Boredom Induced Crocheting

Roughly eight years ago I began teaching myself to crochet as a means of combating pervasive boredom. See, I had this job that was lacking in actual work for me to do. The days were painfully slow; I needed something to occupy my mind and help me feel like I was accomplishing something.

Over the years crocheting has been a creative outlet that is relatively cheap and, unlike sewing, portable. There have been busier times where significantly less crochet has taken place but even while finishing my undergrad, balancing classes, homework, work, & the demands of parenting, I usually had one or two very slow moving crochet projects sitting around.

One such project is a blanket for my daughter. I have been working on the stupid thing for three years now. Just this last weekend, though, I finally finished it. FINALLY! (That was my daughter’s actual reaction when I knotted that last stand of yarn off the hook.)

What started with one Mockingjay square turned into a hefty almost full sized bed covering monster. I’m not kidding, this thing is a beast. It probably weighs five pounds at least.

Some of the favorite themes covered in this blanket are: Doctor Who, Sherlock, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Night Vale, Hamilton, 4-H/horses, & the Princess Bride. There’s also a book shelf and a cactus. The large purple squares at the bottom were made by my daughter’s Great Grandmother (on her dad’s side) who passed away the year I started the blanket. Needless to say my girl loves this thing. And I’m pretty happy to have it done already. (haha)

(You can see the blanket in progress here, here, & here.)

Much like eight years ago my life is currently in a season of boredom. This one due to the time gap between getting accepted to dental school and actually starting it. I should point out that boredom is relative. I tend to thrive on a certain level of craziness in my schedule and life. Sitting around is not my strong suit and I’ve, more than once, been accused of not knowing how to relax. (I do think I’m getting better at it though.) Once again crochet has been helping to fill the time, keeping my hands busy and entertaining my restless mind.

Lately I’ve been all about the quick projects. Almost instant gratification is the name of the game here. And hats are where it’s at!

These two are a new baby gift for one of my sisters. Her two year old just got a baby brother. Hopefully I get these to them before it’s too warm for the tiny boys to wear them!

(You can find the free pattern for the aviator hats here.)

I picked up this variegated wool-blend yarn during my Christmas shopping with no specific purpose. I just really liked the colors, it was probably in sale, & I enjoy working with something other than acrylic yarn now and then. I first tried a hat pattern that had more detailed texture (the one following) but all the cool texture got lost in the colors of the yarn. This horizontal ribbing still incorporates some interesting texture but it doesn’t look overly busy with the constant color changes. There was no pattern for this one, just an idea for the texture and the basic hat shape. I’ve already  worn this colorful hat a few times but it’s really better suited for fall or winter. I’m sure it’ll quickly become a regular in my cool weather hat rotations.

I’ve had the “Ups & Downs” hat pattern in my Ravelry que for quite a while now. The different textures on the band of this hat made it fun and interesting to make. I first started this with the colorful yarn above but it was a little too crazy. This lavender soft acrylic that was in my stash is a much better match for this pattern. The braids on this one are a little wobbly. They’re made up of very tall stitches that are twisted together after the hat is finished; the last one is looped over the button to keep the braids in tact. Apparently my tall stitches could use a little work. I’ve got a whole other skein of this yarn and there’s a pattern for matching fingerless gloves. I might give those a go this week and see if my tall stitches don’t improve with practice. Why the heck not? I’ve got the time.

And, lastly, is this spring baggy beanie I threw together to use up some yarn leftover from a Christmas project. I’m planning to mail this one to a friend. It’s not her typical color scheme but it’s made from the same yarn as the hat I made for her daughter. A little mother & daughter matching is always fun.

So there you have it. A (finally!) finished blanket and a plethora of hats.

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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.

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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.

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.

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…

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Or the MockingJay square from last year…

Or maybe the Harry Potter stripes

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And the striped granny squares…

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

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

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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.

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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.

Netflix & Crochet

After a particularly grueling test/presentation I decided that I was going to do nothing the rest of the evening. Well, not nothing, I sent a text to my co-blogger/friend and declared I was going to Netflix and Crochet…you know, similar to Netflix and Chill. Except more solo activity and less groping. Way less groping.

Although I did have a partner while crocheting. Although he wasn’t interested in me. He only wanted me for my yarn.

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There was a very important reason for my lack of studying and excess of crocheting. I have been finishing a baby blanket for a good friend whose baby shower was this weekend. I finished the blanket just a couple hours before the shower but it turned out brilliantly!

Working on the layout

Working on the layout

With only 1 border and finally all attached. + 1 cat

With only 1 border and finally all attached. + 1 cat

DONE! and quite big for a baby blanket & toasty. + another cat. They were not included in the present.

DONE! and quite big for a baby blanket & toasty. + another cat. They were not included in the present.

Netflix portion of the project consisted of “The Arrow,” “The Flash,” and “Jessica Jones.” Can I just say how much I love Barry Allen??! I do. I watched “The Flash” first and decided to go back and check out “The Arrow” and, wow!, he’s dreamy!

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It was nice to concentration on something other than nursing textbooks even if it was brief. I’m gearing up for finals week and then have a beautiful 2 1/2 week break. I mean I’ll still be working full time but…I’ll have TIME again. For all those studying for finals this week. Be brave it’s almost over and remember –

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The Mockingjay

Now that I’ve finished what my daughter calls The Fandom blanket for one of my friend’s baby girl I thought I’d share some of the squares that give this blanket it’s nerdy awesomeness. The focal point of the blanket is….

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The Mockingjay.
Before you get too impressed I did not create this, I merely followed a grid pattern found on Ravelry. Most the squares in this little blanket are pretty close to 4×4 (inches) but the Mockingjay is considerably larger. I knew when I found this pattern that it would be but it was just so cool and so perfect for this blanket that I couldn’t resist. I figured there would be a little stretching to accommodate it but it wouldn’t be a big deal. When I was arranging squares trying to decide on the best layout I realized that Mockingjay here was as tall as two of the other sized squares. Thus the center of the blanket was born.

wpid-20150816_232747.jpg Except I had originally planned on this being a five square by five square blanket. With Mockingjay in the center width wise it was clear I needed to add another row. It just wasn’t quite right any other way.

I improvised two more themed squares and made three more of the background squares real quick and the Mockingjay was appropriately centered.

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Because my daughter likes this blanket sooo much and has broadly hinted at wanting her very own Fandom Blanket, I made another Mockingjay square. This time I used higher contrast colors. image

The second version came out a little bigger but I’ll probably make most the squares in the second fandom blanket bigger so it’ll work up more quickly. Really I don’t have a distinct plan yet though so we’ll see.

wpid-20150913_030355.jpg  Using two colors with more contrast made the second version look even cooler than the first. I didn’t think that was possible.

Granny Square Sudoku

I’ve been working on a baby blanket with (awesomely) themed squares scattered throughout it.

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Some of the squares that give this WIP its character.

I’ve finally reached the point of connecting all the squares to form the blanket. As I was laying all the squares out and trying different arrangements it felt oddly familiar. I’d think “Eureka! This is it.”, step back to take a look, see two green rimmed squares next to each other (or some other visual faux paus), move things around and repeat the process all over again.

For example there was this…..

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Then this…image

…and this.

imageSo similar, yet so different.

Trying to find the “right” arrangement of these babies was like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube. I’d move one square that looked out of place and end up having to shuffle the whole row then the next and the next. It reminded me of the first couple times I tried to solve a Sudoku puzzle. I’d put a number in one box just to realize that I then had to change all the numbers that I thought were right in that row and then each of the boxes that the row was a part of had to be changed as well. It was a rolling wave of number changing confusion…until I saw the pattern.

Putting together a “random” granny square blankets is like that. The layout changes and morphs from one subtly different form to another. After a bit you just pick something and go with it. Usually it starts to look like the “right” set up after a bit. Of course this one had to be different and a little tricky. After connecting all the rows and columns I realized that, for the sake of symmetry, this blanket needed one more row of five squares across the top.

At least when those are finished arrangement options will be much more limited. In fact, I may even make the five squares with a plan in mind. That would be something new & different.