Wordsmiths

Even though it wasn’t finished I gave my daughter the Fandom blanket I’ve been working on. It was her birthday (back in January); I wanted to give it to her for a special occasion and there was no way I was waiting until next Christmas. So instead she got a P.I.P…Present In Progress. Which sounds a bit like RIP so I made a tombstone to go with it…

Which apparently I did not get a picture of. Hey, I was super exhausted that day.  Her birthday fell on a week that I was working extra shifts And the kids had extra appointments and activities. Really it was just an outline of a tombstone that I printed out and wrote on, nothing spectacular. I wrote the dates Fall 2015-Winter 2017 (because this will be finished this winter) on the tombstone. My daughter was impressed with how long I’ve been working on this. (My first post about this blanket-to-be is here.)

While I’ve shared some of the squares as I made them. (Like this and this.), there are a couple that I’m especially proud of that I haven’t yet.

These four are the latest additions.

From left to right is Wesley from The Princess Bride (she’s a huge fan of the book and the movie), Shakespeare, a quote from the musical Hamilton  (the daughter literally knows all the words. To the entire show, no joke.), & a horse (that’s pretty self explanatory).

I found both the horse and the Princess Bride pattern on Ravelry (here & here respectively) but had to get creative to make squares that represented her two favorite wordsmiths (Shakespeare and Hamilton in case that wasn’t clear).

After scouring the Internet I came to the conclusion that no appropriate Shakespeare patterns existed. So I did what any good crafter would do and made one myself. There are websites to help with that. Basically you import a picture as a JPG or whatever, set the parameters (how many pixel/squares for example), and a pixilated picture is generated.

It took some playingaround to get Shakespeare’s face to look even close to right and that resulted in a square I knew wouldbe way too big. To par it down I took a screen shot of the pattern on my phone and cropped it in. I followed the screen shot (shown above) as a pattern. Even though I cut a row or two from the Bard’s forehead region he’s looking a bit long in the face.

Oddly enough I had trouble finding a Hamilton related crochet square and that was including a thorough search of Pinterest. I tried putting the logo, the one with the guy on top of a star, into the pattern generator but couldn’t get a clear picture. The guy looked like a jagged rectangular nothing. It was not good.

What I did find on Pinterest was more than a few images of Hamilton cross stitch projects. And guess what….

Cross stitch is also made of pixels!

Who knew? So, once again I took a screen shot on my fancy-dancy phone and used that as a pattern.

After some zooming in and lots of little black square counting I’ve got a pretty decent Hamilton square. (My daughter pointed out that I could have just made one that said “And Peggy!”. It would have been more simple but the quote I made is pretty cool as well.

And of course my girls was super excited about the quilt squares.

She suspected that I was making something for her birthday but had no idea what it was. She’s wanted a “Fandom blanket”, as she dubbed it, ever since I made this one for a friend’s baby almost two years ago now.

wpid-wp-1442283602049.jpeg

I also got my daughter tickets to see the Lumineers in Grand Rapids. That’s what I call a present with a bonus. She was excited and I got to go to a super cool concert with her. It was a win win win.

Advertisements

Annual Christmas Craziness

Like every year (especially since going back to school), the few weeks before Christmas in mid December were Kuh-razy with a capital K. Finals/end of term projects for me and pre-holiday demands and events for the kids have me running around nonstop like the proverbial headless chicken. Because this is an annual thing I’m mostly prepared for it, as much as one can prepare for an already intense life to kick into hyper-speed.

drew-carrey-finals-meme

At one point (Tuesday), less than half an hour before the class period it was due, I was finishing a hefty presentation …from home…forty minutes from campus. All I could think was “How the Eff did this happen?”

elf-finals-meme

At another point, a day or so after the presentation procrastination, I was hustling my cranky kids out of the car to (quickly!) pick out a Christmas tree so we could get to the sledding hill across town where their aunt who was visiting from out of town was waiting for us with some cousins. It was cold, windy and already dark but gosh darn it we were going to get some sledding in. And we did. Just a bit before it was time for me to make dinner for 11 people. Directly following that I squeezed in an hour and half nap and headed to work for the night. Over the next couple of days I got six hours sleep. Total. In a span of 48 hours. I made it to my last test (it could hardly be called a final), attended my little guy’s school holiday concert, got the tree up and decorated before the kids left for the week, finished a paper, and worked another shift before finally crashing for 11 hours straight (and subsequently being an hour late for work Friday night).

But then my semester was officially over and a very strange thing happened…  end-of-finals-week-meme

I had free time. Well, relatively free time.

So I did what any sane person would do and began making some Christmas presents. There was just under a full week and making a list of things I wanted to make was as far as I had gotten.

First there was the Slytherin robe one of my sisters asked if I could make…

I used soap and drew the “pattern” out on the fabric. Other than the sleeves being a bit long (for growing room of course), it turned out perfectly and I expect I’ll see my nephew wearing this for a few years.

my-little-ponies-present

And then there was a random hat made with chunky yarn for my mom, a scarf/cowl thing for my brother’s girlfriend, a “fallen leaves” baggy hat (for the same brother’s girlfriend), and a “Little Sister” hat for my God-daughter. (The other God-daughter got some My Little Ponies but she’s getting an Anna cape for her birthday in January.)

Sadly, I only got pictures of the Little Sister hat. It’s a bit big but should be perfect this spring or fall.

After that it was the holiday.

(Okay, that’s actually the before-Christmas craziness there.)

And that, dear readers, sums up this year’s round of pre-Christmas/finals week craziness.

Almost an Adventure 

I think I had an adventure the other day, it’s hard to say.

See, my oldest son is 17. He’s a senior in high school. He took driver’s ed this past January. My life being the complicated mess it is, we didn’t get his pernut until the end of August. Needless to say he’s not one of those kids who’s eager to start driving. Even now that he’s got his permit I have to twist his arm to get him to drive (figuratively not literally, usually at least). He has to log at least forty hours of driving before taking the next level of driver’s training and being allowed to road test for his actual license. At this rate we may end up waiting until he’s 18.

Back to my adventure…my son asked if he could go to a friend’s to “study” after school. I wasn’t too keen on having to go pick him up later in the evening so I gave him conditional permission. Thinking it wound deter him, I said if he went he would have to drive home. My plan failed, he was fine with that so he did. And we took the freeway home.

There in lies the adventure.

adventure is out there

In his interview on The Art of Charm podcast, Jon Levy talks about adventure. How some people have a higher tolerance for novelty and excitement, that adventure doesn’t just happen by chance, and how adventure pushes us past our comfort zone thus bringing about personal growth. Levy defines adventure as something  that is “exciting and remarkable”, something that “possess adversity or risk” (or even just  perceived risk),  and as I already mentioned something that “brings about growth”. So maybe riding in the car while my 17 year old is driving at 70mph doesn’t seem like much of an adventure but by Levy’s standards it sure is!

Well, maybe not by his standards  (we’re taking about a guy who had travelled the world doing done crazy shit), but at least by his definition. There was a perceived risk. Any parent who had ridden with their teenager knows what I’m talking about. 70 doesn’t seem all that fast when I’m driving but put my kid behind the wheel and, holy hell, it’s terrifyingly fast.And my white knuckle grasp on the nearest handle proves that it was exciting. Obviously it’s remarkable, I’m remarking about it right now. The experience was definitely just out side my “skillset” which pushed me to grow, to rationalize my fear and trust my son’s capabilities just a little more. It was a (very) small step towards adulthood for my son and towards me, as a parent, acknowledging his immanent adult status. That right there is the very real adventure in parenting.It will definitely make you uncomfortable, if you’re doing it right it promotes self-improvement, and it sure as shit gives us challenges to overcome.

Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking my life is boring, and occasionally the day-to-day does feel pretty  mundane, but there is endless opportunity for adventure, excitement, and growth in my quiet, small scale life. I bet there is in yours too.

On a somewhat random side note, there’s been progress on the WIP fandom blanket. I made this….

It’s adapted from this hat pattern.  One of these days I’m going to have to sit down and come up with a plan for the blanket layout but for now I’m really enjoying these themed mini-projects, err, squares.

Baby Viking Hat

20161028_210206.jpg

The finished hat

My family grows in leaps and bounds. My youngest was one of six babies born in a ten month time period. This past year I got a total of four new nephews, all between March and the end of June. Somewhere around early June my sister, the mom of one of those babies, asked me if I’d be willing and able to crochet said baby a hat for Halloween, a viking hat. It seems my sister is much better at planning ahead than I am. She knows how busy I am and had a specific goal in mind for her child. Maybe I was the person to help her accomplish that goal, maybe not. Considering she asked me half a year in advance I figured I’d be able to find the time. Besides, crocheting a viking hat sounded fun. It couldn’t be as hard as that shark hat was.

I found a pattern online but it was not free. (wah-wah) I totally get why people charge for patterns and it was only five bucks, but I was still resistant to pay for it. It’s my contrary nature in action. “What?”, it says, “You want me to pay?!? Psh, I don’t need your silly pattern, I can figure this out on my own.” And usually I can.

For this one I made a basic beanie (there are five million free patterns out there) with a four evenly spaced front post hdc around the hat. And then I realized that the example viking hat I was following had two front post stitches in the front and back and one on each side. Luckily my firs start of the hat was waaaay too small. It’s been a while since I’ve had regular contact with baby heads, my guestimating skills are rusty. So now my little guy’s stuffed hedgehog has a grey hat.

wp-1478608588553.jpg

The second attempt, first one completed

On the second attempt I made the hat bigger and had two front post stitches together in both the front and the back. (Front posts are the raised lines that run vertically, helping to give the hat the appearance of being a metal helmet.)

wp-1478608555402.jpg

While making the hat without a pattern was no big deal the horns were a bit puzzling. I’ve never done amugarami crochet or even tried a more three dimensional item. It went a lot smother than I thought it would; I figured it out on the first attempt and was able to replicate it pretty closely on the second.

I used a super tiny hook with regular sized acrylic yarn. The stitches are tight and it was a bit challenging to maneuver the yarn with that little thing but the effect is worth it. The little horns are stiff enough to stand up on their own and hold their shape perfectly. And look how cute they are!!! They’re like tiny wizard hats. My water bottle got to cosplay as Gandalf and then Dumbledore that day. Fun times all around!

The bottom edge was a little tricky and, honestly, I would not have mined having the pattern for this part. The ridge is again created by either front or back post stitches, this time single because I didn’t want height. One round of single front/back (whichever gave the bump on the right side) post, there’s a round of double crochet with interspersed bobble stitches. There’s no regularity to those, I just eye balled the spacing. And then the last row was another round of front or back post single crochet.

I finished the beard using this pattern (I’ve made beards before and knew they’re pretty quick and easy) the morning of the 28th when a couple of my sisters and I made plans to go to a local Trunk-or-Treat later that evening. It was as good an excuse as any to get the finished Viking hat to my sister and nephew. My sister brought the baby over to my house a little early as we planned to ride together…good thing too because the hat was still too small. I tried to stretch it but there was no making it fit that kid’s giant head. Aggghhh!!!

I undid the hat up to where the horns were attached and started rapidly crocheting it again. For a third time. This time I used double instead of half double crochet stitches for the body of the hat. It was quick and dirty crochet time here. I got the body of the hat finished moments after we arrived at Trunk-or-treat and he wore it as is for the evening.

20161028_191535.jpg      20161028_192748.jpg

As we were driving home I added the bottom edge but even without it my nephew was a pretty adorable little viking.

A couple of my previous projects made appearances this Halloween too!

20161028_080028.jpg

Sherlock scarf…I thought I had blogged about this somewhere in there but couldn’t seem to find it.

20161028_195711-1.jpg

Originally a Cabbage Patch style hat, this one got a new life as Dorothy’s braids.

 

A Return to the Fandom Blanket

While there hasn’t been much evidence of making stuff (with yarn or fabric) around here, I have been very slowly working on what I’m calling the Fandom blanket that I started last year. It’s for my daughter and eventually it will be a Christmas or birthday gift…however at this rate it may well be her 18th birthday present. That would simultaneously be the furthest ahead I have EVER planned and the slowest rate of progress on any project, possibly in the modern history of project-making.  It’s already been over a year since I thought of and actually started working on the Great Fandom Blanket.

It was inspired by the baby blanket I made for a friend. Maybe you remember it…

wpid-wp-1442283570488.jpeg

Or the MockingJay square from last year…

Or maybe the Harry Potter stripes

house colors

And the striped granny squares…

basic squares 2

Since then there has been Sherlock’s Door, the Brit-o-phile square, and a TARDIS that’s still in progress…

british love.jpg

And lastly, well, most recently, I finished Platform 9 3/4 and Nightvale…

nightvale-hp-sw

I’m pretty geeked about how these ones turned out,

…especially the Nightvale square. I is a wee bit larger than the others but I’ll work it in somehow. I’ve still got to figure out a Hamilton themed square, maybe that’ll need to be bigger too. My girl loves her Hamilton like only a 13 year-old fangirl can.

o-ham

As you can see, I’ve actually made quite a bit of progress on the themed squares of this blanket. I don’t really have an overall plan (big surprise there right?) for this blanket other than Make It. Secretly I want to finish the blanket by Christmas. Yes, the one  in 2016 but that may or may not happen. Either way I’ll keep you updated on its progress. Don’t hold your breath though, it’s going to take some time.

Getting Back to Yarn

Lately I’ve felt a disconnect with the blog. It hasn’t been that many days since I’ve posted (just ten) and my coblogger has filled in the blanks nicely (one of the many reasons we appreciate our two-blogger blog set up here), but I haven’t been writing crap here as much as I’ve wanted to these past few weeks because…My life has been insane! Just the usual end of semester/parenting/getting close to half marathon day insane though. Nothing too cray.

I’ve wanted to blog and just haven’t been able to. My mantra lately is “Must. Stay. Focused!” but there are all these thoughts banging around in my head that need to be turned into blog posts before, like post-vasectomy semen, they’re reabsorbed, broken down, and their parts are used for something else. Time and energy, but mostly time, have been my limiting factors. I seriously need to figure out how to sleep just a little bit less so I can do just a little bit more of the things I actually want to be doing…such as blogging. And yarn.

Yes, I know yarn isn’t a verb. Yarning might be though, as in “Mom, why is that lady over there yarning?” (actually said by a kid at a soccer game), and there has been NO yarning here for quite a while. Like, weeks. Maybe even a month!

I’ve been feeling the yarn withdraw.

Last week I drove by the yarn store while taking a kid to school. I had to turn right but felt the car actually pulling to the left trying to turn in the direction of that haven of fibrous glory. I looked over at my son and said…

pull of the light side“Help me! I feel the pull of the yarn store.” (in my best Kylo Ren voice…which really isn’t very good. I’ve got to work on that.)

But I resisted because it was still finals week and there was studying I had to do…Must. Stay. Focused!

And then the weekend came, there was still studying to do but the end was so close I could almost taste it. I couldn’t resist any longer. I just needed contact with yarn. I still didn’t have the time to sift through my mental list of Things I Want to Make, choose one, and find the right yarn for the job but I remembered something I had abandoned I don’t even know when. It’s part of a bigger project, a blanket that I erroneously thought I’d be able to finish by Christmas or my daughter’s 13th birthday in January at the latest.  Maybe you remember the multi-fandom themed baby blanket I made for a friend last year…

wpid-wp-1442283602049.jpegI think I blogged about the Mockingjay square I finished for my daughter’s version of this blanket. I also finished some basic background squares way back when, five larger striped grannies.

basic squares 2…and started some Harry Potter house color swatches. By started I mean made three of the four and got 3/4 the way done with the fourth before being overwhelmed by whatever was demanding so much of my time and attention that I just could not crochet another stripe and a half. I’m almost grateful now I didn’t just finish that last one then because it gave me a quick thing that I could pick up before work last Friday night, a grab and go WIP. Even that tiny bit of crochet gave me the satisfaction of having yarn in my hands again, of shaping it into something that wasn’t there before. Seriously, it was maybe twenty minutes worth of crocheting but it was a damn satisfying twenty minutes!

house colors

My semester of classes finally ended yesterday with one wickedly intense final exam. I’ve still got about a month and a half of things I need to stay focused on before I can totally relax and indulge in multiple projects, one of which will be actually making this blanket for my daughter, but it’s good to be doing even a little bit of yarning again!

Sock Monkey Hat

A co-worker just had a very cute little girl. She knew I crocheted and requested a sock monkey hat. Baby hats work up so quickly that despite my lack of time I was able to whip one up.

image
image

I thought it turned out pretty cute. I found the pattern on Ravelry. It was an easy to follow pattern.

image

Still a little big. She'll have to grow into it!