Thursday, July 7, 2011

On Fire for Handmade Featured Artisan of the Week


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This weeks featured artisan is Ruth - RSS Designs in Fiber! Beautiful Creations! You can find

RSS Designs in Fiber on:

Artfire

Etsy

Blog

Facebook

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Kharma Sucks


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My husband always talks about how easy it is for me to sit at home and do nothing but watch two kids.  Anyone who has kids, expecially two in the crawl/run stage of life knows that watching them and keeping them out of everything is ANYTHING but easy.  Now, normally, he only has to watch them for a few minutes here or there, or when he has them for like an hour or more, they behave moderately.  Well, last night, kharma bit him in the behind.
I was taking a bubble bath because I needed it.  I hadn't had a break from the kids for weeks beyond a 10-15 minute shower here or there.  Even the nights weren't restful because Lil' Man was waking up every hour or so, and then Lil' Bit would stir for about half an hour once I got Lil' Man back to sleep.  I can hear every sound they were making so it kept me awake.  Exhaustion set in a long time ago.  So, anyway, I was soaking in a much-earned bubble bath and all I could hear was my husband yelling "Don't!" "No!" "Stop!" or "Get Down!" every three seconds.  Lil' Bit would do something and when he was turning to deal with her, Lil' Man would get into something.
At first, I listened carefully because sometimes, when the kids get too riled up, trying to calm them down becomes a two person job (which I usually have to perform solo).  After I was sure that what I was hearing was giggling from both children as they terrorized him, I leaned back and finished up my hour soak.
It was so wonderful.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Long 3-Day Weekend


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So sorry that it has been a couple of days.  I'm trying to get in the habit of writing every day, but honestly, with these two kids and my addled brain, it's hard to remember basic things like meals, shower, and brushing my hair and teeth.
I have been brainstorming a lot of new items to put in the store.  Now I just need to sit down and get them made.  As soon as this sickness goes away that I've been muddling through all week, I'll hopefully have the energy to stay up later than the kids to work on stuff in my studio.  But truthfully, until I get storage for that room, I really don't want to be in there.  I really don't work well in clutter and everything that I didn't have shelving space for is just piled up on the tables until I can get shelving and storage drawers from Walmart.
I'm also behind on writing the July newsletter.  We aren't doing a giveaway this month because I haven't felt well all week and I'm still sick now, so it wouldn't be fair to hold a giveaway for a partial amount of the time that I usually do.  I like giving people ample time to fill their entries.  But the newsletter is going to be written sometime over the next couple of days.
But onto the good part of the post.  It's a 3-day weekend, so I have my husband until Tuesday instead of Monday.  Downside is that he'll have to work the next two Saturdays to keep up production, but there is still more good news because he'll get overtime pay for the two Saturdays since Monday is a paid holiday for him.  We are really hoping that if he can get enough overtime on the next few paychecks that we'll be able to do the few repairs we need to do on the house and find an apartment or rental house somewhere else.  We need to get closer to where his job is so we don't spend $200 of his paychecks on gas alone.  And if we are closer to where he works, then I'll also be closer to all my family and friends, and I'll be able to invite my friends that have kids over so we can all hang out.  And I'll be able to go to the Knit Night with my knitting group.  The 2-hour round trip commute has been too much to do late at night for me, especially with gas prices.
We haven't decided what we are going to do for the Fourth of July yet.  We are going to watch the fireworks from our balcony, but I'm wondering if I can talk the Husbeast into grilling out some burgers.  I know we have buns, hamburger, cheese, and onions, but I'm not sure if we have the other burger fixings that we usually like.
Well, going to have to cut this short.  Lil' Bit is demanding attention.  Happy 4th of July!!

Friday, July 1, 2011

And the Winner is..... *drum roll*


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RamblinMama of http://randomsplashesofthought.blogspot.com!  Congratulations!!  I'll be emailing you shortly for your contact information.  :o)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Today I Shall Be Lazy...


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There are so many things I need to be doing in the house right now, not including all the things I need to be doing for The Chickadee Tree.  But honestly, I just have no energy today.  I have at least taken out the upstairs trash and the kitchen trash.  I still need to gather the trash from the rest of the downstairs' rooms, but they are at emergency levels yet, so they can wait until tomorrow.  And I am going to sweep the stairs shortly.  Hermione (the chow) is still shedding enough to be a nuisance, but she won't let me cut anymore hair off of her at the moment.  Maybe sometime before the end of the week, I will be able to attack her with the scissors again.
I do have a few ideas on tags and packaging for The Chickadee Tree.  Not that they really matter because I won't be able to print anything for at least another month.  My 12-year-old printer has finally bit the dust.  The scanner still works, but I can't print anything off.  I will probably post a few samples in here soon.  I'm just trying to think of ways to make very simple tags for my products that will be instantly recognized.  Probably use my little chickadee on some nice "parchment" colored paper.  I'm not sure if I'll keep him pink though.  I know I'm using a pink/brown combo with my banner and avatar, but I am really thinking that a nice tannish brown background with a green chickadee would look quite nice.  Maybe type the shop address on the back of it and make it a folding tag.
Just tossing some things out here.  Half of my ideas probably will not work because Open Office never seems to like my ideas, therefore it doesn't have a template for it.  Or a way to do it at all.
I just know that I need to design:
  • item tags
  • address labels
  • business cards
  • item labels (for items that need additional information--like skeins of hand-dyed yarn, clothing, etc)
There are probably a lot of other things I need, but those are just the ones I can think of offhand.
I need to find a better way to keep up with my part and finished item inventory.  Right now, Open Office Calc isn't doing what I need it to do, and I'm not handy enough to build a database.  If anyone has any database skills, I would greatly appreciate any help you can toss my way.
For now, I must go.  A storm is on it's way in and the baby just woke up from his nap, so I need to go close all the windows and play with the boy.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Early Morning Laugh


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So, I crawl out of bed this morning, blissfully happy because Lil' Man FINALLY slept through an entire night (I'll take 9:00 to 5:30 any day!), and I walked around the end of the cribs to this funny moment:




Yes, that is Lil' Man's walker.

Yes, that is Lil' Bit in Lil' Man's walker.

I figured that since she only weighs about five pounds more than him that she wasn't really breaking any weight limits on it, and since I keep a close eye on them anyway that she wasn't going to hurt herself in it anymore than she hurts herself when she launches herself off the bed after jumping on it.

She's a fuddy duddy sometimes, that's for sure.

Now she is over here stabbing her mega blocks with her breakfast fork.

And I'm off to take out the trash before the trashman gets here. :o)

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Think I Have Crafting ADD


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I just did a count on how many Works in Progress (WIPs) I have. I really am starting to think I have Crafting ADD. I can't settle on any one thing. List of projects are as follows:

1) The Tetris Blanket: Not a majorly important one to finish, but I still have to keep up with all the blocks that I have finished and the pattern. And because the blocks are usually only using a partial skein, I have that 1/2 or 3/4 of a skein sitting around staring at me.

2) The Speedy Baby Blanket (the name is a lie): It's a three-stranded blanket that I'm making to eventually sell, but Anna is going to get to use the prototype for a while to see how well it holds up to her. The directions said I could finish it in an evening or two. That was three weeks ago. I still have a long way to go.

3) The Bag Bag: This is a personal design, so it's taking a while. I keep having to frog and redo. It's a bag holder for all those plastic shopping bags that I get.

4) The Enjoyable Ribbed Scarf: It was enjoyable the first three times I started on it. This last time (after Anna liberated all my needles from their projects) has really been wearing on me. I tried to slip the needle back in and continue, but with all the Yarn Overs, I was unable to get the pattern back. It's getting there, but it's the one project I have going right now that I really have to focus on because it has a definite pattern repeat, so it's hard to get good quiet time to work on it.

5) The Practice Sock: It's been ripped back to the beginning a few times as well, with Anna's Needle Liberation Movement, and then the ribbing not fitting over my ankle, but it's getting there. I'm going to try to get more done on it here shortly since both of the kids are sleeping.

6) The Felted Bag: This is actually a secret project--not because it's intended for a reader, but because Sam said if he saw me working on one more new project without finishing up the others, he wasn't going to buy me anymore yarn....so I work on this one when he isn't home and hide it. It's coming along nicely. I'm hoping the colors felt up a lot. I'm not really enjoying the colorway, but it may look better felted. It's my first felted project, so if it doesn't work like it should, it's not really a loss for me since I hate the colorway.

7) About ten random projects that need their ends woven in. I know, I know, I should really weave them in when they are done so I won't have a huge pile to dread, but I just don't want to. My tapestry needle is a cheapy plastic one, and the cat has been chewing on the end, so it'll fray my yarn if I try to use it. Planning to buy a few new ones soon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Time Has Come...


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The time has come.

It's the time of the year that I dread the most.

The shaving of the chow.
She looks so nice and sweet in that photo, doesn't she? And I won't lie--she is a very evenly-tempered chow. Heck, she lets Lil' Bit wallow all over her. But as soon as I approach with the comb and clippers, she becomes a bit persnickety.

I used to brush her out all the time, but as she has gotten older and more ornery, brushing for hours on end has become a thing of the past. I'm lucky if she lets me run it through once. But, since it's now in the middle of summer and she has released most of her winter coat, she really needs to be shaved and brushed.

Especially her back legs, which are severely matted. Anyone who has owned a chow knows that matting occurs on them just by walking. Matting is just like felting with yarn. A little water, some agitation, and you have a mat. It sucks, but that is just how nature works.

And now nature has left me with no choice but to tackle her with the clippers and comb and pray that I don't get bitten.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Updates, Updates, Updates


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Good gracious, it has been crazy here lately. Both children are teething. Lil' Man is cutting a frontie and Lil' Bit is cutting a molar. They are miserable, and all they want is to be connected to Mommy. I am barely getting time to go to the bathroom when I need to. They constantly want to be in my lap, so we have been camping out on the sofa, reading books and watching Sesame Street.

I have gotten little to nothing done since they started feeling so bad, so there aren't many project updates. I have several knitted and crocheted items on the needles/hooks. So many that I have filled up a diaper case-size box with my projects. I did manage to finish up my dad's and brother's Christmas presents, mostly. I still need to to weave in the ends, but otherwise, they are done. I can crochet if I am holding Anna only. Sammy makes it a little harder. I don't knit with either of them in or near my lap. Anna wiggles so much that I'm afraid I'm going to stab her if I am knitting near her. My knitting projects aren't getting anywhere fast at all.

On the homefront, we have been cleaning and organizing. So much fell behind while I was pregnant and trying to keep up with a toddler that it just really needs to be handled. And there are a few rooms that need cleaning done in them so we can do a few repairs. And with the harvest season upon us again here soon, I really need to get the pantry area cleaned up and cleared out for the new stuff.

The Husbeast's new job is going well. He seems to love it. He's not loving first shift, but he will be on third as soon as he finishes the training, so he is dealing. He's gotten through his first month fairly well, as far as I can tell. He's so tired by the time he comes home that he usually bathes and collapses, so we really don't get much time to talk about it in detail.

Does anyone know of a good Dill Pickle recipe? I told the Husbeast that I would can some for him this year, but the only recipe I have is my mom's, and he doesn't really like that one. So I'm looking around for a new one.

Need to run! Daughter is climbing where she isn't supposed to be.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June 2011 Giveaway: Bright Aluminum Sweet Pea Chainmaille Earrings


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Bright Aluminum Sweet Pea Chainmaille Earrings

Want to win? Now through June 30, 2011 11:59 PM EST, you can enter to win a free pair of "Bright Aluminum Sweet Pea Chainmaille Earrings." To enter this contest, simply visit The Chickadee Tree (http://www.artfire.com/users/thechickadeetree) and pick out your favorite item. Then leave a comment with the name of your favorite item to enter. This contest is open to residents of US and Canada, ages 18 and up. Please remember to leave a way for me to contact you for acquiring your address information should you win this contest.

You may complete each of the following tasks for one additional entry for each task completed. Please comment in a separate post for each completed task.

1) Tweet this contest and tag it with #thechickadeetree. Comment with your tweet.

2) Become a fan of The Chickadee Tree (http://www.facebook.com/thechickadeetree) on Facebook AND share this contest link on your Wall. Leave a comment.

3) Blog about this contest. Comment with a link to the blog post.

4) Sign up for my newsletter.

5) Follow my blog.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Technology Fail


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Well, I was going to start a new series of blog posts yesterday that were going to highlight all the things I had worked on during the week, starting with the finished items waiting to be listed on my storefront to the current works-in-progress.  But my hateful, cheap camera finally gave up the ghost yesterday, I think.  I open it up, it plays the boot up video and sound, then the screen goes blank and it shuts off.  It has brand new batteries, so I know that isn't the problem. 

It's been doing odd things like this for months.  At Anna's birthday party, it took two pictures of the cake, and about 3 seconds of video.  The rest of said video and all the rest of the pictures I took were solid black.  So, I'm in the market for a new camera.  I'm going to try to see if I can find a decent one with a case and a tripod, so I can use it for personal and business photos without getting massive blurred photos.

Unfortunately, it decided to stop working right as I was trying to take the photos of the June giveaway item, so I'm going to have to try to see if I can get an okay picture with the flatbed scanner today.  I really don't want to have just an okay picture for the giveaway, but I really don't want to skip the giveaway either.  So, I'll figure something out.

Other than that, it's a typical Sunday for us.  Anna is playing, Sammy is in his bouncer, and Sam is sleeping.  I do wish it would either go on and rain or clear up and be sunny.  Seems like the weather can't make it's mind up.

But I'm out to play with the kids.  Later.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Next Large Endeaver: The Tetris Blanket


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And here it is! My next major project: The Tetris Blanket. I took a picture of a Tetris screen from an advertisement and charted it out. Each colored block is meant to be 4"x4" of crochet or knitting. I'm doing it in crochet.

Once each block is completed, they will be stitched together to form the blanket. Then I will be adding a border of some sort to complete my edging. This blanket will take me a while, as it took me a few hours to get the gauge correct on my first square last night.

For me, it had to be 15 single chain stitches wide and 20 rows tall to attain the 4 inches by 4 inches. I have started with the red blocks because I had red in my stash. I'm trying to use as much of my stash yarn up for this that can't be used for business purposes. Since it will be for personal use, I won't be working on it nonstop, so updates on this project will be sporadic.

My main goal for this month is simply to finish up the red squares and maybe start on the white (which will be a nice cream on my blanket because I have a ton of it).

There will other smaller projects shown here soon. I have a lot of things that are almost done. I have to weave in the ends, and I absolutely hate weaving in the ends. So they sit in the Finished Object bag waiting for their ends to be woven in. One day, I will sit down and weave all those ends in. I may start on some today if the kids settle down to play or nap like they should.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Market Bag Prototype is Finished!


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Here is it! The small market bag/purse that I have been working on for almost two months. I still need to sew in the liner and give it a good washing (Anna spilled applesauce on it one morning and I wiped it off, but you can still feel a sticky residue in places), but otherwise, it is ready for the wear 'n tear test run.

Can anyone guess what it is made from? And Brandi, you can't guess, because you already know. :o)

Love you all!

Jessica

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!


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Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there, and to all the daddy's who have to be mom's as well!  I hope you all have a great day!

Mine has started out fairly well, but I promised to let my husband sleep in today since he's been getting very little sleep all week, so by noon, I'll be fairly harried because of Anna and her Terrble Two Tantrums.  Boy, can she throw them.

If all goes well today, I'll hopefully get another few inches added to a couple of my knitting projects.  I was on a crochet binge for a while, but I have three knitting projects on the needles.  Well, two are on the needles.  The third is a set of needles matched up with the pattern and the yarn, but I haven't cast on yet.

I'm working on the Anabela Scarf on Size 17s with Lionbrand's Thick N Quick in the Claret Colorway.  It's looking good so far, but I keep having to frog it a little every day because I'm not getting the stitches on each side of the cable tight enough, leaving large holes in the piece, which I don't like.

And I started The Enjoyable Ribbed Scarf last night. I'm doing it on size 8 needles with a nice sky blue colored Acrylic yarn that I have loads of.  I don't know what company makes it because it was given to me in a large bag of yarn that someone inherited from their mother when she passed on and nothing had labels on it.  I just know it's acrylic because it melts when you put flame to it.  I am liking this pattern more than the Anabela though because it's a bit easier on my hands.  I'm not too good at cables yet, and no matter how loose I knit, the cabled stitches are very, very tight, thus making my wrists and fingers hurt.

The third pattern that I will be starting soon is called Moon River.  I'm following the instructions exactly--same size needles and same weight of yarn.  Color is a variegated green though, so it should look interesting.

Well, the kids are getting fussy so I am going to head on out and play with them.

 

Happy Mother's Day, Everyone!  :o)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May 2011 Giveaway: Colors of Spring Washcloth Set


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Colors of Spring Washcloth Set

Want to win? Now through May 31, 2011 11:59 PM EST, you can enter to win a free "Colors of Spring Washcloth Set." To enter this contest, simply visit The Chickadee Tree (http://www.artfire.com/users/thechickadeetree) and pick out your favorite item. Then leave a comment with the name of your favorite item to enter. This contest is open to residents of US and Canada, ages 18 and up. Please remember to leave a way for me to contact you for acquiring your address information should you win this contest.

You may complete each of the following tasks for one additional entry for each task completed. Please comment in a separate post for each completed task.

1) Tweet this contest and tag it with #thechickadeetree. Comment with your tweet.

2) Become a fan of The Chickadee Tree (http://www.facebook.com/thechickadeetree) on Facebook. Leave a comment.

3) Blog about this contest. Comment with a link to the blog post.

4) Sign up for my newsletter.

5) Follow my blog.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week: My Knitting and Crochet Time


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Write about your typical crafting time. When it is that you are likely to craft – alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys. What items do you like to surround yourself with whilst you twirl your hook like a majorette’s baton or work those needles like a skilled set of samurai swords. Do you always have snacks to hand, or are you a strictly ‘no crumbs near my yarn!’ kind of knitter.

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My typical knitting/crochet time. I really don't think I ever have a typical time. I'm always crafting in the same room as my family, so I usually am knitting/crocheting over one knee while Anna sits on the other to watch her movies. I don't mind her having food while she is in my lap with my fiber work as long as it's a solid food (ABSOLUTELY no applesauce). Crumbs shake out easily and definitely wash out. If she is food free, she usually holds one of my balls of yarn (read that as "grasps it tightly to her chest as a lovely and squeals every time I unravel a little to keep working"). I do not, however, let her touch anything that is natural fiber other than cotton. She can hug my cotton and my acrylics. I try to keep the better fibers as clean as I can since they have to be hand-washed.

We have animals, but they are absolutely not allowed near my yarns. I do not enjoy picking stray dog or cat hairs out of my yarn as I am working, and I swear that my animals are like that white Himalayan cat in the commercial who sneezes and sheds all her hair immediately all over the room. Especially my chow.

Other than that, there really isn't a typical time. There is always some background noise (movies, video game music and battle sounds, music, children beating on toys, dogs barking at squirrels, etc), but the background noise is never the same. I'm not always sitting in the same chair, and sometimes, I'm not even sitting. I've been known to shove my ball of yarn in my waist apron pocket and stand in front of the heater as I crochet. I've also placed it on a spare knitting needle shoved into the small hole between my side table drawer and the drawer frame so that it can roll off freely as I am working on the bed in my "lazy knitter" position.

I have also had times where Anna has crawled in the box with my yarns as I was working and loved all the balls of yarn. Every day is different.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week: Something To Aspire To


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Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft? Maybe the skill or pattern is one that you don’t even personally want to make but can stand back and admire those that do. Maybe it is something you think you will never be bothered to actually make bu can admire the result of those that have.

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I actually have several techniques and projects that intimidate me at the moment, but which I fully intend to be able to at least grasp the concept of before the end of 2011. Well, maybe not one, simply because I do not have the supplies to practice that type of project yet, so it may rollover into 2012. The three skills/projects are cables, socks, and lace.

Cables are close to being tamed. I understand how to do them, and I've memorized the videos that show you how to move the stitches over the others or remove them and pull the other stitches forward; I have just yet to try it. I do not have any patterns that I feel confident enough to try that have cables in them. I have been wanting to swatch some cables just to practice at it, but I'm not sure if a specific stitch count is needed, and I'm not 100% sure how to do the mirrored image of the cable (gotta keep it symmetrical). Cables, however, are the closest to being mastered.

Socks are just an "I want to make my own" project because I like funky colored clothes and toe socks and such, and white or gray socks from Walmart are super boring. I swear, the odder the sock, the more I like it. I have a pair of fuzzy "Cat in the Hat" socks that are in rainbow colors. My daughter loves them as well. I also go through store-bought socks very quickly. Like as in most don't go a week without getting a hole in them somewhere or having the elastic in the leg break and unravel. I'm murder on socks. And to be honest, my husband and kids aren't much better. I do probably need a few supplies to make socks, like smaller dpns, sock blockers, sock yarn (yes, I don't even own proper sock yarn, but that will be getting remedied in just a few weeks.), but learning to knit socks is on my to-do list for this year. Maybe when things pick up, I'll be able to start learning this summer.

Lace....ah lace. The bane of my existence. I love it. It is the most beautiful form of knitting/crochet that I have ever seen, and for the life of me, I can't figure it out. All I ever get is knots. And if I do figure it out, I end up losing count and dropping stitches because it does take a lot of attention to make sure you don't miss anything and I also have at least one child trying to sit in my lap, give me a toy, or crying because she can't walk and chew gum at the same time and has fallen...again. (Oh yes, Anna has inherited my wonderful coordination. She has fallen three times already today and it's only a little after 8 am...)

But those are my three goals for this year to learn. I know I'll figure out cables here soon. Socks will come as they come. Lace will probably continue to elude me for another year.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week: Mix It Up


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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week: Where are they now?


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Whatever happened to your __________?

Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.

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This one is either going to be really easy to write about or really hard. Once again, I do not have many pictures, if any because I didn't even own a digital camera until about a year ago, and nine times out of ten, the batteries are dead in it because it drains batteries really fast. Most of my completed projects have only been dishcloths, facial scrubbies/coasters, or loom-knitted hats. I only have one project that I have ever finished that wasn't one of the previously listed items and that was Anna's monkey. That is the project that I am the most proud of, and since it was made recently, I can tell you that it is sitting in the plastic shopping cart that my daughter got for her birthday from her "great-aunt" Angela, along with the three stuffed bunnies and the singing stuffed cow that she got. All of my other items are either in the linen closet in the hall, or stuffed in one of the kids' dresser drawers waiting for the snowy weather to reappear next winter.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week: Tidy Mind, Tidy Stitches.


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How do you keep your yarn wrangling organized? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organization exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organized at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organized, blog about an aspect of that organization process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organized stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

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To understand my organization of my knitting and crocheting supplies, one must first understand that I have inherited (and admittedly nicked, but only from my mother's stuff) a lot of supplies. I have at least 4 sets of each size of knitting needle, and two or more of each crochet hook. I firmly believe that my hooks/needles should never leave a project until it is finished, and since I don't like having empty needles/hooks lying around, I tend to have a lot of projects going. On that note, we shall continue.

For my needles and hooks, I have a long shelf that sits on top of my longest worktable. On this shelf sits multiple recycled baby formula cans placed three deep on the shelf and reaching from end to end. All my needles and hooks are separated into a can per each size. Yes, I am very O.C.D. about some things. A few of these cans are fairly full (popular needle and hook sizes), but others only have a set or two in each one. BUT I know exactly where to reach for a particular size.

Now, my yarn is a different story. I wish I could say that I was just as O.C.D. about it, but honestly, I don't have a lot of space to store the stuff color-coded or fiber-coded, so it all sits in the little cubby holes of a Munchkin-brand rolling organizing station that was intended for baby items. Since my daughter flipped it over the first time she crawled over to it, it was quickly relocated to a different room for a new use. I have all my yarns rolled into little cakes and they are stacked in there as neatly and as tightly as I could. The only exception would be my Peaches N Cream and Lily n Creme cotton yarn. All of that is rolled into handmade balls and rests in a little knick-knack basket that my grandmother gave my mother to hold baby goodies when I was born.

As for my Works-in-progress...well, it's a bit shameful, but each project is sealed in a plastic grocery bag until it is completed. Once completed, I cut the plastic bag up for plarn. LOL. My husband is always bringing home more plastic bags because he refuses to say "Paper" or use a green bag, so I always have plastic baggies for WIP storage and plarn. On a good note, however, the plastic bags keep my work safe whenever a formula bottle or sippy cup leaks in the diaper bag.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week: Skill + 1UP


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Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

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Wow, this one is going to make me take a trip down memory lane. Let me see. Last year at this time, I could only do a simple garter stitch with knitting, and I could Single Chain a dishcloth in crochet. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to crochet in the round, and increasing and decreasing stitches in either skill was usually followed by me frogging the entire project, declaring myself to be an absolute idiot, and putting all my materials in the back of the deepest, darkest drawer I could find.

For anyone who has been following this blog steadily, it is quite obvious that I have gained a fair amount of skill and confidence in at least my crochet work. Just in the last two weeks, I've crocheted several things in the round and crocheted an entire stuffed animal without losing my patience with it. Last year, I wouldn't have even bothered with opening the pattern for the crocheted monkey because a) I couldn't have read the pattern to start with and b) it would have seemed extremely intimidating to me. My knitting is still a ways behind my crochet, simply because knitting needles are sharp and my children are a bit dumb when it comes to sharp objects. Needles tend to stay in their drawers or in a WIP bag really high up where the kids can't get to it, and thus forgotten. My crochet can sit on my desk right in front of me with the hook and yarn and my kids can't hurt themselves too much. But with my knitting, I have at least gained enough confidence to try a simple moss stitch scarf, or to try more intermediate projects that involve only knit and purl stitches. I can increase fairly well, but my decreases tend to leave too much of a gap between the stitches.

I do have goals though. By the end of this year, I would like to be able to crochet an entire shawl in fingering or laceweight yarn using more expert level patterns. As for my knitting, I'd like to be able to knit a sock. I'm working on learning the Magic Loop technique at the moment, but I have very cheap, very old circulars so I've had several that have actually broken while trying this technique. I'll have to ask for a good set for my birthday. LOL

Monday, March 28, 2011

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week: A Tale of Two Yarns.


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Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

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Before I start in on the topic above, I want to let my readers know that I am participating in the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, so all my posts for the next seven days will be about fiber arts in some way. Now, on to today's topic.

In my few years of dabbling with the fiber arts, I have actually come across a few yarns that I will never use again. Fortunately, I don't have to watch out for them because the vast majority of them have been discontinued for many years, or the companies that make them no longer use that specific chemical make-up (for acrylics). Most of my starter stash was comprised of gifted acrylics from God-only-knows how long ago. One of the price tags said 15 cents, if that gives anyone a clue. Some of them were wonderful to work with--almost like knitting with wool. Others were dreadful. You could feel the plasticity (is that even a word?) as you knitted with them. They were hard, weren't very flexible at all, and slid off the aluminum needles that I had far too fast. I dropped more stitches then I kept on. To say the least, my first experience with trying to knit was a fiasco, and I actually ended up putting my needles down for a long time.

Enter the Internet and cotton yarn. Cotton doesn't quite have the bounciness of acrylic yarns or wool yarns, but it was comfortable to my hands. And with the Internet, I was able to look up videos and replay them as many times as I needed to in order to learn a stitch (my knitting teacher didn't have much patience with me, and you'd think I would have learned, but I later asked her to show me how to crochet and literally got a 30-second lesson on how to chain, double chain, treble chain, slip stitch, and make a shell pattern.... needless to say, it didn't stick.) But enough of that, back to yarns.

I don't have a lot of the "good stuff" yet, so I really can't tell if I have a favorite yarn or not. I've only ever worked with wool, cotton, and acrylics. Acrylics have, at least, come a long way, so many brands are quite pleasurable to work with now. I would love to get my hands on some alpaca or silk yarn.... ooh... *wanders off to drool over other peoples' Ravelry stashes*

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sammy and Immunizations


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Poor baby. He's so miserable right now. The DTap shot has given him a low grade fever and I think it's making his leg really sore as well. He's been either crying or sleeping for the most part since I got home at 10:30 yesterday with him. But he's not getting into a deep sleep, so when he is awake, he's really cranky. And on top of this, he's teething, we think. He's was showing all the symptoms of a tooth incoming day before yesterday. He's just a miserable little boy today. I'm trying to get a little bit of work done while he's asleep, but it's not looking very promising today. But there is always tomorrow and night time to get work done. Just want my little fella to feel better.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Anna's Monkey


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I'm sorry that it has been a few days since I have posted in here. I've been working my fingers to the bone to complete Anna's birthday present before her birthday party on the 27th. It's almost done. He just needs his arms and tail and a good washing, then he'll be ready to be loved by a little girl who has already been walking around the room cuddling his head. (It was a little creepy at first, but I was happy that she liked him.)

I'm making her this little fellow: Crocheted Monkey. I didn't use those exact colors, but he's close. I used a cream for the light colored areas, and a nice caramel brown for the brown parts, then put him in a blue jumper and pants combo. I kept it simple since I'd never done something this complex before with crochet and I wanted to do it right. I also gave him a very goofy face because we call Anna the "Silly Monkey." But she loves him already and as long as she is happy, I'm happy.

I haven't decided whether I am going to let her have him early or wait until the party. I might give him to her that morning since it will be her birthday and who doesn't want to wake up to presents on their birthday.

On the storefront, many things are coming soon. I have several knit and crochet items to list, along with a lot of jewelry. The photos aren't that great, but you can see what needs to be seen to know what the item looks like, fits like, and how large it is. I've also been collecting plastic bags lately to make plarn (plastic yarn). I intend to make some nice handbags/shopping bags from them. It's a nice way to recycle all those plastics that will otherwise fill up our landfills. The only bags I am not using are the ones that had meat in them in any form. I've washed them all beforehand, but I really don't want to pass on salmonella or something equally as nasty. I still need to find some handles for some of the bag designs that I have. I also need to find a business in this town that uses brown bags. The Piggly Wiggly used to but they are using white now as well.

I'll worry about all that in good time. For now, the sun is coming up, and at least one of the children is still sleeping, so I need to get my morning shower and get the day going. I'll post a picture of Anna's completed monkey tonight or tomorrow, depending on how much time I get to work on it. I also have many project pictures to show off.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Anna, the Toddler Bed/Crib, and My Yarn


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It's been a fairly quiet few days here at The Chickadee Tree. I've been knitting and crocheting as hard as I can to get a few more items to stock up the shop, and the family and I have just been hanging about the house. My husband is on Spring Break from school and his job hasn't really picked up yet, so we were just here, spending time together. I was going to write in here yesterday, but I was trying to put another foot on the Shades of Blue Scarf and crochet another hat. The hat ended up being frogged, but I did manage to get about 8 inches on the scarf.

We converted Anna's toddler bed back to a crib two nights ago so that I could retain my sanity and finally get some sleep. It was all going perfectly until yesterday afternoon when she started screaming. She had climbed into her crib via the rocking recliner and the side rail, which is considerably lower than the front and back rails (go figure..whoever designed that doesn't have children), and she couldn't figure out how to get back out. I put down my scarf and released her from her crib. Not even a minute later, she was screaming again...back in the crib. I got up and picked her up again. This time, I sat where I could see her to work, and she climbed right back into the crib again. I left her in there this time. She screamed for about five minutes, then heaved herself over the side that she climbed into it with and slid down in the recliner. And I took the front back off the crib so she wouldn't break her neck. She slept in the bed as a toddler bed last night, but I tucked her in good so she wouldn't roll out of it like she had been. She rolled out some, but only her feet touched the pillow pad beside the bed, so she fell back asleep standing beside her bed. I put her back in there every time that I had to get up with Sammy to feed him. If my camera was able to take good pictures in the dark, I'd have gotten one or two because it was funny looking, but alas, it doesn't.

On a slightly funnier note, I have learned that knitting/crocheting with thick yarn balls is never going to work. She greatly resented the fact that I was unwinding the "lovey" that she had clutched to her chest all day yesterday as I was trying to crochet the hat. When I finally took the ball of yarn away, she snagged the crocheted hat I made day before yesterday (hat is done, but the embellishments aren't on yet) and started loving on it. On a positive note, all my customers can guarantee that any knitted and crocheted items they have bought from my shop have been loved to pieces from yarn ball to finished project by Anna.

As of now, she is occupied with trying to dress the dog in one of her shirts, so I am going to try to knit a few rows on this scarf before she notices.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thank God It's Friday!


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Finally Friday. I'll be doing a Wrap-It-Up post here soon to show all that I have done during the week, but I am still trying to get organized. Well, at least pretend to be organized. Things that need to be done during the day rarely get done because Sammy or Anna demand me a lot. (Not complaining. I love my kids and I'm blessed to have them. Just can't seem to get anything done.)

Currently, I do have several items in the process of being made. I have a crocheted hat that I made for Anna that needs a brim added to it, then it needs to be blocked and the brim needs to be stiffened. I also have a crocheted tomato (yes, I got bored and silly a few times this week. Sleep deprivation does that.) that I still need to stuff and add the greenery to the top of it. And I have a beautiful garter stitch scarf on the needles (knitted in three shades of blue) that I need to finish. I'm trying to use up some of my stash while I'm in the process of filling up my store. The scarf needs at least two more feet added to it and the fringe, so it'll be a while. I just hope I don't run out of the colors. They weren't full skeins of yarn, and the gauge is pretty big so it's using the yarn a LOT faster than I had planned. Ignore the frog and stars in the background of the picture. My son's crib was the only place not inhabited by a child or an animal, so I used that to keep my work clean.

I'm also planning to start preparation for the Knit and Crochet Blog-a-long week. The lady running it gave the topics out early for those of us who needed to plan ahead, so I'm going to try to get those written up today and tomorrow and schedule them to post on their scheduled days. The topics are pretty good, so hopefully, I'll be able to get them typed up fairly quickly.

The plans for the forthcoming week are to finish the Shades of Blue scarf, find my desktop (several finished and unfinished knitting and crochet projects sitting up here, along with needles that didn't work, yarns that I haven't put away yet or am planning to use as soon as I finish up a project.), finish up said projects and cast on a few more. (I can't stand having needles or hooks that are empty when I have yarn to use.) I have several more projects that I finished up a while back that I need to get the ends woven in on and then photograph to add to my Ravelry projects page and to the queue to go to my shop for sale. And I also want to begin to learn how to tat this week. It doesn't look anymore complicated then making hemp jewelry, so maybe I will pick it up fairly quickly.

So that's what has been going on this week and what I plan to accomplish in the upcoming week. I hope I can get it all done, but if I don't, it can rollover into the following week.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Anna and the Toddler Bed: Day Count Lost


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We are putting the crib side back on. Seven hours of sleep total over last three nights. We'll try again when she's older.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Anna and the Toddler Bed: Day 2


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Last night was only a little worse, but I expected as she went to bed not feeling the best. She woke up at 10 and crawled in bed with me. She went back to sleep almost immediately, and Sam moved her back to her bed. She woke up again a few hours later and walked around the room crying for about a minute before she crawled in the bed and went back to sleep with me. The third time she woke up, she was up for a few hours. She drank from her sippy cup, ran around the room, crawled all over me and tried to go to sleep a few times. She finally settled down eventually, laying beside me with her foot on my shoulder and her arm over my knee, but she was asleep, so I let her be.

Sam moved her back to her bed when he came to bed around 5 am...and lo and behold...Sammy wakes up for feeding at 5:30. Well, at least the 4 month old can sleep through the night. LOL

Off to feed him and then back to crocheting. I have finished up several coasters and I'm partially through a hat. I think the hat will end up being Anna's, and I may felt it. It all really depends on whether or not she likes it or not. But, as I said, off to feed Sammy and get him down for his morning nap.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Anna and the Toddler Bed: Day 1


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We moved Anna to a toddler bed last night. Many reasons brought us to this decision. One, she's been napping on my bed for about two months now. Two, she got a new crib that converted to a toddler bed as opposed to her old one. And three, she'll be two at the end of this month and she seemed ready for the conversion. Boy, was she ready.

I expected last night to be horrific with much crying, temper tantrums, and having to get up to get her back in bed and stand there until she fell asleep. I was, honestly, very much amazed at how easily she took to it. We set the bed up about two hours before bedtime. She climbed on it with her teddy bear as soon as I got the sheets on it. She curled up, rolled over, and stretched out on it like it was the best thing she'd ever seen.

She fell asleep in my lap like she usually does, and Sam picked her up and put her on her bed and tucked her in. He had already gotten Sammy to sleep while she was falling asleep in my lap, so I went to bed. About an hour after Sam came to bed, Anna woke up. But instead of crying, she got up, walked over to our bed, crawled in and went back to sleep beside me. She didn't move until her brother woke up at 4 a.m. At that point, I picked her up and put her back in her bed. She stayed there until 7:30 this morning. No complaints from Mama, especially since her brother also slept the majority of the night in his bassinet, which was a first as well.

Now, she is over here eating breakfast with her elephant on her toy box, and he is swinging and jabbering to his bumblebee rattle. Life is good.

And I am now off to do a bit more crocheting. There are many new items waiting to be photographed for listing. The Chickadee Tree is really taking off.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Yarnalicious Eye Candy: An Artfire Collection


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