Saturday, December 30, 2017

Pink (and Gold) Things

Hi people! As of this moment, as of right now, I do not have a single work-in-progress. I have supplies, and ideas, and if we have a huge blizzard that shuts down the city for a month and I can't get to work for weeks 😉 I will not be bored a lick. I have finished the things. So now you get to see them.

First up is a baby blanket. I started this at the beginning of July when I had a few long-distance car rides to get through (as a passenger, of course). It's knit just like a grandmother's dishcloth, but every eighth row you purl, and get a little bit of texture.

This yarn was originally for a shawl, then I tried to make it be a sweater. Then I decided on a baby blanket. I simply used half the yarn, then decreased. I have a teeny bit left over, just enough for some pretty pink roses or something.

The yarn is Scheepjes Stone Washed in Rose Quartz. It's an 80/20 cotton and acrylic blend, which seems perfect for a soft blanket. Except I neglected to check the care instructions. It's machine washable, but you're not supposed to tumble dry it. It's a lay-flat. Not the most convenient thing for a blankie, so I'm wondering if anyone has put this yarn in the dryer and what befell it. Otherwise, it's a perfect little blanket, finishing at about one yard square.

Next. I'm not sure if any of you are familiar with the Little Box of Crochet. I had ordered a few in the spring, but never made the projects as they didn't really appeal to me, so I cancelled the subscription. I still followed the account on Instagram, though, so when they post a box that looks particularly enticing I grab one (and then cancel again--I'm sure they love me).

This one was for a couple of Christmas baubles. I made one--

--and thought "I do not love this and I don't want to carry on." I'm not the best crocheter of things that aren't flat, so I frustrate easily (especially when I don't think the pattern is particularly clear or well-written). So I went for the star ornament that also came in the little pattern booklet.

This was OK, except the edges wanted to curl like a bad perm. I did an extra round of gold to try and get it to flatten, but that didn't help. So I ran a length of thin floral wire through the back of the stitches to help its posture a bit and it worked just fine. I'm glad I didn't make a half dozen out of the gate, because I don't think my fingers could have handled any more wire.

So now what? I had these cute little bits of yarn left, and was done with the pattern booklet. So I knitted some little hearts.

I ditched the pattern I had found as I kept thinking "WHYYYYY would anyone do it this way?"  So I told myself "Bee, you are not dumb, and you're a decent knitter. Figure out a better way." So I did. The pink has some slight wobbles due to figuring out what I wanted, but the peach was better, and then even better with the gold. Since Valentine's Day is in about six weeks, let me know if you'd like a tutorial (warning: there are DPNs, and a bit of kitchener stitch, but the rest is basically knits and purls).

I then had some bits of yarn left over that weren't enough for much more. Every year, my grandma insists on sending us each a bit of money for Christmas (no matter how much we protest). So I've used mine in recent years to buy a little crafty thing--one year I bought a flower loom, last year I bought a potholder loom. This year, I used coupons and bought all the sizes of pom-pom makers that Clover offers (except the gigantic one for which I cannot foresee a use). So I tested them out on these.

Seeing as this yarn is actually a mercerized cotton, it took some coaxing to get them to fluff a bit, but they'll be cute for package ties or adorning a gifted bottle of spirits or something like that. I want to try out different fibers to see which gives the best appearance (and since pom-poms are as cute and enduring as polka dots, I don't see at all how one can ever have too many).

So that's not a bad little bit of Christmas-movie-watching crafts and finishes. Plus I've now got a cute little heart pattern out of it. And hearts are one of my favorite motifs, and I love pink and red, and blah blah blah you know where I'm going with this.

I'm happy to have finished all of my projects, as well as all the little tasks I set for myself at the beginning of my Christmas break from work. I love getting things done. Does anyone else feel some kind of emotional release upon doing so?

Anywhodle, we've got just a little bit of time left in this old year, so I'm going to go decide which project will be the first of the new year.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Happy Christmas to You

Hello! I imagine many of you are quite busy in the festive countdown to tomorrow, or have snuggled up between the sheets in exhaustion from the craziness. OR, you're having a perfectly ordinary day, which is fine, too.

I've watched all the movies, eaten all the cookies, made all the things, and gone to church. The gifts are wrapped, the house is waiting silently for Christmas to arrive, and Charlie is snoring away with visions of sugarplums dancing in his head (as he eagerly awaits the arrival of Santa Paws).

Yes, this is a functioning fireplace. And yes, that is a construction paper drawing of a fireplace and fire, drawn by A-train, placed in front of it. Because when your five-year old nephew gives his grandmother such a drawing, this is exactly what she does with it.

My cousin brought this beautiful flower arrangement to our Christmas party last night. It's so perfectly wintry--it looks like a fair maiden in a white fur (faux, of course) cloak plucked them from a snow-covered garden and delivered them right to our door. I just noticed that the deer in the background looks like he's angling his head as though he's trying to make sure he's in the photo.

I guess all that's left to do is to wish you all a merry Christmas! It's my favorite day of the year (pretty sure I'm an elf, raised by humans), but I do understand this can be a tough day for some people for a variety of reasons. I hope you're not one of those folks, but if you are, I hope you can find a way to feel the warmth and love of the holiday season, and find a way to celebrate, whether it be large and loud, or quiet and serene.

Love and hugs to you all, and merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Cutest Family Portrait Ever

When I posted this at the beginning of December, I really thought I'd be doing my regular Christmas blogging. And now here we are, three weeks later and a few days before the big show, and it's my first pop-in. Things have been quite busy in these parts--there have been Christmas adventures every weekend, a few snowfalls, baking parties, present wrapping, and gift-making. I always feel that things get so hectic that I'm going to have missed something, and feel as though I never got to relax, but the busy-ness of December and the general cheer are all part of it, and I do so love it.

I do have something homemade to share with you, though, that I plugged away on for the first half of the month. When I took my trip to Vermont a few months ago, the workshop with Arne and Carlos was to show us how to make a knitted bird from one of their books. Unspeakably adorable, not very hard to make, and abounding in infinite ways to 'dress' them, I had way too much fun making these. The book is chock-full of options and styles, but I stuck with the winter birds. I knitted a wee family of five for my mom to give her closest friend.

Right???? Super cute!!!!! They are the most perfect little bird shape. After some beak-related struggles, something finally clicked and I didn't stitch on a blob but something that looked a little bit triangular and beaky.

The hats and scarves can be made very quickly for sure. The weeness of the hat when it comes off of your needles is so cute it hurts a little bit.

My chubber fingers are not nimble for teensy adornments (like miniature pom-pom tying on), so I bought a pack with sparkles woven through them at the craft store, and hot glued them on.

The recommended 'eyes' are small beads. I put a few of those on the birds I made my grandma (very similar to these--no photos as we had to get them packaged up to ship out), and while they look just fine it was way too...tedious to do over and over again without losing my mind completely. So I bought a package of rhinestones and used a glue like E-6000 to stick them on (using a toothpick and being very careful not to somehow stick them to myself).

As long as the eyes sparkle when the light hits them that's all that matters.

The book makes several references to ways to display these. There are instructions for making a little footed holder that goes around the mid-section, or attaching them with wire to branches, or even using clips. I strung them up on some silver yarn and turned them into ornaments.

Isn't that a fun family photo?? After getting the hang of everything, I was able to make one of these (bird body, stuffing, accessories, beak, and eyes) in two evenings. While they are not the quickest of things to make, they are highly satisfying, and can be used for any variety of bird genres that you can imagine.

Well, kids, there's a Christmas party on tonight, and I must get the fire lit and my comfy shoes on. Later, taters.

Monday, December 4, 2017

I'm Old (and I'd Still Better Watch Out, Apparently)

A-train is at that perfect kid age where he's super excited for Christmas and Santa. And he will help you out to make sure you're on your best behavior, too. But he's not standing for any shenanigans.

Case in point.

Yesterday, I was bemoaning to my father some stupid-in-retrospect choices I had made regarding my Fantasy Football team. I said (quite loudly) "So of course I dropped him because he's been $*&#ing the bed for weeks now, and he's having a monster day today!" When whooosh. A certain bundle of adorable ran into the room, and yelled "OH, NO!!! She said a bad word! Did you hear that?" So everybody else got fake appalled, and looked at me (for his benefit) like I had kicked a puppy. He held up his hands and yelled (looking up and around the room) "I am not involved in this, Santa!!! That was her!! I had nothing to do with what she said!" He literally backed away from me, and said "I need to get out of this room so he doesn't think I'm part of this." I stopped him and said "Wait! What should I do? How do I fix this?" and he says, dead serious, "I don't know. This is not my problem!"

Guys? He made me a little afraid. I miss being a kid.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

I'd Like to Thank the Academy...

Hi, gang! Long time, no write! Ever since I returned from Vermont, I've been a little blah. Normally I am in pretty tip-top shape, but it was one thing after another for a while (I actually met my deductible this year, soooo.....yeah). Anyway, I felt fairly ornery and unmotivated, and the one thing I did finally finish (a sweater) took me so long and was so underwhelming I literally sneered at it when I picked it up to work on it. Hopefully that will be changing as we are in my favorite month of the entire year. We're finally allowed to talk about Christmas!

But not right now. Right now I wanted to share something that, to me, feels like a little bit of a big deal. When I started blogging in 2009, I had delusions of grandeur, if you will. Other bloggers made blogging look so effortless, and made me think gaining followers and visitors would be quite simple (and we know how wrong that is, in the grand scheme of things). I have definitely neglected my little space here (I almost had to literally wipe some cobwebs off as I logged in tonight), but in the background people have still been coming to visit--following my sew-alongs and tutorials, asking questions, reading old posts, saying "Hi!" and all that jazz.

One of the comments I recently received was "Hey! Congrats on being number fourteen on the top twenty bag-making blogs on the web!" What the...what?? How did I not know this? You know how I didn't know? That fun old spam folder, wherein resided TWO emails alerting me to this...I'm going to go with honor, because that's how it feels.

Making the list was based on Google search metrics, social media popularity, quality and consistency of posts, and then a review by the editorial team. I am in some mighty fine company on this list, so I feel quite proud that my little corner of the digital world received enough visits to even warrant further review. You can see the list here.

It even comes with a fancy gold medal, which is great since the Olympics season is around the corner and I can be all "Downhill skiing? Pfft. Try pattern writing."

If you're reading this, it's unlikely this is your first visit, so for everyone who keeps reading, and clicking, and following my tutorials, and generally just being a wonderful part of this great crafting community that exists on the internet, thank you. I love you. And if this is your first time here? Welcome. Have a seat. I'll make you some tea, and we'll chat. I love you, too.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Review: Christmas Paper Crafting

Last year I spent a highly enjoyable day making Christmas cards and gift tags and envelope liners and all sorts of things. With the way this year is steam-rolling along I don't think I'll have the time to do it again. So when I was contacted to review a book that would give me cuteness and save me time I figured I'd take a look.

I don't send many Christmas cards anymore, but I spend plenty of time perusing the boxes (and gasping at just how pricey they've become). This book is chock-full of all sorts of tear-out cards (my only complaint is you can see the perforations) that are stinking adorable.

There are lots of cozy designs that have a touch of folk art about them, and a lot of cuteness.

As coloring is such a craze right now, there is a decent amount of cards to color in as well if that's your jam.

In addition to the cards, there is a section of printed papers in the back for use with the provided envelope templates.

And let's not forget all of the gift tags (this is just a sampling):

With the popularity of e-readers, most people don't find much need for bookmarks. But I love them. I have squillions of them, as I still read book-books (in addition to digital books). And since one of my favorite gifts to give is books, bookmarks would be a cute little addition, especially with the crafty tips the book gives on how to cuten them up.


And if you're looking for a fast and easy way to add to your holiday decor, there are even a couple tear-out frameable pages--

This book is currently available from Amazon (I'm not an affiliate--just sharing the link). The only thing--and it's so minor--is I don't know how postal-friendly the envelopes made from this book will be, so I might have to buy those blanks from the craft store to send them off in. The papers are all of a nice sturdy quality, and the prints are varied and adorable. I can't wait to (literally) tear this book apart and use it.

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the kit at no charge in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are completely my own based on my own experience. For my complete disclosure policy, click here.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Road Trip: Fan-Girling

See part one, part two, and part three.

And now, one final thing (no, it's not an award for reading my blather). My main motivation for going on this trip was to see Arne and Carlos (who are hugely inspirational to me), but don't get me wrong--the sweater design class with Lars Rains was extremely valuable, and I'd like to be equally excited for that retroactively, if I may. I am confident I could sit down and design a well-fitting sweater right now due to the knowledge he imparted. Plus, he's a delight. Our senses of humor meshed very well, as I do love cheeky fellows. However, one must fan-girl over her idols, yes?

So as the designers were very accessible to all of us throughout the event (except for Lars, who had to leave around lunch on Tuesday), that meant at meal-time we got to hang out with them. The first night A&C sat at my table, and I almost fell over in excitement. By the end of the trip, everyone (but them) knew how madly in love I am with them. On the last night at dinner, Carlos said "Would you like to join us?" and I did that awe-struck dumb face nod you see in movies while thinking "Great, genius, keep it up." The others at the table finagled things so I was seated between the two of them. I left my senses behind and said "It's probably quite unbecoming for me to tell you this, but I love you. I tell my mother that you are my Norwegian knitting boyfriends." To which Carlos responded "Oh, then we have to take a photograph," and Arne commented "Yes, to send to our new mother-in-law." And when the gentleman taking the photo said "Everybody ready?" Arne said "Hi, mom!" These two are lovely people, and if you ever have the opportunity to attend one of their workshops I highly encourage you to do so.

The final morning, A&C gave a talk on where they take their inspiration from, and showed so many beautiful photos of their home in Norway. After the talk, there was a chance to buy their books (I picked up a couple I didn't have) and they signed them.

Never in my life would I have thought I'd have the incredible time that I did, or that I wouldn't be a super-introverted nerd who ran back to her hotel room after lunch and just sat and knitted, missing opportunities to meet people and see new things (because let me clear--a previous version of me would have done just that). That quote I keep seeing floating around on Instagram is right--nothing grows in a comfort zone.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Road Trip: Quintessentially New England

See part one here and part two here.

Don't worry, I won't be bothering you with pictures of a seemingly random town for much longer. Seeing as I love a good small town, the weather was beautiful, and I had a few afternoons free, I decided to be outside and enjoy the fall weather (that has been very absent here at home). What follows are just things that happened to catch my eye as I walked around town and to the farm. I'll skip the text and let you scroll in peace. The sun was so bright it was actually not easy to see what I was shooting, so I'm fairly pleased with what I've got (though I doubt Currier and Ives would have put anything on a lithograph).

You may be thinking "Where is the glorious fall foliage New England is famous for?" Where, indeed. I didn't know if I was too early or too late for it, so I asked some of the locals. They said that I was a little late for it, but that they didn't get the vibrant colors this year anyway. Everything was more of a muted tone before they let go of the trees.

On the way home, my GPS took me on one route that was absolutely breath-taking. For the first time in my life I understood what people mean when they say 'rolling hills.' I wanted nothing more than to pull over and take hundreds of photos in every direction, but I was on a two-lane road with a very narrow shoulder and safety sense prevailed. So I figured I'd just enjoy the drive. It was a view I would very much like to have shared, but at least I've got the memory of it. That doesn't leave you anywhere, though, so I guess you'll just have to see for yourself one day.


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