Thursday 22 November 2018

Taking Stock


It has been a while, hasn't it?

Suffice to say that life has been happening and letting this space sit idle for a while seemed like the right thing to do. Okay?

Let's get back into the swing of things by taking stock:

Making: Christmas gifts
Cooking: lots of vegetables
Drinking: Earl Grey tea
Reading: Aquarium by David Vann
Watching: The Blacklist
Deciding: when to put up the Christmas tree
Hoping: for a peaceful Christmas
Enjoying: the sunshine, when it happens
Liking: my new haircut
Loving: my new slippers and having warm feet
Pondering: next steps
Listening: to Better Boat by Kenny Chesney
Considering: Christmas menus
Buying: Christmas gifts
Browsing: crochet patterns
Wishing: I had a craft room
Wanting: to practice some embroidery
Marveling: at the number of houseplants I've managed to keep alive
Waiting: for a few packages to arrive in the mail
Cringing: at the state of the basement
Hoping: for some reciprocation
Needing: a win
Smelling: the candle burning on the kitchen counter
Wearing: sweaters - it's time to stay warm
Noticing: I have a lot of gray sweaters
Knowing: that I have done all I can
Prioritizing: rest and self care
Sorting: my closet
Thinking: about crochet design
Celebrating: a freezer full of meals ready for busy nights
Disliking: another dull, gray day
Feeling: disappointed
Hearing: quiet
Embracing: my girls, every chance I get
Accepting: what is - at least I'm trying to, but damn it is hard sometimes

More to come around here soon. I've made lots of things lately...and am excited to share.

Monday 27 August 2018

A Soft Place to Land

After the fastest summer in recent memory and an absolutely wonderful week away surrounded by forest and water, I've landed softly at home with one more week of holidays before I head back to work and the girls go back to school.

This week is all about squeezing what is left out of summer, while at the same time getting everything in order for the start of another school year.

Time away from home always gives me a new perspective on what is familiar and normal in my life. I see things more clearly. With more appreciation. And at the same time I am full of energy and eager to make plans.

So here I am - making plans, checking things off the list, getting myself and the family organized,  leaning into what is familiar, readying myself for when things ramp up next week....

But I am well rested and I can breathe all the way to the bottom of my lungs....I've landed softly. 

Happy week, friends.

Wednesday 4 July 2018

The Big Ripple Blanket

I didn't really intend to make another just sort of happened.

Let's start at the beginning.

After Christmas I visited my local yarn shop to scope out some bargains and came home with two balls each of green, pink, and light blue yarn (Grass, Lippy and Clear Blue by Impeccable). In doing so, I broke my self imposed rule to only buy yarn that I had a concrete plan for, but I justified it (which is never really difficult, let's be honest) with the fact that the long dark winter was ahead of me, I needed a stocked yarn stash, and I would certainly find something to make with this yarn.

It didn't take long before a browse through my Mollie Makes Crochet book sparked an idea to make a ripple blanket. Of course making a ripple blanket required the purchase of additional yarn, but this was easily justified now that I had a concrete plan.

It is funny to note that even as I embarked on this blanket making journey I had the thought that I needed another crochet blanket in the house like I needed a hole in the head, but I quickly dismissed that thought, because after all, when it comes down to it, there is no such thing as too many crochet blankets, am I right!?
Bright colors were the name of the game here. I wanted something bright and cheerful to lighten up the dark days of winter.

And the ripple pattern - this is a pattern that I have really struggled with over the years. Numerous times I tried to get this pattern going and ended up throwing a tangled mess into the trash. Not this time. I finally got it. And I really enjoyed having this blanket on the corner of the sofa to pick up and work on...minimal concentration needed and so much fun to see all the colorful stripes grow.
I'd describe this blanket as somewhat random: I did ensure that each color was used the same number of times, and as for the width of the stripes, I only made stripes one, two or three rows wide, and tried to make sure the different stripe widths were evenly arranged. A scrap piece of paper covered in scribbles was always nearby as I worked, ready for planning out color order and stripe widths.
This blanket is actually quite humongous, about twin-bed size (it's folded in half lengthwise here so it fits on the chair). I usually spread out my blankets on the living room floor when they are done to get a good look at them, and to make this one fit, I had to move some furniture out of the way...yikes.
Because this blanket was not really planned but sort of sprang into being because I had picked up some sale yarn, it does not really have a permanent place in my home yet. I'm thinking it may be a good fit for Claire's bed since her quilt is ripped beyond repair in places, but I'll wait until it is cooler to decide on that.

I know it is a little out of season to be showing you a large crochet blanket as the summer heats up, but I just finished it last week and I love it.

Yarn: Impeccable in Grass, Clear Blue, Lippy, Red Hot, White, Lavender, Royal, True Grey
Pattern: Mollie Makes Crochet

P.S. I have another blanket in the works. A smaller one. It also just sort of happened...I blame traffic in Dayton, Ohio. 

Monday 2 July 2018

Look at the Garden Grow!

Things are looking amazing in the garden this year!!!!

It is so satisfying to see all our hard work pay off.

I love looking out the kitchen window and seeing all my plants growing and thriving. Something about that just makes me feel so much more connected to the earth, and that is perhaps my favorite part of gardening and growing a little of our own food.

And look, my Gerber daisies are even blooming again.
It is a good year in the garden and I can not wait for the harvest. Broccoli anyone?

Wednesday 27 June 2018

The Blooming Flower Cushion Ta-dah

Good morning friends.

It has been a terribly long time since I shared any crochet loveliness here so today I am very excited to show you one of my favorite makes ever - my Blooming Flower Cushion. Whenever I look at it I can not help but smile; the texture and colors make me so happy. I am quite in love with this new cushion of mine.
Making this cushion was a long time coming as I had it on my "To Make" list for years. I think it took me so long to get to making it because I thought it would be complicated, when in fact it was quite simple and straight forward. Isn't that the way it often is?
I worked on my cushion slowly during the winter and early spring, finishing it in April. It was a wonderfully portable project, perfect for working on at piano lessons and at the pool. And it certainly caught peoples' eyes while I was working on it in public as I got many comments and questions. Just as an aside, I love to crochet in public (I know some people shy away from this) and I love when I see others doing the same (though that rarely happens) and we can share a little smile as we each work on our crafts.
As for the yarn, I used the leftovers of Stylecraft Special Chunky from my Attic24 Weekend Bag. Even after making this cushion, I still have a considerable amount of yarn leftover and the wheels are turning as I consider what to make with it next. Awhile ago I listened to a podcast where it was discussed how constraints breed creativity and I do believe this to be true with respect to yarn: forbid yourself to purchase new yarn and only work from your stash and just watch your creativity flourish.

Just look at all the texture and color....I'm in blooming love.

Yarn: Stylecraft Special Chunky
Pattern: Attic24 Blooming Flower Cushion
Happiness Factor: off the scales, this cushion is guaranteed to make you smile 

Tuesday 5 June 2018

The Vegetable Garden

Having a veggie garden is one of my most favorite things. This year we were much more organized and got the soil turned over and fertilized well before planting began. And the weather cooperated with warm days, lots of sun, and just the right amount of rain at the right time, making for an enjoyable planting weekend, and some noticeable growth on the plants already.

We have two raised beds where we plant our veggie garden. Having a few years under our belt has taught us what works and what doesn't, valuable knowledge we used in making our planting decisions.

In the first bed we have kale - curly, red, prizm - as well as kalettes which are new to us, and apparently a very trendy vegetable. (Look at us, on trend!) We also have beets - two different red varieties - and purple kohlrabi. It looks sparse now, but it will fill in.
The second bed is a little fuller. Perennial onions (from my Oma's garden) are doing well in the corner alongside the chives.
I also planted some additional herbs: rosemary, sage, basil, parsley. The rumex raspberry is another new addition this year and I am hoping to add it to salads.
Broccoli has been hit and miss for us over the years, but with six plants this year we are hoping for a decent harvest.
Here we have swiss chard, eggplant, and our raspberry bush (which survived the winter).
Peppermint and apple mint are planted in small pots and sit on the deck.
Things are growing quite well and I am much encouraged by the garden this year.

Tuesday 29 May 2018

Life Lately....


Well, it was never my intention to be absent from this space for so long, but things happen...

Overall, life has been ticking along just fine:

  • I had a birthday...which happened to coincide with a major ice storm.

  • We went on holidays to Florida. To Disney. And it was awesome!

  • I have so many crochet projects to finish...yet at the same time all I can think about is starting something new. I really want to crochet a flamingo.

  • I've planted the vegetable garden and I'm so excited to watch it grow over the summer.

  • And of course there are now flowers on the deck.

  • I am trying very hard to incorporate a little more rest into my days. I've been feeling a little ragged and run down lately, which is never good.

  • Our bi-weekly produce box will be starting up again soon and I'm looking forward to cooking up all the fresh produce.

  • My daughter did a project on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch which sent me down the rabbit hole watching videos and reading articles on the detrimental effects of plastics in our environment. Horrified by what I learned, I have been taking steps to reduce our plastic use which is a huge challenge; plastic is everywhere and in everything.

  • I am constantly amazed (but I shouldn't be) by how fast food disappears in my house. If you're looking for me, there is a good chance I am at the grocery store..

  • The other day my neighbor referred to our house and family as perfect....and it really freaked me out. I'm not sure why she thinks that, because let's face it, nothing is perfect, we are not perfect. Maybe the heat was getting to her as she had spent the day hauling rocks around her garden?

  • I want to learn how to embroider. And my cross stitch picture is calling me.

Normal stuff here. Just ticking along. How are you all?

Sunday 25 March 2018

Crocheted Green Flowers

After finishing my Seaside Scarf, I had a bit of leftover yarn and so to keep it from languishing forgotten in the bottom of my yarn drawer, I had a go at making a few flowers.
I've done this many times, with many bits of leftover yarn. There is something so satisfying about making crochet flowers; I spent a lovely evening sitting on the sofa in my pajamas, with a tea and a candle burning, crocheting these beauties - true relaxation.

These flowers are excellent as coasters, and also look adorable under a flower pot. I have a small windowsill in the kitchen and I love to put plants there as it is the only place in my house where plants survive. And nothing is more homey than a little plant sitting atop a crochet flower.
Now, this pattern is not my own, I printed it from somewhere years ago, and for the life of me I can not find the link anymore. So I've included the pattern here should you wish to make a few flowers of your own. From my experience any yarn type works well, just remember that the bulkier the yarn used, the larger your flower will be.

Crochet Flower

ch 6, join with a slip stitch to form a ring.

Round 1: ch 3 (counts as first dc), 19 dc in ring, join with slip stitch in top of first ch-3 (20 dc total for this round)

Round 2: ch 3 (counts as first dc), dc in next dc, *ch 2, dc in each of next 2 dc**, repeat the directions between * and ** around, then ch 2, slip stitch in top of first ch-3 of this round.

Round 3: slip stitch in next dc (to reach starting point for this round), slip stitch in ch-2 space, ch 3 (counts as first dc), (dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in same ch-2 space, *skip next 2 dc, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in next ch-2 space**, repeat directions between * and ** around, then slip stitch in the top of the first ch-3 of this round

Round 4: slip stitch in next dc (to reach starting point for this round), slip stitch in ch-2 space, ch 3 (counts as first dc), (6 dc, 1 sc) in same ch-2 space, *(7 dc, 1 sc) in next ch-2 space**, repeat directions between * and ** around, then slip stitch in the top of the first ch-3 of this round, end off.

Make several flowers and put them in a little pile - so satisfying.

Happy crocheting friends.

Sunday 11 March 2018

March Intentions

Hello friends. I'm a little later with this post than I had planned, but better late than never.....
February certainly flew by, but in and among all the busyness of life I managed to fulfill some of the intentions that I set out at the beginning of the month. I did a minor clean out of my closet, getting rid of worn out clothes or ones that don't suit/fit. I baked a plant based dessert - Pistachio Coconut Bars - and they were delicious. We have a cottage booked for a week this summer, right on the lake, and I can't tell you how excited I am to sit by the water or on the porch and crochet. A financial goal of ours was reached. And I have made a few comfy additions to my crochet corner and spent some time tucked up there working on my latest project - the colorful stripes in the above photo.

As for my scarf pattern - it's out in the world, have you seen it?

Having set intentions in February and then having met them was incredibly satisfying for me, so I'm doing the same for March:
  • clean out the girls' closets
  • finish my Blooming Flower Cushion (it's going to be gorgeous!)
  • buy tulips
  • get summer camps organized for the girls
  • go for walks 
  • read two books
And I think I'll leave it at that...a manageable list.

What are your intentions for March? I'd love to hear. 

Sunday 4 March 2018

The Seaside Scarf

I feel a bit like I am stepping out from behind the curtain here, and there are definitely butterflies in my stomach, but today I am very excited to share with you the very first crochet pattern that I have ever designed....The Seaside Scarf
I know, right? So exciting!!!!!

Designing a pattern is something that I have wanted to do for a long time, but for one reason or another it never happened. And to be fair, as fun as the idea sounded, it also seemed incredibly daunting. But sometimes you just need to get over yourself and do it, know what I mean? And the results of doing that can be so rewarding and fulfilling.
As someone who has not crocheted many wearables, I was surprised that I was drawn to design a scarf. I always thought that if I ever got to designing a crochet pattern that it would be an amigurumi friend...who knows, that may still come.
This scarf is textured, yet the stitch pattern is very simple. It is a great project to work on while watching television or while waiting for/watching your children participate in their lessons. Best to keep those hands busy, and fill every spare moment with a little creativity, am I right?
I've used a multi-colored yarn for my scarf (Caron Tea Cakes in Pistachio Macron). The colors remind me of the seaside and I think the texture created by the stitches resembles the patterns left by the the waves as they roll in and out along the shore - hence the name: Seaside Scarf. That being said, I do think this scarf would look lovely in a solid color, a color that speaks to you and makes you incredibly happy to have wrapped around your neck.
I've written the pattern for the Seaside Scarf below should you wish to make one of your own. I hope you enjoy it, I really hope you do.

The Seaside Scarf

Caron Big Cakes in Pistachio Macron (1 cake)
Size H crochet hook (5 mm)
Tapestry Needle

Gauge: 13 dc by 8 rows equals a 4 inch square

Dimensions: width: 7.5 inches; length: 62 inches without fringe, 80 inches with fringe

1 ch = 1 sc
3 ch = 1 dc

Abbreviations (US terms):
ch - chain
sc - single crochet
dc - double crochet
sk - skip
fpdc - front post double crochet

ch 216

Row 1: sc in second ch from hook, sc in each ch across, turn (215 sc)

Row 2: ch 3, sk 1 sc, dc in next sc, *ch 1, sk 1 sc, dc in next 2 sc*, repeat across ending with 2 dc, turn (72 2dc groups) (Note: when repeating row 2, end with 1 dc in top of turning ch from previous row)

Row 3: ch 1, sk 1 dc, *sc in next dc, 1 sc in ch 1 space from previous row, *sc in next 2 dc, 1 sc in ch 1 space from previous row*, repeat across ending with 1 sc in top of turning 3ch from previous row, turn (215 sc)

Row 4: ch 3, sk 1 sc, dc in next sc, dc in each sc across ending with 1 dc in turning chain from previous row, turn (215 dc)

Row 5: ch 2, sk 1 dc, fpdc in next dc, sc in next dc, *fpdc in next dc, sc in next dc* repeat across ending with 1 sc in top of turning 3ch from previous row, turn (107 fpdc)

Row 6: ch 3, sk 1 st (the sc that ended the previous row), dc in next stitch, dc in each stitch across ending with 1 dc in top of turning 2ch from previous row, turn (215 dc)

Row 7: ch 1, sk 1 sc, sc in next dc, sc in each dc across ending with 1 sc in top of turning 3ch from previous row, turn (215 sc)

Repeat rows 2 - 7 two times.
Repeat rows 2 and 3.
Fasten off and weave in all ends.

To create the fringe: cut 100 pieces of yarn 18 inches in length. Holding five 18 inch pieces together, fold them in half, holding a loop at one end. Feed the loop through the end of a row, pull the open ends through the loop and pull snug. Repeat along each end of the scarf, adding as much or as little fringe as you would like.

Sunday 18 February 2018

A Canadian Toque and Scarf

Standing in the snow, wearing boots, sweatpants, and my newly crocheted red and white toque and scarf, made me feel like the All-Canadian-Girl.
I am quite proud of my hat, as in all my years crocheting this is the first hat that I have ever made. The pattern is from Megmade with Love, a free pattern on her website. I used a thinner yarn than she did so I needed to play with the number of pattern repeats a bit to get a hat that fit my head, but it all worked out in the end.
My scarf is made with a new-to-me stitch pattern, the Millstone Stitch. Once you get the hang of it, this pattern works up quite beautifully and is very rhythmic to work on.
After many years of putting it off, I finally bought a new winter coat for myself, and this scarf and hat look perfect with it. We've had some hints of spring the last few days but I know better than to declare the end of winter; with a few more months of cold and snow ahead of us, I'm glad to have a lovely toque and scarf to get me through.
Patterns: Hat, Scarf
Yarn: Stylecraft DK in Cream and Claret
Photo Credit: my husband and his 50mm lens

Thursday 1 February 2018

February Intentions

I don't know about you, but for me January felt like the longest month ever and generally speaking I've been feeling a little blah and unmotivated. I don't know what it is, but I just can't seem to get into the groove of things. I have ideas and things I want to do, but actually doing them seems incredibly difficult. I'm not sure what is causing this, though one guess is the weather. Grey days and only tiny snippets of sunshine here and there just make me want to curl up in bed.

But enough is enough, so with a new month upon us, I thought I would set a few intentions for myself, a list of things to get at in February in the hopes that it will pull me out of my funk just a bit. Here goes....
  • write up and release to the world the scarf pattern that I designed
  • make summer holiday plans 
  • bake a plant based dessert
  • collect tile samples for our kitchen back splash
  • check off a financial goal
  • minor closet clean out
  • update my crochet corner
And I'll leave it at that, a manageable list. And I'll report back at the end of the month to see how I do. Funny thing, I'm feeling better already, knowing that my intentions are well defined and expressed. Bring on February....we can make it through these dark days of winter....

Photos: carnations that last forever and brighten my days, my favorite blanket that I've made, a little project I've started working on again.