Saturday, May 31, 2014

Project ADHD!

Too many projects going on right now. Some are sitting, waiting.  Others are getting a little work done here and there.  Here is a quick update on all things crochet happening right now!

Mood Blanket 2014

The mood blanket continues to grow. Still an interesting process. Really working hard to let the moods dictate the colors and not manipulate the choices.


I've worked a little on connecting the squares that will eventually be curtains in my bedroom window.  Need to focus more attention on this very soon!  All the squares are ready to go.

Circles to Squares

I'm actually much farther than these pictures show, just haven't taken new pictures for a long time. I have a shoebox filled with the smaller circles, already squared with white yarn.  Most of the large circles are done, too.

I have no update on my shawl pattern yet. Ran out of yarn - so until I place an order, that project is going nowhere. Not a problem - I started a NEW project anyway!

Owl Obsession

This is a pattern I've wanted to make for a very long time, but didn't have a reason.  A dear family friend is having her first baby in the fall.  I now have the perfect reason to make this adorable blanket.

The pattern is well written, with excellent pictures, easy to follow.  Highly recommend to anyone who has thought about making this one! (The title is a link, but if you google Owl Obsession, you will find it. This is a very popular pattern.)

A few early pictures... I have more work to do!  Using Stylecraft Merry-Go-Round in rainbow for the motifs, my blanket is turning out considerably smaller than it would be if I were using the recommended yarn, Chroma Worsted.  I'm going to remedy this simply by making two extra rows both horizontally and vertically.  It will be fine. I am not using button eyes, as this will be for a baby.  The pupils are stitched in a little black yarn. I'm attaching the octagons and squares as I go, but I'm using a needle and the long tails of white yarn to whip stitch the seams.  It's coming together fairly quickly.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I'm seeing trends in my mood blanket!

This is a lousy picture. Sorry about that.  I need a sunny day and an opportunity to get out in natural lighting! When I do, I'll replace this with a better photo.  In the meantime - take a look. 

Updated pictures!  Bad photos removed!

102  98 days completed.  Each row across represents 14 days. The little plastic markers indicate the end of a month.  They are just there to help me keep track of what day it is. If I'm not sure where I stopped, I simply count from the last stitch marker.

  • Bright pink = 21 days of migraine. Maybe it's time for preventative medication?
  • Blues represent sadness. 
  • Purple means I was thinking of my dear friend, Donna. 
  • Various shades of red show anger or frustration.  Clearly, someone has been getting on my nerves recently. 
  • Orange days were high activity and hopefully productivity. 
  • The palest hexagons are peach or light pink.  Peach = neutral, while pink is neutral to the happy side.
  • Shades of pink that do not represent a migraine indicate various levels of happiness. This includes fiesta pink, which is actually brighter than the shade named "bright pink."

All the hexis really are the same size. It's amazing how different they look without being blocked or stretched into place by a new row. 

I haven't felt yellow or green yet.  I'm not sure what emotions will come with those colors! Something tells me they may end up being connected to summer - growing things in the garden - warmth of a beautiful sunny day... but who knows?   I have successfully resisted the urge to dictate the colors by what I think will look good, sticking with mood determination.  Not easy to do! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Difficult Topics

Deviating from my usual topics of yarn and food to talk about life and death.

Tragedy strikes when we least expect it.  Last week, a cousin contacted me to share that his cousin (not related to me) was murdered by her husband. Louise was 49 years old - exactly my age. Domestic violence is a dangerous reality for many women, and one that is not easily escaped.  This is the kind of thing we see on television, but never believe will come so close to our families and friends. Shocking.

Unbelievably, within 24 hours our mutual cousin died by suicide after a long battle with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.  Linda was only 43 years old. CRPS is ranked as the most painful form of chronic pain that exists today. It is characterized by constant chronic burning pain, inflammation, spasms, insomnia, and emotional disturbances. The risk for suicide death for those suffering with CRPS is high.  More shock.

My heart breaks for the parents, close family members, and friends of these two women. I did not know Louise. I have not seen Linda since a family reunion in 1984 - 30 years ago.  These tragedies got me thinking about how most of us handle this kind of news.

There is a tendency to stay quiet - to leave families alone in their grief - instead of reaching out to them.  I think this happens because of our own fear and from being uncomfortable with death in general, especially with such tragic loss. Reality is, families mourning a homicide or suicide are in great need of support from their friends and extended family members. It is perhaps even more important to reach out, acknowledge the death, and simply be there for those who are left behind.

If you are interested in reading more about grief and suicide death, I've written a post about it on my work site, Good Grief of Northwest Ohio, Inc.  

Thanks for listening!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

My Daughters Think I'm Old

Have you noticed the abundance of shawl patterns on Ravelry? There are several groups dedicated to making shawls... and so many beautiful options.  After this ridiculous winter, I've been thinking a shawl would be a nice thing to have around.  Remember, I live in Toledo, OH - winner of the title "Worst Winter" for 2013/2014.  I know you are jealous!

For my first effort, I thought a simple triangle would be perfect.  I had this gorgeous Debbie Bliss Angel yarn in gold, waiting for the right project.  Light and airy - needing a delicate pattern - how hard can it be?  Searching for patterns, I couldn't decide, so I just started making SOMETHING.  It will turn out in the end, right?  

Frogged a few rows here and there... not fun with mohair. Ugggg.  Worked until I ran out of yarn.  It's not done. Needs at least another ball or two to get to an appropriate size.  Since I probably won't be able to match the color exactly, I'm adding an Angel Print - Gauguin.  Now I wait for it to arrive, so I can finish my project. 

So why the title of this post?  I was proud of my work, and I showed it to Thing One and Thing Two. They looked at me with horror and said, "Mom. Who wears a shawl?"  I stared back - blankly. "Seriously, Mom. Tell us. Who wears a shawl?"  My sheepish answer.... "Old people?" 

I protested.... Lots of gorgeous shawls on Instagram and Ravelry and other blogs - being made by people who are younger than me!  They weren't buying it.  There's nothing like young adult children to put you in your place.  

Well, I'm persevering.  Making my shawl. I'm quite pleased with it so far.  And if I can figure out how to make the graphs, I will write up the pattern.  That's a daunting thought!  I've made tutorials and given instructions for little things, but a whole shawl?  Scary stuff! 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Caution: Yarn Porn Ahead

I know I should be ashamed, but I just placed a big order for new yarn.

My justifications (as if any are needed):

  • Stylecraft has new colors. I must have them. 
  • I'm down to 2 bins of yarn, and starting to run out of a few colors.
  • I like yarn.
  • Free shipping with an order of $50 or more.
  • It's cheaper than drinking.
  • Okay, I like wine, too. Maybe I was drinking when I placed the order.... my shopping cart sure was full! 
Here's a little preview:  Gold, Petrol, Stone, Spice - I think they are great additions!  I'm looking forward to putting them next to all my other Stylecraft, and seeing what new combinations I can make.


I also ordered Merry-Go Round in rainbow.....  Yes - I have a plan for this.

And now, for something completely different...... I'm trying Louisa Harding Amitola, in Tango.  I have a special project in mind for this fingering weight yarn. Pretty gorgeous, isn't it? 

Is anyone else this excited about new yarn?  Seriously! I can't wait for the packages to arrive.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Snowdrop Shawl - Ta Dah!

 Red Heart Boutique - Unforgettable. Colorway: Dragonfly

This yarn is a little on the fuzzy side - so if you don't like working with fuzzy yarn, you might want to avoid it.  For a warm winter wrap, I think it works well.   To me, this pattern came out more like a scarf than it did a shawl, but that doesn't really matter.  

Don't you love these colors?  Dragonfly is a great name for this combination of greens, blues, and purples.  Vibrant! 

When I compare my end result with the original pattern, I think mine came out longer and skinnier. And there is definitely a tendency to pull on the edges. I'm thinking that's probably because I was lazy in the beginning, started this with too small a hook, and instead of ripping it out and starting over, I just kept going. I finally increased the hook size about a dozen or so rows into the project. Yes, I should have started over. I just didn't feel like it! Confessions from a lazy crochet queen. 

Here are a few more pics.... yes it needs to be blocked. No, I probably won't bother.  (Lazy - remember?) For a scarf, I don't want to be bothered!  It's going to be wrapped around my neck, so it shouldn't really matter. 

Quick note - the pattern did not call for a border, but I went around the whole project with a round of single crochet.  I thought it would give the points a little more stability and help with the waviness. 

I'm satisfied with the results! This was definitely a deviation from my usual solid colors. I'm not sure I'll do a lot with variegated yarns in the future, but it was a fun change.  We will have to wait and see how the mood strikes me! 

For more details, and a link to the pattern, visit my project page on Ravelry

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Love-Squared is an amazing organization in my community.  It provides an opportunity for people to donate 8 inch crocheted or knitted squares that are then combined with other squares and made into blankets for homeless children.  

This summer, we were challenged to donate 1,000 squares by the end of September.  But people are awesome, and we doubled it, donating over 2,000 squares.  Yesterday, the organizer of Love-Squared posted pictures of the 87 afghans that have been completed to date.  

Take a look at what we did!  

Fantastic! Amazing! It makes my heart sing!  You can see lots more pictures on the Facebook page for Love-Squared.  And HERE is a link directly to this photo album.  

Many, many thanks to Leah, for creating this organization and opportunity for "yarnies" (as she calls us) to help make winter a little less harsh for kids in need. If you want to contribute squares, information is available on Facebook.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Crochet Hook Case

Well, this isn't the most beautiful thing I've ever made, and it would definitely benefit from blocking, but I'm probably not going to bother.  It is functional, and does what I need it to do! Let's talk tools.

I love Susan Bates hooks. Boye hooks irritate me. It's all what you learn with, I suppose. Being a good mom (and Girl Scout leader), I taught my daughters, and all my Girl Scouts to hook with Bates as well.  At one point I had four identical sets of the main 6 hooks - 3.75 mm (F) up to 10.5 (K), plus a handful of extra I's and J's.

I've been good - Thing One and Thing Two each has her own set, and a set went home with one of their friends. Every girl in my troops received a hook and skein during one of our camping trips. I give away the extras at every opportunity, along with a quick lesson or two, whenever someone says she wants to learn. This got me down to my regular pack, plus a pack of 6 tiny hooks - 1.15 to 2.55 mm.

The sets come in a plastic case that worked fine for a long time. They kept them together, made them easier to find and store. Recently, I noticed the plastic was starting to tear. Time for a replacement. It seemed only appropriate to crochet the answer. I spent a lot of time searching for a pattern I liked. No need to reinvent the wheel. I knew I wanted full "pockets" to slide the hooks in, not just loops.

Choices available include pockets or loops, roll-up cases or folding. The folding cases have plastic canvas embedded to create firm sides.  While I like the look of the folding cases, I didn't have plastic canvas on hand, and I certainly wasn't going shopping.  Roll-up it is!  So here's what I came up with:

I followed THIS PATTERN for the basic shape and to make the pockets, but of course, I made changes. The pattern is written for worsted weight yarn. I used DK from my stash, so I added a few stitches to compensate.  My case has 14 tubular pockets for hooks.  

The little fish shown in the top picture is not attached. (You can see him in the basket, below.)  I don't remember where the pattern came from, as he was hooked many months ago. (See what I did there?) The fish holds my needle for weaving in ends, keeping it safe and easy to find. The yellow tie is nothing but chain stitches. It is not attached to the case, since I wasn't sure where I wanted it.  Unattached is working fine.  

At some point, I may make some improvements to this case, but for now, it's doing a fine job. Have you made a case for tools that you really like?  Let me know!  

Monday, February 17, 2014

It's Snowing! Again!

68 inches of snow this winter with 4 more expected today.... one inch short of a record breaking season. Everyone's complaining.... kids have been out of school a ridiculous number of days and all my friends are losing their minds. I don't know how they are going to make up for all the days they've had to take off. I'm thankful my kids are grown.

The first big snow hit early in January, before the new semester started at the University, so I was lucky to have my girls home. We had a great time - lots of tea, baking, knit and crochet projects, and a Lord of the Rings marathon. There's something wonderful about snuggling inside with your favorites while the storm hits.

Just to give you an idea of the amount of snow this is, here's a picture of Gertie, my Newfoundland - Golden Retriever mix, next to the ever-accumulating pile of shoveled snow.  And the little dog is Izzy, also known as the varmint.  We think she has some border collie or sheltie in her (notice the party pants on her backside!) She is smart as a whip - and absolutely obnoxious.  My Golden, Ellie Mae, is hiding in the house - smarter than both these beasties.

See the white fence/railing from the back porch, behind the snow?  It's 4 feet high. Crazy!

The snow doesn't bother me. It's much better than our typical Toledo winter, which is gray and bleak. A weekly dusting (or dumping) of fresh, sparkling, white stuff has made January and February brighter.  It's the super cold I can do without.  It's not bad this week, but January saw several episodes of 25 to 40 below wind chills. Enough of that!

Lots of random projects going on now....

This weekend, I started the Snowdrop Shawl.  I needed something simple and mindless to use up the Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable yarn in my stash.  Originally, I picked up the yarn for my beginner knitting projects, but I found it very fuzzy.  Not good for learning!  It's the yarn I used for my first knitting project 22.5 Degrees, but I'll talk about that one later.  Back to the Snowdrop Shawl...

Because I had a 4 mm (G) hook in my hand, that's what I started using for this project. Well, I knew it was going to be too small.  Consequently, the beginning of the shawl curves a little. I debated about starting over, but didn't feel like it. Tried just crocheting loosely, but that wasn't cutting it so I gave in and changed hooks, increasing to a 5 mm (H). Curling has stopped.  Why the delay? The hooks were upstairs; I was downstairs. I was lazy. There it is. The truth.

This pattern is very easy. Once you get the rhythm down, it just goes. It's a good project to have on hand for those times when you are waiting, and annoyed, because you are waiting. You know what I mean!

The colorway is Dragonfly. I usually stay away from variegated yarns, but I really like the way this looks. It makes me want to experiment with more self-striping yarns.  For this project, the Unforgettable yarn is fine. Like I said earlier, it's fuzzy. Good for a scarf or thick shawl.

I'll have an update on my Crochet Mood Blanket soon, and pictures of another project I've been working on... here's a preview:

Happy President's Day! Time to put the kettle on, and watch the snow fall.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Crochet Mood Blanket 2014

Everybody's doing it!  This is definitely all the rage.  Stacey Wentford-Hall aka "Frofunky" on Instagram started this, having no idea what kind of response it would get.  Visit Stacey's blog for more information.

But here is the basic idea:  you crochet a block a day, or a block a week, based on your mood.  I've seen people take that idea and morph it into lots of different things.  People are making giant granny squares and all kinds of striped blankets - chevrons, granny stripes, mixed stripes.... lots of choices.

Having recently finished two big blankets, I decided to go small.  That's definitely a new concept for me. Besides, I have other plans in mind, and don't want to feel overwhelmed or burdened by this project.  I want to keep it fun.

So, this is what I have so far: mini-hexagons - using colors that reflect my mood at the time. I am using my existing stash of Stylecraft DK - and only working with what I have on hand.

My color choices and moods have been greatly influenced by the death of one of my dearest friends on December 3. She was diagnosed with advanced, metastatic colon cancer in August, and died peacefully at home just four months later.  Donna's favorite color was purple. Blue ribbons represent colon cancer awareness.  Right now, "feeling blue" is something I understand and experience often.  My hexagons mainly reflect my memories of Donna, missing her every day, and a visual representation of my grief. The shades of purple and blue vary in intensity based on which color speaks to me that day.

There are some colors with a different meaning. Red hexies are days that I was angry or frustrated.  Bright pink means I had a migraine.  (There are two of those in the top row, left).  And fiesta pink, which is actually brighter than "bright pink," reflects happiness and excitement (bottom right).

As I move through the year, I suspect some colors may change their meaning.  I'm okay with that.  I will be flexible and try to really let the colors speak for me.

This picture was taken just about 2 weeks before she died.  Donna received an award from our local Girl Scout Council.   At this point, she had been bedridden for months.  Hospice worked a miracle getting her into a wheelchair and escorting her to the award ceremony.  They were amazing!

Donna worked as Marketing Director for our Girl Scout Council many years ago, and that is where I first met her. We met again 7 years ago when we were both running local homeless shelters. She become one of my absolute dearest friends. She was an amazing woman, and the world is definitely a better place because she was here. I will miss her forever.

Donna Perras, 9/15/1954 - 12/3/2013