Friday, November 14, 2014

crochet : baby hat & booties

Everything's coming up babies!
At least that's how it feels at work this year.
Is there anything cuter than little baby hats and booties done up in crochet?
I put this little set together for a colleague who just had her first baby girl.

The hat is my own pattern, included at the end of this post.
The booties are an adaptation of this pattern from Croby Patterns.

You can get the pattern for the flower here on Ravelry.

Crochet Baby Hat

Yarn: Lily and Cream 100% cotton yarn in Stormy Skies
Hook: size G, 4.00 mm

Make a magic circle.
round 1: chain 3, 11dc into the ring, join with a slip stitch, pull closed (12)
round 2: ch3, dc in same stitch, 2dc in each stitch around, join with sl st (24)
round 3: ch3, dc in same stitch, *1 dc in next stitch, 2dc in next; repeat from * around, join with sl st (36)
round 4: ch3, dc in same stitch, *1 dc in next 2 stitches, 2dc in next; repeat from * around, join with sl st (48) 
Note: the hat pictured above is intended for a newborn.  At the end of round 4, the diameter of the circle should be between 4 and 4.5".  For a larger hat, continue rounds of dc increases (ie. 1dc in next 3, 2dc in next; 1dc in next 4, 2dc in next; etc...)
rounds 5-7: ch3, dc in next stitch and each stitch around (no increases) (48)
round 8: ch 3, dc in next 2 stitches, *ch1, skip next dc, dc in each of next 3 stitches; repeat from * around, join with sl st (36dc, 12 ch1 spaces)
rounds 9-10: sl st to first ch1 space ch3, 2dc in same space, *ch1, skip next 3 dc, 3dc in next ch1 space; repeat from * around, join with sl st (12 groups of 3dc, 12 ch1 spaces)
round 11-12: ch1, sc in next dc, *2sc in ch1 space, sc in each of the next 3 dc; repeat from * around, join with sl st.
Fasten off and weave in ends.

I have not had a chance to test this pattern yet, so crochet at your own risk!  If you try it out before I do and notice a problem, please post it in the comments below.  Thanks so much!

Happy crocheting!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

gratitude journal 2014

It's gratitude journal time!  

The inspiration for this year's gratitude album came from this pin from Kesiart.
She created hers as an Advent calendar (genius!), and the moment I saw it, I knew it would be the perfect format for this year's mini album for our family's Thanksgiving Day gratitudes.

The frame is from IKEA.
I simply cut paper 3 3/8 x 5 and stapled pockets of 3 3/8 x 2.

Then embellish the pockets (I kept mine super simple).  Hole punch and thread onto a binder ring.  Family members will record this year's gratitudes onto coordinating Project Life cards.

I scored a metal tag on clearance at Michaels for like 40 cents!  G is for Gratitude (and Great deals!).

You can see past years' gratitude journals 


Monday, October 6, 2014

crochet: a little birdie

Just a quickie {practically wordless post} to share my new little friend.
I might have gotten a smidge carried away with his photo shoot, 
but how could you not?
 Oh, and maybe 'he' is a 'she' with that cute little flower on her backside.  It's like a little birdie tattoo.
I had so much fun hooking up this sweetie.
And I see many more on my hook in time for Christmas {at least, that's the plan anyway!}.  
You can get the pattern from Lucy at Attic24.

weekly planning

Sunday is planning day around here.  This is a recent discovery I made (I love that I am still learning new things all the time): life goes a lot smoother when you do a little pre-planning.
Yesterday while I was doing my Sunday planning bit, I snapped some photos to share with you today in hopes that maybe some of what I do may help your life go a little smoother, too.

We lead crazy, busy lives.  And the more I talk with other families, the more I know we are not alone.  Kids, school, sports, jobs, home, family, friends, church, community--sometimes it feels as though you're going in a thousand directions in a single day.  Recently I had a little breakdown, that turned into a 'breakthrough.'  It was grocery shopping day.  I had just guiltily dumped out enough food to feed a small village because it had spoiled before we had a chance to eat it.  I could have cried.  I was angry with myself for being so wasteful, resentful that our crazy schedule prevents me from making good wholesome meals for our family, and discouraged that I was about to head back to the grocery store to do it all over again.  This week I was determined to do it right and only buy what we were actually going to eat.  But the problem was, I don't always have enough time to cook a full blown meal between coming home from work and zipping out the door to sports or some other obligation.  I needed to figure out our schedule, in order to plan meals, in order to make the grocery list.  Simple, right?  And so began Sunday Planning Day--and I love it!

What I use:

* a large desk blotter calendar

*iCal calendar app on my computer and iPad

*whiteboard calendar

* recipe book and menu planner

*Wegman's shopping list app

What I do:

I gather all of the above items and sit down at the kitchen table (icy cold beverage in a green mason jar optional).

I begin by updating our family calendar (desk blotter calendar) with all of that week's events from the calendar feeds on my iPad.  This jumbo calendar hangs on the back of our kitchen door where everyone can see it.  Each child has his own color to make it easy to see who's what and to avoid having to write the person's names with the times and events.

Next, I update the schedule board for the week.
This is a magnetic white board.  I used magnetic label strips to create lots of labels for things like homework, dinner, hockey, shower, bed, etc: the stuff we do everyday.  Again, each child has his own color and section of the calendar.  This time instead of writing the event start times, I put the time we have to leave to get to the event.  This is a huge help!  Now everyone knows what time we need to be out the door, and can plan to be ready on time.  We can also see how much time is available between events so everyone knows how much time they have to cook dinner (me), do homework or play video games (the boys).

Then, since I know how much time I have to prep/cook meals, I can start planning the week's menu.
Last spring I started the huge task of creating a recipe binder of our go-to meals (see photo above).  I hope to get further along in that so I can do a separate blog post on it soon (but gosh, there's only so many hours in the day!)  Anyway, I look through the binder (and on my Pinterest 
i♥ F O O D boards), take requests from the boys, and keep in mind the amount of time I have to cook.  Then I start plugging meals into the week.  On my days off, I try to make that night's meal plus one other.  Lately it's been going a bit like this:

Sunday: varies between a big mid-day meal, something simple and quick, or take out, depending on the hockey schedule.
Monday: something that I can make during the day and leave simmering or reheat after hockey.
Tuesday: soup or stew, or something I can make on Monday and tastes good reheated.
Wednesday: crock pot night
Thursday: a more involved meal since I am home to prep/cook and don't have to rush out the door at night.
Friday: usually take out, but also leftovers if we have lots in the fridge from the week.
Saturday: fish night.  I like to have fish once a week and there's a great fish market near my son's guitar lesson studio so we can pick it up fresh on Saturday after his lesson.

I pull the recipe cards from the binder, or print the recipes from the internet.  As I go through each recipe for the week, I check the pantry for any ingredients I need and make my list in the Wegman's app.  I love this app!  I used to walk aimlessly around the grocery store trying to come up with meal ideas while shopping, adding things to my cart just because it was a regular item that I  "always" buy, or because "I'm not sure, but I think we're running low" or because "hmmm, that looks pretty good."  $200 and 1 hour later, I would wheel my overflowing grocery cart out to the car.  With this app and a menu plan, I can get in and out of the store in about 30 minutes and for sometimes more than half the cost!  I'm only buying what I need for that week's meals, not impulse buying or over buying stuff I forgot I had already bought.

Sunday planning has changed our lives in so many ways:
*We all know exactly what we've got going on, where we need to be and when we need to leave to get there.
*Expectations for free-time are clear: when you have it and how much you have.
*The boys know how focussed they have to be to get homework done quickly, or if there's time to be more relaxed.
*We all feel more in control of our schedule instead of feeling like our schedule is in control of us.
*Our grocery bill is way smaller, as is our eating out bill.
*We are wasting little to no food because I'm only buying what we need, and we're actually eating it instead of eating take-out due to poor planning.
*I no longer drive home from work with the stress of "oh shoot, I forgot to take something out of the freezer for dinner!"
*I no longer ask myself at 4 in the afternoon, "what the heck are we going to have for dinner tonight?"
*I look forward to grocery shopping (true story).

The hour or so that it takes me to complete the Sunday planning is saving me many, many hours during the week, plus my sanity--totally worth it!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

what's on my hook: mandalas ( and other stuff )

These early fall days have been filled with many crochet projects.  
Something about the cooler nights, the crisper air, and the hectic schedule makes me want to get out my hooks and yarn.  Or maybe it's just the hours of waiting in hockey rinks that comes from our jam-packed schedule of games and practices.
this ongoing project
Crochet relaxes me.  It makes me feel creative when there doesn't seem to be time.  It's the perfect take-along craft, and I get the gratification that I am producing something.
Lately I've been waking early to crochet, especially on the days I go into work.  I'm finding it's a happy way to start my day: productive and relaxing.  And if I keep it up I'll have hand-made gifts for giving this holiday season.

Last week I was inspired to do a little decorating in our bedroom.  Maybe it was the change of seasons, or just being plain sick of staring at bare walls.  Some hoops filled with a mix of pattern papers (yes! you can put thin pretty papers in embroidery hoops) and fabrics, layered with some vintage doilies, and finished off with a crocheted mandala made the perfect little cluster to dress up our wall.
You can find the mandala pattern here.  I followed the pattern until Step 8 (round 7), then just kind of made the rest up as I went to fit my hoop (which is 7").
I'm kind of in love with mandalas right now.  You can check out more on my mandala board on Pinterest

C R O C H E T♥ {mandalas}

So what's been on your hook lately?  Share it in the comments; I'd love to see!

Monday, September 29, 2014

yarnspirations scarf cal

It will run through the next few weeks and at the end, you'll have a pretty scarf to welcome the cooler weather.

If you want to crochet along, get yourself three colors of yarn, a hook, and click here to get clue #1.
I chose autumnal colors of teal, orange, and green with a little accent of grey and a #7, 4.5 mm hook.

Each Tuesday, they post a new clue with 3 options from which to choose to continue your scarf.  For week one, I chose option A: alternating rows of sc and dc:

Week 2 was your choice of granny squares.  I chose the Flower Square and incorporated all my colors:

I'm still working on Week 3, and chose the Slanted Blocks Stitch

Here are the links to all the clues so far so you can get hooking:

Clue #1
Clue #2
Clue #3

And for all you knitters there's a knitting version, too!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

app spotlight: granny square a week from simply crochet mag

Hello there!

At some point over the summer, I stumbled upon Simply Crochet's Granny Square a Week app:

I pulled a few colors from my stash and got to work hooking up a new granny square each week.

 It's the perfect way to start out the week.

Before too long, I had a slew of grannies, all with cute little "granny" names.

It's the perfect way to stay creative, even when life gets busy.

And the patterns couldn't be any cuter!

Feeling inspired?  Go get the app and hook along with us!

Monday, September 22, 2014

crochet meets cross-stitch

Like so many of the best projects, this one began with a Pin:
photo credit:
How incredibly cute is that?!!  I love the whole project, but I specifically loved the idea of cross stitching on crocheted fabric.  I just had to give it a try.

Laly was so sweet to share her cross stitch rose pattern to which I added the DMC floss colors I used and marked the center.

I began by creating the crocheted "aida" cloth using Lily Sugar and Cream white cotton yarn and a size 7 hook (4.5 mm).  I went down a hook size because I wanted a nice tight stitch.  Ch 41.  Turn, sc in second ch from hook, and each ch across (40 sc).  Ch1, turn, sc in each sc across (40 sc).  Repeat each ch1, 40sc row until the piece is a square (this will be more than 40 rows).  Weave in ends and now you're ready for the cross stitching.

Find the center of your crocheted cloth by folding it in half each way and threading a piece of yarn into that stitch where the two creases meet.   

Begin cross stitching following the color pattern and counting the placement of the stitches. 

Tips: *keep your stitches consistent; i.e. whichever way you make the X, make it the same each time so that the line on top is always facing the same direction.  (I didn't do this because I am a cows-stitching newbie, but I do think it looks more polished if you do)

* stitch over your beginning tail to keep it in place since the stitches of the crochet are large enough to allow knots to pass through.

This project took longer than I thought.  I was a bit obsessive about counting and recounting my stitch placement so I didn't mess up.  If you are a cross-stitcher, then this will be a breeze for you! 

It is hanging in a spray-painted frame in my craft room studio.

 I really love the look of the cross-stitched crocheted fabric.  Check out more inspiration on my Pinterest board:

C R O C H E T♥ {cross-stitch}

Friday, September 12, 2014

woodland bookmarks: a silhouette tutorial

I was searching for a cute little token to give my kindergarten students for the end of the school year.  Searching for "bookmarks" on Pinterest turned up these little cuties at Ellinée:
photo credit:
They were designed by the talented Lia Griffith
I downloaded them (they're free!), and opened the file with my Silhouette Studio Designer Edition software.  From there, I was able to turn them into print and cut files using the trace feature:

How to: uncheck High Pass Filter; dial threshold up to 100% (or there abouts); select Trace Outer Edge.

Next, I added my text in the color and font of choice using the text and line color tools:

Then, tell the Silhouette not to cut your text:

How to: go to the Cut Settings menu; select the text in your project and select "no cut" in the Cut Style options.

Lastly, place your print and cut registration marks and move your project to fit (avoid placing anything on top of the shaded sections):

Using the Print and Cut option, send it to the printer, then to your cutter, and you will end up with the cutest batch of personalized woodland bookmarks ever!
To add some stability, I backed mine with tongue depressors and "laminated" them with heavy duty clear packing tape.