Sunday, December 10, 2017

Bethlehem stars and tiny baby hats...

Guess what.  No squares this week!   It wasn't my intention to give no attention to my Last Dance blanket, but when I saw these Bethlehem Stars posted to Ravelry early in the week I just had to make some.

The first one I made with Stylecraft Batik:

It turned out cute, but a bit floppy made with mostly 80% acrylic, 20% wool DK yarn.  A little spray starch just before steam-blocking helped, though.

Then, remembering that I was wanting to make a project for the December Red Heart Lovers CAL, I got the idea to use my Aunt Lydia, size 3 crochet thread.  Coats and Clark produces both Red Heart and Aunt Lydia's threads and somehow that makes Aunt Lydia products eligible for using for the Red Heart Lovers CALs.  So I guess maybe the CALs are actually sponsored by Coats and Clark.  I don't totally understand how all that works, I just participate because it's a great group of people.

Unfortunately, the colors are limited in this size thread, but for some reason I was attracted to the red and brown. I decided to crochet one double-stranded.  Can you see the mistake I made?

I crocheted two rows of the red and tan color on only two points (the two points on the right side of the picture).  Starching, steaming and stretching helped, but it makes me a little nutty knowing I did that and didn't even take a good look at it until after I had woven in all the ends.

Then I wondered what the stars would look crocheted with just single a strand of each color:
Actually, I think might like them better. Though I'm not sure about the tan color.  It turns these a bit too...  I don't know...  rustic, maybe?  For my liking anyway.  They are a little smaller than the first one (they are between 4 1/2 and 5 inches from point to point).

By the way, all I did to "block" these was spray some starch on them, work the starch into the fabric and lay them to dry.  I steamed them for good measure, but I didn't need to pin them at all - and they dried just perfect.  Ready to hang.

Then I wondered what would happen if I added pink to the red and brown.  Remember, my choices are pretty limited here.
Hmmm...   I kind of like these colors together  Maybe a garland of these would be fun?

I'm honestly not sure what I'll do with these stars, but they are seriously addicting to make.  Something tells me I haven't made my last one yet.    As is, these would make nifty Christmas tree ornaments, or as I said, I think they'd make a fun garland.  I just don't have a place to put a garland of red and pink stars...

I would have kept making stars, but I remembered late in the week I was supposed to host a CAL in the Our Happy CAL Place on Ravelry this weekend.  The theme this week is Charity, so I set myself to making a baby hat.  This tiny Knot Hat measures only 10 1/2 inches in circumference:
But I ask you...  is there baby head anywhere that is that small?  I know I've lost all perspective on the sizes of baby heads, but I'm thinking this is surely too small - even for most preemies.  Also, the pattern said to slip stitch around the edge.  That was a huge mistake, but I didn't realize it until my ends were all woven in and snipped.  The edge of the hat is so very small and the slip stitch edge makes it not stretchy - at all.   I'm afraid if someone actually managed to get this on a baby's head, it might not ever come off.   

So I'm thinking this hat is a fail.  But before I try it again, let me ask...  is this top knot style even cute anymore?  If you never thought it was cute, spare me, but if you once thought it was, or if you think it still passes for a cutie-pie baby hat, I'd like to know before I summon up the gumption to make another, bigger one.  That long skinny tube that makes the topknot was actually the hardest part to crochet.   I love the idea of something on top and since embellishments on charity hats are discouraged, a little flair that's part of the "fabric" feels like a fun thing.

Since the hat above was a disappointment and took longer than I wanted to spend on a second one, I tried another pattern. I had had success with the Snowfall Slouchy this autumn, and I figured I could size it down for a newborn.    I kind of love how it turned out:
And I love how the snowflakes look like little hearts.

This hat is only about 11 inches around, but the ribbing stretches.  I love the top knot on the hat above, but this second hat was a more satisfying finish.  I'm not sure I'm really up to making more hats this year, but this pattern is definitely a keeper.

And that's all she wrote!




To see what other YOPPERS are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.


Sunday, December 3, 2017

More Squares...

Short and sweet is this week's post - with my only crocheting being finishing and blocking the two designs I was working on last week.  This puts me exactly at the half-way mark for finishing the squares for my Last Dance blanket.

This first one is Week #8's square:
I loved doing this waffle stitch



And this second square is a replacement for another square in the collection I didn't care so much for:
This slightly puffy pattern is made by crocheting a series of double crochet cluster stitches.  I loved this stitch, too.

Slowly, but steadily I'm working my way toward a complete blanket!    



To see what other YOPpers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Feeling Thankful...

I hope you all had a good week.  We had a nice Thanksgiving with our sons and a yummy meal  More on that later, though...

All the crocheting I have to show for the past week is stitched up into this small pile of new squares that will be going into my Last Dance blanket.  They aren't blocked and I'm still working on the last one, so here's where I was on that task Saturday afternoon:

Boy, that's a busy background.  Oh well...  it's the cloth on my dining room table at the moment.

Once the ends are woven into these eight squares and they are blocked, I am half-way done.  Twenty-four squares down, twenty-four squares to go.  That may sound like a big job ahead of me, but really...  because each square is made four times (and they are usually a breeze after making the first one), crocheting these is fairly quick work.  I'm still hanging onto the hope that I'll have this finished shortly after the end of the year.

And since I asked for help last week about how to cook venison backstrap, let me report that after much research, I ended up marinating the meat for 24 hours in Allegro Marinade.  There are lots of purchase options for marinade, and plenty of ideas for making your own, but I decided to use what I could find locally and this was it:


Oh my goodness - it made for the most delicious pan-seared and cooked venison steaks; and we also sauteed strips of meat for eating fajita-style with sauteed peppers and onions.  It was fantastic!  I'm only sad that I don't have any more venison backstrap meat to prepare like this.  I have some various cuts of venison in the freezer that we've been given so I'll put the marinade to use on those.  And I'm going to try this product on beef as well.  I can only imagine it will be delicious.   I found this at Meijer, but I think Kroger may carry it, too (for whatever interest that may hold for anyone).

And starting Friday morning, it has been back to my sort of unpredictable, kind of newly busy-crazy life.  Since mid-summer I've been doing elder companion care, and it's feast or famine in terms of the work (because the husband of the couple I work for has a sporadic, on-call work schedule).  I never would have believed it until I took a chance and tried it, but I kind of love doing this type of work.  Though truth be told, I fear I've been spoiled by the sweetest lady in the world who's in need of this kind of care, and honestly can't imagine doing it for anyone else.  But that's okay, really.  I wasn't even looking for work when this opportunity presented itself, so I'm just thankful for what it brings to my life in this season.  Not only does the work feel worthwhile, but I'm grateful for the friendship that has grown with this couple.

So I'm out the door in a few minutes, and if you're reading this on Sunday, I'm either at church running the sound board for morning worship,  taking the sweet lady mentioned above out to a nice lunch (compliments of her husband) or tucked in at her home spending a quiet Sunday afternoon in her company.  I imagine she'll nap a bit after a busy morning and a yummy lunch, so maybe I'll get a couple more Last Dance squares crocheted up. 😊

As for the week ahead... I'm hoping my first-ever computer glasses come in (and hoping they work well for me), I'm getting fitted for a mouth guard on Monday, helping with the Little Dresses project on Tuesday and am seriously looking forward to some unseasonable 60-degree days later in the week so I can clean my windows before winter sets in!

To see what other YOPPERs are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.




Sunday, November 19, 2017

Square Dancing...

Trying to catch up for lost time in a Last Dance CAL I've been participating in, I finished three different sets of squares (in no particular order):

Week 4's squares



Week 6's squares


Replacements for week 1's squares that I wasn't liking all that much


And that's it!  Except for some mindless garter stitch knitting up of a dishcloth - which, of course, is a very relaxing thing to do.  ;^)   

On my schedule for this week is a hearing test, running some errands, and then otherwise getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with my little family.   Normally, the extended family gets together and more times than not we've hosted, but this year I've felt a serious need to keep it small and spend time with my adult sons who have been moving and/or getting jobs that take them further away  - which makes seeing them much less convenient.  I felt the need to hunker down, stay home and am actually thrilled that Thanksgiving will be small this year.   And our meal less traditional than our normal turkey and green bean casserole (which, of course, is accompanied by a whole bunch of other yummy dishes).

We plan on enjoying a meal of venison backstrap (from a deer middle son bagged last year) and some garlic shrimp.  Surf n' turf at its finest.  Or at least funnest.   I'm currently looking for recipes for cooking the backstrap.  I thought we'd grill it, but just today someone told me they found it tough grilled. Another friend told me when her son-in-law grilled it, it was melt-in-your mouth wonderful.    Hmmm...  let me know if you've had good experience cooking venison (and be sure to tell me how to replicate it).  My venison-cooking experience is limited to chili and tacos.  With these recipes, it's pretty easy to cover up the gamey taste (more or less) and toughness isn't an issue.  I'm vetting any and all suggestions!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Americans.   And wishes for a great week for everyone else.  

To see what other Yoppers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.




Sunday, November 12, 2017

Some happy finishes...

I missed my fellow Yoppers last week.  I had a vertigo attack on Saturday and even after the spinning stopped, it took it out of me for a few days.  Fortunately, by Tuesday I was feeling mostly myself again and I was able to make up for lost time.

Note:  All of my links below open up separate windows so you won't lose this page (I know sometimes I wonder about that when I'm reading someone's blog and I'm hesitant to click - so I thought a mention about it might be worthwhile.)

Had I been feeling well last Sunday, I would have shown my three As Time Goes By squares:


They turned out a little larger than the Don't Fence Me In squares, so I'm thinking I may not block these.  I probably need to make a few more squares in this blanket before I settle on what will be the final size of the squares - and deal with them all in a way that will make them stitch together nicely.

I love these patterns and the videos by Polly Plum.   The videos make the squares a breeze to make.

Also, I had made another set of stitch markers (or progress keepers as knitters use them):

I am really enjoying making these and have some more ideas brewing.  

~~~~~

And then later this week I finished my Leaping Stripes and Blocks blanket:


I like how it turned out, but I would have liked it more if I hadn't made it quite so wide, so I could have made it longer to fit an adult, or made two baby blankets.   As is, though, it will work well for a child (probably up to a pre-teen age).  Now I need to find a child for it.   ;^)

~~~~~

And now I'll leave you with a couple of videos (that I found online) of a young man who a dear friend and I had the pleasure of seeing in concert at a small music club in Indy this past week.   Ian Ethan Case's specialty is playing double neck guitars - and we were treated to a number of creations of his on those instruments.  But my favorite song he performed was done on a kalimba.  I think this was the song he performed for us:


As good as the video sounds, in person this song (all of his music) was absolutely mesmerizing.   If you stick with the video (it's only around 8 minutes long) I promise you - it will make you dance.  Right there in your chair.

And if you've never experienced a performance on a double-neck guitar, here you go (about 6 minutes in, though, he pulls out the kalimba again, and then goes back to the guitar.):


It was nearly midnight when the concert ended, but I could have stayed for hours more, I think.  ;)


~~~~~


To see what other Yoppers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.




Sunday, October 29, 2017

Marking stitches...

This week turned out to be anything but full of leisurely crochet that I anticipated when I wrote my YOP post last weekend.

I've been doing some part-time companion care for an elderly lady since mid-summer (basically, I'm a fill-in for her regular care-giver).  Well, this week the regular gal took ill and I ended up working every day (or evening) except Tuesday.  I'm not complaining - I've really grown to love the woman I "keep company with" and the pay feels generous to me.   BUT...  When I have a week like this I realize how hard it is to get anything else done!  It's all very good, but it's not my normal.  And oh, my house shows it.  Not that I'm a model housekeeper (I am not), but sparing you the details...  it looks a bit rough here.  I desperately want to declutter and vacuum and dust!

All that said...  I did make something this weekend!  Yes, I did.

I was inspired by Sandra at http://farmgirlsam.blogspot.com/ to get out my beads and wires and all the paraphernalia needed to make some stitch markers.  And on Saturday I set up a little stitch marker factory on my dining room table.


I made some fun and funky ones:


And then I decided it would be really clever of me to make some autumny-looking ones: 

I know these look like two pictures of the same markers, but they're actually two different sets.



And since Christmas is right around the corner, I decided I might as well make me some holiday-inspired stitch markers:

And lastly, I decided to make some knitting stitch markers because well...  I haven't given up completely on the idea of knitting something substantial enough that some knitting stitch markers will be a necessity.

Granted, they are not the most sophisticated-looking, but I can't get over how easy these were to make:


And that's pretty much it, folks.  I crocheted just a bit in the evenings on my Leaping Stripes and Blocks blanket, but it looks essentially the same as it did last Sunday, so I don't see a point in taking a picture.

This week I hope to catch up some on my Last Dance squares, and maybe even finish a WIP.  Big talk, I know.  Check back here next week to see what I actually manage to accomplish.




To see what other YOPPERS are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Time for simple things...

Well, I knew it would happen at some point, and last week I broke my record for continuous weekly YOP posts since I began in June of 2015.  Not that I need a reason to miss a YOP post, but we were busy last weekend helping middle son move into his new digs in a city 3 hours away.  He's been out on his own for the last three years, but this is the furthest he's lived from us.  I know he's just fine with the arrangement, but this momma is missing him (what I really miss is that he's no longer just a phone call and a 25-minute drive away for lunch or supper).

I know it's all good, though.  He recently graduated from college, and now it appears he's got a great job (that begins tomorrow) and we know he's settled into an apartment that will work very nicely for him.  It's milestone for him.  For all of us.

And I guess it's been a busy week since because all I've really managed to accomplish with yarn since last Sunday was to block four squares crocheted sometime the week before.  These are the Week 2 squares for the Last Dance Blanket.    The stitch used is a new one for me.  It's called the Star Stitch.


I didn't have enough of the light pink color (which was my first choice for making this square), but I think mixing it up a bit with the pale lavender color will work well with the whole color combination I'm hoping to be able to finish.  I say hoping because I keep finding out that colors I planned to use are discontinued, so I'm having to substitute colors when I run out of what's in my stash.

And, as if that wasn't disappointing enough, I'm finding out that it's really hard to mix brands of yarns with the different square designs, as even a slightly thicker yarn will, of course, change the gauge a square crochets up in (and one can only go down so far in hook size when working with worsted weight yarn).  Sigh.

Just between you and me, I'm starting to not love this project like I thought I did when I first started.  Hopefully, I won't spend the next two months being forced to rethink my color and yarn choices, but after spending some time recalibrating this week, hopefully it will go smoothly from here on out.

I also knitted up a washcloth on the return trip from moving son.  I almost finished it in three hours.  Actually, I would have finished it on the return trip, but I was enjoying the countryside in a new-to-me part of the state.  And then it got dark...


I love this simple non-pattern for a dishcloth.  And I love the no-thinking involved in making one.  I also love that wooden spoon.  It was in a simple set of wooden utensils sent to us as a wedding gift 37 years ago from Poland, from a grad school friend of my husband's.  I'm not sure whatever happened to the holder for the set of stirrers (and there was a pestle, too, at one time) -- it hung on the wall for a while and for the longest time I just treated these as something to display.  Probably, something happened to the holder and I decided the spoons and stirrers were perfectly fine to actually use - and there you have it.  A nearly 40 year-old wooden spoon that is worn from 15 or so years of wear, and makes me smile inside every time I use it. Or snap a picture of it.  Truly a simple pleasure.

~~~~~

And lastly, Friday night, feeling the need to crochet something other than squares, I decided to start another child's blanket.  

A few weeks ago, I bought this Caron One Pound yarn (in the colorway, Country Basket):


What is it about a skein of variegated yarn that is so appealing?   Especially knowing that variegateds rarely crochet up well.  Sigh.  Well, it was on sale and I had a 20% discount on top of that, and it was so soft and just begging to be made into something for a child.  I had to have it.  Or so I told myself.  And when I got home I remembered why I've repeatedly berated myself for being pulled into the lure of variegated yarns... 

And then I remembered the Leaping Stripes and Blocks Blanket.  It's a fun design that actually works fairly well with variegated yarns and coordinating colors, so I started another one:


A few rows in, I've decided to re-do the above and make the blue rows wider than the white and variegated rows.  Otherwise it seems the solid blue is pretty much lost as a solid.  Once this gets going, this is another mindless project.  Perfect for relaxing.  It's supposed to rain and be cloudy and chilly most of this week.  Except for working a few hours on Monday morning, it appears I have few commitments this week.  Sounds like a perfect week for crocheting.  ;^)

~~~~~

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had an interesting project I would share.  Well...  while my pictures below are seriously lacking, I'm excited to show what I've been doing with some friends.  We are making "Pillowcase Dresses" to send to countries (or even here in America) where poverty means a young girl without clean and appropriate clothing may be vulnerable to a variety of ills and evils.  To go to the heart of the matter, putting a pretty, but simple, dress on a girl may communicate to others that this is a child who is cared for.  Who is wanted.  Who is protected.  Hopefully, a pretty dress communicates to the one wearing it that she is worthy.  That she is loved.

Again, my pictures are really lacking  -  the lighting was all wrong, and they just don't do justice to how cute some of these dresses have turned out.  And frankly, I can't take much credit for the dresses as I've mostly cut, ironed and sewn simple hems and casings while others did the finishing work.





I'm just beginning to understand the reasons and purposes behind the various ministries that sew, collect, and distribute these dresses to children in need of clothing, but for now we have given some dresses to a church that is putting them in Operation Christmas Child boxes.  The next batch of dresses will be going to a ministry that will distribute the dresses to missionaries (short and long term missionaries) who will encounter children who will benefit from them.

Our next sewing session is in November.  My personal goal is to help us get set up in a bit more organized manner so each of us always has something we can be working on while we're together.  We're pretty hard working, but some organization will only benefit our work.

yep, that's yours truly...

~~~~~~

To see what other YOPpers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.





Sunday, October 8, 2017

Squares and more squares...

This past week I finished the first four squares in the Last Dance Blanket:



And I came up with this color scheme and layout (using stash yarn):


The color representations aren't completely accurate (e.g. it's hard to convey "dusty" and "clear" in the colors that are those), but I think this graphic is a fair approximation of the colors I'm planning on using.  And I kind of like it so far.  Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind about any of the colors as I go.  I've already learned that two of the colors I have yet to crochet squares for are discontinued, so right out of the gate I'm adapting my plans.

If you'd like to join a current CAL for this blanket, we're working on it together in Our Happy CAL Group on Ravelry.  We just started the second week (second square) today and the CAL will go through the end of December.

Each pattern is worked 4 times, so at the end of each week we should have four squares completed, and at the end of 12 weeks (which will be the end of December), we should have 48 squares!   And then a couple of weeks in January will be dedicated to joining and crocheting the border.  Wish me well!  And come join me, if you like!

~~~~~

As if that wasn't enough of a project to start this past week, I was inspired to try a square from the Stardust Melodies Blanket by gifted crochet designer, Polly Plum.  And after I crocheted that square I was so impressed by the video tutorial and how perfect and nice the square turned out, I decided to consider making a small blanket of some of the squares in this collection.

The first square I tried is called Don't Fence Me In:


I followed Polly's video tutorial (which is available at the link above) and I must say she is thorough and her instructions are easy to follow.  I look forward to making more of her designs.

Note:  Polly has published an e-book that has many more patterns (and accompanying video tutorials) for a large Stardust Melodies blanket, so check it out if you think you might be interested and want more than the 12 free patterns Polly generously provides on her website

~~~~~

And finally, I decided to pull out a long-languishing project.  Okay, I know some of you have projects that have languished a lot longer than this one, but I hadn't worked on this Fairly Isleish sweater since trying to block out the seriously crooked center-front edges (that was in June, I think).

What used to look like this:



Now has a straight button band on one side and a button-hole band on the other side of the center-front:



And the beginning of a toddler-sized long sleeve:


I'm going to try to get this finished!  If not by the end of this week, then by the next.  There might be a little person out there who'd be warmed by this cute little sweater and it will soon be turning chilly here.

And that's it here in my little corner of the crochet world.  The coming week promises to be busy and if I think to take some pictures, I may have something new and interesting to show and tell about next week.
Hmmm...  aren't you curious now?!?  😉



To see what other YOPPERs are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.




Sunday, October 1, 2017

Hats For Kids...

As of today, I declare my hat factory officially closed.  I don't know if 17 hats is a good number to have made in the last four weeks, or if it's a ridiculous number, but this is what I've got to show for my crocheting efforts over the last month.


Washed and dried, these hats are super soft and if they find the right heads to fit, they ought to keep some kiddos warm come winter.

I know I shared a couple of the patterns here when I first made them, but I thought I'd share all the patterns - in one place this time.  Clicking on the pictures will take you to my Ravelry project page, that will have any notes I made, as well as a link to the designer's page.  Clicking on the links in the text below the pictures will take you to a video tutorial of each hat.


The Divine Hat was probably the easiest and quickest to make, and of course I love it for that reason alone.  Because the pattern produces a hat on the large side, though, I had to tweak it a bit to get it kid-size.  Basically, I just continued with 3 dc shells, instead of enlarging to 4 dc shells where the pattern instructs, and if necessary, I switched to a smaller hook when I worked the ribbing (or started with a smaller hook if I was wanting a hat significantly smaller).   An easy hat with a ribbing that doesn't stretch as much as the others I did, but cute all the same.

~~~~


Then there was the Snowfall Slouchy.  I'm not sure how much mine will slouch, but I loved how these turned out.  The size can be adjusted by creating a larger or smaller ribbing, and when beginning the hat portion, just make sure that the starting number of stitches (the stitches that transition from the ribbing to the hat portion) is a multiple of 4. 

A note on how to get the correct starting number of stitches...   After connecting the ends of my ribbing by slip stitching them together (into the back loop only), I did a round of sc's around the top edge of the ribbing with the same yarn I made the ribbing with.   I strive to get the right multiple of stitches on this round by using increase or decrease sc stitches.  Then, if changing colors, I do so with the first round of dc's, and if I didn't hit the correct multiple on my sc round, I have a second chance to get that right on the dc round.

I should mention that I love how the designer made these ribbings - watch her instructions carefully as it's  little different from other crocheted ribbings I've made.  I love it  because it makes very nice edge.   This became my go-to pattern for creating a ribbing on the rest of the hats that were made from the bottom up.

~~~~



It was when making the Snowfall Slouchy hat, I discovered the Puppy Love Heart Slouchy - made by the same designer - Bethany Dearden.  This can be crocheted in any size - crochet sc's around the top of ribbing in multiples of 6 (I think).  I love how these turned out, but there is a lot of openness to this pattern, and I wasn't sure how warm and dry of a hat that would make, so I only made two of these before deciding to move on to a new pattern.

~~~~


I think my favorite pattern was the Stepping Textures Hat.  The written pattern and video tutorial demonstrate how to make one of these with chunky yarn, but these can be made with any size yarn as long as one starts with a base number that is a multiple of 5.  And, again, I made a ribbing like Bethany Dearden demonstrates in her tutorial  - as opposed to the slip stitch ribbing this pattern calls for. Note: the slip stitch ribbing is wonderfully stretchy, but it's tedious to make.  More tedious than I have patience for.

The pictures below may not show every single hat, and may even show a duplicate or two, but this is what my month of hats looks like:










~~~~

And I almost forgot -  After some disappointing attempts at making sturdy pom-poms, I searched for a way to make pom-poms that don't pull apart, and looky what someone came up with:


Try it!  It works pretty well!  All of the pom poms on the hats above are made using this technique.  So much for my fancy-schmancy Clover pom-pom makers!

~~~~

And that would be all she wrote, but I want to invite anyone who might be interested to join in a Last Dance CAL in the Our Happy CAL group on Ravlery.  We're just getting started, so you can get in on it from the beginning if you like!

I'm making a Last Dance in the Clouds blanket and here's the first square I made last night:


The CAL will run through the end of the year with weekly installments and links to video tutorials (I think), and even a prize each month for some lucky participants.   Come join the fun!

To see what other Yoppers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.











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