Sunday, May 20, 2018

When The Crojo Goes...

Something has happened to me over the last couple of weeks.  Except for some weaving in of ends on one of my Spicier Life blankets, and crocheting a quick project here and there I seem to have lost some of my crojo.    I haven't been interested in crocheting much of anything this past week.

I've been thinking it's because I've got these two Spicier Life blankets in progress and that they are going soooo sloooowly.   I've never made a large blanket from DK weight yarn, and my goodness, it takes forever to see progress.   And after evaluating their size last week I realized I'm going to have to add a good number of rows (actually one or two whole sections) to get these anywhere close to being able to cover a person.  I don't understand how these (made according to the pattern) would be large enough for an adult-sized blanket.  

Anyway...  I was feeling just about over them already.  Was beginning to think it had been a big mistake to try to make two of these at the same time.  And I could just barely stand to look at them for the past little while.


But last night I made myself get one of them out and start crocheting again.  And I was pleasantly reminded how easy the pattern is.  And how much I enjoy crocheting them. So I guess I'm back in the saddle again.  

But with a different attitude.  These are projects I may just have to take breaks from, and they may take longer than I originally imagined.  Much longer.  At this point I'm putting aside any expectations of when I may finish these, or if I'll even continue to crochet them side by side all the way to the finish.   But seeing all those colors playing together reminds me that I do love this project.  And someday I'm going to be thrilled to finish them.

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

Meanwhile I'm curious what others do when their knitting or crochet mojo takes a hike.  What do you do to inspire yourself to pick up hook or needles again and get going when motivation lags?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Celebrating & thinking ahead...

This was a quiet week on the crochet front, but it ended with happy celebrations of our youngest son's college graduation yesterday.  Ben graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice: Public Safety Management.  It's inadequate to sum up the day with one picture, but there either aren't enough words (or words aren't enough) to express my joy and pleasure that another son has graduated and is excitedly looking forward to the future.

So proud of and pleased with Ben - but not just because he's finished his college education.  
I'm most pleased because he has a solid faith and a heart to serve others.


And on the crochet front, I have pitifully little to show, but I show it with enthusiasm at the start of a project that I hope to complete this year.  I was meandering around blogland recently when somehow I came upon Jill Ruth & Co.   This woman has a beautiful blog with beautiful pictures, for sure, but when I stumbled upon this Advent calendar project I fell in love. Such a simple "homespun" idea looks like it would be fun to make.  

The CAL project this past week in the Our Happy CAL Place (on Ravelry) was angel ornaments.   It occurred to me that this would make a great first project for an Advent calendar.  

So it begins.  We'll see how it ends and if I actually complete this project.  I have it in mind to make three of these Advent calendars by...  I don't know... Thanksgiving?

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

Friday, May 11, 2018

Moments with Ruth...

Something I consider a gift at this stage in my life is to work (very part time) as an elder companion caregiver for a dear woman who struggles with mild dementia.  While Ruth's condition steals much of the present from her memory, there are many things still deeply ingrained in her mind, heart and soul and when the wealth of a life well-lived spills out, the hearer is always the richer for it.

Recently Ruth was reminiscing about her childhood and told of a time (in the 1940's) when she would regularly travel to a nearby town where young people could audition and then play instruments and/or sing for their Saturday afternoon "Junior Jamboree" radio program.

She told me of a song she sang once for this program called "Believe me if all those endearing young charms" and I chuckled over the long name.  She asked me if I wanted to hear it, and of course I said yes!  Ruth sang it without a hitch.  I was intrigued by the sweetly sentimental words and we talked about what the archaic-sounding lyrics meant.  Suddenly inspired, she suggested that she might be able to play it for me on the piano.  And play it she did.  She was as tickled at her ability to recall and play this song from her childhood as I was to hear it.

I found several renditions on Youtube and played one for her.  She seemed surprised and thrilled to see that the song has been kept alive by numerous singers and musicians.  Here is one beautiful performance:

Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms (by Thomas Moore)

Believe me if all those
Endearing young charms
Which I gaze on so fondly today
Were to change by tomorrow
And fleet in my arms,
Like fairy gifts fading away
Though would'st still be adored
As this moment thou art
Let thy loveliness fade as it will
And around the dear ruin
Each wish of my heart
Would entwine itself
Verdantly still.

It is not while beauty
And youth are thine own
And thy cheeks
Unprofaned by a tear
That the ferver and faith
Of a soul can be known
To which time will but
Make thee more dear
No the heart that has truly loved
Never forgets
But as truly loves
On to the close
As the sunflower turns
On her god when he sets
The same look which
She'd turned when he rose.

Archaic lyrics, perhaps, but the message is clear and sweet, and romantic to the bones. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Out for a walk...

Have you ever tried getting your walking exercise in at a cemetery?  I've seen people walking in the local cemetery (as I've driven by), and I've often thought, "I should do that".  So I did!  What a great, quiet place to walk and contemplate.

This was a little worn path from the greenway trail to the cemetery. 
 I'm clearly not the only one who's been through here.


Walking back through the city park, I decided to climb up to a spot where there is an small, old cemetery with gravestones dating back to the 1800's.  

Eleanor was born in 1780!

Ignoring the fact that I can't seem to get a non-fuzzy picture lately on my phone camera, I was completely charmed by this idyllic spot as I walked along the greenway trail 
through the city park.  

What a pretty town mine is in the springtime.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Oceanside Shawl

Yesterday I finished my, what I'm calling, Oceanside Shawl (pattern is called Ruthie's Sunshine). 

I soaked it in warm sudsy water mixed with Dreft pur-touch baby detergent and then rinsed it out.  I don't know if baby detergent was necessary, but it sure left the shawl with a nice barely-there soft scent.  And then I didn't block it, but rather (after rolling it in a towel and pressing out most of the water), I just laid it out on another towel to dry - didn't pin it, or try to open up the stitch pattern.  I felt like it was pretty perfect as it was.

That said, I did want my shawl a bit wider than the original, so I added some extra stitches (an extra V stitch in each section where those appear), so my shawl is probably wider by an inch or two from the original.  My shawl measures 16" x 74".

Also, I did not do as the pattern instructed and crochet half the shawl, then go back and start it again going the other direction (which would make a seam in the center back).  The stitch pattern on this really doesn't not need for that to be done. It looks just fine hanging down on either side, don't you think?  Without studying the stitches closely, you really can't tell that the "shells" go a different direction on either side.

Now... this yarn is interesting.  I've never used it before, so I'll give a little review.  It's Lion Brand Shawl in a Ball in the colorway, Healing Teal.

For the most part I like the self-striping.  And I like the effect of the white cotton thread that is spun into this colorway.  I'm not sure, though, what I think of the unevenness of the thickness of the yarn. There are lots of large slubs which produce fuzzier places in the finished project.   I'm used to this in say, Red Heart's Unforgettable, and, like Unforgettable, it can be a bear to unravel (actually, I think this yarn was harder to unravel).   The cotton thread spun into it also produces a different feel in how it handles. It's hard to explain, but it has to do with both the random thick-and-thinness of the acrylic fiber (which stretches to some degree), combined with the cotton threads which don't really stretch at all.

The short of it is that it took some getting used to.  While it took me telling myself it was okay while I was working with it, now that this project is finished I'm deciding that the cotton thread is a plus in that it adds strength to what appears to be an otherwise un-spun acrylic fiber.  I'm not sure there are a lot of projects I'd use this yarn for.  It makes a nice shawl, so I guess the name of the yarn (Shawl in a Ball) is fitting.

And that's all she wrote!  To see what other Yoppers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.

2018 Yarn Stash-Down:  18.17/100 Skeins

Friday, May 4, 2018

Out for a walk...

On a super windy May day, between the wind whipping me and my (phone) camera, and whipping the trees, I found it impossible to get an in-focus picture when walking today.   But the tree blossoms were fuller and spring is slowly greening here.

Last week:

This week:

Last week:

This week:
Blurry pic, but the Redbud trees are fuller of blossom

And I noticed this little fella on my second lap around the wetland path (actually, he wasn't all that little.  He was nearly a foot long):
It was just him and me out at this spot on this windy day, so I'm not sure what had him in his shell, 
but he was playing bashful.


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Shawling along...

Last week I commented that my progress on my two Spicier Life Blankets seems to slow down with each new section.  I don't know what's up with that, but I decided I needed to take a break from those projects.

Wanting to participate in the April's Monthly CAL (which includes shawls) on the Our Happy CAL Place group on Ravelry, I decided to dig out some skeins of Lion Brand Shawl in a Ball yarn I bought at a deep clearance price last December, and start a shawl using the pattern, Ruthie's Sunshine.  Here's just a peek at what I've got done so far:

I think I'm going to call mine Oceanside.

I kind of love the pattern, but I keep making mistakes! And then I don't find them until several rows later!  I'm about half-way finished, but if I hadn't had to rip back so many times I'd have this thing finished by now, I'm sure.

It's a very simple pattern, and because it's so easy, it's tempting to believe you can mindlessly crochet this, but I don't recommend it. I find I really need to hold the thing out after every row or so and count the double crochets (and/or the V stitches).  Counting either of those makes my mistakes stick out.  Not counting will get me every time.

Next week, I imagine it will be back to my Spicier Life Blankets since I really do want to get them finished.   And maybe I'll have this Oceanside shawl finished soon!

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

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Out for a walk...

A gorgeous 65 degree April afternoon 
at the Blue Heron Park and Wetland...

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Making things... baking things...

As I wrote yesterday, I had a birthday this past week.   I didn't make any grand plans to celebrate, but I received the sweetest invitation from a young friend a couple of weeks ago to bake together.  For his birthday (which was the week before mine) he said something he'd like to to do is bake with Mrs. B...

He had talked of making biscuits when he and his siblings were at our house a few months ago and we didn't have time to do that then, but evidently Isaiah hung onto that thought.

I put on my apron and was his sou baker (is that a thing?) for a couple of hours this past Thursday.

Mostly, I just watched, chatted, and cleaned up after Isaiah as he worked very proficiently making biscuits.

He thought that was a great arrangement.  And it suited me just fine.

Isaiah worked fast and it was difficult getting a non-fuzzy picture of him rolling and cutting out biscuits.

Here's a clear picture...  Isaiah is arranging biscuits on the baking sheet so they'll bake nice and even.


While the biscuits were baking, Isaiah started the book I brought him as a birthday gift.  Hubs has a collection of old Landmark books we've begun selling and otherwise rehoming, and Isaiah comes from a family of big readers, so we thought this title would make a fine gift.  I tucked in a bookmark I had made.   


And finally, the biscuits were done baking and we enjoyed a couple with jam and butter.

While this was meant to be a birthday gift for Isaiah, it was a birthday present for me that I'll remember forever, I imagine.   Thank you, Isaiah, for the invitation to bake with you, and for showing me what a good baker you are!


And on the crochet front, I'm still working away on my two Spicier Life blankets.

They're both just a little over half finished.  I don't know if it's my imagination, but each section seems longer than the section before it.  While I'm enjoying working on these, I'm starting to slow down. Can't wait 'till I get to the borders. 

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

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Birthday week...

I had a birthday this week.  And I don't feel as old as I am.

Well, that's not completely true.  Sometimes my body feels every single day of my now 59 years, but my heart doesn't quite comprehend that I've been here on this earth for nearly six decades now.

In my heart, I feel young.  Sometimes the little girl in me enjoys kicking autumn leaves, or enjoys the splatter of spring rain on my face, except that now the rain drops mess up my glasses and that's not so much fun.  Sometimes I'm tempted to lay on my stomach and read a book, but then I'm reminded that my back will ache, or a muscle may spasm when I try to get up.  And then there are those moments when I get up from a seated position, and my hips catch as I carefully unfold myself.   And way too may times I hear myself groan as I stand and straighten up after relaxing all comfy snug in a big recliner chair.

But even on hard or very practical days, my heart has me feeling like I'm still a young woman.  Even though I wear a crown of gray, and my crows feet crinkle when I smile, and my dry eyes sometimes turn red and are not so pretty, the image I have of myself (the person behind my eyes) is younger than the one I see in the mirror.  I suspect that's the way it is for all of us.  Funny how this is.  I consider it one of life's great blessings that we don't necessarily see ourselves as the world sees us.  Then again, I'm not sure the world sees us and is startled like we sometimes are when we catch a glimpse of our aging selves in a mirror or window reflection.   And those cameras at self-check out lines.  Ugh.  Recently I was startled (and discouraged) to see my image on the little screen as I was scanning  and bagging my groceries.  Really... why do I need to see my face then?

Anyway... all that aside, embracing my age this year, I announced on my birthday that it was the first day of my 60th year.  I think my husband thought that was a negative way to look at it, but to me it felt empowering.

I'm now marching forward to 60, and feeling very reflective - as I do most years about this time.   But I've decided to own this next year in a way I've really not done before.   I don't know yet what that means.  It would be nice if it meant I worked harder at being healthier, lost some weight, stuff like that.  Stuff that most of us want to have achieved, but most of don't really want to actually DO.

It would be great if it meant growing deeper spiritually.  Complete the challenge I started in January to read through the Bible (the challenge that has already gotten waylaid).  To pray more intentionally, and by that I mean keep track of prayers and answers to prayers.  To claim blessings and gifts as if they were directly given by the hand of God.  James tells us it is so:  "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

It would probably be life-changing if I embraced challenging relationships as refining things in my life rather than as chafing things to endure or avoid.  Ouch.  That one is a really hard one for me. But I suspect I'm the bigger loser because of it.

I could go, but these are things I'm reflecting on lately...

I didn't make any plans for my birthday, but it was such a beautiful spring day (finally!) I decided I needed to get outside and take a walk.  I couldn't manage to stir up anyone to go with me at the last minute, so I enjoyed a quiet solitary walk  on the greenway trail of our town.    By the time I started, the beautiful sunny day was starting to change to a cloudy breezy day so the pictures I got were on the dark side.

It doesn't look very spring-like, does it?  You can't hear the birds chirping, or the low rumble of lawn mowers off in the distance cutting grass for the first time this year.  It was a lovely, quiet walk.  I only passed four other people in the forty minutes it took me to make the circuitous walk through what the city is trying to turn into something of a nature preserve.

Since I had the foresight to take my phone with me, it occurred to me that it might be interesting to take a picture of the same spot over the course of the the year to see how it changes.  I probably should have chosen a more scenic spot, but then again, this little corner should show the changes pretty dramatically.   Though I do think I need to work on the lighting.  Then again, my phone camera isn't all that great if the natural lighting isn't great.

We'll see, I guess.   We'll see if I manage to remember to take my camera in the future.  We'll see if manage to have my phone charged so that I can take a picture (my phone was down to 5% charged when I finished my walk).  And I suppose we'll see if I actually get out to this spot often enough to even do this seasonal photo thing...  It all felt like a grand idea, the day I took this walk.

Whatever the next year holds...  

I'm looking forward to another trip around the sun!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Small things...

This was a quiet, yet profound, week with the burial service for my father-in-law on Thursday.    While his funeral service over a week ago was lovely, Bernie's burial brings a level of finality that we hadn't been able to experience until now.  While no one would have planned these two services to be separate (weather was in control of that), it actually made for a very personal and deeply meaningful graveside service having it on a separate day.  I hope you'll read the short post I wrote about it yesterday.


While I'm continuing to crochet away on two Spicier Life blankets, they really don't look different enough to post a progress picture.   Maybe next week.

But I did squeeze in two smaller projects.  I'm hosting a CAL this week in the Our Happy CAL Place, and to fit into the theme "Kitchen & Bath" I found a pattern for this cute Turtle Washcloth:

What a fun washcloth for a child, or a kitchen in the woods, or even a potholder - if made doubled.  If doubled, I suggest only doubling the center shell part.  And then joining and finishing the turtle's legs, head and tail with a single layer of crochet.

And then I decided to join in last week's CAL and made a bookmark (using this pattern for the stem):

 Using this pattern, sport weight cotton and a size G hook, the rose turned out crazy big.

But I sort of LOVE it!

To see what other YOPpers are working on, visit our group by clicking on the graphic below.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Meaningful moments...

I didn't mention this last week, but because we had such terrible, flooding rains the day of my father-in-law's funeral (which was on Tuesday, April 3rd), the actual burial service was held this past week (on Thursday, April 12th).

Unlike the day of the funeral service, this past Thursday turned out to be a beautiful (if extremely windy) spring day.  As a Korean War veteran my father-in-law received military honors at his burial service.  While logistics prevented a 21-gun salute, the playing of Taps and the folding and presentation of the flag that covered his coffin was very moving.  I've been to military funerals before, but have never had such a close-up seat to watch it from.  I couldn't hold back the tears when this young Army chaplain knelt to hand the flag to my mother-in-law.  It was so incredibly moving.

“On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Army, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s 
honorable and faithful service.”

Even though my father-in-law was 93 when he died, and his service had been many, many years ago, it was touching to see the honor that younger officers paid him and my mother-in-law.  Of course, that is expected, but I couldn't help but wonder and marvel at the "brotherhood" that exists between all who have served in the military, regardless of age and space in time.  While we were small in number at the graveside (compared to the number who attended the funeral service), it was a very personal and memorable service.  Beautiful, in all respects.


Bernie (age 26) at Ft. Monmouth, NJ - 1950

Bernie (age 93) - 2017

'till we meet again, Dad B.
"on that beautiful shore..."

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A gift of comfort...

I missed catching up with my YOP buddies last week, and it's good to be back with a post.  It may not appear at first to be a very YOPish post, but I wanted to share some of what's been going on here.  And I'll tie it back to our Year Of Projects theme before I'm finished.

My father-in-law passed on from this earthly life on Maundy Thursday (March 29th, 2018).  I like to imagine he enjoyed a most celebratory heavenly communion with his Lord on what has, here on earth, become a very somber observance for many of us in the Christian faith.

Bernie was 93 years-old and had been failing for some time. His decline had become marked since before Christmas, but when he got pneumonia in early March he just couldn't overcome it, and then a bacterial infection took its toll on his poor, tired body.

Bernie (age 90) on Veteran's Day, 2014

Last autumn, I had given my mother-in-law, Marcene, a blanket when she had a short stay in rehab after back surgery.   Marcene loved the blanket.   A blanket that seemed to me to be something of a mistake (too big for a baby or lap blanket, too small for a full--sized blanket) ended up being something my mother-in-law just loved.

When Marcene went home from rehab, I was told that Bernie confiscated the blanket and often slept with it.  He even told me how much he enjoyed it.  He said it was "just right".  Nevermind that I had made other blankets for both of them, something about this blanket was perfect.  I thought about making another one in more masculine colors.  Something just for Bernie.  But I never did.  Something tells me that that was okay.  That a different blanket might not have been so "perfect".

When Bernie was released from the hospital into rehab, Marcene brought him the blanket.  When I was visiting him one time I pulled the covers up over him and saw the blanket I had made scrunched down amongst the other covers on his bed.

I held it up in his line of vision and said, "Well, this is pretty!"

He looked at me, at first with a look of slight confusion as if to say, "You do know you made that, don't you?"   

I smiled at him and Bernie broke out in a huge grin that told me the joke was understood.

One of Bernie's sons was with him on his last night and while Bernie was rushed to the hospital in his last hours (to receive comfort and pain relief he wasn't getting in the rehab facility), of course, the blanket was left behind.  When his belongings were collected the next day, many things were thrown away because it was learned that he had contracted a bacteria in his last days.  But my mother-in-law brought the blanket home to clean it.  I suggested it be thrown away.  It wasn't worth the risk, in my opinion, to save it.  Marcene decided to wash and dry it and once again it's being used and loved.

I'm touched, not only that something so simple that I crocheted was well loved, but that it brought comfort during Bernie's last months, and saw him through most of his last night.   I'm touched that we shared a little joke between us when it was all he could do to smile when he was so weak.  And I'm very touched that my mother-in-law wants to keep the blanket that I would have likely put in the burn barrel after all it had been through and been exposed to.

But a simple gift lives on.  To warm others.  To bring some bit of comfort now to my mother-in-law.   And to make me smile knowing that Bernie took comfort being covered by it.  I'm reminded to not underestimate the value that a handmade gift can have when given in love to someone we love.

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

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Spicier and Spicier...

Last week I mentioned that I was thinking of making a second Spicier Life blanket (alongside the first one), and I decided this week it was time to start it.

Here is Part 1 of my 2nd Spicier Life Blanket:
For this blanket I went with colors that are bright and fun, and hopefully it will be a blanket that makes its recipient smile.

Meanwhile, I also continue to work on my first Spicier Life blanket (which is done in more or less the same colors as the original Jaipur-inspired blanket):
I'm enjoying them both, but I enjoy them differently. 


I know friends on the east coast have taken a beating with snow this winter and I almost feel bad showing off our pretty (and hopefully last) snowfall of the season we got yesterday.  Do you see that tiny red spot just a little above the center of the picture below?  It's a cardinal that was competing with the finches at the bird feeders.  I didn't even see it when I was snapping the picture, and I was a little sad that it didn't come back before dark so I could try to get a better photo of it.

Anyway, it was a peaceful, heavy snowfall and I thought this young couple so cute, out taking their dog for a walk in the falling snow, I decided to snap their picture:


And today, the sky is (mostly) blue and I hear the drip drip of snow melting off the roof as I type.  It's in the high 40's and with tomorrow in the 50's and rain forecasted the rest of the week, there will soon be nothing left of this season's last winter wonderland.

At which time I'll be doing a jig because that will mean the magnolia tree blossoms (that appear to have survived the freezing temps and snow yesterday) will bloom, and other flowers will shortly follow.  Spring has nearly sprung, and like the rest of the country, I'm ready for it!!!

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

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