More Stuff!

So here are my latest updates.  The baby blanket is finished. (WOO HOO!) I got it just about complete on Saturday when I ran out of yarn. (Grrrrr!)  I thought I would have just enough, but I guess I cut it a little close.  I must have crocheted a bit looser than normal – which, come to think of it, is generally what happens when I try to crochet fast.  In any event, I ran back to the store on Sunday and managed to find one more skein in the same dye lot.  Not that it would have made much difference – the color of all the skeins matched, and I was only short such a small amount, I don’t think a slight difference would have been noticeable.  So, now I have almost an entire skein of baby yellow brushed acrylic floating around.  I’m sure I’ll find something to do with it, though.  So, without further delay, here is the blanket:

I know the photo makes it look slightly lopsided, but trust me – it’s even.  When I took the picture, I was standing on a chair off to the side, which is why the right side looks slightly wider in the picture.  It’s really not.  I know, I should have probably re-arranged and taken another one, but I’m just too lazy today.

Now, next on the list are some dishcloths.  I’ve decided that a number of people are getting homemade marshmallows for Christmas.  I’m planning to bulk up this gift by adding to each set some hot chocolate mix, a mug or two and a Christmas dishcloth.  Here’s my choice.  It’s an illusion pattern, so this is the cloth straight on:

And here’s the cloth when viewed from an angle:

I asked Jasmine if she could find the Christmas tree in the cloth, and she loved it once I showed her the trick!

Maybe I’ll add her kindergarten teacher to the marshmallow list – Jasmine would probably love giving something like this to her.  And, it may be a good teacher gift since the marshmallows are a consumable and the dishcloth would be something (I hope) she could use.  I know enough teachers who have boxes of teacher gifts that get stuck in a closet and used for re-gifting as necessary, that I’d like to give something her teacher might actually enjoy.

OK – back to work for me!!!!

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Marathons

So I made a list of all the projects that have deadlines and absolutely, positively must be done.  That means, Christmas stuff, tea swap stuff, and the baby blanket for my neighbor.  It’s a pretty extensive list, so I’ve been picking up needles or hook in pretty much every spare moment.  However, I am pleased to announce that I have made a bit of progress.

First on the list was the Christmas ornaments.  I’ve decided that there will be 70 of them this year.  At this point on the calendar, my goal is always to get the crochet part finished.  Any other finishing usually waits until some time in November.  So, I am happlily at that point.  Here are 70 half-finished angels:

These are just head & wings.  They will be blocked/stiffened, and then the “skirts” (tassels) will be added.  Most years I add some other embellishment as well – a charm, bow, etc.  This pattern doesn’t seem to lend itself too well to that, though, so the jury is still out as to whether or not I’ll leave well enough alone and keep the design as is, or if I’ll try to dress it up with some color in some way.  If anyone has any brilliant ideas for embellishment, feel free to throw in your .02!

In any event, I am VERY happy to be done with these for the moment.  And, now I’m on to project #2 on the list – a baby blanket for my neighbor.  Her 2nd grandbaby was due to be born this week (yesterday was the scheduled date), so unless something changed, there is definitely a new little person in that family today.  Our neighbor is a wonderful woman who is very good to our family, so I wanted to do something special for her to welcome this new little one.  I have one baby blanket pattern in particular that is my very favorite.  I have it almost memorized and can finish it up in only a few days.  So, that’s the one I’m using.  In yellow, because I don’t know if the baby is boy or girl, and in brushed acrylic because, well, let’s face it, babys are messy and many and multiple washings are unavoidable.  Here’s where it is so far:

This is the beginning of the center section.  It also gets a wide (about 4″) border all around once the center is finished.  This is one of those patterns that looks a lot more complicated than it actually is, and always works up so pretty.  Now to just get it finished.  My goal is to get to the half-way point (or further) tonight, and then, with any luck, finish it this weekend.

So that’s where we are on the list.  If I can get past this item, then I have some smaller things that, I’m hoping, will make it feel like I’m flying through my list.  We’ll see!

One Butterfly . . .

Our first butterfly of the season has broken out of his chrysalis!  WOO HOO! We waited a couple of hours to get to his full size, so that he’d be more likely to fly safely. But once he started moving around the tower, we decided it was time for him to begin his flight south.  I think he was ready to go too.  I cupped my hands around him and he climbed right on my finger.  Maybe he knew it was time to go.

Anyway, Jasmine wanted him to fly from her head – so out we went, and I let him crawl onto her hair.  Surprisingly, he stayed longer than I expected – but before we knew it, he was off and flying.

Now there are three more to go!  One just hatched this morning, so he’ll be going out later this afternoon – probably by dinner time.

“Gotta Go, Gotta Go, Gotta Go to Mexico . . .”

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year . . .

Well, we’re well into September, so that means it’s time for me to start thinking about Christmas full force.  Am I strange?  Is it too early???  I don’t know . . .  I do know that if I start in September, I just may have a chance to finish my Christmas knitting on time . . . as long as I don’t bite off more than I can chew.  Although I must say that it always feels strange to me to start this stuff while all the Halloween candy is in the stores. (Plus I need to squeeze in a baby blanket and goodies for the Tea Swap I joined in there as well!)

So . . .

To start with, I crochet ornaments each year (thread crochet).  I’ve been doing this since 1999, which makes this Year Ten (Wow!).  Every year I choose a different ornament and make them until I can’t stand to look at them any more. I’ve tried a couple of different patterns in this year’s search, and finally decided upon an angel.  It’s kind of cool since it’s actually supposed to be a fan or window shade pull – but should work well as an ornament.  I generally make a minimum of 60 ornaments, and this pattern requires plastic rings for the angel head.  I’ve found the best price at Walmart – unfortunately, the last time I checked they were out of 1″ rings.  I bought one pack of 1-1/8″ – we’ll see what I think of those.  In the meantime, here’s the prototype in progress:

Next are the Rose Red hats for the Aunts. As usual, I’ve had to go down to get gauge – I’m using a size 3 needle, but may go up a size on the next one – we’ll have to see what the hat does after blocking.  Here’s a picture in progress:

So far I’m really pleased with the pattern.  It’s knitting up very fast.  There is actually less cabling than I originally thought. I think once it’s blocked the lace part of the pattern should really open up.

In other news. I finally found out my sister-in-law’s shoe size.  The idea is that I would be able to finish Sianny’s socks.  Now, let me start out by saying that Sianny is approximately my height, weight and clothing size, so it seemed logical to me that her shoe size would be within a half-size of mine either way.  I was wrong.  She wears 8.5 / 9!!!  Which means that even if I pull the toe of the slipper/socks out and rework them, they will still probably be too tight.  Grrrrrr!  So I’ll find someone else to give these socks to, and we’ll be starting Sianny’s Socks II – the Sequel very soon.

Oh well, they do go pretty quickly . . .

Caterpillars & Christmas

We have a friend in our neighborhood who raises monarch butterflies each summer.  She grows milkweed (the only thing monarch caterpillars eat) and then collects the butterfly eggs and raises the caterpillars until they hatch into butterflies. Then she releases them so that they can fly to Mexico.  A couple of years ago, she asked if we would be interested in raising some as well, and she set us up with a small “habitat” (Is that the right word?) so that we could keep some of the caterpillars.  We had a great time – all our caterpillars hatched into butterflies.  Unfortunately, we missed butterfly season last year, though.  So, this year when she asked again, we jumped at the chance.  Out came our caterpillar tower and we were on our way.

We dutifully marched over to Karen’s house where she presented us with 5 caterpillars (in different sizes), and let Jasmine release one butterfly that had recently hatched and was ready to fly on its way. We collected our own milkweed from where it grows wild on our property, cleaned out an old jar to use as a milkweed vase, and introduced our caterpillars to their new home.

Unfortunately, we did lose one caterpillar.  It crawled to the top of the tower and tried to turn into it’s crysalis, but something went very wrong.  It was very upsetting to Jasmine – we had a funeral last night in which we were all required to say a few words. And, I think we were all a little nervous that we may have done something wrong and that we’d have similar problems with the remaining four caterpillars. We never had an issue like this on our previous attempt at butterfly farming. Apparently, though, sometimes nature just doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to.

As of today, however, I’m happy to report that we now have one crysalis and one more caterpillar that is hanging in a “J” – the last step before the crysalis.  I’m hoping that by the time school is over today we’ll have 2 crysalises. WOO HOO!

Now, on to knitting.  In our family we all have knitted Christmas stockings – all different.  Rob’s was made by his grandmother when he was little.  I made one for Jasmine when she was born, and not wanting to be left out, made one for myself a year or so later.  So, of course, since we are a family of 4 now, we needed another stocking.  For Robbie I chose a cabled one.  I went with a slightly larger gauge so that I could more closely match the size of Jasmine’s stocking (which is huge), and found a pattern I liked.  And, it’s just about finished.

I’m still not sure about it though.  The pattern orginally was a download from michaels.com.  It’s not there any more, since apparently michaels.com is now just pulling their free patterns from Lion Brand. (I looked since I cut off the very right side of the instructions and didn’t notice until I started knitting).  Anyway, I’ve decided it was a very poorly written pattern, which is probably the reason I can’t find it anywhere on the internet now. There were all kinds of number errors, and the pattern itself is not written clearly in a few spots.  Thankfully, I’ve knit socks before – If I hadn’t I think I probably would have been stuck in a number of places on the pattern.  The foot shaping seems a little funny to me as well.  I know that this is a Christmas stocking, so that’s the reason for the gradual slope of the foot (as opposed to a normal sock where there’s more of a right angle) – but somehow the shaping still doesn’t seem quite right to me – I think the foot section should be narrower?  Maybe?  I have to think about it.  I’m not above ripping the foot out and re-knitting it if I could figure out what I don’t like about it.  Who knows – maybe by the time I embroider the name and add the hook, I’ll feel better about the foot shaping.

Here’s the stocking next to Jasmine’s.  I’m fairly please with the size.  They are completely different, but I think the sizes are similar enough that they look about the same.  I already have orders that HER stocking must be the biggest.  (And, I do understand – my 36 year old brother still complains each Christmas that my stocking was always bigger than his).

So there it is.  If I decide to frog part of it, I’ll post my revisions . . .  Hmmmmmm.

School Days!

Well, we’ve made it through the first two days of kindergarten, and my daughter is thrilled to be there (WOO HOO!)  She really seems to love school, and she especially likes riding the bus (the whole 1/2 mile ride to school – haha).

Like the dorky parents we are, her dad & I put her on the bus her first day and then drove to the school to see her get off the bus!  Actually, I didn’t feel quite so bad.  As we walked up to the door we ran into our pastor & his wife (they have kids in 2nd & 5th in the same school) and another friend from church (with kids in 1st).  OK, I know that those other parents came along because their kids are walkers, so it made sense to walk with them on the first day.  But still . . .

I’m waiting to see how she does next week once the novelty wears off.

In the meantime, here are a couple of pics from the first day!

Waiting . . .

Waiting . . .

Here comes the bus!

Here comes the bus!

See ya!

See ya!

Eileen’s Doily

Eileen is not so much a “friend” as a good “acquaintance”. We don’t really keep in touch – don’t even exchange Christmas cards, but we have a number of friends in common, and usually run into each other at one or two get-togethers throughout the year. But she called me last November when I was getting close to the end of my pregnancy. Turns out, she also had winter babies and owned a number of dressy maternity items, ideal for the holidays, and would I like to borrow them. She really was a lifesaver. Even though at that point I had no desire to dress up and go out, there were a few holiday functions that just couldn’t be avoided.

Time went on, my little one came along and life with new baby, of course, got crazy. I did manage to return her clothes via a mutual friend, but never even sent so much as a thank-you note. I fully intended to call or write, but somehow the schedule never slowed down, and here we are 8 months or so later! Feeling downright rude, I decided I needed something more than a thank-you note to make amends for the lateness of my acknowlegement of her generosity. Hence, Eileen’s Doily. (Which is my standard fall-back gift.) Not knowing Eileen’s taste or sense of style, I just had to guess. I thought a square pattern was just enough out of the norm that even if she prefers a more contemporary look, she still might like this. I do know that she at one time sold “Southern Living” so I think I’m safe.

Mom’s Doily had to take a back seat, so that I could finish this first, but I did manage to get that one done yesterday. It came up a bit bigger than I hoped, but I think it should still fit in the spot mom has planned for it. (At least I hope so.) If not, I’ll try again with a smaller pattern. Doilies are funny in that in my opinion, gauge kind of goes out the window. Depending upon my mood, I can crochet the same pattern 5 times and get five completely different sizes. I do think it came up pretty though, and I think she’ll like it. This picture was taken while it was still blocking, so that’s why you see the lovely beach towel background!