Completing Another Crocheter’s Creation

A friend contacted me to ask me to complete a blanket that her aunt had made for her son before passing away. I was honoured that she would entrust this important project to me. Before she sent the blanket, she sent photos and I realised it was Tunisian crochet. I have done some basic Tunisian crochet before, but wasn’t immediately sure how to do this basket type pattern. After some googling, I found that it was Tunisian entrelac.

As I awaited the blanket in the post, I began to familiarize myself with the stitch. After a few blocks I realised that, unlike regular crochet, Tunisian crochet is single sided. Since I was completing someone else’s work and I would need to use the same ‘right side’, I would have to crochet right handed! Teaching my non-crochet hand this was a very slow process and my gauge was quite tight. When the blanket arrived, I was ready to add on to the stitches but had to go up three mm hook sizes to match the existing stitches with my amateur hand. I crocheted about 3/4 of the outer block layer, did a single crochet edge, and wove in the ends

Entrelac Tunisian Crochet baby blanket

It was an interesting process, completing someone’s creative investment. Generally, when I crochet something, I think about the recipient. This time, I thought about the original crocheter and imagined her making the blanket and pouring her love into her gift. I’m glad I could help her gift become the completed blanket she envisioned.

Valentine’s Day Date

When I asked Honey on a date for Valentine’s Day, I kept the plans secret. I wanted to surprise her with the sort of day that we would have on holiday. When we go away together, we enjoy not being connected to the Internet, seeing some sites through geocaching (which does involve some connectivity), visiting historic or artistic locations, and trying out the food.

Bridge statute near Kelvingrove Park

Bridge statute near Kelvingrove Park

To create this, I took Honey ‘away for the day’ to Glasgow. I wrote about the city and the sites that we would visit in the itinerary as though it were a completely new city for us. The bonus was that we were in an entirely new part of the city for Honey. We started the day with geocaching through Kelvingrove Park, went in to the Kelvingrove museum and gallery for a picnic lunch and photo scavenger hunt, then finished the day off with a trip to the Bier Halle for pizza and a selection of imported beers (one of Honey’s Favourite things to sample abroad).

Fountain in Kelvingrove Park

The geocaching took us through Kelvingrove Park to learn about the historical figures commemorated there. It was a nice wander outside and something Honey really loves. The cache we were looking for had a series of clues that we would need to decode and then find the final cache. We found out towards the end that the actual cache had been removed, but the walk was enjoyable.

Organ at Kelvingrove

Egyptian god at Kelvingrove

Egyptian mummy at Kelvingrove

The indoor picnic was a nice bit of downtime, finished off by an organ concert in the Kelvingrove’s main hall. Turning to the scavenger hunt, we had five serious Valentine’s Day clues such ‘Venus’ and ‘the weirdest heart piece’ and three humorous ones like ‘a prepper’s dream’. With our separate index cards, we wandered the gallery together, pointing out things of interest while also giggling as we snapped up a find or in response to the puzzled look of the other. Eight was the perfect number of clues and Honey remarked that we should make a themed hunt a gallery tradition. It did help to focus our visit in a way that we wouldn’t necessarily approach a general visit, meaning there is wider scope for the same gallery time after time.

Mask at Kelvingrove

Face bowl at Kelvingrove

Crystal glasses at Kelvingrove

We headed to the Bier Halle, thoroughly feeling as though we had had the day away somewhere new. While waiting for our food, we went through the scavenger list revealing our finds one by one. This was a really cool way to not only review the day but to connect with the other’s experiences in a creative way. From there, the conversation moved into our general museum review about what we loved best, but the game had been fun to play together. Honey loved the beer selection (They even had a non-alcoholic beer), and the pizza was nice. The Bavarian pretzels, however, were not Bavarian pretzels. As a Philadelphian who knows her soft pretzels-and has also sampled and approved of Bavarian pretzels in Munich- I would urge caution when ordering these bread-like things with far too much baking soda or lye in the wash process.

Pizza and pretzel at Bier Halle

Beer at Bier Halle

With all the photos of the day, I seem to have focused on faces. I spent the photography day trying to get a better grip on spot metering and actively choosing my white balance. I haven’t quite figured out how to work well with my camera’s white balance settings because they always seem a bit off so I generally shoot in auto white balance. This was fine when iPhoto could easily change the white balance settings in the editing process. Without that app, I am on my own and it is time to figure it out! I do think the photos give a nice idea of our day through my eyes.

Digging for Spring

To allow for an ipad update, I needed to find 5GB of space. I hadn’t bothered with the update for two months but finally acceded when my FaceTime app no longer connected for conversations. After deleting a few unwanted items, I was faced with 5GB of photos standing between me and the update. It took a few weeks, but I deleted, assessed, backed up, and made decisions about what was worthy of keeping around and what had only stayed as a result of emotional attachment (i.e. those not very good photos that I kept because I didn’t want to let go of an image not captured). Finally, I got through the files and had the vastness before me.

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The update, like so many in life, was a bit uncomfortable; it looked different than expected and some old favourites went (they discontinued iphoto, which I used to edit photos). Still, space developed to allow for beautiful things (a renewed facetime that I have used to chat to my sister for 3 hours; space for yoga and photography magazines from the library). This kickstarted my spring cleaning.

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The snowdrops have been up for two weeks and this week I drew back the leaves from our ‘woodland’ area to make space for the other bulbs to blossom. I’m always fascinated by the pale green shoots that have fought their way upward and pleased in the knowledge that access to light will fortify them. I’ve also turned this energy to the periphery of my life’s garden and am focusing on clearing out more and more of what I don’t need: clutter, ‘just in case’ items, and fear and doubt. We let go of the lampshades from our Civil Partnership meal that we tried and failed many times to find a way to use, and I released a batik skirt I used to love so that it can be loved by someone new. I am reexamining what we may be keeping out of habit or because we passively ‘like’ it. The space left behind may look different than I expect it to but I look forward to the beauty that may unfold in the emptiness.

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Baby Blanket and Matching Bandana Bib

A friend is due this week with her second baby. Her favourite colour is red and she likes bright and colorful things so I went with a primary triad. There are three times as many yellow stitches as there are red (excluding the edging) and three times as many blue as there are yellow. I liked how this tied together well using the same edging colour as the shortest colour section. Originally, I planned on backing the crochet blanket with the fabric like I’ve seen online but then got cold feet when I feared ruining the blanket by stitching on the fabric.

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I thought of making a small teething toy with the fabric but then came across the idea of a bandana bib and picked up some red flannel for the back (to ensure that it is absorbent). I sewed a version of See Kate Sew’s bandana bib, which was the best one I found as it required measuring rather than printing a pattern.

20150118-151229.jpg The pattern says to sew on the snaps after it is sewn together but I wanted the knot inside so I left each end open until the snaps were secured then hand stitched the rest closed. It was a bit of pain and I may add a button hole instead of snaps after stitching it all closed the next time I make it. I’ll have to wait to hear the feedback of anyone using it, but the bandana bibs online are adorable!

New Crochet Mittens

After leaving my mittens in Glasgow over the holidays, I thought it was time to just make myself a new pair. I used the thrummed mittens pattern in Hook, Stitch & Give but didn’t add the thrumming. After swatching with the thicker yarn I wanted to use, and adjusting for not needing the extra thrummed space, I followed the baby size to make a woman’s small. I made a few modifications for the hand part, but basically followed the pattern for the rest.

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Using 4.5mm and 5mm hooks and New Lanark DK wool yarn, I followed the pattern except for increasing by two on the 9th, 12th, 14th and 16th hand rounds, using the small/medium count for the thumb hole creation, and back to the baby’s size for the thumb rounds.

My 2015 Manifesto

As we begin a new year, I will focus on positive intentions for my life rather than obligations or restrictions in the form of resolutions.

Manifesto for 2015

The first reminder is something that I came up with a few months ago to keep focusing on the right things; Act on the things you can change, do not think about the rest. I repeat this to myself in my personal life and at my work desk when ordering my priorities.

‘See the light’ is a reference to this beautiful Wayne Dyer quote: ‘See the light in others and treat them as if that is all you see’.

‘Be here right now’ is a reminder to stay in the present, through all of my senses.

Remember to live‘ alludes to Oscar Wilde’s statement on living and prompts me to let go of fears and hesitations.

This is my manifesto for 2015.

‘To Live is the Rarest Thing in the World’

Sometime last year I came across this Oscar Wilde quote: ‘To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all’ and felt that it was the perfect reminder.
When I find myself timidly holding back from ideas or plans for fear that they won’t go perfectly, fretting about the future and wondering if we’ll ever pass on to the next positive rite of passage, or not being grateful for every breathing moment enjoyed by my family or my body, I need something to bring me back to the present. Something to remind me to reflect on everything that we have right now in our lives.

Now, with just a flash of the wrist I have that reminder. After searching for the right size, shape and style of bracelet for a long time, I found this bracelet and a seller on Etsy. After finding out that aandlengraving would engrave two lines of text, we ordered this bracelet for my Christmas.

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Handmade Christmas Gifts 2014

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The gifts we made this year were our favorites so far, I think because we discussed, considered and tested before deciding on the final products. Our family received a selection of:

Hand salve from ‘Crunchy Betty’ (in one of three scents: lemon rosemary; cinnamon orange; bergamot, cedar wood and rosemary). The scents took us quite a while to decide and agree on for each recipient. We researched ‘manly’ essential oils because we thought that this would be important to a few of the recipients and both the lemon rosemary and the three oil blend were listed. I love the bergamot, cedar wood and rosemary in the bath! This balm feels wonderful and it is also great for lips and any other dry parts. The jar with the purple fabric is a large batch labelled as belly balm made without essential oils for my pregnant sister in law. For the belly balm, we halved the olive oil with added almond oil for its additional benefits.

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Peppermint lip balm from Essentially Eclectic. We initially tested a different recipe that was a more basic coconut oil base which felt too thin and not protective enough but we are very happy with this recipe.

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Lemon sugar scrub from Stephanie Lynn to which I also added lemon essential oils.

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And chocolate covered espresso beans (melted the chocolate and dipped in the beans before placing them on parchment paper to cool)

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Not pictured is arthritis oil made from almond oil, and eucalyptus and peppermint oils for a grandparent.
We even made half of these gifts on the camp stove when our kitchen stove wouldn’t turn on!

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Autumn-Winter Wardrobe

When I took some of my autumn wardrobe out (storing seasons is a nicety, not a necessity in this climate) I didn’t tuck the summer away and ended up having most of my clothes out at once. I had also picked up a few new things at the charity shop. My wardrobe ended up chaotic and reminded me of why I do the Project 333 in the first place: less stress over getting dressed, knowing exactly what outfits I have for each occasion, and a simplified approach to maintaining the clothing.

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After bringing in these new additions, I’ve donated a few more things, put some away for another season, and have put some into a thinking space to question whether I need them.

This (created in Polyvore) is my 333 for the next three months.