Thursday, March 31, 2011

What to do with an unexpected day off

So, what do you do when you check your schedule and find out you have an "extra" day off?  Well, that was what I got to do today!  I don't usually have Thursdays off so it was a nice surprise.  First off I spent the morning with the kiddos before they had to go back to their dad's for the rest of the weekend.  We had a good time durring spring break...the circus, we went out to breakfast, watched movies and just had lots of fun.  Although I did look out my window yesterday to see this...
It wasn't all bad though, we had bought a kid sized snow shovel a little while back and after making the comment, "Well why did we buy it?  We're not even going to get to use it!" because that snow had melted off, I made sure my daughter put it to use (OK, she volunteered.  Wish it would stay that way for the next 12 years!)

And it made for a wonderful atmosphere to walk in this morning after I dropped them off.  I love this heavy, wet, stick to everything kind of snow.  I think its so beautiful, just like a painting.  It gives everything this ethereal kind of quality.  I tried my best to take some pictures to show this, but I don't think they do the natural beauty I saw justice.

After my walk I came home and played with my yarn.  I got another heart and flower block done. (10 down, 145 or so to go), then while on Ravelry I saw a post on this.

This is a carnation block designed by Drew Emborsky for a project he is working on.  He is asking for anyone who wants to join in to crochet one, or as many as they like, and mail them in to be added to blankets for charity.  It is supposed to end up at 7 inches.  Mine missed the mark.  So I am debating weather to add rows to the outside or make one with a larger hook. I want to make sure it makes it to 7 inches.  I guess my fear is that if its not "perfect" it won't be used.  Silly, no?  It is a really cool pattern and really does look like a carnation which is just amazing to me.  If you would like to check it out you can do it here. 
Then I got to working on my co-worker's baby sweater.  I don't have enough yarn so I am done til I can get to the store.

Its a kimono style sweater so it will tie shut.  At first I was going to try to get the stripes matched up in the front, but then after thinking about it I kind of like the whole yin and yang thing with them being opposites.

Finally I have been working on stash restructuring.  I think we all have the same dilema at times.  Projects started but not finished, fabrics that were bought with good intentions, fabric that we have been gifted, practice blocks, scraps that we "really will use someday".  But what happens when that day doesn't come?  When out tastes change?  When we continue to look at a project and say someday when we know "someday" probably won't come?  Well, I'm at that point.  So today I went through my stash of all things quilty and made some choices.  So far, here is what is being purged.

If it didn't still make my heart sing when I looked at it, it went in the bag.  If it was still in the  "well....maybe" column it stayed, for now.  There are fat quarters, large chunks of flannel, some scraps, blocks and even a few finished tops in there.  I am hoping the one local quilt shop still takes these kinds of donations, if not I may send them to my mom. She lives in a larger city and may have more luck finding a group that will take them.  As for the rest of my fabric, I've been going through and deciding what to do with it all.  I found more I can use in the postage stamp quilt, some that will be turned into bags or wallets, some that will be used to complete some of the tops I still have waiting to be finished.  It feels good to be getting it under control.

Since I don't have anywhere to be until tomorrow afternoon I am going to burn the midnight oil and try to get some work done on those postage stamp blocks.  Until next time, I hope you all have a great day!!  Warmest wishes!!
Country Mouse

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Starting into spring break the fun way!

This week is spring break for my little ones, and we started it out with a ton of fun.  My fiance's family and all of us went to the circus Sunday :cD  I can't tell you the last time I went to the circus, but I can tell you it was the first time either of my little ones remember seeing one, so it was awesome.
We were greeted by clowns at the door.
Got all the obligatory extras...cotton candy, programs, popcorn, slushies, t-shirts and such :cD
Saw acrobats from the daring...

to the graceful..

to the exciting.
Visited with more clowns during intermission...who were more than happy to autograph their photos in the programs.  Way cool.
Then enjoyed the second half that included the elephant act which was a favorite of everyone, especially my fiancee who used to want one for a pet when he was little ;)  They even had a motorcycle high wire act that was way cool.  The only thing I miss (that was part of the circus when I was little but understandably probably not as prevalent at circuses anymore) were the big cats.  But even without them it was a wonderful experience, and a great way to kick off spring break.  After the circus we all went out to dinner as well.  Lots of fun! 

Today was spent at home getting more spring cleaning done.  I don't know what's gotten into me, but I again felt this great urge to mop and clean our hardwood floors.  This time without the emotional drain...guess that's confined to kitchen floors, but you'll hear no complaints from me about that.  Tomorrow I'm going to surprise the kids with a matinee.  Not sure which movie, but I'm sure we'll find one that's fun.

Lest you think I abandoned all crafting, I did squeeze in time to work on a baby sweater for my co-worker, and another heart and flowers block.  No picture of the sweater yet, but here is where I am at on my hearts and flowers...

Its getting late here, so I am off to get some rest before tomorrows activities.  Hope you all have a great day!!  Warmest wishes!!

Country Mouse

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hey all you crocheters out there

So, I was at the grocery store the other day when on my way out I stopped by the magazines.  The current issue of Crochet World caught my eye with its cute little crocheted lamb so I picked it up, flipped through it really quick, then decided what the heck and took it with me up to the check out.  When I got home I took a longer look through it and there are a ton of great patterns in there!  First off there is a hat pattern by CrochetDad that is just beautiful.  He is a member of the Jean Leinhauser 101 Crochet Blocks group with me on Ravelry, and my kids thought it was really cool that I "knew" him :)  Further into the magazine I found pattern after pattern of things that I will probably make eventually, but one jumped out at me and one I just had to do now.  It is called Hearts and Flowers Afghan.  It has bright, popcorn stitch flowers in the middle of softly shaped hearts on a black background, and I totally fell in love with it the second I saw it.  So despite the fact that I have so many other things I want to make and that I am currently working on, I have decided that I am going to challenge myself to work on this one a little at a time and make one square a day, and I wondered if there is anyone else out there that is also working on this one or wants to.   It takes 154 squares to make the afghan in the magazine, so it won't be finished anytime soon at that rate, but it  makes it doable for me.  So with that I set to making my first few squares (I even joined 2 just to see what that process was like, I've never done it before), and here is what I have...

I have a few more made that I don't have pictures of just yet, but I am up to 6, so I still have a way to go, but so far I just love it.  So all you crocheters out there, if you are working on this, made this, or want to crochet this along with me, please let me know cause I would love to see your projects/progress.

On a quilty note, is anyone out there still working on this...

I can't believe its been so long since I started this.  I joined the postage stamp quilt along on Handmade by Heidi's blog when it started last February and started off so well, then got sidetracked by teaching myself to knit, and , well.....     This is where I am at now, and I am making progress again.  I have decided I am not using the block center in the bottom row, so I think I still have 13 or so "blocks" to go and have challenged myself to make at least one a week until I get it done.
So it looks like I've got my work cut out for me with my self-imposed challenges (not to mention the two crochet-along groups I'm in on Ravelry, my row by row challenge, and knitting and quilting for a friend who is expecting her second son soon.)  Busy busy busy, but that's the way I like it :cD

Hope you are all having a good weekend.  I am working as usual, but have a surprise in store for the kiddos this Sunday which should be a lot of fun then we head into spring break.  With that I am off and running again ;cD  Warmest wishes to you!!

Country Mouse

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Easing back in

Hi all, I can't believe last week flew by!  Life never slows down, huh?  I actually got my sewing area a bit more organized last week so I could start sewing some more.  I was all excited as I started rearranging my supplies and getting things cleaned up, thinking about the projects I would be working on.  I really wanted to get my row by row started so I started looking through my fabrics then something kinda weird happened.  Now, I have been quilting for almost 10 years (wow, that number is big! can't believe I've been at it that long) and especially when I started, I was fearless about color.  I would look at all that fabric and just start grabbing it up, cutting and sewing things together.  I would make some choices that others would look at then comment, "Do you think that's going to work?".  I would look at my cut pieces, then at them, then simply reply, "Yup!!".  Well, as I was looking through my stash I actually felt....overwhelmed.  I froze.  I couldn't make those quick decisions.  I'm sure its just because I haven't been sewing much over the last year and it will pass, but it was one of the most surprising feelings for me.  So rather than starting the row by row, I went for something a little "easier".
Two years ago I did a shop hop and picked up these block kits, and they called out to me as something to ease back into sewing with since the colors were all chosen for me.  I figured that maybe if I worked with something that some of the work was done for me (color choice)  I could just relax, work on my cutting accuracy and seam allowances.  So I set to cutting and got these beauties done.

I got a fourth cut, but somehow I ended up with not enough of one color, so I either need to find a suitable substitute in my stash or find one at the fabric store.   I have also been working on my postage stamp quilt, which has thrilled my son because it is going to him when its done.  I'll post a picture of my progress on it soon.  After looking at my stash again, I have decided that some of the fabrics I have would be perfect for handbags, totes and other non-quilty things so I am making a list of those kinds of things I want to make as well.  So I see some real sewing in my future again :cD

I also realized this month is my one year knitaversary.  I am amazed at how far I've come in just a year when it comes to working with yarn.  I remember buying the teach yourself to knit book and posting my simple garter stitch swatch I had made with yarn that had been bought for poncho ties that I had laying around.  I have made toys, purses, hats, sweaters, and even socks (I never thought I would be able to learn to use double pointed needles!). 
 Here are just a few projects to see where I've come from and where I'm at now....



I've come a long way!!

------------ Non-quilt or yarn related content ahead------------------------------
I usually don't talk about much about how things were before my divorce.  I don't think you all come and visit me to read about any of that, and I don't want to be seen as a whiner or complainer.  Life happens, you make choices, you move on.  But I had something bring things back to mind that I just wanted to write down.  I have been hit with some spring cleaning fever (I figured I better take advantage of it since play-with-yarn fever or play-with-fabric-fever hits me FAR more often) and decided to get the kitchen clean from top to bottom.  I was mopping the floor when memories came flooding back.  I don't like mopping the floor for that reason.  When I was working on some of the stickier spots...floors get those, they are floors after all...I couldn't help but remember the times when a sticky spot like that would get a "this is why we don't deserve nice things, we can't keep what we've got nice" comment. Those words would rip at me every time I heard them.  I had tried my best to make my home a nice one.  It made me feel like I would never have any better, be any better, deserve any better.  Those kind of words hurt more than people realize, and usually come from people who think they're justified in stating them.  Its been hard for me to get to the point I am where I feel confident in who I am and what I am capeable of, all considered.   I took a moment after getting the floor done and just looked at it.  Not perfect, but nice and clean and much improved.  Then I took a moment and thought about where I am now and where I was a couple years ago.  And although the words that were ringing through my head the entire time I mopped brought back emotional pain I thought I was over, I realized that I was OK.  I can have better, be better and deserve better and I just need to remember that and continue to move forward.  And just know it will all work out the way its supposed to in the end.

I'm going to get on my way and jump back into the craziness that is my life, and will be back with more projects to share.  I hope you all find some time this weekend to do the things that make you deserve it!!  Warmest wishes!!
Country Mouse

Friday, March 18, 2011

I think spring is finally springing!!

Hi all hope you are gearing up for the weekend, or gearing down, whichever the case may be.  Me, well, I'll be working all weekend, but that's OK because I think spring is finally here!!  We have had one of the most drab stretches I can remember...lots of rain, gray skies, even some snow...but we are finally sunny and in the 60's.  Wooohooo!!  Just to give you an idea of what we've seen, here are two pictures taken out our back window.  The first one is date stamped 3/11/2011 and the second was taken today. 
That's Ohio for you!!

To continue the spring-y love, here are the two latest blocks I've completed for the crochet a-long on Ravelry.  This is one of the two colorways I've chosen, but I think this one is my favorite.  And it goes along well with the springtime feel of the day.

With those done, I've caught up on my knitting and crochet for the month so I am going to make a conscious effort to work on my quilts.  I have a row by row challenge that I am woefully behind on, so that is my first goal.  Then I have fabric for a dragon quilt for my fiancee that is goal number two, so I hope to have pictures of those soon.

Just a quick update on my car problems.  I had my check engine light come on the other day, I tightened the gas cap and it went off.  Then it came back on then went off again.  Weird.  Took it to the mechanic yesterday and even though the light was off the computer threw a code for a problem anyway.  Double weird.  So I am facing a relatively minor repair, but it could be a lot worse so I can't really complain. 

Well, I am off to enjoy the weather before I head into work. I was just so excited I had to share (well that and I really want to try to be a more consistent blogger so I wanted to work on that too :cD)  Hope you all have a great day.  Warmest wishes!!

Country Mouse

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

To and fro, stop and go, that's what makes the world go round.

OK, so I've been watching too many kids shows lately (the title comes from a song in Disney's Sword in the Stone) but its the kind of thing that's been keeping me going lately.  I really meant to be on here blogging more this year, but it just hasn't happened yet.  I'm sure you've all heard the saying "sometimes you ride the wheel and sometimes it rides you"?  Or I like the one "sometimes you're the windshield and sometimes you're the bug".  Well, right now I feel like the bug.  Its just been one of those times when everything has been coming at me at once.  Foot problems, I broke a tooth, my check engine light came on, a rough patch in relationships, just to mention some of it.  Ugh!  Sometimes it just seems like it will never end!  When it comes down to it though, I know life is like the song above.  For all those rainy patches, you just know there will be sunshine on the other side.  So to anyone else out there going through the rain with me, keep your head held high and know that sunshine is around the corner  :cD

Alright, enough of the whining :cP  I have been trying to make the best of it and getting stuff done.  I have been trying to get out and walk (although the weather hasn't been helping!), I have been keeping the house under control, and I have been working on my CAL projects.  I have really enjoyed being part of the 101 Crochet Blocks CAL on Ravelry.  That group is just so helpful and fun to be in.  Our block this week was block 100, and it was quite a challenge for me.  I made 4 of them before I got it figured out, but here is the finished product...

I also made a new toy for my daughter.  My kids have been playing Viva Pinata and the other day she came up to me and asked "Mom, can you make me a mousemallow?"  Sure, I thought, the character lends itself to amigurumi type crochet so I sat down and worked up this little fellow...

He is my own design, and I was thinking about writing it down so I could share the patten here, but I haven't done that yet.  Finally I finished this fellow for a friend of mine...

He is based on the patten Night Owl by Alan Dart.  Funny (well, sort of) story...I took this owl to where my friend works to give it to her, and someone she showed it to had made the comment that she was going to take it.  We all thought she was joking.  Well, a little later my friend was trying to find the owl to show it to someone else and he was nowhere to be found.  Ends up that the person we thought was joking about taking the owl had stuffed it in her purse and really was going to walk out with him!!  Luckily he was found and he is now safe and sound with his new owner.

Last night was my son's blue and gold banquet.  This is his first year in Boy Scouts and I am so proud of him.  He is very shy and usually needs a little nudge to get involved with social activities.  A few months ago he brought home a paper and said "Mom, I want to join the Boy Scouts."  I was a little surprised, but made sure we made it to the meeting and got him signed up, and I am so glad we did!!  He has had a lot of fun, made some new friends, participated in his first pine wood derby, been to new places.  It has been very good for him.  He got an award for art, and his citizenship pin among other things.  We are soooo proud.  On a side note, it was a pot luck type dinner.  I haven't been to one of those for AGES and I forgot how much I loved them.  So much good food and different foods too, so much fun!!

Well, the weather is cruddy today, I am ready for spring to spring already!!  But it is the perfect day to work on some knitting and some sewing, some housework (its laundry day here), and maybe squeeze a walk or run in between the raindrops before picking the kiddos up from school.  Hope you all have a great day!!  Warmest country wishes!!

Country Mouse

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Getting back to life

Hi all, I hope you have all been making lots of progress on projects old and new, and that you have been making progress on all that you have been wanting to.  I ended up losing almost a month of progress of all I had been working toward this year.  A tough start to be sure, but I am doing well regaining ground that I lost.  So so much has been going on around here...OK, maybe nothing all that new, but it is always busy and it keeps me moving!! 

I am excited to share a picture of my first block for this month for my CAL blocks for this month.  This was quite an interesting block in my opinion.  I've never done one with this kind of technique for the center.  The directions are nice and clear, and worked up relatively quickly.  It is called Starburst Flower and can be found here

I have also been playing catch-up with another group I joined on Ravelry.  We are making blocks out of Jean Leinhauser's 101 Crochet blocks book.  Now the book is out of print, and I had been trying to find a copy with not much luck, but the members of this group have been wonderful when it comes to helping find copies for members without.  I was lucky enough to get a copy through one of the moderators of the group, Sandy, who was able to find a friend willing to part with her copy.  We're only on week 9, but I have learned sooo many new stitches and am having an absolute blast making the blocks, and I am almost caught up.  Now to decide what to do with all of them ;cD  Oh, and they are different sizes too, so I'm looking forward to the challenge of figuring out how to fit them together.

block 96

block 40

block 3

block 23

block 30

block 81 (I love this block!  I may make an entire afghan out of this block eventually.)

block 88

I am disappointed in myself for falling off the wagon with my fitness program.  Its so easy to let it go when you have had a period when you couldn't exercise.  I am doing my best to get back on track.  I am hoping the weather breaks soon so I can get back outside, but so far no luck.  Between thunderstorms, ice, snow, flooding and temperatures ranging from the 20's up to nearly 60 over the last week or so it has been a total crazy mess around here.  My goal for the month is to get some aerobic activity in 4 days a week and to begin stretching more.

Well, I am off to get things done today,  I have a surprising amount of energy today so I am going to take advantage of it.  A little cleaning, a little exercise, and hopefully a lot of stitching :cD (I'm working on my first toy pattern for my daughter based on a video game she is playing right now)  So with that I am going to wish you all warmest wishes for a wonderful day!!

Country Mouse