Happy Thanksgiving

This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S. I’ll be having a quiet celebration at home with just my husband and our boys.

We are very likely going to watch the first 3 movies of the Star Wars series. The boys have been wanting to see them again and I can’t remember the last time I watched them. With my latest gift project being from the Star Wars Crochet book, I’m definitely in the mood for a little Han Solo.

There will also be the traditional roasted Turkey and all the fixings. Between dinner prep and feeding the family I am hoping to have some crochet time, or I might knit on the scarf I’m making for my oldest son.

Yarn 2

2015 has been a challenging year, but I have still found much to be thankful for. Here is my list:

I’m thankful for my goofy exasperating brilliant sons and my husband whom they take after (okay they might take after me a little as well).

I’m thankful for my talented and compassionate brother Cy, who lifts my heart with simple things everyday.

I’m thankful for the renewal of my relationship with my Dad and that his health is improving.

I’m thankful for my special circle of friends who still love me warts and all, even after all these years.

I’m thankful for all my friends in the community of crochet that keep me excited about the yarn arts.

I’m thankful for all my lovely readers here on the blog.

I’m thankful for beautiful yarns that bring inspiration and aspiration to my work days.

I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to teach and share crochet with others this past year.

 

For all my US readers I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving day. Even if you just spend it enjoying some quiet time playing with yarn, watching goofy stuff on T.V. and contemplating the blessings in your life.

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Cuddly Crochet Kits

This last week has been another busy one. On top of all the other crochet work related stuff, I had a realization that Christmas is sneaking up on me far too quickly. Eek!

On Wednesday I was at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe all day. It was our monthly Casual Crochet Wednesday and I was working that afternoon as the shop’s crochet help.

C2C Scarf 1

Everyone at the Casual Crochet was working on their Corner to Corner project. I had finished my scarf and took the above photo before leaving it as a shop sample.

My friend Margie was there and she had some fun things to show me. In particular she had a crochet kit that she had picked up at Costco. The one she showed me was Disney’s “Frozen”, but she said they had Star Wars and the Peanuts too.

Frozen and Peanuts

The next day was my planned Costco trip and amazingly enough I remembered to look for the kits at my Costco. They had all 3, so I bought all 3. Not just because I was being indulgent (okay, maybe that was a little of it), but because I thought crocheting up some of the fun little figures could be good Christmas presents for my boys and a few other family members.

Star Wars Kit Open

I was so excited about the Star Wars kit that I opened it before taking a photo of it in pristine condition. As you can see the kit comes with instruction book, yarns, 2 sets of safety eyes, crochet hook, sewing/darning needle and fiber stuffing. The needle and hook are somewhat poor quality, but the little book is well worth the $12 price I paid. There are patterns for 12 Star Wars characters. The yarn included is enough to make a Storm Trooper and a Yoda.

Yoda in book

Bits for Yoda project

I decided I wanted to make a Yoda first.  Always loved this little green guy, though I think this cute little fella is going to live with my husband in his office.

Yoda hanks wound into balls

First I had to wind the little hanks into balls that I could crochet from. Was excited to get started.

Yoda head w Eyes

I changed the order of working some of the pieces for Yoda. I made his ears first so that I could sew them in place while the head was un-stuffed.

The instructions so far have been very clear and easy to follow the book is full of photo tutorials as well. So this is a great gift for crocheters on your list that want a project to get excited about. I would purchase a nicer crochet hook and darning needle to include though, especially if they don’t have a collection of their own hooks already.

Yoda w feet

I’m making pretty good progress on him so far. Just need to make his arms and little jacket. I’ll add another photo once he is finished. I won’t be giving away my kits as gifts, instead I will be making a lot of the characters as gifts. So part of my Christmas list is sorted.

Hope everyone is having a Wonderful pre-Thanksgiving Day weekend and that you are staying warm as well.

 

Thoughts on Paris and Peace

I was hoping to do a more substantial post today but, as many of you may also be, I’ve been distracted by thoughts of the violence in Paris last Friday.

I know there have been many reactions to this tragedy. Including comments about how this is just the latest in attacks against civilian targets. That much worse tragedies have occurred in Beriut, Syria and other regions of the world but have not raised the outcry that the Paris attacks have.

For me personally the Paris incident has been more painful because I see Paris as a city of peace. A place of wonderful Art, Food and History. I would not hesitate to get on a plane and visit Paris.

I can not say the same for many of the other regions of the world that have been experiencing this same sort of violence. And tragically the violence in those areas has become so commonplace that it is no longer considered “news”.

I don’t think it is right that this is the situation. The loss of any life is tragic, and these horrendous acts perpetrated by fanatics are horrific in the damage they do to all citizens of our globe.

Peace on Earth sm

So today’s post is about peace. I know how hopeless it all seems at times to wish for a world in peace, especially when the world is being torn to pieces. But we have to start with ourselves.

Reject the narrative that Muslims are all terrorists. Yes, these particular terrorists call themselves Muslims. But just like the Klu Klux Klan isn’t representative of all Christians, these terrorists are not representative of all Muslims.

Embrace the differences. I challenge you to find someone in your community that walks  a different spiritual path or comes from a different country and get to know them. Really get to know them. Chances are they live with many of the same day-to-day concerns that you do.

Look inside yourself and root out your assumptions about who people are based on the label they have been given, or the color of their skin. We all have these assumptions that are a part of our cultural up-bringing, but that doesn’t mean those assumptions are correct.

My mother has always said that “When you assume, you make an Ass out of U and me.” It’s a little rough, but a good thing to remember.

These are going to be my challenges too. I have friends in many walks of life and I hope to be open to learning and understanding with them as my teachers.

Peace to all of you.

May you have love and light in your life.

May comfort and kindness be yours and your gift to others.

Crochet Surgery or Not

One of the things I have celebrated on my blog are the number of good friends I’ve made over the years of being online. Most of these friends are fellow crochet enthusiasts. One of my online friends is “Maven”, we met thru a group on Ravelry back in 2008 and have continued to stay in touch thru Ravelry, Facebook and Twitter over the intervening years.

We have even met in real life. It was a couple years ago, when I took my trip to NJ and NYC to visit Jan. It was far too short  a visit, but really fun to finally have a face to go with the name.

Maven likes to collect yarn when she travels and she purchased some yarn in Tallinin, Estonia on her trip there in May 2012. In May 2014  she decided to crochet a shawl with it while traveling in London and Paris.  She picked the “Festival Shawl” pattern designed by Lyn Robinson. This is a pretty point-up triangle shawl.

Unfortunately it was not coming out the way she wanted, but it turned out the yarn was really difficult to frog. It is a rather toothy wool that likes to grab onto itself. She decided to put it in time-out for awhile in June 2014.

Maven had posted photos of her project and we had talked about how to fix it. I had suggested doing some surgery on the original UFO, then finishing the shawl with how-ever much yarn she had left.  Or she could try using hair conditioner on the project and seeing if she could gently un-ravel the project that way.

She wasn’t sure she was up to either of those fixes and jokingly suggested that she should send it to me to mess with. Of course, I thought that was a great idea, Blog Post!

1 - Box of Goodies and WIP

This joke kept getting tossed back and forth between us, finally she decided to take me up on the offer for real. Tuesday of this week I got the box in the mail. There was the expected project, but Maven also included some interesting chocolate goodies. She knows what a chocolate fiend I am. I am not planning on sharing any of these.

Triangle Shawl

Initial look at the project made me think that crochet surgery could work quite well. But I wanted to get a really good look at the project in the light of day before making my final assessment.

2 - Looking at options 1

I could see changing the direction of wear and loping off the original bottom point might work. That would mean the shawl would be more of a crescent shape than a triangle. But would Maven like it, and want to wear it?

3 - Materials for Surgery

4 - Looking at route for Safety line

I even went so far as to begin the set-up for crochet surgery. In this case I used some size 3 crochet cotton thread and a blunt yarn needle.

5 - Running safety line thru sts

I carefully wove the thread into the base of each stitch of my chosen row. The idea being once I had secured that row I could then cut the yarn on the previous row and un-ravel it or otherwise remove it.

If you decide to do surgery on your crochet this is the basic approach. If I had continued along this line with this project I would have left a lengthy tail at both ends of my secured row when removing the previous row.

Then I would have used some of the yarn in the remaining ball of yarn to crochet a chain that captured the base of each of my secured stitches and created bridges between them where needed. After that it is just a matter of treating that chain like a normal crochet foundation and crocheting any additional stitches off of it for the neckline of the shawl.

6 - Safety line in place

Once I had the thread in place though I kept looking at the project and was concerned that the finished object would not work for Maven. I wanted her to be happy with whatever I came up with and it really didn’t look like this would fit the bill.

7 - Partial Row

What about frogging it?  The last row on the project was un-finished, so I looked at it to see how difficult it would be to un-ravel. It came apart easier than I had expected. I realized that frogging the project and returning the yarn to Maven was a real possibility.

I hadn’t even tried the conditioner or de-tangling spray yet. So I began to very carefully pull the stitches apart and wind up the yarn as I went.

8 - Broken Yarn and crochet hook

Yarn wrap for broken ends

Early on there was a break in the yarn, so I folded the ends together and used a long slip knot to secure them. That way when Maven goes to work with the yarn again the color gradients won’t be interrupted.

One of the tricks when un-raveling a fussy yarn like this: take it slowly, one stitch at a time. I occasionally used a small crochet hook to hold the top of a stitch open as I gently persuaded the yarn to release. Other times I pinched the base of that top loop between my thumb nail and fore finger.

9 - Almost done Frogging

Whenever I ran into a spot that wouldn’t come free I would gently tease the fibers loose. Yes, this takes a bit more time. So only work on frogging a project like this in bits and pieces so that you don’t get impatient.

Now, some of you may be wondering why I could frog this and Maven can’t. I think 2 factors were in play here. Lack of humidity and very cold temperatures. I live on a cold dry mountain, Maven lives at sea-level on the East Coast. It was really cold the day the package arrived, 27F in fact.

If you are trying to un-ravel a project and are having difficulties with the fiber grabbing onto itself, try popping it in your freezer for a bit. A de-humidifier can be helpful too.

10 - Final Ball of Yarn

Now I have turned this project into a big ball of yarn. It’s ready to go back to Maven for her to crochet it into something new.

Dreaming of Sleep

“Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care,

The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,

Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course

Chief nourisher in life’s feast”

              “MacBeth”, Act 2, Scene 2

William Shakespeare

 

Do you get enough sleep?  Do any of us? Did you know that sleep deprivation is one of the top health issues in the United States?

Babies need around 17 hours of sleep daily
Babies need around 17 hours of sleep daily

Our bodies need at least 7-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep everyday.  Yet most of us, even when we get the hours, it is fairly interrupted.  For the parents of young children reading this it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that you’ve forgotten what uninterrupted sleep even looks like.

Sometimes we choose to be sleep deprived…thinking we have no other option. I know that happens to me at times.  I live in a fairly small house and have 2 noisy boys.  Peace and quiet is a rare commodity and most often to be found once all my men are in the land of Nod.

There are times when the issue is one of not being able to sleep.  Insomnia.  Not that much fun to experience, even though it is a common theme for comedy.   Many times I’ve gone to bed unable to actually fall asleep, despite being incredibly tired before laying down.

At a certain point the sleep cycle becomes so deformed from our sleep deprivation that getting regular sleep becomes even more challenging.  The results of this can be profound on your health.  A well-rested body is more resilient against illness and injury, so the opposite is also true.  A tired body is more at risk from illness and injury, further complicated by a tired brain that may not make the best decisions about safety.  Being tired is quite often the culprit for clumsiness.

So how do you break this cycle once you are in it?

Sleep Hygiene is the term many medical doctors and psychologists use when referring to changing your sleep habits.  Now, when I first heard this term I thought of dental hygiene. It’s a bit different though.

Basically it’s a fancy way of saying, “Winding down”.  Sleep hygiene is about what you do the hour or 2 before heading to bed.  Most sleep experts recommend that if your favorite “wind down” is watching the telly you watch a comedy or light drama.  Serious documentaries, the News, and Scary Movies are no-no’s on the winding down list.  The endorphins produced in the body when you laugh help ease you into a state of comfortable and sustainable sleep.

Visit the National Sleep Foundation to find out more about Healthy Sleep Tips and how much sleep your body likely needs depending on your age.

A healthy toddler will sleep just about anywhere.
A healthy toddler will sleep just about anywhere.

Now I’m off to get some sleep. See you Friday for a fun post about crochet “surgery”.

Working the Whirlwind (Video)

It has been a very interesting week. Today’s post was originally planned for Tuesday, then Friday, and finally I am getting it all together for an early Saturday morning post.

Whirlwind Square - M2H Designs

This one isn’t a lot of reading. Just wanted to direct you to my new video on crocheting the first 12 rounds of my Whirlwind Afghan Square. I ended up needing to make it into 2 videos. You can find Part 1 on my YouTube Channel here:

Whirlwind How-To Part 1

I hope to have Part 2 up in the next couple of days. I have found out it takes a lot more time to edit a video than I had originally anticipated. Really love making these videos though, and I hope you find them helpful. As always I appreciate your feedback, but please remember to be constructive and kind.

Thank you to all of my readers that have been asking for this video and patiently waiting for it. I’ll try not to make you wait as long for Part 2.

For those that haven’t seen it already you can find the written pattern and photo tutorial for the “Whirlwind Afghan Square” on my post: Spirals and Squares.