Stolen Hearts

Meet the girl who stole my family’s hearts last night.

This is Kenna.  Yes, she looks a bit like a bigger version of the puppy we were fostering.

We adopted her thru the Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue organization.  We don’t know much of her history, except that she is pretty young.  Best guess is she is about a year old. She is a little worried about the boys and the cat, but seems to be settling in pretty good.  She is definitely my pal, sleeping beside me while I work and enjoying walks and playing ball when I take breaks.

I’ll be making her a bigger version of the “Kennel Blanket” soon, but she will be staying with us.  For those of you with new dogs that are part of your forever family, having a blanket that is their own is a great training and calming tool for your canine (and feline) friends.  It can become their “spot” no matter where you go with them. Just be sure it’s made with washable fibers, critters get things dirty…just a fact of life.

Keep an eye here for more Kenna stories. I have a feeling she is going to be helping me out with my design, writing and art work a lot.

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Transition Helper

As promised yesterday I’ve come up with a quick little pattern for a “Kennel Blanket”.  This little blanket can work well for dogs and cats and the size can be changed depending on the size of animal or kennel it is intended for.

Many of the kennel enclosures at shelters have wire bottoms or concrete floors, using washable blanket pads like this can offer the animals a bit of comfort while they wait to meet their forever families.  Most local shelters and rescue organizations need blanket/pads.

Since I was making this for our foster puppy I kept it somewhat smallish. Approximate dimensions are 16 x 23 inches (40 x 57.5cm).  My idea was that the blanket will go with Beatty when he leaves with his forever family. It will smell familiar since he has been sleeping on it and will hopefully help him make the transition more easily to his new home.

Kennel Blanket

Designed by Andee Graves

Yarn: 3 balls of Worsted Weight yarn (I used Caron One Pounds and about 2.5 oz/129 yds/71g of each color)

These blankets can also be made using up odds and ends of yarn. Sometimes work best to have one continuous strand in the mix though. Just add in another ball of yarn when you have about 6 inches (15 cm) of yarn left. Make sure you weave in ends good, taking it one direction then back the other direction so that puppies and kitties can’t eat the yarn ends.

Hook: Size P / 11.5mm (I used my Susan Bates Lucite hook)

Instructions:

Foundation: Holding 3 strands together, Chain 41,

Row 1: Turn, sc in 2nd chain from hook, (dc in next ch, sc in next ch) 19 times, dc in last ch. [20 sc, 20 dc]

Row 2:  Ch 1, turn, (sc in next st, dc in next st) 20 times. [20 sc, 20 dc]

Rows 3 – 25: Repeat Row 2 – 23 times.

Fasten off at end of Row 25, weave in tails.

I hope you have fun making kennel blankets for all the four-legged friends you know and your local shelters.

Foster Puppy!

There is a puppy at my house. Yes, I know, it wasn’t like I wasn’t already busy. But my family and I decided to become fosters for the Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue.

This is part of my resoluation to do more volunteer work in my community.  My husband and I love animals. Before we had children, there were a few years when we had 3 dogs and 3 cats. 

Organizations like RMLR depend heavily on Foster homes as they don’t have a dedicated shelter facility. Which means they can’t take more dogs than they can place in foster homes.  Sadly, there are many dogs needing a safe haven.

Now, a puppy wasn’t what we had in mind when we decided to foster. We were thinking of dogs around 3-5 years old. But this sweet little guy (called Beatty) needed a place to stay for a bit, so he is hanging out with us. 

I had really forgotten what it is like to have a puppy in the household. He is going to keep us on our toes while he is here. Fortunately, puppies tend to get adopted fairly quickly. Though I may have to pry the puppy out of my beloved’s hands to give him to his adoptive family when the time comes.  Himself is becoming very attached and we haven’t even had the puppy 24 hours.

I am getting inspired though about a crochet project especially for our foster doggies (and maybe other foster homes too).  This little guy has been in 2 foster homes the last 72 hours, and will eventually be going to his forever home. So I’m hoping to make some kennel pads using 3 strands of washable worsted weight yarn.  Then the adoptive families can take it with them to help the dogs make the transition to their new home.

I’ll do a special post once I have come up with the pattern, to share with others. I’m sure that shelters in your area can use them too. If you are inspired to get started before I put something together, try the pattern I shared for “Boo’s Blanket”  but adjusting the size to be shorter and using a 3rd strand of yarn to create a cushier fabric.

Once last thought to leave you with. If you are looking into adding a dog (or cat) to your family, please check with local shelters and rescue organizations in your area instead of purchasing thru a breeder or pet store.  These animals make wonderful friends and you will save a life.  And remember to spay and neuter your pets.

Too Slow

Sometimes my ambitious ideas have a head-on collision with reality.  Like this past weekend.

Between our Spring Break trip, numerous paid project deadlines and my work on the CGOA Design Competition Committee my piece for the International FreeForm Guild’s 2012 Challenge was too neglected. Which means that I did not finish it in time.  The deadline for entries was yesterday.

I only wish I had accepted reality sooner. This weekend was a mad scramble in an attempt to finish, photograph and email the necessary pics and bio info. Some days I don’t make wise decisions.  Of course all of us run into that problem from time to time. The important thing is to forgive ourselves and move forward.

I am still going to finish my challenge piece soon and share it with all of you here on my blog.  The best thing is how inspired I’m feeling about freeform and creating art pieces using mixed media.  Hopefully I will find more time in the coming months to continue to revisit it.

Holey Smokes Batman!

I know far too many folks who have given up crochet because it hurts their hands. This is one reason that I continue to learn as much as I can about how our hands work and modifications that can help us avoid injury when crocheting.

Something I have observed when watching other folks crochet, and when crocheting myself, is that working into actual stitches instead of spaces can create greater tension in the hand and wrists.  That tension can translate to pain in the neck, shoulders and even our backs if it goes on too long.

It is one of the reasons I like crocheting and designing lace or open-work (holey) stitch patterns so much. Those types of stitch patterns are easier when working with “furry” yarns as well.

One of the simplest of open-work stitches is the V-stitch. Once you get the initial foundation rows set up you will very rarely need to stitch into the top of a stitch. I also love how drapey the fabric is with this stitch and have used it often as my “go-to” stitch pattern when I just want to make a quick scarf.

My favorite version of the V-stitch is (Dc, ch 1, dc) in same stitch or space.  The stitches can be worked into the Chain-1 spaces of the V-stitches on the row below or worked into the space between V-stitches to create an off-set pattern.

Another great hand friendly stitch pattern is the classic Granny Square. The “shells” of the square are all worked into spaces with a slip stitch ending each round.

Like the V-stitch there are a number of versions of Granny Squares out there. The version I tend to use the most has 3 dc “Shells” divided by a chain 1, then chain 2s for the corners. After the center “round” or square is completed additional squares can use a new color or be repeated in the same color. I tend to turn each round as I often work my granny squares in a continuous yarn strand, instead of the typical multi-colored squares.

If you find your hands getting sore from tighter projects have a few holey projects at hand to mix things up. You just might be surprised how much happier your hands will be.

Back to Work

Hello again. I’m back at my desk after a Spring Break to be remembered.  Amazingly, though I packed yarn and hooks, I did very little crocheting on this trip.

So I am now playing “catch-up” with some projects that have deadlines breathing down my neck.  In the meantime I thought I would share some of the photos from our trip. We spent most of our time in Long Beach, CA.  Though the weather was cooler than we had expected and somewhat overcast in the mornings we still had a wonderful time.

I always enjoy seeing all the wonderful plants in Southern California.

My boys got to see the ocean for the first time in their little lives. They decided that it was pretty great, and enjoyed hanging on the beach looking in tide pools and finding rocks and shells (that were unoccupied).

I reveled in the sound of the surf, while I hunted for shells and super smooth stones.  I don’t know what it is about rounded stones, but I have always loved them. I only found one little piece of beach glass though.

I might have to get myself a rock tumbler to make my own smooth rounded rocks and beach glass.

I’ll leave you with this beautiful shot of the sunset on the beach in Oceanside.  Hopefully it will be as inspiring and restful to you as it is to me.