Crafting Lately

I have a lot of complaints with winter, but looking on the bright side, it’s a great time for crafting.  I’ve been bitten by the craft bug lately, and working on all kinds of projects here and there when I get a chance.  (Speaking of which — Happy MLK Jr Day!  I get the day off and it’s a snow day make-up day for my son’s school, so I have a free crafting day at home!)

KnittingParaphernalia socks.  I love this pattern, I love the gentle color changes of the yarn, and I love wearing handknit wool socks when it’s freezing outside.  I haven’t knit socks in years, but these socks + Friends on Netflix = my happy place.

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Sewing – I joined the Scrappy Log Cabin quilt-along on Instagram (#scrappylogcabinqal)and stole a bunch of fabric scraps from my sister.  I’m loving the colors and I’m really excited about all the different layout options with this quilt block pattern.  My goal is to make one square each weekend day, although I can actually make them faster in batches, so I am probably going to shot for 4 blocks every two weeks.  I’d love to have it ready to send out for quilting by my birthday in March, but that might be a little ambitious.

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Scrapbooking – I finished my 2014 Project Life album, except for a few photos I need to get from other people, and a page to remember my grandpa, who passed away on Thanksgiving Day.

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Do your hobbies change based on the season?  

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Rocking out to Morning Edition, travels through Spain, and having an Army Ranger as a mentor

Today I’m exchanging questions with Jen of Laugh Often, Live Much for the Ask Away Friday link-up.  Jen is a first grade teacher and she blogs about her family, teaching, and a little bit of everything else in her life.  She wrote some great questions for me!

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1. Since 2014 is just getting off the ground, what is one of your hopes for the year that lies ahead?

I hope that 2014 brings happiness and peace to my family.  Bringing a new baby into the house, even an easy-going one like Sam, can shake things up a bit.  And I’m hopeful that 2014 may be the year when my husband finishes seminary (or gets really close?) and can finally *just* be a husband, father, and pastor.  For me personally, I am always hopeful that I can become a more patient, loving person.

2. What is the best book you read in 2013 and why did it earn a spot on your “Best of…” list?

That’s a tough one!  I read a lot of good books in 2013.  This really was the Year of the Mystery for me, so I think I’m going to have to give the honor to Maisie Dobbs, since it reignited my love of reading mystery novels, it’s the first book in a nice long series that I’ve really enjoyed, and I find myself recommending it a lot!

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3. If you could go on an all-expenses paid trip to anywhere in the US, where and why?

I would go to Phoenix to visit my friend Kelli and escape our horribly cold winter weather!  I hear Arizona is lovely this time of year.  And I want to see some cacti, of course!  (They are nothing short of magical and otherworldly to this midwestern girl!)

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4. How about anywhere in the world and why?

I would like to take my husband on a tour of my favorite places in Spain.  I spent a year studying in Pamplona, Spain when I was a junior in college, and I would love to revisit some of the favorite places I visited, especially if I could manage to take in some of the festivals that I missed.  We’d fly into Barcelona and spend a few days enjoying the Mediterreanean weather, walking on Las Ramblas, and taking in the Gaudi architecture.  Then we’d head south to Valencia to eat some of the most amazing oranges in the world and the Las Fallas festival (which conveniently takes place the night before my birthday!)  Of course I’d have to eat some paella while I was there.  Then I’d head south again to Sevilla for the Feria de Abril and watch lots of flamenco dancing.

Photo Credit: marcp_dmoz via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: marcp_dmoz via Compfight cc

5. Tell us about one of your mentors.

Hmm… this question is making me think perhaps I need to seek out more mentors in my life.  Someone who I learned a lot from was my former boss from when I worked at the Airport.  He was unlike anyone I’d ever met — in the course of his life, he had worked as a cowboy, a bartender, an Army Ranger in Vietnam, and then worked his way up through the ranks from an airport firefighter to an airport director.  He was about 6-foot-5 and around 60 years old when I worked for him.  On the surface, he was a pretty gruff dude.  He easily could have thrown his weight around and gotten his way through intimidation, but he was actually a really thoughtful person who took time to consider all the different facets of an issue and tried to do the right thing that would benefit everyone, whenever possible.  I always really admired that about him, and tried to follow that philosophy in my work (and life!) as well.

6. What is your hobby of choice, why, and how did you get into it?

I’ve dabbled in a lot of crafty hobbies, but my true love is knitting.  I took it up along with half the female population of America in the early 2000s (anyone remember Stitch-n-Bitch?), but I stuck with it long enough to get pretty good at it, then I just kept trying to knit new things and try new techniques.  I love knitting because it can be really relaxing or really challenging, and it produces something that is really practical (especially in polar vortex years!)  I’m so very happy that I was crazy about knitting wool socks a few years ago… my sock drawer is very well stocked.  Here are some things that I’ve made… these were all gifts for a single Christmas if you can believe it!  (Clearly — before I had children.  My knitting time is much more limited these days.)

7. How do you feel about hot dogs?

Normally I never eat them (blech blech blech), EXCEPT when they’re cooked outside over a campfire.  Somehow that makes them okay.  With lots of mustard.  Never ketchup.

8. So far, what as been your favorite age, and why?

I’m feeling pretty good about the age I’m at right now, but I really loved my late 20s.  I was  an awkward teenager but I feel like I finally came into my own around 25 or so.  I got back into running, my husband and I had moved to a town we really enjoyed, we had enough disposable income to have fun and travel a little bit, and no kids yet, so we could do stuff like go to happy hours after work, concerts, etc. without having to deal with all the babysitter logistics.

9. What music station/style is usually playing in your car, and how loud is it?

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Oh man, you’re really making me reveal my true nerdiness here… most of the time my car radio is set to the NPR station so I can listen to Morning Edition or All Things Considered during my drive to work and back.  When I get too depressed by the news, I flip over to the Top 40 station for a dose of cheesy pop/dance music.  Crank it up!

10 What are five staples on your grocery list every week (or month)?

Milk, fruit, eggs, bell peppers, and cheese.  (When in doubt, I can always make an omelette for dinner, I guess?)

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Thanks to Jen for these great questions — I hope you enjoyed learning all these random facts about me.  Head over to her place if you want to read her answers to my questions!  And now I have a question for you — which would you rather attend, a festival of flamenco dancing, or a festival where they light huge paper-mache statues on fire?  (Yes, this is a real thing.  Check it out!)

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Linking up with Real Housewife of Caroline County and Bold Fab Mom.

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In all of my free time… (ha!)

… I’ve been doing a little crafting! Yes, that exclamation point is totally justified (even though I am a serial over-exclamation-er, I admit.)

I love to knit, stitch, and sew, and I think I’m actually pretty good at it, but I almost never make the time to do it these days. Back in my pre-kid days, I was churning out hand-knit socks, baby quilts for all my friends’ kids, even sweaters! (At one point my husband claimed I “owed” him a birthday sweater every year.  Do you know how long it takes to knit a man-sized sweater?! He wisely hasn’t mentioned that lately!)

Anyway, all of that just gives you a little background about me since you probably weren’t reading my blog back in the dark ages when this was almost exclusively a knitting blog.

I am working on two projects that I hope to finish by Christmas. One is a cross-stitch piece that I’m going to give as a gift, so I’ll just give a little sneak-peek here.

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My other project is a knitted Christmas stocking for baby Sam, to match the ones I made a few years ago for my husband, Josiah & I. I know it will look really great when it’s done, but now I’m wishing I hadn’t been quite so ambitious back in the day — this thing is HUGE and the knitting is fairly complicated.

Pattern: Ancestral Christmas Stocking from Mason-Dixon Knitting

Pattern: Ancestral Christmas Stocking from Mason-Dixon Knitting

I conquered the intarsia section during a long car trip a few weeks ago, and now I just have the stranded section to deal with. The rest is easy.  The only question is what pattern I should put in the intarsia section.  I only followed the snowflake pattern on the first one I knit, and I invented new patterns for the other two.

Snowflakes & Christmas trees!  This one is Josiah's, I think.

Snowflakes & Christmas trees! This one is Josiah’s, I think.  

So what do you think?  Should I come up with a fun pattern, or should I just make life a little easier and follow the snowflake pattern as written?

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Baby crafting!

Now that we know we’re having a boy, it’s time to start working on a few crafty things for him! Inspired by a very early baby gift from my friend Kelli, I’m going with a farm theme for the baby quilt.

I’m not really sure when I’ll have time to make it, but the fabric is super cute!

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Winter stitching

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Cross stitch is pretty great, except when the threads are tangled or knotted, or you’re trying to figure out exactly where to start the next stitch. Details, details!

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Stitching

What is it about winter that makes me want to knit, sew, and stitch?  I don’t know about you, but I experience a serious craving for crafty projects in January.  Usually these end up being Christmas decorations or presents.  It’s not that I’m SO organized to be planning things 12 months ahead, it’s just that I so much prefer to knit or stitch without a deadline.  And since I already have more hats and scarves than any one person really needs, I usually stash away completed projects for future gifting opportunities.

I haven’t been embroidering long, but I really enjoy it.  I’ve pretty much taught myself from the excellent instructions included in the embroidery kits from Rosy Little Things.  (If you want to try it, I’d recommend a kit with a pre-printed pattern.  I absolutely hate trying to transfer a pattern onto a piece of fabric or felt.)

My latest stitching endeavor has been some felt Christmas ornaments.  What do you think?

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First skein done

Well, I was going to post a triumphant first skein done! picture of the shawl I’m currently knitting.  I am actually that far along, but everything else conspired against me.  It’s been cloudy/rainy all weekend (hooray! but not great for pictures), I took an epic and much needed nap today, and my son doesn’t have much tolerance for me ignoring him these days.

“Mom!  Hand!  Walk!”  (even with a speech delay, he gets his point across.)

So, all this to say, I am knitting!  And really enjoying it.  I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with a large-ish triangular lace shawl in bright turquoise blue.  I’ll probably scrunch it up and wear it as a scarf this winter.  Once I finish this… I think I’ll start some Christmas knitting projects. I

Family & friends, put in your orders please!  (No promises, but at least it’s nice to know who would actually appreciate a handknit item.)

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Remember that little knitting post that snuck onto the blog last week?  Well, apparently I am on a crafting roll.

Now if I could just stop screwing up the lace pattern on that dang shawl!

Pattern available here.  I know, I know – you probably have a million little purse patterns.  But this one is really well written and has tons of pictures to explain everything.  It’s worth it.

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She knits!

After over two years of very lukewarm crafting, the crafty bug has bitten again!  I currently have a sewing project cut out, two knitting projects underway, and an embroidery project waiting in the wings.

Purl back. Ahhh….

This is the Cavallo Point shawl from the current Knitty.  I actually like knitting lace, as long as it’s not using laceweight yarn.  Sock yarn?  Perfect.  I have a rough few days getting the project started while I get the hang of the pattern, but now that I figured it out (good knitting patterns are very intuitive, you just have to learn to read the stitches) it is relaxing and really enjoyable.  Good thing too – even though it’s not in laceweight, this thing is still going to take a really long time!

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Resolutions 2012: Create stuff

All things in this picture were made by me!

So, if you ever read this blog before my baby-induced hiatus, you might already know… I kinda like to make stuff.  Peruse my archives, you’ll find 6 1/2 years of knitting content.  That is some hard-core, committed craftiness.  But ever since I’ve had Baby J in my life, I’ve been a bit busier.  Which is totally to be expected, I’m sure, but I miss it.

This resolution is to create something at least once a week. Knitting, sewing, major cooking/baking project, gardening, setting up my worm farm* — I say anything goes as long as I’m creating something with my hands, it counts.  Of course, this includes the sew-along that I’m undertaking along with Africankelli, Finny Knits, Sue Walsh, and many others!  (Click here for more info about how to join us… there are prizes!)

In a way, this isn’t really a resolution.  I love making stuff.  It’s not a challenge in itself – it’s a challenge to make the time.  I also need to plan ahead a little bit to make sure I have all the supplies I need so I don’t have that frustration when I actually have the time to do something.

*  Worm farm, eh?  Yes, it was my Christmas gift from my husband.  You have to know a girl pretty well to buy her a worm farm for Christmas, but for me it’s perfect.  I’ve been calling around to local bait shops trying to track down a 1/2 pound of red wigglers to get my vermicomposting operation started.

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