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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