Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day Makeover!

A problem.
Yes, that is what I've had lately... or rather, one could more aptly put it...a lack of motivation
when it came to sewing.
Why is that, do you ask?
Well, because the sewing machine was stuck in a dark, dingy corner of our computer room....
there were always people trying to squeeze past me into our library/play room
and the clutter from my 'wall neighbor', the computer desk, inevitably flowed over onto the sewing table.
Not a fun or well ordered work environment. :(
I realized one day that I needed to put in a request for a change.
With a growing list of sewing projects and no desire to work in that dark corner,
 something needed to be done.
The long and short of it is, I got my wish!


Just plain ol' white walls.
This is just before the color went up...all the nail holes filled in, drop cloths down and furniture covered. 
Some of the family and myself spent pretty much the entirety of yesterday painting the computer/sewing room.
The color starting to go up!!
Happy painter. :)
A shot from up above...the pretty, yet poorly illuminating chandelier that will soon be replaced.
 Hooray for better lighting!
Originally, we were aiming for a nice peachy color,
but once we got it out of the can and up on the wall, it was a lot more pink than we anticipated.
Of course, we realized this after we had painted all the walls.
With one can of color left, we got creative.
Using some brown paint we had on hand, we slowly mixed it in with our original pink-peach
until we got a more toned down and comforting color.  
Leaving one wall the original shade, we preceded to repaint the other three.
We were much happier with the results the second time around.


This is the end result.
The wall to the right is the original brighter color, the wall the piano is against
is our modified color.
Can you see the difference?
(Please ignore our dust...we were still cleaning and rearranging.)
We also did some custom mixing for the trim color...a little of the original wall color...some white...and a little bit of brown.
The look of the room turned out different than I had envisioned it, but all in all I like it. 
I am so excited to have a pretty, more friendly working setup for sewing!
Now the sewing machine has its own wall space and no more dark corner!
Next up, getting that space organized and pretty-fied!
I hope y'all had a great Memorial Day. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Vanquisher of Icky Things

There she is.

Lurking through the grass....



ready to pounce.

Hmmm, sounds like a cat, right?


It is me.

I was on a mission....
for a day I was....
a bug assassin.

(dramatic music)

While watering my poor little herb garden the other day,
 I was distracted and let the water run off a bit.

As my gaze followed the meandering rivulets, I saw them pouring into
small little holes in the ground.

Low and behold, it wasn't long and a big, ugly Mole Cricket popped out of its soggy home.

If you take a moment and image search these little guys, you will understand this next sentence


I killed it.

They are ugly, and destructive, and I certainly don't want them
under foot near my plants.

Looking around, I noticed our poor dry, soil was pitted with oodles
of these little monster dens.

So what did I do?

I took my hose and proceeded to flood every. single. one.

Armed with my long hoe, I happily disposed of six of the ugly little fiends.

But I was in for an icky surprise.

It turns out there are other creepy crawlies that live in those holes.

Like, say...oh....six inch long centipedes!!

I'm talkin' gross...this thing looked it crawled out of that one Star Wars movie!


Needless to say....

 it died too.

I have picture proof of my brave exploits.

I would show you.

But I don't like bugs.

You probably don't like bugs,
I mean, who really wants to see ugly pictures of hacked up icky-ness?


Not many.

And so, you will just have to take my word for it
and feel better knowing that I have rid the world,
or at least my immediate part of it,
of a few ugly little creatures.

I know my garden appreciates it. :)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What 'Seams' Impossible

Have you ever tried to learn something new and it just. didn't. make. sense?!
It feels like learning an alien language...
fitting a square peg into a round hole....
trying to pretend you could live without chocolate...
some things are just impossible.
That was me when it came to sewing.
Honestly, I can't count the times I tried to learn to sew over the course of my lifetime.
I think of several occasion where mom and I even made a special shopping trip.
We picked out pretty material, a simple pattern, all the necessities.
Needless to say, it ended with a red faced, tear stained me
and a head scratching mother who couldn't understand why I couldn't get it.
After numerous tries, I gave up.
Accepted the fact that I would never be able to sew,
even though I really, really wanted to.
Since then I admit I have had moments of temptation...
it is quite inspiring when one of your friends can whip up beautiful clothes practically in her sleep.
But, I always remembered those tearful episodes, and mentally chided myself.
Some things just weren't possible.

Until one day...

A number of wonderful factors came together that changed all that.

One, I received some great advice and inspiration from one of my childhood heroes,
Kristi Yamaguchi.

There was a magazine lying around our house that had her smiling face on the cover,
I picked it up and read a great article she wrote about facing fears.

She said something that struck me right between the eyes,

"Why should a dream have some part of it that was so scary?
Why would I have to do something I feared in pursuing something I loved?"

Sounds so simple, I know.
But for me, that moment, it was a profound thought.

I realized fear was my big stumbling block when it came to sewing.

I was afraid of that machine, with all its buttons, bobbins, knobs and levers.
The scariest part was threading it...so many little holes and twists and turns.

It made me dizzy.

But no more.

Armed with Kristi's words and a determination to face this fear,
 I sat myself down in front of that machine, already threaded from mom's previous project,

For probably 5 minutes, I mentally threaded that machine several times,
memorizing each little detour the string took on its way to the needle.

Then....*gulp*...I unthreaded the string, and soon it was weaving its way through the
eight-sequence maze until it was safe through the eye of the needle once again.

And you know what?
It made sense.

Everything fell into place.

It was like a veil was lifted,
the blinders were removed,
the hieroglyphics made sense.

I was still a beginner, I didn't know how to read a pattern yet, or how to sew a dart,
 but the hardest part was over.

I had faced my fears.

I had forgotten that...
“With man this is impossible,
but not with God;
all things are possible with God.”
Mark 10:27

There was no doubt in my mind that He had made it possible.

And the fun part?

It was Valentine's Day.

What a lovely gift...

"There is no fear in love.
But perfect love drives out fear"
1 John 4:18 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Emily Dickinson, A Historical Cake Recipe

Along one of my various 'bunny trails' I stumbled onto something quite interesting that I wanted to share with you.
Did you know that a recipe, handwritten in the script of the famous poet Emily Dickinson,
has survived the passing of time?
Yes, it's true!
There exists a recipe for Coconut Cake, listing only the ingredients.
Emily Dickinson's coconut cake recipe.
I found it very interesting.
Here is an article with some history on the poet as well as the original recipe, as pictured above.
It sounds like something I would like to make!
If you would too, here is a link to another blog in which the blogger takes the recipe
and provides directions for mixing and baking.
The link and article she mentions in the first few lines is the article which I initially read,
and while the recipe on *that* site isn't true to Miss Dickinson's,
it is still a diverting read.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Italian, Corded or Reverse Single Crochet Edge Pattern

This is a supper simple stitch pattern, though it may feel strange at first.
To make this edge, do one row of single crochet all the way around your project.
Next, without turning , chain 1, single crochet in each stitch around, working from left to right.
You are making a single crochet stitch, only backwards, in the reverse direction
you normally do your work.
Here is a great little video tut from Youtube to help you out.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Petal Square Motif Crochet Pattern

Petal Square

ss- slip stitch
sc- single crochet
dc- double crochet
st- stitch
Worked in size H hook
Ch 8. Join with ss to form circle
Round 1: Ch 8 (4dc. ch 5) 3 times in circle. 3dc in circle. Ss in 3rd st of ch8.
(Equals 4 sets of 4dc- looks like a cross)
Round 2: Ch 1. *6 sc in ch 5 space. 1sc in each dc. Repeat from * to end of round. Ss in first sc.
Round 3: Ch2. 1dc in each of next 3 sts. Ch5. *1dc in each of next 10 sts. Ch5. Repeat from * twice. 1dc in each of last 6 sts. Ss in top of Ch2.
(Basically- there should be 2 dc, ch 5, 2dc in each corner/space; and 6dc on each straight-away
Equalling 10dc, corner space)
Round 4: Ch1. 1sc in each st and 6sc in each space to end of round. Ss in first sc.
Round 5: Ch2. 1dc in each of next 4 sts. *Ch3. 1dc in each of next 16 sts. Repeat from * twice. Ch3. 1dc in each of next 11 sts. Ss in Ch2.  Fasten off.
(Simplified- There should be 3dc, ch3, 3dc in each corner/space and 10dc on each straight-away
Equalling 16dc across, corner space)
Excerpt from A Complete Guide to Crochet Stitches by Mary M. Dawson, 1972


Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Wedding Gift Afghan: How it Was Made

In my last post I shared some about an afghan I made for a friend's wedding gift.
When I started this project, I had a specific image in mind I wanted to create.
Researching different methods and patterns, I got some good ideas, but didn't find exactly what I was looking for so I ended up putting various elements together.
I thought I would share them with you today and maybe save you some time and hassle yourself.
Pinned Image
My main inspiration came from this little beauty, you can find the link my visiting my Pinterest board.
I loved the idea of bright colors with the white joining.
Pinned Image
In light of the time crunch I was under, I wanted to keep the squares simple
and work them in one color, like in the above picture.
Pinned Image
Being a person of order, I knew from the start  I wanted my squares to
be arranged in an orderly fashion, not just helter skelter.
This basket weave pattern arranged in a quilted design got me started on the right track!
Sadly, I knew I wouldn't have enough squares of each color to be able to make that pattern
work for me.
(Another day, lovely...although your color scheme MUST be changed.)
I spent a good while scouring the web for a pattern that might work, looking anywhere
for that final piece of inspiration.
All the time, the answer was right under my nose...no really.
Looking down at the quilt on my bed I saw what I was looking for!
This quilt was made by my Grandma H., and features a radiating diamond pattern, the one she uses for all of her beautiful quilts.
It was the perfect pattern for my afghan!
After getting all the design elements in place, I got down to the mechanics of the thing.
I mentioned I was under a serious time constraint, right?
That being so, I didn't want to do the traditional granny square pattern, and most certainly didn't have time to change the colors each row.
Something quick, simple yet attractive was in order.
In moments like these I turn to my absolute favorite crochet resource.
This book...
Get. This. Book.
I'm serious, this book is invaluable, I don't know where I would be without it-- it isn't one of those books filled with uses projects you won't actually make.
No, this book is full of many great stitch patterns, motifs, shells, edgings, lattice and lacy patterns,
variations and combinations of simple stitches, and even Tunisian/afghan crochet.
Each stitch/pattern is accompanied by a clear, black and white picture so you know exactly what it looks like.
I used the Petal Square motif from this book, a pattern I'll share with you soon.
It looks like this.
After making tons of those (my afghan was 9x13= 117 squares) I laid them out on a clean twin sheet
and began to create the diamond pattern.
It did take some playing around with colors and combinations to complete the rows and complement each other.
Some of the rows are done in more than one color, but even in those I was able to keep a pattern.
I always tried to keep the points of the each row the same color- notice especially the pink and light blue/purple rows.
When I got to the outter corners, I had to get creative, but there is still a pattern!
In one bottom corner I did two pinks and a green tip on the left; on the right side was two yellow squares with a purple tip.
On the top I reversed the pattern- two greens with a pink tip; two purples with a yellow tip, only they were in opposite corners to their cousins on the bottom, I liked that design best.

Can you see what I'm talking about?
Be creative!
I used what I had and made it beautiful!

When it came time to connect all the squares, I also improvised a wee bit.
Using the method in this video, I made a change by working a Half Double Crochet instead of Double.
Joining Motifs with DC

Also, my squares had a solid outside edge, so I started in the corner like she shows of the bottom square, hdc in corner of top square, but then I skipped the next st of the bottom sqaure, hdc, sk, hdc etc.-- essentially going in every other stitch on both top and bottomw squares.
I ended in the corner of the bottom square, then hdc in the corner of the next square on the top.
Hdc in the corner of the bottom square and you are restarting the sequence.

 When I joined, I worked in the BACK LOOP only, as you can see in this picture.
I experimented both ways and liked this route best because the squares stood up more
creating the 'quilted' look I was aiming for.

I worked with all of the squares right side up laid out like this.
Each row is worked length wise and ended off at the end.
I used the same method when connecting them width wise.
For the edging I refered again to the Complete Guide to Crochet Stitches,
and used what they refer to as the Corded or Italian Edge, also called Reverse Single Crochet.
I'll share those instructions with you in a later post as well.

Be sure to alwasy work on the right side of your project.
This creates a front and back to your afghan.
The front is smooth with the hdc stitches cleary visible,
while the back has a raised 'seem' that runs down each row.

 So, there you have it! That is basically a crash course pattern for this afghan.
If you know your way around crochet, it should be pretty easy to duplicate.
All work was done with a size H hook.
Use yarn of the same size and weight
I was working with what I had, and some of my yarn was a different weight and feel than the rest. The squares turned out a little larger, resulting in some pull when I joined them all together. Not the end of the world, but it is something to be aware of.
Sew in all of the ends on your squares before joining
It is easier done sooner than later, trust me. Securing the ends by weaving and sewing them down now might seem like a time consuming hassle, I HATE weaving in ends, but it will make your project much more secure and clean looking. 

 Happy hooking! 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Wedding Gift Afghan...My Week of Frantic Crochet and Jane Eyre

Recently one of my dear friends, Atlanta, was married to the man of her dreams
at a fairy tale like Civil War Wedding.
Now, I had known for months that the wedding was approaching,
but did I plan ahead like any normal person and get a wedding gift far in advance?
No, I didn't.
Instead I became panic stricken late one evening as I realized I had a week and one day
left until I needed to have gift in hand.
Oh, and did I mention I was kind of broke?
In the time that has since passed, I'm not sure of the thought processes that flitted through my frantic mind, but they probably went something like this...
Me: "What am I going to do?!"
Me:" I don't know, but you had better think of something!"
Me: "This can't just be 'something', this has to be a special something, this is Atlanta we're talking about!"
Me: " I know, I know..."
Me:" Aha! I could make something! A handmade gift is always special, right?!"
Me: "So...what?...You are going to make her a pair of potholders and a bookmark?"
Me: "No, no, no! It has to be something really good, nice and quality, this is a wedding gift!"
Me: "You have a week!!"
Me: "I could make an afghan!"
Me: "You have a week!
Me: "Hmmm...I don't have enough yarn for that...wait, yes I do! I have tons of yarn, I can make a granny square afghan! Perfect!"
Me: "You have ONE WEEK!!"
Me: "Will you *stop* saying that?! Do you remember the time I virtually crocheted a scarf in one night? It was Christmas Eve, and it was mom's present? Remember that?"
Me: " Yeah, bu.."
Me: "This can be done.
It is basically a bunch of squares joined together, that shouldn't take long, right?"
That last statement...true or false?
My family barely saw hide nor tail of me the week that followed,
I worked at a frantic pace and didn't do anything else that wasn't vitally necessary.
But I got it done!
(Disclaimer: This is not a recommended time frame- please, do not try this at home.)
My Grandma H. makes tons of beautiful quilts using
this triangle design- one of hers acted as my inspiration.
I laid the squares on top of a twin sized bed sheet, this
acted as guide for my size. When I needed to put it up,
I simply rolled up the sheet with all the squares on it,
saved so much time!

I connected all of the squares with a cream white yarn.

Looking back, that week is a blur of colored blocks and Jane Eyre.
You see, the night before I decided to
I had spent the evening with Atlanta, who had introduced me to the story of Jane Eyre for the very first time.
We watched a BBC mini series version (my favorite so far!) and I was hooked!
So, when I finally presented the gift to Atlanta, I told her it was the Jane Eyre afghan because I listened to the entire audio book, watched an old movie version, and RE-watched the mini series during the construction of that blanket!
My brother snuck into my lair and snapped this picture
as proof I was still alive...notice the headphones.

In the end, my hard work and earnest efforts turned out beautifully...I was pleased!
It makes me smile thinking that at this moment my afghan rests in the home of my sweet friend, ready to warm her and her new husband on a chilly night.
In closing, I don't think this post would be complete without a quote from one of my
new favorite love stories....Jane Eyre...dedicated to the marriage of Atlanta and her 'Mr. Rochester'.
“I ask you to pass through life at my side—
to be my second self, and best earthly companion.” 
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

Monday, May 6, 2013


Did you notice the new look?
Yeah, I spent quite some time trying to clean up the place.
I have to say, I am thoroughly pleased with it now!
I am one of those people that is slightly (ok, maybe a lot?) perfectionistic.
If I don't totally love something, if it isn't quality- then I don't want to spend time on it.
That is kind of what this blog was- I couldn't really commit because I didn't feel really connected to
the space- it frustrated me.

For a long season, I let things sit...gathering dust and making me sad.

But that changed.

Finally, I got fed up with it and set my mind to making things change.

Thanks to the help of some lovely blog design sites like

Shabby Blogs and The Cutest Blog On The Block,
I have a new look and layout that I love!

 And now I have some specific, although varied,

subject matter that I intend to blog about.

Now I have a focus...but be warned, it is a large lens...
I don't know about you, but I'm excited!
So, enough tinkering, I'm ready to blog!

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