By the Seat of my Pants

I had planned to get an earlier start on Halloween costumes this year, but once again it was a mad scramble to complete them.

My youngest had decided he wanted to be Kai from the Lego Ninjago series. I purchased a long sleeve red T-shirt for him from Target.  He had his ninja sword and head-band that he got at Lego Land when we were in California for Spring Break last march. So we were half-way there.

I had hoped to make some red pants and a Gee style jacket for him from some red micro-fleece I had on hand (Kai is always dressed in red in the show). I took his measurements yesterday, but being a bit rushed when designing the sewing pattern for his jacket I left it a tad small. The body fit him okay but the sleeves were super snug, no way a T-shirt was going under there.

Solution? Cut the sleeves off the jacket, which also was more of a “faux” jacket that pulled over his head. Belt was easy enough to make, just cut a length of  mirco-fleece.

Whoops, what about pants?

He had wanted to have boxy pants so he would look like a Lego “people”. So instead of having red pants I cut out 2 long strips of red micro-fleece and pinned them to some dark gray pants.  So glad that I have lots of small safety pins on hand.

At first he wasn’t too sure about this short-cut, but after we got him dressed in his costume he was very happy.

Soon I will have more details about the cape costume I made for my oldest. He was very happy with it, though ended up not wearing it the whole evening as it was a bit heavy for him. That is 2 yards of the black fabric you see on him in the photo above.

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The Hunt for Happy Skin

Many of you are aware I live in the mountains of Colorado. Which means I often have snow and freezing temperatures when it is warm weather season for everyone else in the country. One thing you might not realize is that Colorado is arid.

You see on the news about our fires and the worry about fire because of the drought conditions we are subjected to. But Colorado has always been a very arid state. Our average annual moisture level is around 18 inches, compared to the averages for places like Washington or New York states which are 38  and 40 inches.

What this means for my skin is a constant battle to keep it moisturized. Especially my hands.

These are some of the lotions and unguents that I have had the most success with.  The Shikai Borage Therapy and the Hugo Naturals All Over Lotion are the ones I use each time I wash my hands. I keep them right beside my desk. They are light and absorb quickly so don’t gunk up my yarn and hooks.

The L’Occitane Dry Skin Hand Cream I carry with me in my project bag, it is the most expensive of the 6 at $10 per .5 oz. Also absorbs quickly.

The Soothing Skin Salve is from a local shop called Rebecca’s Apothecary, and is my favorite to use on my hands right before bed. It’s especially good when I have little cuts or dry patches on my hands, and really great for helping my cuticles.

The DermaE cream and Hugo Naturals Shea Body Butter are my favorite after shower lotions, especially for elbows and heels.

All these lotions are great, but an important thing to also remember is to drink lots of water. Even being slightly dehydrated can make your skin dry and flaky. So drink up.

Winter Again

We have been having a bit of a warm weather reprieve, but today it ended. I think I was in denial that it was going to get cold again.  I had really been enjoying the warmer days.

But this morning I woke up to colder temperatures and late this afternoon it started snowing. Really wishing I had finished my snuggly sweater I’ve been crocheting for myself.  So I will be curling up under an afghan this evening while I get a few more rows done.

Our local school district sent out an email notice to check about school closures and road conditions in the morning. Ya Think?!

Himself is clearing off the snow, and I am firing up the woodstove. Could be a very busy day tomorrow if the boys have a snow day from school.

If the power goes out it may mean the end of my every day blogging streak. Hopefully not though as today makes 25 days in a row.

Beads & Jelly

It’s been a crazy busy week as I finished up design projects to ship to an editor. So tonight, after getting the projects blocking, I decided I deserved a little “play” crochet time.

I’ve been wanting to experiment with the “love-knot” from Vashti’s class I took in Manchester this past summer. She had talked about how fun love knots are to work with beads for simple jewelry.

I decided for my purposes I would use some of the Jelly Yarn “thread” or “super fine” and some iredescent E-beads I had on hand. The best thing about Jelly Yarn for working with beads is you don’t need a needle to get the beads on the “yarn”.

For this experiment I wanted to make the love knots about a half inch long, the springiness of the jelly yarn would cause them to open up nicely.

I started with a single crochet in my beginning chain, then I worked my love knots by pulling the loop on my hook up to 1/2 an inch long.

I slid one of the beads up to the base of my working yarn, then pulled thru a loop like making a chain.

Then, I worked a sc in the back bump of the chain stitch as my “knot” sc.

I repeated these steps for a while, and the photo above is what I came up with so far this evening.  I’m not 100% sure if I like it enough to keep it.  So I’ll look at it again tomorrow (or maybe in a few days) and decide. Time for a good night’s sleep now.

Zen and the art of Weaving in Tails

I used to hate weaving in tails when working on crochet projects. But over the years I’ve begun to regard this task as a nice break and meditative. I’m not sure what exactly changed my feelings toward this task that is dreaded by many of us yarny crafters.

I think part of my fondness came from teaching basic crochet to new hooksters.  Small flower and “yo-yo” projects are great for beginners, and it’s good practice weaving in the tails.

Afterall, the work we do on the finishing touches of our crochet can have a big impact on the final appearance of a project.

Weaving in ends doesn’t have to be that tedious. In fact it is a great way to change-up the tasks you are working on (different movements of the hands break up the repetition that leads to injury).

In 2010 I took a class at the Manchester Chain Link with Karen Ratto-Whooley where she showed us some neat tricks about end weaving. This was Karen’s Venetian Lace Class (which is well worth taking) and involved creating very open lacy motifs.  So the question became, how and where do you hide those darn tails.

Karen told us how her grandmother told her the “wrong side” of your work should look as nice as the “right side”. One of the tricks to making that happen is to hide your tail weaving so it blends with the stitches of your fabric.  Taking  your tail up and back along the tall stitches is a great way to disguise them.

Also weaving the tails so they go back over themselves helps to prevent them coming loose later.

A few months ago at the LambShoppe PJ Jam night my happiness with tail weaving was solidified.  I was very tired and didn’t have the brain cells for really crocheting anything ambitious. But I did have a pile of motifs that needed their ends woven in before I could start the next stage of the project. I sat there weaving in tails and focusing on visiting with my friends. By the end of the evening I had finished all the motifs in my bag and had enjoyed the company of my dear friends.

I recently sold a design that contained 52 3-colored motifs and an additional 36 1-color motifs. Trust me, that is a lot of tails to weave.  Fortunately my new found fondness for that task has served me well. I have found the Zen.

Hopefully all my dear readers will be able to approach this task with a bit less distaste in the future as well.

Pretties from PJ Jam

The third Saturday of the month is lots of fun. I go to Denver to hang out with all my stitchy pals during PJ Jam at my favorite Denver LYS: The LambShoppe. Of course one reason it is so fun is that I can buy yarn, tools and nifty buttons.

So I did. Plus being October is my birthday month I got a discount. I’ve some special plans for these sparkly buttons and yarn, but Shhhh…it’s a secret for now.  Hopefully I’ll be able to share with you soon, but for now I’m going to be a  swatching, sketching, designing fiend.

Sort of the crochet version of a mad-scientist.

Rhinebeck – On my Bucket List

This weekend is a lucky time for all my Northeastern stitchy friends. Many of them are going to the Mecca of Yarnieness: The New York Sheep & Wool Festival a.k.a. Rhineback.

Before I joined Ravelry I had never heard of Rhinebeck, but now it ranks up there with 1/2 carat diamond solitaire earrings on my wish list (and is more likely to happen).

Honestly, I don’t really know what happens at Rhinebeck or what all is available to do there. But I’ve heard stories that make me want to go exploring.

There have been words like Sheep, Alpaca, Hand-spun, Hand-dyed and Garlic Artichokes used. Someday I am going to Rhinebeck, I mean Garlic Artichokes people! Wow!

In the meantime, all my stitchy pals that have made it to Rhinebeck this year. Pet a sheep and/or alpaca, purchase some gorgeous hand dyed hand-spun and enjoy the Garlic Artichokes for me.