Baby hats

I’m at the time of life when the majority of my friends are getting married and having families. Not all of them, but quite a few! So all these babies calls for baby hats! I’ve found I can churn out baby hats in just a few hours. And they’re fun! (The patterns are here and here.) Not much else to say on the topic, so I’ll let the photo do the talking.

Little baby hats


The pink one went to Georgia and the blue one went to Oregon. Well traveled hats!

Winter time

For me, winter is about reflection on the past year, letter writing, curling up with a good book and some hot chocolate, and projects. Let’s start with the last first and move backward from there. (Trying to make up for my lack of posts here with a long one with lots of photos, folks!)

I taught myself to crochet in October and have been pretty much a crochet fiend since then. I made almost all of the Christmas presents I gave this year, and while that did add to my stress load a bit as the holiday approached (pretty much spent all free time crocheting), I’m glad I did it. Homemade gifts are far more appreciated than store-bought ones. Of course I forgot to take pictures of all the different lovelies I created because I was more concerned with getting them done than snapping photos. Wish I’d been more diligent about my picture taking but well, next time. I made crochet snowflakes (both with crochet thread, which is quite time-consuming, and with worsted weight yarn) for my grandmothers, ear warmers for my female cousins and sister (they all matched, but were different colors: blue, orange, 2 purple, pink), and cowls/scarves for my mom (wave stitch in a delightful autumn red), a friend (double crochet fans), another friend and my step-mom (broomstick lace in china blue). Here are photos of a couple of them:

Crochet thread snowflake

I have a whole new appreciation for these crochet thread snowflakes. They take forever! I think each of the two I made took nearly three hours.

Crochet yarn star

These yarn snowflakes on the other hand I can whip up in about 15 minutes.

Scarf for Elise

Broomstick lace cowl

Matching headbands for cousinsThese are my two of my cousins and my sister (in the middle) with their matching ear warmers. Here’s where I found the pattern.

Currently I am working on a hat for a friend who is expecting a daughter in February, two sweaters for my son (one knitted, one crocheted), and finishing a star garland that is holiday festive. I plan to have the latter finished by tonight or tomorrow afternoon before the New Year’s Eve party my husband and I are throwing. We’re excited for the party and for the fact that we’re going to celebrate the new year at about 7 p.m. so that all of our friends (the majority of whom have babies/kiddos) can go home and go to bed. When you’ve got a little boy who wakes up between 5 and 6 a.m. every day, watching the ball drop at midnight (oh and we don’t even have a TV to do that, whoops) is pretty unimportant compared to 8 hours of sleep.

I love these little projects. I’m a stay-at-home and craft all day sort of person, but I only allow myself to do that sort of thing in the winter months because it’s just too nice where I live in the summer to stay inside and craft. Summer is for gardening and hiking.

I’ll post more about my star garland soon. I’m going to post something of a tutorial for it. I found the tutorial elsewhere, but it’s in Australian crochet terms, which are a bit different than American, and I’ve streamlined/made less confusing some of the steps. I post a link to the original, of course, but I’ll update the tutorial. It’s a quick and easy garland that can really add some festive this time of year.

Stars garland beginnings

So on to reading and hot chocolate. Where we live, it snows a lot during the winter (and is currently), so we spend most of our time inside (though we love to ski, snowmobile, and snowshoe too!). And since it’s dark so much here in the northern U.S. (sun sets by about 5 p.m. and doesn’t come back up ’til 8 a.m. or so) in the winter, there isn’t much to do in the evening hours but craft and read. Here’s a photo from our living room (oh right, it’s been so long since I posted I forgot to tell you all we moved to town!)

Snowy view

My reading has changed a lot since my son was born. Used to be that I could dash through two or so novels a week. Now if I finish a novel in a month, I’ve clearly had a lot of time to read! I’m re-reading Little Women right now, which is one of my favorite books (and movie! – the one with Winona Ryder) for sentimental reasons. I love that my copy of the book has an inscription from my aunt, who gave me the book a decade ago.

Little Women inscription

The inscription reads: “Christmas 2002, To our dear Kelley, It has been such a pleasure and delight to watch you grow up into such a fine young woman. We hope you will enjoy these books just as I did as a young girl and pass them onto your own one day. We wish you all the best, Kelley, and love you very much. Auntlee, Uncle Chris, Kylee & Hali.

I have ever so many other books on my reading list, and am supremely grateful for the Amazon gift card I received for Christmas for buying books! I try to use the local library as much as possible, but with my reading time so brief every day I often have to return the books I’ve checked out before I’ve finished them (or sometimes even cracked the cover). And I also try to patronize our local book stores (we don’t have a box chain bookstore here anymore… which is so completely awesome) too, but you can’t argue with gift cards! I need to be better about updating my “What I’m Reading” tab on this blog… but I don’t get much reading in these days so that’s why it doesn’t change much! I also have subscriptions to the New Yorker magazine and High Country News magazine, so I try to get those read too.

Rounding the corner to writing letters: I love to write letters (the snail mail variety) and trade frequent letters with a friend who lives in the mountains in Colorado. We’ve been writing each other letters since college. I have a shoebox stuffed full of letters from her and need to catalogue them in a binder one of these days. I also try to write semi-frequent letters to my grandmother, and to several other friends who I know appreciate that sort of thing. I just picked up a new pen for my letter writing and can’t wait to bust it out (yes I have to have a specific pen for letter writing or it’s just not as enjoyable). I also have scads of thank-you notes to write for Christmas presents. I was raised that one MUST write thank-you notes for Christmas and birthday presents and while I loathed writing thank-you notes for years, now I’m appreciative of the fact my mother made me write them. It’s a little gesture that means a lot. Just like a letter.

Finally, winter is a time of reflection. It’s for thinking about the year gone by (and holy moly was this an epic year), and thinking of the year to come. It’s for sitting in living rooms watching the snow fall. It’s for visiting friends and talking about what they’re reflecting upon to. Few things are closer to heaven for me than sitting with good friends engaged in good conversation in front of a fireplace or wood stove while the snow falls without. Seriously blissful.

I have two New Year’s resolutions this year. And I’m not a resolutions sort of person, but this year it just feels right.

1. Do yoga 2-3 times a week. There’s a yoga studio/wellness center in my town that has yoga classes three times a week for $7 a class. I can’t wait to start on Wednesday. For me, yoga is good, low-impact exercise. And I need flexibility and centeredness back in my life.

2. Write. Every. Day. EVERY DAY. I have three novels in the works (one fiction, one historical fiction, one gothic children’s fiction) and they’re never going to get done if I don’t work on them diligently. So my goal is 500 words (one page in Word) every day. I’ve already started this resolution and today is day three of success.

So there, I did it. Snuck a post in this December. Whew. It was getting down to the wire there, folks.

Happy New Year! I have a feeling 2013 is going to be pretty rad.

Broomstick lace cowl

Remember when I posted a little while back  (where you can find a link to the pattern if you’re interested in making one of your own) about learning to crochet broomstick lace? Well, I finished the cowl I started for a friend. Didn’t it turn out nicely?

I raided my button stash for the buttons, so they don’t match exactly but I think it’s better that they don’t. And I think this cowl might have really turned me on to them. They don’t slip around like scarves do! And when you live somewhere as cold in the winter as I do, it’s nice not to worry about exposed neck skin (Random tangent: I wear scarves religiously in the winter and when spring rolls around and I have to abandon scarves for the season, my neck is always chilly for a few days!).

P.S. For anyone considering making something of broomstick lace, just be aware it takes longer than traditional crochet!

The wonders of YouTube (and yarn)

A few weeks ago, I decided I want to learn to crochet. I’d seen some really cute crochet/knit patterns floating around the Internet, and decided I would like to make something from those patterns instead of just pinning them on my Pinterest page and forgetting about them. So I did! I took myself down to the local yarn shop, purchased a few balls of yarn, a crochet hook (size G because they were out of size H, which is recommended for beginners, but I haven’t had any trouble), and some knitting needles. First, I found a couple videos on YouTube and taught myself to crochet. Here is the main video I used (and it has a sequel) if you’re interested in teaching yourself to crochet too. I find crocheting really easy, and frankly I’m surprised I didn’t pick up the craft much sooner! Well, I did try to crochet in college when a sorority sister taught me. Despite her best efforts I was a spectacular failure (definitely my fault, not hers!)

Anyway, my newfound skill is facilitating my ability to make handmade gifts for family this Christmas (I always try to make handmade gifts for Christmas, and for some reason I’m much more on top of that goal than years past). I find myself suddenly part of that sisterhood (that does include some brothers, though they’re a bit harder to find) who can’t force themselves past those gorgeous rainbow skeins of yarn beckoning from their shelves at the yarn or craft store. I never had that problem before and generally ignored yarn on my craft store visits but now I’m hooked! (Ha! Get it? Hooked!) I’ve already completed one scarf for a certain someone using this pattern, and I’m working on another scarf for another certain someone using a broomstick lace pattern, which is quite fancy! Here is the beginning of the broomstick lace scarf:

But I don’t want to just crochet scarves! Crocheting in the round seems a lot easier than knitting in the round, so I’m going to try my hand at crocheting a hat for the Hubs since that’s the only thing he’d wear that I could crochet for him. And I’d like to start on an afghan too for my son. I’ve found some fun, modern patterns that aren’t your grandmother’s afghan like this one.

A wedding present

One of my oldest and dearest friends got married this past weekend and I was a bridesmaid in her wedding (she was a bridesmaid in mine). Elise and I have known each other since eighth grade. The first time we met was on the bus ride home from middle school. I didn’t enjoy sitting in the back of the bus with the other eighth graders because they were loud, obnoxious, and derived far too much enjoyment from shouting “PENIS” at the top of their lungs during the bus ride (most of those people are now lovely adults who I enjoy far much more than I did then). So I sat in the very front seat with the lowly sixth graders. But hey, I was always the first person off the bus. Anyway, here is the first conversation Elise and I had (keep in mind that until the very end of high school Elise weighed about 80 pounds soaking wet):

Elise: Can I sit with you?
Me: Sure, but just so you know, I’m an eighth grader. (She was so tiny I figured she was a sixth grader. Man, I was pompous back then!)
Elise (all about 4 feet 9 inches of her at that point): Me too! I’m reading “Les Miserables”!

And thus, a wonderful friendship was born. Elise and I spent many pleasant passing periods together in high school because we had many of the same classes (she always did a shuffle-dance impatiently while I took my sweet time at my locker… we were still on time to class, though!). We also got together after school and on weekends for tea and chats and filming the occasional ridiculous home movie complete with costumes (usually involving the three musketeers along with our friend Melissa). “Vive le signe de trois! Un pour tout! Tout pour un!”

Here’s a photo of said ridiculous costumes. I’m on the left, little Elise in the middle, Melissa on the right. This was taken in high school French class our senior year (those are soda bottles!). We all dressed up for, I think Mardi Gras, and throughout the day people in the halls during passing period would say: “So you’re the third musketeer!” or “Where’s the other one?”

Yes, we were THOSE people in high school. But hey, it was fun. We were well-adjusted, not-very-angsty teenagers, which apparently these days is saying a lot.

After graduation, Elise went to Minnesota for school and I to Nebraska. We started writing each other letters regularly (snail-mail letters with stamps even! 😉 ), and to this day, we continue the tradition. The contents of our letters has changed, but our friendship has only deepened over the years. It is a relationship I profoundly thankful for. It always makes my day when I find one of Elise’s letters in my mailbox.

So for Elise’s wedding, because she is the sort of person to appreciate something handmade, I embroidered a camping scene. She and her husband love to camp and hike and climb. The words on the embroidery are from the Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros song “Home.”

It took about a month of steadily working on it a little bit before bed every night, but I’m pretty proud of how it turned out. It was a lot of fun to make a wedding present for my dear friend.

To you, Elise! Congratulations! Lutefisk!



Finishing the projects I’ve begun: It’s harder than it seems!

In our second bedroom (which is ever so slowly becoming a nursery for our baby boy… speaking of baby boy, Oct. 23, which happens to be my first anniversary, we’re T-minus three months!), I have a shelf in our closet piled with fabric and yarn and quilting books and embroidery hoops. Also on those shelves are at least four unfinished projects. And it’s time to start ticking those projects off my list! I’ve got two quilts in various states of done-ness and I’m pondering attempting to sell the finished products. Which I have my doubts about because I’d ideally like $700 each for them. Sounds like a lot, I know, but in each quilt is, oh, $250-$300 worth of fabric, plus the many, many hours I’ve put into the quilts. So folks, frankly, that’s what they’re worth. Maybe I’ll put them up on Etsy and see what happens. Wouldn’t mind the extra money in my pocket, though!

But anyway, two other projects I’ve been working on because they’ve been moved up in priority is a mobile for above the crib and a pillowcase that I will take to the hospital with me. The mobile, which features little stuffed fabric birds perched on sticks, is about halfway done. I’ve got six of the planned eight birds sewn, waiting for stuffing. I need to go stick hunting (yay excuse for a hike! not that I need an excuse…), and then assemble the mobile. It’s going to be bright and lovely and I’m really excited about it. Especially since we can’t paint the room, the colors will help the room feel more like home for our little one.

And I’m proud to report that the pillowcase is done!

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at a friend’s house sewing my fabric together. She was working on a darling trick-or-treat bag for her niece (it looks like a piece of candy corn! so cute!). Needless to say she is a much more competent and much faster sewer than I (and I have major sewing machine envy!), but I completed my pillowcase project. As I said, I plan to take it to the hospital with me when our son is born. I’ve heard from other friends who’ve had children that many of the photos taken of our little family will feature the pillowcase in the background. Plus the pillowcase will add some color and life to what will no doubt be an otherwise pretty sterile, boring environment.

The body of the pillowcase is a plum color with a floral print. The accent is green and the cuff is a pretty teal. And I think it’s lovely! I’m totally into the personalized pillowcases, even if they don’t match the sheets (though luckily, in my case, the pillowcase actually coordinates quite nicely!)

Alas, the pillow project has spurred another project: a pillowcase for my husband. Luckily he’s not big on lurking around fabric stores like I am so maybe if we can avoid being in a fabric store together in the near future, I can focus on finishing all my other projects instead of starting a pillowcase for him with fabric he’ll pick out.

Next project to finish is a quilted stained-glass Christmas tree advent calendar wall hanging. I took a class with my sewing friend and while her tree wall hanging thingy is about ten seconds from complete, mine it woefully just a bunch of fabric scraps pinned together. So that’s next! And hopefully in time for the Christmas season.