Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Creativity Running Rampant

It started with the ladybug...now two more coaster designs worked up...

This one is called "Froggy love Daddy? Daddy love Froggy!" from the movie "Blazing Saddles". (Thanks for Sean for the name.)

Frog Coaster 1

And here's a watermelon. No fun title for this one yet.

Watermelon Coaster 1

I'm still working on writing up the ladybug pattern so these patterns are also waiting to be written. I have a set of three (related theme) coasters I also need to finish making, writing up the pattern, and photographing. I'm hoping to get some coupons for Joann's because I need some different color cotton yarn to finish those.

So here's the question - would you be willing to buy the pattern to make these? What would a good price be? Think of y'all as being my little focus group for marketing Crocheting Commuter designs and wares. And thanks in advance!

The Secret is Nutmeg

Dear Queen,

Get outta my brain!

Oatmeal Cookies

Well, they are oatmeal instead of chocolate chip and they weren't made because I wanted them. I made them for work - visitors in town tomorrow and I thought having tea and cookies during the meet and greet would be a good idea. I had to make 2 batches - one for my work and one for Sean's. Since I like Sean's work better, they get the perfect batch while my work will get the slightly burned batch. (No worries - they deserve it.)

Mistress - did you make cookies today, too? If so, it's a Keebler trifecta.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lucky Ladybugs

It seems my creativity is making a comeback because this week, I wrote my very first, very own crochet pattern! Woo-hoo!

I give you - Susan the Ladybug (a coaster)

Ladybug Coaster 02

Ladybug Coaster 03

Ladybug Coaster 05

Now - I know it's not a complicated pattern and I'm sure the majority of experienced crocheters could look at it and figure it out. But I made it from scratch as I could not find a pattern listed on the web or on Ravelry so I'm claiming it as an original idea. And I'm damn proud of it!

Background on coming up with this design - I work with a wonderful woman named Susan and because she helps keep my sanity at work, I wanted to make her something for her birthday. She has various ladybug knick-knacks in her office and she is always using a napkin to catch the condensation from iced coffee - and thus, sitting in her office for a meeting and observing this, the idea was born.

During a later (very boring) meeting, I sketched out some designs and thought about stitch size and counts. That night at home, I found some spare red and black yarn and got to work. And it just all came together! The pattern came along great. The number of stitches worked, the stitch size worked, the colors worked - it was awesome. And during my train ride the next day, I wove in the ends and had a finished coaster.

Susan loved it! She then explained why she has this thing for ladybugs. She has always had ladybugs around her. They were in her childhood bedroom and every bedroom since (even college), they live in her gardens, they show up randomly on buses or in her car - they seem to always be near her. When I thought I would publish the pattern, I knew I just had to name the pattern, Susan the Ladybug.

The instructions for the coaster are still on paper and I need to type them into the computer and double check that they are 1) accurate and 2) easy to understand and follow. I may need a tester or two to help me out when it's done (any volunteers?). I also have 3 additional coaster ideas in the works which I'm hoping to sell all four designs together on Etsy or perhaps through Ravelry. (I know - free would be better, but I have a yarn habit and a trip to Ireland to finance.) But selling patterns is a whole other lesson to learn. Right now, I've got to make sure I can write a pattern for others to follow.

Ladybugs really are lucky...I feel like this ladybug coaster brought me out of my creatively funk. :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Completed Project: Fat Bottom Bag (version 2.0)

From the familiar to the fabulous, my bag is done! In Ravelry, it looks like it took me quite a long time to finish this. Not true! There was just a pause between frantic crocheting and finding time to line it. I lined it and crocheted the flaps last night and attached the handles during my commute today.

Fat Bottom Bag 2a

Pattern: Fat Bottom Bag in the book The Happy Hooker

Hook size: I

Yarn: more than 1 but less than 2 skeins of Lily Sugar n' Cream in Ecru

Size: 13" wide by 8" deep (excluding handles)

Modifications: I used the size hook recommended by the pattern. Didn't even bother with the gauge. The larger hook than I used last time and my mistake at adding rows at the beginning (and having to add rows at the end) made this bag larger than expected - but I love it!

Comparison with the first bag I made:
Fat Bottom Bag 2f

I lined the bag thanks again to Kel's easy-to-follow lining tutorial. I bought this material a few years ago on a whim. I just loved the fabric but never knew for what I'd use such a small piece. Voila! A purpose!

Fat Bottom Bag 2c

Fat Bottom Bag 2b

Fat Bottom Bag 2d

And here's a close up of the machine sewn lining and the magnetic snaps I used. I should also note that I sewed the length (the ungathered) part of the lining first before I gathered and pinned the sides. This was good for two reasons - first, it made pinning and sewing the sides easier, and second, I could attach the snaps in the exact right places to line up.

Fat Bottom Bag 2e

Though the lining is very fun, the outside is a bit drab. I don't know if I'll add a ribbon or not (depends if I have a ribbon) or perhaps I should crochet a flower. Suggestions welcome.

Funny story to share about this, too. I showed a coworker the finished product and asked what she would pay for such a bag. I pointed out it was lined, had a magnetic clasp and was handmade. She said with the bamboo handles, she's pay $60.


Well, probably $45 for the Eastern Market crowd. (Still...$45??!) Then I told her I had made it - she was shocked. She thought I had bought it and either paid too much for it or got a fabulous bargain and wanted her opinion on the value of my purchase.

Do I see a side business in my future? :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Live! Live! Live!

Such is the mantra for Auntie Mame, one of my favorite movie heroines. If you're a Ravelry member, you should check out the new group that the Mistress, Queen and I created - Aspiring Auntie Mames.

One thing I love about Mame and the message of the movie is that you've got to live life. You've got to do things and see places and experience life. As she says, "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death."

Now, for the most part, I "Live! Live! Live!" on a much smaller scale. My idea of "living" does not involve rock climbing or speed racing or going dancing at the latest and greatest nightclub. I like the finer things in life, whether it be a gourmet meal, a glass of perfectly aged wine, or a luxurious hank of cashmere yarn. That's living to me.

But today - in the spirit of Auntie Mame - and because we found a kick ass deal online - Sean and I booked a trip to Ireland! It was quasi spur of the moment because the deal came in an email on Tuesday. We hemmed and hawed about it - wanting to go but not sure that the timing was right (hello, mortgage!). But really - when is it ever the right time to do anything? When do things ever fall all neatly in place that you can plan accordingly? That's right - NEVER. We're been planning to go since we met. I was there in 2002 but Sean has never been so he's been as anxious to go as I have been to return.

We looked at each other and agreed - it's too good of a deal to pass up. Let's do it!

And so we did.

My credit card is crying right now and our stimulus check will be stimulating the already strong Irish economy. We don't go until January and we're going to have to do some saving for spending money between now and then (i.e. another yarn freeze) because the US dollar is trading crap to the Euro....

But we're going - and we're so excited! That's what I call living!

Have you lived today?

Going Bananas

All's quiet on the crocheting front, but the baking department was busy last night.

Monkey Brownie 1

Behold! Using Wilton's new monkey pan, I give you - monkey brownie!

Before frosting:
Monkey Brownie 2

After frosting:
Monkey Brownie 5

Monkey Brownie 3

Isn't he cute?

I bought the pan so I can make Sean's birthday cake in August but I wanted to try it out first. Using the included brownie monkey decorating instructions, I made this little guy for work.

One thing about making brownies in this pan is that the entire thing does not cook evenly. I thought it had cooked enough when I turned the brownie upside down on the foil but when people cut into him today, there was a gooey center of uncooked brownie batter. Lucky for me they thought it was fudge.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Back to the Familiar

Why so quiet on the blogging front?

To be honest, I've been frustrated with my latest project. The BUBBLES bubble wrap got the best of me - TWICE! After my flub up at the airport, I finally picked up the shawl again over the weekend. How proud I was of myself that I managed to rip out 4 or 5 rows and get all the stitches back on the needle and begin knitting away. My counts worked out - ending with the right amount of stitches. I patted myself on the back; even bragged to the Queen and Mistress of my success.

Then, during my ride to work on Tuesday morning, I got to the same row I had problems with the first time. And there was the problem AGAIN. Same location, same stitch, staring at me and yes, I may have heard some quiet laughter.


I was so frustrated. I started ripping out the row then had to stop midway as the train was arriving at the station. While I managed to get what I think is all of the stitches onto the needles to avoid further damage and unraveling, I did not leave the project in good shape. Currently, the project is wadded up against the needles with the excess yarn wrapped around it and it's sitting on a shelf in the craft room.

What's a girl to do to relieve this frustration? (minds out of the gutter, please)

Start a new crocheting project.

Back to a tried and true method of craftiness. Back to the familiar feel of a hook in my hand and the speed and ease as stitches multiply effortlessly. Back to sanity and calmness and ease.

I found some neutral cotton yarn in my stash leftover from the eight pocket two-tone carryall I made. I'm well into making another fat bottom bag. My frustration level has dropped and the calmness has returned.

No worries - I'll go back to wrap at some point. I'm just not sure when. Right now I'm basking in the familiar fuzzy feelings of crochet.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

6 Months to Go...

Since half the year is over, let's take a look at how I'm doing with my 2008 crafty resolutions.

1) Finish the following UFOs:

Update: Three out of four ain’t bad. Here’s hoping I get the shawl done before August.

2) Make, block and stiffen 25 snowflakes (and yes, the two I've already made count toward the 25)

Update: Honestly? I’ve had absolutely no desire to make snowflakes right now.

3) Learn to knit socks on double pointed and circular needles.

Update: I tried – but the patterns in the book I had were for DPNs and I was working with circulars. I’m hoping I can get this resolution started again.

4) Organize my yarn, books and other crafty supplies in the new craft room

5) Make a shawl from the Amazing Crochet Lace book

Update: I have the yarn for this; now I just need the time to start and finish it!

6) Go to MS&W 2008 (this is a no-brainer)

7) Complete the following new projects:
  • Make at least 1 blanket for donation (charity TBD)
  • Baby blanket for Mindy Jr.
  • Crochet a rug from the yarn bought at the 2006 MS&W
  • Complete A-Z pillows for baby Brodie
  • Crochet Christmas stockings (but this one is a bit iffy)

  • Instead of a blanket, I made a hat for charity. But have I mailed it yet? Nope. Guess I should get on that.
  • The A-Z pillows turned out to be too big so I’m going to frog the “A” I started and use the colorful yarn for something else (yet to be determined).
  • A rug and Christmas stockings? Not sure I’ll get to those or not.

So overall - not bad for 6 months. According to Ravelry, I've only completed 9 projects since January. Wow... I don't know how I feel about that. I feel like I've been crocheting and knitting quite a bit. It just seems I don't have much to show for it except a handful of UFOs. Here's hoping the next 6 months are a bit more productive.