Sunday, July 14, 2019

A little bit of Christmas in July...

I finally decided that this was the week I'd work on some "Christmas in July" cross stitch project(s).  

A couple of months ago I showed here a bunch of vintage cross stitch magazines that had come my way.  Well, this week I stitched up this little pattern from Just CrossStitch Magazine, November-December 1988:

The finished design is only 2 1/2 inches tall by 2 inches wide (measuring the red border).  I worked this on 28 count Lugana.  Even stitching over two threads, this was pretty small work for me.  I'm thinking I may need to get me a magnifying glass or else resign myself to working on 18 count or lower-count cross stitch fabric. We'll see.  I'm open to suggestions of things to consider when looking for magnifiers.

The plan is to stitch a few more designs and then sew them up into ornaments.  Hopefully, before Christmas.  😉

Well, yesterday truly begins the countdown to husband's retirement.  Along with another man who's retiring, hubs enjoyed a great party at Fort Harrison State Park (on the north side of Indy).  Family and friends and co-workers came.  He was given some nice gifts, and generous words of praise.  What was really special is that the man who first hired hubs was able to attend - along with several previous (and now retired) bosses, as well as his current boss, of course.  It was a good day.  Now he goes to work for two more weeks until his official retirement!  He's been having a fun last few months, enjoying and marking bunches of "lasts".

And that's a wrap for this week!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

New Beginnings...

I can't believe I've been doing this Year of Projects thing for four years now!  And I've only missed a few weeks of  posting in all that time.   Casually looking back I can see how much my life has changed in the last 4 years - not necessarily in looking at it from the outside, but things (good things mostly) have come my way and I have greatly benefited in embracing some changes in my life and activities.   

Well, change is in the air again. Hubby retires later this month and I have no idea what to expect - though my mind gets away from me from time to time and I'm tempted to worry about what he's going to do with his newfound free time!  That said, this change is coming whether I'm ready or not, so we'll figure it out like millions of couples who've gone before us.

Speaking of change, I've been thinking that I want to make some changes in this Year of Project thing, but I still don't know what those changes will look like.

What I will do...

I will continue to not create a goals list of what I want to accomplish in the creative department.  Don't get me wrong.  I understand the value of setting goals and making lists.  I'm actually a great list maker.  And for work, or things where others will suffer the consequences of lack of organization or communication, lists are important and useful tools to prevent one from exasperating others.  And even personally, for jobs that need to get done, lists and deadlines are immensely helpful.  But for crafting... for me...not so much.

That said, I get enjoyment from and find inspiration in others' lists!  😃

I will continue to make whatever catches my eye, delights the senses, fills a purpose (even if that purpose is simply joy).

What I won't be doing...  

I'm not going to remain super focused on whittling down my enormous stash.  And internally apologizing and justifying if I buy more yarn or thread.  While it's always fun to bust through stash, and I imagine I'll have some posts joyfully proclaiming stash busting, I don't intend to keep track of it all as fastidiously as I've been doing for the last year or so.  At least not publicly (i.e. I  won't be reporting on it here on my blog). 

In truth, that's kind of a hard thing to give up.  It's fun and motivating to see my stash numbers change every few weeks.  And it was very satisfying to find myself (mostly) respecting the limits I put on myself about buying new yarn.  So it was very good in that way.

But how it is not so good for me is that crafting that way had become too much about using the stash instead of the joy of making.  That one isn't so obvious because I've enjoyed all the making I've done (and each thing I've made), but in hyper-focusing on my stash and whittling it down, I've recently begun to realize this isn't what I want life to be about.  Maybe I'll write about that more as I solidify my thoughts.  At the moment, it's just a seed that's started taking root.  All I know right now is the exercise was great while it lasted.  And I'm good with giving it up.

I'm no longer going to be motivated to craft because of wanting to share something in a YOP update on Sundays.   YOP posts will still be about sharing what I'm making, but if I don't have something that I feel is worth sharing, I'm getting free about not feeling like I have to make a YOP post.  So obvious, isn't it?   

Here's the thing... I've never felt like HAD to post a weekly YOP update, but I didn't want to break my record, or didn't want to miss out on the fun.  The end result is that I had turned something fun into something more like work.  It was actually fun at first (even for years), but I'm realizing that crafting for the sake of posting is not what I want crafting to be for me.

Again, I don't know what that will look like.  It may not look any different on your side of the screen.  Or maybe it will!  I'm just hoping to change the way I think of crafting or making things as it relates to blogging (or vice versa).  Such a simple thing, really, but it's a bit of a paradigm shift for me.

I've been wrestling with how to make these changes for the last six months or so.  Turning 60 in the spring, no doubt, has helped prod me toward changing my focus in some ways.   But at 60 I'm still a work in progress, so hopefully it will be interesting to see what all this means for me and YOPing, or even blogging this year.

I'd like to figure out if there are other topics I'd like to blog about.  Or even just other ways to share my life here.  I'd like to get better at photography.  I think I'd like to continue to expand my creative pursuits.  I'd like to share the ordinary, but have it be important somehow.  I don't know...  Now I'm just thinking out loud.  And that means I need to move on along.

You're welcome.  😏

Since this is a YOP post, I'd like to share a new project I've begun this weekend.  It seems "Christmas in July" is once again buzzing around in different circles, and I've finally joined the fun.  I've always wanted a Christmas afghan, so this is the year it's getting done.

The pattern is called Christmas Dazzle and it's from the book, A Year of Afghans - 1998 (one of my many old crochet books I've picked up along the way).  

And that's all for me this time.  Thanks for popping in and thanks in advance for leaving any comments.  😉

Later 'gator!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Year of Projects Round-Up (2018-2019)

It's time for another Year of Projects round-up!   It is so satisfying to look back over a year of making and take stock of the variety of handcrafts I have seen to completion.

I discovered the pleasure of crocheting doilies and mandalas:

And while working with thread, I discovered some bookmark patterns that are quick and satisfying: 

Speaking of quick and satisfying, who doesn't love the quick gratification of small projects?

Looking back over the last 12 months, I'm reminded that this YOP year is when I learned to knit hats:

And continued to crochet some favorite hat patterns, too:

I also continued knitting and crocheting scarves.  BTW, the scarves below and the hats above were mostly made for gifts and charity.  I thought I'd mention that just in case anyone wonders if I wear all these.  😉


On a non-yarny note, I finished my first embroidered pillowcases with a crocheted edging.  Now, these are for me!

And finally...  a yearly look at projects made would not be complete without a round up of all the blankets crocheted.

There were baby blankets:

Some larger blankets:

And two special-to-me Spicier Life Blankets that represent many hours each of crocheting and sewing in ends.  
Oh, the ENDS!

And that, dear reader, is the end 
of this past Year of Projects!  

Thank you for coming along with me 
on this look back over the last twelve months.  

Sunday, June 23, 2019

It's all squares this week...

June has been a slow yarn month for me and I don't know that this coming week will be much different.  

It's been a good month - doing good things (for myself and others).  Some new things have presented themselves.   Some things I've written about, some I've not.  While I know part of the reason I've lagged in interest in working with yarn is due to busyness, I also know I've lost some steam for some reason.   But then I've also been reading more and that kind of interferes with holding a hook and yarn.  😉  Hopefully this lag I'm in will change, or I'll figure it out and recalibrate.  At the moment, I'm feeling a bit rudderless.  It's weird.

All that said, though, earlier this week I managed to get all those crazy ends woven in on my BAMCAL square.  It's not going to require a hard blocking, so softly steaming this Flying Colors square is going to suffice for now (maybe forever):

Not my favorite square (because of my color choices and placements),
 but it will make a decent contribution to a larger blanket someday.


Even though I haven't crocheted much this month, my knitting needles have continually had a dishcloth on them.  While it seems pretty uninspiring to report, over the course of the last three weeks I turned this (and some other odds and ends):

Into this:


Now, if you're like me, when making dishcloths, you end up with lots of little odds and ends of cotton yarn left over.  Sometimes those odds and ends are too small to do much with, but I got to looking at some bags of these leftover bits of cotton yarn and I wondered how it would work to splice some of the yarns together into "magic balls" and make more cloths from them.

Playing it safe, I pulled together two different, but coordinating variegated yarns and did a braided join. 

Here's a picture that shows what that braided join looks like:

Basically, you take two ends of two different yarns, loop them around each other, split each into two sections (doesn't matter how many plies are in a section).  Then braid each side (the three sections of the braid will be the two split sections from one strand of yarn, and one whole strand of yarn).   Do this braiding on both sides of where you looped the yarns together and then wind it into one ball.  Then just keep adding different yarns and colors to a ball until it's the size you want.  Those stringy ends can get snipped off once you've knit or crocheted your item together (I made a little knot of those stringy ends before snipping, but I doubt it's necessary).  

If you want the braided section to more completely blend in, do this braiding at a section in each yarn where the color is as similar as possible.

Anyway...  I knitted up my magic ball and this is what I got:

Kind of cool, I think.  Definitely fun to watch it grow as I knit.  It would probably be even more fun if I combined more disparate colors into one "magic ball".   😀

Oh my goodness...  after posting I decided to look to see how others might do a braided join.  I found this video!  I like her method even better than what I came up with.  

While some may think the braiding isn't worth the effort, to me it was a small thing I could do while my mind was on something else, or my ears were tuned into something completely unrelated to what I was doing with my hands.  And when the item is finished there are no ends to weave in!  Magic!  😃

I'm starting to pull together other scraps of yarn to do this with (and regretting all that I've thrown away over the years).  I suspect variegated or a combination of solids and variegated will work the best with this.  I look forward to finding out.  

And that, dear reader, is all I've got!

2019 Yarn Stash-Down progress:  47.06/100 skeins!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Taking stock...

This third Sunday of June, I'm taking stock of some projects I'd like to finish - or at least make more headway on before beginning a new YOP year on July 1st.

There is truly no reason at all that I cannot finish this Fairly Isleish Sweater:
 Seriously, girl!  Just apply yourself to finishing this already!

And maybe even this Blue Tit Cushion:

And this Flying Colors square I made (and almost finished) yesterday - its sole purpose being to distract me from the projects I ought to finish:
I'm on the last round.
So close, and yet...  soooo far!  😧

That's all I've got!   

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