Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Tunisian Shadow Stitch...

Trying my hand at Tunisian Crochet, I started making this Shadow Stitch  Cowl.   The fabric created with this stitch pattern and my hook size was much too stiff for a scarf, but thankfully, before ripping it out, I got the idea to turn this into a pillow cover.  I have a skinny, rectangular pillow that this width should fit.  So that's what I'm making!  Not sure how much I'm actually loving Tunisian, but I'm glad to be trying something new.  It's interesting.

Just this week I got my hands on the book The More of Less with Joshua Becker.  I honestly didn't think there'd be anything new in a book on minimalism, but having listened to an interview on NPR with Joshua Becker about this book - just before its release, I knew I wanted to give it a read.  I've been pleasantly surprised. Becker weaves stories of others, with relevancies between minimalism and his Christian faith, and has an easy, "I'm a work in progress, too" sort of attitude that makes this a very enjoyable and enlightening read.  I'm really glad to be reading it.

Joining with Ginny Sheller's Yarn Along.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

It's a wrap! Bringing a Year of Projects to a close...

I almost can't believe it.  This is the last post for this year's Year Of Projects.  I have to chuckle when I remember that when I started this YOP thing, I set for myself a modest goal of posting 2 times a month.   I had no idea how motivating this year-long "project" could be once I got started.  I'm amazed that I didn't miss a single week of posting.

And before someone notices that I'm not showing my finished full Mandala Madness today, I've created a post here where you can see it grow, if you like.  From beginning to end.

One of my favorite things about this Year of Projects project was taking pictures of finished objects. So it seems fitting to make my final YOP post a pictorial wrap-up of some of my favorite items made.

Items became favorites for different reasons.  Maybe they were colorful, or a bit whimsical...

Some projects I struggled through, but felt the surprising satisfaction of finally finishing.

Sometimes a simple pattern or idea produced a striking or fun project...

Some things immediately found a spot in my home, or they made gifts I was pleased to give...

When it comes right down to it, the one thing all my favorite creations have in common is they make me smile.  How happy it makes me to be able to make things.  

For anyone who may be interested, here is my formal YOP list with all the items I completed for this past year's Year of Projects.  

Next week all the participating Yoppers will be revealing their new lists for the next YOP year (which runs July, 2016 through June, 2017).  I'm already looking forward to seeing all the wonderful things returning members and new members make.  Please join in the fun if this Year of Projects blog project is appealing to you. And whether you join us or not, come check out the group and all the other YOPpers' wrap-up posts by visiting our group on Ravelry.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The madness has come to an end...

Since Sunday's YOP post is supposed to be a wrap up for the entire YOP year, I decided to create a separate post for the wrap up of my Mandala Madness.  I thought it would be fun to post all the pictures together just to see the transitions in one spot.

So here we go:  

The blanket measures 63 inches across.  

There are points (in the above pictures) where I like it better than the final project (I especially the like the purple rounds and bright pink and bright green rounds), but this thing really needs to end.  I can always add to it later if I decide to (I think there are 18 parts total and I finished 12).

It was a fun mystery CAL.  Something I'd never done before. And I'm glad to be finished, to wash it and put it up to wait for the right person to give it to.  Maybe I'll have a grand daughter some day who'll enjoy snuggling up under it, thinking Grandma  was one crazy lady for making such a thing.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

My Guys

It was a Happy Father's Day.  And we are blessed.

Other than stepping on each other's ideological toes a bit when the topic of politics came up, when I wrapped up the day I was happy to count it as a good good day.  It's always a good day when I see my sons. Singularly or all together. We had beautiful weather, delicious food (meat grilled by oldest son), and the the time to sit and talk with my favorite people.

Even if we can't discuss politics.  ;^)

Loopy Love Baby Sweater

No Mandala Madness picture this week.  I'm nearly done with Part 12, but as the sun began to set on Friday evening, I knew I wasn't going to manage to get it done in time to get a picture to post today. And knew we'd be up and out too early to snap a picture in the morning light (hubs is working the computer at church and I'm running the sound board this morning).

And with it being Father's Day today and our kids coming over for a grill-out after church, I knew I wouldn't be working on it today before I wanted to post, so tune in next week!  I think it will be the grand finale.  :)

But I do have pictures!  :)  This week I crocheted a cute little Loopy Love Sweater as a baby shower gift for a young friend who's having her first baby this August.  It went over well yesterday - so well, people started clapping when they found out I made it.  And I wanted to melt into the floor.   Yes I have some wonderfully encouraging, if embarrassing friends.   This and a sweet blanket her grandmother crocheted were the only hand-made gifts she received yesterday (that I recall).  How different from the last baby shower I attended where the mother-to-be received no less than 5 hand-made baby blankets (the 5th being mine - another embarrassing moment, but for completely different reasons).

I don't know what size this really is (nor have any idea how big or small the new baby will be), but I'm confident it's not newborn size and expect it will be used in the autumn, or possibly even winter - so the dark rich colors will be more fitting than they seem here in June.

I wish you could reach through the screen and feel this yarn.  It's soooo soft.  And it machine washes and dries really nicely.  Two big pluses for a new mommy.

This was a super easy pattern.  Only made a little difficult by the varying spin of the colorful Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable yarn.   The unevenness of the yarn made it difficult to always get straight edges, but I'm choosing to see it as making the sweater look more unique.  Authentically handcrafted. It looks a little "boho" to me, so I bought a little pair of baby yoga pant "jeans" to gift with it.  :)

By the way...  that curling bottom corner blocked out nicely with a little steam (and stayed out after washing and drying) - what a relief.

I had no idea how (relatively) easy it is to crochet a little sweater.  I'm looking forward to making more.  Crochet lends itself to making a pretty little "lacey" girly sweater, but I'm hoping to also find a little boy's sweater pattern that looks nice crocheted up.


When I was trying to figure out how big to make my Loopy Love Sweater,  I pulled out some sweaters from my (now adult) boys' "baby boxes".  This little mint-green sweater is actually one my husband wore over 60 years ago, and each of my three boys wore it as infants:

I was sure I was told (once upon a time) that this is a sweater his grandmother made and thinking that she only crocheted, I thought for years that this was a crocheted sweater.   But as I looked at it again this week (with eyes that have been seeing a lot of crochet in recent years) I'm thinking it's actually knit.

I feel a little silly doubting my own eyes, but after originally thinking this was crocheted, I think I'm just having trouble accepting the truth.  Look close, knitting friends...   Is this knit?

Our Year of Projects year ends next week - I cannot believe how quickly this year has flown by! Check out our group on Ravelry and consider yourself invited to join along as we begin a new year on July 3rd!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Two blankets, one finish...

It needs no introduction, so I present Part 11 of my Mandala Madness:

And, just for Marsha...   Here I am (not exactly) hanging out the window snapping the picture above:

I remember my overriding thought at this moment was, "I must not drop the camera."

It didn't occur to me until I went to open the window and remove the screen that because the window moves over to the middle as it opens, there is no way I could actually "hang out" of it.  But still...  I couldn't help but think, the things we do for our fellow Yoppers.   But it's great, as I discovered a way to take pictures of really large, round blankets. :)   As long as the weather allows, anyway.


And this weekend I finished the Spring into Summer baby blanket:

Made with Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable yarn in the colorway, Candied.  This is a self-striping yarn and the idea behind using it in a pattern like this is that there should be very few ends to weave in. Unfortunately, I found a particular color run to be pretty seriously unattractive (so muted and almost a non-color that it looked dirty), so I did a fair amount of snipping out those sections of yarn. And once in a while I'd end up with three rows, one after the other, where one color dominated.  I couldn't have that, so I'd cut and restart in a different place in the skein in those places.  While I suppose I had fewer ends to sew in than if every single row was started with a new skein/color of yarn, it was a bit mind boggling to see all the ends I did have to sew in.

It turned out very pretty though.  And it's oh so soft  - perfect for a baby.  While it was more work than a self-striping yarn should be to work with, I'm really happy with the finished project.

Check out what other Yoppers are up to by visiting this week's thread on Ravelry.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The madness got even crazier this week...

Finally!   I managed to get Part 10 finished of my Mandala Madness.  It may not look crazy, but this part was the craziest (most intricate) part to date.

I think (after this week) it will be too large for me to get the whole thing in a picture shooting straight on - unless I lay it outside in the grass and hang out of an upstairs window to snap a picture.   I'm tempted...

Truth be told, I'm not real crazy about all that white in this last part, but I'm hoping it feels less...I don't know...white, I guess, when I do the next sections where I'll be using blues and green for Parts 11 & 12.   I'm ready to be finished with this thing - I think it's about 58 inches across now - but it needs something beyond that last pink and white part to anchor it (both color-wise and stitch-wise).  I know part 11 won't be enough to finish on, but I'm hoping by the end of Part 12 I'll be happy enough with it to call it a wrap, and that it will be perfect for a child or maybe a pre-teen to wrap up in it.


Yesterday I attended the Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival in our little town.  I guess it's held here at our county fairgrounds every year (I know it was here last year, but I heard about it too late to attend).

Anyway, it's the first of its kind I've ever been to.  It was interesting seeing everything from raw fleece to cleaned and carded fleece, to roving fibers, to undyed yarn, to beautiful colors of hand-dyed, hand-spun yarn, to commercially dyed and spun yarns.  There were booths where crafts persons sold beautifully carved drop spindles, ceramic and wooden yarn bowls, shawl pins, yarn soaps and soaks, and there was even a booth that sold homemade fudge.  Mmmm...   I almost forgot I'm foregoing candy and sugar right now - it smelled so good it almost pulled me in like a magnet.

In the end, though, after walking around for an hour (and 10-15 minutes of that were talking with a friend I ran into) I decided there was nothing there I wanted badly enough to part with my cash for.  Which surprised me.  I had hoped to find a pretty yarn bowl, and would have bought a hank or two of hand-spun yarn if it begged me to.  But there was nothing I felt compelled to buy.  It was both a relief and a disappointment.

Ah well...  I do think I'll go back again next year.  It won't all be new to me and maybe I'll have a better sense of what, specifically, I'd be interested in buying, rather than just hoping something "calls out" to me.

On another note...  I've been enjoying using my newly made stitch markers this week, but I've learned an important lesson.  These really need to open wide to make it easy to attach to a stitch.  I've concluded I much prefer the lever back earring fasteners, and following after that the large lobster claw fasteners.  The smaller lobster claws work, but they're small enough that it's a bit too fiddly for me to be completely happy with them as stitch markers.  I may remake those some day.  They're usable.  Just not preferred.

So note to myself...   buy more lever backs:

And as my fellow Yoppers have been mentioning for a month or so, we're getting ready to wrap up this Year Of Projects year.  A YOP year runs from July through June and that means we've only got three more Sunday's worth of YOP posts!  On July 3rd we should be posting our first post of the next YOP year.  It is in this first post where we reveal our personal goals regarding what we hope to accomplish with the fiber arts - though I've also loved reading about non-fiber creative pursuits fellow Yoppers have posted about from time to time.

If this sounds like something you'd enjoy doing, I invite you to join us.  It's pretty low-key, but at the same time hugely encouraging.  Each person decides what kind of goals s/he wants to set and then just gets on with it and blogging about it.  Some people are very specific about what projects they want to finish, others (like me) use their goals list as an idea generator.  I am motivated better with a list of ideas rather than a list of specific projects.  There is no pressure if a week (or a month, or more) is missed.  But I'll be honest.  I set for myself the modest goal of posting once or maybe twice a month and once I started I managed to not miss a single week!  I've really surprised myself at that.

Sooo...come check us out!  And please consider joining us.  The more the merrier, and the more creative we all are!  Click on the graphic below to visit the Year of Projects group on Ravelry.