Friday, May 27, 2011

WIP Friday?

So I'm a little behind, lol. I haven't had much time to post recently, but seeing as I am currently stuck at the car dealership and have nothing better to do I thought I could do a post to kill some time.

I have quite a few works in progress right now, but not too much to show for any of them. The image above is a gauge swatch for a sweater I started back in January but thought my gauge was off, so I ripped out all I had completed to swatch and figure out what needles I should REALLY be using. Turns out my gauge was just fine and I can stick with my original needles :/

Someone else making the sweater said they had to cut down on the number of repeats across and it looks like this is what I will have to do as well. Sigh... Oh well, I need to practice knitting cables anyway! So I'm back to square one, but I'm at least sure of my gauge this time.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Work In Progress Wednesday: Forget-Me-Knot Shawlette

I've been drooling over this cute little shawlette pattern for a few weeks now.... thinking about what yarn I would use, thinking how cute it would look wrapped around my shoulder...  Well, this Friday, after a very unexpected pattern acquirement, I found myself having to make some sort of yarn decision.  I looked through my online stash and determined that I really don't have a lot of selection in the sock yarn department (mostly because I don't really like knitting socks).  Despite the meager selection, I did find a good candidate.  I ended up choosing  my Valley Yarns Franklin Hand Dyed in the colorway Blueberry Cobbler which I bought at WEBS at least a year ago if not longer.  The pattern is called Forget-Me-Knot Shawlette and it was designed by Meghan Jackson.  You can see her other patterns on her website.  I also follow her on Twitter where you can find her as ButterflyKnit.

So, pretty pattern, yarn, and needles in hand, I sat down to cast on.  I managed to get through a few rows before heading to bed Friday night and also had some nice free time to knit during the drive down to CT for a friend's wedding.  Since, I have been able to knit quite a few more rows and am now halfway through the edging for the shawlette.  I'm really surprised at just how quickly the shawlette is knitting up.  I was worried that since the yarn was so small, it would feel like it was taking forever (kind of like knitting socks).  The pattern calls for size #6 needles, which seems to make things move along much faster than anticipated.  Also, the pattern repeats are fairly simple and very easy to memorize therefor this project has been perfect to keep with me and work on at lunch or for a few minutes when I'm waiting somewhere.  Overall, the pattern is great and I highly recommend it.  It would be a good first lace project as well if you want to give lace knitting a try but the concept scares you :) 

Friday, May 13, 2011

My Mystery Project is Complete! The Sarafia Baby Blanket

This blanket project is one I planned for months.  It all started back in December when I found out that my brother in law and his wife were going to have a baby (my first nephew!) this coming June.  After getting thirough the holiday rush I started really thinking about something for the baby back in January.  I looked at numerous patterns on Ravelry and finally decided that I was going to crochet the baby blanket rather than knit it, so I would get some real practice at the craft.   Once I had narrowed that part of things down, it didn't take me too long to decide to make the Sarafia Baby Blanket. 

I love how the pattern is so simple yet beautiful at the same time.  Simplicity was definately key to me being able to finish the project in time.  I wanted something that wouldn't be too difficult for me, since I'm pretty new to crochet, but I did want to challenge myself at the same time.  Most importantly I wanted to make sure to make a blanket that got used... one that could have things spilled on it and be thrown into the washer and dryer like any other thing you might spill on.  Finger crossed.... I think I did it. 

Probably one of my first squares and just about the only thing I posted while working on it.  Keeping this project a secret for two months while I worked on it was just about as hard as doing the actual work!

All the colors I used for the squares.  The yarn I used was Lion Brand Baby Soft, which I have to say is a great yarn.  Each skein has 459 yards and is only about $5.50, which is an insane value. The only issue I came across was that sometimes the yarn was of inconsistent thickness which made some blocks inherently bigger, but I got over that quickly enough. 

The squares are starting to add up!  I had to make 48 in all for the blanket.  Let's just say I could probably still crochet that square by heart :)

After I finished all the squares I had to piece them all together.  I ended up mattress stitching them together so that there wasn't much of a seam between the pieces and the blanket would be very strong when completed.

One row all sewn together.  I grossly underestimated how long this part would take, I will not do the same in the future.

Everything all sewn together, woohoo!

Blocking on our bed... I so didn't even have enough materials to do this.  Must acquire more before next blanket project!

Just opened by mommy to be!

They were even nice enough to pose with the blanket for me.  I have such nice and patient family members don't I? 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Getting Ready to Play in the Dirt

It is officially the time of year that I need to start thinking about what I want to plant in our little garden.  We can't do too much because we don't have a whole heck of a lot of real estate since we currently reside in a first floor apartment however, we are fortunate enough to have two reasonably large planting areas at our disposal.  We don't get a lot of sun, so most of our garden is filled with very forgiving hosta and a rather large, mutant rose bush that will most likely end up taking over the world.  For the past few years, in between the mutant rose and all our other easy going perennials, I have been planting herbs in pots to spruce up our summer culinary options. 

This year I was happy to discover that our oregano, sage, strawberries and chives have all come back.  To supplement this merry band of survivors, I went to Ferjulian's, our local greenhouse, and picked up some dill, rosemary, thyme, another type of oregano, three tomatoes from my mom and two basil plants.  

Sigh.... basil and I do not seem to get along.  I have killed it every year for at least three summers and it's starting to affect my conscience.  So, I'm going to give it another go this year... I think I know what I've been doing wrong.  I think.  Keep your fingers crossed and we'll see how this turns out.  Sadly, I believe my past failure with this herb stems from the fact that the signs of over watering and under watering are the same: things turn yellow.  My basil has always turned yellow.  Then I would panic and water it... so I'm thinking I just drowned the poor things every year :(  My suspicions have be confirmed at least partially by the stake in the pots saying "Loves sun and heat" and "Don't overwater."  We'll see how this goes.  I am diligently water everything except the basil and so far so good.  Hopefully I will get these babies in this ground this week, and won't have to worry about them relying on me quite so much.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Demo Potholder all done!

I actually have a couple more big projects I need to share with you, but... they were both baby shower gifts and therefore a surprise and thus I haven't posted a thing about them until now.  So, in an effort to get my sicky butt to bed early I thought I would start off with the finished demo potholder I started working on last week.

My first Fanciful Flower Potholder came out very well and I am extremely pleased to report that it is the thickest potholder I have ever encountered.  While this may not seem so important, let me point out that the first potholders I ever crocheted were so loosely constructed that inevitably I burn myself whenever I use them.  Granted, they were my first crochet project ever, so my gauge wasn't particularly consistent, but this latest potholder is - by design - at least twice or three times as thick and therefore very effective at protecting your hands!

After making this first one I did go out and get some new pretty cotton in better colors for working on the set I will be making for charity.  So, overall, this is a great free pattern and actually quite easy to follow.  I highly recommend it!  You can find the pattern here.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms in my life

I just want to do a quick little post this morning to wish both of my moms and an impending mom-to-be a very Happy Mother's Day!  

My Mom and I at Garden in the Woods in Framingham, MA

My Sister in Law and Mother in Law at Countryside Park in Avon, CT
I'm fortunate enough to be able to see all my moms on Mother's Day so we can celebrate in person.  However, there are may other moms out there who have had a positive influence on my life and I want to wish you a very happy Mother's Day as well.  I hope you can truly enjoy your day!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday: Fanciful Flower Potholders

A couple days ago I started working on the demo potholder for some I wanted to make for a charity auction.  I haven't had much time to work on it lately, but wanted to share how much I had completed thus far.  

The pattern is fairly straightforward... you start by crocheting the base in a circle using only the back loop of each stitch to make the next one.  Then once you complete that, you crochet the petals of the flower on top of the base by using the front loop you didn't use originally.  It's a neat design because the potholder ends up being doubles in thickness so you have lots of heat protection between you and an oven hot pan. 

I really like how this first one is coming out and want to do a set of four for the auction.  I'm not terribly happy with the colors of cotton yarn I have on hand and how they are combinging, so this little project might truly turn out to be just a demo.  I foresee an AC Moore trip in my future....  Oh, the yarn I am using for this demo potholder is Lily Sugar 'n Cream.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

10 on Tuesday: 10 Favorite Birds

So, I have to admit that my 10 favorite birds are not exactly the ones you think would be anyone's favorites.  I like birds that are more interesting than pretty, especially the ones that make me tilt my head to the side and say "huh?" 
Ducks at Hunnewell Park in
Wellesley, MA

1) Peacock - Ok, so this bird is just pretty.  I love the long complex feathers they have and how they can hide their plumage. Group name: a Muster

2) Flamingo - Any bird that can wear hot pink and not be ashamed is good with me.  While flamingos are beautiful in a lot of ways, they are a little odd looking as well.  But apparently we like them enough to put fake ones made out of plastic on our lawns. Group name: a Stand.
Seagull while sailing around
Dead Neck/Sampson's Island
Sancutary in Cotuit, MA

3) Duck - I looooove ducks!  In college we had a nice gig pond in the center of campus and there were quite a few ducks that called that pond home.  We named them, gave them bread and enjoyed watching them every day... I think I have always really enjoyed feeding ducks since I was a little kid and used to go to the park to feed them with my Aunt Sandy.  Group name: a Badelynge, Bunch, Brace, Flock, Paddling, Raft or Team. 

4) Seagull - I spend a good deal of my time when I'm on vacation either on or near the ocean and seagulls are part of that complete oceanside package.  They are very resourceful birds.  Probably my favorite things about them are their foraging skills.  I have personally been dive bombed by one trying to get my hot dog.  While annoying, seagulls do really entertain me. Group name: a Flock or Colony (breeding group only).

Hawk at King Richard's Faire
in Carver, MA
5) Hummingbird - I just can't get over how these little guys even function.  They are so tiny and have to eat almost constantly so that they can keep moving.  I also find it really cool that when they fly by you they sounds like bees. Group name: a Charn

6) Hawk - Hawks are predatory birds with good eyesight that tend to hunt from above in concealed perches.  To me they are just beautiful and look very intelligent.  Group name: a Cast

7) Owl - I like how owls look all nice and sweet, but actually are excellent hunters, especially in low light conditions.  They have serrated edges on their flying feathers to make them quiet flyers and they can turn their heads up to 270 degrees in either direction.  Very cool.  Group name: a Parliament.

8) Swan - Ok, I love swans because they are just so graceful, serene and gorgeous.  A girl has to like something pretty doesn't she? Group name:  a Bevy, Lamentation, Herd, Game, Team or Wedge.
Swan at the Reservior in
Waltham, MA
9) Crow - Crows are in the same family as ravens, which are also pretty neat. I think I mostly like crows because of their black feathers and very distunctive call. Granted I really don't appreciate the latter when they are camping out behind my apartment buiding making a racket at 5 in the morning. Oh, also of note, a group of crows is called a murder.

10) Vulture - Vultures are opportunists and attack the ill or weak.  Some new world vultures have a keen sense of smell that helps them find food from up to a mile mile away.  Group name: a Wake.