Friday, December 31, 2010

Ozzie's Beach Bag

For this gift project, I modified a Bernat pattern by reducing both the number of colors and squares used in order to make a cleaner, more streamlined end product. 

Making the handles may have been my favorite part. I had never used this method before and was well-pleased by how soft and cushy the handles would be for small hands to hold. I simply made two rows of double crochet, then folded them in and crocheted them together with a line of single crochet. Couldn't have been easier. 

However, do not let this bag deceive you. It took a lot more time than I originally anticipated it would. The floral squares are fun, but rather time consuming. The flowers are first crocheted and then the square is made off of their round centers. However, the petals still need to be individually woven onto the square. There are four flower squares on the front of the bag as well as on the back for a total of eight flowers. Eight flowers with six petals a piece equals a whopping 48 ends to weave. For someone rushing to meet a Christmas deadline, this discovery was not pleasant. But, I buckled down and had the bag done with four days to spare until Christmas. I was very proud of myself.

Crocheting the side and bottom pieces allowed me to try my hand at a new stitch ~ the reverse single crochet. Many of you, dear readers, have probably attempted this long ago, but  I had somehow never run across it in my 14 years of crocheting. It took my brain a while to get used to the fact that I was crocheting backwards (from left to right instead of right to left), but I ended up enjoying the experience. My brain needed to be stretched a bit anyway. Since completing my masters back in August, I have needed a new challenge... haha. 

I hope that wherever each of you may find yourselves this New Year's Eve that you will be in the company of those you hold dear. Many happy returns to you all as we blaze into 2011 together. 
Oh, the crafting yet to be done! I can hardly wait!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Just my kind of day...

a pretty puzzle
hot coffee
yummy butter cookies
loved ones with whom to savor it all

Gearing up for a new year...

... thankful for what has been....
...enjoying what is here and now.... 
... and looking forward to what 2011 has in store. 

{flower smiles to bring cheer in the midst of our winter time}

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

There is a song that states my sentiments for you all 
on this special day very well:

Have a merry, merry Christmas,
All throughout the year.
May your days be filled with gladness,
Your hearts be filled with cheer.
And as friends and family gather,
May His love rest on each face.
Have a merry, merry Christmas,
All throughout the year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve 
"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: It is the time for home."
~ Edith Sitwell

"Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!"
~ Hamilton Wright Mabie

May you be inspired this Christmas to carry the love of Christ in your heart all this coming year through in order to keep the 
"conspiracy of love" in strong continuance. 
Blessings, my friends!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ellie's Poncho
Since Ellie is my second youngest niece, I decided to do Ellie's poncho in the same vivid colors and deliciously soft Homespun yarn as Allie's blanket. 
I loved how this picture makes the poncho look like a square with a bite out of the top!  As if the yarn was just so yummy, a square-toothed, yarn-lovin' monster could not resist coming by and taking a nibble. ;-)

I found this poncho to be one of the most rewarding crochet projects I have ever done. It came together quickly and easily with a very pleasing result. I used a pattern in Candy Crochet by Candi Jensen as my guide, but added my own own touches along the way.  

I started off by chaining 20, putting a dc in the 4th chain from hook, and continuing right along to the end for a total of 17 dc. I continued to add row by row of 17 dc's until the panel measured 20 inches long. Then, I fastened off and created a second identical panel.
The trickiest part was sewing the panels together to make the poncho into its final shape. I took the end of panel 1 and attached it to the lower side of panel 2. Next, I took the end of the panel 2 and sewed it to the lower side of panel 1. Trust me, it took lots of double checking to make sure I was sewing in the right spots. 
My favorite part of this project was adding the finishing touches in green. I added a dc-fan scallop along the whole outer edge of the poncho (5 dc in one space, skip a space, sc in next sp, skip a space, repeat). After the edging, I whipped together a dc-fan flower with a double layer and then sewed it onto the shoulder. 
Voila! Another Christmas project is done!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jolly Old St. Nicholas.... 

... I recently got my first Lion Brand catalog and now have a full list of items that I would LOVE for Santa to bring me this year. 

1. A basket overflowing with a bounty of luxurious yarn in a rainbow of yummy colors.

2. Elves who will come and take all my yarn scraps and roll them into the most symmetrical, perfectly round balls of fiber I have ever seen. (Seriously, who else would take the time to wrap yarn so meticulously?)

4. An art studio with enough room to clearly display my scads of crafting supplies and a table with plenty of elbow room for my friends to join me. 

5. And last, but not least by far, I wish for a trip to New York City to witness for myself the grand window displays of the Lion Brand Yarn Studio where nearly every item is either knit or crocheted. What a treasure trove of inspiration!

I wonder how much cookies and milk I would have to leave out on Christmas Eve to get all of this? ;-)

All photos (save dear old Santa) were from the 
Lion Brand 2010-2011 catalog

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A few lines from my favorite Christmas song....

What child is this 
who lays to rest
on Mary's lap is sleeping?

Whom angels greet 
with anthem sweet
while shepherd's watch are keeping?

This! This is Christ, the KING 
whom shepherds guard 
and angels sing.

Haste! Haste to bring him laud
The babe
The SON of Mary.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Allie's Afghan 

Allie is my youngest niece. It is not her actual name. My fiance has abbreviated all four of our nieces names so when said together in a row they will roll off the tongue in an easy cadence ~ 
Izzie, Ozzie, Ellie, and Allie. 

Being as Allie will only be one year old this Christmas, I thought a cozy little afghan would be perfect for her. I happened to have some Lion Brand Homespun yarn all ready on hand in these lovely shades of raspberry and jungle green. I started with a basic granny square which I adapted from one of my many pattern books so that the holes would not be as large. Then, I crocheted a solid, double crochet square to match in size. I joined all 20 squares together using two-chain crochet stitching and rounded it off with one layer of raspberry double crochet and the other a scallop in green. 

I often like to refer back to patterns of the past for guidance on future projects, but since I rarely follow a pattern to any one book's dictates, that can be troublesome. So, I decided to make a Crochet Recipe! I got the idea by accidentally referring to patterns as recipes ~ much to the amusement of my other family members. But then I realized, why not capitalize on my language blunder? It would be the perfect way to catalog all my projects for easy reference. I all ready have an assortment of chic recipe cards on hand picked up from dollar bins here and there. So problem solved! And all because of my own mishap with the English language. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snowy Day

My world today and I am not complaining. The whirling white wonders of winter have long held my heart captive. If every day could find me snuggly snowed in my home with my family all around me, then I would be one sincerely happy girl. 

As always, my hands have been busy, steadily working to complete a Christmas project this time for my nieces. 

I LOVE having nieces. Since my engagement this past July, I now have 4 beautiful, adorable, darling nieces all under the age of 8 and I am eating up every minute of this most especial privilege!

I have successfully completed my Christmas gifts for my first two lovees (posts to follow),  but have yet to finishing whipping up the ones for my last two dearies. Eleven of the twelve flowers needed to complete this project (any guesses as to what the finished product might be?) are now finished...

... after which time, I will commence the process of transforming each one into a square. I am always amazed how a pattern can be steadily worked out of a circle and into a square with relative simplicity. What appears impossible to the naked eye is, in fact, not at all an arduous task, but a highly rewarding one.  

Now, time for me to get back to work!
(But, oh, what a pleasant form of work it is)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Crocheted Purse 

I crocheted this purse for my young cousin Lily who lives nearly a continent away from me in the great state of California. I simply made two squares using a fan pattern. Then, I joined them together and.... 

... lined the inside with a vintage-style handkerchief. I only used half of the 89 cent hankie for this project and have the other half awaiting its use in some other future purse endeavor. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Crochet Journey

I was a bit upset this past week that the two separate battery packs for my new camera are no longer wanting to recharge after a mere five months of use. I have not been able to upload any recent crochet projects due to my camera's fickle nature just now. I will have a shot all perfectly lined up ready to go, snap one or two pictures and then.... the battery exhausted light comes on and I can no longer finish my photo story. Major grrrr!

Today, however, I happened upon some old jump drives filled with picture files. And what did I find? Nothing less than a whole folder titled Crochet chronicling some of the many afghans I have made through the years. I was astonished at the volume and grew misty-eyed over some of the memories attached to the creation of these blankets. 

This afghan was crocheted in honor of my friend Heather's marriage back in 2006.

I have fond memories of this afghan. It was the joint effort of myself, my mother, and my sister (both of whom I had recently taught to crochet). We did the squares together, then I joined them, after which time we proudly mailed this shared labor of love to a woman in Cleveland who used to distribute afghans to children in foster programs. 

 I primarily crocheted this afghan while on a trip out west in 2007. This, too, was an afghan that was donated to Cleveland foster homes. Even thought this particular charity organization no longer exists, it was a great joy to be a part of it. The leader posted pictures of each completed ghan on her Yahoo group site with the name the donating crocheter had chosen for her afghan. I named this ghan Tiffany after my dear friend (and co-Sunday School teacher) who passed away during the making of this blanket. She was only 24 years old. I had never had someone that close to me die, nor personally known someone so young to pass away. I dedicated this ghan in her memory. She was a bright light to many children in our Sunday School class and had a heart for service. Tiffany was always ready to lend a hand, help cook a church supper, or share a laugh. It has been over three years and it still feels weird to teach class without her there. I was proud to be able to donate this in her honor. 

But God brings grace to us each day. As one life leaves, new life and light comes back to us in different ways. I crocheted this blanket for my childhood friend Faith in anticipation of the arrival of her first child... a beautiful baby girl. I had never made a blanket of this complexity before and was very pleased with its results - even though I am not pleased with how I look in this picture... 

This blanket was also crocheted the same year for my other friend Rachel who had her first child... also a sweet-eyed baby girl. Rachel planned a very natural theme for her nursery and loved this exquisitely soft yarn we found for a steal at Pat Catan's. I can no longer remember the brand, but wish I did. The yarn was variegated and happened to form these nice, even stripes as I crocheted.

So, all in all, I am no longer quite as grumpy with my camera's battery issue, for it allowed me to take a trip down memory lane and feel a renewed sense of accomplishment for my craft. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

My button collection has recently gotten a fantastic upgrade thanks to the amazingly creative and talented folks who design the contents of the dollar bins at Michael's Craft Store.  

Just look at these adorable darlings all lined up in a row!

Not only are these containers super cute.... 
... but they are re-fillable, too!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Never thought a crochet bib...

... could be this cute!

Click here for the pattern. 
For best durability, make with a cotton yarn. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

What compares to the joys of a new journal? 

There are so many possibilities represented 
by this currently unfilled tome. 

What delights will fill these pages? 
What challenges will be overcome?

What sorrows will be mourned? 
What personal revelations will be illuminated?

When a heart reflects in honest sincerity,
 the pen flows swiftly with a healing virtue. 

(This journal is from Amy Butler. I bought it The Reader's Garden - a lovely bookstore nestled along the charming Main Street shoppes in her hometown of Granville, Ohio. I cannot wait to start recording the next season of my life within its pages!). 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vintage Vignette

In this economy, it is really not practical to run out and scour the stores for a new item to brighten up my living spaces. My budget must go to a whole slew of other necessities (like student loans, a new washing machine, and life in general *sigh*). But I when I stop to really think about it, I find that I am grateful for the challenge this season has gifted to me, because I have been forced to look at my current possessions with new eyes. 

And in so doing, I have created novel vignettes that are out of my normal realm of decorating.  The quirky-fun side of my personality has had more opportunity to come out and play. This exercise in frugality has also opened my eyes to the ever growing possibility of what art can be. Items from my every day existence, for example. The cameo above, my mother discovered years ago at one of my favorite local antique malls. She then presented it to me for my birthday.  I have long treasured this as one of my favorite vintage pieces. 

I thought to myself the other day, why keep such a gem relegated to hiding among my pin stash when it can be showcased alongside other meaningful pieces from my past? Every time I pass this vintage vignette, a happy memory tugs at the corner of my heart and I am once again grateful for this learned art of frugality.