A project for multitaskers: How to make a chevron blanket

We are a society of multitaskers. We can hardly stand still for three minutes without having something in our hands. This is probably why we are addicted to our cell phones and computers.

This winter I plan to pass my idle time away from my Twitter feed and do something a little more productive. I’m going to crochet a chevron blanket.

My mom taught me how to do this one. I know instructions you find online sometimes aren’t simple enough for beginners, but hopefully I can take you step-by-step on how to make a chevron pattern blanket.

Starting the blanket

I’m using a 5.00mm hook with medium (4) thick yarn.

To start the blanket you need to make a slip knot. Place the string over your index finger, and loop the string around your finger once. Then loosen the loop closest to your nail, bring the back loop under and then bring the first loop back under.

Pull on the first loop to tighten. This can be done with your fingers or with the help of your hook. Try not to tighten too much that you will not be able to stick your hook inside the knot.

First row

The first row of this blanket is going to be made entirely of basic or simple chain. To do this you are going to put your hook inside your slip knot, holding it with the hand you are most comfortable with. With your other hand, you will use your index finger to support the new string.

You are going to grab new string from underneath the yarn and then pull it through the knot to make a simple chain.

You will need to make about 250 simple chains for your first row.

The rest of the blanket

For the rest of the blanket you will use double chains and simple chains to create the pattern. First turn your simple chain around to start from the end. Then skip three chains for height.

On the fourth chain, you are going to grab yarn from your finger, then push through the knot. Grab yarn from your finger again and pull back out of the knot again, and grab more string from your finger.

Now you’re going to pull through two of the four loops you made with your yarn. There should still be two loops left. Grab more string from your finger and pull it all the way to the end. When you have only one loop on your hook, you have made a double chain.

You are going to repeat these steps for five more double chains and then, on the sixth chain (or ninth chain counting the ones you skipped at the beginning) you are going to make three double knots in the same chain. This will make the top tip of the triangle.

On the next five chains, you will do only one double knot per chain. After five chains, skip two chains to make the bottom tip of the triangle.

Repeat this pattern until the end of the row.

New levels and colors

For the next level, make three simple chains, then skip two chains before starting the pattern again. The first line of chains before the first top tip in every row should only be four chains; the rest will be five. Keep this pattern until you decide to change colors.

When changing colors, make a slip knot with new color and put the hook through it and the loop for the previous color. Grab string from your finger and make a simple chain with both colors. Pull loose ends tight to secure and make three more chains to start next level.

You can make as many levels as you want and use as many colors as you want. You can make all the colors the same width or switch them up. Just remember to take hand rest breaks every once in a while to let me know if this tutorial helped.

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Tech Toys: The Priciest Items on Your Child’s Wish List

Santa’s elves will need to be well-versed in tablet and app technology this holiday season. Some of the most anticipated toys this year will be high-tech devices, according to the top toys lists from the markets biggest toy sellers.

In September, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, Target and Amazon.com released what they believe will be the hottest toys on the market this season. Among the top the top contenders were child-oriented tablets lead by LeapFrog’s LeapPad 2 Explorer and toys that can be linked with apps like FURBY by Hasbro.

Companies have been working on these lists since the previous holiday season. They track the latest toy innovations so retailers can make commitments with manufacturers to sell the best toys, said Dr. Barton Weitz, a retired executive director of the Miller Center for Retailing at the University of Florida.

Market research that Toys R Us has conducted over the last year shows that technology has further imposed on the toy market.

“Kids these days, as you can imagine, are very, very tech savvy,” Kerry Smith, a spokeswoman for Toys R Us said, “They are really interested in having the latest products that feed that wantingness to be playing with something techy.”

Toys R Us has taken this information to join the tablet market with its family-oriented tabeo tablet. The 7-inch touch-screen tablet that goes on sale Oct. 21, allows families to create up to eight different profiles with varying parental controls to accommodate the needs of different age groups.

“It’s really meant for those parents who are not looking to share their pricey iPad or their pricey tablet with their kids,” Smith said. “It’s really designed for kids but it has the safety features that parents desire.”

Also among the top toys lists are tried favorites that have been re-invented for the next generation of play time.

FURBY, a furry robotic owl-like toy that gained fame in the 90s, has re-gained popularity because of its new tablet connectivity. FURBY now has a free app that can be downloaded through Apple, Android and tabeo app stores. It allows kids to interact with the doll and even translates its make-believe language into English.

But these new tech toys come with a hefty price. The new and improved FURBY is listed at $59.99 on ToysRUs.com, while the tabeo comes in at $149.99.

According to Weitz, companies like Mattel put kids in play rooms to test out new toys and see which ones they like the most.

This is where companies gear their price ranges for new toys. Between the high value given to new technology and the demand for them in the children’s toy market these toys can be sold at these high prices.

However, large retailers like Toys R Us aren’t worried that the high prices will hurt its tech toy sales.

“Value has two different components: the item that you’re getting and the play value that item offers,” Smith said. “The play value of a tablet is incredible and that’s really important when parents are shopping.”

Some shoppers like Elise Rodrguez, a sophomore at the University of Florida, recalls a simpler childhood where she and her brother got excited for the next pack of $5 Pokemon game cards. She feels that children won’t have the same experience Christmas morning because there will be fewer presents under the tree.

“I liked seeing a lot of presents, under the tree even if they were small,” Rodriguez said. “Now kids will probably get just one big present.”

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This post is another story from my multimedia writing class but I thought it was appropriate for the upcoming holiday season.

The iPad can be a good teaching tool

Is technology in the classroom all that it’s cracked up to be? Schools want you to believe that it is.

Schools have increased their reliance on technology ever since the invention of the internet. It seems they are on a race to see who can best embrace the newest technological advancement.

The latest educational technology trend is how to effectively use tablet computers, such as the iPad, in classrooms.

Some schools have completely disregarded pen, paper and textbooks all together, opting to lease iPads equipped with ebooks and educational apps to every student. Others are using them more sparingly, hoping to engage students and foster creativity.

However, the decision to go hi-tech was not made by the teachers in the classroom. According to studies conducted by the Pew Internet Project and Common Sense Media, they would rather stay in the Stone Age.

The studies show that teachers are conflicted on how technology’s affects students learning. Some teachers believe that technology has ruined students intention spans. Others say they find it harder to grab student’s attention in the classroom and feel that students are discouraged to find answers to complex problems that cannot be answered on Google.

These studies also suggest that a big reason for this distraction could be more about the use of entertainment media at home. It is suggested that a child that has more exposure to the internet and other forms of entertainment media at home, has a shorter intention span than those who do not.

So is having a screen in front of a child’s face a real solution? Tony Wagner, Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard, thinks so.

Wagner believes tablets can help students learn teamwork and creativity. He says that technology in the classroom, if used the right way, opens students to a wider range of knowledge and skills needed for the 21st century.

“They (students) will need to be intrinsically motivated to acquire new knowledge and skills throughout their lives. Developing the skills, habits of mind, and dispositions of an innovator, in my view, requires effective coaching – that is what I think all teachers must strive to become.”

5 recycled fashion trends

The fashion industry has a way of taking former styles and reinventing them for the girl of the 21st century. These are the five of the most popular styles I have seen this winter:

Button Up Shirts

Buttoning up your collar all the way to the top used to be considered stuffy, but the classic look has turned a new leaf and has become a popular option for both men and women. Adding bejeweled collars, sheer fabrics or lace appliques has turned this old cover-up top into a fun winter top.

Reinvented Leather

It used to be that leather was only for jackets and shoes but it is becoming more versatile. Leather tops, pants, and dresses are big this season.

Cute Loafers

The estranged cousin of the penny loafer is the latest go-to flat. It’s been giving a style facelift by adding fun patterns and fabrics like velvet.

Pleated Skirts

Pleated skirts were a fun prep school staple in the 1950s. Today, they come in all lengths, colors and fabrics making them so much more versatile. You can go for a sheer maxi length skirt for a more casual bohemian style, or stick to the prepster look by pairing a mid-length skirt with a blazer and a blouse.

Lace Everything

Lace is one of the oldest fashion trends. This season, you can get everywhere from shirts to blazers to shoes, and it is an easy way to dress up your outfit.

Meeting Cool People and Following Your Dreams

This week has been a little crazy so I thought it would share something that I did earlier this year for my multimedia writing class.

We had the opportunity to sit with one of our classmates for a personality profile piece. We conducted the interview and wrote the article in under 90 minutes.

I wanted to share this assignment with you all because when I first got into journalism, I did so because I wanted to tell stories. To me, profiles are the epitome of great storytelling and to actually write one is a dream come true. I hope this profile is a little piece of Drake’s story.

****

Drake Babis is probably “Gone Fishing”

Drake Babis, 19, sits in a chair with his legs on the table in front of him. He’s wearing khaki shorts and a light blue polo shirt and resembles the kind of guy that likes to spend his weekends on a golf field somewhere.

In reality, Drake would probably much rather spend his weekends in the woods looking out for game, or out in the ocean waiting for his next big catch.

Babis, a public relations major at the University of Florida, is an avid outdoor sportsman. He spends his free time fishing, hunting and camping in places like North Florida, Louisiana and Georgia.

Growing up in Tampa, Fla., Babis learned how to fish from a young age. His mom being from Tallahassee, Fla., and his dad being into fishing and fire arms, outdoor activities were a family activity.

“I remember going to the Gandy Bridge where there was a bait shop,” Babis recalls, “You could just walk from the bait shop to the bridge and fish on the bridge.”

Babis and his family liked taking trips to down to the Florida Keys to fish on weekends. At one point, the family even owned their own boat, but deeming it too much work during his high school years, the family sold the boat.

“There’s so much maintenance that goes along with it,” Babis says.

When Babis got older and his father felt he understood how to safely handle a gun, he began going hunting with his family in Tallahassee, North Florida, and South Georgia. His first hunting trip was when he was 13 years old, on a family trip to Tallahassee.

However, Babis learned hunting takes practice. He didn’t get his first kill until the following year on a three-day hunting trip in Pecan Island, La.

“That was the most fun I had hunting–getting my first ducks,” Babis said.

Babis now hunts regularly and uses a 12 gauge shotgun. He keeps his hunting license up-to-date, and makes sure to follow safety procedures and hunting laws.

Babis is also a part of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity at UF where his brothers share his interest in hunting. He is a member of Ducks Unlimited, a conservation group dedicated to the habitat conservation of wetlands and waterfowl.

Babis enjoys hunting and fishing because they are a way to escape from the hectic college lifestyle.

“It feels good to be alone in nature,” Babis says, “The rush you get when you shoot something is just awesome.”

3 things I’ve learned about blogging

Old@New is my first blog. I’m really excited about it but that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been a few bumps along the way. I wanted to share some of the challenges I had over the past few weeks

You have to make a schedule

If you have four or five ideas right off the bat,  you should write them down and make a schedule for when you are going to elaborate on them.Ideas are fleeting and may never come back.

The night I launched the site, I had all these potential ideas that I no longer remember.

You have to be confident in your ideas

The biggest problem I have had was actually getting started.

You are always going to be your worst critic, but  you picked your theme, topic and writing style on purpose. If it doesn’t work out, or you change your mind, it’s okay. The internet is pretty forgiving.

You have to remember to proofread

It is really easy press the publish button after you finish a post. I am so guilty of posting something before reading it twice. Try not  to get caught up in that moment and read your post one more time. You do not want come back on two weeks later and realize that you didn’t finish a sentence.

Will the environment continue to be a top political topic?

Ever since the 1970s, environmental issues have become extremely important topics in American politics. Last week, the question of how the United States is going to become energy independent is one of the tenser discussions of the presidential debate.

Both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney believe that the country should be energy independent and both candidates support more domestic drilling and the use of natural gas. But the candidates are at ends on how much government aid should be given to  clean energy companies.

President Obama has given wind, solar and bio fuel companies a lot of support over the last four years. Part of the economic stimulus package gave tax cuts and subsidies to renewable energy companies in Silicon Valley, and the president still believes that the government should do more to support clean energy companies.

On the other hand, Governor Romney has bashed the president’s aid to cleantech industries stating that it is against the nature of the US free enterprise system. He does believe that renewable energies should be part of the energy mix, but he doesn’t believe that it needs to be backed up so frevently by the government.

The outcome of the election will determine how much support they will get from government subsidies, but I believe renewable energy will continue to be an important topic  as more and more people learn about the damaging impacts of non-renewables.

Is Twitter and Facebook the new way to meet Mr. /Mrs. Right?

Like every network, MTV puts commercials of its upcoming shows and premieres during every commercial break. One that seems to be getting a lot of playback is the commercial for the network’s new reality series, Catfish.

The show that premieres on Nov. 12, is based from a 2010 documentary of the same name. It follows host, Nev Schulman, as he gives people the opportunity to meet their online loves for the first time.

The commercial gives away that it won’t all be inspirational stories about love at first Facebook like. Some people aren’t really who they claim to be online.

A study done by Catalina L. Toma at the University of Wisconsin found that 81 percent of people lie about themselves on online dating sites. Taken, some of those lies are arbitrary things like weight and height, but the real question is do you really know who you’re talking to on the other side of the computer screen?

Online dating is growing rapidly. 40 million people used an online dating service this year, but, it  is only the first step in a relationship. Like Schulman’s show, the only way to find out who is one the other side of the screen is to actually meet them either in person or by video chat

If you are going to meet someone in person, be careful and bring a friend.

A different 9/11 story: What I learned from my week abroad

Last March, I had the opportunity to go to Salzburg, Austria for a 10 day study abroad program and truth be told, I fell in love.

I fell in love with Salzburg’s rich history, one that is rich in stories about the people — some renowned, others not so much — that made huge impact on the way the city as grown.I fell in love with cobbled stone streets, grand old churches, the home of Amedeus Mozart and the city’s reluctance to let The Sound of Music erase the rest of its culture.

Even though Salzburg is a historic city, I went there to learn about what it takes to be a leader in today’s interconnected world.

While in Salzburg, I stayed at Schloss Leopoldskron, the former palace of the archbishop of Salzburg. The palace is now owned by the Salzburg Global Seminar, a non-profit organization that orchestrated the program I attended.

The International Study Program asks students what it means to be a global citizen and challenges students to find ways to contribute to the UN Millennium Development Goals in their hometowns.

In one of our sessions, we were having a discussion on recent events that have changed the world, and Astrid Schroder, the program’s director, shared a story I will never forget.

American students brought up examples like the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, about nuclear warfare, environmental issues, and the internet and its effect on communications.

Although Astrid, a German native, wanted to challenge us about things that were happening outside of our homes, she said the end of the Cold War was one of the most influential events in her life.

Astrid was in Berlin the day the Berlin Wall, a wall that divided East and West Berlin, fell. She said that she would never forget the tears streaming down people’s faces as they crossed the border into West Berlin. People kissed the ground and hugged one another as they were finally able to return to free soil.

Astrid called this story her 9/11 story. She said that it is a big reason as to why she believes that her job as an educator is so important.

People will have different points of views and different priorities, but all humans have the same right to live a healthy and happy life. My time abroad taught me that the most effective leaders are the ones that give others the opportunity to share their stories and work together towards a brighter future.

I will never forget Astrid’s 9/11 story. I feel that my time at the ISP further cemented my desire to help others tell their stories. I strongly believe that stories that till hold on to the oldest of human values — thirst for knowledge, love and self-worth — can give us a new way to see the world.

 

Hello internet!

I’m Monica Kelly. I hail from one of the most culturally diverse and historical cities in the world: Miami, Fla. It may mostly be known for its beautiful beaches, good weather and vibrant party scene, but growing up I was more accustom to listening to stories about hard work, family and what my abuelo said was a much simpler time.

I am currently living in Gainesville, Fla., studying journalism at the University of Florida.

This blog is about how we are influenced by the past in so many things we do now. I take influences come from magazines, interior design, blogs, and graphic design because they all have a main theme of bringing old concepts and features and making them new. I write about almost anything that is being reused or repurposed, and about people that are making these things popular.

I got the idea for Old@New on my way back to Gainesville after a weekend in Miami. I had an idea of a blog called “A little bit old, a little bit new” but I thought it was too long. Then I started doodling my twitter handle in the margins and I thought about how I could write about old inspiration on a new medium.

If you want to keep up with me and find out where I get inspiration from,  you can follow me on Twitter @monicapkelly.