Archive | May 2016

Crochet Flip Flop Slippers

Guys, this one really challenged me. I didn’t think it would. A friend requested a pair of crochet slippers made from flip flops (see the pattern here) then two more friends saw that request and requested some, and before I knew it, I’d agreed to make five pairs. Crazy, I know. But I read the pattern and it seemed simple. The supplies were cheap: I found flip flops at the dollar store, and Michaels had a great sale on Lily Sugar N Cream cotton over the weekend: 5 for $5!! IMG_6307At the time, I thought I might make a pair for myself, plus I want to make a few new dishcloths and washcloths. Gotta buy the yarn when it’s cheap, right?

The husband had a nifty tool to mark the holes exactly 1/4″ apart as specified, then I used an ice pick to make the holes. It was a little tedious but not difficult. IMG_6296Then it was time to use the small hook (B, 2.25mm) to make the first round, and that was pretty hard to get used to. The holes weren’t quite big enough for the yarn, working around the rubber sole was awkward, and I did split the foam twice. But finally I got to switch to the bigger hook (G, 4.0mm) and away I went. I followed the pattern exactly. I kept going even when it looked suspiciously large, when meant that when I was done, I had this huge clog-type monstrosity. I frogged that without any photos. Second attempt included a decrease row and created this lovely…thing. IMG_6299It’s not a great photo, I know, but I think you can tell it’s still rather tall. Also, it was supposed to be a size 7, and I could get it on my size 9 1/2 foot without stretching the cotton too much. Frogged again. This time I went back and read some comments, and someone else’s slipper came out super-size, and the author mentioned that maybe her holes were farther apart and the yarn was stretching more. So that’s a big thing right there: my holes were exactly 1/4″ apart and that was too close together. Let that be a lesson to you.

Okay, moving on. For the third attempt, I decreased the heck out of the body and only did six rows instead of nine. I made the tapered back one row shorter and left off one row of the decorative top. I *think* it came out okay. IMG_6303Grace approved.

After that, the second one went quickly and smoothly, and I’ve decided these might be okay after all. This was the first time I ever seriously considered saying no to a request. Now, I’m not going to be making a ton of these for craft shows or anything, but I can definitely finish the other four pairs.IMG_6309I can actually admit they’re kind of cute.

If you’re interested, my Ravelry notes are here.

Bonus FO: The Mermaid

Hip Hip Hooray! I finished the mermaid last night! Of course I had to have the puppy model for me. The girl was the photographer since we had to move fast. IMG_6267

As cute as that is, it doesn’t show the blanket that well. Here’s a better shot.

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I used this Mermaid Tail afghan pattern (free, and has a video too) and my only quibble was that I think it decreased too quickly at the bottom. Other than that, it was simple to make and looks great. The yarn is Big Twist Value Solids. For the medium adult size (fitting around 5′ 7″) I used almost 1300 yards in Medium Teal and about 370 yards in Light Teal.

The other fun thing from yesterday was a movie date with the kids. IMG_6262We saw Alice Through the Looking Glass in 3D. Fun movie, not as good as the first of course, but I did enjoy seeing Alice and the Hatter again. I don’t think the 3D was worth the extra cost, though.

That’s all for today, kids. Let’s see what kind of trouble I can get into today!

Finished Object Friday: The Rainbow

I’m officially over the Rainbow scarf: I finished it yesterday afternoon! IMG_6244IMG_6257I’m quite pleased with it. I used a little over a skein and a half, plenty left over for a matching hat and then some. Now I just need to take some better photos outside and get it listed on Etsy!

But that’s not all! Oh no, that is not all! I also finished the body of the mermaid blanket last night! IMG_6154Grace says it smells just fine. I’ve got the tail begun and this project should be complete by the end of the day. Woohoo!

For my U.S. friends, enjoy the long weekend!

Still the Rainbow

But at least it’s getting bigger! I knit on it after working out yesterday, while introducing the girl to the magical train wreck that is Keeping up with the Kardashians. It’s so funny to watch. (“Jump the shark? What does that mean? Don’t they mean jump ship?” and “The girls think you have this disease called colonoscopy.”) I know. I’m sorry. I can’t help it. Please don’t judge me. Actually, you can judge all you want. I’m still going to watch it and laugh. Anyhoo, I knit on the scarf a lot, and it went to flute lesson too, and it’s growing by leaps and bounds. IMG_6236I added on the second skein after flute lesson and knit some more last night while the boys watched The Flash. (Season finale! So dramatic!) I’m in love with this scarf and this yarn. IMG_6239IMG_6240

I could pretend that I’m going to work on the mermaid blanket today, but let’s be honest. I’m going to knit on this scarf until it’s done. Then, and only then, will I return to the mermaid blanket.

Here’s a fun shot of Grace. The hubby took both dogs on a 2-mile run yesterday and wore them out big-time. But they were so happy! IMG_6237

We have had rain for days and it’s still cloudy and gray. Here’s hoping there’s sunshine wherever you are!

Rainbow Scarf

I cast on a new project yesterday. I didn’t mean to, it just…happened. I was near a Joann store, and I had three coupons about to expire, and nobody likes to let those coupons go to waste, right? There was nothing I needed, but I thought I could get some fun acrylic to add more inexpensive items to my inventory. I wandered around, enjoying the colors, and pondering several different yarns. Then I saw THIS yarn, and the choice was made.

IMG_6230Much Pretty! So Rainbow!

As soon as I got home, I perused scarf patterns, wanting something simple and quick to make that would show off the colors. I settled on Diane’s Diagonal Scarf, similar to a candy cane scarf I’ve made before, and cast on. If only it were that simple. That pattern said it made a scarf 4″ wide, and I wanted wider, so I cast on more stitches. My first attempt was too wide and too dense. I switched to bigger needles and fewer stitches. Good fabric but still too wide. Cast on again, settling on 31 stitches. I will note, this yarn does not like being frogged. It’s all fuzzy, so it likes to catch on itself and get stuck together. But I do love the colors, and it’s nice and soft to knit with.

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But today, seriously, I’m going to work on the mermaid blanket. I swear. I mean, maybe after a few more rows of this scarf…

Diamond Cowl

We survived another school year; I’m now the mom of a junior and an eighth-grader. After a celebratory lunch at Steak n Shake, where I successfully resisted the call of a milkshake, I managed to find some knitting time. I took a break from the mermaid blanket and picked up a WIP that had been neglected for six weeks. I’d done the easy part, the ribbing, but was waiting for the right time to start the more complicated pattern. Once I got going, I realized it wasn’t that complicated after all! It’s called the Kerr Diamond Cowl but I’ve done the stitch before as a Butterfly stitch. IMG_6228After the first time through the repeat, it’s been smooth sailing. It’s working up nicely and is a lovely way to show off the yarn. But no matter how hard I try to keep the yarn loose, it still puckers up, which is what I noticed the last few times I used the butterfly stitch. It’s just heavily textured, and I’m okay with that. Gives it more visual interest. The yarn is Show Me Yarn’s Cyclone in the All Dressed Up colorway, and it’s marvelous to knit with.

It was a nice knitting break, but now I feel I must return to the mermaid blanket.

Dogs & Yarn

Weekends in May are jam-packed for us. We started with a Friday afternoon Picnic in the Park with a local weatherman and the jazz band from the girl’s high school. The weatherman always brings his dog, so it’s a pet-friendly event, and we were crazy enough to take our two. I’m not sure it was a great idea. IMG_6196Sure, Jack looks all cute and friendly, but in reality, he’s not great in a crowd. He’s protective enough that he’s uneasy with all the people and pulls hard to sniff them out. Or when he wants to greet another dog, he thinks he has to bark and act all crazy. *I* know he’s not trying to attack; I know my dog. I know his body language and barks and having seen both “on edge/aggressive” and “hey I just want to see hello”, I can tell the difference. But they don’t, and I know he sounds scary, so trying to manage him was a challenge.

IMG_6194Grace did better. She just wanted to lick all the people, play with all the dogs, and follow me when I walked away with Jack to help him calm down. So she was a bit wild, but in a friendly, non-scary way. And in her spare time, she wriggled around and ate grass. IMG_6195

IMG_6202Jack finally calmed down enough to sit on the girl’s foot and hang out in the audience…until someone walked up with a bike. Bikes freak him out, so off we went again to walk off the crazy. I think it was good practice for him, but he’ll never be a big-crowd party animal.

Saturday, the girl auditioned for the local youth symphony…IMG_6207and I finished a fingerless glove while I waited: IMG_6218

Yesterday I did two and a half hours of yard work to earn some guilt-free tennis-watching crochet time, and I worked A LOT on the mermaid blanket. It’s growing slowly and I think I’m getting very close to joining and working in the round. IMG_6217

Unfortunately, the several hours of crochet set my wrist to aching so I took a break to knit a tiny baby hat with leftover Malabrigo. I love baby hats. I want to add a button; I just need to decide which one.

Today is the last day of school, so I’m relishing my last bit of solitude. It’s likely to be a busy summer, what with driving the girl to summer school and work etc, but at least we’re not moving like we did last summer! Now I just need to find some fun, inexpensive things to do occasionally to get the boy away from his video games.

Knitting Fail

Well, crap. I have made an error. You know that Marcelle Wrap I’m knitting? I ordered the right amounts of yarn, cast on, and knit away…and then I got toward the end of the striped section and ran out of the cream yarn. IMG_6208

I double-checked the pattern and yep, I did it as written. Yarn amounts? Yes, I should have had enough. So why? Why did I run out?

Needle size. The pattern called for 4.00mm, and I mistakenly grabbed a size 4, which is 3.5mm. Now, I haven’t been knitting long enough to understand how or why the heck that would screw it all up, but it’s the only variable. Dadgummit all. Guess I’m ordering another skein of yarn, and until it gets here, this project is going in timeout.

The Green Stripe

Back to the Marcelle Wrap I went yesterday, forcing myself through those last few stockinette rows with the cream. I confess, I was a bit bored with it. It was growing nicely, and the pattern was easy enough to do while I watched TV, but I kept thinking of more colorful yarns and more intricate patterns. The puppies were crazy, so I sat outside with them and knit and knit and knit.

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THEN! Finally, after 49 rows, I was up to 309 stitches and ready to start the stripes, and the forest green made its appearance!

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Suddenly it was interesting again, even though I’m still just doing the plain stockinette. I speed through the cream to get to the green again, and now I’m trying to speed through the stripes so I can get to the lace section! Woohoo! I am a bit worried I’ll run out of the cream color and have to order more, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

If you missed it before, this pattern is from Little Church Knits, who kindly offers Free Pattern Fridays. You can see all her designs here on Ravelry, or follow her blog here. This Marcelle Wrap is one of four free shawl patterns and I want to make all of them!

Back to the knitting now, to see if I can make to the lace today! Happy Friday, friends!

Life After Depression

Four years. Is that a long time? Or not? My instinct is to say it’s not. As I approach my 40th birthday, four years is a blip. But today, Facebook reminded me that it was four years ago that my life changed completely, and it feels like eons ago.

Four years ago last month, my dad died. Yep, it was hard. It pushed me into a dark place, a place I was on the verge of anyway. Suddenly I was no longer emotionally able to maintain my current life; I realized I wanted more. More than working 50 hours a week as a retail store manager. More than saying goodbye to my kids one morning and not seeing them again until the next night. More than asking my MIL to take care of my kids and take them to activities and pick them up when I couldn’t. More than seeing my mom twice a year when one of us could visit the other.

Thankfully, I’m married to the best man in the world. He agreed we could scale back the budget to allow me to quit my job and stay home with the kids while I figured out my next step. I didn’t know what it would be; I still don’t know if I’m “there” yet or what. But wow, what a difference those four years made in my life.

I see my kids every morning and I greet them when they get home from school. I’m able to drive my daughter to flute lesson and band camp and auditions and study sessions and all these other things that would have been impossible before. I’m able to get a few minutes of conversation with my almost-teenage son before he disappears into his room to play video games. We eat dinner together as a family every single night. Instead of a pet-free house, we have two dogs who bring me great comfort and joy.

And during the day, I create. In those four years, I finished and revised a book. A whole book, that I’m now sending to agents in hopes of getting it published. I’ve proofread books for clients, several books, and I love that process. I learned to crochet, and then knit, and I sell my little beauties to people who love them. Through the yarn, I’ve found a wonderful friendship with my Knitting SIL. Through this blog, I’ve found a wonderful community of writers and knitters and all-around fabulous people. As one of my readers commented, I have a very rich, creative life, and somedays I’m overwhelmed with how lucky I am.

Now I can’t imagine being where I was four years ago. Remembering the job itself makes me cringe. I do miss the people, my lovely Creeker family, but thankfully I still have many of them in my life.

I still miss my dad. Of COURSE I do. I desperately wish he were still here. But this seems to be the way it goes: you have to go through something terrible to get that push to do what you’re really meant to do. Life is short and all that jazz. I can tell you the words, but until something makes it true for you, it won’t work the same. At least that’s my theory. Losing my dad set in motion a chain of events, including getting my mom and siblings in the same town for the first time in decades, and having them all around me has been one of the best blessings ever. It brought us together; it helped me get through the hard times.

I’m happy now. My life is peaceful and joyful and colorful. Those four years were rough and bumpy and jagged and sharp, and now I feel like I’ve reached a smooth part, where the lows aren’t so low and I can get past them more quickly. Thank goodness for my husband, my kids, my mom and siblings, my puppies, the friends who were truly there for me when I was struggling. Thank goodness for kind, gentle doctors. Thank goodness for antidepressants and thyroid meds and melatonin. After three years of taking them, I’m almost completely off the happy pills and doing well, but I know they’re there if I ever need them again.

I am one of the lucky ones. I know many people, too many good people, who have struggled, will continue to struggle, with depression forever. So many times, depression is ongoing and constant, not the (relatively) short experience I had. So many times, the meds don’t work, or you can’t afford the meds, or you’re ashamed to ask for the meds. So many times, you don’t take the time to see a therapist because you think you can do it alone.

But sometimes you can’t, and THAT’S OKAY. Trying meds, even lots of different meds, is OKAY. Seeing a therapist is OKAY, probably one of the best things I did, and I highly recommend it to everyone, not just people suffering from depression. Don’t just say you’re “fine” if you’re not. Find one person you trust, and tell the truth. Let them help you.

Here’s what I’ve learned over four years:

  • Smoking DOES cause cancer, and cancer CAN kill you, and it SUCKS for everyone involved.
  • There can be beauty and great meaning in death.
  • Time does help heal. Wounds don’t go away, but you can find joy again.
  • A family of four can live on one salary. It’s hard sometimes, and I worry about money a lot, but this is still the best choice for me, for us.
  • Most people are truly kind.
  • It’s worth it to keep fighting. Life may be short, but it’s beautiful. Find the beauty.

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