Wednesday, 29 February 2012

11 Random Things

Sarah over at Sarahndipities wrote a blog featuring eleven random facts about herself and after reading it, I think we were separated at birth or something like that.  I'm amazed at how similar our tastes are in TV men, reading, and food.  She invited her readers to respond to questions as well, so here's my stab at it:

1.  What is the scariest thing you've ever done?
     I think the scariest thing I've ever done was move from my comfortable, familiar life in Denver, with my not-quite-one-year-old daughter to Tucson, AZ, all on our own.  It worked out quite well, but the time, it was down-right frightening.

2.  If you could be a character on a TV show, which show would you be on?
     I think I'd like to be on Glee, or maybe Supernatural.  Though, if I were on the latter, I'd be tempted to punch Dean and Sam in the face on occasion.  They can be terrifyingly dense at times!

3.  What are your three favorite colors of fingernail polish?
     Shell pink, sort of an aqua-turquoise, and amethyst purple.

4.  Who are your celebrity crushes?
     I have, for a very long time, had quite a thing for Sting. I also find Neil Peart, the drummer for Rush, rather crush-worthy, but I think that's less for his looks (though he is attractive) and more for his brain.

5.  What are you really, really good at?
     I believe I am really, really good at writing.  Fortunately, it's also something I love to do, so the future career plan of being a journalist is something I think I can live with.

6.  A place you'd like to live?
     I'd love to move back to Denver, or to Portland, Oregon.  I like Tucson, it's been a great place to live, but the heat, the complete lack of snow and proper trees and seasons and GRASS LAWNS is rather depressing.  I think I'm one of those sorts of people who must be surrounded by green at all times, or else I sink into a blue funk.

7.  What do you really wish your name was?
      I think I'd like to be a one-name sort of person, like Madonna or Cher or Sting.  That would certainly make signing for things easy, wouldn't it?

8.  The silliest mistake you've ever made?
     Once, in art class, I mistook a tube of super-glue for a tube of watercolours.  Such an awful mess ensued.

9.  If you could be any type of (real or imagined) animal, what would you be, and why?
     I think I'd like to be a pampered house cat, or perhaps a well-loved family dog; the reasons for this choice should be rather obvious.  Barring that, a sea otter, because they always look like they're playing and having a good time.  Plus, they're so cute!

10.  What part of yourself do you like the most?
     I'm rather fond of my sense of compassion.  Although it's very hard sometimes, I do try not to judge people until I look at the world from their point of view.  Ian MacLaren, a noted Scottish author and theologian, once said during a Christmas Eve service, "Be kind, for every man is fighting a hard battle."  I try to think of that every time I encounter someone who upsets me in some way.

11.  What is your most absolutely favorite thing to eat?
     Oh, this is by far the easiest question so far!  My Number One, All Time Fave is cheese and onion enchiladas!  They are so very, very tasty!

February Round-Up

February has been a good month.  I'm still enjoying crocheting and am getting more adventurous and more confident in my abilities.  I'm also in love with knitting, although I've noticed that it takes a lot longer than crocheting does.  I think that may be because I'm still learning, still sort of wobbly on my feet.  I watch other knitters flying along and think, "Gosh, I hope that'll be me someday!"

This month's mosaic photo captures some projects of which I am really quite proud.  I designed two patterns on my own and adapted another quite extensively so that it was the perfect fit.  Like I said, February has been a good month.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A Moment of Zen

"I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point,
'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is'." 
-Kurt Vonnegut

Monday, 27 February 2012

Monday Morning Mish-Mash

Remember how I've mentioned at least twice now that I'm teaching myself to knit?  And that the whole reason I'm doing this is so that I can make socks?  'Cos I have a fetish, a thing, a longing for funky socks and if I could make my own?  Wow.  That would just be amazingly cool.

My knitting skills are possibly years off from trying this, so in the meantime, my tootsies are cold.  I decided that I needed some slippers or something and searched through Ravelry and found this awesomely neat and simple pattern and whipped up a pair last night while the kids, the Man, and I were watching Dr Who.  (I LOVE YOU DAVID TENNANT!)

They are super comfy and keep my feet warm and best of all?  I can just toss 'em in the wash when they get dirty!  Oh, and I made 'em myself, too.  That's always kinda of a cool feeling, huh?

Friday, 24 February 2012

Been Shopping?

Before we get to the interesting bits, I have to tell you a little background first.

I live in Southern Arizona.  Tucson, to be exact.  And our local school district has a very strange schedule of holidays and breaks.  First, the kids go back to school in the middle of August.  When I was in school, we didn't start until early September.  They have no autumn break, either.  We always got a long weekend, usually Wednesday through the following Monday off from school.  They do, however, get two solid weeks off over Christmas and New Year's, so that's nice.

Then they have another long weekend for Rodeo Days.  Yes, you read that right.  My children usually get a three-day school week during the second to last weekend of February to celebrate a rodeo, of all things.  This usually plays havoc with my own school schedule, requiring me to take time off to stay home with them so they don't kill each other or burn the house down.  And let's not even get into Spring Break.  I have a week in March.  They have three days in April.  How is that good, people?!?

Anyway, since the rodeo holiday is this week, I thought it'd be kinda nice to go on a little shopping excursion to our local charity shop.  Sometimes, there are some amazing finds; most times, however, I find myself horrified by people's taste in clothing and home decor.  This morning, however, I scored a minor motherlode.  (Would that be a daughterlode?)  A fantastic book of 50 different afghans and the vast majority of them are for crocheting!  The book was published in 1989 and it's by McCall's.  I also bought 4 skeins of yarn and an afghan to cannibalise for its yarn.

After our shopping trip, we came home and replanted Boy Child's bean seedling in a larger pot with a trellis so it can climb.  We both have high hopes for this little plant, as green beans are one of Boy Child's favourite vegetables.

Rowan, the green bean

I also cleaned and organised my computer desk area in my studio and thought I'd post some photos.  I know I always enjoy seeing other people's creative spaces!

My desk with my aurora borealis screen saver running.

All artwork and origami figures courtesy my kids.
 Next to my desk is a large dresser filled with scraps of fabric and cast off clothing that I intend to turn into strips and crochet into rag rugs...eventually.  For now, though, the dresser's sole purpose is to hold my art supplies.

Yes, that is a hand-drawn portrait of Sting...
and a stuffed penguin, called Pittsburgh.

Jar jackets, an unfinished pen and coloured pencil drawing,
and a bamboo cup with Chinese kanji that reads
"Follow your bliss".

Thursday, 23 February 2012

A condundrum...

I am in the process of planning an afghan.  I'm in the colour selection phase now and I'm finding it difficult...almost like picking a tattoo.  I'll be living with this afghan for the rest of my life, and quite possibly one of my children will want to live with it after they've moved out, too.  So, while the choice of patterns was pretty easy--I'm going with Lucy's Ripples--the choice of colours is way more difficult.

I have narrowed it down to one of three choices, using my favourite colour inspiration website, design seeds.  Here are the choices.  Perhaps you can leave me a comment and help me decide?  That'd be swell!

Choice #1 - Artichoke Hues
Choice #2 - Carnival Hues
Choice #3 - Vegetable Hues, without the orange

Monday, 20 February 2012

Monday Morning Mish-Mash

This is the pic spam edition of Monday Morning Mish-Mash.

Lots happened this weekend.  I cleared out my queue of a few projects, took the kids to the park, did some more work on my final book in a five-book series, finally figured out how to knit AND purl in the same row, and vegged out on the couch with Fat Cat and a lap full of fluffy, cuddly-soft yarn.

Scarf I made for my MIL
Detail of scarf.  Pretty, simple pattern.
The table in my studio, covered with the essentials.
Fat Cat with his favourite blanket and a bit of finished scarf.
Girl Child at the park
Girl Child at the park wearing her favourite (and coolest!) t-shirt
Boy Child wishing Mum would stop taking photos all the time

Sunday, 19 February 2012

iPod Hoodie

Girl Child has an iPod Touch that was in desperate need of protection, so I decided to try to make one.  Using the basic idea of the bath mitts I made last week, I decided that it couldn't be that much different.  It's just a pocket, right?  But then I decided that it would need some sort of special closing to keep the iPod from slipping out, so I tried my hand at making a flap with a button closure, only I'm not quite skilled enough to crochet button holes.  So I just made a loop to hook over the button to keep it closed.  It worked out really well and Girl Child really loves it.  She decided that it was more than just a cover; she calls it an iPod Hoodie...I guess 'cos of the flap, maybe?

I added a teeny tiny flower for decoration

Loop and button closure and the little flap
Close-up of the flap
iPod Hoodie

Use Worsted weight yarn and a 5.00 mm hook.  I'm not sure that gauge (or what sort of yarn or even what size hook) matters really, just so long as your finished product is big enough to fit around your iPod.

ch 16
Row 1: From 2nd ch from hk, sc in each ch across. Ch 1, turn. (14 sts)
Row 2: *Sc in 1st st, dc in next, repeat from *across. Each row must start with sc
and end with dc; ch 1, turn.
Row 3-16: Repeat Row 2.
Row 17: Sc in each st. Fasten off.

Repeat rows 1-16 of front. Do not fasten off.(14 sts)

Row 17: Sc in back loop only. Ch 1, turn. (14 sts)
Row 18: Sc in each st across, both loops. Ch 1, turn.
Row 19-23: Repeat Row 18.
Row 24: Sctog, sc in each st across to last 2 st, sctog. Ch 1, turn. (12 sts)
Row 25: Repeat Row 18.
Row 26: Sctog, sc in each st across to last 2 st, sctog. Ch 1, turn. (10 sts)
Row 27: Repeat Row 18.
Row 28: Sctog, sc in each st across to last 2 st, sctog. Ch 1, turn. (8 sts)
Row 29: Repeat Row 18. Fasten off.

To finish: Put wrong sides of front and back together. Sc both pieces tog. When you come to flap, sc around just the flap. When you come to end of flap, sc both pieces tog again. Fasten off. Weave in all ends.

To attach button: Eyeball middle of front and sew button.

To make loop: Eyeball middle of bottom edge of flap and attach yarn with a sl st. Chain ten and attach in same sp as first sl st with another sl st.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Cleaning Out The Stash

I save yarn like there's no tomorrow.  It doesn't matter how much is left over when I've finished, I make a little ball out of it and chuck it in the yarn basket, hoping that I'll have use for it sometime in the future.  This weekend after school and errands and writing, I was digging through the stash and trying to figure out uses for some of the larger amounts.  I came upon an idea Monday morning in the shower after my bath pouf from The Body Shop fell apart in my hands.  I'd make bath mitts!  There was no way I'd spend upwards of $9 on a new pouf when I could spend an hour and whip one up by hand.  So that's what I did.  I made three of them, in fact, seriously cutting down on my stash and making room for new lovely yarn...which will no doubt add to the stash.  Sigh.  It's a vicious cycle, isn't it?

Baby mitt, Mama mitt, Daddy mitt

If you'd like to make your own bath mitts, here's what I did:

Using whatever washable, durable yarn you have (I used Red Heart's Super Saver in Frosty Green, Pale Yellow, and Country Blue) and an appropriately sized hook (I used a 5.00 mm), chain either 16 or 18, depending upon how wide your hand is.  Then, starting from the second ch from your hook, sc into each chain for row one.  For row two, turn and ch 1, then sc across.  Repeat row two until your piece is about 30 rows long.  When you're done with your last row, don't fasten off.  Fold your work in half so the top and the bottom meet, then sc up the side, ending at the very top.  Now you can fasten off and sc up the other side so you've made a little pocket.  When you reach the top of the second side, ch 11.  Then, starting with the second ch from your hook, sc into each ch (10 sc), fold it in half and attach it to the top of the piece to make the little hanging hookie thing.  Fasten off and weave in your ends.  Ta-da!  Your very own bath mitt!

Little Hanging Hookie Things

Maybe you could match your mitts to your bathroom's decor?

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Cat Helpers

This is what crocheting is like at my house.  Except I have four of them.  And they all want to sit on my lap while I'm busy.  Small Cat is the worst offender.  He lulls me into a false sense of security by forming himself into a Loaf of Kitty (you know when they pull all their legs and feet up under their bodies?) and purring and squinching his eyes closed and pretending to sleep.  He's warm and happy and this makes me equally warm and happy and I'm working on my piece in peace when all of a sudden...  SNAG!  My yarn ends up in Small Cat's mouth or wrapped around his paws or something equally irritating and cute.  So I have to stop and untangle the yarn from Small Cat (or more often than not, the other way around) and gently remind him not to eat the yarn and he goes back to Loaf of Kitty and purring and warmth and I forget for a moment or twelve that he'll more than likely attack the yarn again.


But I couldn't imagine life without them.

Large Cat and Small Cat plotting...

Monday, 13 February 2012

Monday Morning Mish-Mash

Hello!  Hope you all had a fabulous weekend and got to spend lots of time doing what you love.

I managed to accomplish quite a lot this weekend.  I finished crocheting my bag and made some hair scrunchies for Wally and Girl Child, to go along with their Valentine's Day gifts.  I still want to line the bag with some flowery fabric and maybe sew in a little pocket to hold my Burt's Bees lip balm and my cellphone, so when I'm totally done with it, I'll post a photo.

Some of Girl Child's scrunchies

Some of Wally's scrunchies

The rest of Wally's scrunchies

I also started making these great self-watering planters and began teaching myself to knit. I'm not finding it as easy as teaching myself to crochet, probably because there's two needles to keep track of, but I have faith that I will eventually get it.  I'm learning mainly so I can knit socks, since I have a fetish for funky-coloured socks.  ;)

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Excuses, excuses...

I didn't do everything I set out to do this weekend.  I meant to clean my bathroom floor, organise the dining room, move the couch and clean underneath it.  I wanted to wash all the dirty laundry in the house (my things, Boy Child's things, towels and bedsheets) and only managed to wash Boy Child's things.  I had intended to start planning this year's garden and finally visit the new yarn stores I've discovered since joining Ravelry.

But... I was distracted.  A lot.

There was crocheting to do.  I finished a baby blanket and started a project that I fully intend to keep for myself.

One skein of yarn = baby blanket and hat!
There were books to read.  I finished book five of the Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn and started the sixth.

There were blog posts to write, forums to read, Pinterest boards to peruse, Facebook updates to make and read, and the all-important Super Bowl game to watch on Sunday.  (Yay Giants!)

Little of what I set out to do this weekend got done...and we know who to blame for the parts that were left for next weekend's To-Do List.
Fat Cat and Orange Cat "help" with the laundry
Small Cat "helps" me read blogs

Friday, 3 February 2012

Little Green Men

I finished Boy Child's Valentine's Day gift yesterday.  He requested an angry alien and I think I managed to make him look French instead.  It's the mustache.  Judge for yourself.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Tucson Sunrise

I was abruptly awoken this morning at 4:30 by a certain cat who shall not be named (Fat Cat), who decided that it would be a lovely idea to play with a pipe cleaner on my bed.  He tossed it up in the air and then pounced on it with all four feet, and unfortunately for me, the pipe cleaner more often than not landed on my legs or my feet, and in one unfortunate moment that ended in me cursing at him and tossing him off the bed, my stomach.  The Cat Who Shall Not Be Named (Fat Cat) is not a lightweight, either.  He's a big, fluffy fattie who must weigh at least 15 pounds.  It's a good thing he's so remarkably beautiful; he mightn't have had breakfast this morning otherwise!

So, since I was awake and not likely to fall asleep again any time soon, I dragged my weary bones from bed and decided to photograph the sunrise this morning.  The colours were amazing, the air was still and crisp, and the world around me was hushed.  It was a beautiful time to be awake and alone with the mountains and the cactus and the morning star.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Nerd Wars!

Yes, I am a nerd.  I mentioned that in this post.  Well, imagine my utter delight when I stumbled across the 'Nerd Wars' group on Ravelry!  What's it all about?  As best as I can understand, differently themed teams of crafters  (Angel, Buffy, Firefly, Doctor Who, etc) compete in a three-month tournament, during which they knit or crochet different projects to meet different challenges and earn their team points.  At the end of the three months, the team with the most points wins.  Wins what?  Beyond bragging rights, I'm not sure.

Anyway, today marks the beginning of the fourth round of the tournament and I've joined the Writers Group.  Our team consists of fans of amateur sleuths--think Rick Castle and Veronica Mars, as well as Jessica Fletcher from 'Murder She Wrote'--and our first challenge is to create a Valentine's Day gift for our favourite character.  There are also different tournament-wide challenges that tie into the monthly team challenges.  I'm thinking of using Boy Child's alien amigurumi for both the tournament-wide technical challenge (showcase a particular stitch or technique that we've mastered) and for Castle's Valentine's Day gift.  (He and Beckett were 'abducted' in S03, E09 - 'Close Encounters of the Murderous Kind'.)  Hopefully, I'll get this project approved and help my team clobber all the others into submission!

In other, non-nerd news...
I finished my niece's teddy bear last night.  He turned out awfully cute, if a little lopsided.  I made him a blanket and a scarf because it's cold here and even stuffed teddies need something warm to cuddle up with.

Pensive Bear is pensive.

He looks thoughtful...or surprised.  Maybe surprised to be thoughtful?
Teddy's blanket.  A granny square with scalloped edging.