Saturday, May 31, 2014

Puzzles & Stuff

When I was younger, I did jigsaw puzzles.  I always had a puzzle going.  In my home growing up, we had a basement and us kids had a big area to play in.  My grandpa gave us a section of pegboard (it was blue, I still remember) and we laid it out and started doing puzzles on the floor in the basement.  Sometimes, we would do them in the living room and it would take up the whole middle of the floor until we were done.  We had dogs and they would step all over it, whatever. 

I once did a puzzle that was 2000 pieces and it was a Victorian Garden.  It had all of this green grasses, 100 different types of flowers, etc.  This puzzle I did as a tween and it took a long time.  Not quite sure how long, but the peg board was huge.  This one I had to do in my bedroom and I had to pick up off the floor and place on my bed each and everyday.  I had to walk the perimeter in order to get out of my room.  I glued this one and wanted it framed, but framing (as anyone who has gone to Michael's or Joann's knows) ain't cheap.  A 12/13-year old girl does not have $200 to frame a puzzle.

So, I stood it up and slid it behind a dresser that was about the width of the puzzle and went about my life.  I never framed it.  My parent's do still have it in the basement, propped up behind a few dressers.  That was my last hoorah for puzzles for quite some time.

Recently, I did a few puzzles.  I wanted to remember how fun they were and how involved you can get in a puzzle.  Hours and hours at the table sifting through the box, looking for edge pieces, making the border, focusing on a section at a time...Better than mindlessly watching hours of TV.

My first puzzle was a dragon puzzle that technically did not have an edge.  It did have an edge, but it was a shaped puzzle with curves and points.

Vince and I did the dragon one at his parent's house, on the dining room table.  That pic was not the actual put-together puzzle.  Unfortunately, I can't find the pic of the actual puzzle we did.  It is somewhere on my computer, I just have not fully transferred all my pics from my old computer.  That puzzle was 1000 pieces.  I bought it at a yard sale for $1.  Great deal; it is about $15 online.  One does run the risk of having missing pieces when you buy it open, but I was willing to give it a whirl.

My next puzzle was a 1000-piece Mystery Puzzle, where there is a mini-story in the puzzle box, you read it as you put together the puzzle.  The puzzle is the murder scene.  With the help of the picture and the story, you can figure out the mystery.

I thought that the puzzle would give an extra clue, like the puzzle would be slightly different than the picture on the box so you only know this clue by putting together the puzzle.  No, that was not the case, but it was neat anyway.  You supposedly can go online to find out the answer to the mystery, but I guess the puzzle was old enough that it was not available anymore.  I got this puzzle at a yard sale, too.  Two-for-two on all pieces being there!

The tough part on that one was the gray stone walkway and the gray marbled walls.  They all were very similar.  My last piece was the left wall where the lion sits. 

My most recent one was a 550-piece Teapot puzzle.  This was a new puzzle that I got for Christmas one year from my mom.  I did this one and the Mystery puzzle on my dining room table.  We don't typically use the table for everyday meals, only when we have people over.  I did get a huge square of cardboard from Costco (free, it was a toilet paper layer separator) to do the puzzles on, so that I may move it, if people come over.

Isn't this quaint?  I started with the roses and then worked on the chair and down that way.  I was left with this one piece and was thinking, "I have an extra piece??!"  I scanned the puzzle and truly could not find where I was missing one.  I called Vince over and showed him, he laughed and saw the hole right away.  It was in the berries that are in the roses.  So, my last piece was were I started.  I had come full circle (or square, whatever!).

I think I have one or two more puzzles in the garage.  I will dig them up and do them, in-between my summer knitting. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

JC Baby Blanket

I am crocheting my fourth baby blanket in the Lion Brand Marbled Baby Throw pattern.  I love that pattern!  It is easy and you can totally zone out and it's all good.

This time this blanket is for a friend at work.  She went out on maternity leave and she will be due back really soon, so I really need to get on the horn if I want to send it to her before her return.

I am using Loops & Threads Impeccable (100% Acrylic, 128g each) in Clear Blue, Soft Fern and White.  While I am working with it, I am not loving this yarn; it is very stiff.  I am used to doing this large project with Berroco Comfort and that is relaxed and not so much strain on your wrists to get it out of the skein and to manipulate.  I wanted to save a few bucks (in case I never see this gal again; who knows, she may love staying at home and quit her job at work.  It would not be the first time I have seen this happen after the first child is born).

There is Razzy, helping me crochet.  Yarn attracts the cats, no doubt.  I ended up using one whole skein of each color and a little bit from a second skein. 

These types of blankets relax the more you wash them.  Acrylic is not the softest yarn, but it is sturdy.  It can withstand lots of wear and tear.

It will be nice to have a little blanket to cover either mommy or baby during those late night feedings or a nice square to lay down for the baby to hang out on the floor.

This was a simple granny square thing, around and around.  Perfect project for a beginner crocheter and a perfect project to use up scraps of yarn.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Colonnade Jacket

This sweater is going to drive me to drink!  Let me start from the beginning...
I love this sweater, the Colonnade Jacket from the Interweave Knits Summer 2013 issue:

I bought yarn for it at the end of November of 2013 and did a gauge swatch and have not did a thing with it until the end of March.
The yarn I bought is Berroco Vintage (50% Acrylic, 40% Wool, 10% Nylon) in a blue color called Cerulean, at my LYS Brandon Yarn Boutique.  It is so soft and has a heathered look to it, not completely solid in color.

Love It!!
Anyway, as you can see in the picture of the jacket, there is a lace on the entire front edge.  This pattern is written so that you knit side to side, so at the beginning and end of each row, you are knitting the lace pattern, with knit or purl sts in between.
This is where the drinking comes into play.
I wanted to challenge myself and read the pattern from the chart and not do words or a written out pattern.  Seems like an easy chart:

I mean, I have seen some pretty involved charts, and this one is easy.  WELL, it turns out my brain has not been wired to read charts.  I tried, really tried to get the hang of this.  I just could not successfully complete a pattern repeat through to the 10th row to save my life.  I would goof-up on something at some point.
I attempted this pattern on a gauge swatch, of course.  I'm crazy, but not that crazy to jump in on the project before getting the sts down pat on a practice swatch.

I grabbed leftover acrylic from my stash to practice.  The orange string is my lifeline.  Yes, a chart and a lifeline.  Two new techniques to me in this one project.  The object of the lifeline is that you have the string in your project at a point where you know that it is error free.  Like you are good up to that point and you mark where this point is.  You continue to knit and if you do make an error that you cannot fix, you can rip out your work down to the lifeline.  The lifeline has secured your row and you slip your needle in the stitches that the lifeline is holding.  Viola!  You do not have to rip the whole thing out and you just resume knitting from where you marked.
The use of the lifeline is critical in lace knitting.  There are yarn-overs (yo) and slip, slip knit (ssp) all over the place, where you would never be able to recreate that if you dropped a yo somewhere or whatever the error may be.
Once you get to a point, you insert a new lifeline and continue knitting.  I use two, so that when I am ready to place the 3rd one, I remove the bottom-most lifeline and use that same string again.  You remove it by simply pulling it out.
In the above picture with my practice swatch, just above the bottom repeat, there is an error.  A big boo-boo.  I had ripped out the whole thing multiple times and since I had not put the lifeline in at the start, I had to cast-on again and again and again.  Like I said, I was chart reading and really trying.
When I made that boo-boo, I just started back at row 1 and continued with my first lifeline.  It worked!  I had to rip back a few times to the lifeline in my practice swatch.  Well, at least that is what it is there for.
I continued with my practice swatch for a few more repeats and then bound off.  I wanted to graduate to my actual yarn that I will be knitting with and with the size needle I determined I would use.  Not bad, I have removed the lifelines, which I was gaining confidence on:

I can do this!!  Ok, so I cast-on for the project, ahem, 180 sts.  Jeepers, I hope we are good-to-go!!
I place my lifeline at Row 1, my first knitted row.  Good thing, because I messed up and ripped out... a few times at various rows.  I was getting a bit fed up with this.  So, I reverted back to the way I like to knit: with flashcards.
I write out each row on an index card in words or abbreviations.  I have one card where I mark what row I am on and where I have placed the lifeline.  This way, I am only looking at the very row I am knitting, not distracted by symbols or viewing the entire chart and losing my place and translating in my head what to do next.

Let me tell you, this has worked out SO much better!  I no longer feel the need to get drunk after knitting or requiring blood pressure medication.  I am using the lifeline as I go and I feel much better about the project now.

I'm not that very far along, but at least I actually want to keep working on it, rather than ditching it and looking for another project to knit with my boutique yarn.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Cookie Swap 2014

At the end of February, I hosted the Annual Cookie Swap.  This year marks the 11th year of me hosting or attending the Cookie Swap.  Wow!

This year's theme was a Valentine's Day one, where we had the baking challenge of incorporating a candy into our creations.  As always, all the cookies & bars were delish!

Here are some of the gals that were in attendance:

I like to refer to us as the "usual suspects", but in a good way!  There were Chris and her daughter Danielle, Myself in the purple, Sheri, Cathy & Crissta.  Other gals that were there were Vince's mom and his daughter Cris and Gen, a bowling buddy Kelly, Sheri's mom Shirley.  My friends brought their baby & toddler daughters to top it off: Ines, Keira & Vivien.

Let's show the cookies (I mean, isn't that what this was all about anyway?!):

Crissta baked Flourless Triple Chocolate Cookies with a Werther's Twist:

Werther's Originals

Cathy baked Heart My Heart Healthy Oatmeal Raisinets Cookies:

Chris baked Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies:

Butterscotch Chips
Cris baked Turtle Cookies:

Caramel Cubes

Gen made Candy Sushi:

Fruit Roll-Up, Swedish Fish, Gummy Sour Worms & Nerds

I made two things, first was Chocolate Cloud Cookies:

Junior Mints

Second was GF Minty Brownies:

Junior Mints
Sheri baked Starbursts Cookies:


Shirley baked Rootbeer Barrel Cookies:

Rootbeer Barrels
Lastly, Kelly baked Conversation Heart Brownie Cookies:

Conversation Hearts

My favorite was Crissta's Triple Chocolate Cookies.  The most creative were Gen's Candy Sushi.  She spent hours working on them, making rolls out of Rice Krispie mix. 

The girls played so well together.  They were a bit hopped up on all the sugar, but, hopefully they fell asleep in the car.  I know I was ready for a nap after the party.

If anyone is interested in the recipe's to these cookies, let me know, I will email them to you.

Any ideas for next year's theme??

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Knitting for Charity

It is that time of year where I am sewing and knitting for charity.  The company that I work for participates in the American Cancer Society, Relay For Life event each year.  We start fundraising in October, leading up to the event in April.

The way I have chosen to raise money is to do clothing mending, sewing challenges and knitting coffee cup cozies (or bottle cozies), however you want to use them.

I wrote previously about the coffee cup cozies in these posts:
I have knitted up about 20 or more of them and sold about 15 of them!  I started out knitting them sort of plain, with the self-striping yarns, to keep it simple.  Well, if you know me at all, then you know I can never keep something simple.  I started making cables and making them in sport team colors with horizontal stripes.

If you would like you very own, custom knitted cozy, please email me at  The price of the cozies are $5, but if you are out-of-town, then $6 (to cover the cost of shipping).  You choose your color(s), style & size!

If you would like to donate to a great cause, please go to my Relay Homepage

Tampa Bay Rays
Seattle Seahawks & Denver Broncos
Pink & White Stripes

Zebra for Carcinoid Cancer
Ministripes for Small Cups

Mini Cables in a Solid Color
I'm having a great time knitting these up.  They are great on your coffee cup, water bottle or glass bottle!  Let me know what you like!!  Help support a great cause!
Thank you to those that have supported me and bought a cozy already! :-)

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Yup, Arm-Knitting!

I made an arm-knitted infinity scarf for my friend for her birthday.  Vince's daughter showed me a YouTube video of arm-knitting and I was like, "Huh?  I need to try that!"
The tutorial I like is this one:  Vicki Howell
You need at least 2 skeins of bulky or super bulky yarn.  You can also use multiple strands (about 4) of worsted weight yarn.
In my project I used 2 skeins of Vicki Howell's Sheepish Stripes in Punk(ish) and 1 skein of Red Heart Boutique Sashay in Boogie.


As you can see, I have a purple theme going on here.  I bought the Sheepish yarn but I had the Sashay in my stash.  The Sashay you are supposed to make this ruffle scarf with, but I never got around to it.  This project is perfect for it.
Basically, with arm-knitting you are using your arms as the knitting needles.  This creates a very large gauge knitted item.  The concept is the same as knitting, really!  I had to watch the video a few times and practice the cast-on and did a few rows, then I took it out and started "for-real."

I am in the midst of doing it above.  See how large the gauge is?!  It's huge! 

Above is the knit side.  Below is the purl side.

The green you see in there is the Sheepish self-striping yarn.  It has the purple and green in there.  Love it!

Here it is finished.

You can also double it.

And, of course, me wearing it (got to try it out before you give it away!

Very Cozy!!

I'm also knitting these for Relay for Life (in addition to the Coffee Cup Cozies).  I will post more about it in my next post.  Clearly, everyone will want one! :-)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ruby Shoulders

Our work holiday party was this month, January.  My friend gifted me a cute maroon velvet skirt and black sequins tank top.  I want to wear this to the holiday party.  I know that the air conditioning will be on or the night air may be cool.  I wanted to knit up the Sidhe Shrug from Vampire Knits pattern book.  I wrote about my challenge in this post as #2:
My challenge is to knit my way through that book.  I love that book!  Anyway, I went to the yarn shop to get yarn for this project, but giving the fact that I was only just starting the week of Christmas, it was unlikely that I would knit a lacy long-sleeved shrug in a few weeks.

Instead, I bought a unique hank of yarn that is a combo of several different novelty yarns tied end-to end to make this one hank.

This is Alp Dazzle (Mixed Content), hand tied yarn by Feza yarns.  This yarn is made in Turkey.  This is not cheap yarn, but since one skein will make one decent sized shawl, I bought it.  I figured, the outfit was free, my shoes were free (had credit at the store, so no money spent), so, to spend money on this yarn, I felt okay with it.

Vince was a good sport and held the yarn while I balled it up.  The shop owner told me that the ball winder does not do a good job winding this yarn.  I will take her word for it and just ball it.  Even though Vince was not convinced that it could not be wound on the winder. 

I am using size 13 circ needles.  The pattern is simply, cast-on 20 stitches (if you want a triangle point, only cast-on 3 sts.  Knit each row (garter).  At the beginning of each row, increase by 1 (Make 1).  The shawl will grow and grow.  Knit until you run out of yarn.  Simple!

I started it as a rounded edge and I did not like it.  I unraveled it and made it a triangle.  It is very eclectic.  I did this much watching movies with Vince one evening.  I needed an easy project that would work up fast.  

This is the completed shawl.  It self-stripes, you just knit and it does all the work!

 A few samples of how different, but alike each yarn type is.  Comes out very elegant.

Here is me at the holiday party, trying to be a model...I really should not quit my day job...

The shawl was a big hit and it came in handy under the chilly weather we have been having.  Thank you, Crystal, for a super-cute outfit.  That was a big hit, too!