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.

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.

What to Wear to the Masquerade

Between running a half marathon the same weekend, prepping for the DAT, trying to get my kids through the end of their school year (which is still yet to happen), and cramming dental shadowing hours into my already crazy schedule I forgot to share about the super cool coat I made my oldest son for his Junior prom that happened back in May.

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The prom theme  was “Masquerade Ball” (It was that or Under the Sea…or Knight of Enchantment..prom themes are known for their originality. AmIright?) so my son and his date thought it would be fun to take the prom theme literally and go to in costume, fancy costume.

It all started with a Clockwork droid costume and a ponytail. My son thought his hair looked colonial when he pulled it back into a ponytail and my kids are slightly obsessed with the Broadway musical Hamilton. So naturally he wanted to go to the Masquerade prom in a colonial type costume like the one I had made a couple years earlier for a Halloween costume.

He thought it would be simple, he’d just wear the coat from the Clockwork Droid costume I had made for my second to oldest son a couple years ago.             wpid-IMG_20131031_182317.jpg

I had to explain that he could wear a costume to prom but it had to look and be nice so as to pass as formal wear. I’m sure this won’t be the last time I have to explain the rules of appropriate dress to a teenage boy.

I approached this project the same way I did the costume and started with a large men’s suit coat. I think this one was a 42 though I have no idea how sizing of those things works. For the prom coat I paid more attention to the structural details of the jacket, I wanted it to actually fit my son well. With the costume coat I just made some large darts down each side of the back which brought the shoulders in a bit and shortened the sleeves while creating that sort of fit-and-flare silhouette. On the prom coat I actually took the sleeves off, took it in a couple inches at the sides, and then made pleats at each shoulder. Instead of sewing down the pleats I tacked them down at the shoulders and the waist and pressed the shit out of them in hopes it would stay in place.

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The back pleats gave the coat it’s colonial-esque shape and helped the previously giant suit coat fit my very thin teenager.

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After I had the basic shape figured out I took the sleeves down in width and reattached them. It sounds pretty simple but that was probably the most difficult part of the whole remake, getting those dang sleeves back on in a way that didn’t look goofy. Remember, I took in the sides of the coat. I took in the sleeves too but it wasn’t by the same amount so they didn’t quite match up. At first I tried gathering the sleeves across the tops of the shoulders but that looked pretty funky. Plus there are about fifty layers of fabric, interfacing, and odd stuffing like material in the shoulder of suit coats. I had no idea there was so much in there until I opened up this coat. After two or three attempts I finally got one sleeve right. There was some random tucking and easing and more than a little luck involved. Then I had to get the other one to match it. Symmetry is a bitch sometimes.

Once the sleeves were reattached it was time for some trim. This, of course, was started the day before prom and finished day of. That’s just how I roll.

I got the good, expensive trim this go-round, like I said, I wanted this one to really look like a nice, fancy dress coat. On the costume coat I had glued the front bar trim on. It worked for a costume but the glue showed, that wouldn’t do for this. I did glue the ends of the thicker gold trim to prevent fraying but it’s all sewed down with straight stitches in yellow thread on the top and bottom of each bar. It surprised me how well the stitching blended in. I could have been a little more precise when sewing down the red ribbon trim but it’s not too noticeable on the finished coat.

prom front coatWe pairedprom side coat the coat with a grey vest and suit pants, dress loafers with tassels, a white button up, the ruffle collar I made for the Clockwork droid costume, and masks made by my son and his date.

My son’s prom date rented her dress from a costume shop. They looked awesome…but as we pulled up to the door of the country club they both hesitated to get out of the car. The girl said “I think I might be a little overdressed.” (She was the only girl at prom wearing a crinoline.) and the looks on their faces said “What did we get ourselves into?” It takes a fair amount of courage to go to prom in costume when in all likelihood no one else in your school will. For a few minutes their fun, creative idea was looking somewhat less appealing. I reassured them that they looked super cool and the outfits would be a hit but the teenagers still would not get out of the car until they confirmed via text that friends would be arriving in the next few minutes. Luckily I was not wrong and everyone was impressed with their unique and literal interpretation of the prom theme.

 

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These two, they might be weirdos but they’re MY weirdos.

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Don’t forget the obligatory group selfie.

Third Time’s a Charm

The third of my five kids is my one and only daughter and, let me tell you, she is an amazing person. She’s in her second year of middle school and her teachers tell me that other students look up to her and respect her, that she has the ability to direct and guide them while still maintaining friendships with many of them, in short she’s a natural leader. She doesn’t have to shout direction (although she still does when it’s directed at her brothers), her classmates just listen to her and value what she has to say. This year she stepped out of her shell a bit more and joined the school government as an elected class representative. As a parent it’s so great to hear stuff like that about your kids but it doesn’t really surprise me. My daughter has always had the ability to make friends wherever she goes even if it’s only for a short while. One of her friend’s parents summed it up best when he said “If I didn’t know her I’d want to be friends with her, she’s just got a friendly face.” Now that my daughter is (barely) officially a teenager it’s even more fun to be her mom. Now we can geek out and fan girl about the same shows and stuff. She’s totally into Doctor Who, Supernatural, and Sherlock (and of course super heroes, Harry Potter, and Star Wars…that’s just a given in our household)  and has even introduced me to some fun things like Nightvale (though I do’t have nearly the time to keep up on it that she does). Like I said, she’s all round awesome….but enough Mom-bragging.

When my daughter’s thirteenth birthday was approaching I wanted to do something fun and special.
At one point she mentioned wanting a tote bag she could put patches, on I knew that was going to be at least part of what I would “get” her for her birthday.  Then she sent me a picture of a Princess Bride themed bag complete with a link to the website I could buy it from. As if I’d buy a cloth tote bag! Over the years I’ve made a variety of sizes and styles of bags. They used to be my go-to birthday present for children and adults. I’ve even made a few to sell along the way.
I was thinking about a Doctor Who/Sherlock themed bag. Maybe one side would be the TARDIS and the other would look like Sherlock’s door. As I was planning it out in my head, picturing what the lay out would be and which types of fabric would achieve the desired effect, I walked in the fabric store and saw this rack of  appropriately themed fabrics. My life got a little easier. And easier is always better…or so I hear.

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Since Van Gogh is one of my daughter’s favorite artists I chose the exploding Tardis print fabric (not shown in that picture). I loved the weeping angels fabric but it seemed a little thinner than the others. That’s no bueno for bags that are going to get a lot of wear. I did still include a Sherlock reference on the one side of the bag (it’s solid black with 221b on it) and made it reversible to be able to incorporate as many fun fabrics as possible.

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Luckily bags are pretty fast to make. Just measure, cut the five sides (back, front, two sides, and a bottom)…

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…sew the sides together…

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…add a strap or straps and there you have it….A bag!

Being a birthday we had to have cake too. Well, actually, peanut butter pie because it’s my daughter’s favorite.

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It’s very easy to make too so it’s ideal for a single mom trying to host a five-teenage-girl-sleepover while also attempting to run the four boys to their respective activities and friends’ houses (that was one seriously crazy afternoon right there!).

I also managed to whip up a baggie beanie style hat for her the week before her birthday. The girl loves her baggy hats…and mine too. I found the pattern for this one on another WordPress blog but it’s on Ravelry too.

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Gratuitous fuzzy winter pony

Dalek Mitts

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I was standing at checkout in the fabric store totally geeking out with the cashier over the new Doctor Who and Harry Potter fabrics (that I was buying), when the young employee asked if she had just heard the oh so familiar whooshing of the TARDIS. “Umm, yes, yes you did. It’s my text tone.” I replied with a sheepish grin. I think it kind of made her day but as I was leaving the store I began to wonder if my nerdy fandom tendencies were getting a little out of control…
As if! Is that even possible??? (Do not answer that!)
With the super hyped release of The Force Awakens being a nerd is totally cool now. To revel in said new found nerdy coolness in style and warmth I made fingerless mitts.

Dalek fingerless mitts.

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An added bonus to these bad boys is that they still look have visual appeal even if you have no idea what a dalek is. But, hey, ten points to Gryffindor if you do.

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This pattern has been sitting in my favorites folder on Ravelry for some time just waiting for me to get the chance to crochet again. The only beef I had with it was the color changes at the top, they were a little vague in the write up but the pictures helped. Oh, and, I added another row of HDC around in grey before the black row that starts the dalek top. I’m giving these to one of my teenage sons and thought they could be just a tad longer. Overall this was a relatively quick, fun little project.

Now to go attempt finish some of the other “Christmas” projects I’ve got going on. I’m looking at you, Sherlock scarf.

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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Accidental Cosplay Cowl

I had one skein of this Bernat Mega Bulky yarn that one of my sisters gave me for my birthday and was trying to find something to do with it. Ideally it would be a project that only used this one skein which should not have been too hard considering this stuff is HUGE. It is the biggest soft yarn I think I’ve ever seen. It really is soft too.
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I haven’t done much with bulky, let alone mega bulky, yarn so it’s difficult for me to gauge how much yarn a project might need. Yes, I know, there are usually guidelines for this mentioned in most patterns. Isn’t that kind of like cheating though? I mean, it’s just too obvious and simple.

The picture on the label of the yarn showed a small cowl and said that project only requires one skein of this gianormous stuff so I figured a cowl might be a good way to go. Off I went to the wonderland that is Ravelry to peruse whatever patterns the search terms “bulky yarn” and “cowl” brought up. As always there were plenty of options. I wanted something that had some holiness to it and didn’t cling too close to the neck. I get extremely uncomfortable when things feel like they’re pressing on my neck.

This “Antique Grey Loop Scarf” seemed like a good choice so I downloaded, printed, and started giant crocheting. A short while later (and after some adjustments to account for the hugeness of the yarn) I had an almost cowl.
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I could’ve kept it like that. It wasn’t terrible but the solid rows along the bottom were missing and it was just a tad too short to lay right. Luckily I have a yarn stash (Does any knitter or crocheter not?). I pulled out this soft, charcoal grey stuff left over from a scarf last winter and added the solid rows around the bottom…plus a row of single crochet at the top for balance.
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As I was finishing the bottom row of single crochet (by then I had deviated from the pattern a bit) I realized this cowl had a familiar look to it.

Exterminate!

        Exterminate!

You know you’ve achieved a special level of nerdiness  awesome when you unintentionally make cosplay pieces. It does lose some of it’s essence of Dalek when it’s being worn but I still know it’s there and it makes this quick little project all the more fun because of it.
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Those Lazy Bastards

With whatever free time I can muster I’ve been working on home improvement projects. I ranted and raved about the previous paint job in my office. And now that I’m tackling the guest room I’m back to rant about those lazy bastards aka the previous owners. Do you want to see what those lazy bastards did this time?!?!

Yeah, they painted over plastic wall anchors! Those assholes!

Here’s another. If you look closely you can also see the terrible cutting in and the spot where they put the paint on a wee-bit thin.

Victory is mine!

Before painting I now get to go through and make bigger holes in the wall to patch. Good times!

After that, you know with all the free time I’ll have in nursing school, I want to paint and re-do this dresser.

I don’t know if you can tell but I’m wearing an awesome Dalek tee-shirt

All kinds of plans and so little time.

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.

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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.

Crochet & Coffee on the Beach

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You know that feeling when you don’t quite realize how hungry you are until you take a bite of something then it suddenly occurs to you that your were starving & whatever you’re eating at that moment tastes like the best thing on the planet?
Don’t lie, I know you do.
I just experienced that. It was a chicken wrap made with five day old, campfire cooked chicken, cheese and a little mayo. In reality that is not the best food ever but my perception was that it’s pretty damn close. It tasted like summer and felt like the culmination of an idyllic week.
I’m riding home from Sault Saint Marie in the very last row of my minivan, somewhere I’m not sure I’ve ever sat. It’s a whole new perspective, at least as an adult. Actually it’s a bit reminiscent of my childhood camping trips especially so because my dad is driving. We’re on our way home from picking up my oldest son from a camp up north; I napped most the way home so I can work tonight. However, earlier this week I made the same drive home with three of my five kids.

Until this trip I hadn’t been camping in seven years. Ironically enough that trip was to the same place I took my boys this time, though our location  was determined by the aforementioned camp (as was the timing which is why my daughter wasn’t with us). That other trip was seven years and a lifetime ago. It was the last or maybe the only family vacation that we took, back when I was married, that was actually fun and relaxing for all of us. I remember it being a much needed break; in retrospect it was right before things really began to decline between my now ex husband and I. But for a few days we were just a family with four young kids (it was exactly a year before the youngest was born) camping on Lake Superior, enjoying the awesome nature that Michigan has to offer.

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Despite how different life is now for my family, this trip was not so different. Maybe our collective perspective is a little different (and everyone but me is quite a bit taller) but once again we were just a family enjoying the solace of nature and each other’s company without the regular distractions of daily life. Little to no electronics (my fourteen year old did still have his laptop but it was of limited use without Wifi) and no chores or responsibilities beyond feeding ourselves…. camping food fire & marshmallows

finding shelter…

raising the roof

Raising the roof!

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Everyone helped.

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Seriously, if I could get this level of willing participation on chores when we’re at home…

and  relaxation…

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which included coffee and crochet on the beach.

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While our first camping trip as a one-parent family wasn’t entirely seamless, the minor snafus we did encounter gave us a chance to work together and problem solve. This mini trip (we only stayed two nights) was also a chance to work out the logistical kinks of camping (things like having some kind of padding to sleep on and trying out your equipment before you leave), Hopefully we’ll get to use our new found camping skills again this summer.

Oh, and there was a TARDIS too!

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Just a madman in a box.

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It was a total geek out moment for me & the kids. Seriously, we were SUPER excited to stumble upon this on the college campus where my oldest was attending camp.

Hello Canada

Hello, Canada!