Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Creativity is sometimes an awkward process...

This week I began working on the Mandala Madness CAL and below is as far as I've gotten (I've finished Part 1).  For the record, I'm almost two weeks behind, which means I can see two levels beyond where I presently am in working the design.  This has some advantages.  Or so it would seem.  I can anticipate, a bit, how many colors the next section will use and how they play with each other - so it seems like this would help me pick out colors, both in the part I'm presently crocheting and in thinking about what colors will look good in the next part.  But I'm finding, in some ways, it paralyzes me from making any firm decisions about colors at all. Not only am I second-guessing the section I'm working on, but I spend the time I'm crocheting one section stewing over the next section as well.  This does not seem to me to be a good thing.  Sigh.  All the things I fear about mystery CALs are coming to fruition, and  I'm thinking it was pretty impetuous of me to jump into this one.

I've recognized my color challenged-ness in the past, but something like this presses it to the limits.  I'm going for bright, flowery and fun (thinking I'll just make a small blanket that maybe a little girl will like), but I'm afraid all I'm going to achieve is gaudy, loud and crazy.

As much as I feel intimidated by this CAL, I guess the only thing to do is press on through each next part and hope for the best.  The first best is that I will create a masterpiece (giggling).  The last best is that I will learn some things about how colors play (or fight) with each other. And I'll learn my lesson once and for all that it takes a truly special person to enjoy a mystery CAL.

And I can't help but once again see the irony of the book I'm still (sort of) reading The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin).   Me, a woman who isn't sure she can successfully put more than three colors together, reading a book about unleashing and freely exploring my own creativity.  It's at times like these I wonder if I have even the smallest smidgen of honest creativity to my name...

But I'll keep on - for now - dabbling with colorful yarns in this CAL, and I guess I'll keep plugging through this book - as long as I can continue to renew it (it's a library book) -  and we'll see where it all leads.  Creativity is sometimes an awkward process.  But it is a process...

Joining this post with Ginny Sheller's Yarn Along

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A spring-weight blanket and Easter eggs!

I've been a monogamous crocheter this week and I'm glad to say I finished the blanket I've been working on before my self-imposed finish date of April 1st!

The blanket pattern is from the book Weekend Afghans by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss.  I like the pattern so much this is the third blanket I've made using it.    It's a nice feminine blanket that is airy and light.  What I really love about it, though, is the pretty edge the pattern makes along the length of the blanket...

and a nice scallop on the top and bottom edges...

And now with that completed, I'm chomping at the bit to begin the Mandala Madness CAL that actually started a week ago - so I've got some catching up to do.   I may also start The Midwife Blanket as it's been calling out to me for some time now and having recently seen a pretty edging I want to try on it, I almost can't wait to start...

But first we celebrate Easter today.   First thing this morning we enjoyed Easter breakfast at church followed by worship and a baptism.  And now it's home for a bit of a rest before preparing for sons and guest(s) to come for a supper meal and some games.  Yesterday my 20 year-old son and I colored and decorated eggs.   The activity was almost contemplative compared to younger years when dying eggs carried a level of excitement with it.

We'll see which egghead is the hardest in a game of egg wars later (a tradition from hubby's childhood family).  Then it's into an egg salad with these babies. Mmmmm.

A happy, joyous Easter to you!   To see what other Yoppers are up to, visit this week's thread on Ravelry.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hook and needle...

Being accustomed to normally having several different projects in the works at any given time, it's been interesting crocheting on only one project this week.  On one hand, it's great because I really want to get this blanket done before April...

A little over half way finished, I may make my goal.

But then feeling an itch to do something else this weekend, I decided to pull out an old cross-stitch project that I don't think has seen the light of day for maybe... 5 years???    I have to admit...what got me itching to cross stitch again was having discovered Flosstube this week.  Cross-stitchers (and maybe embroiderers?) podcast their creations.   Fortunately for me I had an easy thing to pick up and work on when the urge finally struck (after the 2nd, or 3rd, or 12th??? Flosstube video)...

I'm pretty sure the cloth is 16-, maybe 18-count Aida and once I started working on it I remembered why I had put it away.  It's hard to see!   With progressive eyeglasses it's not the easiest thing to go back and forth from printed page to work in progress.  But I plugged away on finishing the wording (though I'm not really crazy about letters, I've decided) and started the little lamb.  

I may need to get a magnifier and/or a brighter light if I'm going to continue to cross stitch (or embroider, which I'd love to also get back to), but even with the challenge of middle-aged eyes I still enjoyed doing this - so much so I've been trying to decide what my next "flossy" project will be.  ;^)

To see what other Yoppers are up to, visit our thread this week on Ravelry!   

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Making space for creativity...

It's been a good week in a lot of respects.   I'm (sort of) reading The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin.   I say I'm sort of reading it because, well...I keep carrying it around with me and laying it down and sometimes days go by before I think about it again (out of sight, out of mind).   But I went looking for it and found it just so I could show it to you.

I recently finished reading though Secret #2, which is Honoring Your Inspirations.  A good deal of material in that section deals with making and maintaining space in which to be creative.   Whether that space is a large studio, a spare bedroom, or a corner of a desk, we need to make room for creativity.  And we need to create habits for keeping it orderly and ready to work in, and in doing that we honor our inspirations and creativity.  Sounds good, doesn't it?

Now, I'm going to back up a moment (literally) and show you where I actually found this book a few minutes ago...

Go ahead and laugh.  I certainly did.  The irony of wanting to tell you about progress I'm making on making space for creativity and finding this book in the middle of a pile of "stuff" compelled me to take a picture and talk about this.  By the way, the only thing I changed before snapping the picture is to remove a notepad that was laying on top of the book.  A notepad I was using to make a list of items I'm gathering to donate to the local thrift shop.

Now, this space was cleaned and purged just a few days ago, and the items sitting here that are obviously not in their right places are actually testaments to my creative pursuits.  What looks like folded fabric to the left of the book is a stack of  adult and child-sized Bible-times costumes I made before we moved into our present house - nearly 18 years ago (the last time any of it was actually used was for a Bible-times VBS program - approximately 19 years ago).  The folded piece of beige material is a little tunic I made for my then 6 year-old child more than 21 years ago!  He turns 27 next month.  With my youngest turning 21 in the fall, I finally decided it's probably safe to get rid of it - to get rid of all the costumes - I mean, seriously...  I don't envision the need (or desire) to ever again wear a shapeless  tunic that I crafted out of a bed sheet two decades ago.   And I don't think my husband is going to miss his either...   They need to move closer to their final resting places (I'm thinking a closet at church where such costumes may, on occasion, come in handy for one reason or another).  Yeah, that sounds like a plan.  But for some reason last week, they landed here, on my newly cleaned off desk space, and haven't been moved. 

The rest of the items?   Well, the box under the book holds (among other things) buttons.  I had it out because I was in search of buttons a couple of days ago to finish my pillow project.  The pen next to the iron must have fallen off the notepad. The iron needed to be put somewhere quickly yesterday as I was needing to head out the door right after I used it.   You see, I wanted to get the blanket I had just finished pinned out and steamed so it could have the whole day to dry.  And the little book the iron is sitting on is a library discard which holds a bunch of miniature pictures of famous pieces of art that I had gotten out to see what I might do with the pictures (make refrigerator magnets?  Gift tags? Cards?)  I don't know.  I never did figure it out so it's still there, serving as a trivet for my iron.

I could go on, but you get the picture.  By the way...lest you're tempted to feel bad because your "creative space" looks worse than this, don't.  This is just what I'm willing to show you.  Consider it merely exhibit A for how to NOT "honor one's inspirations". I will forgo showing exhibits B, C, D, and...   That's right.  This little desk area is not the only corner surface room where I stash and dash until the items accumulate to the point where trying to call it my creative space is farcical.   We all know it's nearly impossible to have inspiration in a mess like this.

While the above picture (and this post) might not give the impression that this book (12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women) is helping me any, what you can't see is the trash bag of stuff that got thrown away.  Or the box that is being filled up to take to the thrift store.  And frankly, once the items in the above picture are put back in their places I do have a nice little work area there for some creative pursuits.  I obviously need to work on the habit of putting away, but weeding out what was becoming just too much stuff was begun with inspiration gleaned in the first two chapters of the above book.  So Yay! I recommend the book.  It's not going to work magic, but if you enjoy reading about how other women create, get control of their spaces, draw inspiration, etc... you may find this an interesting read.

And actually, I do think clearing out some stuff brought clarity and some motivation to finish the two projects pictured below.

First up is my button-front pillow - created using the Corner to Corner crochet stitch pattern.  I'm liking the blues and greens.

The yarn is Red Heart Boutique Treasures in the color, Mosaic.  It's a roving, self-striping yarn made with 70% acrylic, 30% wool.  I have mixed feelings about the yarn - it's not the easiest to work with - wanting to pull right apart sometimes, and wanting to cling to itself other times.  The combination of fibers feels wonderfully soft as a pillow, but I'm pretty sure it would be scratchy as a scarf or anything else worn close to the skin.  It's a pretty yarn, but there are probably few things I'd actually make with it in the end.  I like my pillow, but I let's just say, I won't be stocking up on this yarn.

And now....drumroll, please...  

I finished the Arrowhead Blanket  (pattern here) I started last year!  Started on April 18th, to be exact - and today is March 13th.  I can't tell you how happy I am that I finished it before a whole year passed.  There is no good reason why this took so long.  It's not a hard stitch pattern - at all.  I'm thinking I just grew tired of the beiges and kept looking for infusions of color in other projects.  Seeing the picture below makes me wish I had a den. It strikes me as blanket meant for a den.

After a blocking and then machine washing and drying, it came out super soft.  And I love it.  While the pictures show this in totally neutral tones, it actually has a bit of a yellow tint to it (at least it does in my house's lighting).  It's beyond me why my couch's yellow undertone comes through in a picture, but similar tones completely disappear from the blanket in the very same shot.

I find the arrow shapes fascinating, both for their visual appeal, and because of the texture they provide.  And while the front of this blanket is its whole point (pun totally intended), the back's not bad either.  I don't think I've ever before made a blanket that has two different sides and I find it fun to have two different looks in one afghan.  Here's a shot showing the front and the back:

As an update in 2018, I thought it would be fun to mention that this blanket was given to my father-in-law, and later (when my father in law died in March of 2018) it was given to an aunt and uncle who live in Colorado.  You just never when you let something go, where it will end up.  😊

And with those two WIPs finished up, I am freely moving back into and onto finishing my next project.  While the last two blankets I've made may become gifts, next on the hook is a blanket just for me.  A pretty sea-blue, soft-as-a-cloud, spring-weight blanket to drape over the livingroom couch.  It's a dream to crochet.  Maybe next week I'll provide a progress picture...

To see what other Yoppers are up to, visit our weekly thread on Ravelry.  It's a friendly and creative bunch!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Yarn Along...

Back to making my pillow this week.  It's made with a corner to corner crochet stitch pattern and something I'm figuring out as I go (which means there's a fair amount of ripping out and doing rows over).   I do think I've gotten the front square the right proportions now, though, and I just need to finish two triangular halves for the backside.

And speaking of getting back to things...  I had forgotten that I never did finish A Fall of Marigolds.  I don't know why it got laid aside, because this is a very good story.  I'd call it a combination of historical fiction, women's fiction and sweet romance (meaning nothing at all happens - lol).  The author goes back and forth between two time periods in New York City:  The incident of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 and the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 (and the 10-year anniversary of that attack in September of 2011).   It's been a while since I read the first half, but I don't think there's anything in this book I couldn't wholeheartedly recommend to even a (mature) teen.  I added mature only because the dialogues and soul searching might be a bit tedious for someone who isn't old enough to relate to it.   I have found it attention grabbing, somewhat educational, and highly readable.  I'll be looking forward to reading more books by Susan Meissner.

Linking this post with Ginny Sheller's Yarn Along.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

It's been a dizzying week...

This past week didn't see much crocheting as I suffered a vertigo attack on Monday afternoon and it took me out of commission for several days.  I don't get vertigo very often (it's been nearly a year since I had the last attack), but boy...when it hits me, it hits hard.   Finally on Wednesday night I was able to see straight enough to do a little crocheting.  The key word there is 'little".  And I guess it could be said... what I didn't accomplish in productivity, I may have made up for in cuteness.  ;^)

Actually,  on Sunday evening, before dizzying disaster struck, I made this little guy as part of a CAL on Ravelry:
He was as much fun to photograph as he was to crochet.  He took about an hour to create, and he's made me smile ever since.

And then later in the week, after the dizzies dissipated, I made this little guy (I've dubbed Harry) for a Quick & Easy CAL I'm hosting today on Ravelry:

While he's cute as can be with all those pins stuck in him, he'll actually reside in my crochet basket with a couple of big-eyed needles and a few stitch markers stuck in his yarny backside.  I've been needing a little pin cushion for these things and Harry the Hedgehog fits the bill perfectly.  I say "little", but Harry measures 3 1/2 inches from nose to rump, and almost 8 inches in circumference.  Small enough to fit in the palm of my hand, but not tiny.

And then near the end of the week I began a lightweight blanket I've been itching to start - picturing it draped over my living room couch this spring:

I can tell this is a color that's going to be difficult to photograph accurately and it will probably look different every time I show it, but this picture is pretty close - it's a pale greenish blue color.   It's called Sea Blue and it's Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn.  Years ago I made a blanket with this brand of yarn and while I was happy enough with it, I've been cautious about using it ever since because it produces a very drapey (could say limp) fabric - not what I'm usually going for in a blanket.  But this color was perfect so I decided to give ILTY another go in a big project.   While it's (again) producing a very drapey fabric, it's wonderfully soft and actually works well for this pattern, color and purpose: a light spring-weight blanket.  It's a bit like crocheting a cloud!  ;^)  

While it's been about the least productive week I've had since...well, I don't know when, none of that matters now.  I'm just so joyful to be free of the dizzies.  It fills me with wonder to find myself thankful for something so simple as to be able to walk without holding the wall.   I flit back and forth from feeling a bit silly at how deliriously happy I can be over something so simple, and sobered at how much I take for granted - like walking and being able to see straight.  It is good to feel good.

Looking forward with fresh eyes to the advent of spring and new life blooming again!