Cocoa, Kitty, and Crochet

This week has absolutely flown by! Partially, it’s seemed short due to the university being closed on Monday, but the rest of the days were really quite a blur. Each semester begins like this – all of the planning and getting used to a new schedule means I’m bouncing between lots of different work activities. Right now one of my biggest challenges at work is getting my students to “open up.” It’s tough on them to participate openly in a new class (let alone physics/astronomy, which most students are afraid of in one way or another) with 90 classmates. It’ll take them some time!

Luckily, after especially exhausting days, I know I have the sweetest husband to come home to! Yesterday I was feeling really crumby, and he surprised me with some caramel hot cocoa in my favorite mug and “made” me curl up on the couch with some snuggly blankies. He’s just the best!

The kitties definitely help after a rough day, too. Unconditional love from a little furry creature is one of the best feelings, I think. Especially when that creature will sit on your lap and purr while you crochet… Oooh, heaven! Surprisingly, Bad Kitty (shown above) is the one who will behave around yarn (mostly). Good Kitty doesn’t like to sit on a lap that’s moving around in any way. He’s very picky. ;)

I mentioned in my last post I’d be working on a new project at nighttime, and it’s going pretty well. Unfortunately, the first attempt at this new project was a failure – the pattern seemed like it would work out, but various aspects of it just didn’t look right. So I made up a new plan & pattern, have made a few of the pieces (you can see above), and will soon be working on putting it all together. I’ll let you know how it works out! :)


A Wee Turtle!

Today marks an exciting day!! I finally, after years of agonizing over it, opened an Etsy shop! This has been a goal/dream for me for so long, but this year I decided I would definitely and finally just do it. So I did. If you’d like to visit, click here! Nothing too impressive in there yet, though – just a single crochet pattern, which I made today: a wee turtle!

This little guy took me the better part of today to sketch, design, create, and photograph. I also got the pattern all typed up and finished. I really, REALLY enjoyed the whole process, even organizing the pattern and making it look nice. And even though I spent all day on this, I feel like I could go go go into the night!

I designed the turtle for my husband – he loooves turtles. In fact, we have a pet common snapping turtle named Zim (you can see him lurking in the tank in the photo above). Needless to say, although I do love Zim, the cuteness of the wee turtle does not reflect the pointiness and prehistoric-ness that is Zim.

The finished turtle is very small: just an inch or two in any given dimension. As you can see, he fits in the palm of my hand! I think this might be the tiniest thing I’ve ever crocheted. Took a bit of patience and some sore hands/wrists, but definitely worth it. Also, as my husband said, “This is way better than the beavers!” I have to agree.

The next few days will be back to my day job. I’m hoping to get a few moments at nighttime to work on my next project! I’ve got it started and sketched and designed, just need to actually make it… And guess what, it’s not an animal! We’ll see how it goes!

A Quick Beaver Project

I think beavers are one of the neatest, cutest animals. So I spent the day writing and making a simple animal pattern – which, now that I’ve tried it out, I think I’ll try improving and adapting it to other animals as well. :)

The baby beaver in the picture above looks a bit like a squirrel or a chipmunk with its tail up, don’t you think? Eep! It’s a beaver, I swear! I didn’t realize until editing these photos that the baby’s tail does flip up a little bit. Must fix…

Anyway, I realized partway through sketching my ideas beforehand that I was settling on an image from when I was little: how my mom first taught me to draw animals (and how I often still do when I want to leave a quick message or doodle!). She taught me to draw a circle, draw the animal’s face and ears on the circle, and then add legs, arms, and a tail which appeared to float above the head/body. I also blame my love for “squat” things on this method of animal drawing – the squatter the animal, the better. In fact, maybe this is why I think beavers are so cute!

This design really makes for some simple crocheting. The body is a sphere-ish shape with a separately made flat base, and all the rest were details – little ears, arms, and legs (which were all the same shape), some big ol’ buck teeth of course, and a tail which is like a flattened, tapered tube.

I had a bit of trouble getting the beavers to sit flat. They don’t really want to, but I want them to! No amount of squishing them onto the table really helped, either. The bases were indeed flat circles when I made them, but my need to stuff my plushies to the hilt so that they’re firm puffed them out a little. I’m thinking about trying some backing on the base or something to keep it straight.

Apologies for the blatant white cat hair (or possibly scrap of polyfill?) on the nose in the picture above! Unfortunately, kitty hair finds its way onto everything unless I’m careful.

I ended up very happy with the baby beaver – she’s just the right size! I like the mama, too, but she looks a little bit too plain from the sides/top. I definitely would need to play around with the larger pattern some more to get the look I wanted.

All in all, a fun experiment! More animals to come!

Ongoing Project: Husband’s Ripple Blanket

About a year and a half ago, I decided to undertake my first big crochet project: a blanket. My husband and I have some fluffy fleece blankies to cuddle up on the couch with, but they’re getting old, raggy, and pilly. So he and I took a trip to buy some blanket yarn, and he picked out all of the colors (thus making the blanket his): brown, green, and a variegated “autumn” mix of reds, oranges, yellows, and greens. I looove the combination of colors – greens and browns are some of my favorites, but the variegated yarn adds a little zip of brightness that the green and brown don’t have. Something I do get a little frustrated with, though, is when the variegation ends up giving me a giant blotch of all the same color. I almost ripped out several rows to get rid of such a blotch before my husband got all panicky and told me he likes the blotches. What?? Hey, it’s his blanket.

Look – you can see one of those big orange/brown blotches right there! They happen a lot more than I expected.

I was just getting “serious” into crochet at this the time of starting this, which coincided with me stumbling upon Lucy’s Neat Ripple Pattern. The simple pattern, the beautiful result, and the “quick” pace of creating a blanket appealed to me. So, off and on, some free time has been devoted to this big guy which my husband requires to be “big enough to wrap around me and make me cozy” – that’s a tall order.

Someday the blanket will be a piece of our living room (not our bedspread as pictured above – it’s just a convenient viewing area for the blanket as a whole!). I think I’m about halfway done with it, so we’ll see where I’m at another year from now! ;)

In the meantime, as you can see, the kitties bad kitty is already attracted. I swear, anything with potential loose ends and/or the potential to be coated with fur is like a magnet to him!

Yummy Saturday

I’ve been under the weather for the past couple of days with a cold, so today was the perfect day to take it easy and get spoiled with some yummy foods. This morning, my husband made his oh-so-delicious Italian hash browns – shredded potato with his “secret” mix of Italian spices, all fried up in olive oil. Yum!

To add to today’s spoiling, I pulled out my favorite cookbook this afternoon – an old Betty Crocker “Cooky Book” that my sister got for me. I’ve loved every recipe I’ve tried! And believe me, I’ve tried a lot of those darn cookies.

Today I made the peanut butter cookies, one of our favorites. We’ve made these a lot, and there’s an interesting add-on next to the recipe – to cut out half of the shortening and add in some honey. I keep wanting to try it, but each time I make these cookies it’s because we’re reeeally craving them, and my husband isn’t sure he’ll like the honey version (honey is my thing, not his). So, we didn’t take the risk today… maybe someday soon. :)

I pulled out the small arsenal of cookie making tools I always use – a stainless steel mixing bowl, a “spoonula” (best thing ever), a one-inch cookie scooper, and a whole lot of measuring spoons & cups. Can’t really go wrong with these guys.

Something I really love about peanut butter cookie dough is how easy it is to work with. I’m not sure if it’s just this recipe or if it’s all peanut butter cookies, but the dough doesn’t stick to anything! I guess that’s how you know there’s too much butter in there to be good for anybody. We decided to experiment and add some chocolate chips (adding chocolate is safer than adding honey?)…

…which was quite delicious! But, the chocolate overpowered the peanut buttery taste too much. We opted to skip the chips for the rest of the batch.

So far, a delicious day for sure. Now to get back to sniffling and sneezing… and maybe a little nap. :)

A Quick Owl Project

About a week ago, a good friend of mine sent me a cute photo of some little plushie owls with the message “I love owls!” Oooh, what a better excuse to come up with a cute owl pattern of my own to give to her?

I’m just starting to explore creating my own patterns – something that still intimidates me but is also really fun and exciting. I love being able to create something that starts as a whim, which grows into an idea and a sketch, and eventually becomes a (hopefully) cuddly little thing. Sometimes this ends up solely as a “learning experience” (AKA thing that doesn’t turn out quite right), but the owl wasn’t one of those. Phew! Good thing, because I saw this friend the next day for lunch and I was dying to present her with a cute little owl buddy.

I basically started crocheting two “body” parts, which you can see above in the not-so-great-quality photo I took with my phone. I used some leftover yarn that I’m using fairly heavily in a different and larger project – Aqua by “I Love this Cotton.” I really do love this brand of yarn; I feel like they almost always have the colors I’m looking for, the stitches come out looking nice and crisp, and the finished project is soft and flexible enough to be snuggly but sturdy enough to hold its shape.

After the two body parts, I made the eyes, beak, and breast fur from wool felt from Prairie Point Junction. If you haven’t browsed this website – go! I love it, and it’s where I order all my felt. I also made a “strip” to connect the two body pieces and give the owl some extra depth.

After all of that, applying some safety eyes, filling the owl with some pellets & stuffing, and sewing her up, the finished owl emerged…

I’m pretty happy with her! You can see that I opted to not include the wings that were in my original sketch – partially because of time constraints and partially because I couldn’t decide on the best approach (felt? crochet? what colors?). The felt breast is a little crooked, and the hand sewing took a bit of tedious time, but overall she turned out how I had imagined! I had a hard time giving her up the next day… :)

2013 Words of Inspiration

2013 words of inspirationI thought a fitting first post would be first to say hi there! and second to share my goals for 2013 with you (and for me to look back on)! One of my favorite bloggers, Megan Hunt of Princess Lasertron, has posted words for the past two years to represent what she wants from the new year; she encouraged her readers to come up with their own words. My words for 2013 are live, thanks, and passion.

LIVE: All too often, and I think like many other people, I get caught up in an every day routine and start to spend much of my nights and weekends vegging out with my husband and a good TV show. Don’t get me wrong, relaxing with my husband is some of the best time spent, and it will still be important in 2013! But my life, to me, needs to have some more emphasis on developing my self to be better and experiencing the world. One of my 2013 & beyond goals is to spend less time (but still SOME time) being lazy after a busy day or week at my job(s) and spend more time creating, growing, and living.

THANKS: I feel like I usually do a pretty good job of this, but I MUST be extremely thankful for the life I have. It’s easy to sometimes want more – to be able to move out of our apartment and into a house, to find the full time job I’ve been looking for, etc. But what I do have is amazing. I want to focus more on what I’m fortunate to have in my life and view what I want out of life as aspirations rather than a source of disappointment for not being there yet. Life is a process!

PASSION: This blog marks the beginning of me taking risks to following my passions. One of my passions is teaching; I’ve been doing that for several years and will continue to do so as long as I can! But another passion of mine which I’ve continually marked off as “frivolous” (getting caught up in that veggie routine again) is to create, to craft, to experiment. I will make time for this in 2013; crochet, sew, draw, paint, journal!

Cheet at the window

Here’s to 2013!