Thanksgiving with Family

Today is Thanksgiving day here in the US. For my family it is a day to get together with family and friends for a big meal and be thankful for what we have.

In keeping with this year’s tradition of school holidays, the kids are both sick with pink-eye and colds. It’s looking like himself and I are fighting off the cold part as well. I’m at least grateful for not having to juggle the kids missing school days along with everything else.

Another thing I am thankful for is the training I have had in medical science. I treated the kids with Lavender essential oil and raw honey until himself could take the them to the doctor. Both kids have reported that their eyes are no longer itching. The doctor only gave my youngest eye drops because he was the only one with swelling and discharge.

Fortunately today I’m feeling a lot better and my youngest seems to be turning the corner. My younger brother and his girlfriend came up for dinner, but stayed in a hotel in town to avoid too much time with the germs. I’ve been looking forward to seeing the 2 of them for the past month.

New Christmas Tree 2

Tomorrow we will be decorating our new Christmas Tree. This year I decided it was time for a skinnier tree. We have always had an artificial tree because of himself’s allergies. We have a very full house between the kids’ stuff and my yarn, so I’ve been campaigning for a smaller tree. I was especially attracted to the “pencil” trees that I had seen, and to the “pre-lit” trees.

My least favorite part of decorating the tree is fighting with putting on the lights. I’m so excited to finally have a “pre-lit” tree! We will also be decorating a big swath of greenery over our largest living room window too. That way we can put out some of the ornaments the animals like to attack.

For many folks Thanksgiving marks the beginning of Christmas shopping with Black Friday sales at all the big retailers. I hope some of you will be looking at shopping also on Small Business Saturday to support small businesses that make up the back bone of the US economy.

Flatirons Shawl - 1d sm - Andee Graves M2H Designs
Flatirons Shawl
Kellie Cowl - Andee Graves M2H Designs
Kellie Cowl
WWC Stacked drape view - Andee Graves M2H Designs
Whispering Winds Cowl
vivianne-shawl-andee-graves-m2h-designs-a2
Vivianne Shawl

Speaking of Small Business Saturday, I’ll be offering 10% off any 2 patterns in my Ravelry Shop to all my wonderful readers. Just put 2 of my patterns in your cart then use the coupon code SBS2017Thanks to get the discount. This coupon code will only be good on Saturday, November 25, 2017 from 1 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. Mtn Time.

Thank you to all my dear readers for your support of my very small business.

Advertisements

Sparkling Ice Snowflake

Row of Sparkling Ice Snowflakes - Andee Graves M2H Designs 

It is Winter up here on my mountain again, though technically it is still Autumn on the calendar. We have had numerous snow storms and a number of days that the temperatures barely crawled above freezing. I’m looking forward to the days of winter when the air sparkles with snowflakes in the sunshine.

I’m happy for the colder weather though, as it has helped me feel more in the mood for Christmas time.

I’m listening to my Christmas music and will be digging out my Christmas movies for watching after we’ve eaten our Thanksgiving dinner. Having gotten into a Christmas mood I’ve decided to get a head start on my Christmas gifts, and especially my gift to all my lovely readers.

Yes, my friends, it is time for a snowflake design again. This year I’m giving us all a bit more time to work on the new snowflakes. That way you can send some out with your Christmas cards if you want.

Not only do I have a pattern for you, but I am also including a photo tutorial on stiffening your snowflakes. Pattern first, since you’ll need some snowflakes to work with.

Sparkling Ice Snowflake

Designed by Andee Graves

Skill level: Easy

Materials:

Size 3 Cotton Crochet Thread with hook size: B (2.25mm)

Size 10 Cotton Crochet Thread with hook size: Steel 0 (1.75mm)

Notions

Tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Gauge

Gauge is not critical to this project.

Instructions

Rnd 1: Starting with Adjustable Slip Knot {if you need help with this technique check out my YouTube Video}, ch 2, 12 sc in second ch from hook, slip st to first sc of Rnd. {12 sc}

Rnd 2: Ch 1, (2 sc in next st, ch 1, skip 1 st) 6 times, slip st to first sc of Rnd. {12 sc, 6 ch-1 sp}

Rnd 3: Ch 1, sc in next 2 sts (ch 6, skip next ch-1 sp, sc in next 2 sts) 5 times, ch 6, skip next ch-1 sp, slip st to first sc of Rnd. {12 sc, 6 ch-6 loops}

Rnd 4: Ch 1, [(sc, hdc, 3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc, hdc, sc) in next ch-6 loop] 6 times, slip st to first sc of Rnd. {12 sc, 12 hdc, 36 dc, 6 ch-3 sp}

Rnd 5: Slip st in next hdc, *sc in next st, ch 3, skip next st, dc in next st, ch 2, (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in ch-3 sp, ch 2, dc in next st, ch 3, skip 1 st, sc in next st,** skip 4 sts*; Repeat from * to * 4 times, Repeat from * to ** once, slip st to first sc of Rnd. Fasten off {12 sc, 30 dc, 6 ch-1 sp, 12 ch-2 sp, 12 ch-3 sp}

Finishing

Weave in all ends. Block snowflake and use favorite stiffening method.

 

If this snowflake doesn’t please you, I have 3 other snowflake patterns available here on the blog:

Frozen Star – Pattern available here.

 

Lacy Snowflake – Pattern available here for free text instructions only.

Or your can purchase the pattern in my Ravelry shop, this version includes a stitch chart as well as text instructions.

 

Little Snowflake Ornament – Pattern available here.

 

Stiffening Your Snowflakes

When stiffening your snowflakes you want to consider the climate you live in. Especially the humidity of your region will effect what stiffening agent you should choose, as well as how you want to set up your drying area.

The basic supplies you will need to stiffen your crocheted snowflakes are:

Pins – Nickel-plated or rust proof pins are best, otherwise you can end up with rust marks on your finished snowflakes. My favorites to use are nickel-plated T-pins, Size 16, 1 inch long.

Waterproof (or resistant) Surface – You want to use something that will hold the pins firmly in place and can either be thrown away or washed off.  Wax or Parchment paper over cardboard is an affordable option. Afterward the paper goes in the bin and the cardboard can be recycled or re-used if not too punctured. I didn’t have wax paper in the house for this latest batch of snowflakes so I used Press-n-Seal plastic over my surface. I liked using one of my foam blocking board as it held the pins better than cardboard.

Stiffening Agent – This can be anything that is initially wet enough to be absorbed in the cotton of your stitches without obscuring them, and that dries rigid. I use a product I purchase at my local Michaels store called “Stiffy” from the Plaid company (same folks that make Mod Podge), but something like PVA school glue can work too.

Some of the PVA glues are a little too flexible when dry, so if you want a more rigid finished object you can try adding a bit of corn starch to the glue. If your glue is too thick, you can experiment with adding water to thin it. I use distilled water when doing this. I find a very thin liquid to be best for maintaining the stitch definition of my snowflakes.

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links.

Brush and Bowl – No matter what application method you prefer you will need both of these objects. If you are planning on using the “soak” method you will want a bowl wide enough that your snowflake will fit inside it. For your brush you will want stiff short bristles, that can help get the stiffening solution down into the stitches or help remove excess solution from the pinned snowflake.

Drying Surface – An old towel or a piece of fine metal screening. If you live in a humid climate you really want a drying surface that lets air circulate around your snowflakes, you might even want to use a fan or a blow-dryer on a low setting. I tend to use a dry towel or a

Getting Started

Obviously you first want to crochet your snowflakes, I like to have a pile to work with before I begin the stiffening process. Sometimes I will wet block my snowflakes first. The pinning process is the same as when I am stiffening my snowflakes.

If your snowflake is crocheted tightly and you wet block it with pinning you may have a stable shape without additional stiffening. Or it will hold the shape well enough to just brush on the stiffener without it being pinned. You will want to experiment.

I prefer to use the brush method of applying the stiffener as it helps me keep better stitch definition. If you want to do the soak method you will immerse your snowflake in your solution, then remove it from the solution letting excess drain off. Proceed to pin the snowflake to the desired shape. Once you have the snowflake pinned out, use paper towels to blot off excess solution. Be careful during the blotting that you don’t glue bits of paper towel to your snowflake.

In this demonstration we are trying to get a symmetrical looking snowflake. I approach the pinning like stretching a drumhead (something I learnt from my younger brother, Cy the Drum Guy).

Pinning dry 1 - Andee Graves M2H Designs

This means securing one point on the snowflake then stretching to the opposite point, continuing to work around the points of the snowflake back and forth.

Center and Pts pinned dry - Andee Graves M2H Designs

It can be helpful to also place pins in the center of the snowflake after securing the first 2 points. This is especially helpful with really open stitch work, it will keep the other 4 points from pulling it off center. I remove the center pins once I’ve got the 6 points secured.

Pinning dry 6 - Andee Graves M2H Designs

Then look at the other areas of the snowflake that you might want to open up. This is how you can really change the look of your snowflakes even when they are crocheted from the same pattern.

In the case of the Sparkling Ice Snowflake I added 2 pins to each point in the ch-2 spaces  to square up the points of the snowflake, or….

Placing the 2 additional pins in the ch-3 spaces creates a pointed look.

Painting on stiffener - Andee Graves M2H Designs

Now it is time to brush on the stiffening solution. I usually pin my snowflakes wrong side facing up and brush on the stiffening solution to set the shape. I keep brushing the solution to help it absorb and get deep into the stitches. Usually your thread will change color enough that you can see where you still need to brush on more solution.

Once the solution is dry I carefully un-pin the snowflake. Usually this isn’t stiff enough to hang, so I will turn over the snowflake and paint the other side of it with a light coating of stiffening solution. The shape of the snowflake is already set though and I don’t pin it in place again.

If you want to add some sparkle to your snowflake this is a good time to add glitter.  Sprinkle glitter over the wet surface. Tap off any excess and set aside to finish drying.

5 snowflakes 2 sizes Sparkling Ice - Andee Graves M2H Designs

I usually move the snowflake to the drying surface after painting on the second coating of stiffener to prevent it from sticking to the work surface. If you are in a humid climate you may want to un-pin and move your snowflake to the drying surface once it is mostly dry and set from the first coat, this will help it dry quicker.

Nylon Hanger - Andee Graves M2H Designs

Once your snowflakes are completely dry use ribbon or light weight nylon line to create hangers. I prefer the nylon line because it is nearly invisible. I usually use about 4-6 inches and thread it thru an opening on the edge of the snowflake and tie a knot over the 2 ends.

Have fun making snowflakes.

 

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links.

Tempus Fugit (Time Flies)

The past couple of months have slipped by too fast. Strange that I feel that way, as while I was in each individual day they seemed to drag. This all reminds me of something a friend told me the day before my first son was born, “Motherhood is full of long days and short years.”

I think the “long days and short years” are true for all of us, parents or not, especially as we get older.

I remember being startled in my 20s when I was talking on the phone with my younger sister. She was still in high school living in Kansas and I was living in Colorado. She was asking me if I was coming back to visit for Home Coming. I told her that was a few months away and I didn’t know if I could, she told me it was the following week. It had seemed to me at the time that the new school year had just started. That is the first time I really remember that feeling that time was moving faster than it felt.

It’s only gotten more noticeable as I’ve added years to my personal odometer.

Honestly, my boys just got out of school for summer break and Halloween was yesterday.  Now I’m feeling the insanity of the BIG holidays coming down the highway. For my family that is Thanksgiving (USA) and Christmas. We are going to have company for both holidays this year so I need to kick it into high gear.

My fantasy of a relaxed December may be out the window at this point. Being laid up with Whooping Cough for nearly 2 months has certainly narrowed down my prep time. But this may be a gift in its own way.  Nothing like having less time to help you prioritize and force you to let go of unrealistic fantasy.

Most of my remaining gift making is focused on smaller projects like slippers, hats, cowls and some snowflakes. So that will help me with completing things in a timely manner. Fortunately I don’t need to ship those gifts either, since the majority of my “crochet-worthy” friends and family will be here with us.

Christmas cards may suffer again. I seem to get worse about sending those out every year. I may have to do “Happy New Years” cards again instead. I’m just hoping at some point to really review this year, even 10 months into it 2017 has been incredibly busy and eventful, both on the personal and work fronts.

I’ll be playing catch-up for quite some time. If there is something that I mentioned earlier this year that you are waiting for, please drop me a reminder in the comments on this post and I’ll try to put it in the top 20 of my To-Do List. I hope everyone else is heading into the end of 2017 healthy and better prepared than me.