Tuesday, June 29, 2010

On the Rebound

My fears for my little herb garden have been replaced with joy!

The herbs have taken off since I transplanted them - compare the before photo to these!

Herb Garden Looking Good

The thyme and basil are doing the best so far. In fact, I even used some basil and thyme in my cooking over the weekend.

Thyme and Basil

And the recently transplanted basil has surpassed the basil that used to look promising. It is a wonder what some more space and new soil can do!

Basil v. Basil

The one on the right was transplanted into two smaller containers. I'm hoping to give them as gifts if the plants rebound as well as the pot on the left.

There was rebounding in the flower container, too! Compare this before photo with the surprises below - Johnny Jump Ups!!! (and to answer C's question, yes I planted them because of Mom)

Johnny Jump Ups

The rest of the greenery has perked up and another Nasturtium flower bloomed.
Johnny Jump Ups

Hope renewed in my gardening abilities!

Snail Mail

These are in the mail to three special friends.


The postcard images are fun and thus allow me to cross another item off my Year of Lovely Things list. The messages on the other side are quotes that I came across while reading over the weekend. It was funny how each one distinctly seemed to be for each friend.

We'll see if I was right once the postcards are received.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I See Ewe

I saw these at Joann Fabrics when buttons were 50% off. I just had to have them!

Sheep Buttons 2

One has been attached to my crocheted purse which I will be bringing with me to the CGOA conference next week. It is a tiny little decoration but a cute one.

With Sheep Button

UFOs and Frogs

The number one item on my list of crafty resolutions for 2010 is to catalog all current UFOs (Un-Finished Objects) from past years - decide what to frog, what to finish and what to throw out.

I started this when I bought the new cabinets for the craft room and I had to go through all my yarn to find out what I had and whether it had been logged into Ravelry. My stash is mostly up to date on Ravelry though some of the amounts are wrong (since I have no idea of the exact amount left after projects) and there are a few basketfuls of odds and ends and random yarns not worth inventorying.

With this completed, I can now take a look at the UFOs lingering in the shadows.

First off, I have 6 current projects in Ravelry - four blankets (1, 2, 3 and 4), a hat, and a shawl. These are all in progress and slated to be finished this year.

I have 3 hibernating projects in Ravelry - a crocheted block quilt, a flower afghan and the infamous BUBBLES bubbles scarf.

The crocheted block quilt was started back in 2007 though I could have sworn I started it before then. It's a really neat pattern to make a large quilt out of little crocheted blocks. I have this handful of blocks I made but that has been the extent of it since 2007.

Ohio Variant 01

While I do still love the pattern, I don't really have any desire to come back to these squares or this yarn to complete it. So - the decision is -


Maybe I can use the yarn to make Christmas stockings?

The flower afghan was started with some leftover baby blanet yarn. The little flower motifs are so cute and easy to make. I've got a sizeable stack of them.

Flowers 01

But I haven't made one of these flower motifs in a couple of years and I don't feel motivated to make more right now. I definitely won't frog them as it would only amount to little pieces of yarn. But should I throw them out? Or find a way to repurpose them? Are they worth keeping, tucked away in the cabinet for some project in the future? Your comments/suggestions are appreciated.

And that damn BUBBLES bubbles scarf. It was a wrap at first and then a scarf. I have NO DESIRE WHATSOEVER to pick up this project and work with it again. The yarn is even driving me crazy and I so do love Brooks Farm Yarn. But sometimes you just need to let go - and that is just what I think I need to do with this project. The decision -


- and put the yarn up for sale/trade on Ravelry so that someone will be able to realize its true purpose and bring out its true beauty.

Any UFOs lurking around your house?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Completed Project: Crocheted Netbook Case

The Knit and Crochet Show is less than two weeks away. In preparation, I was thinking what crocheted and/or knitted items I should bring with me. There is usually plenty of oohing and aahing that goes on at these conferences as participants check out what everyone else has made. It's nice to have other crafters appreciate the time and craftwomanship that goes into a finished crocheted or knitted project.

I knew I'd be bringing my crocheted purse with me, though it will be inside my shameless-self-promotion bag. I thought about making a shawl but that would be too much to accomplish in just a few weeks. Since I knew I'd be bringing my netbook to take notes and look up information onsite, I thought a cover would be a quick and easy project to accomplish.

After playing with a few ideas of how I wanted the case to look and function, I thought about incorporating some granny squares. At first, it was going to be all granny squares pieced together. Then I thought I could use the three granny squares as the flap of the case, having the buttons come through the middle. But that morphed into a band of granny squares in the middle of the case with a flap and buttons accented in the same colors as the squares.


Crocheted Netbook Case 01

Crocheted Netbook Case 02

Crocheted Netbook Case 03

Besides using part of the granny square pattern (only 4 rounds of the possible 7), the rest of the case was improvised as I went along. My squares seemed a bit wonky when I attached them together so I did a DC/HDC/SC pattern to straighten things out on top and bottom. That worked a little bit but it's still a little funky. I also did a lot of crocheting in the backloop of stitches to get those fun lines to show up.

The bright colored yarn is acrylic and the ecru colored yarn is cotton. I should have used a larger hook for the blue and orange acrylic which may have lessened the mega-wonkiness of the flap.

Crocheted Netbook Case 04

Shoulda, coulda, woulda - I didn't. So I'm living with it since it is just for my use.

I thought about lining the bag and purchased two colors of fabric - blue to show through the crocheted stitches and squares on the outside and a bright fun yellow and orange pattern for the inside. But as I am not 100% happy with the completed project, I'll save the fabric for another project.

Crocheted Netbook Case 05


Purchased at this year's MS&W, it is now framed and hung up in the craft room. I love it!

Craft Room with New Photo

"Beside Still Waters" by Conni Togel

Monday, June 21, 2010

Currently On the Hook and Needles

As I mentioned before, I have a couple of projects I need to finish before the Knit and Crochet show taking place in a couple weeks.

First is a case for my netbook (a mini-laptop). I've been playing with some design ideas and color schemes. Besides using part of a wonderful granny square pattern, the overall pattern for the netbook is being improvised as I go. I picked up some buttons and some fabric this weekend for closures and lining the case. I'm still not quite sure how it will all work out so I'm delaying photos until then.

Another project is to finish a hat for Sean's uncle who for Christmas had given me a gift card to an LYS (see review here). I was originially going to use the raspberry skein I purchased at the store but I instead decided to first try the pattern using the blue skein of Lamb's Pride that Perches gifted to me. So far, the hat is looking good though I'm very afraid that it will be too small. Perhaps that is because it looks smaller on DPNs than it would on circulars. Once it is completed, I'll have Sean try it on for size and if it does indeed fit, I'll go ahead and make another hat using the raspberry skein.

Will both hats be done in two weeks? Plus the netbook case?

I do believe in miracles.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More Sheep

Another email received - this one about the presence of sheep in photos of megalithic sites.

Great photos!

And, if you check out this link, you'll see a photo I took (though no sheep in this one). :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Counting Sheep

I received an email from the Wales tourism board (a country I must visit some day) that was pointing out less known reasons to visit. The first sentence jumped out at me for obvious reasons.
"You may already have heard about our three national parks, 641 castles and 11 million sheep throughout a country which is ideal for touring."
I forwarded it to Sean thinking he'd get a kick out of the random sheep statistic - which he did - and it led him on a search for more stats. Below are his quickly found findings:
  • There are only 3 million PEOPLE who live in Wales! Almost 4 times as many sheep as people--which appears to be the largest imbalance of any nation of the region.
  • In Ireland, they have 6 million people and 8 million sheep.
  • In Scotland, there are 5 million people, and 9.5 million sheep.
  • Also, UK overall has the most sheep of any EU member nation. Total UK sheep population was estimated to be 33.5 million as of 2007. With 22.5 million in non-England areas of the UK, that leaves 11 million sheep for a people population of 51 million in England proper.

In addition to wondering where they house and contain all these sheep, I'm also wondering how many yarn stores there are! Too few, I'm assuming, since when I was in Ireland there were none to be found.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lovely Weekend (Part 2 of 2)

Continued from Part 1...

Sean went back to bed but I was wide awake and decided to take advantage of the morning hours by going next door to the nursery to get pots and soil to transplant my herb garden. The basil in the single pot was doing so much better than the basil in the planter. The other herbs were looking pretty short and sad, too. My diagnosis is that they were just too crowded and did not have enough soil in the planter to thrive. But I would need something to replace the herbs for an empty planter is less lovely to look at than a planter with struggling herbs. Thus, I came home with some flowers and other supplies.

Lovely Gardening Purchases

Seamus was intrigued...
Stop and Smell the Flowers

With the new purchases, I turned this...

Herb Garden Before

...into these...

Herb Garden After

...and the planter now looks like this.

Flowers in the Hanging Container 1

This full, lush planter of flowers is what I envisioned my seedlings would grow into. Alas, they are still looking sad, small, and on the verge of dying completely.

Flowers in the hanging container

I'm not giving up - but I'm less than optimistic that my flowers will make it to the lush category any time soon.

In summary, two more lessons learned from this year's foray into gardening.

1) I'll plant my herbs in pots instead of a planter. In fact, I'll probably start them in pots instead of the seedlings tray so they do not have to withstand my less than delicate hand transplanting them to pots.

2) I'm not starting flowers from seeds for the planters. Instead I'll buy them once they've flowered for more instant gratification.

Flowers in the Hanging Container 4

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lovely Weekend (Part 1 of 2)

T'was such a lovely weekend spent with my dear, dear friend Perches. Not even three hours of traffic and single lane, winding back roads could damper the excitement of visiting with friends (though my nerves were a bit frazzled and poor Sean had to deal with me).

It is a beautiful area of Virginia with rural countryside and yet access to more urban amenities just outside of Fredericksburg. Seamus particularly liked the large expanse of grass in Perches' community, though the chirping of birds in the morning put him on high alert during our walk.

We went to the Virginia Renaissance Festival on Saturday mid-morning, after sleeping in a bit and getting some breakfast. It is a newer festival, compared to the Maryland Renaissance Festival that is celebrating its 30th year. There is less land to work with so it is on the small side (no map needed except to tell you which stage is which). Nonetheless, it is a charming festival with both tents and activities on the field and in the woods. The cast was in great humor and in great costumes, the vendors had good wares to sell, and the storyline of Queen Elizabeth and pirates was thoroughly entertaining. I thought the VA festival had many more hands on educational opportunities than MD, which was nice. You could learn about gunpowder, the history of beer, how the Queen would have feasted in her court, etc. There were also more activities for the kids, such as crafts and learning about various trades. But what the VA festival lacked most was entertainment. The musical acts were okay but not great, and the other types of shows, like the magician/storyteller, were only mildly entertaining. Compared to Maryland's festival, it was no competition. I'm not saying this as a detriment to the festival - it is still a new festival and will improve as it grows. I'm just being honest so that if you have gone to the Maryland festival, you know how this one differs.

I did get some good photos of the day to share.

The field 1 The field 2 Queen's Procession 1 Queen's Procession 2 In the woods Archery Trees! Stage Show Alpacas Rose Sprout in the Woods

Sean and I stayed for about three hours total when the heat and humidity were just too much to handle. We headed home for cold showers and a change of clothes then went back to pick up Perches. How she survived the day in all those layers of costume, I don't know. We went to dinner in historic Fredericksburg which is full of Civil War era buildings that have been transformed into restaurants, offices, and boutique type shops. It is also a very dog friendly town. We're looking forward to a future trip to explore more of downtown and the surrounding area.

Our visit was over before we knew it and we left quite early Sunday morning. It was already 75 degrees at 7:00 am with close to 100% humidity. Ick!! We said our thanks and goodbyes and hit the road. We made it home in just 90 minutes - half the time it took us to get there on Friday.

My weekend of lovely things was not over yet...stay tuned for Part 2.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Completed Project: Sean's Socks

It took a couple years after buying the yarn to actually get the socks made, but finally, here they are in all their glory!!!

Socks for Sean 10

Socks for Sean 11

Socks for Sean - size Men's Large, Socks that Rock Yarn - Colorway "In the Navy"
More details on Ravelry

These are the largest sized socks socks I've completed to date, and unlike my last pair - which I loved and Perches loves - this time the yarn weight matches the needle size and the pattern.

Sean really likes them. When I finished them and these photos were taken, he wore them as long as he could until his feet were too hot to keep the socks on. He's looking forward to winter when such warm socks will come in handy.

One pair down and two to go on my Crafty Resolutions list. I have plenty of skeins of sock yarn from which to choose. I do know who I will be making a pair for next, I just have to pick out the yarn. I'll also make a pair for myself, probably from the Lion Brand sock yarn I picked up in NYC. Maybe I'll have that completed before Halloween..but I'm holding myself to that deadline. Before any other socks can be started, I've got a couple of what I hope are quick side projects to complete before the Knit and Crochet Show.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Weekend of Lovely Things

When I find the time, I must update my Year of Lovely Things list. I have done a lot more than is currently crossed off, and after this weekend, there will be two more to take off the the list.

It's a two-for-one special as I will get to visit Perches and attend the Virginia Renaissance Festival. I had orginially thought that the "go to a renaissance festival" item would be crossed off the list in the fall when the Maryland Renaissance Festival takes place. Will two trips to a Renaissance festival make up for the craft room not being painted?

This will be my first ever to the Virginia festival so I'm interested to see how it differs from the Maryland festival. Most notably, the Virginia festival takes place at a winery - no complaints here! Also, the story line is about Queen Elizabeth, instead of King Henry VIII and his ever-changing cast of wives, and there appears to be a focus on all things pirate. YARRRR!!! . I'm most excited to see Rose Sprout live and in action.

I'll have my camera with me, and hopefully a new project to work on if I can finish Sean's socks tonight. Do you have anything lovely planned for your weekend?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Crafty Start to Summer

Summer heat is not usually the time to begin making large, warm blankets made of Homespun. Leave it to me to defy conventions as I have started such blankets just as the summer begins, the temperatures are soaring and the humidity is disgusting. The blankets have two skeins crocheted in each which means that they are just a skein or two away from not being portable on my commute.

No worries though as I'm again able to work on Sean's socks. I picked up another set of DPNs and after a very delayed train ride home, I've just turned the heel. With any luck it will be completed this week or next and I can then focus on a blanket that I hope to have done by July. This will take a miracle, but I'm trying to be optimistic.

Speaking of July - the 2010 Knit & Crochet Show in Manchester, NH is just a month away! I'm too excited about it, especially the Crochet Professional Development Day. There will be so much information to absorb in just 8 hours and so many wonderful people to meet and with whom to network in just a few short days. I've been paired up with an amazing mentor (a buddy program for newbies at the conference) and I've been trying to stay on top of the messages on the groups and Ravelry pages.

Over the weekend I learned of another friend who is expecting. After congratulating her, I immediately asked when she was due. Lucky for me, she's not due until October so I have some time to get a blanket made. They are not going to know the gender until birth so I'll probably do a similar gender-neutral blanket as I did for their first born. I'm happy to report they still use the blanket each night during storytime.

I guess this post is a bit muddled - like my brain in this ungodly humidity. At least I remembered to use spell check, right?