Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stacking up

Happy Leap Year!  That means one more day of knitting this year!

This is the knitting I have been doing:

It is really starting to stack up. 

These are the door prizes I have been working on for my sister's wedding shower in April.  I am nearly done; just a few more until I have ten.  Oh, and then I have to sew the ends in.  I hate sewing the ends in.

I made two of these:

but I can't find the other. Where would a dishcloth wonder off to?  I wonder if a certain 3 year old has anything to do with it.  Or maybe her forgetful mom? 

I am now on this one:

They are pretty addicting.  Once I finish one, I cast on another.  Maybe this should be the first item I try to sell.  I am getting pretty good at them and it is my own pattern.

What are you working on?  You have an extra day this year, so what are you going to do with it?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I am just falling behind.  I guess it is that time of year.  As an academic librarian and adjunct professor my life follows the academic school year.  I want to be reading more, taking pictures (finally got the thing charged), crocheting and knitting but none of that is happening.  I am just working, mothering and cleaning.  I am running though, my race is March 31st so, I can't slack there. 

Since I am not doing any of the things I tend to blog about, I really have nothing to blog about.  But, I will be child and husband free for a few days this week so maybe I can get caught up.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Door Prizes

My lovely, little sister is getting married this summer and I am her matron of honor.  I am so very excited for her.  There is so much to do before mid-June.  This past week my mom and her friends scheduled a wedding shower.  It is going to be 1950s retro themed.  My mom volunteered me to made the door prizes.  I need to make 10 dishcloths by mid-April.

This is #3.

I am moving right along. I am making them from Sugar and Cream yarn I had in my stash, using my normal pattern for diagonal dishcloths.

This is yet another camera phone photo.  The new charger should arrive soon.  I am so excited. 

What have you been volunteered for lately?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My Dishcloth Pattern

More dishcloths?  Why, yes.
This is my standard dishcloth pattern.  It looks a lot like other dishcloth patterns, but mine is a bit different.  I combined what I liked from a few patterns into one of my own.

Most dishcloths made in this manner have these little holes around the edges.  I think is is supposed to look like there is a fancy edging.  I really did not like the look or making them that way (my little holes were all uneven and funny looking).  So I changed things up a bit and I am sharing the pattern with you.  My first ever pattern.

Use worsted weight 100% cotton yarn.  I use Sugar and Cream for most of my dishcloths.

Use a knitting needle anywhere between a US 3-9.  Smaller needle equals smaller, tighter stitches and a smaller over all cloth.  Larger needles equal larger, looser stitches and a larger cloth.  I don't have a standard gauge because any size will do.  I usually use a US 6, 7 or 8 depending on what is not being used in other projects.
Michelle's Diagonal Dishcloth

Cast On 3 stitches
Row 1: k1, yo, k to end
Row 2: k1, yo, knit til 2 stitches left, knit into the back of the yarn over stitch, k1
Repeat row 2 until there are 43 or 44 stitches on the needle, it doesn't real matter.

Short Rows- these make the corners extra pointy.  I got the idea from this pattern.
Next Row: K2, turn, k2, turn, knit to end
Following Row: k2, turn, k2. turn, knit to end.

Basically, you are just knitting 2, then turning as if you were to the end, then knitting 2 back to the end/beginning and then knitting across the whole row of 43 or 44 stitches.  Then you repeat it on the other side and start the decreases.

Next Row: Knit across til 3 stitches remain, k2tog in the back loop, k1
Repeat this row until 3 stitches remain

Bind off.  Sew in ends.  Block if needed.

Use well.  The knit texture is perfect for cleaning all dishes.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.  This is my first time attempting to write a pattern so let me know if there are issues.  It is wonderful pattern for watching TV and knitting.  I can even make these riding in a car at night.  So simple and practical. They make great gifts.

The pictured dishcloths are for the 2 people who commented on my last dishcloth post.  I hope they use them well.

Do you love handmade dishcloths for doing the dishes?  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mittens are Done

I finished my flip-top mittens with color work (which I did two-handed, so cool), but no good pictures because the camera is dead.

I do have this one:

I had to crop in too far to get rid of the crap in the background so you'll just have to imaging the rest of the mittens until my camera is charged.

I did get notice that the charger has been shipped and I should get it at the end of the week or beginning of next.  I am so excited.  Blogging is no fun without the photos.

Friday, February 17, 2012


My daughter, it turns out, is a very insightful child and this week has been especially so.  Usually most of our conversations are about getting ready for school, leaving school, cooking, cleaning, eating, potty training, movies bathing and sleeping. Not too exciting, but she is starting to reach the age where she has very interesting conversation topics.

As we were going up the step to the day care D exclaimed "I want to be a leader."  She said "a" not "the", which may have been a little slip up for a 3 year old but for me it is a big difference.  Suddenly,  a has one of those light-bulb-turning-on-over-your-head moments.  I thought, "Truer, words have never been spoken."  Of course she wants to be a leader.  It is part of everything she does.  She is an only child, of course she thinks she is the leader.  Plus, she just has natural leadership qualities; something great to have, but not as a 3 year old.  This may be our biggest obstacle together because I want to be the leader too.  We both can't lead no matter how hard we try.

Another moment came in the car.  We cross the Illinois River every day on our commute to my work/her daycare.  Every morning we look for the buoy and every afternoon we look for the crane boats (dredging equipment) as we cross over the bridge.  One day this week, D asked where the buoy's parents were.  D thinks that there should be a parent and baby for every object.  I told her the buoy was an adult and did not need to be with its parents.  She then told be that it was small and needed parents like the crane boats.  This. I thought. was pretty insightful.  Both are made of metal and "live" in the river.  One is small and the other is large.  Just another looking into the workings of  her mind.

D's favorite new word is "Hall-a-hula", which is her rendition of "hallelujah".  She picked it up from Shrek and the song "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen, I think.  I think she is trying to sing the song too or she is just in a very Palm Sunday type mood. 

Okay, so these might not be the most insightful things ever said, but for a 3 year old, I think it is pretty good.  She is making categories for herself to learn the world around her.  She is smart, maybe, too smart.

I would have added some pictures here but, the battery in the camera is dead and I am not sure where the charger is. I know I charged it a Christmas, but now I have no idea where the charger would be. Hopefully I find it this weekend.

What to you have planned for the weekend?  Something more exciting than looking for a camera battery charger?

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I got a great tip the other week from a lady at knit night.  It has totally changed my attitude toward my camera.

We got a new camera about 18 months ago.  We spend pretty good money on it.  It was the camera Taylor Swift was the spokesperson for, so we thought it had to be good.  It is a nice, little, automatic camera with some manual features that I never use, but could use, if I read the manual. It is a good camera, but the flash is just so over powering.  It is a tiny little flash, barely even there, but it distorts all colors in every indoor photo, which is almost every photo I take.  It takes my pale skin to a new paler shade, something I am not excited about.

So here is the tip.  Tape a piece of a single tissue over the flash.  You'll have to pull apart the Kleenex so it is just one layer.  This makes the flash less harsh.  She said it mimics the effect photographers have with their fancy flashes.

 Photo of my camera from my phone.

See that evil reflection?

This is even with some editing with Picnik.

Now with the tissue.

No reflection.  Amazing.  And no editing with Picnik.

I will definitely be using this trick from now on.  I hope my craft projects will look better in photos now.

What are your camera tricks?    I am a point-and-shoot kind of girl so any tips are appreciated.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Work-in-Progress Wednesday

I started these for some Super Bowl knitting.

These are the mittens I am test knitting.  I have discovered that I am not a very good test knitter.  I swatched to make sure I used the right sized needles.  However, I did not check my gauge as I knit along.  My gauge, it turns out, is one less stitch per inch than called for so I am making these mittens a bit too big.  I am always learning.

I should have taken more pictures along the way becuase this is my first two-at-a-time project.  I just followed this very helpful video.

She is actually casting her purl stitches on twisted, the right way is like this video:

This is so great.  Now I can make a matching pair at the same time.  Now I don't have to worry about making socks or mittens the same length, they just will be because I will make them at the same time.

I still have some knitting to do on this pair as they are flip-top mittens, so I need to make the flip-tops.

What are you up to this fine Wednesday?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

As my daughter gets older, I am finding that I have the urge to decorate for holidays.  I have never really decorated for holidays (except Christmas), thinking it was a bit cheesy.  But now my daughter is nearing 4 years old and I want to decorate for her.  I grew up helping my mom decorate our house for each holiday or season, so slowly we are starting to accumulate objects associated with holidays and seasons for display at our house.

I love making seasonal crafts with my daughter, now that she has some craft-like inklings.  We just head to Michael's and purchase kits.  For Valentine's Day we got these cute foam cupcakes to assemble.  I then had the idea to crochet a line and glue the cupcakes to the line to create a fabulous decoration for our faux fireplace.

D is pretty proud of her work hanging in the living room (even though I did most of it, three-year-olds and hot glue guns don't mix, even if she thinks she can do it). 

We also put up window clings on our front and back door.  It is not much, but is is a start.  Especially since I am not very good with interior design.

D helped make very special Valentine's cards for the special people in her life.  I supplied the stamps, paper, and ink, she did the stamping.

They turned out pretty nice.

Do you decorate for every holiday or season?  Are you doing any thing special for Valentine's Day?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Review: The Fault in Our Stars

Yesterday, I finished a most marvelous book, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  To say John Green is a good writer is an understatement.  He is a fabulous writer and he shows it here.

This book is about cancer, so you may cry a lot.  I did.  And it is not some Lifetime movie about teens with cancer, if that is what you are thinking.  Oh no, it is something very different.  This is the story of Hazel, who has terminal lung cancer, and the people she meets at the cancer support group she attends, especially one Augustus Waters and their infinite adventures.  I fear saying more would give too much plot away to my lovely friends yet to read this book, so I will leave the details to a minimum. Okay?

John Green always seems to write characters that are wonderfully weird, something most people who are nerdy readers will appreciate.  Hazel and Augustus are very weird teens, they are thoughtful, introspective, funny, and they seem to really know who they are, something(s) I did not experience as a teen. I really wonder if anybody does.

I never knew what was going to happen in the story, even with foreshadowing.  Or maybe I did not want to believe the foreshadowing.  Anyway, the twists and turns of the plot were less expected than in so many of the books I read, even for a book with a main character with terminal cancer.

Highly enjoyable and outrageously true and sad.
5/5 stars

John Green has also written:
Looking For Alaska (also very, very good and a boarding school story)
Paper Towns (on my to-read list)
Abundance of Katherines (also on to-read list)
Will Grayson, Will Grayson (amazing, I love you, Tiny Cooper!)

Have you read John Green?  Do you love him?  What are you reading right now?

Sunday, February 12, 2012


We have people fooled. I in no way try to represent myself as someone I am not. I like to be honest. I am a nerdy librarian who was a crazy daughter. I am a pretty selfish person and very controlling. To add to those wonderful qualities, I have no patience. And that is why I seem to have people fooled.

This week I held story time in the library for the three classrooms of daycare at the College. Several of the teachers thanked me and praised my patience. I immediately responded to them that I am not a patient person. I even had my daughter vouch for me, but they seemed unconvinced.

I took my daughter to the dentist this past week. The hygienist and dentist both praised her for being such a sweet angel. I guess she didn't bit or cry so in the world of kids dentistry she was pretty good, but she is not a sweet angel.

A few years ago I would never had admitted publicly that I am impatient, selfish and a bit controlling person, but the older I get (I realize I am only 28 that that is a big developmental difference from age 24 when D was born) the more I realize I do have faults and it is okay to have them. I am embracing my faults and trying to work with them.

Do we have many more good traits than bad, yes. Am I a good mother, yes. Am I a perfect mother, no. Is my child happy, yes. Do we fight, constantly. Does she want to be just like me, yes and that may be the biggest reason that I recognize these faults. I see them being passed on. We are good at fooling people.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

One for the Money

I re-read One for the Money by Janet Evanovich last month in preparation for the theatrical release.
I have read all 18 books in the Stephanie Plum series so it was nice to go back and re-read what happened in the beginning.  I had forgotten a lot.  I remembered I did not like Jimmy Alpha, but I couldn't remember why.  I also kept waiting for certain things to happen, certain things that apparently happen in the next few books and not this one.

This book is not fine, upstanding literature, if you are looking for that.  This is just a fun, little read set in 1994 (so there are some pretty hilariously dated references).  I don't like my books to be too serious.  I like to be entertained with fun and frivolity and this is right up that alley.

I definitely fell in love with this series again.  The teen section (13-16) of the series is pretty poorly written and underwhelming to say the least, but 17 and 18 are much better. I read on, because I love Stephanie Plum.  Going back to the first book makes me want to read the next few in the series again, but I barely have time to read what I want, let alone re-read.

I was blessed by a visit from Merma and Papa (my in-laws) last weekend.  They watched my daughter so I could have a date night with my husband.  We had a nice little meal and then went to the movies to see Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum in One for the Money.
Heigl was fantastic in the role.  I was pretty unsure about the casting, but she did an amazing job.  The movie was overall pretty good and followed the book pretty well.  There were a few inaccuracies to the plot, which helped move the movie along so, I see why they were incorporated.  If you are a Stephanie Plum fan, you need to go see it. 

Have you read the series or seen the movie?  If not, what are you waiting for? 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Every once in a while we all need to play catch up.  That is me.  I have been working on crocheting an amazing baby blanket and making other various projects, but neglecting other parts of my life.  Not big things, just little things like taking out the trash and/or recycling, vacuuming, walking the dogs, running and taking time to read.  Oh and preparing material for my class (I am teaching a class on reference for the first time so I am having to develop everything.)  I have been talking a lot about crafting on the blog, but not a lot about the other aspects of my life, well because I have not been doing them a lot.  (I have been doing the mothering thing, can't really neglect that.  D wouldn't let me if I tried.)

Quick update...

Running:  I am actively training for a half-marathon: The Heights Half!!!

This is the first time it is being held so that is something special.  It will be cool, Spring-in-the-Mid-West weather.  I am so excited to run.  I just ran 7 miles the other day in preparation, my longest run of 2012.  I accidentally (yes accidentally, I did not want to run in the rain and other scheduling issues) took a few days off running and I became very. very grouchy and tired.  I ran 7 miles and then felt great.  I learned I have to run to be happy.  No more accidental vacations from it.

I am following Kara Goucher's running plan from her book Kara Goucher's Running for Women.

I am trying to add speed work into my training.  Something I just skipped over for my first half-marathon training.  I trust her training plan as she has had amazing coaches and just made the 2012 Olympic team for the marathon.

Reading:  Um, I am reading a really great textbook...

It really is worth the $70 retail price.  Library Science books are expensive.  Great profession, but the professional materials are never under $50.  Ridiculous!

For fun, I just picked up the new John Green novel The Fault in Our StarsI am about 50 pages in and loving it.  John Green is so amazing.

I am also reading Alexander McCall Smith's The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party
I love Precious Ramotswe; she is the best lady detective in all Botswana and number one in our hearts.  I love Alexander McCall Smith and everything he writes.  Highly recommended!  His series are wonderfully addictive. 

I do have a few things on the needles, but they can wait.  Life is about balance and I am trying to acheive a better blance by doing the many things that I love and not knitting on a deadline (although I do have two things I have to finish this month, but I am not thinking about that now, right?).

What do you love to do that you have been neglecting?

What are you reading?

What are you doing March 31, 2012 (What?  What is that?  You're coming to the Heights Half to cheer me on or even run?  Excellent.)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Weekend Fun

This weekend was full of family time.

On Saturday we had open gym time with D's day care group.  She had so much fun running around with her little friends.  She seems to miss them a lot on weekends so it is nice that the day care plans a few outings each semester for the kids to get together on weekends.  As a parent, I love meeting the other parents and discussing our kids and parenting.  I also love having something fun to do with the family outside the house for free. 

D showed off her tumbling skills.

Her parachute skills

Her architecture skills

and her running skills (she was too fast to catch on camera).

The girl loves to run, and that makes Mama proud.  I think she will be a future running buddy for me.  I just need to give it a few years for her endurance to build.  I definitely think some kiddie races are in her future.  Maybe I am just hoping too much, but she does seem to want to do everything I do.

After the gym time, we tried to get D to take a nap, at which we were unsuccessful.  So instead she made cookies with her daddy.  If she isn't going to sleep might as well sugar her up, right?

Around then, Merma and Papa (my in-laws) arrived for an overnight visit.  They graciously said they wanted to come visit and they wanted to babysit and treat us to a night out.  Since moving to Peoria, just over 2 years ago, we have not had many child-free date nights, I can think of 2.  So this was well welcomed.

Sunday was a whirl wind of shopping, eating and napping.  Oh and watching the Superbowl.  I am thoroughly exhausted and grouchy.  The end.

What did you do over the weekend?  Has it left you feeling like a grouch this Monday?

FO: Wavy Blanky

After hours of crocheting and believing that it was in fact not getting any bigger and would never end...I finished off the Wavy Blanky and sewed in all the ends (a huge undertaking).

It is a beautiful and wonderful thing to behold.  I estimate the work hours at 15ish.  I sure hope the intended baby uses it.

I would have liked it to be squarer, but I ran out of yarn and did not want to go buy more for just one more repeat of each color.  So it ended up 42 inches wide and about 38 inches tall.
I love the primary color (plus green)  theme.  I think it will suit a child much longer than pastels.  Plus, it is gender neutral so other babes can use it too.

I finished this off on Saturday, well before the Super Bowl, so I worked on something else during that time (soon to be revealed). Superbowl crafting is great, if you haven't tried it.  Last year, I crocheted an entire giant granny square baby blanket for my nephew.

What did you do during the Super Bowl? Or did you watch Downton Abbey?


Friday, February 3, 2012

Tradition Continues

Any doubters out there?  Well, I must confess I kind of doubted myself.  I have great ideas for starting family traditions, but I am usually too tired from work to carry them out.  But, no, not this one.

We made delicious, homemade pizza.

My husband and daughter are totally supportive of it so I know it will continue.


Can't wait for more tonight.

What are your family traditions?  Ever try to start one?  Any great pizza dough recipes?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dishcloth Favorites

It is no secret, I love making dishcoths.

I made this pair this past weekend for a whoopdwhoop swap.  I love Whoopdwhoop.  You should try it.

I never tire of making this pattern over and over.  The pattern is Not-Your-Average Washcloth by Elizabeth Prusiewicz from the book 101 Designer One -Skein Wonders.  This set is made with Sugar 'n Cream in ecru and sage as requested by the swapper.

I love the One-Skein Wonders series.  Have you tried it? I have a few of the books form the collection, but I probably should get them all.  I also have One-Yard Wonders for sewing (hmmm, maybe I should sew this weekend).  Anyway, I am cheap so I like to make projects that only take one-skein or less a lot of the time.  (I do splurge for much bigger projects from time to time.)   I guess that is one of the reasons I love dishcloths so much; you can usually make two from a skein of Sugar 'n Cream cotton.  Plus they are quick and don't require looking at a pattern a lot.  Oh, and they are so useful. The Trifecta...Quadfecta?

What do you keep going back to?  What do you feel like you do over and over?  Anybody need any dishcloths?  I may feel generous and make some for a commenter or two. (Can you tell, I would really like some comments.)

Oh and Happy Groundhogs Day!

I'm alright and nobody worried 'bout me

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New Yarn Part 2

This yarn purchase is for an exciting "un-named" project.
Cascade 220. 100%  Wool.

I am test knitting.  Test knitting is when a pattern designer gives the pattern they made to someone to test it out and make sure it makes sense and is not missing any steps before making it available to the public.  I am very honored to be test knitting for MunchkinMama @ Everything...All at Once.  She is a very good technical knitter so I am surprised she thinks I am good enough to knit for her.  I feel quite special and a bit over-estimated. 

The project is flip-top mittens; a hybrid of mitten and fingerless-gloves.  I love wearing my store-bought pair; that is how she chose me to test knit these. 

This is what MunchkinMama's look like

Photos from MunchkinMama;'s Raverly Project Page

The little "v" pattern look like thrums, (like my slippers) but they are not.  The yarn is held, so it is more like fair isle. I guess I am just jumping into the land of knitting color work.  Not sure what color I will make my little "Vs", I have a bunch of yarn in my stash to choose from.  Something that goes with lime green, I guess.  Any suggestions?

I will also make these two-at-the-same time, a technique I have never before tried, but am dying to learn.  By making both at the same time I will not run into the issue of the pair being different sizes or having different tensions (like I did with my husband's socks).  It is also helpful because once you are done, you are done.  You don't have to then start the second pair. 

What are you learning to do in February?  Is your weather crazy warm?  Do you think the groundhog will see it's shadow tomorrow?  Does it really matter?