Wednesday, 15 October 2014

So Many Hats, So Few Blog Entries!

I've been horribly slack about updating the blog lately.  Things have been very busy here.  The kids are finally back to school and are settling in to their new classes and making new friends.  I love this time of year!  October is my favourite month.  I find that the natural beauty here in Vancouver certainly leaves no lack of inspiration.

So what have I been up to the last few weeks in Yarnland?  Mostly hats, hats, and more hats!  I had a few friends who wanted Groot hats made for them, so I had to try to remember how I made the first one.  I tried keeping some notes on it over the next few I made, but they are nowhere near what would pass for a publishable pattern.  I've had some more minion hats requested.  In fact, the next four items to fall off my hook will all be minion-related.  Two of them I'm designing myself, so that always take a lot longer for me than just following a pattern.  I also had a request for a Unikitty (from The Lego Movie) hat.  I couldn't find a pattern for one, so, again I just made the hat up as I went along. I'm pretty happy with the end result (though if I ever made another, I would assemble it in a different order than I did this time).  I'm looking forward to seeing this little Unikitty in her costume on Halloween!

Speaking of Halloween, it has to be my favourite holiday!  I've been quite busy making things for other people lately, but I did take a little time out to make something to decorate our house for the holiday!  The good folks over at The Crochet Crowd are having another one of their fabulous challenges.  This particular challenge involved making a yarn wreath in a Halloween theme.  They really left a lot of room for creativity in this challenge.  I chose to use a pool noodle for my wreath form, and wrap it in yarn.  In retrospect, I could have crocheted a cover for the noodle faster than wrapping the noodle! To keep in the spirit of the challenge, I decided to try something that has always kind of scared me, and tried crocheting with ruffle yarn. I can't even begin to tell you how silly I felt for avoiding this stuff for so long- it is ridiculously easy to do!  So I used it for the trim of my wreath, found some silvery fabric in my scrap box, and went to work.  It is now hanging on the wall in our hallway, since we can't close the screen door if we hang it on the front door. 

 I managed to finish up a little something for myself this morning.  I had been working on this on short car trips. I'm very, very happy with this scarf!  My Road Trip Scarf, while it did turn out very pretty, is just not my style.  I can't pull off the triangular scarf as well as a lot of people seem to.  I made this scarf with Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable in the colorway Stained Glass.  I love these colours and I would wear them in any season.  It is a very simple shell stitch that is staggered.  However, it is a pleasant stitch to look at (instead of just a plain old double crochet), but not so busy that it detracts from the colour.  I wore it out and about today and had several comments on it, which always makes me feel good.  The closer up pictures shows the stitching better, as well as the colours.  My flash didn't go off in the first picture, apparently.

Until next time,
Happy Hooking!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Blog Blogity Blog Blog Blogs

So, I am still new to Blogland. I kept an online journal for years on Open Diary, which sadly is gone now.  I hadn't realized until I looked into it that it was actually the first blogging website, launched 6 months before even Livejournal was.  Back then it was just a way to get all my thoughts and feelings collected, and I type so much faster than I write.  I can't help but feel old and outdated when I don't even know what all the blog features and such are anymore.  I keep seeing blogs I'd like to follow, but I don't want my email overflowing (as if it isn't anyway) and I don't want to have to join 8 different communities to be able to see when the blogs I like have been updated.  That being said, I'm not exactly sure what Bloglovin even IS, but I see it as an option to follow blogs quite often, and so I am giving it a wingding and connecting my blog to it (and it wants me to post a link in a new blog, and so in this entrey is where I will post it).  I also have started a Facebook page (separate from my personal page) for The Button Buffalo which you can see here.  Feel free to pop by and give it a like if you want, and let me know about your pages as well so I can visit them!  There's not much on the Facebook page yet, but I just started it this week and I am still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do with it.  I think I may spend some time today on blogspot trying to get THIS blog to look like I want it to.  I want to share with people the other blogs and things I love.  I just need to figure out how to do all that!
Follow me on Bloglovin

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A Late WIP Wednesday

Well, it's late Wednesday, and I was going to make a post for WIP Wednesday.  but I decided instead to keep working on my road trip scarf, which seems to be a very popular project right now, and was designed by Zelna Olivier.  I've been seeing loads of these around the internet and wanted to try one, and although I always think they are beautiful, I just wasn't sure the scarf was really "my style."  I finally decided to quit drooling over them and to just hook one up.  Besides, if I didn't like it, it would make a wonderful gift for someone, right?

I finally was able to find a couple of skeins of Red Heart Unforgettable in the Sunrise colorway.  This colorway and the Stained Glass seem particularly difficult to find.  Even when I look online, most of the time those colorways are always out of stock.  The Sunrise colorway grabbed my attention because of the bright oranges (which is my favourite colour) and the wonderful contrast of the blue.  Now that I've worked this colorway up, I find myself wishing that the blue was a little more frequent. The colours are bright, shiny, and vibrant.  It's a wonderful combination for Fall.  The bottom picture shows the colours more of how they actually are.  You'll have to excuse the poor lighting in here.  It was a grey, gloomy day here, so I didn't have good natural lighting to photograph in.  Perhaps in a few days when the weather clears up I can try again. The bottom picture I took before I added the flowers.  I almost left it totally plain, and the scarf still looked nice.  The pattern has 8 flowers and some tassels as well.  In the end I decided that it would be a shame not to adorn it in some way, even though I usually prefer my things to be more on the plain side.  I went with 5 flowers instead of 8, and decided to forgo the tassels altogether.  I'm looking forward to trying it out once things cool down just a tad!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

We Are Groot!

Looky, looky!  It's Saturday (not by much) and here I am posting again!

This week was mostly filled with Groots.  All of the Baby Groots were shipped off to my friends, and I'm happy to report that they all love their Groots!  I did get a picture of them all together before I shipped them out.
The first picture here is before I "planted" them. Awh, look at the little Groots!  The second picture here is the "post planting" picture.
I gave my friends an option of what colour they would like me to paint their pot.  Some of them wanted just plain terracotta, and others went for a brighter color.  Anyway way you slice it, these little guys are super cute.  The best part was seeing how happy it made my friends to receive them!

I had thought that I was finished with Groot for awhile.  In fact, I even had time to work on some Christmas presents this week.  But then a friend said that he wants to be Groot for Halloween and his little boy is going to be Rocket Raccoon, and he was looking for costume ideas.  I told him that I might be able to design a hat for him.  And so I got to work yesterday on it (which just happened to be International Crochet Day), and finished it up last night.  I'm pretty pleased with how he turned out, and I'm proud to be able to say that the design is my own.  Since his debut, I've had a couple more friends say they'd like one of these.  So I may go ahead and write a pattern out for them.  But for tonight, I think I've earned a bubble bath and some reading time!

Happy Hooking!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

About August

I know, I know... a whole month and no blog?!  Actually, I wrote up a whole blog about some bunting I made around the middle of the month, but it didn't save for some reason, and I was too frustrated with it afterwards to redo it.  You can see pictures of the bunting on my Ravelry project page. August was a very busy month for us here at home.  We live in British Columbia, and currently our teachers are on strike, so that means the kiddos are still at home, and we've been doing school lessons here in our house.  It is fun and rewarding, but of course, is also time consuming.  I think I'm going to pick a day of the week and make that my "I really should blog day."

So what's been hooking over here?  Oh, all sorts of this and that.  I've been working on some Christmas presents for my family.  I haven't photographed them yet.  Perhaps I'll have them ready for next week's blog.  A friend of mine asked me to make a minion hat for her little guy.  The end result was this guy over here to the left.  He was a pretty simple make, but was fun!  It was a nice change to hook up something with a loser gauge, as I've been doing a fair amount of amigurumi lately that calls for pretty tight tension. 

I had been working on designing a bag for my Mother in law to carry her Kobo (e-reader) and her tablet in the same bag.  I made this bag using King Cole Riot DK in the colour "Cool".  It's a beautiful wool/acrylic blend that I really love.  It does hook up very beautifully... but it is VERY unforgiving.  I found this out the hard way when I had the bag about half way done before I realized I had flip flopped the height and width on the bag, and it took my husband and I as a team nearly an hour to frog it.  I decided that since this was for electronic devices that I should really line the bag.  I'm not the best seamstress (especially since I don't have a sewing machine and I have to do it by hand), but it turned out pretty good!  I made the separate compartments by using a sheet of plastic canvas, putting quilt bating on either side, and then sewing the liner over that.  She really likes it and has gotten several compliments on it.

We have now gone to see Guardians of the Galaxy twice (once at the theater, and once at the Drive-in).  Our kids love it, and so do we.  My son's favourite character from the movie is Baby Groot.  He asked me to make him one, and I couldn't disapoint that little face.  So this is what his finished Baby Groot looks like.  He said that Baby Groot would be happier if he had some "skinny rainbows" on his pot, and so I found a way to make both him and Baby Groot happy.   He loves his Baby Groot!  I posted a picture of him on my Facebook, and my friends went nuts!  Nuts enough that five of them wanted a Baby Groot of their own.  And so I got to work on five more Baby Groots.  I haven't photographed their finished ones yet, but I do have a picture of all the Baby Groot heads while I was working on them.  They were a fun make, but a lot of sewing and cramped up, aching hands.  I think the cramping may be from too much hooking in general, but sometimes I have to actually push my fingers back into a normal position.

I discovered a new favourite yarn!  It's still pretty new, and hard to find in my area, but it is called Landscapes by Lion Brand.  I was only able to get one skein in the color Apple Orchard.  It's a 100% acrylic self-striping yarn with a beautiful shine and vibrant colors.  Since I only had the one skein, I decided to make a cowl scarf with it.  It turned out great and it is SUPER warm!  I usually wear a sweater nearly all of the time, but I had to take my sweater off when wearing the scarf.  I can't wait until the Joann's in Bellingham starts to carry this (I'm hoping they will, anyway) so I can get some more of it!  I also have one skein of the Boardwalk, Mountain Range, and Tropics colors.  They are also beautiful, but I might wait until I can have more of it to make something bigger than a scarf.  It is fabulously soft and silky, and it feels like a dream on your hook!
The last thing I'll share today is the little pouch I made for myself.  I wanted a little something that I could easily throw into a project bag and take with me on the go without fear of my hooks, needles, stitch markers and scissors falling out.  I have never worked with this type of clasp before, and I didn't use a pattern.  This is not my best work, and I was hesitant to even put it on my blog.  But now that I've had some experience with this sort of frame, I think with a little practice I could see some very cute little pouches or coin purses coming soon!  I love these colors with the fabric I chose for my liner!  It has a very Autumn-ish feel too it, and since out leaves are already starting to fall here, it couldn't bee more appropriate.  I really love the foxy fabric!  It's cute without being babyish.  The yarn is Bernat Mosaic (which, much to my heart's dismay, has been discontinued) in the color Medusa.  I'm considering making a cushion for my couch out of these. 

Monday, 28 July 2014

Hamburger Soup: A "Recipe"

This is my first blog about something that is not crochet, and it feels a little weird! Here we go....!

I love soups!  It doesn't matter what time of year it is, I'm always game for soup.  One of the great things about soup making is that it caters to my cooking style of "I don't really measure anything, I just throw it all in and see how it comes out."  A fellow crocheter (and an amazing designer to boot), Zelna Olivier of Zooty Owl 's Crafty Blog (who also has a crochet-a-long going on right now on her blog that you should give a try.  I'll post of pics of my squares soon!) mentioned making soup a day or two ago, and I can't quit thinking about Hamburger Soup!  She said she had never heard of it before, and that doesn't surprise me.  Until last year, I hadn't heard of it either.  My friend, Carla,  mentioned she was making it for dinner, and my curiosity was peaked!  So I started scouring the internet for recipes.  I tried a couple recipes at first, and then went off on my own and made my own version, tailoring it to my personal preferences.  That's another great thing about making your own soup- you can adjust things to make it better for your tastes easily.  I'm a person who loves onion, carrots, and green beans, so when I make soup, I usually have more of those than vegetables which I like but not as much as those others (like celery, tomatoes and potatoes).  I rarely write things down like this when I make them (but perhaps I ought to), but today I tried to pay attention to what I was putting in so that I could share my "recipe" with those who had asked for it.  Despite being made with hamburger, it's a fairly healthy soup with a lot of veggies.  Also, I don't cook using salt and pepper.  Foods have enough salt that occur naturally for my personal taste, and I'm just not huge on pepper.  However, if you are a person who likes their salt and pepper, you'll want to add those according to taste when you make this.

My preferred method for soup cooking is my Crockpot. There is nothing like your whole house smelling of a yummy, slow cooking soup all day.  I used my 4 quart Crockpot and it is full to about 1 inch below the rim- I'll keep an eye on it as it cooks and may possibly add some more broth to it later.  However, this soup can also be made on your stove top in a soup pot if you need it to be done sooner than 4-6 hours.  Simply combine the ingredients, bring it to a slow boil for about 5-10 minutes, and then let it simmer until the veggies are your desired texture. Also, there are a few vegetables that I used today that were canned.  Fresh will work just as well (if not better), but I didn't have any fresh green beans today, and I rarely have fresh tomatoes.  So I used what I had laying around, as I seem to be fighting a kidney infection, and I didn't feel up to leaving the house.  In contrast if you'd rather use all canned veggies, I'm sure that would work too, you just probably won't need to cook it as long.  This usually makes enough for us to have for dinner, and then we freeze the rest, giving us enough for another 2-3 meals.  It freezes really well, and tastes so good when reheated.  My soup smells yumtastic right now, I wish it was done cooking already!  Let me know if you try it!  Enjoy!
  Hamburger Soup
*Approx 2 lbs Ground beef- browned, drained, and RINSED (I run hot water over mine while it's in a colander)
* 1 1/2 - 2 White onion, chopped
* 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 cans green beans, drained
* 20 oz. petite diced tomatoes (I used ones that had garlic and onion in them)
* 24 oz garlic and herb flavored spaghetti sauce (most recipes call for just tomato sauce, which is okay too. However, I have found that using the spaghetti sauce gives it SO much more flavor!  Another good substittion is low sodium V8 juice)
* About 6-8 small new, yellow fleshed potatoes- sliced and then halved
* 14 baby carrots (the ones I had today though were MONSTER baby carrots!  I'm not sure I'd even consider them babies myself.  You may want to add more)
* two stalks of celery, chopped
* 1 900ml box of no salt added beef broth
* 2-3 TBSP of Heinz 57 sauce
*2/3 - 1 Cup dry red wine (depending on your preference, I've made it both ways and I like it with about 2/3, but if you aren't using the 57 sauce, I'd go 1 Cup)
*1/2 - 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
* parsley (I usually chop up fresh stuff and put in, but I was out, so I just used dried flakes)

Combine all these together in your Crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-5.  I usually serve this with a crusty butter roll, and it makes a great meal (particularly in the Winter)!  The recipe for the crusty butter roll , you ask?  Here it is: 1. Drive to Safeway. 2. Buy crusty butter rolls from the bakery.  3. Eat and enjoy!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Something About A Summertime Ripple

I love to ripple.  For me, there is just something about rippling away on a Summer evening that is so peaceful and relaxing.  I'm a big fan of patterns that allow my mind to wander just a tad while working on them, but are interesting enough to keep me from getting bored after 5 rows.  The family and I set out for the beach about 12 or so days ago, and I decided that I would take some yarn along with me and start an afghan that could always remind me of our first family trip to the beach.  I had actually picked these colours out a few months ago, but couldn't decide exactly what was going to become of them- just that they WOULD become something together one day.  I had to do a good chunk of frogging already, as I changed my mind on how I wanted to pattern the colours.  Sometimes after you see something stitched up it just isn't what you had envisioned and you have to make some changes.  I have worked on six other projects since starting this blanket (only three of them are finished as of now), but I am trying to make sure that I give this blanket a little time each day.  I'm finally happy with the colour patterning, and have all five colours incorporated into the blanket now.  The photo above show how it is looking as of right now.  What do you think?  This is made with Stylecraft DK in the colours Shrimp, Sherbet, Mocha, Saffron, and Meadow.

As for the other projects I've been working on, one is a bag for my Mother in law for her to carry her Kobo and tablet in. I'll have pictures of that up in a few days.  I've also been working on Christmas gifts for my in laws.  Those pictures will be coming along soon as well.  I got a request the other day to make a hat and beard for my 5 month old niece.  What a fun idea!  So I made a practice beard for my son to try to get a gauge of some sort, since I can't really have her try on the beard and make adjustments since we are in different countries and all.  my little monkey loves his beard and it has been seeing good use!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

A Wonderful Day For Crochet Friends

First, let me apologize for my lack of entries as of late.  Between the teachers being on strike here, the kids being out of school, dance photos and recitals, and the oodles of things life has had in store for us the last month, I just haven't had enough juice at the end of the day to blog as I would like.  Things are settling down now, tough, so things should be back to as normal as they ever are.  

I had an exciting day I'd like to share about though.  The internet allows us the ability to interact with people from all over the world.  It is fabulous! As wonderful as online interactions are, there is simply no substitute for the real thing.  Today, I was lucky enough to have tea with Anne of Crochet Between Two Worlds who is in the Vancouver area on holidays!  I came across her blog (which she shares with her friend, Michelle) while reading comments on Attic24 one day, and it quickly became a favourite of mine!  

I was a little nervous at first.  I was wondering on my way there "What if we can't find anything to talk about?"  That was a not a problem at all!  Anne, my hubby and I sat out on the patio at Thierry Chocolates on a gorgeous Vancouver afternoon and happily chatted away about this, that, and the other.  Since Lucy of Attic24 just released the pattern for her bower bird  (hooray!) a couple of days ago, I thought that I would make one up for her to take back to Germany with her.  She turned out rather cute for being done in such a rush (I honestly just started it last night and finished it today)!  I'll be the first to admit that I am rubbish at embroidery, but I gave it a wingding nonetheless.

All too soon, our time was over, past over actually as our parking had expired.  We had left the children with Grandma and Grandpa, and since Grandpa is having surgery tomorrow, we didn't want him to over do anything today.  It was a wonderful visit, and I look forward to some day visiting Anne while we wander around Europe.  I'm so happy that crochet has brought a wonderful new friend into my life!  Thanks, for a wonderful day, Anne!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

A Little Birdy Told Me

I've been a busy hooker, though I don't have a completed project to show off just quite yet.  I've been working on designing a bag for my son's Kindergarten teacher.  I couldn't find a pattern that was just what I am envisioning, and so I am giving it a go on my own.  It's been a lot of hooking and frogging, rehooking and refrogging, but I'm happy with what I have.  It really is a joy to see what I have been envisioning in my head take shape.  However, I do have a little fellow chirping in my ear, wanting to be shared with you!

 Awhile back, Lucy of Attic24 shared with the world a bird she designed herself which she called her bower bird.  You should see the wonderful little birds she has made!  Unlike most things that Lucy designs and selflessly shares, she hasn't gotten a pattern up on her site yet for the little darlings (but her recent posts promise that it is coming soon, so be sure to check her blog often if you don't already!).  I really wanted to put one of these on a wreath I was making, and so I attempted to figure out the pattern from her pictures.  What I ended up with was not an exact replica, but I think he turned out rather cute all on his own anyway.  I'm not very good at embroidery- I was never taught that and so I just winged it (ha!).  The weather here has been very gloomy, cloudy and wet, so it has been hard to get out and get a good picture of this little guy in the natural light.  his actual colors are a light yellow and sea green.  He was too big for the wreath that I made, so he happily moves from place to place in my living room, giving it a nice little splash of birdtastic color. I'm pretty happy with him, but I'm looking forward to trying Lucy's pattern as well to make him a little friend!

Friday, 13 June 2014

A Fond Farewell

With the school year winding down, we took the first batch of teacher gifts to school today!  I totally forgot to take pictures of the items until we got to the school, so I had to take them on the hood of my car (and I was in such a rush that I didn't have time to primp and pose the items, and I see my flowers got a little squished while the wreath was in the gift bag), so please pardon the picture quality.
The first batch went out to the Special Education Assistant in my son's Kindergarten class.  She was also the SEA in my daughter's Kindergarten class last year.  She does a phenomenal job with all the children and we wanted to to something special for her, as she is retiring this year.  She doesn't carry a purse or bag, so I wanted to make something different than what I am making the teachers so it would be something she might actually use.  I know she had said that she planted the flowers we gave her for the end of the year last year, and she also planted the rose bush my son picked out for her for Teacher Appreciation Day this year.  Knowing that she then must like flowers, I decided to make her a wreath.  I am not a good bow tier by any stretch of the imagination.  See that bow there?  Yeah, two hours, and an uncountable amount of butchered ribbon, went into that bow.  Don't laugh!  I was going to sew buttons onto the middle of the smaller flowers, but after I pinned them into place with my fancy pins, I decided I liked the way it looked and to leave them that way.

I also decided to make her an amigurumi doll of herself.  She is a T-Shirt and jeans sort of woman (a woman after my own heart!), so I kept her clothing simple.  I made her glasses out of jewelery wire and put a few strategic stitches with some grey embroidery floss to keep them on her face.  She actually stands up.  I had meant to take a picture of that, but I ran out of time.  I put wires in the arms to make them poseable as well.  Everyone thought it was a great likeness, and she was happy with it (which was the most important to me)!  We put these together with a card and a gift card to a restaurant and wished her a wonderful retirement.  It was a bit of a sad goodbye for us, but I was happy to give someone a little token of appreciation for the things that they do for our children.  All too often the SEAs and other teacher assistants get overlooked.  I wanted to be sure she felt all her years of service were appreciated, and I think we accomplished that!

Friday, 6 June 2014

The Crochet Crowd Market Bag Challenge: Complete!

Hello there!  How've you been?  Me?  Well, I had been experiencing some technical difficulties which were preventing me from updating my blog, but I am happy to announce that they have been resolved!  Now to get back to sharing the hooky goodness with you!

As many of you know, the wonderful folks at The Crochet Crowd are almost always running one type
of challenge or another.  These challenges give everyone an opportunity to try a pattern maybe they wouldn't have chosen to do on their own, learn a new stitch or technique, use a different type of yarn than you are used to, or simply provide just a fun project to complete along with others.  This month is The Market Bag Challenge.  You can read all about the challenge as well as obtain the link to the free pattern from there. Basically, you don't have to sign up, you just make your bag!  Then you fill out the easy to use form from their website along with a picture of your masterpiece, and presto!  They give away a fabulous Red heart bag filled with yarn and Crochet Crowd swag to one lucky contestant at random.  Do you live in a country that isn't this one but still want to participate?  No problem!  As long as that country is on Earth, you are eligible!  Do you want to use different yarn or a different colour from what is shown on their site?  Also no problem!  In fact, my bag is not made with the yarn that was suggested for the pattern, as I chose to use some yarn from my stash.  Lets talk some more about that yarn!

One of the purposes listed for this challenge was to use thinner than usual yarns.  The yarn suggested was Red Heart Luster Sheen.  I considered picking some up to keep with the spirit of the purpose for the challenge.  However, I felt hungry for colour.  I wanted to make something bright and bold with lots of colour, and the ten shades that this yarn is available in just weren't doing it for me.  Heigh ho, heigh ho, off to my stash I go!  What did I find?  A yummy, luscious skein of Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable in the shade Parrot.  I hadn't ever made anything with this yarn, and to be honest, the yarn itself scared me.  It is beautiful in a skein sitting on the shelf, full of possibility and wonder.  I just wasn't sure that I was the one to turn it into a wonderful yarnwork. It is technically a weight 4 yarn, but the girth varies throughout the skein and for the most part it is very thin.  I won't deny it- I'm a worsted weight sort of hooker.  Give me a skein of Red Heart With Love any day of the week, and you'll make me a happy hooker!  But I wanted to challenge myself a little.  How else can we grow?  So I decided that I would use this for the body of my bag.  I was still a little distrustful of the strength of it though for a bag. I thought that maybe for the base and handles it would be a better idea to use good ol' worsted weight yarn for strength and stability.  
For the base I used Loops & Threads Impeccable in Arbor Rose that I had left over from another project.  The handles I made with Red Heart Soft in Deep Sea.  All my worry was for nothing!  As you can see, my bag turned out beautifully!  Not only is it a pleasure to look upon, but it is functional, and has a fabulous stretch factor too!  For my bag's maiden voyage, I took it yarn shopping!  Just look at all the balls it held!  Honestly, I could have gotten at least six more balls in there!  Now that's a ball sack!  You should really pop by The Crochet Crowd's new site and take a look around.  Mikey has really outdone himself with challenges (there is even a video tutorial for the challenge pattern if you so desire to go that route!), yarn calculators and more!  I adore their site, and was pleasantly surprised last week when they featured my bag on their Facebook page!  Last I looked it had over 5100 likes!  I never dreamed that 5100 people would ever see my work, let alone like it, so a big thanks to them for that boost of warm yarn fuzzies!
"Hey everybody, have you seen my balls?!"

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Variation On a Theme: Lucy's Jolly Chunky Bag

I have decided to make various different bags for the teachers who have helped my children learn and grow all school year.  I finished the first one today.

The basic pattern comes from The Jolly Chunky Bag by Lucy of Attic24 (if you haven't checked her blog out, you really should, it is simply divine).  However, I made a few changes.

The first big difference is the way that I work my joined rounds compared to most people I know (which is how Lucy does it, too).  I'll try my best to describe it for you.  I don't like the big, glaring seam that chaining up and joining with a slip stitch leaves. So what I do is I chain up, not counting the chain as a stitch, skip the first stitch, crochet the round as per the instructions, and when it is time for the last stitch, I work it OVER the chain and into the skipped stitch, then I slip stitch into the back loop only of the next stitch.  Then the process starts all over again.  There is still somewhat of a seam, and it travels.  You really have to look to notice it though and (I think) it blends in with your work much better.  I have no idea how to make a video to show you how I do this, but I found this video by Cre8ion Crochet that does it almost the same way as I do. The only difference in what she shows you and what I do is that for a double crochet, I chain 2 where she chains up 1.

I like to start my projects using a magic circle instead of chaining 4 and then making a loop and working my stitches into it.  Either method will get you where you want to go, it is just a personal preference.  There are other differences that you will notice. Instead of working in stripes, I used a variegated yarn (Red Heart Super Saver's Grape Fizz), but the concept is the same- joined rounds.  Also, I decided to do just one flower per handle attachment instead of two, and I used the same color buttons on all four flowers.  I chose to make all of the leaves and flowers the same color. I also changed the coloring of the handles. It was a quick and easy pattern!  I'm also going to line the bags when I have them all done.  I'm going to make each one in a different style, or at least that is my current plan.  Time to get started on the next one!  I can't believe school will be over soon!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Feelin' Froggy

I'm afraid I don't have much in the way of finished projects to share today.  This is mostly because I 
have spent most of the week making and then frogging things.  I've been wanting to make a blanket and a couple of cushions for my couch, but... I'm having trouble thinking of exactly what pattern and such that I want.  I think I finally decided on one cushion.  I'm not a big fan of making blocked items.  I can do it, but I find steam blocking to be highly annoying, and so I usually just avoid a big joined project altogether.  I finally decided that if I did sixteen 4.5 inch squares for one side of an 18 inch cushion, it wouldn't be too bad.  I decided to go with a simple circle in a square design to compliment the circles on my living room rug.  I've got about 8 squares made so far, but... I'm just not feeling it.

I have a ton of projects in my head that I'd like to do, but nothing really feels right at the moment.  I have a lot of ideas, but not ideas for the things I need to make.  I want to make something for my kids' teachers for the end of the year (school ends here in late June).  One of the teachers is retiring this year and since both my son and daughter had her for Kindergarten, and because she is wonderful, I want to make something a little extra special for her.  I'm feeling a little frustrated trying to find just the right thing, and I think that's affecting my other projects.   So I think I'll take the afternoon before the kids are home from school and  flip through the issue of Simply Crochet I was finally able to find at the store last night (yay!), find a little project to do to rejuvenate the creative juices and watch a little Doctor Who.  Lets see what the afternoon brings, shall we? After all, what problem can't a little Doctor Who and crochet solve?

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Pancakes, Bacon 'N Eggs Purse!

So I was feeling crafty the other day and wanted to design something all my own.  I've been making so much stuff for others lately that I wanted to do something that I could keep, but I wanted to use up some of my stash yarn, too.  And so I thought for a bit, fiddled around with some yarn awhile, and then it came to me! The Pancakes, Bacon 'N Eggs Purse!

Design-wise, it is not a hard concept.  I didn't write a pattern for it as I made it, but if there is enough interest (leave me a message so I know!), I'll write one up and post it here.  I love how simple, but unexpected it is.  I am currently trying to decide if I want to line it or not.   It is fine without a liner, really, because I used really chunky yarn for the pancake, and steamed it before I joined it together.  It makes me so happy to see his bacony smile!  It reminds me of that scene from Mulan!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Voilà! Mermaid Tears Purse

Just a quick post this evening to share with you a handbag that I made for my wonderful Mother in Law for Mother's Day.  I made this bag with Red Heart With Love (I simply ADORE this yarn!) the main color being Peacock, and the flower in White.  The trim is done in Loops & Threads Impeccable yarn in the color Chocolate.  The white is VERY bright and so I had trouble getting a good picture of the flower, but I got one a little closer up.  The pattern can be found here.  If the Crocodile Stitch is new to you or if you struggle reading patterns, I highly suggest you check out the video tutorial done by Mikey from The Crochet Crowd.  The video will walk you through the purse from start to finish. I made the handles as per the pattern, but both my husband and I thought they looked messy in comparison with the rest of the project, so I scrapped them and used plastic instead.

Friday, 9 May 2014

A Hooker Has To Hook

What would a hooker be without their hook?  Whoever heard of a hookless hooker?  I've been playing around with a lot of different hooks lately, and since I'm currently mid-project and needed a break, I thought I'd share some of my adventures in Hookerland with you.

You may remember a couple of weeks ago I tried to make my own Polymer clay hooks.  I see such beautiful hooks all over the web, and I was feeling like my plain old hooks needed a pick me up.  So I decided to look at a few different YouTube videos, and as usual, the people doing it make it look so easy!  I could totally do those myself right?!  WRONG!  I am not a sculptor for many reasons.  My hooks didn't turn out too bad (okay, the first one didn't go well, but it was the first, so I don't count that), but not how I envisioned them at all.  Three of them I was fairly pleased with and use on a regular basis. Of the ones I made, the hook below is my favorite.  I am a sucker for the polka dots.
They are just so simple and happy.  This is my favorite hook to use when working with cotton yarns such as Lily Sugar 'N Cream.  The brand is called Unique, and I have only found them at a little local craft store called Crafts n' More I've visited a few times in Steveston, BC (where Once Upon A Time was filmed!).  I tried finding them online, but Googling "unique crochet hook" didn't exactly get me where I was looking to go.

 So while I am not all that adept at making clay hooks, I did "meet" someone who is.  We met in a crochet group on Facebook.  Her store is called Panda Crafts, and you should really check out her beautiful (and reasonably priced) hooks.  She has hooks with mermaids, and flower vines, and hooks that look like magic wands.  But my favorite?  This little guy over here to the right!  How Cute is he?!  And he's far enough down the hook that I would still be able to use the hook.  She also has a give away going on on her Facebook page, so you should check it out and possibly win a free hook!

I also picked up some plastic handled hooks on ebay a few months ago for a ridiculously low amount.  They shipped from China (but arrived pretty quickly), and for the price, I really wasn't expecting much.  However, I have been amazed at how much I find myself using them!  I really enjoy the plastic handle, and I notice my elbow doesn't hurt as quickly when I'm on a long stretch of crocheting when I use these (which makes me REALLY want to try the Addi Swing Hooks but I haven't taken that leap yet).

The other hook I've recently tried is The Crochet Lite.  It really is nice in the car at night.... but it squeaks.  Maybe it is just mine, maybe it was the yarn I was using, but it sounded like I was butchering mice when I was working with it.  So when I do use it, I pop my earbuds on and listen to my iPod.  I've also found it helpful when working in poor lighting or with dark colored yarn.  It certainly has pros and cons.  I got a new hook for Mother's Day, and I'm itching to get to use it, but I'll save that for another post.  Happy hooking!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Voilà! Afghan Complete!

It feels like it took forever to finish this afghan, but in reality it was only slightly more than two weeks.  Not too bad considering I had lost a few days due to being sick, as well as a pretty busy schedule. 

 Here it is while I'm working away on it.  I'm glad I decided to change the colors.  The colors I had before were just too distracting, and it really took away from the beauty of the stitches.  The colors I decided to use Red Heart Soft in Light Gray Heather, Lilac, Berry, and Grape.  I know the grape is kind of hard to see in some of the pictures.  My apologies.  All of our furniture is dark, so it made photographing a bit tricksy.  The stitch pattern isn't as hard as you might think after you get the hang of it.  It's getting the basic concept at the beginning that is the biggest struggle.  After I saw how it works out in the first few rounds, it wasn't hard at all.  Time (and yarn) consuming, but not hard.  I've heard these blankets referred to as "Wool Eaters" before.  That's a pretty accurate name.
Here it is all finished!  I would make another one of these.  Several people who saw me working on this project said they had tried to make this or something similar but just couldn't get the concept from the written pattern, got frustrated and gave up.  I'd be willing to make a photo tutorial if there was some interest in it and post here.  So if you'd like to see that, drop me a line and I'll make one.

The pattern (which is a free pattern, and can be found here) called for the edge to be finished with a crab stitch.  I started working it that way, and I found it to be very distracting to the eye.  In the end I decided a simple border would be best so as not to distract from the rest of the blanket.  All in all I'm very happy with how it turned out.  I'm hoping my friend also likes it, and that it fetches a good price for his silent auction.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Local Crafty Goodness

Well, I had been hoping to be able to present the afghan that I have been hooking away on for a silent auction for a friend by now.  I'm nearly done, but I'll hold off sharing pictures until I am, which should be sometime tomorrow since I just started on the first round of the border about ten minutes ago.  In the meantime, I wanted to share a few things that I am really excited about!

There are a couple of things happening locally that I have found out about, and I'm very anxious to take part in them!  The first is happening June 7 at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) in Vancouver.  At the Vancouver mini Maker Faire, there will be an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most people simultaneously crocheting.  How cool is that?!  I never would have thought I'd get the opportunity to break a world record of anything, let alone doing something I love with my hook and yarn!  If you are interested in participating, there is information here.

The other event is Knit City, and it is Vancouver's biggest fibre festival.  I've never been to one, and I'm so excited to see it.  Just as exciting, Knit City has been asked to do a yarn installation at the PNE fairgrounds!  They are looking for several things.  They want bunting flags, but the pattern they have requested people to use is for knitters.  My knitting is still in its early infancy stages.  My fabulous Mother in Law is teaching me, but I have so many crochet projects going on right now that I haven't been able to get over for a knitting lesson since this last Autumn.  So what I have been working on from their requested list are stripes that are 5' long for some large trees, crocheted rocks, and flower garlands.  I'll have more posts on those as I get further into them.  If you are interested in donating items for the yarn installation, you can find information on that here

I'm really looking forward to being able to get out and be around other people who share in my love of craftiness!

***EDIT May 29, 2014***
I received an email this morning saying that the Guinness World Record attempt at the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire has been cancelled :(.  I had already registered and bought a ticket, so I guess I will go Saturday and see what the faire is all about.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The Macho Taco

I haven't gotten much further on the blanket I'm working on for the auction as I've been fighting off a nasty stomach bug the last couple of days.  But this morning I felt the need to be crafty.  I didn't want to follow a pattern for anything.  I just wanted to sit down with my stash and see what happened.  I felt like making something with no practical use, but was still fun and cute.  A green ball of yarn literally jumped out of my stash basket and became my first volunteer.  I poked through the rest of my basket and inspiration struck.  I'd like you to meet The Macho Taco!

 He was fun to make!  He wasn't quite as easy to photograph though.  So my darling husband helped me out a bit.

I have no idea what he's going to do in the long run.  For now he's just hanging out next to my monitor.  He's made being sick today feel a little better.  There's never a bad time for a taco!