Sunday, September 23, 2018

More hats...

Not a lot going on this week except having some plumbing repaired.   The good news on that front is that every single faucet in the house has now been replaced (and a couple have been replaced for the second time).  Counting the repeats, that's 9 faucets!  Eleven, if I count the two outside faucets.   That is over the course of 20 years, though, so it's not as bad as it first sounds.

A not-very-busy-week meant I got to spend a fair amount of time knitting and crocheting hats.   They are accumulating for the hat drive coming up in less than a month.

I do love the ease of the Benefaction Hat pattern.  I still enjoy making it:

And after digging through my stash for some self-striping yarn I think I'm going to enjoy making even more.  The following is Deborah Norville Everyday yarn in the colorway Red Rocks:
I am of course complicating things by removing that beige-y pink color (you can barely see it up there in the wound-up ball).

I'm looking forward to trying out a few more self-striping yarns I just happened to have single skeins of.

And I do still love a crocheted hat.  I made another Stepping Textures hat in a gold yarn:

When I get them all done (some will need pom poms) I'll try to create a collage of all the hats.  For now, some teaser pictures will suffice.

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

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Doilies and hats...

I missed my YOP buddies last weekend, but we were enjoying a bit of traveling.  First on the docket was taking our middle son some furniture.  It was so good to see him (and a little kitten he had recently adopted 😊).  When we considered that once we got to his place, we were nearly half-way to friends in Michigan, we made plans to visit them, too.  It was a fun, if rainy, weekend and we caught up with each other, laughed 'till we couldn't catch our breath, and went to bed a lot earlier than we used to.  Somehow we'd all gotten older in the years since we last saw each other...

Because our friends had recently moved into a new house, it occurred to me that some doilies might make a nice little housewarming gift for my girlfriend.  I decided to give her the autumn colored Summer Splendor I made a few weeks ago, and I got busy making two more. 

I made another Winter's Breath Doily, this time in a gray color of Artiste thread called Coin:
I know it pretty much looks white in a photograph, but it's actually a nice shade of gray.

And I had been admiring this small doily called Octoberfest, but I knew I wanted to make it in a red color because I think it looks kind of Christmas-y:
The outer edge looks darker than the center, but it's all the same color (called Jam) of Artiste thread.

The doilies were a hit, and I can't believe I haven't tired of making them.  So stay tuned!


Doilies may have to get in line, though because wanting to make some hats for a hat/scarf drive coming up in early October, I'm finally getting a little more focused on that.  This year, I'm adding knitted hats to my crocheted ones.

First, a crocheted one - called Stepping Texture:

This is an easy pattern that can be made to fit any size head and with any size yarn as long as one starts the body with a stitch count that is a multiple of 5.  I made several of these last year and I'm happy to say it's a pretty enjoyable pattern. 

As far as knitting goes...  while I'm eyeing some colorwork patterns, at the moment I'm still practicing knitting in the round by making simple stockinette-stitched hats, but playing around with different yarns:
I love the Premier Sweet Roll yarn these are knitted in (colorway is Black Pepper Swirl).  I find it very easy to work with.

While I love the Sweet Roll yarn, I did begin to get tired of gray, so I went digging for something brighter.  This lone skein of Willow Wash  yarn in the colorway, Cherry Heather fit the bill:

Pom poms will be added to some of my hats later.  Or not.  I'll figure that out after I've made more and if I decide to crown any with poms, I will do it assembly line style.

And that's all from me this week.  To see what other YOPpers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

I knit a hat!

Remembering this past week that I wanted to complete a knitted project for an August KAL (in the Red Heart Lovers' group on Ravelry,) I put down my tiny crochet hook and thread and set myself to knitting a hat.  In this C/KAL we were to challenge ourselves to do something that was new to us.

Well...  I'd never knit a hat (so that was new), and since I'd never knit in the round before, and I'd never used DPNs, I looked for a video to walk me through these things.

I found the Benefaction Hat (from Knit Picks):

I was actually surprised at how easy it was to knit on 16-inch, size 6 circular needles.  And then I got to the DPNs at the top.  My yarn (Red Heart Soft) was very splitty, so that was problem #1 when trying to decrease, and then my stitches started slipping off my DPNs.   Ugh. 

It became  a royal mess, but somehow I pulled it all together, and closed her up and I can at least say I finally knit a hat.

Now...  If the front was all there was, I'd be happy enough. I could cover the messy crown with a pom pom.  

Problem #2, though, is something I can't fix or disguise.  I simply can't stand the jogs that my color joins created, and I don't know what happened with the top stripe.  I tried to use a jogless joining technique there, but clearly I didn't understand something.  I know y'all will be encouraging, but I'm disappointed with the back:

That said, I'm super pleased that I finished it, and I immediately jumped into making another one:

I'm using a self-striping yarn (which is giving me really wide bands of different shades of gray so color jogs are not an issue), and most importantly, the yarn doesn't split!  This second yarn is Premier Sweet Roll yarn in the colorway Black Pepper Swirl.

This will be a toasty hat!  And Ooh, how I wish I had other colors of this yarn, but I will not go shopping for more.  I can content myself making more gray striped hats until I tire of the pattern.  Or combine colors on my own to make large bands if that's what really floats my boat.

The truly important thing for me to remember here is...  I knit a hat!!!  

Other things I worked on this week included a teeny doily, which is #10 in the book 99 Little Doilies:  
It's about 4 inches across.  And it's super simple, except for some twisted stitches (which didn't twist)  - in Round 6, I believe.  Not much to say about this one. 

I also started Doily #11 in the same book:
It just makes me too sad to refer to all these doilies as #10, #11... so I'm going to try to give them my own names (if they're worthy).  This one I'm calling Pineapple Square doily.   You can't see them yet, but there will (hopefully) be a pineapple on each straight side of this square doily.   I plan for this one (and maybe some others) to be finished next time I make a YOP post.

And more hats.  'Tis the month to make hats.  Knit hats, crochet hats.  I want to make hats.

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

Sunday, August 26, 2018

More doilies...

Still on a doily kick, I had to make another one in an autumn color - this one for me to keep.  I made another Summer Splendor (or I suppose I could call this one Autumn Awesomeness):
It's a fairly simply pattern (which is why I've made two now), but it has a nice Wow! factor.  This one is made with Artiste Cotton thread in the color Papaya.

Being smitten by doilies this month (especially smallish doilies) I did something a bit uncharacteristic for me.  I bought myself this overpriced, out-of-print book from a seller on Amazon:

I was searching high and low for patterns for small doilies (anything under 10 inches), and finally, somehow stumbled upon this book.  And I just had to have it!  And just like that, I was putting it in my "cart" and purchasing it!  What's wrong with me?!?  Normally, I'd wring my hands, put it in time out and decide the next day I didn't need it.  But for some reason, I decided right then and there that I needed this book.  And I didn't even put up an argument.

Fortunately, I was not disappointed when it arrived.  While I'd prefer the book had more 8 - 10 inch doilies (and I knew there were few that large when I ordered it), there's not a bad one in the whole bunch.

It was hard to decide which one to start with, but I finally settled on this one with the very inauspicious name of #74:

I'm going to have to get me a slightly larger steel hook for making these since this one (that was supposed to be 6 inches across) measured only 4.5 inches when I was finished.  It will make a pretty coaster, or maybe votive holder, but I'm not sure I'm interested in making doilies this small.   So back to Hobby Lobby I must go to get a larger hook.  Wish me luck!  


Yuko loved the doilies I gave her.  Upon the good advice I received last week, I suggested that she give one to her mother when she return to Japan, but the fact is her family lives about 12 hours away from where they will be living when they return, so I don't even know how often they see each other.  I'm also not sure that Yuko completely understood what I was saying.  Yuko and I have become pretty comfortable working through a conversation until we understand what the other is saying, but with our two boys (her two-year-old and my 64 year-old) making noise in the background, our conversation was more challenging than normal.

Regardless of what she does with them, she appeared to be very pleased with the gift.  And she wrote me a very sweet thank you the next day.

Meanwhile, I got to enjoy these beautiful flowers all week that Yuko brought with her when she and her family visited:


Overall, it was a busy, but relatively quiet week.   After so much rain recently, I finally had a good day to power-wash the area next to where we put so many rocks a few weeks ago.  Pictures don't do the job justice, but I promised pictures, so here you go...  

The vast majority of rocks aren't actually visible.  
Most of the rocks are 8 - 12 inches below ground level. 
I forget how deep the hole was.  
Just know that there are a lot of rocks under the top layer


Several days after posting this, I found some pictures of the hole dug, and a couple of the piles of rocks (before shoveling):

Here's the hole (that is shown filled in above):

And here are the first two piles of rock we had delivered (one pile was jumbo-sized river rock, and one pile was simply large river rock):


Seriously wishing I had saved back more of 
the larger (Jumbo sized) river rock to create a 
more attractive sloping area above.  
I need to work on this (and maybe go buy some more rock).  

And the above was a bit of an afterthought.  
We had more rock than we needed, so we decided to fill in 
this area outside our dining room.  
Every spring I plant it with annuals, 
and every summer it becomes a weed-infested mess.  
I think I need to look for some perennials to pretty up this space.  
But for right now, it's just nice to look out the dining room doors and not see a jumble of guilt-inducing weeds.

And then there's a section in the front of our house under a hose reel where we laid some rock and stepping stones.  It's an improvement for various reasons, but at the moment a dirty hose reel box is sitting atop it, so I'm not bothering to take a picture.    Next spring/summer this will all hopefully look nicer with grass filling in the edges, and maybe some plantings in the rocks.  I haven't figured those details out yet, but for now I'm just glad the hard physical labor is finished.  

And now it's on to other projects!

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

2018 Yarn Stash-Down:  35.66/100 Skeins

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Quite a week...

The last seven days has been quite the week!   

Monday, hubs had the day free so we went looking at furniture.  Our family room has never had furniture that was picked out for it, and the time seemed right to consider it.  We found some things we liked, but we decided to hold off and wait for maybe a better sale closer to Labor Day.

And then Monday and Tuesday happened...

My clothes dryer broke on Monday night, and after work on Tuesday I went out and bought a new one.  The broken one was too old and beyond its warranty - and I'd been feeling like the thermostat on it wasn't accurate, anyway... so while I hadn't exactly been contemplating replacing it (and it was painful to spend half the money on a dryer that I was contemplating spending on a sofa), in the end it felt much better to replace it than spend money diagnosing it and hopefully fixing it. 

Then Tuesday night my 20 year-old vacuum broke and after finding a deal on Wednesday where I could get a $300 discount off a new one by trading in my nearly vintage and now broken one...   well, let's just say I didn't need any convincing.  So Wednesday I went out and dropped the rest of my sofa money on a bright, shiny new vacuum - that might just live longer than me, I'm suddenly realizing.  It will surely live longer than a new sofa.

Anyway, Friday I became convinced that vacuuming stairs, hard wood floors, and high up places would be much easier with an extension hose, so I went back to get the accessory kit that includes a 12 ft hose and a brush floor attachment.  Oh my - that made a huge difference.  Why did I never consider getting these things before for my old vacuum???  Anyway, the second half of the week, I've been a cleaning machine.  A woman on a mission to find every lazy cobweb and stray dust bunny.   It's amazing how motivating new (and well-working) tools can be.

Saturday, I put down the vacuum cleaner hose and we traveled north to meet our new great-niece.  She is 5 weeks old, so it was high time to meet her. Allow me to introduce you to my (presently) youngest great niece, Hannah:

There were four adults there (not counting the new parents), and if you can just imagine... we all just sat (and sometimes hovered over whoever was holding her) mostly staring at baby Hannah - for over three hours.  It was as if we suddenly came under a spell.  We were entranced.  Definitely enchanted.  I'd forgotten how mesmerizing a new baby can be.  She just lay there doing nothing but breathe, sleep, and occasionally smile. Truly fascinating stuff.

It was a perfect ending to the week.  Nevermind that I want to hold a baby again, already...


As you can imagine, I didn't give my yarn stash much any love this week.  But I did finish the third doily I was working on - Summer Splendor:
The yarn used is Artiste Cotton Thread (available at Hobby Lobby) in the colorway, Ginger

And that's all there is to tell.  It was an expensive week, but not as traumatic as some we've had, and far more wonderful (at its close) than most.

All three doilies in Artiste Cotton Thread in the colors, Ginger, Boysenberry, and Glacier Ice

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

Sunday, August 12, 2018


Inspired by all my colorful new threads I bought a week ago, I've been making doilies. 

First, I finished the Winter's Breath Doily:

This is an easy, very well-written pattern that makes an 8-inch (approx.) sized doily (when crocheted in size 10 thread and with a size 7 steel hook).  It took me longer than it needed to simply because I felt uncertain about working with a tiny hook and thread again.  While it took me several days, in retrospect, there is no good reason it took me so long.  I'm looking forward to making more from this pattern.


Inspired by how easy the above doily was to make, and thinking 8 inches in diameter about the perfect size for my purposes, I went looking for another smallish one that I especially liked.  In my search I happened upon a video tutorial for making this doily with a very humble name:  Easy Doily

I believe the designer used size 3 thread and her results look a little more "solid" (which I actually like better), but I'm happy enough with how mine turned out using size 10 thread.

Joanna Stawniak has numerous video tutorials on Youtube of other pretty crocheted items.  For this project I found her instructions very easy to follow and will consider more of her tutorials.


I was in such a groove making doilies, I decided to jump right into making another one:

The Summer Splendor Doily seems to be a fairly simple pattern, but it looks beautiful in photos, so hopefully it will be a nice addition to the other two.  And hopefully, I'll be able to figure out how to modify it (if I need to) in order to keep it at around 8 inches.  The designer's finished doily measures 11 inches.  If I have to make mine that large, I suppose that will be okay, but I'd really like to keep it a tad smaller.

These doilies are to be a going away gift for a young Japanese lady I've been serving as a volunteer ESL tutor for.  We've only been together since April and her husband got called home much earlier than they anticipated, so our meeting together has gotten cut short.  But I have grown very fond of her. 

Yuko and her little family are planning on coming to dinner a week from tomorrow and it is my intention to give her the three doilies at that time.   I figure small(ish) doilies will be easy to pack away, possibly even in a suitcase.  If, in the end, she doesn't care for doilies I hope, perhaps, she'll find another home for them after she returns to Japan.   I'm thinking of suggesting she give one to her mother, if she likes.  I don't know...  is that an okay thing to do?  Give someone a gift and suggest she share it?  Or maybe I should just tell her that I'd like her to pick one to give to her mother from me.  Is that weird?   Her mother is my age and it tickles me to think of something I've made being enjoyed by someone(s) on the other side of the world.  But maybe her mother doesn't like doilies...

I'm overthinking this.  As always.  Weigh in with thoughts if you have them.  

And that's it for me this week!  To see what other YOPpers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

I blew it...

Yep, I blew it this week.  I really blew it.

It all started when I wanted to make this Winter's Breath Doily:

 ...and I couldn't find the teeny tiny crochet hook I needed to make it.  I knew I had one somewhere because I used it to make the only other doily I've ever made -- two years ago.

After I searched off and on over a couple of days I decided I just needed to buy another one.  It's a Yarnology hook available at Hobby Lobby and I really like the cushioned handle.   A hook like this is just a few dollars and with a 40% off coupon this is no. big. deal.  Right?

Wrong.  I knew stepping into any craft store was dangerous business for me, a yarnaholic who's been sober on a yarn-buying moratorium for the last 6 months.  And might I add, just the day before I had posted my "stash-used" totals in a goal thread on Ravelry.  All confident-like I reported that with my yarn usage to date, I was really hopeful I would be able to meet my goal of using up 100 skeins of yarn this year.  Maybe even surpass my goal.

Well...  That was Thursday.

On Friday I headed to Hobby Lobby.  

I knew I needed to be strategic. 

Once inside I made my way straight to the crochet hooks.  They had been moved since I was last in there, and much to my dismay I had to walk to the end of  a yarn aisle (where every color available of Hobby Lobby ILTY was stacked to my left).  I pretended I had blinders on and didn't dare turn to look at it.   

I readily found the hook I needed.  Hook in hand, I then did what I knew I shouldn't do.  Instead of just walking straight back out the way I came in, I went the direction of the cotton thread - you know... just in case they had a new color I might want to make my doily in, as opposed to simply using any of the colors I already had...

I turned the corner from where the hooks were hanging and saw that their Artiste cotton thread was on sale.  At 30% off.  Wow!  I don't think I've ever been in Hobby Lobby when this cotton thread has seen that kind of discount.  The best I'd ever been able to do was use a 40% off coupon, but when doing that I could only ever buy one ball at a time.  But do you think I could just buy one ball of cotton thread and walk away that day?


They had new colors.  They had many more colors than I ever recalled seeing before.  It was mesmerizing.  I started picking them up.  Soon, I had several in my hands and realizing I had too many to hold I went to get a basket to carry them in.  I came back with a basket, and after arguing with myself that while I didn't go in there to buy crochet thread, since I'm on a moratorium wouldn't it be smart to get what I want now - or else... what???  I'd never be able to buy cotton thread again????  

I just know that once I felt decided about my final selections... once I had chosen colors I felt I really couldn't live without...  I had no fewer than 10 new balls of cotton thread in my basket, and then as if I wasn't in control of my own legs, I found myself walking to the front to check out.

As I walked, I kept telling myself, "Don't do this.  Don't do this!!!"  I even meandered through a few aisles hoping for sanity to take hold.

But it didn't. 

I came home with a new hook and 10!!! gorgeous shades of size 10 cotton thread.  

Because I was mesmerized by all the pretty colors.


Well, as luck would have it, on Saturday, in Our Happy CAL Place on Ravelry, this week's CAL turned out to be bookmarks.  Bookmarks that use size 10 cotton thread and beads!

I really was in luck.   

Not only did I now have a pretty collection of different colors of cotton thread, but I also have a humongous hoard collection of beads.  Unfortunately, I only had a few beads with holes large enough to use with these bookmarks, but fortunately sanity had once again taken hold and I was resolved to work with what I had.  I'm pretty happy with how they turned out:

In fact, I was happy enough with how my first one turned out, I decided to make several so I can give them as gifts to some friends I've been doing a book study with this summer.  Wednesday is our last day to meet and while I previously felt no compulsion to bring gifts to our last gathering, I'm sure my friends will all think these are fun. 


Now I only need to make several hundred more bookmarks, or dozens of doilies, or frankly... I don't know what else I might be able to make, to use up my cotton thread.  

All I know is my goal of using up 100 skeins of yarn in 2018 doesn't look quite as attainable as it did just three days ago.

But I'll keep plugging away at it.

Or maybe I'll just admit defeat and give some yarn away.

How's this?   If by year's end I haven't met my 100 skein goal, I'll re-home however many skeins I need to to meet that goal.  That sounds like an idea I may be able to do.

Meanwhile...  I'll keep crocheting.  Trying to beat myself at my own game.  Though I have no idea how I'm supposed to win if I'm playing with a cheater...


That's all she wrote.

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

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A LOT of rocks, a little yarn...

I wish I had a picture of all the rocks we've had in our driveway recently, but you're just going to have to believe me when I tell you in the last week and a half we've moved 6 tons of river rock - with the help of some young friends, I should quickly add.  Some things we wouldn't dream of turning into DIY projects, but after getting an estimate for having a professional do this, we decided moving rocks couldn't possibly be that hard. 

And, at first, it wasn't.

And then upon starting the shoveling of the 4th cubic yard we began to think the $900 a local landscaper wanted for the job was possibly in the neighborhood of reasonable.  But at over three tons in I guess we felt we were committed, so we paid our young friends generously and put our own bodies to the test, and I'm happy to say we survived for maybe a little over half the cost the professional with heavy duty machinery would have charged.  I'm trying to decide if I want to know the precise final cost so I'm putting off figuring it out.  The memories we created are priceless.  And the swearing (when the young folk weren't around) will hopefully be forgotten and forgiven in time...

Now, if it would just rain and wash the rocks clean and pretty so I can fully believe it was worth all the effort...   and swearing...  and forgiving...

Not that I spent much time with my yarn this week, but onto yarny things now...

Earlier in the month I made this little mandala:
Little is the operative word here.  That's a little dessert cup sitting on top of it.

And starting to get in the mind of donating some kid's scarves come cooler weather, I began making a squishy ribbed one:
I plan to trim it with big pom poms when I'm finished.  I hope someone grabs it who loves orange! 

And that's really about it.   Aside from shoveling rocks, it's been a good week with various activities that had me out and busy most days, but honestly...  I've missed playing with yarn.  Here's hoping next week sees more hook and/or needle time. 

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

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Little yarny bags and cakes...

I finished another of the Christmas Gift Bags this week:

And started on the fourth (and I think my last) one:

Super cute and easy to make now that I've found a suitable (for me) yarn to make them in.  I'd like to mention something in case anyone looks at this pattern and wonders about how the designer carried her yarn on the back...  She doesn't cover the yarn on the back side of the fabric, but all those long crisscrossing threads on the back would make me crazy, so I carried my unused yarn under the stitches of the yarn in use.  With a more solid yarn, or a less dense fabric being created, carrying the yarn under the stitches normally creates some show through, but I accept that as normal when doing crochet colorwork.  Using this stonewash-look yarn in these bags, though, makes the show through virtually undetectable.  Which makes me even happier with how these turned out.


And I learned something new this week!  I learned how to hand-wind skeins of yarn into cakes!  There are a number of videos on Youtube that will help you understand how to do this (if you're interested),  but I used this one:

I also found the following tutorial helpful in seeing how she holds the yarn. I found slippage a bit of an issue and look forward to trying this again by using my left-hand thumb as a guide for the yarn being wrapped.

Not having a nostepinne, or an empty TP tube, for that matter, I went on a hunt around my house for something round with the right amount of thickness.  I had no idea what I might have that would work, but when I saw a short closet rod that wasn't being used I grabbed it and gave it go. 
While it's just a tad long (about 17 inches long) it worked great!   I found making yarn cakes so addicting I didn't want to stop.   

I only stopped because I didn't want to make cakes of any yarn I wasn't looking to use soon.  But you can be sure I'm eyeing some skeins of yarn that are sitting in a basket waiting to be crocheted up into my Spicier Life blankets...

The little rolled up pieces of paper in the middle of the cakes is the ball band from the skein.  I just rolled each one up and put it in its respective cake.  So far I've been able to pull the yarn from the center, leaving the label inside.  It's a great way to store the label, and when I want to weigh the cake before using it next time I can just pull the label out and put it back in once weighed.

I couldn't be more pleased with this new skill I've just learned.  And I'm now going to be on the lookout for a nostepinne that I like. While my rogue closet rod works for now, I know eventually I'll need to put it back.  I have to say, I really like how the sides of it are straight instead of tapered (most nostepinne's seem to be tapered) and I like the nice size hole it makes in the wound cake.  Maybe I should just find a shorter dowel rod that has a similar circumference and diameter.  

It's been a great week for me.  I didn't mention it before, but earlier in the week I learned how to voice text and how to open group text messages on my half-witted cell phone.  I'm limping into the 21st century finally.

And now I can make yarn cakes!  

Life is good.  😊

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

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