Quick Little Baby Granny Square

I started a new job in February. With that came 3 pregnant bosses! They are all lovely ladies and it seemed like a good excuse to pick up the crochet hook again. Handmade gifts always go over really well. And those of you who crochet under how quickly a simple baby blanket can be whipped up. I finished this blanket first.

It was a nice slightly thicker wool yarn and I liked the colors. Simple, basic granny square pattern. I just alternated colors as I wanted.

I have a second baby blanket in the works. To be honest, I’ve been working on it for a few years. I got tired of the pattern and shoved in the closet where it sat for, well, a long time! But it’s a cute pattern and now I’m finally going to finish it! Here’s the work in progress:

And a cat. Because when you pull out the yarn the cats show up. 

The pattern can be found here. I have to complete the blanket this month to get it to it’s intended owner! Wish me luck.

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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.

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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?”

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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.

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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.

Baby Viking Hat

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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!

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

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

 

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.

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

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

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 Illusion of Safety

I’m scared right now, terrified in fact. I’ve opened a can of worms in hopes of instigating a positive change and now it’s out of my control. I don’t know how it’s going to end and the possibility that things could get worse is absolutely petrifying. What the fuck did I do? Why can’t I leave well enough alone?

It snowed yesterday, the first snowfall of the season and it really was a doozy. I had gotten the night off work to go celebrate a friend’s birthday with another friend who lives out of state and some of their mutual friends. They reserved a hotel room and had a super fun night on the town planned. I was super geeked to be included in these plans and have some time with a friend I rarely see.

The snow started around 5am, a couple inches had accumulated by the time I was leaving work at nine. Around four in the afternoon I was in the arduous process of waking up a little earlier than my body wanted to. I looked out and saw that there was quite a bit of snow. After contacting my friends I learned they had gotten slightly less. I knew I was going to have to be cautious and take it slow on my normally forty minute drive to the city. About and hour later I stepped outside to start my car and maybe shovel my back steps, turns out there was way more snow than I had realized. Like, a foot more. I was wearing dressy boots that came just to the tops of my knee caps, standing int he snow only the top couple inches of those boots was visible. My neighbor who was out fiddling with his snow blower (sadly, it was not working) offered me his snow shovel. He looked at the way I was dressed and asked if I was planning to go out for the evening.Yup, that’s the plan.  He cautioned me against it saying that the roads were pretty bad, that the freeways were barely moving when they had been out earlier….and that was when there was less snow.  He commented,”It better be pretty important to be heading out in this weather.”  I could hear the genuine concern in his voice, he wasn’t wrong. I stood there in the knee deep snow  debating if the good time I hoped to have was worth it. Importance is a term of relativity but was I putting myself in unnecessary danger?

I have chronic bad judgement and a very strong stubborn streak. I like to call it determination, that’s being kind. Bullheaded stupidity might be more apt. So, of course, I decided a little snow was not going to stop me from following through with my plans. Not today, Michigan winter. Not today. After more than an hour of shoveling (in fancy boots and a short dress no less), I was questioning my judgement. However, I had come this far I figured I should probably make it worth while and keep going (I totally ignored the economic concept of sunk cost here.)

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Around seven o’clock I was finally ready to hit the roads. They really were bad; I probably should have heeded the numerous warnings issued and stayed home or at very least just gone to work instead. I slid around on the slick roads twice, hitting the curb pretty hard but thankfully no other cars. I kept telling myself I’d be safe once I made it to the freeway. Although I knew that was not the case it helped. Having that very short term goal of getting to “safety” calmed me. Once I did get to the freeway, though, I faced a snow covered entrance ramp and traffic moving at forty mile per hour…max. Numerous cars were in the ditch. My idea of the freeway being a safe point was clearly flawed. But that’s the way it is with safety, isn’t it? We think we’re safe; we take precautions so we feel safe. We’ve done something and that makes it seem like the situation is under our control when in reality there are so many factors at play every day in every situation that we never truly are safe. And when you start to think about that it’s truly scary. There is a lot to be afraid of whether it be sliding to a cold, snowy death or losing your kids in court.

Once you open that door you let possibility in, both the good and the bad. But you have to. What’s life without possibility? You can’t filter the good from the bad; picking and choosing is just not an option. Ever.It’s Pandora’s  Box day in and day out. So we create these illusions and tell ourselves we’re safe and usually it works. That feeling of safety and security allows us to ignore the bad that is lurking everywhere and carry on with life. It’s a good thing but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it makes us do stupid things like go out in very bad weather for a the sake of a good time. It enables us to make poor choices. Other times that illusion of safety limits us. It keeps us in our zone of comfort and perceived safety, preventing us from reaching out and connecting with someone who might need it. I had a long time to think about this as I crawled along the freeway praying to calm my nerves and fortify my own personal illusion of safety.

It’s natural to seek familiarity and shy away from the unknown, that’s pure survival instinct right there. It’s why I can’t walk up to a stranger and talk to them. It’s why we hesitate to actually have a conversation with the homeless person standing at the stop light holding their sign. Just hurry up and give them a couple bucks or a granola bar if you have either, look away and pretend to be busy in your car if you don’t. It’s why our nation is all up in arms about allowing Syrian refugees into America. They are not “us”, they look different, they are different. They represent the unknown and that doesn’t mesh with our illusion of safety. Forget that they are people being kicked around and having a real shit time who would most likely prefer not to have to forage out a whole new life in a place far from home. Forget that this country was founded as a place for the weary and downtrodden to find rest. Just focus on controlling whatever aspects of the unknown you can to increase your safety.  Who really knows if that’s real or only perceived.

My point here is not that we should allow displaced refugees into America. Maybe we should, maybe we shouldn’t. That’s a bigger puzzle than I can solve, a multifaceted issue that has no “right” answer. I guess my point is that while it’s good to take precautions (don’t stop locking your door at night or anything) to protect ourselves and especially those whose safety and well being is entrusted to our care, it’s also important to take a step back and see how the idea that we’re safe, this feeling of safety, is effecting the way we live. Is it empowering unneeded recklessness or limiting the level of kindness and compassion we live out on a day to day basis? It’s just something to think about.

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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