WIP Wednesday- Pollen edition

I have so many projects going on right now and I can’t share any of them! It is a mix of custom requested projects, gift items, and test/samples – all under wraps for the time being.  I really wanted to share something this week, so I started something new. (Who’s surprised? No one who reads this blog for any length of time.  Yeah.) I have dealt with seasonal allergies forever! My dad was a family practitioner, so that was my informal diagnosis from when I was a kid. I have noticed that my allergies have changed a bit over the years – I used to get them guaranteed twice a year – in early September / middle of Spring.  The last few years it seems to be a once a year annoyance, around the middle to end of May. My casual investigation to discover the predominant pollen leads me  to oak and birch tree pollen as the culprits. I have had the Pollen Count pattern in my queue for ages, so I decided to work out the aggression with which I want to rub my itchy eyes and crochet this little guy. Maybe if he’s cute I’ll be less annoyed?

Pollen in progress but once I put eyes on it I think it wants to be something else. #crochet #amigurumi

Anyway, I’m at the point where you add the face before decreasing. I placed the eyes to check the position and then was distracted having to work on something else. For several hours this little guy has been watching me. That has to be the downside of making amigurumi, right? And now I’m thinking I don’t know if this little project really wants to be a pollen grain. He sort of looks like the right shape for a coffee cup.  Or a mouse.  Something.  So, you might see a pollen grain or something else here on Friday.

Side note. In a manner similar to weeds, I find pollen so interesting! This itty-bitty bit of fluff, essentially, harmless to my body but my body thinks it’s bad and makes me sneeze / cough / have itchy-watery eyes to just Get. It. Out! When I was in graduate school, most of my research involved Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and looking at particulate matter (tiny airborne stuff) on Oak leaves. I found a lot of pollen among the other stuff I was looking for – like these! Funny that I spent all that time studying oak leaves and now the oak may be partly to blame for my misery this week!

May your week be sneeze free! Looks like we’re switching from cool spring temperatures to hazy, hot, and humid!

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Yarn Along / WIP Wednesday – For the kids edition

Truth: It’s been a decent week for starting projects. I am super pleased at how a few of them are progressing, so that’s good. I am not so pleased with how a finger on my hook holding hand tends to cramp up / lock straight when I crochet an awful lot. Has this happened to you? I hold my hook in my left hand, not always like a knife and not always like a pencil, but frequently my ring finger will be bothered.  Obviously it is not keeping me from the craft!

YarnAlong

Two books arrived last week: Topsy Turvy: Inside-Out Knit Toys by Susan B. Anderson and Amigurumi Two by Ana Paula Rimoli.  They are adorable and I have already queued up several patterns; I even have perfect yarns to use right away! We’ve been reading Little House in the Big Woods with Lorelai at night, which I am really excited about. We were using my copy from when I was a kid, the one that came in the yellow box set – did you have that? Well, it is a well-loved, well-read copy, with many yellowed pages and a broken spine.  Last night the book split in several parts and I need to tape it back together. We have ordered her her own copy! It is so different to read that book now as a grown up and just think about all the work that went into just staying alive out in the Big Woods. Pa caught a bear, YAY – food! But then, woah – all the prep! Spend all day making butter? Amazing.

I have slowed down on my Morning Coffee, due only to my own distractions.  I am on the cable detail at the cuff of the first sleeve.  I’ve crocheted half a pair of baby sandals for a gift, started a cactus for a swap, gotten the body of the second slug ready for the eyeballs to be attached, and I’ve been tackling the Springtime Sampler. I’m only showing the sampler here with the books because it’s just a bit too much to gather everything up right now!

It’s April vacation this week, so in addition to my usual struggles with distractions, both kiddos are running wild.  Yesterday, L came over to me and said “Mom, I think there’s a beaver in our yard.”  Ummmm, I don’t think so kiddo.  “But Moooom, it’s still there!”.  What do you know? She was right – almost! Apparently a groundhog has moved in under a gazebo in our backyard!  He’s probably the size of Jackson, and Jackson wanted to go after him!

GroundhogGroundhog
 

A cowl, an owl and cables! FO Friday!

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It’s been a good week! This cowl was my first crochet test project! Crystal wore hers a few weeks back to our knitting group and I was absolutely taken with it. I was rather forward in telling her that I was very interested in the pattern – I am feeling a lot more comfortable with a crochet hook and really enjoy the process. Crocheting makes me feel like I am using my brain in a different way, if that makes sense, probably because I still need to stop and think frequently, unlike knitting (usually!). Anyway, the Miss Adler pattern is wonderful for a beginner like me. Once I got through the first set of rows I was flying. Crystal has a great knack for explaining the details and her style is very clear. I can also vouch for her dedication to a pattern – I have seen her work through designs to be published at our knitting group and she doesn’t do anything half-way. She is having a trunk show this weekend and I am really looking forward to checking it out! I used Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend for my version in the Wildflowers colorway. So many lovely colors poking through, very appropriate for spring. I did dip into a second skein, and as my gauge is different, my cowl is bigger, so I will probably wear it folded over as you can see in my Ravelry notebook.

Little Crochet Owl

Continuing with the crochet theme, this is Nel, the tiny owl, that I made for a swap on Ravelry.  He is another Fresh Stitches design and a lot of fun to make. I used Cotton Classic from the stash, and he turned out to be around 5 inches tall.  I hope he is loved when he gets to his destination!

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And finally, the Sweet Fern Mitts, from The Knitter’s Book of Wool.  These are also for a swap and I am very sad to see them go, but I will certainly make myself a pair.  They are just snug enough, and I made them with less than one skein of Berroco’s Blackstone Tweed. I struggled for a while with that yarn, trying to decide what to make with the lonely skein, but I would seek it out again – I loved working with it.

Have a great weekend!

Bug Eyed & Sluggish

2 dachshunds high, easily. #Blizzard2013
The Blizzard of 2013 has come and gone but we’re going to be dealing with this mess for a while. We measured 26″ outside our front door, and CT effectively shut down this weekend. My husband and I worked shoveling our driveway yesterday and today and we’re maybe 1/3 of the way done. We haven’t seen a plow truck since 4pm Saturday and that was on the next road over – our road has not been touched. It’s going to be several days until we can get out of here. I’ve never seen this much snow come from one event  and there’s no place to put it! It is very pretty and very striking. These once in a lifetime events seem to be happening more often!  On the plus side we have power and we are ok with food and stuff. I’ve been working on my sample sweater for Plymouth, have started my second Fumior, and have wound yarn for swatching.

I’ve also tried to give my wrists a break by crocheting – they are sore from shoveling and crochet doesn’t seem to add to the ache. I worked up this chill slug, fulfilling my participation in the Fresh Stitches Slug-A-long. He was very quick and fun to make – the Fresh Stitches patterns are very well written, and the blog posts were really helpful – I found the post about crocheting antennae particularly helpful! I’m naming him Nemo in honor of the storm.  I’ve had a request to make a princess one next. When asked for more details that means a tiara & ribbons. I’m hoping a pink and purple version will satisfy.

So this was Christmas…

Whoosh. Another Christmas has come and gone – it was a whirlwind (as always) and went by way to fast (as always) but was a good time & a success! This year we were low key on the side of decorations due to the Little Nutmeg being rather full of grabby hands. We had a pink plastic pre-lit Christmas tree (really) – it was a work prize for DH back in the summer when they moved locations. We had some garland and lights, a few printed signs, and this year we brought in an Elf on the Shelf. There are a zillion ideas on Pinterest, and I made a note of a few, but our elf was less into mischief and more into a daily game of hide-and-seek. The Lorax loved it. Elfie, our elf, is a bit creepy looking, but it makes for fun photos – here’s the round up of my instagram shots of where he hid. Elf on the shelf antics 2012Elf on the shelf antics 2012 (2)Elf on the shelf antics 2012 (3)
My favorite was when the Disney Princesses captured Elfie in a bug box!
Though I did have a last minute flare-up of thinking that I must knit ALL.THE.THINGS. for Christmas gifts, in the end I knit 4 things. My mom had pinned several times cowls on pinterest as a not-so-subtle hint to me. I worked up a Fiona Button Scarf very quickly! Crochet cowl
I still consider myself a beginner crocheter and this was a piece-of-cake pattern.
DIY gold toe socks
I’m calling these my DIY-gold-toe socks, even though the gold toe stripe is really not in the right spot. I started these Cauchy socks for Dan back in March. He had forgotten about them! They were very well received – he has worn them every day after work! I would indulge in the Spud & Chloe Fine yarn again and trying these on for the photo made me realize that I need to make myself some new socks!! I also made Dan a basic guy beanie with Green Mountain Spinnery Mountain Mohair that he loved – the hat is ready to go and in his car, so no photos yet. It’s snowing / raining now, so maybe tomorrow or the weekend? It seems that winter weather has truly settled in!
Oatmeal the snowman
One family Christmas party involved a Yankee Swap this year. I made Oatmeal the Snowman to go with a gift card. I love this little snowman and will be making myself another one! Unfortunately we had to duck out right after we picked out our gifts because it was getting late with the kids – so I have no idea who ended up with the snowman, or if he was loved. I hope!
In my little nutmeg, we had a nice Christmas. There were yarnie gifts which are great & I am very excited for 2013. I am working on my “resolutions” and what I want to accomplish / try, but for today (and probably the rest of the week), we’re recovering – I think we all have a touch of Holiday Hangover and both kids are sick with sniffles / coughs / temps. How was your holiday?

So Pretty! Crochet: Review & Giveaway

Hello! Gracious, where does the time go? When I got in touch with Amy about her new book, So Pretty! Crochet, many many weeks ago (ouch!), I had the best intentions of getting this giveaway up and running. I appreciate her patience as life has taken over here. I love back to school time for the fresh-start feel and that is what I intend to do here with my blog.

In the last 3-4 years I have been working on my crochet skills. I have the basics down and have a few finished items under my belt. I do not consider myself a newbie, though I do still rely heavily on reference materials as I work a project. When I first flipped through So Pretty! Crochet, I found many projects that I wanted to try! The styling and photographs draw you in and you really will say “Oooh, that is so pretty!” Among the 24 projects, there is a nice mix of accessories, small wearables and home decor. The projects are all current and trendy. The projects are designed by indie designers, and each pattern in introduced by the designer with links of where to find them online at their etsy site, blog, or twitter. The materials used in the projects meet a range of price points. I decided to give the Windowpane Cuff, by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark, a try. This pattern has written and charted directions (awesome – for whatever reason, I am getting the hang of crochet charts much easier than the written directions! Knitting charts were not this easy for me!). I used some leftover Koigu sock yarn. I think it took me longer to decide on buttons than it did to actually work up the cuff! I am pleased with the results. I can see where I can still improve on my crochet skills, but that is expected! It fits Lorelai’s lower leg quite well (the things we do for a good picture sometime!) and she kept it on for a while – fancy dress up, tah-dah!
Cuff
This is a hardcover book and I love the sturdiness and beauty that adds, but I do wish it was spiral bound to help the pages lay flat. I also wish more projects from the book were up on Ravelry, certainly in time that will happen. You can look inside the book on amazon. This book does have basic instructions for crochet techniques which is handy for someone like me, but it is not a “Learn to crochet” book.
In the meantime, I am thinking about trying the I-cord bracelet (crochet i-cord! I never knew there was such a thing!), and I am wondering about the Pastelito Necklace (the bottom picture on the designer’s blog) using some of my sock yarn leftovers.
Amy very kindly sent me this book and one to giveaway! Please leave a comment on this post (I have changed the comment settings, so everyone should be able to comment!) – Do you crochet? Do you have a crochet tip for me? Make sure I am able to get in touch with you if you win – an email or Ravelry id. I will draw a winner next Wednesday, Sept. 19.

Christmas Knits

I have to say, I am quite pleased with myself and the gifts I knit for Christmas. There was no frantic weaving in of ends, and for the most part everything work as I intended it to. I found these great handmade gift labels to attach to each gift and include some care instructions on the backside. Each was received in the proper way, so I know I made good choices in knitting for the right people!

I made my first pair of thrummed mittens for my cousin. I found a kit at Rhinebeck this year that came with the yarn and fiber all together – I even went back to the Good Karma Farm booth to purchase a second kit and I do plan on making myself something thrummed because whoo-boy, they are warm and cozy!
Fleece Stuffed Mittens
I had to wing it a bit on the size, as my cousin told me she had small hands – but upon receipt she said they fit and really liked them, so that’s a win!

I am so proud of crocheting my first wearable, the Cardiff Cowl, in Malabrigo Silky for my Godmother.
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This was lovely right off the hook, and after a quick blocking it opened up even more. Win!

I also knit a cowl, Ptarmigan, a BrooklynTweed-Jared Flood design, for my sister-in-law.
Ptarmigan Cowl
The yarn is Delly’s Delight – “Oh So Soft” 100% alpaca – that we actually both bought our first time at Rhinebeck together back in 2009. I have plenty left over and am seriously considering making this again, for myself. I really enjoyed knitting this and it was hard to wrap it up and give it away.

Keeping with my own tradition, I knit another Koolhaas this season. This one is for my Dad.
2011 Koolhaas
I obviously had some trouble getting a good picture of this one – the yarn is Cascade 220 superwash in a really nice chocolate brown.

I was going to make a Koolhaas for my brother as well, but after talking with his wife she told me he would be happier with a plain plain plain hat. After some back and forth for ideas she suggested the Regular Guy Beanie
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I chose a slightly nicer yarn, Mountain Mohair from Green Mountain Spinnery, and enjoy the boringness of this hat pattern. My brother really liked it, so that’s all that matters. Especially if it means he will wear it.

Now I am feeling the itch to cast on *ALL THE THINGS*! I do have a sample knit that I am working on and is my current #1 priority, but I’ve got a mental list going – earflap hat for me, earflap hat for Lorelai, new socks for Dan, next hat for Nate, hexipuffs (which I’m thinking I may switch gears and go hexi-flat and not stuff them). I was generously gifted several knitting books and a set of blocking wires so that only fuels the fire to knit more and knit faster!