Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Creatively Christmas 2014

While I haven't been blogging...
I HAVE been making.

Much of my making was Christmas gifts.  However, I have a bunch of patterns to share for things I've created and projects I'm in the midst of.  So if I keep on blogging you will have that to come...

Here are some snippets of our Christmas:

One of my favorite moments is on Christmas Eve when most everyone has gone off to bed and only the indoor Christmas lights brighten the room.  Under the tree is loaded with gifts.  It's very quiet, it's totally serene.  I have to stop myself from taking photos to try to make that special time hold still...

Once the morning arrives and the crazy kids awake (4 of these kids are mine, 2 are my sisters and the one at the top of the steps is my youngest sister who is 20 years my junior - so she is lucky enough to get to be part of the batch of kids yet), the Christmas crazy begins.

For the past several years it's been my goal to use all non-traditional wrappings.  My attempt is to use no paper wrapping at all.  Most of my wrap gets re-used from year to year.  In these photos of the wrapped gifts you can see a variety of wrappings: old clothing, sweaters, pant legs, shirts, skirts etc... made into wrap bags and tied with re-usable ribbons.  Only the handmade paper gift tags get tossed.  Also in the mix is mailing envelopes (you can see one on the far right with a tree drawn on it), handled shopping bags (which are then given as part of the gift), flannel backed and plastic table cloths (which I buy at the dollar store and re-use year after year - works great for bigger gifts), paper grocery bags, the paper and bubblewrap that comes in the shipping boxes from amazon, etc.... Once a gift is open the family returns the clothing bags, ribbons, etc... and I store them in a box to re-use the following year.

For my little niece Maisie, my husband and I co-created doll beds and bedding.  Maisie has three dolls (handed down from her mom, my sister).  There is a blond, brunette and red-head doll.  My husband fashioned them beds that stack in bunks or come apart as separate.

We trash pick wood and re-use old furniture quite a bit.  My husband probably didn't buy anything new to create these beds - he fashioned them all from the odd bits of wood and molding strips already in his garage.

Likewise - I did my part to dress the beds.  After all, these dollies needed a bit of soft and warm for proper sleeping:

Each doll bed had entirely handmade bedding (by me).

An old ikea curtain provided the means to sew hand-tufted mattresses stuffed with leftover couch pillow stuffing.  Atop the mattress was a double-sided flat sheet (easy for a toddler to make up the bed).  Once the doll was on the sheet she'd need a place to rest her head so I sewed a pillow and a coordinating pillow case (to match the sheet and other bedding).  Most of the sheets and pillow cases were made from thrifted vintage sheets.  Atop the doll were then a quilt and a blanket.  The quilts were all handmade (sewing machine made) by me.  Each quilt had a traditional pieced side and a more modern side.  Then, each doll received a crocheted blanket.  There were three total bedding sets, one each with a pink, orange and green theme.  My sewing machine was in the shop for 6 weeks before Christmas and I just barely got it back in time to complete the bed sewing.  WHEW!

I hope Maisie will love the doll items for years to come.

And then there were the hats.  My daughter got 4 (because I like to make hats in front of the TV while watching sappy Hallmark Christmas shows)!  The first one is slouchy and kinda Rasta in an acrylic-cotton blend.

Then there was the acrylic-wool blend purple and turquoise slouchy.  I should have photographed all the hats before giving them so you could see the actual hat other than just seeing it perched on a head with all the detail missing.

 This one was again, wool acrylic with a  very chunky yarn and a pattern I got from Moogly blog. Consequently - the white hat was my personal favorite and I might make one for myself.

This final hat was a beret with a pom pom - of course which you cannot see!  It's made from 100% Peruvian wool in a double green/blue twist.

Finally, I winged one final hat - in royal blue with red and white accents in my son's college colors.

It's an unwritten tradition to wear everything you get on xmas morning - so my son has a bow tie, a football jersey and a crochet hat all together.

An annual tradition is for each kid to have a crochet college bunting to hang in the dorm room.  This one is for the son on the left to hang at his college, Shippensburg, and has two little ships wheels included (I made up that ship wheel pattern and will share it).  I also used the capital letters pattern from moogly blog.  Do you love that blog? It's one of my favorites!

Remember what I said about wearing everything you get - take a crazy pj outfit and start adding hats and purses and OH MY!

In a house full of teenagers and twenty-somethings - this group gift was a HUGE big hit and they cheered for about 5 straight minutes.  The gift was a card game called "Cards Against Humanity" which is a very inappropriate version of Apples to Apples.  They have been wanting this crazy and very non-PC card game for a while.  Yes it got played that night - and I and my hubby joined in.  It's very inappropriately funny - but those of you with high morals or young kids would be abashed (I have neither the high morals or the young kids).

A few years back I suggested that the Christmas dinner meal be a casual one.  Since everyone stays at my home for several days before and after Christmas, things are a bit hectic... I figured an easy meal would help with the strain and stress of heavy cooking duties and it does.  Here is our Christmas table in which everyone dresses as he or she pleases, pjs are welcome.  We have 3 pots of soup (2 vegan since most of the family is vegan, and 1 organic but not vegan).  This year we had vegan veggie, vegan creamy broccoli and organic chicken noodle.  Typically I also provide a salad and this year it had arugula, baby kale, baby chard, baby romaine, baby spinach, organic tri-color quinoa, heirloom rainbow cherry tomatoes, roasted yam, dried cranberry, homemade sweet and salty pecans and balsamic dressing.  Often there is homemade bread but this time we had a few organic store-bought.  One whole grain and one with rosemary.  A big pitcher or pomegranate iced tea, some alcoholic beverages and the meal was a done deal.  I don't have fancy dishes enough for everyone, so each third of the table had their own dishes pattern. 

Around mid-day we had eaten some hearty appetizers: peppered salami and sharp cheese for the non-vegans and all the rest was vegan: hot salsa with chips, bread with spinach artichoke dip, anti-pasta salad with olives, peppers, artichokes and mushrooms, roasted veggies with cauliflower, carrots, onions and zucchini, tapenade with crackers, hummus, salted nuts... and a variety of other things that kept us fully satisfied with simple to serve type food.

 And a big bonus this Christmas for me?  I got to sleep in a bedroom and in a bed while the guests were here!!!!  Usually I have to give up my bed and my bedroom and I end up sleeping on a couch or a floor (as does my hubby).  But this year we re-did the "boys" room that was rather teenage boyish and yucky and turned it into a bedroom that we could offer to a guest. SO I then got to sleep in an actual bed in my own room.  And that was Christmas bliss.

I love to make and to give gifts at Christmas.  I don't as much like getting gifts.  However, my hubby gave me two bottles of wine, two yummy little boxes of chocolate and two new indoor scarves... all good stuff!

How was your Christmas?  What are your traditions?  Do you celebrate another holiday or a different religion?  If so, what do you do on Christmas when others are celebrating with lighted trees and holiday wrapping?

Next up - all the making and creating that's been happening for the past 6 months... to include some new free patterns for you!  TA TA and Happy New Year's Eve!  Sher

Monday, December 29, 2014

And Half the Year Later...

I haven't blogged since July- that's almost half the year.

The blog sat.  From time to time it called my name, got added to my to do list, and thought about in my dreams.

Do I care if I blog only for me - or do I blog for others or is this whole experience just a public journal interspersed with a personal pattern catalog?  Do you want to come along for the ride? Do you miss me - or even notice when I'm gone?

Should I stay or should I go.  Does anyone hear my words, like my posts, know my blog thoughts?

Would I be missed, would my patterns be lost on little slips of paper and my crafty ideas waft out of my brain without a mention?

Am I weighed down by my blog or lifted?

I still don't know.

I'm not ready to quit- I don't want to create a set of blog rules for myself, but I am not ready to end my blogging authorship.

Sometimes I write blog posts in my head and they never make it to the keyboard and the world wide web.  Sometimes I forget my own blog even exists in my RSS reading list -because it's never bold anymore, begging me to click on it to see my latest updates.

I read the blogs I follow pretty much every day.  I know the writers, the authors, their families - they don't know me at all.  I visit their lives, see the scenes inside their houses, follow their patterns, create along side them - day in and day out - but they have no idea who I am, that I'm here - that I follow - that I know them.

It's a strange world the blogging world.  Kind of weird and kind of wonderful.

So almost 6 months since my last post - I muse.  Do I stay absent or do I become present.  I don't know.  Maybe blogs are just something I read and write and follow so I can justify the time to drink another cup of coffee...

Fondly, Sher

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

TaDah Moment for Marinke Slump Bag

I've finished a project.  I know, right?  Yes, I seem to start a lot of things but not finish them.  But not this time.  I participated in a Crochet-A-Long with Wink over at her blog, A Creative Being.  Seeing the other people who were participating actual finish their projects really helped.  I added my bag photos after the competition date, but I am not a competitor so I would not have entered anyway.  I do really love the bag design that won tho.  If you missed my introductory post about this bag, you can read it here: 

Here is a link to my bag project on ravelry.

So here is my Marinke Slump Bag.

Yes - I made this.  Can you believe it?  To me, it looks so real.

I love the stitch that looks like knitting - a new stitch for me, easy and will be used again.

I love the cord I made to weave through as a drawstring.  It's made of six strands of bulky acrylic yarn braided together.

I love that my bag has a lining AND that I created the lining pattern and sewed it up myself.

I love that the bag has awesome sturdy handles that are the perfect length and that I made them up and sewed them myself as well.

This was a lot of fun to create.  Now I cannot WAIT to use it out in the world.

Hope you enjoy my creation.  Sher

One more photo before the drawstring was added so you can see the weaving holes.  I created those by crocheting around some metal key ring circles.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Binge Watching, Running is Back and Mini Mandala Wall

Hey There.  I have three things to talk to you about today.

1.  Binge Watching.  Do you do it?  I do - and it's my favorite way to watch.  I've always hated being married to a TV show - having to run home and watch when a weekly show is broadcast.  Now, if you have all the modern TV equipment, you no longer have to do this - you can DVR or TIVO (is that still around?) your show, watch it online, on demand or even on Hulu or Netflix.  There are so many ways to watch TV series these days and I'm certainly happy about it.

I used to almost avoid TV because I didn't want to have to wait a week between episodes, watch ads and be ready to view at one certain time - I'm too impatient.

But, when I discovered binge watching it was a whole new way for me - and my husband too.  It's something we could do together, or on our own, or switch that up even and watch separately when we had the time and together when we were caught up to the same place.  It's a way we can enjoy shows we want to watch usually without advertisements and at whatever hour it suits us.  A night by the fire with episode after episode going while I sit and crochet - what a nice night in!

So I have learned to binge watch and I love it.  Here are some of the things I've recently watched - let me know if you binge watch any of these and if you have other recommendations:

Downton Abbey (first 2 seasons were binged watched by hubby and me in only a few nights - after that we were all caught up and had to wait weekly for the next two seasons like everyone else!) - I think I watched this on by hooking up my computer to our TV.

Call the Midwife - watched this on on my computer - LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE - and if you do watch it - can you get enough of Chummy? - she is AWESOME!

Orphan Black (watched this on recommendation from my MOM no less) - really talented main character as she plays like 8 different roles!  Watched this on demand with Verizon Fios through BBC-America

House of Cards (just made it to season 2) - This one is a Netflix original.  Really well done.  Doesn't say much good about the American government.  Wait, is that a surprise? (no comment, I don't like to get political).

Orange is the New Black - This one is also a Netflix original.  Really gripping - had to watch and watch and watch and got through all of season 1 and 2 in no time!

The Paradise - from the BBC.  Season 1 came to BBC-America, couldn't get season 2 though I heard that a second season did air in the UK.  I loved this series too!  I think I heard that a 3rd season would not happen.

Land Girls - I've watched 3 of these and haven't managed to really love it.  It's from BBC. I'm still watching.

Vikings - this show came thru from the History Channel.  I started it one season behind so I got to watch season 1 and 2 almost back to back.

Restoration Home (just starting to watch these on YouTube from this recommendation) - it comes from the BBC.  There are a ton of them to keep me occupied.

Masters of Sex - watched this week by week on demand.  Now waiting for the second season set to air on Showtime Channel in a few weeks.

When all else fails to entertain me, I just put on Sense and Sensibility which I have watched hundreds of times and never tire of!  I love the 1995 version directed by Ang Lee.  It's a movie not a series and I can almost repeat it line for line.  You should hear the groans and comments by my family when they see I am enjoying it ONCE AGAIN.

So there you have it - and oh, can you tell I love British shows? And my fave actors? Liam Neeson, Maggie Smith, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman (did you see him in CBGBs? such an awesome movie about the Punk Rock music scene), Colin Firth - others..., they all seem to be Brits. I'm very predictable.

2.  Running Back - I am back to running.  I haven't run since Feb 11th.  After 2 years of menopause complications which resulted in a very low blood iron level despite the pound of kale and batch of eggs I eat each week, I finally had to stop running for a while - I just couldn't keep up with my running group and felt I was always on the verge of fainting.  I've continued to do strength classes with my running coach 2 times per week for an hour each - I'm pretty strong so I'm better at the weights than the running.

Me and July (my dog) at the end of a very hot run!
But today - I started back up and will run/walk my way to a solid 3 mile run by September.  My hope is four runs per week.  Week 1 is: Walk 3 mins, Run 3 mins - intervals.  Today I complete DAY 1 of WEEK 1.  It was hot even at 7am this morning and it is a VERY humid day (I hate humidity) but nonetheless, it felt good. The dog was thrilled to tag along, at least I have willing company on all my runs and she doesn't comment on my speed or my heavy breathing or my technique.  A perfect running partner!

3.  I've decided to make myself a mini mandala wall - in Yarndale fashion.  I've been loving all the mandala inspiration which is ALL OVER the crochet blog world thanks to Lucy at Attic24.  My own mandala has made it across the Atlantic and I found it posted on the pinterst board so I know it arrived.  I'm excited to have my little piece of crochet lovely hanging there with all the others from around the world.  You can find my mandala here in this blog post and also here on this pinterest board.

Last night I needed to make a mandala - yes NEEDED.  So I made this one.  I found these wicker plate holders at the thrift store a few months ago for literally pennies, so I bought a few and plan to install a mandala in each of them and hang them on my sewing room wall.

Do you like it?  I used a pattern from the lovely blog: Color N Cream - one of my favorite and probably my hands down fave for color inspiration.  Do you follow it - AHHH it's so lovely.

So that LONG post is all for today - tomorrow I want to share with you the two books I have just recently read.  Stay Tuned, TaTa - Sher

Monday, June 30, 2014

CAL with Wink - Marinke Slump Bag

As if I needed another project to start.  But I did.


I decided to join in with the Marinke Slump Beach Bag CAL with Wink from A Creative Being Blog.  We are using THIS PATTERN.  It's free!  And, tho. I LOVE the yarn used in the pattern picture, I wasn't able to get that yarn as it was on backorder, so I settled for using some stuff from my stash - good idea, right?

The pattern is easy, repeated rounds using a stitch that looks like crocheted knitting.

I guess it's a good thing I took this to my neighbor's knitting group on Sunday afternoon as I was the only Happy Hooker, aka crochet gal, in the group and at least it LOOKED like I was knitting.

After the knit group, the weather was still lovely out, so I decided to sit in the front yard and continue stitching.  Inside the house was the loud shouting and cheering of World Cup Soccer fans.  My hubby had moved our TV to the back screened porch and the kids and friends and hubby were all cheering along with the games.

I have to admit that I did set down my project every time they got really loud and ran in to see what action I had missed.  We have all been soccer players in this house, so we can appreciate a sport that is less popular in the USA than it is basically everywhere else in the world.  Tho. it seems that during World Cup, even soccer has a lot of fans around here.  All good.

I used a combo of yarn, all dk weight and a 4.0mm hook.  Some of the yarn was knitpicks CotLin and the other was Cotton-ish by Bernat which is a cotton/acrylic blend.  I somewhat followed the color scheme in the photo, but I am using one additional color (orange) and each of my color stripes is 7 rounds.  The color stripes in the pattern use 9 rounds.

I do plan to line the bag and put pockets on the liner.  I'm not sure how I will like the drawstring closure and I love handles, so I may have to make two handles for the bag.  We'll see how it goes.

I planned out the yarn for this project in hopes that I would sit and crochet while my son attended the freshman summer orientation day at his college:  Shippensburg University of PA.  However, I read a book instead - it was a quickie and cute, I'll be sharing that soon.

So while my son and a high school friend who will attending the same university got introduced to their college and registered for their fall classes, I read in an Adirondack chair under a tree on a lovely breezy day - not bad.

TATA for now, Sher
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