11 April 2014

Crocheting Through the Years

Chromium Star blanket in white & yellow acrylic yarn
I've been crocheting regularly for a solid decade.

I learned when I was 16, when my Gran taught me during the long hours in the hospital while she was recovering from a broken ankle. But I never did much until after a heartbreak in late 2003. I started crocheting scarves for all my friends and then my friends started having babies. So I've made dozens of baby blankets over the years. I've kept track of them -- at first in a small notebook like Gran told me to, and then in Ravelry, which allows me to include pictures, specifics and notes as well as connect with other crocheters and find more pattern ideas.

I go on crochet binges (just like I sometimes go on reading binges). And other times I don't pick up a hook for months. (I don't think I crocheted at all while I was pregnant.)

Chromium Star close up
Here's my latest FO, which I made with yarn I had on hand. I found out a friend is pregnant, but I didn't know the gender and thought this would be a good gender-neutral pattern and color scheme. I ran out of yellow at the end, otherwise there would have been a sixth yellow stripe. Also, it turns out the friend is having twins, and I didn't want to make a second star blanket. So this one will be in reserve for the next baby who comes into my life.

The pattern itself -- Chromium Star -- is really easy, but you have to pay attention. That's not something I'm great at, and the first time I made it the star was all sorts of wonky (see photo below from 2008). And I still gave it to someone! At least it looked homemade? My standards have shifted, although none of my work is ever perfect.

My first chromium star blanket, from 2008. WONKY!


08 April 2014

Louisiana Springtime

These few pictures of flowers don't do justice to the beauty I've seen in Baton Rouge these last couple weeks. After several rain storms the flowers have fallen off most of the plants, but a few hang on in gorgeous resolve. I like to point them out while we're driving and say "gorgeous flowers" to hear Jane repeat after me. Sometimes a mimicking toddler is a very nice thing to have around.




05 April 2014

Crochet: Brown Ribbed Toddler Sweater


I bought this sock yarn on ridiculous sale at JoAnn’s -- probably about a buck a skein for stuff that was normally four or five times that. I was looking for a pattern to use it up, and this one was supposed to. I have a skein and then some left, so miscalculation on my part I’m sure.

The yoke of the sweater is made of floral motifs (basically granny squares), but my motifs seemed smaller than they needed to be to line up with the body and sleeves. I made it work with careful stretching and whip stitching. I sewed on one of the sleeves backwards, basically not paying attention.

I made 12-18 months, although the sweater seems bigger than that to me. It's hard to say though. Jane is too big for it, so I’m not sure who will receive it. It’s not my favorite, although it was pretty easy to make and has a pretty cute border on the sleeves and body.

Edit: I let Jane try it on, and it technically fits her, but just badly. The arms and body are short, but the body itself is way too wide and the neckline is a mess. I didn't add the buttons called for in the pattern (from Little Crochet), and I'm not even sure that would help. I think I didn't crochet tight enough in the body especially -- and I don't have the right tension when crocheting in back loops only (which creates the ribbed effect). I'm thinking of adding some extra rows around the neck to make it a little tighter there. This is so wonky it will never be a gift, so a play sweater for Jane seems about the best I can hope.

31 March 2014

Wowee


Jane liked to line up her Sesame Street characters so they can look out the window on our flight. They always say "Wowee, Jane!" after they've seen out the window. We only lost one of them, but he resurfaced when we picked up the bags from the floor.

29 March 2014

Morning Sickness Memories

A couple weekends ago a stomach bug raged in our house -- at least for Shawn and me. Not eating for just a couple days left me weak and hungry for garbs: simple sugars. Namely CANDY. I gave in (and drank full-sugar Gatorade too!) so that I would have the energy to travel. Now that I'm well and my appetite has returned with a vengeance I am faced with fighting my sugar cravings all over again.

This illness was very reminiscent for me of my morning sickness. That was longer-lasting queasiness and discomfort, and I can't imagine how I survived it. Although every pregnancy is different I do not look forward to that time of sickness should we be blessed with another child. Silver lining is weight loss, although the sugar cravings rectify that in a hurry with my body chemistry!

Traveling while weak was a horrible idea, but unavoidable given the cost of airline tickets and the inflexibility of air travel. I wasn't contagious any more (evidenced by the fact that no one got sick after me, not even Jane), and I was on the mend/starting to feel some better. (Airports while sick also remind me of morning sickness because one of my sickest times of pregnancy was on a work trip to DC -- ugh.)

I knew it would be tough to travel alone with a toddler, but adding in feeling less than 100% and I was in for trouble. The hardest part actually was managing all the stuff. Now that Jane has her own seat she also gets her own carry ons -- meaning Mama was rolling two small suitcases, carrying a backpack and a tote full of her stuff. (Somehow my backpack didn't seem one ounce lighter than when I carried everything we needed in there!)

Miraculously (to me), we made it just fine, and Jane was a trooper, walking along and holding onto her suitcase. I also had her wear her dog backpack while we were in the big airport (DFW). As we went to security she was in the Ergo backpack too -- to give me enough hands to also tote the car seat to the ticket counter (Shawn actually helped me on the way there).

I really love being with Jane, even in stressful public situations. But traveling together as a family will always be my preference, since more hands equals less stress overall. Go team!

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I wrote this from Oklahoma. We're home now, and the return trip was about the same. I had too much luggage and not enough hands to keep up with Jane. We waited to go through security until the plane was boarding at our tiny Lawton airport. A TSA agent (I think) helped me with my bags there. Then we got to DFW and our second flight was at the same gate as the first ... actually it was the same plane ... and we had the same seats! Of course we had to get our stuff, pick up our luggage, walk to the end of the jet bridge and then turn around and walk back. We did have time to buy a sandwich, but I was nervous about that and we were almost the last people on ... the same dadgum plane!

Then Jane got her pants caught in the escalator in Baton Rouge. It was a rookie mistake, as we should have taken the elevator instead of trying to juggle a toddler and so much luggage. Luckily just her pants got caught and I was able to rip them. They are destroyed and she has some bruising on her leg (I guess her leg hit the stair or something), but she is fine. I will have nightmares about escalators I'm sure.

Our house is still standing and all is well. I'm just homesick and crabby, although at least I don't have a stomach virus now... The memory lingers though and I'm re-washing the sheets just in case!

26 March 2014

Purple Flowers | Purple Weeds


These pretty flowers grew in a random pot in our back yard with other weeds. I don't know what they are called or why they grew, but I like them.


Little purple flowers that are DEFINITELY weeds grow in OK and TX, but I haven't seen them here in Baton Rouge. I remember liking to pick them as a kid and pretend they were wild flowers. (They are not.)

24 March 2014

Basketweave Baby Blanket

Soft and thick, with reverse SC border
This pattern is so simple -- front post DC and back post DC in alternating groups of four. (I've seen the pattern a lot online, but this one from Delia Creates is the first I saw and the one I used to get started.)

It works up very slowly, and I kept putting the project down. The pattern I read called for a bulkier yarn, which would speed things up. It would also produce an even thicker blanket. With worsted weight yarn (Lion Brand Pound of Love) the finished blanket is already very thick -- floor-mat style I'd say.

I already had the yarn and thought a pound would do, but this really eats yarn. I had to buy another pound, of which I used about half. Both skeins had a few knots in them, which always ticks me off. but otherwise the color is a soft, consistent white, and the finished blanket's feel is soft and cozy, especially after a wash and dry. (I love acrylic's easy care for baby blankets.)

Close up
I don't know if I'll make this pattern again -- at least not any time soon. But I do think it would be a great one to do for wash cloths, as the post stitches make an amazing texture and tight weave. (And a smaller version would go much faster/be more satisfying I think.)

(I also finished the blanket with a reverse single crochet border, which is one of my favorite stitches and definitely my favorite border stitch right now.)