Friday, March 30, 2012

FO Friday

What did I finish this week?

Well, aside from a stack of term papers and lesson plans, I managed to find time to finish several more 12" squares for my Lenten blanket. I know that I'm getting down to the wire here, but I'm sure I can do it. I have all of next week off from teaching, because it's the high school's spring break, which will definitely give me some free time. The 2012 BAM-CAL over on Ravelry will have (or already has) the April squares up, so that'll give me some new designs to work with as well. 

I also finished my Claret Cowl. This is partially due to my lack of yarn, as it was recycled, but also because I modified the pattern to make it wider. Overall, I'm pleased with the results. But it is not a completely mindless knit. That is its only downfall in my mind.

That's all I have this time. Visit Tami's Amis for more fun finished stuff!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WIP Wednesday:

I haven't had a whole lot f time to blog the past week, as every day after Wednesday had something going on. Thursday, I taught my first class-- this was only the third or fourth time I've properly taught a class, with a lesson plan and everything. After that I worked all afternoon. Friday was a rinse and repeat. Saturday I got up early again to go out of town with my aunt for a spring craft show (it went very poorly). Sunday was a bit more relaxing, but still an early start to the day with Mass. Monday I had class and work, Tuesday I taught again and had another class. So yeah, a really busy week. And I still have 2 more days of teaching this week- Thursday and Friday again.

Something that Eileen over at Crochet Attic said yesterday really caught my attention:
 None of us live in a bubble where everything is wonderful all day everyday. 
This is totally the truth. I try to keep things as real as possible, and while I try not to complain on the internet too much, I don't try to sugar coat things.  I've been busy, life's been stressful, but God is in control.

And since I've rambled on so much, I figure I should get to sharing with you what I've been working on this week.
I recently was gifted a drop spindle, and while I am absolutely clueless about spinning, I still bought some roving from the craft show on Saturday. I've watched a few youtube videos, so I understand the basic process, but getting the wool to go the way I want is just not happening.

I'm trying to continue my stash-bash, and I have this huge bag of yarn...  I haven't decided if it's a bag or a creature. Originally, it was a bag, but I got lazy and didn't want to keep increasing. So I think it's a creature in progress. Both yarns are from recycled sweaters.
bag or creature

This ball of yarn will be another Claret Cowl. This used to be a skein of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Bare Bulky, but I dyed it with kool-aid and now it is beautiful, if I do say so myself. I just haven't cast on yet. But by the end of the day, it will be.
ball of yarn

You should check out Tami's Amis, cuz there should be tons of awesome WIPWs over there.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Inspired by the Blog-o-sphere

This week I have been really inspired by all the crafting I've seen, done by bloggers who link up with Tami's Amis for WIPW and FOF and Ginny's Yarn-Along.

I have 2 'big' WIPs this week, not counting lesson planning.
yarn bowl
First up is the Claret Cowl, inspired by Ginny, who shared her sunny cowl with us a few weeks ago. This is also semi-inspired by Liz [Yarnberry] who shared about a yarn bowl two Fridays ago. I am actually surprised that I like knitting in the round.

Second is my MSU ripple. One of my best friends is getting married in a few months, and this will either be a wedding or shower gift to them. (They met at MSU) I'm using the ripple pattern from Lucy @ Attic24, which I have used before and absolutely LOVE. I'm using Caron Simply Soft, so it'll be easy to wash but still super soft.

I have to get back to my lesson planning, so that's all for today! Thanks for stopping by!

<3 Mary

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tea on Tuesday: Homework Edition

I'm back for more Tea on Tuesday!

Today, even though the weather has been warm for over a week now, I'm drinking a cup of Earl Grey, because I needed something to preserve my sanity. I needed to do something normal, as for the next several weeks, I will be teaching a unit on the Civil Rights Movement to 2 different 10th grade US History classes.

Don't get me wrong, I  LOVE US History. If I didn't, I'd probably be trying to get a more practical job (instead of teaching, lol). I am just a military history buff. As is E. So when I found out I'd be teaching Civil Rights, I was thrilled because it's out of my comfort zone, but at the same time freaked out because I have no personal supplementary materials.

Anyway. Two lessons to teach this week. I can do it. My cup of tea helps calm me down. I have knitting close by in case I need a break. And I pray to God that I don't go absolutely insane. I can do this.

Monday, March 19, 2012

How-To: Flowered Headbands

A few people have been curious about my method for my flowered headbands and earwarmers, so I figured I'd share it here. [Sorry for the picture heavy post- so unlike me!]
basket of flowers
I started out using Motif # 40 (you could also use #41) from Edie Eckman's Beyond the Square: Crochet Motifs. If I haven't sung the praises of this book, I will again. 1. It's spiral bound, which is the best type of book for crafters. 2. It's colorful- who doesn't like looking at pretty pictures? 3. It's inspiring!

So, I start with the flower motif. Since I've been using this pattern for a while, I've altered it a little bit. Basically, it's never the same one twice.

Round 1: 12 sc
round 1

Round 2: 6 ch 5 loops.
round 2
adding round 3
Round 3: 6 petals of 1 sc, 2hdc, 2 dc, 1ch, 2 dc, 2hdc, 1 sc

I always make sure to leave long ends, both at the beginning and the end, so I have something to sew with.
What I love about these is that I can make them in a variety of colors, so I always have choices. Usually I'll whip up a handful while watching TV, and then the next night I'll work up the bands, and the third night I'll sew everything.
As you can see, I also make some two-toned flowers, just to keep things interesting.

The color for the band usually depends on what I'm making. For the earwarmers, I try to go for matching bright colors, while for the headbands I make them darker and more neutral (so the flower pops).
Depending on your tension, this part will change a bit, so I would have a measuring tape handy. For the headbands, I only tie a knot in the back, so they are a little bit longer than the earwarmers, usually somewhere between 20 and 22 inches. I'll mention now that I hate single crochet, because I don't think it's stretchy enough.
forming stitches

 My headbands are 2 rows of half-double crochet. My earwarmers are five rows of half-double crochet.
2 rows
5 rows
(Top is 2 rows of hdc, bottom is 5 rows)

The one thing different about the earwarmers are the buttons. Because I make them wider, I also make them a bit shorter. They are between 18 and 20 inches.
which button?

Before ending on an earwarmer band, I add down one side 2 sc, 2ch, 2sc for a button hole.
adding the button

A while ago, I picked up one of those cute little containers of black buttons from the dollar bin at Michael's, and those are what I usually use for my earwarmers.
However, as you can see above, I am using half-dollar sized buttons. Those came from my aunt, who bought one of those mixed bags from Jo-Ann's for a project- they were too big for her project.

To sew on the flowers, I simply fold the band in half, and position the flower about a third of the way down from the fold.

If you prefer the flower elsewhere, move it wherever you'd like :)
Now you have your own flowered headband or earwarmer, to share with the girls in your life!

(Note: if you have any problems with this, feel free to leave a comment, and I'll try to answer ASAP)

A New Week

A new week rolls around, and too often I complain about school and work and life in general. But why? Do I gain any time by complaining about things? No, I don't.
So, here are some positive things, some general, some specific:

  • I have a part-time job that I love
  • I'm going into a profession that I love, even if the job prospects are not spectacular
  • I have a wonderful man in my life who loves me and would do anything for me
  • My family is wonderful and supportive
  • I'm nearly finished with my college degree-- 1 more year!
  • I finished reading a good book: A Mystery of Errors-- it had a good plot, and just as I thought it was going to drag on for ages, it was done. 
  • Crochet
  • soft yarn
  • fuzzy blankets
  • springtime
Yes, I did finish my book. It was short and sweet. I was 2/3 of the way through before I realized I was that far into it. So I've started on Catching Fire, but got interrupted less than 10 pages in by E on the phone. And lesson planning. That gets in the way of everything. But I'm ok with that.  
Today I have class and I work. A typical Monday. I'll spend a lot of the day lesson planning, as I teach on Thursday and Friday- a bit nervous, but then again, I always am.

The spring weather has been fabulous:
crafting outside
yarn in the sun
yes, my siblings are extremely attractive, squinting in the sun.
I stayed up late last night, reading Catching Fire. It's really good so far.
I feel like this is a bipolar post, as I jump from one topic to the next.
Here are more squares for my Lenten afghan:
6 inch squares
more finished
I hope everyone has a great week!
Oh, check out my flower headband how-to!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Some New Books and some FOs!

I was greet yesterday when I got to work with a new book on the hold shelf for me: Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games series. Knowing that I was at about the same place on the list for this book and the next one (Mockingjay), I feel the need to read quickly. Also, my life just keeps getting busier, as I have 8 days of teaching coming up in the next few weeks. I was talking about books with a group on Ravelry, and someone just started reading Laurie R. King's Touchstone. She said she couldn't put it down. Has anyone else read it? I didn't check it out from the library, as I still am reading a few other books. I am a terrible polygamous reader. [The person who suggested it actually said I should start with one of her other books.]

For Finished-Object Friday over at Tami's Amis, I have 2 things to share.
I finished blocking my cabled cowl, and got the buttons sewn on. I noticed a little mistake when blocking, but I hope no one else does! I also finished my crocheted button cowl, but have decided against making a set.
(I am extremely frustrated this morning, as my internet is running slow, and does not want to upload my pictures. I was all set to share some pictures, but I guess those will have to wait. Sorry.)
I also have a huge stack of crocheted flowers that will go onto hair elastics or headbands in the near future.
(This is the only picture I have, because I took it a few days ago)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Stash Bashing Thursday: Warm Weather Edition

Here in the Midwest (US), we've been having some un-seasonally warm weather. I love it!! I've painted my toenails and brought out my flip-flops.
It was so nice that when I came home after school yesterday, I grabbed my hook and a bag of yarn and sat outside to crochet. Afterwards, I came inside and dumped my scrap yarn bucket on my bed.
I've really been trying to clean up these odds and ends, but hadnt figured out how to do that yet. I was inspired by Anne over at Building my Catholic Home to use up odds and ends by holding multiple strands of worsted acrylic together to make a basket. My scraps were a lot smaller than hers, so I haven't quite gotten as far (also, I've been getting better at using scraps... I think) So I've been working on that, as well as more squares for my Lenten blanket.
I am sad to say that I haven't been doing as well on that, especially since school just decided to hit me in the face again, but I'm trying. It's halfway through Lent today, so I should have 20 squares. If I count my 6" squares individually, I'm right on track, but somehow I feel like that's cheating. However, you can see that I have been working on them.
I should have more 12" squares to add to my pile soon- crochet is a good outlet after days in the classroom.
I'm linking up with Tricia's stash bash today!! Let's see those stash piles disappear!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

WIP Wednesday: short edition

Today I'm busy preparing for a psychology test (blergh) and worrying about lesson plans- I have to teach a 10th grade history class next week. So I'm keeping things short- head over to Tami's Amis for more excitement :)

I'm working on a scarf with yarn recycled from a sweater. The pattern is one that I just pulled out of my stitch pattern book:
I know you can't see it super well, but I'm hoping when it's done and blocking that it'll look better.
I'm also working on a how-to for my flowered headbands:
adding round 3
Hopefully I'll finish taking some photos and have it posted for the weekend!

That's all I have for now!
Thank you for stopping by!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Reading: Non-Fiction to Fiction

Even though I was busy subbing this week, I still had time to do a bit of reading between classes and on my lunch. I finished A History of the World in 6 Glasses, which I really enjoyed. The section on beer was probably my favorite, though I did really enjoy reading about tea. The section on Coke was interesting too, especially in relation to globalization. But I'm a nerd and I like that stuff.

Moving on from that, however, and into the fiction section with A Mystery of Errors. As the title may suggest to you, it is Shakespeare related. I'm not far into the book, but I laughed to myself when one of the characters talked about ale being the prefered drink of many, because water was not good to drink. I couldn't tell you for sure if I would suggest this book, but when I've gotten into it a bit more, I'll let you know.

Friday, March 9, 2012

FO Friday: New Headbands!

I've been busy doing a million things, but I have finished some things this week! I'm linking up with Tami's Amis to share my success :)

I'm sure everyone's noticed the current fashion of large flowers for hair- I've definitely gotten into that, as I have shared before. This week, however, I have a few flowered earwarmers. I shared a picture of me in one that I made here, but the ones for today are a bit different.
The original one I made was 100% wool, recycled from a thrift store sweater, made to keep my ears warm and to match a cowl I knitted. But I didn't want to sell stuff in 100% wool, due to washing problems. So, back to acrylic. These are entirely washable, as well as being fashionable- you can keep your ears warm without ruining your hair.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Books: A History of The World in 6 Glasses

I'm on spring break (yay!) and I actually have time to read.
My current, non-boring, non-fiction read is A History of the World in 6 Glasses, by Tom Standage.
It's divided into 6 parts, each about one of the beverages that was important during a pivotal point in world history. I'm enjoying it mainly because it isn't bogged down with tons of facts about one time period. It goes through the timeline quickly, and it peppered with witty lines and quotes from ancient (and less ancient) writings.
I've mostly been amused by the little facts that imply why alcohol consumption used to be good for people- beer was 'liquid bread', and helped stabilize the diets of the ancient civilizations; rum, when mixed with sugar and lime juice to make "grog" helped to fight scurvy in sailors.
I'm halfway through the section on 'spirits', which closes out the first half of the book. The second half does not focus on alcohol, but rather tea, coffee, and cola.
I would suggest this if you are a history person. If you are a beer/wine/liquor person, you might enjoy those sections. It's a fun and interesting read- I bet you'll learn something new!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Nothing Finished today

I have nothing finished to share this week, so I'm not linking up to Tami's, but I still wanted to share what I was working on.

My crocheted button cowl that was in the works on Wednesday is finished except for the buttons- I have them picked out and everything, just not sewn on. I have more than enough yarn to make a complete set- I'm thinking a pair of fingerless gloves and a nice headband/earwarmer. Not sure if I'll sell it, as it's 'one-of-a-kind' and those don't seem to do well at the craft shows.

I've been working hard on my Lenten afghan, and as today is the 10th day of Lent, I should have ten squares. To be honest, I only have 9 right now, but after work tonight, I plan on working up a few more. I've sewn the first 8 together in pairs, which should cut down on my finishing work. I have about 8 6" squares with ends waiting to be woven in, and I'm planning on sewing those together either in strips or to make 12" squares. I haven't quite decided yet.

The BAMCAL March squares were released Wednesday night, and I have them all printed out. So far I've been able to work the 6" squares- Never Fading Flower- and it works up a bit small, so I added a few extra rows so they match my others. I'm debating about adding 6" squares to my 'official' BAMCAL afghan-- if I do, I will make a set of 4 to create a 12" square.

I've also been doing a bit of knitting- testing out some cabling for another button cowl. This will definitely have a matching headband/earwarmer, but again, still not sure about selling them.

I am sadly without pictures in this post, as I have been so busy trying to get everything done before Spring Break so I can relax, that I just haven't had time to take pictures. Maybe I'll add some tonight.