Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Vintage Crochet Blanket

I love making things for babies so it is a good fit that so many of my friends are pregnant.

One of my friends from grad school is pregnant with her fourth child, a boy, due in just a few weeks.  I have crocheted a blanket for her first three so I started on the blanket for the fourth.

I haven't crocheted in a while. Crochet is my first fiber love.  I learned from my mom in my late teens. But once I started knitting five years ago, my crocheting projects diminished.  Still as my first love I am always happy to go back, especially when I am making blankets.  I prefer to knit for garments and accessories but nothing beats crochet when making a baby blanket.

I am in love with this pattern Vintage Crocheted Blanket by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas. I normally prefer to use free patterns or patterns from books and magazines I already own, but when I saw this pattern, I had to buy it.  It has every thing I look for in a pattern: easily memorized and looks great. Plus, it is just really fun.  This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.  I highly recommend this pattern to all crocheters out there.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Dear blog, I have been neglectful.  I have written so many times in my head as I drove to and from work or as I laid awake at night nursing a crabby baby, but that never materialized into anything.  But a blog is always forgiving when you admit that you have been neglectful, happy to publish another entry and forget the days of unpublished past.  This is unlike the people I have been tending to while I let the blog go dormant, so I guess that is really the way it should be.  I chose to do the things I usually write about instead of writing about them. And I picked up a new hobby (or some may say, sport).

On Mother's day, I finally got my 30th birthday present, a bicycle.  It was almost a year late, but that is okay because on my 30th birthday I was pregnant and in no mood to ride a bike.  Before I knew it my thirtieth year was flying by, I was back to work after maternity leave and in the swing of things, thinking about a bike but not pursuing it until this spring.

I love my bike, a Trek Dual Sport 8.2 DS.  It is in the fitness hybrid category as bicycles go which means it can do some off-roading, but not as much as a mountain bike, and can go fast, but not as fast as a road bike. I'm learning a lot about bikes since last bike I owned I got when I was 9 or 10 years old and it served me until I was a teen and no longer riding bikes. Plus, I was pretty tall by then and not really fitting on my hot pink 10-speed.

I went for one ride with D on my new bike and the Husband said he wanted a bike too.  I am all for finding a family activity so we hit the bike stores and got him a Giant bike. I find the brand name fitting for my tall husband's XL bike. Now that we had bikes, we needed a child carrier for Stormy.  Then, we needed a bike carrier rack for the van and soon we were spending a lot of time and money thinking about bikes. It is all worth the expense because Stormy, D, the Husband and I have been enjoying family bike rides together.  It is something we can all do together and enjoy.  I can't think of another thing we do together we all like, except watch television (which is what they are doing as I type this).  I can't wait for us to go for another ride.

Riding my new bike made me remember a part of me that has been dormant for years, the outdoors me. I worked at a summer camp for three summers.   I was a lifeguard for years.  The Husband and I walked a few times a week. I would eat my lunch outside. I was always outside and then suddenly, I wasn't, except for a run on Saturday morning and then once pregnant with Stormy, that too ended. I've wanted a bike for years, ever since my mom and sister got bikes while I was in graduate school.  The Husband and I have talked about getting bikes many times over our almost 9 years of marriage. I was hoping to get some cross-training in to improve my running, but I have found so much more in just a few rides. We have something to bond over as a family.

We even took out bikes to visit our parents over the weekend and had some great riding, something I never thought we would ever do.  D even got a new bike from her grandparents.  It doesn't have training wheels so I hope either she learns to ride or we get some training wheels soon.

Even more outdoor activities were in store for us in Iowa.  On Saturday, we cooked dinner over a fire at my parent's house. D got to heat her very own hot dog over open flame for the first time.  This is nothing quite like cooking over a fire.

My dad has been pestering inviting us to go kayaking with him for quite some time and we always decline.  But with the fresh air of biking in my body, I thought, why not hit the lake too.  So I found myself in a small, but beautiful, lake hear my parent's house in a kayak, enjoying the water and the surrounding forest. Kayaking is far superior to canoeing in my book. There is an amazing sense of solitude which is rare or this mom and you don't have to depend on another person in a kayak like you do with a canoe (I've had some bad canoe partners in the past). I also went for a paddle boat ride with D and her cousins and grandpa.  The Husband already asked me how long before we start collecting kayaks.  I think we might get some next year, if we can find a good place to paddle around Peoria.

I am dubbing my thirty first year the year of re-awakening my love of nature and being out in it.  What a difference fresh air can make.  Any suggestions of what to do or where to go? 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Something's in the Water

This is something I have never been able to say before, I have eleven pregnant friends/family members/co-workers. ELEVEN. I am glad I didn't have time to write this post until now because the number changed from nine to eleven as I found out about two more just this week.  Additionally, I know at least two more pregnant women that are "Facebook friends," as in friends from my past, that are expecting.  I hate to say it, but I think I started a trend.  More likely though, 30 is the magical age when everyone you know starts or continues procreating.

A knitter has a lot to look forward to with these eleven soon-to-be-babies.  Baby knitting is the best knitting.  It is small which means it usually doesn't take too much time to make, it doesn't cost too much, and is extremely cute.  I knit a few things for Stormy, but with my swollen and numb during pregnancy, I didn't get as much as I wanted done.  Now he has grown so fast he is in 12 mos clothes (at the age of 7 months) and already outgrowing some really cute knitting patterns. I tell him to slow down and stay little, but he just does not listen to me.  I think this is just foretaste of what is to come in the listening and the growing fronts.
As for the eleven, these are babies I will all knit or crochet for.  I have already finished one baby item and I love it.  I want to make a million of these. Most of all, I want to keep it and that usually means the recipient will love it too.

The pattern is so fast and easy. 

The color is so beautiful these images don't give it justice. 

The yarn is so soft, I wish you could all feel it. I want to sleep with it.

It is a small lap blanket, suitable for stroller/car seat time.  It is also great for becoming a special cuddly as the baby becomes a toddler. You can see the details here.

In other news, we have a boy on the move (see the growing to fast statement earlier).

He is not quite crawling, but he is getting around.  Watch out sister, someone is coming for your stuff.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Games Completed

I finished my project for the Ravellenic Games.

It took way longer than expected and I had to knit without end last weekend, but I finished before the Olympic closing ceremonies aired in Illinois.

I spent a lot of time on this Color Affection shawl and in the end, I am not sure I am totally happy with it.  I like the colors. I like the shape.  Over all it is beautiful and represents things I love: (1) a challenge and (2) something big made from little yarn.  I used sock yarn for this shawl. There is also a lace weight yarn option of this pattern and I am so glad I went with the thicker, yet still fine, option.

I just don't like the three-color-change-edge section.  As you might be able to see in the photo (yarn photography is something I definitely need to work on) there is a section of stripes that are orange, gray and teal.  It is just too tight there and so it does not lay right.  I have read comments about this pattern on Ravelry and found that some knitters rip out and redo that section to make sure that the edge is not so very tight.  I am not a masochist and will not be doing that.  I am on to bigger and better things.

As I age (I know I am still young at 30, but I am starting to gain some perspective), I realize that I cannot focus on all the things that are not perfect.  The shawl is not perfect and as I think about it, it really shouldn't be.  Handmade things are not made to be perfect, they are made to be made.  Made to show love and affection for a craft and for a person.  This shawl isn't perfect and that is what makes it handmade. It makes it good in its own right. Knitting is a great teacher; it is unbiased in how it can be a total jerk to those that do it and still we love it and take on the next project, learning a new skill and moving on.

I did learn a new bind-off with this shawl.  I have never really liked how tight my bind-off edge is on any project.  I can always tell the bind-off edge.  Maybe others can't, but I can.  I can always see the flaws in my work (I am working on not focusing on flaws, I really am). I tried a new bind-off where I knit two into the backloop and then place the stitch back on the left needle and knit two through the backloop again, over and over until all stitches are worked. I think found my new standard bind-off, which is pretty exciting.  I have been knitting about 5 years with the same bind-off. So out of a project that has a bit of an issue, I still learned something new tath is going to totally revamp my knitting in the future. Positives abound when you look for them.

I am also thinking I may need to change my color scheme....

I am now working on something new and exciting, but more on that later.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ravellenic Games 2014

I really love the Olympics. I love the national pride I feel.  I love that female athletes are actually on TV.  I love that my evening plan every day is Olympics watching. I love that I get knitting time and a challenge.

I know this theme comes up often; I love a challenge.  I am a pretty active person, but I credit my activity to having goals and challenges.  Without these I am pretty much dead in the water.  So I am happy to add another challenge here and there.  With the Olympics comes the knitting challenge of the Ravellenic Games. During summer and winter games, knitters and crocheters participate in what is called the Ravellenic Games. Named after Ravelry, the site that "sponsors" the event.  As a participant, you can enter different competitions with the goal of making something (or multiple somethings) from opening ceremonies to the end of closing ceremonies.  There are different areas of competition depending on what you are making.

Two years ago for the summer Olympics, I made a sweater and some other smaller items.  That was when I only had one child and had some time off from work. This year I am making a shawl which is no small untertacking.  I am making something pretty large with some pretty thin yarn.  I seem to like to do that quite a bit. I have had the yarn for a while and I had even started a few rows, but it fell by the wayside.  Now my Color Affection and I are on good terms and making great progress, since ripping out and starting again.

In the end it will look something like this, but with different colors:

Color Affection is a popular shawl on Ravelry so many knitters have probably heard of it. It is strange, but there are famous patterns.  There are famous knitters and crocheters too.  It is a pretty amazing world out there.  I continue to be amazed by the talented people out there.

So for the next several days, I will be knitting and knitting (and knitting and knitting and knitting....) on this shawl in hopes of finishing it on or before February 23.  Of course I have two kids, two dogs and a husband to also tend to, so we will see where this goes.  Since the Olympics are in prime time, the kids are asleep for most of my viewing and knitting pleasure so that helps. Now I just need to get Stormy to sleep through the night so I am not so tired and and stay up knitting.

Are you watching the Olympics?  What is your favorite sport?  What do you do while watching?  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

This Post is Brought to You By the Letter "D"

I am at a disadvantage.  Stormy says "da."  Yes, "da" not "ma."  It is how it goes with babies; they make "da" sounds first.  But then I got to thinking, Stormy's daddy is "Dada,"  his sister is "DeeDee" and his sitter is "Di."  I am the odd one out with "Ma."  I nurse him, wash his diapers and make his baby food.  I wake up with him at 2 am.  I knit him adorable hats (though he seems to hate hats) and sweaters.  I love him with my whole heart, but the "Ds" have it.  But I know, one day soon he will say "mamamama" and then he won't stop saying it.  

We in Central Illinois are on another snow day. We got about 5 inches of snow over night.  That is in addition to the 6-7" we got over the weekend.  This winter is the snowiest and coldest in recent memory, but I love snow.  Something about the pure whiteness is so beautiful.  And like knitting and so many other things in life, snow is a reminder that tiny little things do add up over time and can make a big difference. I also like that I work at a community college that has snow days. 

This makes 4 snow days in 2014.  This however might be the first snow day I enjoy this year.  I am using the term "enjoy" loosely here because my plans are to clean the house and get organized.  I have tons of laundry to do as well.  Then, I want to organize my knitting stash and take pictures of all the amazing things I made in January.  I was a knitting machine in January and blogged nothing.  I either have time to do stuff or write about doing stuff most days so I choose doing stuff.

How do you spend your snow days?

Once I get things organized I am going to work on getting a little someone to go "ma."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Hiatus

I've been on a running hiatus.  I never meant to stop running, it just happened.  Six weeks before I got pregnant with Stormy, I ran a half marathon.  While in my first month of pregnancy, I ran a personal record 5k.  Then things took a turn.  I was so, so sick.  Everyday was just a chore to go to work. I spent most evenings laying down.  When I started to feel better in my second trimester my body didn't respond well to running.  My ligaments ached and I could barely walk without pain, so the running stopped. 

I had a baby.  My daughter started kindergarten. I went back to work full-time, plus teaching a college course on the side.  Soon September was over and I hadn't run yet.  October hit and I did manage to get a few runs in, starting again with the couch to 5k program I used to start running years ago.  There were run/walk runs to build my running ability.  But then November hit and it hit hard.  It was a horrible month.  December was crazy, too. 

Now it is January, nearly one year since I stopped running.  I can't believe running has been gone this long.  Running has been my companion for many years on and off.  Before this hiatus, I had been running steadily for about 5 years.  In that time, I put in countless miles putting one foot in front of the other, happy to pound the pavement (or indoor track). 

One of my New Year Resolutions is to get into 5k running shape, especially since my mom is working on this as well.  I may have mentioned I like a good challenge, and even though this isn't a direct challenge, I can't have my mom running more or farther than me.

Today seemed like any day so many before, but I decided I would start working toward that 5k and packed my gym bag.  Getting both kids out the door, dropped off at school and day care, and to work was normal (which means it was stressful and sometimes a bit evil).  Work was hard because I didn't get much sleep last night (Stormy has an ear infection) and I had to concentrate on learning new things (another resolution).  As I walked out to my van tired from work, I questioned the idea of heading across the parking lot to the gym, especially as the snowflakes fell all around (snowflakes seem threatening when you have 8"of them in your yard last weekend and the roads are just  finally getting clear).

Instead of flaking out and heading home with the tired and weather excuse, I walked into the gym, changed into my freezing gym clothes (kept in my van all day) and walked up to the indoor track.  My iPod was dead and my sport watch was missing.  I decided I would run three laps on the 1/10 mile track and then walk a lap and repeat this for about 30 minutes.

I started my slow jog, my old reliable friend.  I got to three laps and thought I might as well for for a half mile.  I got to a half mile and thought, I could do a mile.  At one mile I decided to keep going to one and a half miles.  At one and a half miles, I had to stop for a bathroom break, but then I was back out on the track.  I curved to the left over and over until I had run around 31 times.  I ran 3.1 miles, that is a 5k.  I ran a 5k on the 9th day of my New Years resolution without much preparation (I wish I could have timed it but, see no iPod or watch statement earlier).  Resolutions are not supposed to be met in the first 9 days.  (Talk about being an overachiever.)   

I can't believe I did it.  I set our to run .3 miles before stopping and instead I ran 10 times that far. This is why people run; runners accomplish things they never thought possible all the time.  I had absolutely no idea I had that inside me, but I just kept telling myself I could do a few more laps.  It has been a year, how can I still run 3 miles?  They were not fast and they were not pretty, but I did it.  And now I can do it again.

I am not sure how I will feel tomorrow.  I am still sore from shoveling out my van from a snow drift on Tuesday morning.  I know sore, stiff muscles are in my future, but right now I feel amazing. I do not dread that future pain.  Every sore step I take will echo my accomplishment today, and I welcome that misery. 

How are your resolutions coming?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Happy New Year, everyone.

I really love today.  I love that people are making resolutions.  I love resolutions because it is basically making a challenging to-do list.  I love challenges, I love lists.  This is one of the greatest convergences of things I love.  For one day, people are thinking a bit like me.

How did I spend my first day in 2014 so far?  Watching the Rose Parade and then the NHL's Winter Classic (hockey on the free channels y'all, this is exciting). Kniting.  Crocheting.  Cuddling with my kids. Spending time with my husband.  A pretty fantastic day on top of the whole resolution thing.

On the Today show this morning they stated that only 8% of people keep their resolutions. I try to make resolutions that are not immediately reached, things that cannot be "broken." I like to think that I can always start over and have a new New Year.  Every day is a day that I can start working harder on improving my life or doing something new and different.  Every day, but especially today, is a good day to make some goals.

I am going to make my resolutions public so I can be held accountable.

For my resolutions:

1. I am going to get back to running.  I will be in 5k running shape by spring.  My mom is taking a running 101 class at her fitness center.  If she is going to be in 5k shape by spring then I am too.

2. I am going to learn something new.  I am taking a college class this spring semester.  It is a marketing class.  I am excited to take this class because I think it will really enhance my job as outreach librarian. I haven't be in class as a student since 2009.

3. I am going to de-clutter my life.  I have already started in my kitchen.  I have filled two big boxes for a garage sale or to donate.  I also have 5 bags of books to donate (can you believe it, I am parting with books, you know I am business when I am parting with books). Soon I will have a pile of out-grown kids clothes and toys to get rid of.

I like having new goals for the day, week, month and year. I am just happy that today is a day that many people are thinking like this too.   

Do you have any resolutions you would like to make public?