Sunday, February 28, 2016

Academy Awards Tonight and Crochet/Hekel Mandala

Academy Awards is Tonight!

The Oscars is the only award show I make a point to watch each year.  I used to watch multiple shows, but grew tired of the long shows.  I prefer to see the summaries and highlights following the shows.

I make an exception for the Oscars because I really enjoy seeing different films and the best of the best seem to appear on this night.

Each year, my goal is to see all of the Best Picture Nominees before the Oscars, but that's proven to be difficult now that they allow up to 10 films to be nominated.  I'm going into tonight not seeing two of the Best Picture noms and I'm okay with it.  One I will never see (no interest in Mad Max) and the other I'll try to catch this week.

The Red Carpet has begun, so the countdown to the show begins . . . 

(and I'll be watching Downton Abbey over breakfast tomorrow, thanks to xfinity on demand)

Crochet/Hekel Mandala CAL

I need to stop finding fun projects and groups on Facebook.  I couldn't resist joining in on the Crochet/Hekel Queen Mandala fun when I found the group of crocheters.  This is a mandala designed by a crocheter in South Africa and the group of people who are working on this mandala are from all offer the world.  Many of the posts are from Europe.  It's especially interesting to see the yarn choices made by everyone because there is so much represented from the various countries.

I started when the group was working on week 7, so I'll be behind for a few weeks.  This week, I finished weeks 1-5 and the mandala is looking great.  I decided to use stash yarn because I shouldn't buy any yarn for personal projects for the next several months.  I'm working with one of my favorite yarns -- Palette by KnitPicks.  It's a fingering weight wool yarn that I use for many of the items I sell in my shop.  Thanks to a big sale a couple years ago, I have a large selection in a wide variety of colors.  

Week 1

Quick and easy with no new stitches.  A good start to the mandala.  

Week 2

The next few rounds also went quickly.  I especially like the off-white V stitches at the end of this section.  

Week 3

The flowers for this section are joined as you go, so there is a ring when it's finished.  This flower ring is going to be joined to the original mandala in week 4.

Since I have experience knitting and crocheting multiples, I knew that an assembly-line method would be best utilized this week.  I crocheted the flowers in sections, working all of the centers first, then adding the flower petals.  When I started the leaves, the flowers were ready for quick attachment to the ring.

Using this method, it's easy to memorize the pattern for each row.  It is also much less cumbersome crocheting because you are only working with the string of flowers during the final row of leaves.

Week 4

 The flowers get attached to the mandala, then it's a few rows of granny stripes to end the section.  I'm not following the color palette described in the original pattern, so before I start on a section, I review my colors and decide what will come next.

Week 5

This is the last week's worth of mandala I'll be able to complete this week.  This section was full of interesting pattern, including bobbles and shells.  In person, the colors pop much better.  I'll have to capture the next section in better light and on a white background.  

Thursday, February 25, 2016

National Chili Day and Louis Vuitton Dog Sweater

National Chili Day

I'm a big fan of all sorts of chili and enjoy experimenting with different flavors and ingredients.  To celebrate this National Chili Day, I went with a traditional Texas Bowl of Red.  It's been simmering in my Le Creuset Dutch Over for a couple hours now, and the smell is divine.  I have resisted the urge to add tomatoes and other vegetables in order to maintain the integrity of a true Texas Bowl of Red.

This is a super-easy chili to make and doesn't take much in the way of ingredients -- beef chuck cut in cubes, beef broth, spices and thickener.  The only thing I bought at the store was the beef.  Many Texas Red Chili recipes use masa harina as one of the thickeners.  I didn't have any on hand so substituted a couple chopped up fresh corn tortillas, which is masa harina that's been made into a tortilla.

It's another hour before the chili is ready, so I'll enjoy the smells while watching Grey's Anatomy.  By the time Scandal starts, it will be time to break out the toppings.  What to choose?  Cheese, sour cream, chopped onions, jalepenos, avocado -- some or all?  Of course, tortilla chips will be on the side.

Louis Vuitton Dog Sweater

A mini-daschund living in Florida is named Louis Vuitton.  This LV dog sweater is on the way to his home.  I hope Louis and his owner enjoy it!

Once again, graph paper to the rescue.  In order to knit a good representation of the iconic LV logo, I looked at multiple logo images, then sketched out the logo on graph paper.  By now, I know what size monograms and motifs fit on the back of dog sweaters, so I have a working area with which to design.  

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Love Your Pet Day and National Cherry Pie Day

Love Your Pet Day

I'm learning that there are many pet-oriented holidays/celebrations.  All sorts of organizations start these themed days, so it's likely possible to have a "celebrate your pet in some fashion day" at least once a month.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Archie.  I had only had him for a few months, but already knew that he was a very sweet, agreeable dog.  He's a rescue dog, which means I don't know exactly what he is (shih tzu mixed with something that makes him a big little dog), how much training he had as a puppy, or why he was found wandering around the city.  He definitely had some training because he's very good around the house, doesn't have any accidents, and doesn't tear anything up when I'm gone.  He looks for permission to jump on the couch and is polite when he begs for food.  He loves all the neighbors and is obsessed with the little dog on the first floor.  He's a great companion for someone who works from home.

National Cherry Pie Day

Yum for cherry pie.  My Great Aunt Mildred made the best cherry pie, with a flaky crust and sour pie cherries.  No cherry pie filling for her!  

When I was making my miniature slices of cake and pie, I knew that cherry pie had to be one of my featured slices.  It was a fun experiment to determine which stitch to use to mimc the look of cherries and figure out how to mimic a lattice crust topping.  If you or someone you know need a non-edible, stuffed cherry pie slice, you can find one here.  

Friday, February 19, 2016

Single Tasking Day and Pink Heart Dog Sweater

Single Tasking Day

No one talks about single tasking -- it's all about multi-tasking these days and has been for quite some time.  I admit that I am a strong multi-tasker.  Right now, I'm watching Chicago Med (on demand), writing this post during commercial breaks, and working on an afghan square for the groovyghan CAL.  My computer alerts me whenever an email comes in, so that's a temptation.  I have several tabs open on my web browser, so I can pop over to different sites quickly and easily.  I recently posted some pics on the Occasions by sonjabegonia Facebook page, so if someone likes or comments, a little "1" will appear on the Facebook tab, alerting me to go check out the activity.

One of the few places that I don't multi-task is at the movie theater.  It's very relaxing to sit in the dark and not have any screens competing for time.  I don't understand the people who go to the movies and can't turn off their phone.  Don't they know this is a time when it's accepted and encouraged to focus on a single task?

When I find a really good book, I am very good at single-tasking.  If it's not a page-turner, I'm content with reading during commercials and setting it down when a show picks up again.  Pager-turners are a different story.  With those, it's best to find a quiet spot, some hot tea, a warm sleepy dog, and uninterrupted time until the end of the book.  

Playing the piano is another single task that is totally consuming and really can't be done when doing anything else (except singing if appropriate).  I need to get back into the practice of playing regularly and enjoying the focus of a single, beautiful task.  

Pink Heart Dog Sweater

This morning and early afternoon, my main project was knitting an extra small pink dog sweater for a little Maltese in Missouri.  This custom order was for a pale pink sweater with a white heart motif on the back and white edging.  I documented the process is a few pictures to share with those who are interested in the knitting process.  

The entire sweater - including weaving in ends - took about 5 hours.  

Gathering materials:  For this dog sweater, I needed my standard dog pattern adjusted for size based on the dog's measurements, a graphed heart motif, small amount of white yarn, pale pink yarn divided into three parts, straight needles in sizes 9 and 10, three circular needles size 9, scissors, and a yarn needle.

Making leg openings:  One of the more involved steps in the process.  In this row, four balls of yarn are in play because the pink yarn needs to be used in three separate areas to create the leg holes and the white heart is starting in the center of the sweater.  For an extra small sweater, this craziness only lasts for 5 rows.

Measuring for fit: The leg openings have been completed, good progress has been made on the heart, and it's time to measure the sweater.  I'm at the point where it's time to start decreasing for the back of the sweater.  After two significant decreases that signify the end of the body, the decreases are slight and steady until the end of the back.

Body is finished:  The body has been knitted flat, making it easier to create the leg holes and make the decreases even and in the correct spot for a dog sweater.  The last row of back stitches are on a holding yarn because they will be used in the edging.  Now it's time to sew up the body and start the edging.

Edging the sweater:  Three circular needles and white yarn are used to make the back edging.  Stitches are evenly picked up on each side of the sweater and the live end row of back stitches is in the middle.  A knit one, purl one ribbing is used to match the neck.  The same process, on a smaller scale, will be used for the legs.  

Completed sweater:  The edging is finished and all yarn ends have been woven in and tied off.  The pale pink and white is a subtle combination that will look great on a little Maltese.  It was fun to knit something in pink.  Archie doesn't act like a pink kind of dog, so this is the first pink dog sweater I've made.

Heart:  A close-up look at the heart motif.  On Archie's heart sweater, the heart really pops because it's a white sweater with a bright red heart.

Side view:  Here's a view that shows all of the edging and the overall shape of the dog sweater.  This is an easy sweater to put on dogs and holds up well.  It's made with yarn that stands up to the washing machine and dryer.  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day

Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day

This is a true story.  And it happened in Missouri in 1930.  

Elm Farm Ollie -- nicknamed Nellie Jay and Sky Queen -- had the honor of being the first cow to fly in an airplane.  This Guernsey cow traveled from Bismark to St. Louis in order to attend the International Air Exposition.  During the trip, someone milked her for several reasons.  She needed to be milked three times a day.  Scientists thought something might happen.  It was great publicity.

The very strange publicity tie-in idea was to put the milk the Sky Queen produced in-flight and parachute it down to spectators.  Sky Mail!

In other news on this day, I learned a new crochet technique, the Foundation Single Crochet.  This stitch allows your to do the foundation chain and the first row of single crochet at the same time.  The end result is that the edge is stretchier and should be easier to attach to other pieces.

I can usually read about the steps of a stitch and figure out the technique without the use of a video, but I had to turn to YouTube this time.  The issue is that I'm left-handed, so I can't always immediately process the reverse of pictures when I don't really know what to expect.  Fortunately, the video helped clear out the final step and I was on my way crocheting a block for the UK Groovyghan CAL (yes, I caved and am making this afghan too.  It's going to be all shades of green with some neutrals thrown in and really will be a groovy throw-back afghan).

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Random Acts of Kindness Day and My Way Day

Random Acts of Kindness Day 

I wasn't surprised to learn that there was an official Random Acts of Kindness Day (which is actually in the middle of Random Acts of Kindness Week), but I did find it interesting that there is an entire organization devoted to this concept.  For a complete history of the day, inspiring individual stories, ideas for activities, and other information, I recommend taking a look at the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.

Today I was busy working from home so I didn't have a chance to do anything to commemorate the day, unless you count complimenting a few posts on Facebook and moving Archie away from approaching dogs in case they didn't want to play and bark with him.  It's a good thing there's an entire week of opportunity!

Of course, I would rather take the RAK Foundation's approach and just live a kind life.  Living in a city, there are lots of opportunities to be kind to strangers or be selfish.  I must admit that leaving my corporate job and getting a dog are two major life changes that has made me kinder in most situations.  I have more patience and am not as stressed or consumed with my own life.  

My Way Day

There are so many random and obscure holidays and national days that there are times when days will inevitably clash.  Celebrating My Way Day and Random Acts of Kindness Day may make one a bit nutty.

The day takes it's name and attitude from the expression "It's my way or the highway."  According to Days of the Year, you celebrate by doing whatever you want, however you want.  Using this logic, I suppose it is possible to combine this with your random acts of kindness -- just make sure you're being kind exactly how you want to be kind.

SOY Mystery Scarf CAL Completed

The four-week crochet-a-long for a Scraps of Yarn Mystery Scarf is over and I now have a new scarf to wear on dog walks for the rest of the winter.  In true My Way Day fashion, I expanded the instructions for week 3 and totally disregarded the finishing instructions given on week 4.

Week 3 was the week that all of the flower motifs were sewn together and then the granny row neck portion was crocheted.  I quickly noticed that the scarf would not be a practical length for a Chicago winter and the flowers would hang in an awkward way.  I ended up more than doubling the amount of granny rows so that the flowers would start below my shoulders instead of close to my neck.  This made the scarf much more proportional, in my opinion.

Week 4 provided finishing instructions that were just not my style -- a couple rows of crocheting along each end of the scarf, followed by the addition of fringe.  I knew that I would not be happy with a scarf finished in that fashion.

Instead, I crocheted around the entire scarf with black yarn and also added some black edging to a couple of the larger spaces between flowers.   This gave the scarf a more polished look and also reinforced the many joins and ends associated with a scraps of yarn project.  After blocking the scarf, the end product is colorful and fun.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

National Almond Day and RESOBOX Exhibition Extension

National Almond Day

Today is a day devoted to almonds.  Most of the almonds we eat come from California, but they originated in Asia.  Almonds have become well-known for their health benefits and are an extremely adaptable nut.  They are good in sweet and savory dishes, salads, and trail mixes.  As a snack, almonds are good raw, but even better toasted and tossed with different spices and seasonings.  

For a comprehensive look at almonds, I recommend the official National Almond Day website.

This Christmas, I received some raw almonds, almonds covered in an orange and honey topping, and Hershey's Kisses with almonds.  Needless to say, my family is big on nuts and other edible gifts.  

In honor of the almond, I plan to start my dinner tonight with a green salad topped with roasted almonds and other goodies.  

RESOBOX Exhibition Extended

World Amigurumi Exhibition vol. 2: Crocheted Culture Celebration!

 This is the second year that RESOBOX gallery in Long Island has hosted an amigurumi exhibition.  Amigurumi are small, stuffed, crocheted or knitted animals and anthropomorphic dolls.  The art started in Japan and has swept over the world over the past few years.  These cute, stuffed dolls are beloved by children and adults.

RESOBOX's exhibition features artists from all over the world.  This year, the theme was a crocheted culture celebration so each artist submitted at least one amigurumi that featured a part of their native culture.

The exhibition has been extended, so there's still time to view a room full of cuteness in person.  All items are for sale and will remain on exhibit through the end of March. 

Right before Thanksgiving, I packaged up two trays of my amigurumi for a trip to New York.  I included a wide variety of stuffed cuties, including pieces that are available in my shop and new items created especially for the exhibition.  

In honor of Chicago, I crocheted a couple Chicago-style hot dogs.  Chicago is definitely a food town, with several iconic offerings.  One of the best and most clearly defined is the Chicago-style Hot Dog, also known as the Chicago Red Hot.  The all beef frankfurter is topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, pickled sport peppers and a dash of celery salt.  The complete assembly of a Chicago hot dog is said to be "dragged through the garden" due to the many toppings.  NEVER put ketchup on a hot dog in Chicago!! 

I also created a few catfish in honor of growing up in rural Missouri.  When relatives came to visit my grandmother in her tiny town of McGirk, Missouri, fresh-caught fish were often on the menu.  The fish were from Spring Lake on the property.  When eating the delicious, fried fish, everyone knew to be on the lookout for the errant small bone.  These amigurumi are a playful nod to the catfish - a cute cat head attached to the body of a striped fish.  

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Happy Valentine's Day from a Chicago Winter Wonderland.  It's been lightly snowing throughout the afternoon and early evening, so outside it's covered with the perfect light, glittering, unblemished snow.  It's snow pre-shoveling with few paw and footprints.  It's also slippery snow, so the evening walk was a careful one.

This Christmas, I received the above tribute to Lucy and Desi's love from my sister.  She's got a great eye for unusual outsider art and easily matches it with the correct home.  I wish the above photo did the piece justice.  It's difficult to see all of it's 3D, sparkly, multi-layered awesomeness.  Sequins!  Glitter!  Jewels!  Sparkles!  Silver trim!  Resin-filled painted bowl/tub!

This is the back of the piece to show more of the heft of the piece.  I think it was ambitious of the artist to include a hook for hanging one a wall -- this is a heavy, bulky item and I am not confident in my secure hanging skills.  It's titled ""Ba, Ba Loosie"and was created in 2007 by Galail Garcia (name may be misspelled because it's faintly written in cursive).  I wish I knew more about the piece and the artist.

Recently, I have been watching "I Love Lucy" reruns on late night Hallmark Channel programming.  They stand the test of time and continue to make me laugh.  I don't mind the black and white but I think it would be really interesting to be able to see what colors were used on the sets.  I imagine it was very colorful, especially in Desi's shows.

Iconic Love Stories Tea Towel is one of my favorite tea towel designs that I offer in the shop.  Although I originally created it as a Valentine's Day offering, it is a great gift for weddings and anniversaries too.  This is actually the third of these tea towels I've embroidered -- a pair of them were shipped off to a new owner earlier this year.  

It was fun figuring out which iconic couples to feature on the towel and figure out the placement.  The irregularities in spacing and lettering are intentional and highlight the fact that it's a hand-embroidered and designed tea towel -- no transfer stamping on these towels! 

I also really enjoy this String of Hearts Garland.  The little hearts are crocheted, then attached together to form a lightweight garland that can be used in any room of the house.  This garland is a part of my collection of holiday garlands in the shop.  All are knitted or crocheted using fingering weight Peruvian wool and can be easily stored in a ziplock bag.  It's fun to have these small decorations on hand to brighten up a room and change things up for each of the seasons.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Lincoln's Birthday and National Lost Penny Day

Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln!

Born in 1809, President Abe Lincoln turned out to be one of the most influential presidents of the United States.  Looking back at his political and social stances, it's impressive how forward-thinking he was and how he was not afraid to take a stand for what is right and just.  Imagine what more he could have accomplished had his life not been cut short.  

National Lost Penny Day

It is amusing that the founder of National Lost Penny Day, Adrienne Sioux Koopersmith, created the day to be celebrated on Lincoln's birthday.  Lincoln's image was first placed on the penny on the 100th anniversary of his birth.  

The intent of the day is commendable - find those lost pennies and go do some good with them.  Unfortunately, I doubt many people want to carry around a large bag of pennies.  If they did, I have a feeling even fewer shop owners of coffee shops would appreciate being paid with pennies.  Thank goodness for CoinStar!

I am horrible with change and have long advocated for rounding everything up to the nearest quarter.  Since that's the case, I have several containers of change that need to be converted to cash or gift cards. The last time I took a bag of change to be counted, I ended up with over $100.  

Proud Peacock Tea Cozy 

The Proud Peacock tea cozy is now complete.  I'm very happy with the results.  As with most of my creations, I would happily keep this for myself, but I'm putting it up for sale on Etsy.  I hope it finds a good home soon.  

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Be Electrific Day and Afghan CAL Progress

Be Electrific Day

Thank you, Thomas Edison, for being an inventor and dreamer.  Can you imagine a world without electricity?  

This fall, a severe thunderstorm knocked out power in parts of Rogers Park for about 12 hours.  It started in the afternoon, so I wasn't too concerned because power outages are rare and not too long in the city.  When it was time for Archie's evening walk, the power was still out in my block, but some of the nearby blocks had power, so I still held out hope that there would be power before dark.

I realized that I was horribly unprepared for a power outage.  For some reason, I thought that the burners on my gas stove would still light without electricity so I could light candles with the burners.  That is not true.  I didn't have any matches.

An hour later, I decided that I'd have to venture out to gather some basic supplies for the night.  At Walgreens, there were having a buy one get one free sale on industrial flashlights, so I napped the final two.  I bought a Diet Coke as a treat.  The checkout line was long and it looked like people were stocking up for a long power outage, which didn't make sense to me because we were at a Walgreens that had full power and it was only a couple blocks away from my place.

I overheard several people ask the clerk when power would be restored.  He had to repeatedly state that he didn't have that answer to that question.

After stopping by a local Mexican restaurant for steak tacos and to figure out the flashlight batteries while waiting, I went back home to eat by flashlight and read a book (not on my Kindle, which was not sufficiently charged).  It is so quiet when there's no power!  

The electricity came back on around 3 AM and all was back to normal.  One of the first things I did was plug my phone and Kindle in to recharge.  

Be Electrific

Back to the day . . . what does it mean to be electrific?  It's a pretty great word that should be used more  in motivational circles. I take it to mean be exciting, look to make changes, don't be afraid to stand out and take a chance, spark new ideas, inspire yourself and others through your actions.  

Afghan CAL Progress

It's week five for the Crochet with Me CAL from Beatrice Ryan.  Week one was gathering materials, so the number is a bit misleading.  So far, I'm liking the stitches and my color selection of white, red and black.  This week, most of the crocheting was a repeat of a prior week and I assume that will happen in upcoming weeks too in order to create a good design.  This CAL is designed by one designer, so the end result should be a nicely flowing afghan.

The one issue with some of the stitches is that they need to be pushed to the right side so the faux bobbles show up.  That's kind of annoying, but I don't know how to fix it . . . and it even says in the instructions that the faux bobbles need to be pushed forward.  

This As-We-Go Stripey Blanket was a CAL in 2013.  I had not intended to start this project, but I saw someone else's completed blanket and loved it, so here I am!  This is the first quarter of the blanket.  Colors change about every row and there are a number of special stitches to add interest and texture to the blanket.  Since I was starting this with the complete pattern revealed and I don't have a lot of large quantities of "stash yarn" (hooray!!), I purchased all the yarn up front.  

Finally, the third installment of the Wonder Crochet Blanket CAL was revealed last week.  Every two weeks, six new rows are designed by a different designer.  I'm alternating between blue and orange so that the different designer's sections are highlighted.   The CAL seems to be giving fellow crocheters the most difficulties because of the frequent usage of uncommon stitches.  I'm enjoying the process of trying out new techniques.  

Confession:  I think I'm going to jump onto one final CAL that started in January and runs through September.  It's one hosted by a blog in the UK called the Everything is Cool and Groovyghan.  It's another mystery reveal-as-we-crochet afghan, but will be different because it uses a variety of different sized pieces to assemble the afghan.  I haven't bought the yarn yet . .. . still contemplating . . . stay tuned.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Fat Tuesday

Fat Tuesday

This is a day that is celebrated by many across the world, but has not been a part of my holiday celebrations.  Someday, I'll make it down to New Orleans as it is one of the well-known cities in the US I have not visited.  I doubt I'll go for Mardi Gras, though . . . 

The colors and food associated with the holiday are festive and fun.  When I was creating my first series of holiday garlands, I included a colorful skull garland because I thought it could be used for a variety of celebrations, including Mardi Gras.  It continues to be one of my favorite decorative garlands.  

Today, I finished up my peacock feathers so they are waiting for the tea cozy body.  I really like these motifs and am wondering what else can be made with them.  

Monday, February 8, 2016

Chinese New Year and Peacocks

Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year!  This holiday moves around each year because it's date is based both on the Moon and the position of the Earth in relation to the Sun.  This year is the Year of the Monkey.  Unfortunately, it's not believed to be the luckiest of years in the Chinese calendar.

The UK Telegraph posted a very informative Chinese New Year's article this morning that is a great read.  I particularly enjoyed the list of Taboo things to do on this day.  It's a long list and each of us has probably broken the rules multiple times.  While I didn't do the laundry today, I did wash my hair, leave the house, and use both knives and scissors.


Today's work included starting on some crocheted peacock feathers that I'll make into a peacock tea cozy.  The feathers are quick crochets, especially when doing them assembly-line style.  When I work in multiples, I often use this method because it's easy to memorize the step in the pattern and repeat.  

Next up for this project will be crocheting the base of the cozy, and then designing a peacock head for the cozy top.  After that, I'll determine how many peacock feathers are needed to cover the cozy base and figure out any finishing details.

The standard peacock motif is a free pattern and can be found at Living the Craft Life.  

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day and Snowflakes

Snowflake Blanket - Completed!!

After Christmas, I used some of my Christmas money (yes, I'm old and receive Christmas money, which I very much appreciate and use for special treats for me and my dog) to buy a knitted blanket kit I had wanted for a while.  The pattern and yarn come from Mary Maxim, one of several online craft and yarn stores I order from depending on my needs.  Since leaving my corporate job, I have become much more selective with my orders, which is great because I only order what I really want and know I'll get to in a timely manner.  The stash is going down!

I love this blanket.  It's warm and snuggly, but not too heavy.  The different snowflakes pop and the textured sections in between the snowflakes add interest.  It matches Archie!  There was hardly any yarn left, so not too much to wrap into other projects.  

I did veer away from the pattern in two cases:  1) I attached the panels with a single crochet stitch instead of sewing together and 2) I single crocheted around the entire blanket to give it a small border.  These finishing touches helped make the blanket sturdier and gave it a more polished feel.

When I share big projects like this, I'm often asked if I sell blankets and afghans.  YES!!  Of course!  But . . . these are custom orders and they are expensive.  Pricing depends on the type of yarn selected, pattern difficulty, size of completed project, and estimated time to knit/crochet project.  These handcrafted custom orders are very special and make great gifts -- you just have to be ready for sticker shock and imagine how much time is put into a large item.  

Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day

I must admit that I didn't eat ice cream for breakfast today.  First, I didn't check out the holidays for today until this afternoon.  Second, I don't have any ice cream in the house.

I was cose, though.  I had my absolute favorite yoghurt, Noosa Yoghurt, in my favorite flavor, coconut.      This stuff is amazing and one of my food splurges.  I just reviewed their website and see that there are numerous new flavors that are not currently available in my grocery store.  I hope they come soon because I'm intrigued by flavors like blackberry serrano, salted caramel, and pumpkin.  YUM!

I don't think I'd want ice cream by itself for breakfast, but I could see it with waffles or pie.  Apple pie, to be specific.  

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Groundhog Day and 40 Bags in 40 Days

Happy Groundhog Day!

Hooray!  According to Phil, an early spring is on the way.  Too bad he has a very poor accuracy rate in his predictions.  I read that he's only 39% accurate.

Oh, well, Spring will come at some point.  Today, I was very glad that the Chicago temperatures were in the upper 30s so it was a day of rain, not snow.

I took advantage of the rainy day to complete the next section of one of my afghan crochet-a-longs.  This is going to be a lovely afghan full of different textures and stitches  

Working on this meant that i was procrastinating and not working on computer-based projects.  By the wend of the week, I NEED to make a substantial dent in the computer work.

40 Bags in 40 Days Decluttering Challenge

Starting on February 10th, people all over the place will start decluttering in this very productive challenge.  Apparently, this has been going on for years, but I just heard of it tonight via Facebook.  There's a Facebook support group and everything!