Sunday, July 14, 2019

A little bit of Christmas in July...

I finally decided that this was the week I'd work on some "Christmas in July" cross stitch project(s).  

A couple of months ago I showed here a bunch of vintage cross stitch magazines that had come my way.  Well, this week I stitched up this little pattern from Just CrossStitch Magazine, November-December 1988:


The finished design is only 2 1/2 inches tall by 2 inches wide (measuring the red border).  I worked this on 28 count Lugana.  Even stitching over two threads, this was pretty small work for me.  I'm thinking I may need to get me a magnifying glass or else resign myself to working on 18 count or lower-count cross stitch fabric. We'll see.  I'm open to suggestions of things to consider when looking for magnifiers.

The plan is to stitch a few more designs and then sew them up into ornaments.  Hopefully, before Christmas.  πŸ˜‰

~~~~~
Well, yesterday truly begins the countdown to husband's retirement.  Along with another man who's retiring, hubs enjoyed a great party at Fort Harrison State Park (on the north side of Indy).  Family and friends and co-workers came.  He was given some nice gifts, and generous words of praise.  What was really special is that the man who first hired hubs was able to attend - along with several previous (and now retired) bosses, as well as his current boss, of course.  It was a good day.  Now he goes to work for two more weeks until his official retirement!  He's been having a fun last few months, enjoying and marking bunches of "lasts".
~~~~~

And that's a wrap for this week!



Sunday, July 7, 2019

New Beginnings...

I can't believe I've been doing this Year of Projects thing for four years now!  And I've only missed a few weeks of  posting in all that time.   Casually looking back I can see how much my life has changed in the last 4 years - not necessarily in looking at it from the outside, but things (good things mostly) have come my way and I have greatly benefited in embracing some changes in my life and activities.   

Well, change is in the air again. Hubby retires later this month and I have no idea what to expect - though my mind gets away from me from time to time and I'm tempted to worry about what he's going to do with his newfound free time!  That said, this change is coming whether I'm ready or not, so we'll figure it out like millions of couples who've gone before us.

Speaking of change, I've been thinking that I want to make some changes in this Year of Project thing, but I still don't know what those changes will look like.

What I will do...

I will continue to not create a goals list of what I want to accomplish in the creative department.  Don't get me wrong.  I understand the value of setting goals and making lists.  I'm actually a great list maker.  And for work, or things where others will suffer the consequences of lack of organization or communication, lists are important and useful tools to prevent one from exasperating others.  And even personally, for jobs that need to get done, lists and deadlines are immensely helpful.  But for crafting... for me...not so much.

That said, I get enjoyment from and find inspiration in others' lists!  πŸ˜ƒ

I will continue to make whatever catches my eye, delights the senses, fills a purpose (even if that purpose is simply joy).

What I won't be doing...  

I'm not going to remain super focused on whittling down my enormous stash.  And internally apologizing and justifying if I buy more yarn or thread.  While it's always fun to bust through stash, and I imagine I'll have some posts joyfully proclaiming stash busting, I don't intend to keep track of it all as fastidiously as I've been doing for the last year or so.  At least not publicly (i.e. I  won't be reporting on it here on my blog). 

In truth, that's kind of a hard thing to give up.  It's fun and motivating to see my stash numbers change every few weeks.  And it was very satisfying to find myself (mostly) respecting the limits I put on myself about buying new yarn.  So it was very good in that way.

But how it is not so good for me is that crafting that way had become too much about using the stash instead of the joy of making.  That one isn't so obvious because I've enjoyed all the making I've done (and each thing I've made), but in hyper-focusing on my stash and whittling it down, I've recently begun to realize this isn't what I want life to be about.  Maybe I'll write about that more as I solidify my thoughts.  At the moment, it's just a seed that's started taking root.  All I know right now is the exercise was great while it lasted.  And I'm good with giving it up.

I'm no longer going to be motivated to craft because of wanting to share something in a YOP update on Sundays.   YOP posts will still be about sharing what I'm making, but if I don't have something that I feel is worth sharing, I'm getting free about not feeling like I have to make a YOP post.  So obvious, isn't it?   

Here's the thing... I've never felt like HAD to post a weekly YOP update, but I didn't want to break my record, or didn't want to miss out on the fun.  The end result is that I had turned something fun into something more like work.  It was actually fun at first (even for years), but I'm realizing that crafting for the sake of posting is not what I want crafting to be for me.

Again, I don't know what that will look like.  It may not look any different on your side of the screen.  Or maybe it will!  I'm just hoping to change the way I think of crafting or making things as it relates to blogging (or vice versa).  Such a simple thing, really, but it's a bit of a paradigm shift for me.

I've been wrestling with how to make these changes for the last six months or so.  Turning 60 in the spring, no doubt, has helped prod me toward changing my focus in some ways.   But at 60 I'm still a work in progress, so hopefully it will be interesting to see what all this means for me and YOPing, or even blogging this year.

I'd like to figure out if there are other topics I'd like to blog about.  Or even just other ways to share my life here.  I'd like to get better at photography.  I think I'd like to continue to expand my creative pursuits.  I'd like to share the ordinary, but have it be important somehow.  I don't know...  Now I'm just thinking out loud.  And that means I need to move on along.

You're welcome.  😏

Since this is a YOP post, I'd like to share a new project I've begun this weekend.  It seems "Christmas in July" is once again buzzing around in different circles, and I've finally joined the fun.  I've always wanted a Christmas afghan, so this is the year it's getting done.



The pattern is called Christmas Dazzle and it's from the book, A Year of Afghans - 1998 (one of my many old crochet books I've picked up along the way).  


And that's all for me this time.  Thanks for popping in and thanks in advance for leaving any comments.  πŸ˜‰


Later 'gator!



Sunday, June 30, 2019

Year of Projects Round-Up (2018-2019)

It's time for another Year of Projects round-up!   It is so satisfying to look back over a year of making and take stock of the variety of handcrafts I have seen to completion.

I discovered the pleasure of crocheting doilies and mandalas:




And while working with thread, I discovered some bookmark patterns that are quick and satisfying: 


Speaking of quick and satisfying, who doesn't love the quick gratification of small projects?




Looking back over the last 12 months, I'm reminded that this YOP year is when I learned to knit hats:


And continued to crochet some favorite hat patterns, too:


I also continued knitting and crocheting scarves.  BTW, the scarves below and the hats above were mostly made for gifts and charity.  I thought I'd mention that just in case anyone wonders if I wear all these.  πŸ˜‰


 




On a non-yarny note, I finished my first embroidered pillowcases with a crocheted edging.  Now, these are for me!


And finally...  a yearly look at projects made would not be complete without a round up of all the blankets crocheted.

There were baby blankets:


Some larger blankets:


And two special-to-me Spicier Life Blankets that represent many hours each of crocheting and sewing in ends.  
Oh, the ENDS!

And that, dear reader, is the end 
of this past Year of Projects!  

Thank you for coming along with me 
on this look back over the last twelve months.  






Sunday, June 23, 2019

It's all squares this week...

June has been a slow yarn month for me and I don't know that this coming week will be much different.  

It's been a good month - doing good things (for myself and others).  Some new things have presented themselves.   Some things I've written about, some I've not.  While I know part of the reason I've lagged in interest in working with yarn is due to busyness, I also know I've lost some steam for some reason.   But then I've also been reading more and that kind of interferes with holding a hook and yarn.  πŸ˜‰  Hopefully this lag I'm in will change, or I'll figure it out and recalibrate.  At the moment, I'm feeling a bit rudderless.  It's weird.

All that said, though, earlier this week I managed to get all those crazy ends woven in on my BAMCAL square.  It's not going to require a hard blocking, so softly steaming this Flying Colors square is going to suffice for now (maybe forever):

Not my favorite square (because of my color choices and placements),
 but it will make a decent contribution to a larger blanket someday.

~~~~~

Even though I haven't crocheted much this month, my knitting needles have continually had a dishcloth on them.  While it seems pretty uninspiring to report, over the course of the last three weeks I turned this (and some other odds and ends):



Into this:


~~~~~

Now, if you're like me, when making dishcloths, you end up with lots of little odds and ends of cotton yarn left over.  Sometimes those odds and ends are too small to do much with, but I got to looking at some bags of these leftover bits of cotton yarn and I wondered how it would work to splice some of the yarns together into "magic balls" and make more cloths from them.

Playing it safe, I pulled together two different, but coordinating variegated yarns and did a braided join. 

Here's a picture that shows what that braided join looks like:


Basically, you take two ends of two different yarns, loop them around each other, split each into two sections (doesn't matter how many plies are in a section).  Then braid each side (the three sections of the braid will be the two split sections from one strand of yarn, and one whole strand of yarn).   Do this braiding on both sides of where you looped the yarns together and then wind it into one ball.  Then just keep adding different yarns and colors to a ball until it's the size you want.  Those stringy ends can get snipped off once you've knit or crocheted your item together (I made a little knot of those stringy ends before snipping, but I doubt it's necessary).  

If you want the braided section to more completely blend in, do this braiding at a section in each yarn where the color is as similar as possible.

Anyway...  I knitted up my magic ball and this is what I got:

Kind of cool, I think.  Definitely fun to watch it grow as I knit.  It would probably be even more fun if I combined more disparate colors into one "magic ball".   πŸ˜€

Oh my goodness...  after posting I decided to look to see how others might do a braided join.  I found this video!  I like her method even better than what I came up with.  

While some may think the braiding isn't worth the effort, to me it was a small thing I could do while my mind was on something else, or my ears were tuned into something completely unrelated to what I was doing with my hands.  And when the item is finished there are no ends to weave in!  Magic!  πŸ˜ƒ

I'm starting to pull together other scraps of yarn to do this with (and regretting all that I've thrown away over the years).  I suspect variegated or a combination of solids and variegated will work the best with this.  I look forward to finding out.  

And that, dear reader, is all I've got!




2019 Yarn Stash-Down progress:  47.06/100 skeins!





Sunday, June 16, 2019

Taking stock...

This third Sunday of June, I'm taking stock of some projects I'd like to finish - or at least make more headway on before beginning a new YOP year on July 1st.

There is truly no reason at all that I cannot finish this Fairly Isleish Sweater:
 Seriously, girl!  Just apply yourself to finishing this already!



And maybe even this Blue Tit Cushion:




And this Flying Colors square I made (and almost finished) yesterday - its sole purpose being to distract me from the projects I ought to finish:
I'm on the last round.
So close, and yet...  soooo far!  😧


That's all I've got!   






Sunday, June 9, 2019

Another post that almost wasn't...

The title of this post is starting to make a regular appearance.  Not sure what that means, but somehow I always seem to muster the motivation to make another post!  A post that almost wasn't.

It was a week that started off not so good.  But fortunately improved...

On Monday I found I had done something to my back (though I don't know what) and by evening all I could manage to do was sit with a heating pad, knit some simple dishcloths or watch Netflix.  I can't do both at the same time anymore, unfortunately.

BTW, I recommend the Ken Burns documentary on The Mayo Clinic,  the movie called The Sapphires...  and something else I can't remember the title of, but it was a documentary about Industrial Musicals.  Hilarious!  And very interesting - to me, anyway.

By Tuesday morning my back was no better and I had to cancel my ESL session.  By Tuesday afternoon I was starting to improve (meaning I could move without yelping), and was bored out of my skull so I finally got out my crochet hook and cotton yarn and started making a Market Bag:

Wednesday I was actually feeling okay enough to meet a friend for a walk.  Walking was probably  good for my back because it was all uphill from there.

Thursday I did grocery shopping.  Whee!

Friday was interesting.  A young friend (actually a daughter of long-time friends) had a booth at the Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival near my home.  I offered to come over for a while to give her a break.  She welcomed the offer and it was fun seeing her adorable crocheted cacti.  I didn't think to take my camera with me, but here is her Etsy shop:  Handmade By A Friend.   Seriously, though...  I wish I'd had a camera.  She is so clever in her presentation of these fun items and, while most are smaller than they may look in the pictures, they look better in person.  Each one unique.  And she had some terrific containers for the cacti she showed in her both.

I spent some time wandering through the vendor hall, and my first time through I bought a little rug-hooking kit.  Little is the operative word.  This little kit is supposed to make a finished project the size of a postcard.  I'm wishing I hadn't bought that, in all honesty, but it looked so fun at the time.  Ugh.  Why is it so easy to impulse buy things  like that?

And the second time through I bought some yarn:

I like the color, and I imagine it will make something pretty and soft one of these days, but it was an impulse buy, too.  Kind of wishing now I hadn't bought it either, but at least it was on sale.  On clearance, in fact.  I wonder why???

Anyway... impulse buys aside, the Fiber Festival was a pleasant way to spend a few hours.  While it seemed improved in some ways from when I attended a couple of years ago,  I do wish there were more vendors. 

Saturday I worked with Ruth (companion care).  And shortly before lunch the power went out.  I heard a loud boom and then we were sitting in the dark.  The power was on at my house, so we got in the car and drove there for lunch and an activity I had planned for us to do together.  Later in the day I ran the sound board for Sunday's worship team's practice.  All in all, another pleasant day.  And my back was still more improved.

And then there was today.  A rainy day, but a lovely day in many respects.  Church was very good, the music was greatπŸ˜‰, the sermon was convicting, and then we enjoyed lunch out with friends where we shared good food and laughter. 

And that was my week.  Three more YOP weeks left this year!   Check out what other YOPers are up to by visiting our group on Ravelry.






2019 Yarn Stash-Down progress:  44.06/100 skeins!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

A finish. And some frustrations...

I've got a finish!   I drug my heels a ridiculously long time on this small Bertie Blanket, but I'm happy to say it's done and I'm sure I'll make more (I already have colors picked out for another one).   



I intended to make a more interesting border, but with the variegated yarn nothing I tried looked quite right, so it got a simple single crochet border.  And I decided that's good enough.  


~~~~~


Now.  As you look at the next picture - of my partridge in a pear tree cross stitch - you may ask yourself "why does this look different than it did before?"   




It's a sad and too-long-to-tell-here story, but it involved not being one bit happy with the back-stitched feather detail and the only way to redo it was to rip out all the main color on the wings.  At which point I decided to try another color, which I like just fine, but now I'm afraid to try any more back-stitching on it.  On paper, in the small picture the feather detail looks okay.  In real life it really doesn't.  And without any feather detail, the points and curves in the red sections don't make much sense.   

So I'm not sure what to do with this.  Does it look okay to just leave it like it is?  I've considered lightly drawing some shading on the thread, but I could seriously mess that up and then I'm right back to my only option being to rip it out again.  And I just can't imagine doing that again.  


I'm okay with the thing as a whole, but the wings have me flummoxed and discouraged.   I've put it aside to think about before stitching it into a small pillow, or just tossing it in the circular file and calling it a "learning experience".   


Ideas are welcome.


~~~~~

You'd think that would be enough disappointment, wouldn't you?  Well, after putting my partridge aside, I  decided to get out the Evenweave fabric I bought recently at Jo-Ann Fabrics and start another project.  But after I stitched half a small project I realized that the weave of the fabric is not even.  Unfortunately, it took some stitching before I could see the distortion.  Ugh.  I'd show a picture, but I ripped it out before that occurred to me.   An online search netted me some reviews that told me I'm not the only one who's had this experience with this no-company-name-on-the-label product sold at Jo-Ann's.  Be forewarned.  Don't buy it!


I'm returning two unopened packages this week, but this was a disappointment.   Between my partridge's wings and the Evenweave that isn't even,  I lost my steam to do any other cross stitching the rest of the week.    


~~~~~

All that aside, though, it was a busy and interesting week - most of which I can't really write about here.  But a fun part of last week was visiting with my husband's Uncle Art and his wife, Beth, who traveled east from California for various family events.  It was a sweet time spent with them on Thursday evening.

Also this past week, I donated a couple of kitchen-sized garbage bags full of yarn to a fund-raiser rummage sale, but don't go patting me on the back.  Midweek I bought more yarn when an online retailer was offering free shipping and they had in stock some yarn in a color I've been trying to get ahold of.  I don't feel badly at all about that purchase, but as soon as it arrives and I log it into my Ravelry inventory, my stash-busting numbers (recorded below) are going to take a serious reversal.  

So, while at the end of June it will probably only appear that I'm inching toward my goal, today I take pleasure in seeing a number that makes it look like I've made some significant progress toward reducing my stash by 100 (or more) skeins of yarn this year.  




2019 Yarn Stash-Down progress:  58.04/100 skeins!




One last thing.  Last week I forgot to mention any dishcloths knitted up during May.  Probably because I didn't do much.  I made a whopping three cloths:  







Sunday, May 26, 2019

Small things...

This week I've been working on several projects, but everything is still in WIP status.

The thing that got the most attention is still my cross stitch.  The partridge is basically done, though some back-stitching is needed to define the wings a bit. I just need to decide on or buy the right color floss for that.  I also need to not forget to give that bird an eye!



~~~~~

Besides time spent on cross stitch, I also worked on some small crochet projects (that were Crochet-A-Longs in Our Happy CAL Place).

First, were a couple of bookmarks crocheted with thread:

These take me back - to the 1970's to be precise.  
Gotta love granny stitches and fringe.  Though I felt compelled to braid my fringe...


Because I was feeling all retro, I tried use colors that reflected the 1970's (and that I had in my stash).  I love these and think they would look fun made in more modern colors, too.  I'm sure I'll be making more before I've gotten these out of my system.  They'd make great little gifts to have on hand to maybe tuck inside a card  - or a book, of course.  But these two are for me.  😊

~~~~~

Mid-week I realized I was going to need to host a CAL on OHCP, so I picked a quick-ish project that I've been wanting to try.  Scalloped Edge Hanger Covers:


Now, I'm not one who previously thought I'd crochet hanger covers, but ever since I saw these on Ravelry, I've been curious about them.   Who doesn't have at least a few garments that are prone to slipping off the hanger?  I thought I'd find out if this is a way to resolve that issue.

I'm happy to say, Yes!  These crocheted hanger covers are a total success.  The cuteness factor of the scallops is honestly what convinced me to give these a try, even though the scallops add not one bit of purpose to the non-slip factor.  

To be completely honest, the whole thing is a bit fiddly to make, but I think I'll make at least a few more.  If you're at all interested, I seriously recommend watching this video (of Mikey from Crochet Crowd) to walk you through it. It explains how to start the crocheting - something I was struggling with before watching the video.

I'll go ahead and explain that in following the video, one will end up with a piece of yarn across the front of the hanger - like this: 


 At first that was off-putting to me, but then it occurred to me (or maybe Mikey mentioned?) that that piece of yarn is a great place to  thread a ribbon:


So that's what I did, and then tied it into a bow.  While I'd use a bit thinner ribbon if I had it handy, I have to say I think my wide brown ribbon is kind of cute on my new pink hanger in the first hanger picture above.  πŸ˜‰

~~~~~

I also did some crocheting on my Bertie Baby Blanket, and I'm sooo close to being finished.   I'll hold off with a picture because until I add the border, there's really nothing different about it (from the first picture I showed weeks ago) except that it's larger.  Hopefully, next week I'll be able to check that off my WIP list.


~~~~~

And finally, I am going to join the chorus of voices that are amazed that another YOP year is nearly over.  While some YOPers begin their YOP year in January, July 1st is the traditional start date of each new YOP year.   I mention this in case anyone reading has been considering joining the fun.  July 1st is a great time to jump in.  All that is needed is a blog, a free Ravelry membership, and the desire to join the Year Of Projects group and share progress on projects throughout the year.   Check us out here!











Sunday, May 19, 2019

Starting things...

Recently I seem to be about starting things.  

Hopefully, soon, I'll be about finishing them. πŸ˜‰

Shortly after posting last week's YOP post I started on this Blue Tit Cushion:



See the legs and the tip of its tail?  This is a fun project and I hope it doesn't take me long to finish it, but honestly...  I've gotten seriously distracted with cross stitch this week.  Last week Jo-Ann Fabrics had a coupon for 40% off everything that was full price and I just couldn't let it go to waste.  So I made a list of several cross stitch projects I'd like to make, surveyed my collection of floss and fabric that was already in my possession, and made a list for some cross stitch supplies to purchase.

I came home with some Aida and Evenweave cloth in natural colors (I only had white and cream in my stash), and some beautiful floss colors.  Finally having everything I needed, on Thursday I got started on this Partridge in a Pear Tree design:

I like the original design (in the little oval picture frame), but see what looks like gray in the wings in the original design?  What appears to be gray in the original is actually two shades of blue - lighter shades than what is used on the head and underbelly.  I liked the gray.  And I didn't want my partridge to have country-blue wings.  So I'm substituting a couple of colors I had in my stash, and so far I think it's working.   I'm committed at this point, so I'm pretty determined to like it.  Hopefully I'll finish it soon.


~~~~~

And finally... feeling a little regretful that I hadn't even picked up my crochet hook since last weekend, I quickly made a little Sun's Out Coaster:

I've been keeping a crocheted coaster on the computer desk, so this will be a fun one to switch to once it heats up.  Wait a minute...  that would be now!   This is the third day in a row it's been in the 80's here.  And it's humid.  Hopefully, we'll get rain today as the weather pattern pushes through and there'll be some cooler air behind that.  I am not ready for 80 degrees in mid-May.  Come Memorial Day we can expect that kind of heat, but I want me some breezy crisp mornings for another week at least!


To see what other YOPers are up to, 



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