31 December 2009

My New Year's Resolutions!

So 2009 is already over! This time last year I was in a hospital in Nebraska with my son who was on oxygen. He was incredibly sick and we were not at home, so we had to go to an unknown hospital the day after Christmas and were there for a week! In my eyes, this New Year's Eve is already better, even if I am spending it alone. My husband is working long hours all week, which is hard, but not out of the norm. We both work so hard for so very little. This leads me to my New Year's Resolutions!

1. Blog Better!

2. Continue working towards being debt free. This is one I actually enjoy. I enjoy piling my money up on my car debt or on my husband's student loans to watch the balances melt away. We are doing something similar to Dave Ramsey's snowballing, and it works pretty well for us. Hopefully I can achieve this goal, as we don't have much debt--luckily.

3. Get my master's degree! I'm hoping to fulfill this one in May!

4. Lose 20 lbs--This will probably be the most difficult. My family is comprised of amazing cooks, and its hard to pass up. I'm going to try to focus on portion control and eating less junk food. Eventually I will give up my daily pop--but I'm not ready for that yet.

5. Double my Etsy shop listings--This will probably happen over the summer. I will work on new projects for my Etsy listings. That is what I did last summer, so hopefully I can repeat and have even more sales!!

6. Finish my scrapghan--I don't know if I've told you this, yet, but I have the world's ugliest afghan in progress. It is made up of all of my leftover yarns from over the years. I do it by holding three strands from three skeins together and double crocheting back and forth over and over. I have also added in squares that once had a purpose. Its quite the piece, and I'm pretty much in love with how ugly it is. I will take pictures soon.

7. Write a pattern

8. BE A BETTER BLOGGER!--I need to get better at this business and really think of some neat things to do. If you have any suggestions, let me know!

What are your resolutions? Any words of advice on what I have posted for my resolutions?

22 December 2009

Again, I'm being a bad blogger

I totally haven't been blogging lately, but to tell you the truth--I haven't been crocheting!

I have been busy teaching and wrapping up my semester and holiday preparation its just been crazy! I made these peppermint meringues today, and they are sooo yummy. I highly recommend them. If you've never made meringue before, you know when your meringue has reached the "stiff peaks" phase when you can turn the bowl over your head (dangerous!! :)) and the meringue doesn't move. Old trick my grandma taught me.

I have had a couple orders this week for an adult chocolate beanie in navy and for another dragon! I also sold a kitty kat ears hat. Its nice to be able to crochet without any stress from school. Well...not too much stress. I am having to work on thesis stuff a bit.

I'm also reading some fiction for the first time in a long time. We went to the library and I got Love in the Time of Cholera--a book I read parts of it in Spanish. I also got Slaughterhouse Five and The Scarlet Letter. Two books that I have wanted to finish for a long time. I have a bad habit of starting books and running out of time to read them!

I hope everyone's holidays are going well, and my New Year's resolution is to be a better blogger!

30 October 2009

Yarns and Needles!

I know I kind of write with the presumption that my readers know what I'm talking about, so here is a beginner's post!

What you need to crochet:

A hook:
Hooks are tricky--weird numbers and letters and metal or bamboo? I was lucky and inherited most of my needles from my late Great Grandmother, but I have dabbled with different kinds. Lets talk size first. They are "lettered" from A-Q(I think q is the biggest I've seen) so that A is the smallest and Q would be the biggest. I find a J hook to be ideal for starting out (what I started with), but my personal favorite now is the G hook. Its small enough so I can make really tight stitches if I need to, but big enough to still grab large yarn and look like I'm getting somewhere! That is huge for me. I need to see progress!


The other important thing to look at is what kind? I have been pretty loyal to the Boye brand metal hooks. I was told by the woman who taught me to knit that plastic needles can bend with the heat of your hand and tend to break. I have honestly never used any sorts of wood hooks, but I would imagine they would be just fine. I prefer my metal hooks because they keep my hand cool :) Hooks run around $5 or less and they last for life; I have had mine for 15 years, so if you're going to stick with it, metal is the way to go!


Next question is yarn? What yarn do I get? That's tricky. I started out with cheap $2/skein (roll of yarn) Red Heart Super Saver:

You can get it at Walmart, Hobby Lobby, Michael's--basically everywhere (not at high end yarneries). If you are unsure if you are going to stick with this crocheting thing, this is the way to go. I find it to be a bit scratchy, but affordable. It is an acrylic yarn. My favorite acrylic yarn is what I buy at Hobby Lobby and it is called: I Love This Yarn!


It is a little more pricey--maybe $2.89 a skein, but well worth it. It is so soft and lovely to work with. They also make cotton and wool that I will talk about now!

My favorite cotton is Sugar n' Cream and I get it at Hobby Lobby as well. You have to be careful with this kind, because they have what is called a dye lot. Dye lots are numbers found on the label that indicate the lot that this skein belongs to. If you are making a large piece, it is important to buy all yarn at once, from the same dye lot because the differences between dye lots are noticeable and striking! Red Heart has no dye lot, which is definitely a benefit.

I have not dabbled too much into other fibers, but I have used wool. It is difficult to wash, so that is a disadvantage, and it can be scratchy--particularly for children. The main benefit is that it is WARM! Alpaca is even warmer. If you're making mittens, or a hat or something similar, wool or alpaca is the way to go. You can also investigate wool blends, which tend to be less scratchy and less expensive.

And that's all you need to get started! Summary--get a metal J hook and start with a cheap acrylic yarn. Work your way into more expensive yarns as you get the hang of it!

I would love to field any questions anyone may have, so just let me know!

25 October 2009

The hat that took forever...



It's done!!

The hat that took forever is finally complete! Its made of a gorgeous soft wool in olive green :) I originally bought it to make a dinosaur with. I made the dino, but had a ton leftover, so voila! New hat for G-money.

I really liked working with this wool, but I started to get impatient with single crocheting around, sooo I started to double crochet around and it went a bit faster. I'm not used to working with smaller weight yarn. My friend works with a lot of fingering and floss and I just can't do it voluntarily. I like to see quick progress, which one would think would wear off after almost 15 years of crocheting.

I finished the hat last night because my lovely neighbor came over to knit with me! I wasn't knitting, of course, but I was working on my hat and managed to complete another, which I will post soon! My neighbor is quite the gifted knitter. Bless her heart, she was trying to explain cableing and all the crazy things knitters do, but I can't wrap my mind around it unless I'm doing it. I can only think about crocheting in the abstract because my knitting is terrible!

It was really nice, though to sit and hang out and work together on our projects. Its tough to find people who can sit and crochet for 4 hours like me.

24 October 2009

Its the weekend!

I have a lot of homework to do, but I also have a lot of hats to do! I'm going to the yarnery today! WOOT!

I AM going to finish Gracen's hat this weekend. There is no other option. It WILL get done and I WILL post a pic of him in it! I can't procrastinate on it anymore. Like I said, I switched to doing dc, so it should go faster now. For some reason this wool is really fine and takes forever to build up. Its really the first time I've really worked with 100% wool before. Shocking, I know.

As I wrote in another post, I'd love to become a yarn snob, but I haven't quite realized that dream. I would love to buy hand dyed yarn, but I just can't bring myself to spend $30 a skein just yet. I also haven't found a colorway that I'm in love with, so it has been easy to turn them down. If you have a colorway to recommend I'd love to see it!

I have the bad habit of talking myself out of buying things, even if I really need them. I was telling my mom that I was going to make some pasta from scratch and she literally reached through the phone and shook me and said "JUST BUY SOME SPAGHETTI!!" I made the pasta anyway because I'm a nerd like that, but she's right. Sometimes you just have to go for it and stop nickel and diming yourself all the time.

Maybe if I find some hand dyed I love, I will get it for my birthday in January!

22 October 2009

Why I haven't been crocheting


I think I will tell you about what I'm studying, to explain why it is that I haven't been blogging or crocheting!

I'm currently working on my thesis at the University of Kansas. I'm getting ready to run a study where I will record a speaker in an anechoic chamber (a chamber that doesn't echo) speaking a passage in English, a passage in Korean, and a list of target words in English. A photo of an anechoic chamber is above, but ours doesn't have the foam inside, because it isn't necessary. The building was built around it and it is basically suspended in midair. Its almost like a big walk in freezer, but not cold. Anyway, you can make pure high quality recordings. Its amazing.

I will then combine the word list over the English "background noise" and the Korean "background noise". My participants will listen to either one of these mashups and will try to remember the 9 words in order. At the end of the trial, the listeners will write down as many words as possible. Then I will analyze their data to see if Korean is more or less distracting than the English background (English will be the native language of all listeners). My pilot study suggests that English is, in fact, more distracting!

So I'm at the stage of finding a speaker, developing a word list and getting approval from the human subjects committee. These stages are all almost complete. Then I will run my participants and hopefully get writing next spring!

I am teaching Language and the Mind discussion sections as well, which keeps me quite busy. This is probably the most boring blog I've ever written (that's what you're thinking :))

I have actually been working on my son's hat a bit more. I've switched from single crocheting it to double to make it go faster! I do have to get cracking on the hats for my MIL so I can have them ready for her by Thanksgiving.

I also want to make some sort of basket for my son's toys. The current set up we have looks junky. I'm thinking about using my t-shirt yarn that I've been getting ready to make (oh face it its going to be a long while before its done).

18 October 2009

Ok I HAVE to do better!

I'm going to start updating again, I swear! I'm working on a wool hat for my son. I've been making about an item a week for other people and will be making something like 12 hats for family this year and for some reason I can do them quickly. My son's hat--not so much. I can't figure out why it takes me so darn long to make things for myself.

It must be the sense of urgency. When I was an undergrad, I always had at least 2 jobs and took overload. I NEED the pressure in order to get things done. Now as a graduate student, I get things done because I have a toddler and a limited time to study. So I get things done during my office hours, and while I'm on campus in the mornings. I really need to get better about blogging and about crocheting for myself and my family. I need to make it a priority! That is my goal!!

Anyway, I have made a bazillion of the brown ribbed newsboys, they've been selling like hotcakes:




I gave my 6 month old neice, Kyla, this cherry blossom beanie I made last summer (my son modeling it :) :



My mom purchased (despite my protests) this hat for a coworkers baby:


So basically, I've been giving away my back stock of things and I now have room to make new things! Hold me to that!

22 July 2009

Meet Arcturus Alligator!


I decided an alligator would be the best start for a sock puppet and he turned out better than I had hoped! Gracen loves him. He has a stuffed tail and beaded eyes and his two front teeth. I named him Arcturus after Regulus Arcturus Black (my lame Harry Potter reference :)). I call him Art for short.


I'm hoping Art will help my sales pick up this month! Its so hard to do this etsy thing. You really have to stay on top of listing your items and promoting yourself. I am facebooking and twittering and it only helps a bit. I welcome any advice on this matter. I'm unsure of what else I should do

19 July 2009

Boo. Old projects?

So I got no suggestions on what hand puppet to make out of my green yarn! WTH? Its ok, I know you're all busy (all 7 of you followers ;)) I'm really busy too, that's why my postings have been scarce! I will post an old project for you to look at, but I'm going to tell you what I have been up to first.

I have been submitting alchemy requests lately because I want to do more custom work! Its exciting, but at the same time, it is really annoying that nobody has picked me yet :( Its ok. I'll get over it. I know my work is good, I'm just a little misunderstood at the moment! Yeah that's a good excuse :)

Anywho feast your eyes on this!


I know the photo isn't beary good, but thse are two hats I made for two brothers. So cute right? I need to make more of them and list them because I think making your kids look like animals is a popular thing to do right now.

16 July 2009

Puppeteer?

So I was thinking about making a line of hand puppets. My son loves it when we make his stuffed animals talk. I have some forest green yarn I need to get rid of. Any suggestions? I fixed the comment feature FINALLY. It was something wonky with the layout I had picked, hence the boring one up now. I need to find a new one that will be conducive to allowing comments! Seriously though, I would love ideas on what you would like to see made into a hand puppet. As I always say, if you can imagine it, I can crochet it! I have yet to be stumped, unless you're my husband who requests that I make the entire cast of his video games amigurumi style. I *could* do it, I just won't. He plays a lot of games.

13 July 2009

Holy Smokes!

So, I was out of town for a lonnng time! I haven't crocheted much. I sold three of the dinosaurs so that is basically what I have been up to! I made this adorable dragon as a variation of the t-rex!

I love his tongue. I've been pretty distracted lately because something big is about to happen. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is opening Tuesday night! We got tickets at a nice theatre for midnight! I have been to all of the movies (except one) at midnight along with midnight book releases. Call me crazy, but dangit I just can't help it. Its such a great series. I would love to make a Molly Weasley sweater someday, like the one from Chamber of Secrets:

Isn't it great? Whoever made it is a genious. You kno it has to be handmade, where would you buy something like that? Its kind of depressing to know that the Harry Potter excitement is coming to an end soon. I hope that my children will have something to be SOOO excited about. Anywho, I'm in the process of making a tote bag for my nephew, because he has suddenly become quite interested in matchbox cars and hotwheels and we all ran with it and bought him a whole bunch of them for his 2nd birthday. He needs a bag methinks.

26 June 2009

My new friend!


I made this little guy this evening while vegging out over Degrassi and anticipating my Dr. appt in the morning. I'm fairly sure I have strep or something along those lines. I think I am going to make a couple more of these guys and list them on etsy. This particular guy I'm going to keep for myself. It was made from my great grandma's stash of yarn I got from her and its become a sentimental thing for me to use it. I hope she knows how much I love to crochet and that I want her to be proud of what I am doing with her beloved gift. I wish I'd known her better.

*sigh* enough of my reminiscing! I made a sale yesterday (YAY!) and I'm quite thrilled with how it turned out! I hope my buyer loves it too. It will look adorable on her daughter. It was my first venture into the wild world of cotton. I think I will make one for my little man as well, if I can get him to ever keep a hat on. How ironic is it that I, who almost exclusively crochet baby hats these days, have a son who rips off any hat I try to put on his head!?

25 June 2009

I was a crocheter before I was a cheapskate

Therefore, I am forcing myself to become a yarn snob and buy high quality yarns. I just purchased my first skein of cotton and I'm pretty excited about it! I also got two skeins of "haute fur" from Hobby Lobby for $1.19! They will make some adorable baby hats :) I'm busy today, so I must go! I made my first sale in a month this morning!! WAHOO!

24 June 2009

Hunter's Orange!

I've created a couple things since I last saw you. The ripple scarf that I bought the wrong yarn for is completely fixed! Its not posted on my shop yet, so here is a sneak peek!!



The other thing I made was a hunter orange beanie for my BFF. It is just a simple beanie. No bells, no whistles, just a cute hat made for warmth and simplicity. With this yarn, I made another hat for my nephew before he was born (2 years ago!). I bought hunter's orange because his parents are big hunting enthusiasts. So, naturally, I thought he needed an ear flap hat in bright orange for safety during deer season! At that point, I was winging it and had no idea how big a baby's head was. So I made it as big as my saucepan and even blocked it on my saucepan! It was huge! But in about three or four months, he grew right into it, right on time. See, he was a June baby, and June babies don't typically need hats until they are 3 or 4 months old anyway. It worked out perfectly! What is even better is that the ear flaps help keep the hat on, and my nephew still can wear his hat even at 2 years old. He takes it everywhere. Its so cute! Below is a picture of the beanie I made for my friend. I hope that the baby she gives it too is able to use it and love it as much as my nephew does :)

15 June 2009

Small Lovelies

Sometimes, I just need a break. So yesterday, on the way to my nephew's birthday party, I made this:


Its a handy little pin cushion. I worked it in rounds and stuffed it and tied it up using a slip stitch. Not only did it help on my mission to destash, but its kinda cute, and I like it :)

Yesterday, I ran to the yarnery to get yarn to finish a destash ripple scarf I was working on. After I used it for about 5 rows (alternating colors, so its not as easy to undo) when I realized it was "soft white" not "off white". I need new glasses. BAD.

This is my last week off of work. I will have to start my crap summer job next week, so unfortunately, my crocheting will probably slow down. I'm a little sad about it, but vow to try and keep it up! I've enjoyed my time just hanging around watching hulu and youtube and crocheting. *sigh* all good things come to an end. ALWAYS. Its one of those universal facts of life that is actually quite depressing. Someday. That's what I tell myself: "someday I will be able to sit around and crochet and not have to worry about money or anything other than the stitches in hand"

Its a nice thought, right?

13 June 2009

Out of Yarn


So I finished the coozie yesterday, as you can see above ^^. It came out ok. I think it ended up looking like cauliflower, which is hilarity. In fact, I think I'm going to call it a caulicoozie. Witty right? wah wah. That took me all of 20 minutes, and I still had the bug, so I decided to start making a scarf out of some caramel brown and the ecru yarn shown above. I did a typical ripple pattern. Then I ran out of ecru. I was so certain that I had more! So there I was at midnight wandering around looking for ecru yarn. My husband was perplexed and for some reason gets a good chuckle out of the word "skein". Weirdo. Anyway, I think today I shall attempt to continue with my rampant destashing. I want to somehow make a hood with a duckbill, there are far too few animal items in my inventory and repertoire! Or perhaps I will finish my "Here Comes the Sun" bag. Have I mentioned that yet? Its a purse with a sun rising over the hill, its almost done in an amigurumi style, in that you just work in rounds, or maybe like an afghan stitch? No. I think not. More amigurumi. I should probably finish that one first.

12 June 2009

Today's project: Cooolzies!

The coozie. Apparently not everyone knows what I'm talking about. I often find myself saying "you know, that thing you put your drink in to keep your hand from getting cold and your drink from getting hot?"

I either get blank stares, or a "oh yeah, you mean a (insert random *incorrect* word here)"

Anyway. I have a ton of destashing to do and I think this is the best way to do it! I think what I shall do is start by making a simple single crocheted circle, then sc a piece as long as the circumference of that circle (or the circumference of a pop can)!

Hope to have pics soon! That's what I'm doing today!

Oh and I started a facebook page for my etsy!

I appreciate your support!

10 June 2009

Vintage Time!

So I began over the weekend crocheting with a vintage skein left from my great grandmother's house. I felt kinda weird using it, because she was the epitome of a craft genius. Unfortunately, she is no longer with us, but I'm hoping to capture some of her spirit by following in her footsteps as a crafter! I decided that a vintage yarn deserves a vintage feeling pattern, so I used a standard broomstick lace style. As usual, however, I did not use a pattern and winged it. Wang it? Wung it? Hmmm. Anyway! Here is the finished product, one skein of this "ombre sayelle" yarn in "spice" produced a 60" x 6" scarf:

I hope you like it! Its going to be really hard for me if it sells on etsy. I thought about not listing it, but I really need to destash and declutter, so if someone wants it, its theirs! I have plenty more of Great Grandma's afghans and yarns and incomplete projects that I can complete and keep for myself.

What's funny about the yarn is that it had the Duckwall price tag still on it. It was a small skein (think Red Heart Sport size), and it cost $1.29! That's in the 1970s! I thought it would be much cheaper, but apparently the price of yarn has been stable for many many years! I think we may even pay less than that now, for the really cheap stuff. Happy Needles!

04 June 2009

Adventures in Upcycling

So, this morning I made a beanie for my etsy shop. I'm trying to get more adult items in there. I love making baby stuff, and its quick and easy. The adult stuff, I'm finding, is fun as well, I just have to think "what kind of stuff would I want to buy?"




Last night, I cut a bunch of old t-shirts up to make yarn for dish cloths. I have made 2 of 3 that I am going to make. Its really fun and quick! The cutting takes a while, but it is well worth the effort when it comes to crocheting. I love the chunky texture of the thick cotton and it is super fast. I will post pics when I upload them this afternoon! Here are the dishcloths!




To cut the t-shirts up, all you have to do is cut from one side and continue around and around the t-shirt until you reach the sleeves. On one of the tees, I continued up into the shoulder just looping around the front of the shirt, but that seemed to be a waste for an extra foot or two. I am not the most precise, and my scissors were kind of dull, but the yarn actually becomes more interesting with varying weight throughout!

02 June 2009

Greetings!

Thanks for stopping by! I'm really excited about this blog. I decided that I want to discuss the home arts by means of a blog, because while there are many of us, we are often scattered. Just when we think these arts are dying, we go out to etsy and craftster and ravelry, etc. and realize crafting is not dead at all. In fact, crocheting and knitting have gotten new life from the creative and resourceful minds of today! Amigurumi crochet is something my great-grandmother would have loved, if she were still alive today. She made the most beautiful afghans, pillows and clothing. Another exciting update for the textile art world is upcycling! I hope to add my tutorial for making plarn (plastic grocery bag yarn) and yarn from old t-shirts. Stay tuned, I will post some pics of my latest projects. Feel free to comment if you have anything you'd like to discuss, or any ideas for me!