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?

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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!).

Crochet key keeper

Found a nifty little tutorial about how to make crochet baskets. So I made one, with a few tweaks. Mine’s shorter than the tutorial, but I didn’t need a tall basket to begin. I wanted to make a basket to set on the shelf we have by the front door. It’s so people can put their keys and phones in the little basket while they’re visiting so they don’t get lost. OK, so most people actually just put their keys and phone in their pockets or purse but you know what? I made the basket anyway. And it’s pretty awesome.

Crochet basket 1

I find it deeply amusing that despite my photography skillz I can’t get the color of the yarn to come out on camera as it truly looks in real life. The red yarn in this picture looks really red. Like fire engine red. It’s not! More of a muted deeper red. Ah, well. So it goes. The yarn I used is made in the good ol’ U.S. of A. (and do you know how hard it can be to find U.S.-made yarn?) in Mitchell, Nebraska, which is 9 miles from where my grandparents live. The yarn is Brown Sheep Co., Inc.’s Lambs Pride Superwash Bulky. The colors I used are Red Wing and Grey Heather. It’s a very nice, thick yarn. Not super soft, but not scratchy either. Made a nice tight weave for the basket! (So tight that with this particular yarn my hands were beginning to ache when I wrapped this project up!)

WEB crochet basket 2

And here’s my keys demonstrating the purpose of the basket. I realize now that this also looks like a Maranda Lee advertisement, which it isn’t, but hey, if you’re looking for nifty Montana-made purses, diaper bags, and accessories, you could check out Maranda Lee’s stuff too. She’s got some pretty cute things!

If you’re looking for more crochet patterns and projects, might I suggest you browse over my crochet Pinterest board? Good ideas there, I promise!

Festive scarf

I actually completed this scarf about a month ago, but didn’t post pictures until it had made its way to the person who I made it for (sent it early so she could get more use out of the scarf this winter instead of waiting until late December). Didn’t want to spoil the surprise since she reads this blog! It was the very first thing I made after learning how to crochet. Here’s a link to the pattern. The only thing I did differently from the pattern is use three different colors in the scarf instead of one. I thought that made it a bit more interesting (the pattern is pretty enough for just one color, though!). If anyone is interested in where I find the patterns I use (I’m a tightwad, so I find free ones, but make sure to give credit where credit is due), please consider following my crochet board on Pinterest!

I whipped this scarf up in no time at all. A very quick pattern!

So far my handmade Christmas presents are coming along nicely! It’s much more fun than shopping. Have I ever mentioned how much I loathe shopping?

Chili League (and new holidays)

On Wednesday this past week, us folks in northwest Montana created a new holiday (well, the credit really goes to Hilary at Outside Media): “406 Day.” Wednesday was April 6, so, 4-06. And Montana’s area code is 406, so it’s the new Montana holiday. And to celebrate, we had the Chili League finals.

What’s Chili League you might ask? It’s a bunch of us (upwards of 40 or 50 people) getting together on a Friday to enjoy each others’ company and to put our best chili recipes to the test. In the past few months, we’ve tried probably a dozen different chilis, all fabulous. Some were red chilis, some were green. I think there was even a white chili, too. Some had meat, some were vegetarian (and had squash!). One didn’t have any beans (“true chilis don’t have beans”). Some were fairly simple recipes (like mine – the secret weapon is Indian chili powder) and others took days of experimentation. All chilis were creatively named (ours was dubbed “Afterburn”).

So the winners from each “heat” competed Wednesday.

Buck Fever, Chili Supresa and (well, I’m forgetting the name of the third chili… someone remind me!) went head to head. The competition was fierce. Brows shone with a sheen of sweat (from the competition? from the heat?).

And Buck Fever claimed the victory. A melange of venison, antelope and elk, the bean-less chili took the crown. Its maker, Erik Lorona, is pictured below with his lovely wife Aubrie. He’s holding the Chili League trophy, from which he’s required to eat his chili during next year’s competition.

During the summer, after all, Chili League becomes Barbecue League. Ladies and gents, fire up your grills!

I also made orange rolls for the event. Here’s a before-I-baked-them photo. I like how you can see the little flecks of grated orange peel in the dough. Alas, there’s no “after” photo because folks inhaled them! But I guess that’s a good thing!

To every season, turn, turn, turn

We’re having a gorgeous autumn in Montana. These photos are from nearby Butte. Shawn and I went on a picnic last weekend to a small state park on the Jefferson River. We had a lovely time and enjoyed driving through canyons bursting with color.

Here’s the river, winding its way through the canyon, the railroad tracks at its side.

We’re supposed to have a rough, cold La Nina winter full of snow. I hope autumn decides to stick around a long, long time. It’s just so beautiful! Just about everyone I know claims autumn as their favorite season, and I’m no different. The way the air smells — full of calm, crisp air and burning leaves — and the scads of baked goods involving pumpkin are my favorite parts. Oh! And it’s soup season again. I love soup.

Shawn and I had such a lovely weekend. Living apart is very difficult, especially after living together for nine months. I’m dreading the separation that comes after we get married. We don’t even get a honeymoon until next year, which positively stinks in my book. One thing can be said of our separation: we cherish each other and we don’t take each other for granted! Our picnic was such fun. We also went to a neat specialty foods store near his apartment that is beyond amazing. The wine selection alone is enough to make your had spin. I couldn’t resist and picked up two soup mixes, two bottles of wine, a jar of jam, some natural cleaning solution and some cheese. All will be mightily enjoyed in the weeks to come.