Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Woodland Wreath a la 'The Mitten'

A few weeks ago I found a lone, unadorned wreath at Joann's. Honestly, it was just so perfect I don't know how it still existed on the rack. I didn't have an immediate plan for it, but I was shopping with my mom, and she's the queen of "You'd better buy it if you love it that much or you'll regret it" so it came home with me and sat on my sewing table for a while so I could formulate a plan.


The wreath cover reminds me of sweaters and mittens and hats (not a big stretch of the imagination, considering that it's knitted).



The first thing that popped into my head was the children's book 'The Mitten.' The book is about a young boy whose grandmother knits him a pair of mittens in white yarn (she tries to tell him he'll never find them if he drops them in the snow, but he insists). Sure enough he drops one, and it ends up providing a cozy home for some cold animals, until...well, you'll just have to read it to find out (haha--like how I went all Reading Rainbow there?). The idea was short-lived as I couldn't find patterns for animals to make that would be small enough, and all the store-bought stuff was way too big. I was going to just knit some cardinals, but they ended up looking like...not cardinals. Or birds, even.

I went to AC Moore (it's like Michael's) to buy...OK, I'll tell you. Remember Colorforms? The little vinyl stickers that you arranged and rearranged to make different scenarios on this coated cardboard base that had a pre-drawn scene on it? Well, they had a Peanuts set on sale and I neeeeeded it for nostalgic purposes. It's quite fortuitous that I went, as I saw the perfect little creatures just waiting to come home with me.

I spent maybe an hour hot gluing and arranging things, and now I have the original project I envisioned. Oh, in case you were wondering, hot glue is still reallllly hot.


I know the berries look very much stuck through the loops, and they are, BUT they're supposed to be growing out of the snow.


It looks like some kind of family portrait, haha. I love their adorable little faces! I think the fox is my favorite.


I had one extra guy I bought that wouldn't fit (but he goes perfectly with the dining room window decorations), but I didn't want him to be left out of the photos as he's so adorable--


My ultimate goal was for a winter wreath, and I think it fits the bill. It has a Christmas vibe to it, but isn't so Christmassy it can't stay out after the rest of the decorations are put away.


If you don't already have it I highly recommend the book. The illustrations are beautiful, the story is sweet, and it's a winter tale that you can enjoy after the Christmas books are packed away when it's still cold enough for hot chocolate and homemade afghan snuggles.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Giveaway for the Yarn Hoarder

Did you ever have one of those weekends that felt longer than it is? Usually the opposite is true, but I had such a nice weekend. I left work early Friday and got some errands out of the way. I then lit some candles, made some tea, and crafted the afternoon away. On Saturday I did a little shopping, made some scones, crafted a bit more, and then spent the evening with the family. And today, I made a winter wreath (I'll show you that next), had the obligatory cup of tea, and even painted my nails so that it looked like an adult did them. It was just simply one of those highly enjoyable weekends where nothing big happened, but was full of a lot of little happy moments. Very hyggeligt.

Anyway, I'm hoping to share a smidgen of my happiness with you in the form of a little giveaway. I had joined a yarn subscription box, and have yet to make any of the projects for the simple reason that I simply cannot get caught up with the other project to-dos I have, so rather than let this languish I'd rather pass it on to a good home. 


Up for grabs is one skein of Sweet Paprika's Grazioso yarn. You can see the delicious yarn make-up here:


This is a lace-weight yarn that is a beautiful silk and linen blend in a light misty green color that I believe is called 'lichen.' Two shawl patterns will also come your way--one crochet and one knit (the knit one comes with a knitting chart). I don't have a good picture of the patterns, but they are available on Ravelry if you'd like to take a closer look. Click here for the knit pattern, and here for the crochet pattern.

Also included is a bag of wee beads that you can work into your shawl, along with a clasp to keep it secure while you're wearing it.


So if you fancy winning this little lot--


--leave me a comment on this post. Make sure it's linked to your email or that you include it in your comment as if you're a 'no reply' commenter I won't be able to contact you if you win. I'll hold the drawing on Sunday, December 18th, so you've got about two weeks to enter. I'll close comments at 11:59 pm EST on December 17th. Good luck!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Murder Mystery Quilt Along: Block 11

Hi people! I'm down to the next to the last block in this series, and although I've lost my excitement over this project I'm still going to finish. I'm not sure if it's because the quilt itself is not exactly my style, or if it's because it's just almost a year and that feels like a long time for something simple. But anyway, almost done. I submitted my guess for who the whodunnit, but when I look at the blocks and read the bonus clues and so on, I still have no idea. I don't know if real detectives would ever get anywhere if they had to solve crimes in this fashion.


And here are all the blocks together--


According to the block eleven bonus clue--this is a completely incorrect layout. But I didn't do much better following the clue, soooo... It would seem like a decent idea to just stop working on this, but there's a prize basket drawing for correct guess, and another one for completing all of the blocks. And even though being randomly chosen is a slim chance, I always have that hopeful thing that it's gonna be me, so I can't quit now.

The good news is this is almost over and you won't have to see quilt blocks that make no sense to you anymore. The bad news is--tomorrow is December already.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Sale, List, Glue - In That Order

Good morning! I know that many of you are busy getting ready for Christmas (or trying to avoid it), but I've got a couple items for you that might make it easier.

First, my wee shop is 'this' close to being emptied out. Things are now on sale for 75% off!! Please note--as the site calculates shipping, it frequently overcharges, and I always always always refund the shipping overages. All proceeds from my shop shut-down sale are being donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society--so you score some great items at a discounted price, and your money goes to cancer research and outreach. Win win! Actually, win-win-win as I get to reclaim some space in the house. I'll post proof of the donation, so you can be assured your money is going where I say it is.

Second--several years ago I made up some adorbs shopping lists to help keep you organized (hopefully). You can find them by clicking here (they hold up best on card stock, but regular paper will obviously work, too).


And finally--I posted this Christmas countdown page, last year--it was always one of my favorite traditions from childhood. Click here for the file.


That's all I've got right now! I've got decorating on the schedule today, and then I'm hoping I can snap pics of some finished knitting projects and get started on making my Christmas cards tomorrow. Have a good one!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Creativebug Sale!!!

Hi kids! I know it's a busy few days here in the States for most of us, but I wanted to alert you to a great deal that's only available through Monday.



I've mentioned here before that I'm a big fan of Creativebug. Normally, for the low price of $4.95/month (and a free two week trial) you get access to all of their classes on pretty much every crafty topic you can think of (baking, sewing, quilting, knitting, drawing, painting, and on and on). But now, until Monday, you can get a three month subscription for $1.00. That's insanely cheap, and you can cancel at any time. That's one George Washington in exchange for access to hundreds of classes for three months. However, this deal is only good until Monday, November 28th, so hurry up if you're interested.

I know December is a busy month, but I often find myself wanting something to do in the long, dark months of January and February. Do you know how many of these classes you can take in that period of time? They're presented in small manageable chunks, so you can work at your own pace, or watch the whole thing in one go.

I am in no way affiliated with Creativebug--I'm sharing this post for the simple reason that I love their site and their courses, and what have you got to lose except a dollar?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Adventuring

Do you ever find yourself saying to yourself "I'd like to do [this or that] but I don't want to do it by myself?" I say that a lot. For certain things (like international travel or something like that) I feel that it makes sense to not go alone. But for most local things I felt I needed to just get over it and do something I wouldn't normally do alone. So this week I had three mini adventures.

First up--last Saturday I went to see the live Philadelphia broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion down at the Academy of Music. There was an article in our paper, and I decided to just order a ticket so I'd be locked into going short of a true emergency. I was so worried I wouldn't make it as construction made traffic a nightmare, and then I had to work my way through downtown Philly, but I made it just in time. It was so worth it.


The new host (Chris Thile) did a great job. He's not Garrison Keillor, and there was no Lake Wobegon monologue in that soothing baritone, but you can really see that he's going to tweak the show just enough to make it his own, whilst keeping in place the things listeners have come to love. The best part came at the end. A mainstay of the show is the audience sing-along at the end, and this time we sang This Land is Your Land. It was beautiful.


I had a great seat, but part of me wished I had gotten a balcony seat. I always thought they looked so luxurious and elite (which is funny, because they were cheaper). So next time I go to a show (and now I will, on my own or otherwise) I'll be sure to do so.

Next up was the movies. I usually don't go to the movies by myself. Actually, I never go by myself. But at a fairly local theater (one of those delightful old single-screen theaters) they were screening A Man Called Ove, a Swedish film based on the book by the same name. Most people I know don't like to read their movies, but I loved the book so much I really wanted to see it. So off I went.


Oh! I loved it! So well done! The book is so worth the read, and the movie stayed pretty true to the book. It was nice to hear sniffles from other people (sometimes I feel like I'm the only one crying in the theater).

And finally, a day trip. I haven't used much of my vacation time at work this year, so I have some time to use up or I'll lose it. Friday's weather was Indian summer beautiful (can you still call it Indian summer a week before Thanksgiving?) so I wanted to take a little jaunt somewhere. Sometimes I'll take a day and run errands and do the things I've been putting off, but it was one of those times where I knew I wouldn't be doing anything like that and would truly waste the day. So I popped up the question on Facebook asking for ideas. I got a few that weren't what I was looking for, and a few that I had done already. But then there was a suggestion for a place I'd never heard of before--historic Smithville, NJ. I normally get fairly nervous driving in New Jersey, but it was supposed to be an adventure, right? So I put on a cute outfit and headed across the state, dang close to the shore.

Now, where I was headed was a collection of a variety of shops--clothing, gifts, books, food, housewares, toys, and so on. Most things were quite pricey, but I had a good old time walking around and looking at everything. I literally gasped when I saw the light coming in through this window--


This shop had a set-up for every color of glass you could imagine (most from estate sales), and let me tell you--if I had a place for it all I'd have certainly stocked up. I had to sneak this photo, as every shop I went in had a big 'PLEASE--NO PHOTOS!!' sign in the window. But I'm a rebel so I took one. I would have taken one of the red window, but the owner was standing right there. I'm also a weenie and I didn't want him to yell at me, hahaha!


There's a big duck pond in the middle of the village, but most of the day they were just sitting and chilling like this. The benches were filled with older men, who I assume were waiting for their wives.


It was such a beautiful day. Bright blue sky, sunshine, perfect temperatures, not too crowded. I went into a tea shop and bought a peach roobois tea, and snagged a photo of this perfection--


--but one thing I do not need is more mugs. But you can see how I would neeeeed these, right? Don't worry--they're still on the shelf at the store.

I grabbed lunch (a grilled Swiss, crab and tomato sandwich) that was insanely delicious, and headed back. I probably shouldn't have stuffed myself and then driven eighty miles without buying a coffee to accompany me, but after what seemed forever I made it home. All I could think of was trying my new tea in a proper teacup, and eating the linzer torte I bought at the bakery. So my mama and I sat and had a little impromptu tea party and relaxed for a bit.


Big adventures are fewer and more far between, but little adventures are just as good for the soul.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Random Blather for an Afternoon Cup of Tea

Without getting too specific as to avoid any argument, I think we can all just agree that this past week has been a bit stressful, or worrisome, or chaotic, or contentious. The week before was very difficult for me on a deeply personal level, so here's hoping that the last several weeks of the year are cozy, and filled with love and warmth and family, and candy and cookies. 

So light a scented candle, pour some tea (I'm having a cup of spearmint), and join me for a bit of blather.


I went craft shopping last week. I practiced a great deal of restraint, too! I had my hands full of stamp pads and stamps and papers and all kinds of things, and then I literally stopped in my tracks and thought "Wait. How much of this are you likely to use ever again? Will you end up giving this stuff to someone else after one use?" So I reconsidered and put a lot of things back. 


The one thing I have no idea for is that fat quarter--it was just too cute to leave there. But that book (from Joann's) has tons of cute stuff to make, the yarn will be peppermint-shaped dishcloths, the tags will be decorated gift tags (I've got glitter pens and markers on hand--surprise, surprise!), and that little pack of bon-bon yarn will be miniature socks, hats, and sweaters for a garland (OR if I don't get to it I'll set it out as Christmas decor, haha).


The leaves are dried and crunchy, and give that perfectly autumnal rustle when the breeze blows them down the sidewalk. I haven't seen very many in the brilliant colors of fall that we've come to expect--I wonder if it's because the weather has remained fairly warm?


Do you remember Skylanders? They were a Wii game from several years ago, where each character had to be bought in the form of a figurine that sat on a pod. Z-man loved these, and was great at the bribery necessary to obtain them on a frequent basis. A-train and my bil Matt discovered these over the weekend, and immediately set them up to play. The volume wasn't working, but that's fine by me as a listener, as the sound effects worm their way deep into your brain and stay there. Z-man hooked this up to the stereo one year and put it on surround sound at about eight in the morning when he had slept over. I'm pretty sure I came out of my slumber in so sudden a fashion that I literally hit the ceiling.


One of my favorite things about this time of year is the low angle of the sun. In the morning my bedroom is bathed in a golden glow that is absolutely gorgeous (but also makes me cringe because I know I have to get up then). The other thing I love is this--


--curtain shadows.


I can't even tell you how long I've been working on this shawl. There was a not-my-fault mishap at the start that delayed this a little bit, and I've been working on it for seven million hours now (give or take one or two). I love the design, loved the colors more online (it was a kit), but I'm very ready for this to be finished and blocked. I'm hoping that happens very soon. The final knitting will go very quickly.  But I have to pick up about five hundred stitches, and ultimately bind off almost eight hundred. I feel like if I can get this done this week I'm going to fashion myself a gold star.


Well, kids, I've got a date tonight. It's with myself, so I know we'll get along fine and have a great time with each other. I'm headed down to the Kimmel Center--they're broadcasting A Prairie Home Companion from there tonight, and I splurged on a ticket. So enjoy your day, and I'll see you soon!

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