Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bunting Birthday Bunting

Garland Greetings about this Birthday Bunting.  The bunting isn't birthday themed but it was a birthday gift.  It's my first ever crocheted garland and it won't be the last.  It was a gift - so it's gone off to it's new home, but I will make myself a bit of hanging hooking goodness somewhat soon - because it seems like springtime and happy crocheted buntings go hand in hand, right?

I am amassing a stack of crochet books.  Eye candy they are. 

I was perusing THIS book

when I came across a square motif that made me SURE it wanted to become a string of bunting squares.

The square is called daisy chain and the book shows it in a variety of color combinations but I imagined it in just a single color.  Several squares in just single colors all hooked together that is.  So I started right in.

I can't reprint the pattern - copyrights you know.  But you can buy the book - or maybe borrow it from the library and create the pattern from its source.

I decided to use Aunt Lydia's crochet cotton - size 3.  I wanted a cotton, and I needed something rather thin as this motif is a bit big when crocheted with DK or Worsted.  My finished square was somewhere between 4 and 5 inches with the size 3.  I used a 2.75mm hook - size C.  I wanted to use a 2.5 but haven't been able to find one.

I was going to stop there but thought it needed a bit more than the squares so I found THIS pattern.

I made this flower using 4 colors of good ole Aunt Lydia.  The pattern goes through the 3rd color but I added a final row of single crochet in blue around the petals, dipping down to the next row at the end of each petal section with a long single crochet.

I decided to put one of these fancy flowers at each end of the bunting.

I looked at it laid out across the floor, the squares and the fancy flowers.  It needed more.  I searched for a simpler flower and couldn't find anything I liked, so I made one up.

Since this pattern is my own, I can offer it to you.  I don't often write my own patterns - so I hope the directions are clear.

2DB(2 double bobble) = leave last loop of each stitch on hook, work 2dc into ring, yo, pull through all remaining loops on hook.

3DB (3 double bobble) = leave last loop of each stitch on hook, work 3dc into ring, yo, pull through all remaining loops on hook. 

The Pattern

Starting Ring: Chain 6 and join with sl,st.

Round 1: 
Chain 2, 2DB (see above) in ring. [4ch, 3DB into ring] x7 (8 bobbles in all).  Chain 4, sl st to top of 1st bobble.

Round 2:
[1sc, 1hdc, 1dc, 1htr, 1tr, 1htr, 1dc, 1hdc, 1sc into 4 chain space] x8.  sl st into1st sc of the round. Tie off.  Work in ends.

For my bunting, I made 2 square motifs each in 3 different colors (blue, pink, yellow).
I then added a center square motif in purple but I wanted it to be a bit bigger so I used the same cotton yarn/thread but traded off for a size E crochet hook.  It did the trick.

I also made 2 flowers (my pattern) each in the same 3 colors (blue, pink, yellow)

I made 2 of the fancy flowers.

To crochet them all together, I wanted a long strand that was a bit heavier than just a chain.

I found this photo from Lucy, the Queen of Crochet at Attic24

SO.... I chained 10, then crocheted in the first chain from the hook to create a chain ring for hanging.  then, I chained A LOT....  I'm sorry that I didn't count.  I laid all the motifs out on the floor with about 4-6" between each one and then added about 10" to each end... it was a lot of chains.

Long Strand round 2 was single crochet in each of the chains. 
Long Strand round 3 was more  single crochets and this time I attached the motifs.

To attach a motif, I tied little strings of yarn to the long strand to mark where I should attach each one.  The flowers are attached in only one place but the squares are attached in 3 places.  When I got to my little yarn marker, I crochet down 2 chains, attached the motif with a single crochet and then crocheted back UP the 2 chains.  Then, I continued along my row.  I did this until all the motifs were connected.  I didn't take photos as I went tho. I wish I had -sorry.

I took photos of the garland both indoors and out.  I love the square motif and how it makes happy little spots of shadowy goodness when the sun hits it.  Enjoy the splendor!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Brussels Anyone?

When your 19year old comes home from college and asks, "Mom, do you know how to make roasted brussel sprouts?" you'd better learn!

Apparently my brother-in-law makes them BEST - according to said son.  College son goes to school near my sister and brother-in-law who invite him to dinner every few weeks.

So, I text the BIL.  He texts back with super simple recipe.

So it's off to Trader Joes to buy some brussel sprouts.  Son accompanies and suggests THREE bags.

Here's the deal (I altered it slightly from BIL's recipe as I cut the sprouts before roasting).

Chop off any big stems.  Cut sprouts into halves or fourths long ways.  Place on baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Add salt and pepper.

Place in 400 degree oven, shake every few minutes.

I put mine in the middle of the oven.  I roasted them for about 10-12 minutes.  My BIL roasted his whole sprouts for 30 shaking every 10 mins.

Remove from oven, place on dish and serve.  Don't forget all the little browned crispy leaves that fall off the sprout- they are almost as good as crispy kale or pop corn.

They were delish.  Tho. THREE pounds of them are a bit much for four people - we ate them leftover for many meals!

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Sher Your Scraps

In addition to my Fly the Coop Crafts blog, I also author a blog about traditional, digital and hybrid scrapbooking and paper crafts.  Most of my inspiration comes from the HIGHEST quality scrapbook products from Creative Memories.  Check out my other blog by going HERE.

On the scrapbooking front I've taken on two year-long projects that involve photos.

One is a Day2Day album.  I'm using ONE photo that I've taken EACH DAY of the year and creating an album.  Check out my first page in the post about my Day2Day album found here.

Product Image

Another is a photo album dedicated JUST to photos of me and my hubby.  I'm using this really cute 8X8 Love album and doing some hybrid scrapbooking.  Check out that post here.

Don't forget to add both of my blogs to your feeds.  Or, visit my facebook page to get updates each time I post to either blog.  OR follow my pins on Pinterest.  Just click the Follow me on Pinterest button on the right side of the blog.

I also got on the wagon with Sarah London's Wool Eater CAL (Crochet-A-Long).  I LOVE how my new hooky blanket is turning out.  Look for a future post and photos about that! Join up with the CAL and get the wool eater patterns.


Lots of Holiday Making

I made a lot of gifts for the holidays this year.

I think one reason I didn't post much was because a lot of the crafting I was doing had a gift recipient who might read my blog.

One such gift I made was a quilt for my nephew, Quinn - age 5.

I made him a checkerboard quilt that I designed.  I don't know much about designing quilts, I just needed something that was easy.

My inspiration was a vintage fabric with a nautical theme and the fact that Quinn's bed is built into his wall like a captain's bed on a ship.

Here's my design process...not very technical.

Graph paper, crayons.

I used Red and Blue fabrics to complement the vintage ships fabric which I fussy cut and left as 12" squares.

I made random checkerboards using different sized squares.

I pieced them all together.

I took it to my Philly Modern Quilt Guild Meeting for Show and Tell and a bit of advice seeking (bad photo).

I pieced a nautical looking back - I love the way Modern quilters use design on both the front and the back of a quilt.

The quilting was very simple diagonal lines (on the machine) - I'm still learning...

The binding was my FIRST ever binding.  I made 2.5" binding strips, sewed them to the back and hand stitched them to the front.  I loved the process of hand-stitching.

I started the quilt top just over a week before Christmas and was finishing the binding just a few days before Christmas.

Quinn loved the quilt and I hope it lives on his bed and he gets a chance to snuggle in it often and for many years to come.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

How do you follow?

I follow a lot of blogs.  I mean A LOT of blogs (like 200 or so).  I don't read them all every day.  But I read/scan MOST of them everyday.  But, I have my own methods of following.

Usually, I follow using my FEEDs button in Internet Explorer.  I love FEEDS.  I love to see the title of the blog in bold and click on the blogs I want to read first.

I have my favorite blogs - do you?  I have 2 or 3 that I click on before ANY others if I see they are bolded in my feeds list.

I follow blogs mostly about crafts - how about you?  I follow a TON of sewing/quilting blogs because there seem to be a lot of those out there.  Most of them overwhelm me a little bit because I'm such a beginner in the areas of quilting and sewing.  I am amazed and fascinated by the sewing and quilting talents of those I follow.  Really, there are some gals out there who can seriously sew and they astound me.  A few of my favorites in the sewing/quilting category are:

 Fresh Lemons QuiltsFaith at Fresh Lemons Modern Quilts,

Jess at Craftiness is Not Optional,

Swim, Bike, Quilt!Katie at Swim Bike Quilt,
I also follow a lot of blogs about crochet.  I tend to look for crochet blog updates BEFORE I move on to the quilting and sewing ones.  I find that I'm more apt to see an idea from a crochet blog and act on it because I'm more confident of my crochet skills than my sewing skills.

My MOST favorite crochet blog is ATTIC24  I wouldn't be surprised if that weren't the case for many, many crochet followers. 
Attic24 is written by Lucy from the UK.  Image and video hosting by TinyPic

She's just lovely.  Getting to meet Lucy in person would be like winning the lottery for me. 

Other crochet blogs I love are Crochet with Raymond, LemondeSucrette, Sarah London's Hip to Hook, and Bunny Mummy.

I also follow a few blogs about gardening, several about UPcycling and such.  One I really like is Blue Velvet Chair.

And, a few others are blogs more like mine which covers a mishmash of crafts and day to day musings.  A few of my favorites in the MishMash category are Day to Day written by Melissa Goodsell in Tasmania and Sew Many Ways written by Karen in New England, US. I also like Maureen Cracknell Handmade and Betz White.

I read them so often I feel like I know them which is really weird because none of my favorite bloggers whose lives I enter daily have a clue who I am but I do hang on their words and look forward to just hearing about their days - it's really weird.

I also follow a few blogs about scrapbooking.  Since I am a professional photo organizer, it's right up my alley.  My favorite is Pixels2Pages.  The pixies at P2P post something new EVERY day and provide the most awesome training on the Creative Memories digital scrapbook software called StoryBook Creator - my all time favorite digital scrapbooking software.  P2P has a free portion of their website/blog and a subscription portion.  I'm a subscriber and I plan to continue as a paid subscriber.

Humorously enough, I also follow a few blogs because I think their quilt designs and fabric choices are SO BAD.  I keep them in my blog list more out of amazement than anything...maybe humor, maybe what NOT to do...I don't know but I DO keep them in my list.  I will DEFINITELY not name those blogs.

The blogs I've listed are just a smattering of the ones I truly enjoy - I'll have to feature some other of my favorite blogs in future posts so you can read and enjoy them as well!

I do try to become a FOLLOWER of blogs.  Though I'm more likely to add them to my RSS feeds than to click on the public follower button. 

When I opt do use the public follower button, those blogs DO show up in my Blogger profile - but I don't usually go to Blogger to read the blogs

I definitely try to publicly follow blogs of those blog authors who don't have many followers in their list - to show support and encouragement to them and to hope they will keep at it.

So I'm curious - how and why and what do you do to follow blogs.  What types do you follow - what do you like and dislike about blogs?   How do you read the blogs?  How often do you visit new blog posts?

I like it when bloggers, have a photo of themselves, tell me a little bit about them, show where they are from, give little windows into their homelife, post often, use clear photos, provide tutorials and free patterns, make it easy for me to join their site, allow RSS feeds, have labels and categories so I can find things, offer a search button on their site, use a google translator gadget when they aren't in English (something I need to add to my own site for non-English readers), and respond to reader comments.

I don't like it when bloggers have blogs that are hard to navigate and use bad photos.  I don't like it when I can't see their photo or know where they are from.  I don't like music to play when I open a blog.  Karen from Sew Many Ways did a post about what she liked and didn't like in a blog.  Go here to see it.  I was right on the same page with most all of what she said.

I'd love to hear back from you about HOW you FOLLOW.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Power to Post

I realize I don't have oodles of followers waiting to hang on my every word, but there are SOME of you out there who may have wondered WHY I haven't posted since HALLOWEEN!!! and it's nearly ST PATRICKS DAY.  And the answer is - I guess there isn't any REAL reason.

I've been following blogs -loads of them.  I've been pinning away (click "follow me on pinterest" over on the right hand side of the blog to see) - 69 boards, over 3000 pins.  I'm kind of obsessed with the inspiration.  But, all that inspiring has been keeping me from the doing so I need a better balance.

Let's go back to a project I did back in October.  It was a gift for a friend who was turning 50.  She has a 1940s vintage kitchen accented with prints and decor of cherries.  SO, I made her a few cherry-themed gifts for her kitchen.  They came out pretty well and I do think she was pleased with them.

Here is the potholder/dishcloth I made.  I used a pattern I found on Pinterest  which I pinned from this site!  It's made with worsted weight cotton yarn.  The white is Thaki classic cotton which I LOVE and it's more of a dk weight.  I truly wish we had more DK cotton that isn't too pricey available here in the US.  And I do wish we had a line of crochet cotton in a better color selection.  The red is either lion brand or sugar and cream.  The green and brown are from Martha Stewarts new brand of cotton - quite pricey and in a limited color selection at my local JoAnns store.  I should have made a back side to the potholder so it was double thick.  I figured my friend could use it as a dish cloth but she decided it was too pretty to use at all and instead it is displayed in her kitchen as more decoration than usable item which is of course fine with me.

I also decorated some cherry patterned linen hand towels.  I thrifted the towels about a year earlier and saved them.  I knew she liked cherries and waited for the right opportunity to use them.  She's also a thrift shopper and would appreciate the 99cent cost of each towel!  I used a combination of pearl cotton and 6strand embroidery floss to decorate the towels.  With the one, I just embroidered.  With the other, I blanket stitched around the edge with the floss and then used cotton yarn to add a border.  Next time, I will double up on the floss or use a more sturdy stitch to hold on the crocheted border.

I used a border found in this book to create the crocheted part. 

Around the Corner Crochet Borders by Edit Eckman

My friend DOES use the towels in her kitchen and seemed pleased with the combination of thrifted item and handmade gift.  It's SO much fun to give a handmade gift.

At my friend's party back in October, we had our first snow.  AND...there hasn't been much more of it to speak of since then.  What a weird winter it's been here in the northeast.  I'm a die hard snow shoveler at heart and haven't had much work this season.

Here are some photos from our fall snow.   Her party was the evening of the worst part of the snow and it did prevent some of her friends from coming.  The party was supposed to be outside and she'd done a lot of lovely prep work in the yard to get ready -obviously, those plans were changed and she had to re-create everything indoors!  Fortunately, we only had to go a few blocks to get there.

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