Wednesday, March 4, 2015

National Crochet Month 2015 - Looking Back and Looking Forward

Welcome to National Crochet Month!  A couple of years ago I did a series of blog posts featuring new-to-me stitches and interesting projects.  To this day, the post on the Celtic Knot Granny Square is the most popular post of all time on this blog!

For this year, I have a lot of fun things planned, including techniques, a pattern of my own invention, and a guest post from one of my crafty friends!  If you have a Google account, you can easily follow so you don't miss any of these posts.

I'll be updating this post with links as the month progresses.  But let's start the celebration with just talking about crochet itself.


I know this question is asked by fiber arts pages on social media as a conversation starter all the time, but I'm really curious.  What is your favorite part of working yarn with one hook?

For me, there's something comforting in the repetition of pattern.  Somehow, crochet patterns seem easier (my friend Michelle will likely disagree with this when she tells about the project she's working on!) because of the repetition.  It soothes me - after the first few rows or rounds, I don't have to worry about what's coming next, or where I am, because it's all the same, and that's relaxing.

I've shared with you before that most of the things I crochet are utilitarian.  So I like to imagine my kids wearing the scarf or hat, someone carrying the bag, wearing the cardigan, wrapping their child in the blanket... That's also comforting to me.  This is the craft I do with purpose that also brings me joy!

Okay, your turn!  What do you love about crochet?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Super Bowl 49 - My 4 Game Day Must-Dos

I don't do roman numerals.  Does anyone know why the NFL uses roman numerals for the Super Bowl count?  I think they do it just to be fancy!

I'm very excited for the game this evening, since my Seahawks are playing for their 2nd consecutive title!  My Facebook feed has been a lot of fun for the last 2 weeks, with articles and videos  meant to inspire fans.  It's working!

Since I have something of an emotional investment in the game for the 2nd year in a row, it feels like I'm starting to develop some superstitions traditions:

1.  Skittles.  The link explains it all.

2.  Wear the proper colors.  I was on the worship team at church today, so I 12'd in public, with blue eyeliner and a blue infinity scarf I crocheted.  Just not in Seahawks team gear (which is not easy to find in Idaho).  But I did this with my nails:

Love these Neptune Jamberry wraps!  They actually remind me of summer and swimming pools!
3.  No chicken for food during the game.  I don't know that this tradition is a thing, because I think we had wings last year, and it was a blow-out.  But tonight we're having slow-cooked ribs, because that's delicious.

Game-day food gets a little more tricky because I've drastically changed my diet over the last few years.  I think I told you, about 2.5 years ago I discovered I am lactose-intolerant.  And I'm pretty sensitive to things I ought to be able to eat (yes, I can take enzymes to help, but my body still reacts.  So I usually avoid anything made with animal milk).  This combined with an effort to improve my overall health means that I am now about 80% paleo - focusing on whole foods, lean protein, fruits & veggies, limiting grains (I do still eat whole-wheat bread).  And I feel gross when I go off this plan, so I'm trying to stick to it, even through the big game.  I made a vegan spinach-artichoke dip that I found here (recipe is made with cashews, so if you're avoiding dairy and nuts, this may need more modification).  Soooooo good and really fast to make.  I may not even miss the cream cheese dip my mom makes!

4.  Fiber arts in team color.  So, I abandoned the socks I was knitting - I decided the yarn was cursed.  Not only did the Hawks not play up to par when I worked on them, but I had fit issues, and when I pulled the whole thing apart to try a different sock the yarn started splitting.  I think I'll work on some of the things I want to show you for crochet month.  Which is not all in blue or green.  But I'm having a good time with it, which is also important.  I may also work on the blue sections of Doro Theos.

Whether you watch the game for the football or the commercials (or don't watch at all), I hope everyone has a fun and safe Super Bowl Sunday.  Go Hawks!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

My Week In Stitches

Looks like this...






Like I said, my brain was too tired to focus on anything more than i-cord, which is not very interesting to look at. But I did this today:

Yarn was 25% off at Joann, so that's actually the inside of my shopping bag on my lap in the car. I think I have stash for some fun ideas and tutorials for crochet month in March!


Also, I found this cute notebook (clearance! bonus!) I think I'll keep it in my purse for times when I need paper. And this reminds me that I want to do a post on "color of the year!"

(And I'm blogging from my phone, so I have different formatting options - it won't let me choose my alignment, so everything after the pictures is centered. It probably only bothers me!)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Mental Fatigue and Stitching

How do you pull yourself out of a stitching slump?  I had several days off of work (11 in a row, although I only took 4 work days).  And coming back to the full-time schedule again has been a hard adjustment!  By the time I fight traffic (in the freezing fog) to and from work, concentrate all day, and deal with getting dinner on the table and interacting with my offspring, all I want to do is collapse in a chair and zone out in front of the TV!  Not good, because I also need to get back to the gym.  (Again, freezing fog keeps me home.)

I need tips, please!!  I know my brain is tired and probably needs a rest, but is there anything you've tried that wakes you up enough to work on projects?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

My Weeks In Stitches

The past few weeks have been almost all Christmas gifts.  They are finished and (mostly) delivered now, so I can focus on other things!

Great Is Thy Faithfulness is finished!

 I've started on Doro Theos:


The plan when I started this was to stitch Doro Theos twice - once in each of the variegated threads I got to use in Great Is Thy Faithfulness.  These colors go nicely with the color scheme in my bedroom, and I want to hang them in the chair-corner where I do my Bible reading and blogging.  However.  The chocolate variegated thread is very subtle.  And the blue-tan thread blends too well into the fabric (you can see what I mean in the "finish" pic of Great Is Thy Faithfulness).  So I think I've decided to do mixed color schemes instead of mono.  I'm also thinking about stitching each motif and framing separately (maybe in hoops not frames), so there would be 6 circles around Great Is Thy Faithfulness - here's a pic of the intended design as charted:


What would you do?  6 separate motifs, or 2 vertical sets?  I need help deciding before I finish this motif - I need to know where to start the next one!

Finally, a peek at the hibernating sweater.  The designer calls it "$5 In Paris", but I call it Parisian Berries & Cream.  I really like these colors, and I'm glad I did the charcoal stripe in between the main colors:

This seemed like a very short holiday season to me, anyone else?  It seemed like I only really had 2 weekends to get everything done, and that meant everything!  I'm glad to be done with all the busy-ness, although there was a lot of enjoyment in the busyness.  For one thing, K played Mary in the church Christmas program (I think she did an amazing job).  And I had a great time hanging out with my coworkers at our annual holiday party.

Maybe the shortness of time was because I didn't do as many handmade gifts?  Since I didn't start working on secret projects in September, I experienced the season more like "normal" people who buy things pre-made in stores?

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

This Year I Resolve To Work On One Project At A Time

I'm just kidding; I would never ever do that!  But you're reading!

Yes, I know what the productivity experts say about focus and really being able to devote attention to tasks.  And I think we've had this conversation before on this blog.  I think a creative person needs a certain amount of chaos to sort out, mess to organize, a reasonable number of problems to solve in order to function.  At least I do!  It may take longer to finish something this way, but my enjoyment in what I do is a lot higher than if I treated it like a task.  In general, I am a highly efficient person at work and at home - I am the type of person that sits at the table for a minute after dinner, mentally plotting the most efficient way to clear all plates, serving pieces, glasses, etc.  It's like a puzzle to me.  But with hand-made pieces it's a different type of efficiency - not based on "getting done" as quickly as possible.  My enjoyment is from the process.  Why would I want to be done stitching quickly?  What do you all think?  Is anyone else like this?

In honor of turning the pages of the calendar, I thought I would post my "Wish To Finish" list for 2015:

- $5 In Paris sweater (I haven't posted any pictures of this yet, as I haven't done a lot of work on it since I started up blogging again)
- Dorotheos x2
- Frame "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" and both "Dorotheos" for my bedroom
- Cross-stitch design I started working on over a year ago on my computer - I want to complete the pattern so I can share it!
- National Crochet month series of posts (that will be for March)
- Promised knitting tutorials for hat and hooded fingerless mitts

As I look this over, I don't have a lot of new projects planned, but I certainly have room for them!  Do you all have any fun project starts planned for 2015?  Share in the comments - either your planned starts or your thoughts on doing one thing at a time - or both!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

That Time When I Got Mad On My Friend's Behalf

...and said nothing.  Because she asked me not to. *sigh*  It's hard to sit back and watch your friend be treated unfairly.  Honestly, if we were geographically closer, I don't think I would have been able to keep quiet.  It would be a very long drive for me to just go and give people a piece of my mind.  Not that it would make a difference in any way - I guess the thing I'm struggling with is how people can be cruel for no real reason?  I see no gain for them.  Zero.  The only thing they've gained is winning a power struggle.  Congrats.  Enjoy that, and whatever else comes with it.

I've never truly understood group politics.  I'm not the type of person who is out to get anything from anyone else.  My focus is always on how I can contribute to the group, whether that's at work, or church, or among friends, or here in blogland...  I'm definitely a competitive person, and fiercely loyal, but not to the point of tearing someone else down to make myself feel better.  I don't understand how someone can live inside their own head when they feel that way!  Talk about misery!  I would actually prefer to work toward someone else's success than try to make them fail.

My friend had her confidence betrayed by someone she called a friend, who then "spun" what was said in confidence into vicious lies, and the result was pretty major.  Not just for my friend and her family, but for a larger group.  I'm angry and hurt on her behalf, and there's nothing I can do to help.  I can reassure her that the people who did this have something broken inside them, that her actions all along the way were totally reasonable (based on the information and trust she had).  That she is better off knowing now who she can trust and who she can't, and that she finally has the freedom to control who she lets into her life.  But that doesn't change what's happened.  It doesn't erase the hurt, or the loss.  It doesn't restore friendships for her children.  It doesn't restore their security, or provide answers for their next steps.  It doesn't encourage her to make new friends in the future.

But because she asked me to stay quiet until after important conversations were had, and facts disseminated, I didn't post vague Facebook statuses or share (too many) supportive rainbow-glitter style pictures.  No more than usual.  I did find myself reverting to about 13 years of age, wanting to post status updates about "some people needing to grow up..." - then I realized how it sounded.  I even held this blog post for a week or so to avoid causing my friend any more difficulty.

All of this may be why I've been thinking about anxiety and ways to handle stress.  And on the positive side, has given me inspiration to start writing again.

So now I'm going to say this: Lies hurt people.  Spreading lies not only continues to hurt the person being lied about, but it hurts the person telling them - like I tell my children, if you lie to me, how can I trust you?  Eventually the truth comes out - either in public, or in realization within yourself.  And then the liars face That Moment When You Realize You Tried To Ruin Someone's Life Just Because You Were A Terrible Person.

Monday, December 15, 2014

My Week In Stitches

Progress pics!  And kids growing up too fast!

Let's start with this year's Seahawks socks (I dubbed them Volume 12, referring to the loud fanbase in Seattle - the cabled side gusset reminded me of the 12 hawk wings on the uniforms).  The original pattern, which the designer called Maeva, can be found here.  Holy Cables, Batman.  Lots and lots of little cables, and the pattern didn't seem very intuitive until I got to the leg portion.  And the cuff was very difficult.  And then I bound off and fastened off without trying on - and couldn't get the cuff past my heel.  Here I am binding it off, so excited, going to wear it...

And here's the sock after I discovered I couldn't wear it:

I gave up on this pattern.  I may try again another time, because the side gusset was really cool.  But I would 1) try on as I go (which is the point of toe-up socks anyway), 2) do a different cuff, and 3) take the time to do a stretchier bind-off.  And maybe do a solid color.  Yes, I did try to salvage the sock itself, but I swear the ribbing was difficult to figure out, and I'm not very good at picking up stitches unless it's a stockinette row.  Also, I would have had the same agony of trying to make the 2nd one, and I would have bad feelings every time I looked at them.

So now I have another one started.  But all I have is the toe, and I'm not happy with it.  I may give up (again) and finger-knit a scarf or something.

Kid-knit:

(See this post for a full report on the winter accessory set I made for the girls).  I remade H's hat, properly measuring her head, ears, everything this time.  And it fits!  And she loves it!


Cross stitch:
Before

After

Yes!  Really!  I did a little work on "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" Friday night while H was at her first school dance.

!!!

Yes!  Really!  She turns 12 and goes to a school dance.  With her friends, because they're 12.  The theme was "Hunger Games", and I think the dress we found went with the theme pretty well:


Sorry for the dark picture, I barely got home from work before she had to leave, so I didn't even have time to turn on another lamp.  She had a fantastic time, and made some great memories!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Kid-Knit Catch Up Post

Both of my kids have outgrown their winter hats, and they both have tried to steal my fingerless gloves.  So I decided to make them each a full set of winter accessories - hat, fingerless gloves, and new scarves.  This whole concept evolved from the moment I started thinking about it.  What really happened is I saw this yarn on sale at Jo-Ann:

Deborah Norville Serenity Garden Yarn in "Gems".  I originally took this picture to prove to my friend Micki that it was in fact Deborah Norville that was working up so soft and amazing.

I happen to have a child (K) who loves everything rainbow, and I thought it would be perfect for a set for her.  Until I knit a test swatch.  The color changes didn't happen the way I expected, and from the first swatch it just didn't seem like her.  But it really looked like her sister.  (Isn't that funny, how a color palette can have personality?)  So I went back to Jo-Ann and found this yarn:

Still Deborah Norville Serenity Garden Yarn, in "Mountain Heather."

And the way it works up is sooooooo K.  But the pattern for the fingerless mitts I chose (Sojourn) was not her at all (but very H).  And this, my friends, is when Pinterest comes in handy.  I searched through my "Yarny Goodness" pinboard until I found this cable pattern on craftcookie.com, which just fits K's personality.  It's called Angel Wings!  I had to adapt the Sojourn pattern a little bit, but not much.

http://www.craftcookie.com/knitting-stitches/cable-twist-stitches/166-angel-wings

Pattern for this cable is here.  Image belongs to craftcookie.com

The next problem to tackle was that it gets cold in Idaho, and my little darlings can't walk around with exposed fingertips.  So I wanted to add a "hood" to the fingerless mitts - and it worked!  I'll do a tutorial on how I did this, it was kind of fun.

The hood actually comes down far enough that they can tuck their thumbs in if the weather turns cold.  These are great for fall and spring days, I make them wear real gloves when it snows! (Also she didn't do a great job of posing so you can see the cable, but it ended up right where I wanted it, on the outside of her hand/wrist.)

The final step in the evolution of this project was in the creation of the hat - they both said they wanted ear flaps.  H had a hat a couple of years ago that had flaps, and there was a buttonhole in one flap and a long string on the other, so she could secure it under her chin.  It took a bit of pattern adapting to get these right but finally:

The cable in K's hat is in the flaps - that made them a little longer.

There's also a tutorial coming on this.  I've sent my instructions to some brave volunteers to check that my math works for other people's kids!

H's Sojourn scarf in progress - it's ripply.

The scarves were the last thing I did.  H's Sojourn pattern worked so nicely, all I had to do was cast on a multiple of 6 (with a 3 stitch border on each side), and boom I had a scarf.  The Angel Wings made things a little more interesting - I actually had the main cable motif run up the center, and I had half the motif on each side, but offset, so when the cable pattern in the center twisted, the side motifs were ending/starting.  In short, there was more math happening in my house than I really wanted, but I'm so happy with the result:


H's hat actually has to be remade, because somebody (me) didn't measure anything correctly.  It was 1.5" to short, and I tried to guess how long her ear flaps should be.  But her scarf and mitts turned out perfect.  And the best part is, I finished everything before the snow arrived - the second week of November (and then we were in the 60s yesterday, in the second week of December).

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tuesday Pinterest Fun - Maybe I'll Make This For Next Year


Our office doesn't have any restrictions on holiday decorations in cubicles.  One friend had a Santa chair cover.  My cubicle neighbor has a snowman display complete with ladder and flashing lights. Someone else still has her fall leaves spread out.  What do I have?  A jar of red and green star mints (popular! I need more!) and a card I received last year that features one of my favorite lines from Elf: "I just like smiling, smiling's my favorite."  I need more cheer for my desk!!
(The snowmen with which I'm competing that need accessories)

Enter this pin (link takes you to original blog instructions).  A cute knitted tree ornament.  But, you know me, that's too simple.  I need to make lots of them!  And a swagged garland to drape across the shared front of the cubicles!

Obviously this won't happen for this year.  I'm realistic enough by now to know that May or June is a reasonable goal.  My plan (as of now) is to use leftover sock yarn from my Seahawks sock projects and my Entrelac fingerless gloves to make trees, then crochet a garland upon which to hang them.  Because people are questioning my holiday spirit!  (Even though neighbor is letting me call it "our" display! Haha!)