Saturday, December 31, 2016

Twenty Seventeen

Hello! As I write this, depending on where you live, you're either sleeping in the new year, or getting ready to welcome it. As soon as I publish this I'm going to put on my fancy pants and head out for New Year's Eve.

If you've been here a while, you'll know I find this to be a sad holiday, one I've gotten away from celebrating, one that causes me to look back on the previous 365 days with a feeling of un-fulfillment and sometimes regret (I haven't done this, I haven't changed that, this isn't how I wanted the year to go so I don't want it to be over yet). But 2016 was different.

When I think globally, I think I would say it was not necessarily a good year--contentious politics, a world gone mad, worries about the future regarding jobs, taxes, and so on. Of course that is all balanced out by the world of good that we don't see on the evening news, but still--the world can make you weary.

When I think personally, however, I have had a very good year. I've had a few relationships that didn't work out, but I was able to pull positive things from all of them that have left me feeling more confident and sure going forward. I've made that extra push to get myself out there, to do things that I want to do, to embrace those words 'no time like the present.' As a result, I'm ending this year thinner, healthier, happier, and more sure of what I want in life than in many previous years. For the first time in a long time, I am not ruing the passing of another year with tears (yes, literally--Auld Lang Syne makes me cry), but am actually looking forward to celebrating the arrival of the new. Instead of looking around in wonderment at 12:00:01 and thinking "How are all of you so happy?" I plan on being one of those whooping in 2017. I have a whole new year of blank pages to fill, and I'm so looking forward to seeing how my story continues. It thrills me to my toes to be able to say that.

It seems I've passed the torch, however. My sister texted me yesterday, and told me that A-train asked what New Year's Eve is. She told him it's when we say goodbye to the old year, and celebrate the new one. And he started crying. Oh he is my nephew for sure. January 1, 1985 is still one of the most vivid memories I have.

When we meet again all of our feet will be planted in 2017 so I thought I'd share one last make from 2016. It's a knitted Christmas bauble. I had a plan to make tons of these, but one turned out to be plenty, and looks just perfect in the twilit window. Ignore the visible floats and bobbles and just focus on the adorable heart. It's kind of a metaphor for the past year, eh?

So anyway--happy new year to you and your loved ones See you on the flip side!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Hi, kids. It's almost Christmas here (and might already be so in your neck of the woods). The house is quiet, I've had my tea, and done some crochet. The gifts are wrapped, scones are ready for breakfast tomorrow, and my cold is on its way out the door. I went to church, where the cutest little family sat in front of us (four little boys who behaved as good as gold and sang their little hearts out). I watched a movie afterwards while eating cookies. I've done as much Christmassing as I can this year, and it's been a joyful season. This is well and truly my favorite time of year, and I'm glad I can eke out a whole month of pure joy from it. I am perfectly content right now.

In order to let you get on with your merry-making (or your recovery from it) I just want to wish you a merry, merry Christmas. And to share my mostest favoritest Christmas commercial ever. Happy holidays, loves!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Murder Mystery Quilt Along: Block 12

If this is incoherent it is because my sinuses are so inflamed they are literally compressing my brain tissue and rendering me incapable of writing anything close to a proper sentence.

At what I can't believe is a year already, I've got my final quilt along block finished. It was a mirror image of the month before, but I still managed to use my seam ripper quite often. So here is almost the same block you saw a few weeks ago:

I took my notes, and the clues, and all of the blocks, and really tried to lay things out properly. I think this might be right, but I have no idea. Right or wrong, I still don't know what I'm looking at. We get the answer at the very beginning of January, and there are supposed to be some great goodies for the winner.

I feel like this shouldn't be correct as that one dark block in the corner irks me, but there's no way it goes in the center which is where I think it should belong. My anal-retentiveness for symmetry will just have to relax and let this one be. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with these blocks right now. Maybe I'll think it's a lot more interesting when I find out what it is.

I am going to guzzle some Nyquil and bury myself in my bed. I'm hoping this doesn't linger too long--it's just a few more days until Christmas, and I wasn't a busy elf all December long just to spend it with a stuff head, sitting upon a pile of tissues.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Winner Winner Yarn for Dinner!

Hi gang! Just a quick post to announce the winner of the yarn giveaway. So who's the lucky duck who will get to call this lot their own?

We had 33 comments. So I plugged those numbers into the handy-dandy random number generator, and it spit this out at me:

So I checked my list twice (taking a page from old Santy Claus's book), and the winner is:

Crafty Tokyo Mama!! I'll be in touch via email so I can get this wrapped up and sent your way!

Happy Sunday, gang!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Thank You!

Good morning! My final shipment from my wee shop was mailed this morning. I'll keep the empty "building" active until the end of the month just in case anyone needs to contact me through it.

Over the past two months, even with things being marked down substantially, we raised $300 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Happy surprise today when I made the donation--all donations made in December are doubled, so we actually made a $600 impact. Awesome sauce!

Thank you to everyone who purchased something--hopefully you're as happy with your things as I am with what we were able to give.

And while I don't think you doubt me, I understand the world we live in, so here is the donation receipt with some info blacked out--

Thank you from the bottom of my toes, straight through my heart, and out my arms in a giant virtual hug!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Two Quick Reminders

Hi gang! Just two quick little nuggets before I head off to do some knitting--

First, the giveaway for this lovely bundle closes tomorrow night, with the winner being picked on Sunday--

This will keep you quite occupied through long winter nights post-holiday madness. See this post to leave your comment for a chance to win.

The other thing--my wee shop is almost cleared out. My plan is to shut 'er down for good end of December, so if you hop over and see anything make sure you pick it up right away. I ship things quickly, and refund all shipping overcharges. Don't forget--any money from the closing sale goes straight to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Click here to shop.

That's it for now! Happy Friday!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Miss Grace Shawl

I spent my weekend finishing up some handmade Christmas cards to mail to some of the folks at work (the field guys who I'm in constant contact with but rarely see). They turned out so adorable. And as my dad just walked out the door with all of the cards to head to the mailbox, I realized I forgot to take photos. You'll just have to trust me that there's plenty of glitter ink, and that they're pretty cute.

But FINALLY I want to share with you the shawl that took me just over two months to knit (but not a constant two months). The pattern has been available for well over a year, and finally I decided to just purchase the kit as it was on sale. And even though it was tiresome at times, I soldiered on until completion (though I imagine actual soldiers would take offense at my using that term for knitting instead of actual soldiering). I've only worn it once so far, but I've already received so many positive comments on it.

The colors are so different from what I'd usually work with--no pinks, no reds, nothing bright and funky. But nothing so neutral that it's boring and bland. The technique itself has been branded as 'tapestry' knitting. I'm not entirely sure why, unless you look at the effect on the 'wrong' side of the shawl--and I say 'wrong' sarcastically as it's just as beautiful (albeit different) as the 'right' side.

On the left of the above photo you can see the smooth color changes. On the right you can see the stitch bumps much more clearly, but it looks like one of those woven rugs or mats or scarves or bags that you see (which, I'm assuming, is where the tapestry reference comes from).

Oftentimes I'll make a shawl, and it's just a teeeeeeny bit too small for maximum wrapping perfection. This one is just right. I'll show you a picture I took of me wearing it for scale, but the light is tricky this time of year and it's not so great--serves its purpose, though.

What originally drew me to this was the dark forms (that's what they call those leafy-shaped parts in the pattern), contrasted with the light neutral. The mid-range brown section is a little more orange than anticipated, but that's due to the hand dying.

I had to use insanely long circulars to knit that border, and there were almost 800 stitches on those needles when I started; that number grew with each round. I never thought I'd finish binding it off, but I did at last. It was blocking on my bedroom floor on Thanksgiving day, and stayed so perfectly put I'd bet most parents wish their children behaved as well as this yarn.

I had to add stitches to each corner to keep the shawl flat--on two of the corners everything was hunky-dory. At the beginning corner, I had a wee bit of laddering. I tried to do some stitching to pull it tighter, but it didn't look good at all. So I decided to do a bit of a crochet chain stitch that laid on TOP of the work to mimic the knit stitches the other corners had. I don't think it came out terrible, and is one of those things normal people will never notice.

Normal corner

My hacked corner

As I worked this piece I kept thinking (and saying) "OH, I will NEVER make one of these again. OH, it's not worth it!" But then I finished it and blocked it and wore it and thought "OK, I won't make one right NOW, but I would do this again for SURE." Funny how that happens...

OK--so for those of you interested in the details of this shawl--
This pattern seems tricky at first, but it all makes sense as you get going. Instead of following the chart in the Skeino pattern, I found it easier to follow this chart and check off each part as I completed it. 

OK, I'm off to either polish my nails or assist with the Christmas confections being produced in the kitchen right now. Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Woodland Wreath a la 'The Mitten'

A few weeks ago I found a lone, unadorned wreath at Joann's. Honestly, it was just so perfect I don't know how it still existed on the rack. I didn't have an immediate plan for it, but I was shopping with my mom, and she's the queen of "You'd better buy it if you love it that much or you'll regret it" so it came home with me and sat on my sewing table for a while so I could formulate a plan.

The wreath cover reminds me of sweaters and mittens and hats (not a big stretch of the imagination, considering that it's knitted).

The first thing that popped into my head was the children's book 'The Mitten.' The book is about a young boy whose grandmother knits him a pair of mittens in white yarn (she tries to tell him he'll never find them if he drops them in the snow, but he insists). Sure enough he drops one, and it ends up providing a cozy home for some cold animals, until...well, you'll just have to read it to find out (haha--like how I went all Reading Rainbow there?). The idea was short-lived as I couldn't find patterns for animals to make that would be small enough, and all the store-bought stuff was way too big. I was going to just knit some cardinals, but they ended up looking like...not cardinals. Or birds, even.

I went to AC Moore (it's like Michael's) to buy...OK, I'll tell you. Remember Colorforms? The little vinyl stickers that you arranged and rearranged to make different scenarios on this coated cardboard base that had a pre-drawn scene on it? Well, they had a Peanuts set on sale and I neeeeeded it for nostalgic purposes. It's quite fortuitous that I went, as I saw the perfect little creatures just waiting to come home with me.

I spent maybe an hour hot gluing and arranging things, and now I have the original project I envisioned. Oh, in case you were wondering, hot glue is still reallllly hot.

I know the berries look very much stuck through the loops, and they are, BUT they're supposed to be growing out of the snow.

It looks like some kind of family portrait, haha. I love their adorable little faces! I think the fox is my favorite.

I had one extra guy I bought that wouldn't fit (but he goes perfectly with the dining room window decorations), but I didn't want him to be left out of the photos as he's so adorable--

My ultimate goal was for a winter wreath, and I think it fits the bill. It has a Christmas vibe to it, but isn't so Christmassy it can't stay out after the rest of the decorations are put away.

If you don't already have it I highly recommend the book. The illustrations are beautiful, the story is sweet, and it's a winter tale that you can enjoy after the Christmas books are packed away when it's still cold enough for hot chocolate and homemade afghan snuggles.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Giveaway for the Yarn Hoarder

Did you ever have one of those weekends that felt longer than it is? Usually the opposite is true, but I had such a nice weekend. I left work early Friday and got some errands out of the way. I then lit some candles, made some tea, and crafted the afternoon away. On Saturday I did a little shopping, made some scones, crafted a bit more, and then spent the evening with the family. And today, I made a winter wreath (I'll show you that next), had the obligatory cup of tea, and even painted my nails so that it looked like an adult did them. It was just simply one of those highly enjoyable weekends where nothing big happened, but was full of a lot of little happy moments. Very hyggeligt.

Anyway, I'm hoping to share a smidgen of my happiness with you in the form of a little giveaway. I had joined a yarn subscription box, and have yet to make any of the projects for the simple reason that I simply cannot get caught up with the other project to-dos I have, so rather than let this languish I'd rather pass it on to a good home. 

Up for grabs is one skein of Sweet Paprika's Grazioso yarn. You can see the delicious yarn make-up here:

This is a lace-weight yarn that is a beautiful silk and linen blend in a light misty green color that I believe is called 'lichen.' Two shawl patterns will also come your way--one crochet and one knit (the knit one comes with a knitting chart). I don't have a good picture of the patterns, but they are available on Ravelry if you'd like to take a closer look. Click here for the knit pattern, and here for the crochet pattern.

Also included is a bag of wee beads that you can work into your shawl, along with a clasp to keep it secure while you're wearing it.

So if you fancy winning this little lot--

--leave me a comment on this post. Make sure it's linked to your email or that you include it in your comment as if you're a 'no reply' commenter I won't be able to contact you if you win. I'll hold the drawing on Sunday, December 18th, so you've got about two weeks to enter. I'll close comments at 11:59 pm EST on December 17th. Good luck!


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