Tying knots

Granny pillow cover

Here’s those granny squares I have been working on. I’m trying to use up the last little bits of yarn from the ripple blanket, so why not make a matching pillow cover? This will be the front, with fabric for the back of the pillow case. All the squares are done and joined, but I still need to weave in the ends (most tedious of work, I avoid it) and crochet a border around it before sewing it to fabric.

I’ve also been working on a blanket for Peanut’s bed. He’s still in his crib for now, but I want his bed, once he transitions there, to have a thick and warm blanket to go on top of the covers, or as a layer between sheets and quilt (there’s another project I’m working on, a quilt for the bed). So I’ve been steadily making him a blanket, using three colors of yarn together and a size N (10 mm) hook. It’s chunky and heavy and warm.

Peanut's blanket

It’s about a third done, as I want it to be about six feet long. It’s as wide as a twin-sized mattress. I’m using Berroco Vintage yarn because it’s machine washable, and let’s face it, this blanket will probably need a lot of washing over the years being on a boy’s bed. I’m doing the simplest stitch of them all, single crochet, because I want the blanket to hold up well and be warm. I’m letting the colors add the beauty. It’s taking a lot of yarn, which I am only buying three yarn cakes at a time to go easy on the pocketbook, but I’m hoping it’s a blanket Peanut will treasure for a long time, so it’s worth it. I’m adding a row or two a day, just enjoying the process. I hope to have it ready for Christmas.

Peanut's blanket closeup

Oh so lovely ripples

FINALLY finished my ripple blanket (another post about it here). Well, actually, I finished it two months ago… except for sewing in the yarn ends. Ugh, that is my least favorite part of any project and so my poor ripple blanket has sat in my project basket since June waiting for me to sew in the ends. But I forced myself to sit down tonight and sew in those darn ends. But huzzah, now the ripple is complete!

Ripple blanket completeI followed Lucy of Attic24’s ripple pattern. Very easy and with a great photo tutorial. Then I edged the blanket in white in double crochet. I used Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran yarn for the ripples and Berroco yarn for the edging. The Debbie Bliss yarn is really soft and I love the colors, but at $10.50 a ball in my local yarn shop, and a pretty dinky ball at that, it’s spendy yarn and I don’t think I’ll use it again. I like Berroco just a much and that’s two bucks less a ball. But anyway, had a great time with this blanket, which is lap sized (fairly narrow, but nearly as tall as me). It was quite soothing to sit on the couch at night and make colorful wooly ripples over and over. I used an H (5 mm) hook. I have also decided I won’t even attempt to sell this blanket… there’s no way I could get a fair price for it on Etsy or whatever. Guess that means I’ll have to keep it. 😉 Oh shucks.

Ripple 2With the yarn I have leftover from the project I am making a patchwork granny square throw pillow to match. It looks great already! Here’s a sneak peak:

GranniesThe granny squares have a white border and I will stitch together with the same white as well. I’m using a G (4.5 mm) hook for the grannies.

What crafty project are you working on right now?

Good work

PeonyIt’s been raining all day today and the world outside is damp and growing dark. Inside, though, I’ve got these beautiful peonies to keep me company, in their awesome turquoise vase (which is actually a vintage Fiestaware pitcher that I found at a local antique store). It’s been a treat to watch these flowers unfold, and an added bonus to smell their delightful perfume as I walk past them.

Crochet buntingHave big plans for these little dudes. These crochet bunting flags, made using Lucy’s pattern, are going to be part of my first ever yarn bombing! Details to come, folks!

Spring saladWe enjoyed this lovely salad tonight for dinner, along with some Algerian flatbread Big Country made. It was delicious, but was made precious considering the salad’s source. In the summer I volunteer on a local farm every week, pulling weeds, helping build dirt beds, weeding the asparagus, whatever needs done. In exchange the farmers give me produce. And they are VERY generous in their giving. I really think I’m getting the better end of the deal. Anyway, this week I came home with a giant bag of mixed greens, four or five different herbs in bundles, a bundle of Johnny Jump Ups, chives, rhubarb, and green garlic. Tonight’s salad was garnished with chive blossoms and Johnny Jump Ups as you can see, because I just found out they’re edible! The Johnnies don’t taste like anything, but they sure are pretty. The chive blossoms on the other hand are divinely oniony. It makes me feel such contentment and wonder to know that with the exception of the carrots, every bit of that salad came from within 10 miles of my house.

Crochet bitsAnd here’s a photo of the projects I’ve got going right now. The three bunting triangles are done, just lying in wait for the yarn bombing, the two granny squares will be joined by four more and turned into a ball for Jonathan, and you can see the ripple blanket peeking out from under the table. I’ve only got eight more rows and the edging to do before that blanket is finally finished. I have to admit I’ve already cozied up under for a cat nap, though, yarn ball and crochet hook resting on my stomach, the cats resting on my feet. Naps are so much more rewarding when taken beneath the wooly good work of one’s own hands.

 

 

 

 

Easter basket

This is the first year I’ve put together an Easter basket for the Peanut. Last year he was only 4 months old so there really wasn’t much point in an Easter basket last year. Though he did wear the most adorable little onesie with bunnies and chicks on it that read: “Team Jellybean.” Anyway, this year I crocheted the Peanut a little bunny using this pattern. I also picked up a board book about baby mountain goats. The photos in the book were taken by a local photographer. I also found a little wind-up bird that hops at the grocery store. I have no doubt it will break pretty quick, but it was cheap and it’ll be entertaining for Peanut. Finally, I bought some plastic eggs that have a neat metallic sheen to them. I only used half in the Easter basket and filled a couple of them with Cheerios so the eggs rattle and Jonathan can munch on the contents.

Easter basketI am rather pleased with Peanut’s first Easter basket. In years to come I’m sure we’ll add a chocolate bunny (is there anything more fun on Easter than chomping the ears right off a chocolate rabbit?) and an age-appropriate toy or book. This is probably the only year I can have the basket sitting out in the open and Jonathan just ignores it. Next year will be a different story, I’m sure! But that’s what the top shelf of the closet is for!

Here’s a couple more photos of the charming little crochet bunny, which was so easy and quick to make up:

Crochet bunny

Crochet bunny closeupAren’t the button eyes adorable? It reminds me of reading the book “The Velveteen Rabbit” when I was younger. Speaking of which, that book would be a great Easter present for older children.

We’re spending Easter at a new friend’s house. Jonathan and my new friend’s 22-month-old daughter will be Easter egg “hunting”! And by hunting I mean picking up the eggs strewn about in plain sight. While Mom and Dad put back mimosas and deviled eggs. Maybe there are better things than chocolate bunny ears after all…

Happy Easter, everyone!

 

 

Updates

Howdy folks! Just a quick update because this week has been nuts and next week will be even nuttier as we are finally opening our brewery! Woot! Here’s what my days have been about recently:

Morning quality controlMarketing, graphic design, and beer. Not a bad combination. Especially that last part. If you’re interested in the brewery my husband and I are opening, you can check it out here.

In other news, was anyone wondering what happened to that striped blanket I was working on earlier this year? I’ve been meaning to get photos up of it, but it’s been getting some hard use. So here it is!

Peanut under the stripe blanketI’d say it’s a hit.

 

Vivid colors and nifty buttons

Purple flower hatHere is the second hat for little Miss Olive that her parents requested. I think it’s darling. I’ve been playing with vivid colors and with color combinations that I think are unexpected. Teal, orange and deep purple: how delightful!

Resin hat button

And the button! I’m gaga over the button. It’s a resin button made by Melissa Loden, a local (in a state as big as Montana everything within about 300 miles is considered “local”) artist. I love these resin buttons. I have a set in yellow with the same flower I’m hoarding for myself in the future (I’m so busy making things for other people I don’t make much for myself). Anyway, I thought the purple of the button matched the hat just perfectly.

I’ve had a lot of positive feedback about my hats and blankets recently, so I think I may go for it on the sales front. Planning to sell in our brewery for a while, and maybe expand from there. If I can get in with a few local shops that cuts down on shipping, too. So wish me luck!

 

Ripples

Started working on another baby/lap blanket. It’s already pretty much gorgeous. I’m using Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran yarn in eight different colors.

Ripples in progressIsn’t it just lovely so far? I’m using an H (5 mm) hook and Lucy from Attic 24’s ripple pattern. Is there anyone in crochetland who doesn’t just adore Attic 24? I just ogle at her photos and beautiful crochet projects. Crochet porn!

Anyway, I’m hoping to sell this blanket. Haven’t decided yet whether or not to start an Etsy page, or to just try to sell in some local stores or at local craft fairs. I’ve been chatting with a friend of mine who’s a wicked good knitter about going in together for craft fairs so we can split the cost of the booth. We think we’d be pretty successful because we’ve both got a good eye for color. But I worry about getting what I want for my work. I bought the eight skeins of yarn on sale for $7 (normally they’re $10.50). So just my cost of materials alone is $56. And I like to at least pay myself a little for my time and effort (well, actually, I’d like to pay myself so I can afford to go buy more yarn for my next project). I think I’ll ask $125-$150 for this blanket when it’s done (which is paying myself about $3 an hour, by the way), but the question remains, can I get it? I suppose if it doesn’t sell I have a lovely lap blanket for myself. I’m also trying to make a bunch of baby hats/women’s hats to sell, and perhaps some garlands and mobiles.

More ripplesIn other news, I picked up a little bag to hold my hooks, scissors, stitch markers, and tapestry needles last time I was at the yarn store. I’ve been on the hunt for something for a while to corral my hooks. I’d pinned a number of crochet hook book patterns, but I think I like this little drawstring bag better. It was made locally and I love the fabric the lady used for my home state.

MT hook bagAnd now I’ll leave you with a little glimpse of heaven:

Basket of yarn

Bring your lovin’ back here

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Usually I’m pretty “meh” on the Hallmark holiday that celebrates a man’s beheading because he advocated for love marriages instead of arranged marriages. But this year I feel like celebrating a little, and even got my husband a card! (We have strictly not observed Valentine’s Day since we began our relationship nearly five years ago because people shouldn’t need a specific day to buy each other flowers and cards and such.)

And of course, I also made a little Valentine’s mobile/garland because why the heck not.

V-day garland

The top heart is red, then pink, then the middle and bottom hearts are the same yarn as I used for Olive’s hat, and the fourth heart is white. To hang them I strung some crochet thread that’s pink and white I had on hand through the back of each heart. Here’s the pattern for the hearts if you want to make some of your own. They whip up in minutes!

P.S. Ten virtual brownie points if you can guess which band wrote the lyrics in this post’s subject line. Here’s a link to the song (with some awesome Pepe LePew cartoonage!).

Olive’s hat

A friend of mine who lives in Portland has an absolutely darling little girl (well, at least in photos… still haven’t met her in person yet). A few weeks ago I sent that darling little girl a cute hat I crocheted. Olive’s parents liked the hat so well they want a couple more! Here’s the first one (of two) that I’ve finished for Olive. It looks very much like an Olive hat if I do say so myself.

Olive's hat 1

Isn’t it adorable? I added the brim after some thought about how to make the hat look more complete than it did. That’s why I added the ribbon, too. And if Olive’s mom doesn’t like the ribbon she can just pull it out, easy peasy. I combined a pattern from the Interwebz, but tweaked it a little to make it bigger. Then I added the brim.

WEB 2-5-13 olive hat 2

The yarn is by Manos del Uruguay, which is a non-profit women’s fair trade cooperative in Uruguay. According to the tag, the aim of the organization is “to bring economic and social opportunities to rural women.” It’s viciously expensive, but it’s beautiful yarn. It’s 30 percent silk and 70 percent Merino extra-fine wool.

WEB 2-5-13 olive hat 3I hope Olive enjoys her colorful new hat!

Sunny days are here again

You know you live in the Northwest when, on those fleetingly rare winter days when the clouds part and the sun shines, your initial response isn’t, “Oh hey, it’s finally sunny. I can stop being depressed now!”, but rather, “Why is it so bright in here? What is THAT?” Funny how quickly this Colorado-born and raised girl, who like all folks from her native state, craved sunshine (Colorado gets about 300 days of sunshine a year) has turned into a dyed-in-the-wool Montanan, who blinks in surprise on sunny winter days. Funny cloud-locked responses aside, I am more than happy to welcome the sun today. It’s just lovely to sit in the warm, bright patch next to the glass sliding door and crochet. And ignore the work I’m supposed to be doing. And crochet.

J blanket halfway

I’m working on a blanket for the Peanut. I showed a picture of it a few days ago in my “Yarn Therapy” post. The blanket is about halfway done after a week’s worth of work. I’m using a herringbone crochet stitch with a pattern of my own devising. You can find a great tutorial here for the stitch. It’s a very easy stitch, and right now I’m totally OK with mindless finger movements so I can concentrate on other things. It’s also a very tight, dense stitch, which I like for the warmth factor.

WEB 1-27-13 herringbone half double crochet

I’m using Berroco yarn, from the Vintage line. It’s nice yarn, soft and easy to work with. Though acrylic yarn is cheaper, I don’t like the way it feels sliding across my fingers as I crochet. Is that weird? There needs to be some wool in yarn for it to be, I don’t know, real.

We’re all finally recovering from the depths of illness over the past week. After three different doctors appointments spread out over the week and a chest x-ray, the doc finally diagnosed the Peanut with bronchitis. Which doesn’t surprise me in the least. I get bronchitis myself nearly every year. A round of antibiotics and every-four-hours treatments with a nebulizer, Peanut has rebounded and is finally back to being my smiley guy. A smiley guy who doesn’t mind sharing my husband’s lap with our cat, Pele.

Lap sharing

 

Had to get out of the sick house this weekend and found myself at my favorite local antique/consignment store. It is truly fabulous in there. And being friends with the owner and therefore getting discounts always helps. I was on the hunt for some chairs for the brewery. We ordered new barstools, but we have one low table and wanted some eclectic chairs. I searched high and low at the local thrift stores and was frankly disgusted to find that the thrift stores all wanted about $35 a chair for rickety sticks that would likely collapse if you looked at them wrong. So I ponied up another $20 bucks a chair and got some solid, nice chairs. They don’t match, but we wanted something “found” and eclectic anyway to go with the rustic theme in the brewery. So, three chairs down and one to go.

And of course, since that antique store is my very favorite, I couldn’t get out the door without picking up some personal things. (Did I mention that I only allow myself in that antique store about twice a year for that very reason?) I found a darling and sturdy teal blue child’s chair for the Peanut. It’s still big, obviously, but I look forward to him growing into it and enjoying his own little chair. It will go great with a little activity table in a year or two. Oh, and here’s the blanket I’m working on again draped over the chair.

Blanket and blue chair

 

Also found the flannel shirt my husband is wearing in the picture above. It’s a vintage Pendleton shirt, made in the U.S.! Sadly a lot of Pendleton’s stuff has been moved to manufacturing overseas. But this shirt, for a lot cheaper than a new one made in China, looked like it would fit so I snapped it up. And Big Country likes it a lot. My final purchases were a crochet doily and crochet table runner. I couldn’t believe how cheaply she was selling them (sssshh don’t tell her that!). The doily was $3 and the table runner $8. I could work on a table runner like that for WEEKS. And I sure as hell wouldn’t charge a measly 8 bucks for it!

Crochet runner

Isn’t it great? Fits perfectly on “Peanut’s shelf.” (This bookshelf, which is ancient and fabulous, used to be full of books and whatnot, but Peanut would always get into it and make a giant mess. So we cleared it out and put some toys in it for him. Someday it’ll have books in it again.)

So, despite a really stuffy nose, a cough, and a rough night’s sleep last night, I’m feeling a lot more at peace with things than I was last week. I guess sometimes you just have to let things do. Drink some coffee. Crochet. Read a book. And speaking of books… I’m reading a really special one right now that isn’t even published yet! I’ll share it in my next post.