Friday, March 2, 2012

Completed Project: Greenway Variation for Julian

When I've got a bunch of baby blankets to make, I try to find a blanket pattern I really like, both for the look of it as well as the fun making it. This happened last year with the waves blankets (one, two and three). This year, I'm loving the Greenway pattern. After finishing Lennon's blanket, my hook was busy crocheting this one.

Variation Blanket 06

Variation Blanket 04

As always, details on Ravelry.

Using Knit Picks Brava worsted weight yarn in an array of blues, blueish greens and gray, I changed the striping pattern so I could buy the same number of skeins for each color. I was able to use just one skein of each color so I've got a second blanket waiting to be made.

The border was improvised using single crochets, half-double crochets, herringbone half-double crochets, and sometimes crocheting into the back stitch.

The Brava yarn that I used is a new line of 100% acrylic yarn for Knit Picks. I ordered it because the colors were exactly what I needed based on the baby's nursery. But I was very impressed with the quality of this yarn. I find it to be a bit softer than Vanna's Choice (of which I'm also a big fan) and you get more yarn for your money (219 yards vs. 170 yards).

Little Julian arrived last weekend and I hope he enjoys his new blanket.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Good Sport

I was graciously adopted into Red Sox Nation when I met my husband, but I've kept my football allegiance my own. I've been cheering for the Baltimore Ravens since I moved to Maryland. This past football season was a rather tense one in our house since the Patriots were facing the Ravens in the conference championship.

While we had a non-monetary bet with one another (the loser having to do that week's grocery shopping), I had a "sweeter" bet with a coworker. Also a native of New England, he's an avid Patriots fan. Our bet was that I would make a cake decorated in the winning team's colors. The loser would have to wear the winning team's jersey and pose for a photo to place on their profile on Facebook.

The reason I was willing to put in all this effort to bake and decorate a cake was because it was part of the Wilton gum paste and fondant class I took in January.

Sadly, the Ravens lost so I had to make red roses instead of the purple ones I really wanted to make. Here's the finished cake:

Pats Cake 07

Pats Cake 06

Pay no mind to the less-than-smooth sides. I HATE covering cakes in fondant because mine NEVER turn out smooth on the sides. I had hoped that this being my second fondant class I would finally be able to do it, but alas - that's why that blue border is there, helping hide the issues.

The roses are gum paste, the letters are fondant and the Patriots logo is color flow.

You may wonder why I'd put so much effort into the other team's cake. Well - it's still my reputation on the line for making pretty cakes. I'm not going to waste time on a bad finished product.

I did wear my husband's jersey to work.

I posed for the photo.

It did end up as my Facebook profile picture.

It was even submitted to the Boston Globe.

I was a good sport, don't you think?

Though I do hope the Ravens win next year so I can make those roses in purple.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Completed Project: Lennon's Blanket

FINALLY!!! It's DONE!!!!

After missing 5 or 6 self-imposed deadlines, this blanket is finally done. It's bigger than a baby blanket for a good reason. The recipient is for "C's" new 4 year old grandson whose favorite color is green. Just because he joined the family at an older age doesn't mean he wasn't going to get his own blanket.

Lennon Blanket 01
It's Lion Brand Vanna's Choice Yarn made with a J hook. As always, all the details are on Ravelry.

It is so great finally completing this project - and it's going in the mail TODAY! Now I can start two other baby blankets before I have to start two more. What's in your queue for the New Year?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Road Trip

This year is off to a lovely start. I spent a wonderful weekend in Virginia with my chosen sister, Perches. Her new home is so delightful and welcoming, especially the backyard. Seamus was over the moon as he ran around the fenced backyard in the lush green grass. Some unpacking was completed, a cabinet or two organized, and so much food was enjoyed. 

I baked a cheesecake and a strawberry-cherry pie for Perches and her boys. Here's the pie, prebaked.

Cherry Strawberry Pie

That's a homemade crust, a recipe I learned from my DH's awesome grandmother. I'm happy to report that the pie turned out delicious, even for breakfast.

No additional photos to share because sometimes you have to live life as it happens rather than trying to photo-document it all. Other times you're too busy eating steak and cheesecake to remember to take photos of anything.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Year of Lovely Things 2012

The new list is up and I've already crossed off a couple of items. No photos of the banana cream pie I made over the weekend as I was not happy with the consistency of the custard. Luckily, the custard's flavor was wonderful and the crust of the pie was spot on.

I'm looking forward to move loveliness throughout the year! My first fondant and gum paste class is this week. Yay!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Year of Lovely Things 2011 - Recap

Many a lovely thing was experienced and accomplished in 2011. Below is the list showing I got to cross of 44 of 52 lovely things. If there was a post about an item, I included a link. For those other 8 items (in red), some may return on the 2012 list.

a small sewing project | a decorated cake | a gingerbread house | pies | craft swap gifties | reindeer candy canes | a "window" for my new office | mead | butternut bisque | a new appetizer recipe | a new entree recipe | a new dessert recipe | a playlist for the iPod

the new job | my birthday | Sean's birthday | our anniversary | a full moon | a solstice or equinox | freedom from the cast!

manicure | pedicure | bubble bath | facial

Knit and Crochet Show in Minnesota | Wisconsin to see family | MS&W | NC to see "C" and "D" | plan a mini-vacation | Red Sox game | renaissance festival | weekend on the Eastern shore

attend a concert | plant an herb garden | stare at the stars on a warm spring evening | take a crafty class | send snail mail | Skype with friends | organize the yarn cabinet | visit a not-previously visited LYS in Maryland/DC/Virginia | go to a museum | have family dinner | host/attend a movie-a-thon | take a mental health day | enjoy a snow day | take silly photos | try a new restaurant

to charity (a project, donations, or money) | blankets to my Girls | blankets, hats, etc to all the new babies

Friday, January 6, 2012

Emerging from the Shadows

Happy New Year, everybody!

It was a busy autumn and holiday season, hence the long hiatus from the blog. I wasn't as crafty as I had hoped to be during that time and I wasn't inspired to blog about much. I did think about it - and I tried to come up with some posts; but I blog for fun and when it isn't fun, I don't blog.

But the new year is upon us and with it, there seems to be some frenzied crafty energy swirling around me. Have you felt it, too? Here's how it has been affecting me:
  • A project that was stalled on progress, regardless of the work and time put into it, now seems to be crocheting itself.
  • I learned in December I've got three more friends expecting which brings the new baby blanket count for 2012 to four - one in February, one in March, and two in June.
  • In one day, I was able to find the perfect patterns and the purchase the perfect yarns for the first two blankets. The yarn arrived just three days later and it is now patiently waiting in the craft room.
  • In just the past few days, I've found three crafty classes to take during the first half of the year.
  • I've already written my list for the Year of Lovely Things 2012 (thanks to Perches who has also found her way back to the blogosphere)
  • The enthusiasm to blog has returned!

Let's hope this crafty energy sticks around for a while!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

And The Winner Is....

I guess I overestimated the readership of this blog as I received only 2 votes on what my one-hundreth project on Ravelry should be.

The two votes were both for socks though for different patterns (one for the crocodile rock pattern and one for the twisted Celtic cable pattern).

Since one of the voters was Sean and the twisted Celtic cable socks are for him, that is the pattern that won. (I hope you understand, Mistress.)

I'm hoping to cast on for his socks in the next few weeks.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dreaming of Fabric

Oh, how I am yearning to learn to quilt!

Perhaps it is because of the sewing related newsletters and advertisements from JoAnn Fabrics...

Perhaps it is the little drawer of fat quarters I've acquired over the years...

Perhaps it is due to the beautiful creations by friends that inspire me...

Perhaps it is the need to learn something entirely new....

And I want to sew some other projects, like placemats and pillows and bags, perhaps a tree skirt for the holidays...

But not yet...

I cannot give into this urge and head to the craft store with reckless abandon to budget and disregard for the lack of space in the craft room.

But someday....


Saturday, September 24, 2011

LYS - All About Yarn in Columbia, MD

Another item to cross off my Year of Lovely things list - visit a not previously visited LYS in Maryland. I had a handful to choose from but I hadn't yet decided which would be the right one. The decision was made for me when there was a Groupon which was $10 for $20 worth of yarn at All About Yarn in Columbia. How could I pass that up?

On a rainy Saturday, the address was plugged into the GPS and off we went. The store is located in a business park and it was a little hard to find. After a few wrong turns, we found it. From the outside (as the photo shows), the shop just isn't much to look at.

All About Yarn
8970-G Route 108
(in the Oakland Center - near Red Branch Rd)
Columbia, MD 21045

I wasn't expecting much (more on that later) but I was so pleasantly surprised when I opened the door. You have no idea you're in a business park once inside the shop. The displays of yarns, books, needles and accessories and the great lighting make it a colorful, happy and welcoming store. There are so many different brands of yarn at all different kinds of price points, from common to uncommon yarns, novelty to high-end - there is something for everyone. There was also a wall of Addi needles at very good prices. The store is twice as big as you expect. Go past the register to some displays on either side and then a whole other section opens up. So spacious! Sorry I didn't take some photos to show you. You'll just have to take my word for it.

I got my money's worth with the Groupon. I picked up some gorgeous Cascade Yarns  Quatro - 220 yards of 100% Peruvian highland wool.


I also got a skein of Mountain Colors Twizzle, a hand-dyed yarn from Montana. It is 250 yards of 85% merino wool and 15% silk - DIVINE!


There were so many more things I would have bought but I thought two without projects planned for them was enough. I can't wait to go back to the store and at least get some new needles if not some more yarn.

After such a glowing review and considering this LYS is not far from where I live, you may be wondering why it took me so long to check it out in the first place.

The answer is - the WEBSITE. It is awful.

I will be honest that I even had second thoughts about getting the Groupon in the first place because of the website. I was worried the actual store would reflect the persona of the website. The website is hard to navigate, it looks old, but most of all, it looks unprofessional. While the website gives you the basic information about the shop (location, hours, brands carried), it does nothing to help promote the fabulousness of the store. It doesn't need flashy animation or complicated programming - it just needs to be reorganized, cleaned up, and some fun photos added.

So don't let the website fool you - this store is definitely worth checking out if you live in or are visiting the area.