally, how to make a chain stitch.

Here’s a video of what I have learned so far. This is the first time I’ve made a video (had to go to Best Buy today to get a tripod that would hold my phone) so bear with me.

It is a bit difficult to get the hang of and I kind of feel like my fingers don’t work properly. I’m sure it looks a bit like my toddler learning how to use a spoon! Practice makes perfect I hope. The chain stitch, from what I understand, is a really important stitch as it makes up the first row for all projects. I guess I better get practicing!


I was really excited when I did manage to chain together some stitches. I even had to show my friends when they came over for my birthday get together. We decided that crochet is cool, or maybe it was just me, and they just went along with it because it was my birthday! Either way, I am enjoying the process so far and I am excited to actually make something.

Getting Started

In order to begin to learn how to crochet I needed to find out what materials I had to get to start.

I found this video I found quite helpful

Never being satisfied using just one source, I did a bit more research. The basic tools I need are a crochet hook, yarn, and scissors. So I packed up my baby and toddler and headed to Walmart.

In the crafting section I found the yarn. The video and other websites recommended getting a solid, light colour of yarn. Apparently it will make it easier to see your stitches.

The lady in the youTube video I watched mentioned Red Heart is her favourite brand of yarn and so I took her recommendation.


The yarn needs to be a worsted, medium yarn. It should be acrylic or wool. The yarns have different numbers on them and number 4 was recommended for beginners.

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I’m not the most decisive individual so picking a colour took much longer than it should have!

Now for the crochet hook. The video said to get an I-9 hook, but I couldn’t find one. Now I was glad I had done further research! Other suggestions were a G, H or J hook. The yarn also gives a hook size recommendation if you look in the picture above. I didn’t understand this though, so I went with a three pack of hooks — G-6, H-8 and J-10. An aluminum hook is the best choice for beginners because it will allow the yarn to glide easily.
image1 (2)I have scissors at home so I didn’t need to buy those. Another crochet blogger suggested getting a yarn or darning needle (or a tapestry needle). They are all pretty much the same thing I’ve learned, so any of the above will do. It is used to sew in your ends. I don’t need this right away but I thought while I’m here, I might as well get one. I also got this tape measure, also not needed now, but it was too cute not to buy. I got all my supplies for under $20.
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tape measure

The whole process took me much longer than it should have. My indecisiveness and not being able to find the crochet hooks (they are behind the knitting needles in sliding sort of display) added to the timeline. Thank goodness my baby slept the whole time and my toddler had enough goldfish to keep her occupied!!