Monday, February 10, 2014

Busy Needles

It’s that time of year when the cold weather descends with a vengeance and compels me to pick up my needles and find a skein of yarn.  Yes, almost all of my spare time has been dedicated to needlework these last several weeks.  I love it!  There is nothing more satisfying than saying, “I made it!”

My dear husband tolerates these forays into the fiber world with amazing composure, although I am sure he would like to toss all that yarn out into the yard at times.  The couch is my main work station, although you can also find half-finished projects in other rooms (like the schoolroom) where I can work on them while away from my main station. 

I thought I would share a few projects that I have finished as well as peeks at a few that aren’t finished yet.  I am also going to share my much-coveted Rainbow Ripple afghan pattern, for all of you who want to make one for yourselves!  :)

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This delicious wool/silk/mohair self-striping yarn was a gift from a friend.  I learned several new knitting techniques while doing this scarf, and I was vastly pleased with the results.  I love how the  colors just blend into one another!  (Casablanca by Cascade)

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Here is the finished product.

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The awesome thing about this scarf is that it goes with so many different outfits!  All you have to do is twist the scarf around so that the color you want is showing, and voila! (Right here and now I am going to mention my complete intolerance for people who do not know how to spell voila and insist on using it anyway in their blog posts, texts, etc.  It is NOT spelled wa-la, wahlah, or even wallah!  If you are going to use a foreign word, please spell it correctly… or any word, for that matter.)  Okay – the lecture is over.  You can go back to reading now.

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Here is another side of it.  Please ignore the unfolded laundry on my bed at the time of this photo.  Anyway, you get the point!  I love this new scarf, and it is so warm, too!

Then while I was trolling through Instagram (follow me there @rvmamacrow), I saw another lovely scarf that I just had to make – the Tuesday Night Cowl (www.ravelry.com).  It had all these lovely cables and I knew I had to try it.  I used dark gray wool for this, and it turned out so well that I will probably end up making another one in a different color!

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Here it is in the mid-stage of creation.  See all those lovely tucks and folds?!  Yum!

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I even finished it on Tuesday night!  Well, almost.  It was a little into Wednesday morning, technically!

Of course, I have also been keeping up on the #crochetmoodblanket2014 project.  I am really enjoying that, and my blanket is getting larger all the time.  I think we will be able to use it as an RV cover when I am finished!

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This is my latest picture of the project.  One square each day for the entire year will make a nice blanket.  If you haven’t joined the movement, it’s not too late!

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This is the month of January – looking pretty good!

I also have a knitted wrap in progress.  It is taking me a long time, though, because I keep getting distracted by all these side projects like the Fisherman’s Ring granny squares (see further down).  This is not the first one I have made, but it was several years ago when I made the other one, and I would like to think that my knitting skills have improved in that time!  Here is is in all of its unfinished glory.

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Not the greatest picture of it, but you can see where it is heading.  It has to be about 64” long.  Only about 40 more inches to go at this point.

Here is a better picture of the yarn color. (Red Heart Soft in Seafoam)

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Then I found the Fisherman’s Ring pattern by Priscilla Hewitt.  I had to try it.  And I love it.  So I have plans to make another blanket with these squares.  I need to stop exploring all these needlework sites – I have more ideas than I will ever be able to finish!  It sure is fun, though!

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So, let the snow fly and the wind roar.  At our house, we will be snug and warm in all the crocheted and knitted goodies I have made this winter! 

And now you can make a lovely afghan, too, with this Rainbow Ripple afghan pattern!  Some of you have asked about it, and I finally got around to writing it down.  Here are some pictures (I made two of these this past year).

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Without further ado, here is the pattern:

Rainbow Ripple Afghan – Sarah Crow

Hook size: I (4.5 mm)

Yarn: 1-7 oz. skein each of white, pink, red, orange, yellow, green, lt blue, dark blue, and purple (or colors of your choice)

Terms:

Decrease stitch – uses 2 st. YO, insert hook in stitch indicated and pull up a loop. Draw through two loops (two loops remaining on hook), YO, insert hook in next stitch, pull up a loop, draw through two loops (3 loops remaining on hook), draw through remaining 3 loops.

Chain 209

Foundation row: Turn, 2 dc in 4thch from hook (ch3 counts as 1st dc). Dc in next 3 ch, work 2 decrease stitches, *dc in next 2 ch, work (dc, ch 1, dc)in next two stitches, dc in next 2 ch, work 2 decrease stitches, repeat from * across to last 4 st. Dc in next 3 st, 3 dc in last st.

Row 2: Turn, ch 3 (counts as 1st dc), 2dc in same st. Dc in next 3 dc, work 2 decrease st, *dc in next 2 dc, dc in ch 1 sp, work (dc, ch 1, dc) in next two dc, dc in next ch 1 sp, dc in next 2 dc, work 2 decrease st, repeat from * across to last 4 st. Dc in next 3 dc, 3 dc in last dc.

Finish off. Change color. Repeat Row 2 twice for each color stripe until you have repeated the rainbow pattern 3-4 times. Finish off, weave in ends, and enjoy!

Now go get  a hook and get busy!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Welcome, 2014!

 

 

It seems that each year flies by faster and faster, and that the upcoming year approaches more rapidly than the previous one.  I can hardly believe that we are already in 2014!  The holidays at our home were especially sweet, with showers of unbelievable blessing falling upon us.  It was a wonderful end to a rather difficult year for us, and I am thankful for God’s miraculous provision.

We had a first – a Christmas eve party.  It was just our family, and a low-key, fun time for everyone.  Of course, we had all kinds of yummy party food that everyone enjoyed.

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Then we opened a mystery package which contained goodies for the whole family – new PJ’s, a special ornament for each child, and a movie to watch together.  I think it will be a new tradition.

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For New Year’s Day, we spent some time with new friends, and enjoyed getting to know them better.  We also enjoyed getting to know this yummy dessert pizza.

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This is our last school-free weekend, so Monday, we will hit the books again.  Trying to keep a smile on my face as I think about this…  The kids are no more excited about it than I am, but we will all manage just fine.  I know they will be glad when summer comes and they get out in the beginning of  May. 

In addition to all of my holiday baking and traditional sewing (doll dresses for each of my girls each year), I spent a great deal of time sewing, crafting and brainstorming with my friend Kristen while we were home.  We set up an Etsy shop for all of our goodies, so if you are looking for some nice handmade items, visit us and look around a bit.  We are currently adding to our collection, and not everything is posted, but keep an eye out for new things!  Our shop name is AllThingsLovely4.

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We left our house right after Christmas, so un-decorating was a bit rushed.  After being out of the trailer for several weeks, it is almost like moving when we have to load up again.  I always worry about leaving something important behind, especially when we are in a rush.  Of course, that would never be because I procrastinated.  Never.  :)

Long road trips are great for making large projects, and I am almost done with my latest project – another rainbow ripple afghan.  The colors are so happy and bright that it cheers me just to look at it.  I have one more repeat  and then it will be done.  I might do two, if I have enough yarn.  I ran out of yarn the other day and had to buy more of a weird shade of blue.  Matching yarn is not one of my favorite  things to do.

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Speaking of yarn, I started a year-long project – the crochet mood blanket for 2014.  Simply put, you choose a color each day (or week) that represents how you feel, and make a block.  At the end of the year, you will have an afghan as well as a mood calendar.  My husband just smirks when I talk about it.  I can hear him thinking, “Females.  A mood blanket?!?  What will they come up with next?”  That’s okay.  He hasn’t actually said anything, so when it is finished, I might let him use it.  Ha!  I think the hardest part was choosing the colors I wanted.  Michael’s was having a huge sale, so I got 13 different colors as well as white for the outside blocks and joining.  I don’t know that I will actually have that many moods, but that is beside the point.  I find it hard to resist a pretty yarn, especially when it is on sale, and I can justify using it for a fun project.  The only thing that is killing me is that it will take a whole year to finish it.  I do not like long, drawn-out projects.  I understand that breaking it into small pieces makes it easier for some people to complete the task, but I can tell you that, around March, I am going to be so tempted to finish all the blocks and put it away.  Forget March – I already feel that way. :)

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I chose a  retro circle pattern that is so adorable!  I already love the blanket, and it isn’t even big enough to cover both of my hands! 

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The colors so far are bright and cheery, and I can’t wait to see the finished project.  I was dragging the yarn around in a huge bag, spilling it on the living room floor, and getting it tangled around things.  Something had to change.  While I was at Hobby Lobby, they had all their Christmas things on clearance for 80% off, and I found a giant round decorative box (I have a weakness for those boxes, anyway) that I knew would be perfect for my mood blanket yarn.  I also stocked up on wrapping paper and tissue paper for next year.  I was feeling pretty thrifty after that trip!   Here is my newly organized #crochetmoodblanket 2014 yarn.  Hooray for adorable storage!

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We are in sunny south Florida this week, and our meeting starts Sunday.  We are praying for great things to happen, and know that God’s Word will not return void.  In the meantime, I am enjoying the warm weather and the chance to wear sandals again.  Of course, I had to repaint my toenails, since it had been about three months since my last paint job and I had about a half inch of paint on my big toenails – all the other toes were bare.  Shameful, I know.  It gave me a good reason to stop everything and paint my toenails in a fresh new color for the new year!

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Well, this has been a huge catch-up post, since it has been forever since my last blog post.  Hopefully things will settle down a bit and my news will become regular again.  Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas season and a Happy New Year!  Looking forward to what this year will bring.

Monday, November 25, 2013

True Thankfulness

As I was reflecting on the upcoming holiday, and all that it will bring, I began thinking about the things for which people are typically thankful.  We love to express gratitude for family, friends, relationships, a good job, good health, a nice home, etc.  All of those things are truly blessing from God, and I am thankful for each of them.

However, are we still thankful when we do not have those things?  God’s Word tells us to give thanks in everything, but most of the time, we do not do that – myself included. 

When was the last time you said something like this:

Thank You, Lord, for that person who treats me badly.  I am learning to turn the other cheek.

Thank You for my less-than-good health.  I am learning that Your grace is sufficient.

Thank You for my unemployment.  My faith grows as I learn to rely on You for my daily provision.

Thank You for the people who were not supportive.  I know that You alone are all I need, and that You will never leave me nor forsake me.

Thank You for that criticism, because it means that someone cares enough about me to address something they see in my life that needs to change.

Thank You for this difficult situation because I know You are using it for my good and Your glory.  It has caused me to seek our Your strength and turn to You more often in prayer.

Thank You for allowing this trial in my life.  You will never give me more than I can handle, and I know that one day, I will be able to be an encouragement to others going through the same thing.

Thank You for not answering the prayer I prayed in the way I wanted.  I know that Your will is best for me.

These things are not easy to say, and to give praise in the midst of a trial or difficulty is one of that hardest things I have ever done.  You have to look really hard for the silver lining in that dark cloud that seems to surround you.  But it is there.  I am challenging not only you, but myself as well to look for God’s goodness in everything.  

In everything give thanks.

Friday, November 22, 2013

So Thankful

For the last several weeks, I have been visually inspired by so many different things I have seen on blogs, websites, and the all-encompassing Pinterest. I had wanted to refresh and revamp my front door wreath for some time, since the flowers kept blowing out and I had to rescue them.  Besides that, I was just ready for a change.  You know.  :)

So, during one of my crafting moments (making yarn roses) the great inspiration struck.  I knew what I wanted – something that would express not only creativity, but gratitude.  This is the story in pictures…

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The old wreath – nice, but tired

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The inspiration – yarn roses

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It’s starting to emerge!

Add a little banner and a large burlap ribbon bow, and voila!

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I love that every time I walk in my door I am reminded to be thankful for all that God has given me.  How do you express your gratefulness?

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Lovely Gift

Each year when my birthday rolls around, my husband is somewhat distraught about what to give me.  (Just for the record, he always manages to pull off something very nice.)  This year, he managed to really hit the brownie points lottery – he made me a console table for my living room.  This item has been on my “would like to have this one day when you have the time to make it” list that sits in a drawer in the kitchen.  I have an oddly shaped living room due to a stone corner area, and that side of the living room looks rather odd.  I wanted a table to fit in that small space under my gallery wall (which is still unfinished).  You know, the kind of table that I can decorate and store a few little odds and ends out of sight. 

Since he was going to be on the other side of the country during my birthday, he got to work early and finished it before he left!  I got to paint it and glaze it (my favorite part) after he put it all together.  Seriously – how awesome is that?  He gets the “Best Husband Award” again.  I guess that makes it thirteen years running now. :)

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Here he is priming the drawer fronts in the garage.

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The table is ready to paint… My favorite part.

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The table top is aspen coated with a golden oak stain.

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The table is painted in Valspar Nightfall green (Winter 2012 collection) and glazed in Martha Stewart Black Coffee.  I absolutely love this table!  I put the drawer pulls on myself – pretty scary to think of messing up my beautiful table while trying to drill a hole in the drawer front!  Eeeeep!  However, it turned out beautifully and fits perfectly in that space between the doorway and the hearth area. 

It was definitely a happy birthday to me moment!  Thank you, Paul, for such a wonderful gift!  I love you!

What is your favorite birthday gift?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Baby Blanket

If you read my last post, you will recall the lovely windfall of yarn that I received.  Still so blessed by that!  Anyway, I couldn’t wait to start a project using some of those glorious fibers.  I picked out several skeins of the same soft-textured yarn.  I had six different colors, but not the same amount of each.  Undeterred, I began making granny squares.  This was my first group.  Those colors make me smile – so bright and cheery!

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Let me insert here, that granny squares, while easy to make and great for scraps, are not my favorite things to make.  Why?  Because of all the joining you have to do to finish the project.  Ugh.  They do look so nice when they are done, though.  They are also great for when you have just a few minutes of time.  I like to take my bag while riding in the vehicle, sitting on the couch watching a movie, or even while the kids are doing seatwork.  Before you know it, you have a stack  of completed squares.

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After using up all the yarn, I had an unequal number of squares of each color.  That meant that I had to put together a random arrangement of squares – not my best mad skill.  I really don’t do random things very well.  But after about 30 minutes, I had the squares arranged in a sufficiently random-yet-balanced way that was pleasing to the eye.  My eye, at least.

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Then came the fun part – the joining of all those blocks.  This is where I really wanted to shove it all in a bin and forget about it.  Maybe bring it out for my grandkids to finish one day.  But I did not quit.  I steeled my nerve, and set to the task at hand with a vengeance.  Once I got started, it was not too bad, and it went rather quickly.  I used the single crochet joining method rather than slip stitching them all together.  I think it gives a little more definition to each block, as well as a bit of texture with the raised ridge.

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After I finished all the joining, I went around the edge with  single crochet, then again with a shell stitch, giving it a lovely little scalloped edge.  I love shells on the edge of my blankets!  This is the finished product.

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Project completed.  Happy me!  :)  Now I need to sell it…  Anyone need a baby blanket? 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Colorful Blessings

Recently, I received a great windfall of yarn.  A church in the area had been given excess yarn from some ladies who made blankets and things as a ministry.  Since no one really wanted the yarn (or knew what to do with it), I ended up with all of it!  Woohoo!  Of course, I had to take some pictures to convince myself that it was not all just a pleasant dream! 

The first haul was about 65 skeins of yarn (some partially used, but most were intact) and 18 balls of colorful cotton thread for crochet.

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Of course, I was ecstatic, and only took some of the yarn at first, leaving a good deal for anyone else who might wish to find a home for all those lovely fibers.  Later in the week, I learned that the yarn had been sitting there for some time, and that they really wanted to get rid of it.  I was only so glad to oblige.  No arm-twisting required.  So I cam home with another boatload of yarn.  I won’t be needing to buy yarn for a while.  I love the variety of colors, but it makes it hard to do one single project since you need so much of the same color for normal projects. 

Before I began any projects, though, I had to find a place for all that yarn in my craft/laundry room.  Remember that hutch that I repainted last year?  Perfect hiding place for all those lovely yarns!  Sigh. I love it when a plan comes together!

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So now that my fibers have a snug little home, I am beginning to put them to use.  Stay tuned for updates on all my upcoming projects!