Thursday, December 31, 2009

Girls Night: December

I've been meaning to post about the aforementioned Cookie Swap and wanted to make sure I did before December ends.

The week before Christmas P. hosted at her house and the husbands wound up coming along too; We separated from the boys, leaving the babysitting duties to them, to perform the swap, and to eat/ drink, gossip.

P. supplied these adorable gift boxes for the cookies. K. made a delicious hazlenut cookie with Nutella (!) and her beautiful tri-color italian cookies. P. made yummy chocolate chip and butter cookies. I made peanut butter, a small batch of plain sugar cookies, and snickerdoodles.

The cookies tasted divine, and really, what can beat homemade cookies? Well, P. brought out an indoor S'mores set, and we all set to work roasting our marshmallows at the dining room table. I couldn't decide which tasted better--fresh cookies or hot, gooey s'mores. It was so much fun! (Although I set my marshmallow on fire about 5 times.)

It was kind of nice to have the boys in the vicinity. K. threw out the idea of maybe scheduling another Girls Night at a time when the boys could get together with each other for a couple beers while we crafted. We'll see if  that works out. We might have to change our name to Girls/Boys Night or Craft/Beer Night. Maybe the boys could join us in our crafting. Is there a craft that involves drinking beer? I'll have to do some research.

It was a great night. The only negative was that there was a snow storm about 24 hours later. So, I was snowed in with about 6 dozen cookies. I emerged from the house a couple days later. We lost a few dozen cookies, but gained several pounds. They were really good cookies, though, so it was worth it!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Weird Hat Lady

My house is full of hats.

It started with just one hat.

But they kept multiplying.

Now I have hats all over the house.

When people walk in they can probably smell that notorious hat smell. Maybe they imagine seeing them dart across the room. I can't keep track of them anymore; they're everywhere. I'll be walking across the room and find myself tripping over a hat that's lounging on the floor. They sit in the window sills; they hide under the bed.  Sometimes when I'm watching tv with a hat next to me, I feel another hat winding it's yarn tail around my ankles. They are overrunning the house.

I've always considered myself more of a dog person, but I am definitely turning into a weird hat lady.

These hats belong to Baby C. They are all made of the same yarns from Naturally Caron Country and follow the Baby Earflap Pattern from Coats and Clark. The visor beanie is a variation of an adult visor beanie cap pattern found here

Baby C. has already outgrown the first two. I just made the third hat this past week. I initially striped the earflaps but had to pull them out because the flaps were in the wrong spot. I didn't feel like joining the different colors again, so I made them a solid white. It looks much better--another happy mistake. The pom poms were a last minute addition, and I love the way they look. You don't need to buy a special pom pom maker nor do you need to use the annoying cardboard method. Just use your fingers to wind the yarn around. Learn how here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Snowflake Torture

Just turn around...

Walk away...

Forget what you've seen here...

These snowflakes had it coming to them.

So I finally starched and blocked the snowflakes I crocheted. It does look like the poor little things are victims of some sick medieval torture. It's like The Snowflake Inquisition.  Or maybe it's more reminiscent of a bad horror movie. Maybe Pinhead from Hellraiser got in touch with his crafty side and worked out some evil frustration on these defenseless little guys.

Starching and blocking the snowflakes was not as frustrating as I thought it would be, but it was definitely a project I needed a block (get it?!) of time for, so I had to wait until the baby went to bed to complete it (plus I didn't want any witnesses). I mixed a tablespoon of corn starch in 1/2 cup of water and simmered it until it was no longer white/ somewhat transparent and kind of gloopy. Then I put on my executioner hood and while the glop was still warm I drowned the guilty snowflakes in it and let them soak up the starch (like being tarred and feathered, without the feathers). Then I squeezed out the excess glop (which is like going through a pressing device, I suppose)  and got them ready for the rack.

(Insert maniacal laughter here).

I attached wax paper to a long cardboard gift box I've been hoarding in the basement for no reason, and then stabbed the snowflakes to it with quilting pins, stretching them into shape. A cork board or foam board would probably work better, but the gift box seemed to work ok. I left them to die, I mean dry, overnight.

The next day I removed the pins from the corpses--er snowflakes. I was left with  lovely, crisp snowflakes to use as gift toppers, christmas tree ornaments, or hanging decorations.

I am pretty happy with the end result, and I can definitely see myself making snowflakes again. I'll be using these for gifts, but I could see making a beautiful hanging snowflake curtain like here if I had more time to plan next year. I hope the gift recipients like them as much as I do.

Disclaimer: The events depicted in this blog entry are fictitious. Any similarity to any snowflake living or dead is merely coincidental. Mommisquare does not endorse the use of torture or mistreatment of snowflakes. No snowflakes were harmed during the writing of this blog entry.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Let it Snow

It's supposed to snow today. The first snow of the season. Even though the excitement of snow wanes a little as you age (you're the one who will have to shovel it or drive in it), there's still that nostalgic anticipation that overwhelms you as you listen to the weatherpeople on TV work themselves into a frenzy. Suddenly, no other news is as important as the possibility of snow.

Outside your window the sky seems heavy with thick clouds, ready to burst with white fluff. Sometimes if it's very cold, it seems as though you can actually "smell" snow in the air before it even falls. And then, when the clouds have reached maximum capacity, snowflakes silently begin to waft down in a cottony trickle. Soft and light so that you may ask with wonder, "Is it snowing?" and then with more frequency so that you exclaim excitedly, "It's SNOWING!"

It may not snow outside today; some weatherpeople are calling for rain due to higher temperatures. However, I already have snowflakes inside to keep me company.

In a previous post I mentioned how I've been trying to learn how to make snowflakes. It can be challenging because they require such a small hook. (You can use a larger hook, but they do not look as nice, in my opinion). I also found it difficult to master the various patterns. I think I tried four or five different ones. Learning each one requires a lot of time and trial and error. Interestingly, many crocheters make up their own patterns. It can be hard to understand each indiviual's terminology when describing the pattern. Inspired by their originality and also because I was tired of following such rigid instructions, I made a free-hand snowflake. It turned out ok but was pretty uneven. I think writing a pattern would be beyond my skill level at this time. In order for there to be symmetry the stitches must be even and exact. The cerebral skills needed to do this are similar to the ones required to solve math problems. My brain balks at anything math-related,  like a horse refusing to go forward, even threatening to buck the rider. I usually take my fearful little brain for a gallup somewhere else, leaving the math problems for more experienced riders. But maybe in the future I'll attempt to tackle my math fears and write a workable pattern. Meanwhile, there are many patterns to choose from here.

I have yet to starch and block these flakes, so they don't have a crisp, uniform look. I've researched how to starch snowflakes and think that I will use the cornstarch method b/c that supposedly lessens future yellowing. It seems like a pain to starch them which is probably why I'm procrastinating. I would like to use these as gift toppers for Christmas, though, so I will definitely give it a shot soon. I'll let you know how it goes.

I'll be keeping a close watch out my window see if the real thing comes down from the clouds--crisp, uniform, and beautiful.

I also used patterns from Martha Stewart's website and some from Better Homes and Gardens.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Girls Night: November

This past week I hosted Girls Night at my house. We were excited to have back our missing member, A. ! A . and her husband moved across the country last spring and were home for the Thanksgiving holidays. As usual there was a lot of eating and laughing.

I decided on a craft idea inspired by some photos of table settings in the fall Pottery Barn catalogue.

The girls could decorate their glass candle holders (from the dollar store) with jute, brown ribbon, fresh cranberries, and hazlenuts or almonds.

I also bought rhinestones thinking that it would look stunning to use as an initial over the ribbon/ glass, but the girls were into the rustic look vs. the glam look, and I think their candle holders turned out great, don't you?

I didn't make one b/c I was on baby-holding duty. Somehow a baby and a glue gun just don't seem to go together, but maybe it's just me. A. was kind enough to give me her beautiful creations b/c she wasn't going to lug them back on the plane with her. The night was the perfect jumpstart to the holiday week.


I can't wait for our next Girls Night (even though we will be missing A.!); I'm hoping we continue with the Annual Christmas Cookie Exchange. I spend months training for this event. I toil for countless days in the field researching the best recipes. I talk for hours with other bakers about the appropriate cooking times for each cookie. I plan and list chilling times, baking times, cooling times. I work up a sweat doing short sprints between the refrigerator and the counter. I work on leg squats by the oven door, pulling out the cookie sheets and working my triceps and biceps all while the kitchen timer relentlessly ticks the seconds away. When all the prepwork is finished I'm finally ready for the big event. And although the cookies are swapped and supposed to be given to friends, family and neighbors as gifts, I usually have to try all the different kinds. Only to maintain quality control, of course. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if the cookies weren't up to the proper standards. So, if that means I have to eat a cookie or two--or twelve--so be it!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Keep or Toss?

Is this trash? Should it be kept or tossed?

Every now and then I get the urge to purge my house. Before Baby C. was born I, like many expectant mothers, turned the house upside down throwing things away and organizing like a madwoman. I don't know how productive this was, since the whole house looked like it was a casualty of WWII bombing after we brought home the little 8 lb darling. As much as I would like to blame the mess on Baby C. it's hard to frame it on him since he can't walk and pretty much slept and ate the entire first couple months. Hmm...maybe I'll just blame it on my husband instead. It can't have anything to do with me. Oh no...not me. I'm innocent.

Whoever's fault it is--not mine, I swear!--cleaning and organizing your house can force a diligent crafter to face one of life's most difficult moral dilemmas: should this be kept or tossed?

Sometimes keeping things makes me feel like one of the squirrels I see outside this time of year, frantically hoarding nuts like an obsessive compulsive. Other times I have nightmares that the police will have to come to my house to investigate a crime scene, and they'll have to wade through a bunch of junk that I've hoarded to collect evidence, finally giving up b/c there's no way they can navigate through all the stuff. Funny how the actual crime is not part of the nightmare; it's the obtrusive junk. This reminds me of the advice to always wear good underwear in case you have to go to the hospital. Again, apparently going to the hospital in an emergency situation is not nearly as bad as the nurses seeing you in underwear with a hole in it!

So even though my house is not nearly disorganized enough to have nightmares about, I sometimes feel compelled to just "throw it all away." We had a massive yard sale last spring and it felt awesome to see everything go...

Except that feeling didn't last long. Because a couple days later I was looking for a cookbook I rarely used but have held onto for years. I NEEDED a recipe for a coffee cake that was in that book. The book that I just gave away with a stack of others for a dollar. No biggie, right? I just went on the internet and got another recipe that wasn't quite the same but was just as good. No big deal...

But then a month or so after that it happened again! This time it was a bag full of 5 skeins of yarn and a set of knitting needles. It was also sold for a dollar at the yard sale. It went to a lovely woman "for her mother." I must have held on to that bag for twelve years. At nine months pregnant I thought, I haven't used these in years, the yarns are too dark, and I like crochet better than knitting anyway. Let me toss it. Of course within two months I was cursing myself for selling it; I became interested in knitting again and the dark yarns would be perfect colors for a little boy. What was I thinking?

It's uncanny how an item that has collected dust in the basement for over a decade can suddenly seem so important and necessary after it's been thrown/ given away. I'm sure it's some subconscious desire to always have what you can't.

This is very troublesome for crafters when it comes to scraps/ supplies. I wonder if the items in question are trash or treasure. Will I ever use those fabric scraps from my first quilt again? Sure, I haven't used my chalk pastels since college, but will I suddenly be struck with the motivation to use them once they're gone? What about that beautiful yarn that's too scratchy to use for anything, but is too beautiful to get rid of? All these things are stashed away in rubbermaid bins, hoping they escape the next yard sale.

I like to imagine that woman's mother from the yard sale has used the yarns that I took for granted for so many years and made something really special with them. Or maybe that exact bag is now sitting in her basement! As for me, I'm off to the craft store to buy the exact yarns and needles I sold last spring. I solemnly swear to be more discriminating from now on when it comes to purging.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I received a new Garnet Hill catalogue in the mail last week. I
was so excited to see so many beautiful handmade products in its pages. From the Christmas ornaments and stockings to these stunning throws, it was a crafter's dream.

These blankets are particularly awesome, because they're crocheted! The top two are hexagon grannies (I mentioned how I have been wanting to make something with that pattern).

And this last one is--you guessed it---Circles in the Square, which I am very familiar with. Circular patterns are very eye-catching and more modern looking when it comes to granny squares, in my opinion.

I'm currently knee-deep (hand-deep?) in yarn at the moment, making a lot of holiday gifts, attempting crochet snowflakes (I spent two hours working on one before I realized the pattern I was using was flawed. I would like to stab the pattern writer with my crochet hook! Hey, that's a lot of valuable nap time to waste, people!), and constantly feeling the pull of other crochet projects I would like to try. The pre-holiday season is a very busy time for us crafters. If you know other knitters/ crocheters, I bet they have started to get that serious, game-face look. Maybe beads of sweat have started to break out on their brows. When you talk to them they have that far-away, preoccupied look on their faces? Yep, they've got a lot of crocheting/ knitting to do before Dec. 25th.

I'm going to buckle down, focus on my current projects, and finish them. Then I can start to think about these lovely inspiration pieces pictured above...or maybe I should get started on next year's Christmas gifts?

For the cost curious, the hexagon blankets are priced at $348 and the pillows at $98. The Circle in the Square blanket is priced at $128. Crafters all over are raising their prices, I'm sure.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Once Upon a Square

I mentioned in the previous post how I'm a sucker for instant gratification. This became even more apparent to me this week as I stayed up way too late each night reading a book lent to me by my friend K. As I read the suspense/ romance Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart, I realized that I wanted to finish the entire book in one sitting so I could find out what happened--immediately. I didn't do it this time, but I have been known in the past to read ahead to find out what happens, or even read the last few pages of a book before I'm done. Yes, I'm one of those people. As I sacrificed much-needed mom sleep, it became increasingly clear that I really have a problem. Hi, My name is S and I'm impatient.

Here's another example of how crochet feeds this bad habit: I became interested in crochet again a year or two ago because I learned how to make granny squares. Just like the baby earflap hats, granny squares are like crack for a IG (instant gratification) addict like myself. Again, in only a short time you have a completed sqaure to admire. It's more satifiying than looking at the several rows you crocheted in a blanket or scarf. There are so many beautiful patterns to choose from as well. The practice squares in the picture above are a simple Solid Square; the twister blanket I made for my neice is a Circle in a Square. There are so many others I'd like to try. It's very exciting for a craft nerd like me.

The key to all granny squares, hats, mittens, snowflakes, leaves, and other motifs is to chain a circle. The beginning of this video is a good example. Once you master this easy technique, virtually all crochet doors are open to you.

I have grand plans for future blankets and pillows utilizing the dozens and dozens of different patterns, and we're not even talking about the hexagons, and triangles, and paisley motifs. The endless color combinations, the countless stitches to try...Oh, the suspense of it all! If only I could just make them all RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE! Wouldn't it be wonderful?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hats Off to...Hats

I'm the sort of person that needs instant gratification. I can't wait for anything. If you buy me a birthday present I will NEED to know what it is long before my big day. I couldn't have found out soon enough what the gender of my baby was either. If I could have found out the day I took my pregnancy test, I would have done it. Yes, it's a personality flaw, but it's obviously part of the reason why I love these little hats and can't stop making them.

These little beanies provide immediate gratification because in only a few hours you have a completed, adorable treasure. Though there is something to be said for the satisfaction you get from working on a longterm crochet project, these little hats are becoming addictive. This pink and green version was a gift for a friend of my husband's. The original pattern can be found here.

You can customize the pattern in a variety of ways. (This pattern was the foundation of the pumpkin beanie.) Because this was for a little girl, I added the multicolored braid ties. I used a 4 mm hook for the above beanie and that should fit most 3-6 month olds.

In addition to playing with colors, stripes, and decorative stitches, I've been working on some others right now and have also been adding pom poms to the tops.
I've already made Baby C three hats. He's a really great little guy, but my only complaint is that he only has one head.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oh, Yes It's Ladies Night...Oh What a Night...

A couple years ago my friend, P, got a small group of us girls together for what we originally called "Craft Night" and now refer to as "Girls Night". This was our version of what is popularly known as "Stitch & B*tch". It's a great forum for women to work on something creative, gossip, and eat/ drink. Note: there is a heavy focus on the eating/ gossip. We meet once a month and have made some fun crafts in the past. It's a great opportunity to get out and relax with friends. We rotate hosting and sometimes go somewhere to do something creative instead. For example, meeting at a local bead store to make jewelry, or going to a place that specializes in "make and take" meals.

My friend K hosted this past week and had a cute Halloween idea which she found here.

K was kind enough to spray paint our wreaths black ahead of time, so all we really had to do was glue on googly eyes and paint on glow-in-the-dark paint. That left plenty of time to devour the tasty food spread and hear some juicy conversation.

It was a relaxing and fun night. It does look a little like the Geico commercial...too bad the googly eyes don't come with a stack of bills underneath.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Great Pumpkin

Oh what is it exactly that fills my heart with so much joy when I look at a pumpkin? It's the feeling that maybe little kids feel at the sight of balloons.


Is it because they're a bright obnoxious orange; the color I have always associated with fall fun/ halloween?

Is it because they only make an appearance once a year?

Whatever it is, I love everything about them. How could you not? Can you think of another fruit (it has seeds and is therefore classified as a fruit) that is as versatile? It's an entree , a dessert, and a decoration. We don't carve up apples into Jack o' Lanterns, now do we?

In homage to the glorious pumpkin, I made this little hat. It was inspired by an adorable little beanie cap from Janie and Jack. Theirs is on the feminine side though and, ahem, was originally selling for 20 clams. Like all good crafters I thought, I'll just make one myself. Finding fault with their design (we're all critics, aren't we?) I chose to add the ubiquitous pumpkin stem so that it looked less like an orange than theirs. I also left off the leaves because I liked how it looked without them, but mostly because I have no idea how to make leaves yet.

I will learn how to do it soon and then maybe I'll rethink leaves on a cap. I DID just learn how to highlight weblinks in a blog post. If you want to know how to do that click here. I'll try not to overdo it, but I can't make any promises.

Info about the pattern: I followed a simple beanie pattern, made the stem by sc about 4 stitches in a round, without increasing any stitches, and made the curly vines by single crocheting once in a chain that was probably 20 stitches long for each vine.

Charity in Focus: Completed Helmet Liner

Here is the completed liner. It's basically like a ski mask. Or a sand mask.

It's now ready to be shipped. I hope the soldier wearing it remains safe and returns to his/ her family quickly.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Charity in Focus: Helmet Liner Project

There are a number of reasons to love knitting/ crochet: the therapeautic aspect to it, its practicality, or the simple aesthetic quality. (Let's not forget the lbs it can help you lose either! )But one more reason I love it is because of the charitable opportunities it provides. I can't really think of another craft that lends itself so completely to giving to others. Most knitters/ crocheters are constantly "toiling" away on items that are going to be given away as gifts. And many consistently work on items for different charities. I'd like to spotlight these organizations on this blog and contribute to them as well. If you know someone who might be interested in helping, please pass this information on to them.

The first Charity in Focus project was brought to my attention by my sister whose husband served a year recently in Afghanistan. When my brother-in-law was called to duty I was surprised to learn that he had to purchase his own body armor. I naively assumed that everything a soldier needed was just military-issued. This plea for help is for helmet liners for the soldiers, which cost considerably less than body armor, but do require some hours to make.

I was definitely struck by the fact that only 100% wool can be used because the "Armed Forces are not allowed to wear synthetic fibers outside the wire. Wool is inherently nonflammable and won’t melt against the skin in the event of an accident and is warm even when wet. " This really made me think about the person who will be wearing my helmet liner and the difficulties/ danger he/she may encounter. Lately my crochet stitches have started feeling more like prayer beads and my pattern has begun to look like this:

Round 12: (sc in next 10 sts, 2 Our Fathers, 1 Hail Mary, 1 Prayer to St. Michael for protection, 2 scs in  next st) 6 times (72 stiches, 12 Our Fathers, 6 Hail Marys, 6 prayers to St. Michael)

I'm almost finished crocheting mine and will be mailing it off shortly. For complete crochet and knitting instructions Read More after the jump...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Yarn Thief!

"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law..."

I admit it. I'm guilty. This poor blanket was just minding his own business when I began stalking him from around the corner. He was the perfect prey: vulnerable, rich, and oblivious to the danger lurking nearby. I waited patiently for my chance to ambush. Before he even knew what was happening, I had already mugged my victim, robbing him of the precious yarns that were rightfully his.
Ha, ha, I laughed maniacally as I ran away from the scene of the crime, leaving him in a heap on the floor. I clutched my stolen treasures in my arms: 7 skeins of yarn in the blanket's vibrant colors! I knew I would be easy to trace, but I didn't care. I already had visions of sweaters, hats, and gloves dancing in my head.
Before the yarn police caught up with me I had already spent most of what I had stolen. The yarn was used on 4 hats, 1 sweater, and various accents on other pieces. Too bad, blanket. You may have caught me, but you'll never get your yarn back!
This will eventually be Baby C.'s "big boy blanket" so I have some time yet before I make restitution by buying more of these yarns and actually finishing it. I'm only a quarter of the way through. I like to have a number of projects going on simultaneously, and I've been very distracted lately by them. I'm even playing around with knitting again. I'm pretty determined to get the hang of it this time, but it's slow going for me. Again, I have plenty of time to learn. Now especially, since I'm looking at a life sentence in the slammer.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Presto Pesto

I waited until almost the last possible moment, but I finally "harvested" my basil plant. It was the best plant I had in the past 4 years and I'm sorry to see it go--sniff, sniff. But I couldn't wait to make pesto!

This recipe comes my way from my mom who in turn received it from her boss. It is so good--buttery, garlicky, basil-ly...everything I want in a pesto.
I had enough basil leaves to make a few batches to throw in the freezer. I can not wait until the cold, wintry weather; I'll pull out this pesto and instantly smell the brightness and warmth of summer!


1/2 cup pine nuts (roast them in a pan until fragrant)

handful of spinach leaves

1/4 cup fresh basil

2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (can use a mixture of Parmesan and Romano)

6 tablespoons softened butter

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 tsp salt

pinch of pepper

1. Throw everything in a food processor and blend. (I use a handheld emulsion blender)

2. Smell the pesto goodness in your kitchen .

3. Enjoy on pasta of your choice with family or friends!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sweater Weather

Sept. has already had its cold moments, which makes crocheting sweaters, hats, and gloves feel even more appropriate. There's nothing stranger than crocheting a wool blanket in sweltering July heat. You get a lot of weird looks from people too.

Here are two finished sweaters for Baby C. This cream one fits now at 6 months and the navy will fit 9-12 months.

This is from a pattern from, but I wound up changing so much about it that there's very little resemblance to the original. It was supposed to have a hood, no collar, and the single crochets along all the seams were not there (I had to do that last minute because it was too small for the baby.) Mostly everything about this sweater was a happy mistake. I love the look of it; it reminds me of a classic irish wool sweater, but it's made with my new favorite yarn, a soft merino wool blend from Naturally Caron "Country".

The twist over stitch was also fun and a new one for me to learn.

The navy sweater is a little ho hum. Just single crochets throughout. I used some old yarn from my stash. It's a soft yarn, but the single crochets make the sweater somewhat stiff. I would probably not remake this pattern as is. The pattern was also found on Coats and Clark, but I did change it slightly. The original was made with two colors and was supposed to be striped.

Buttons Part 2: "A Rich Jewel in an Ethiop's Ear"

Or on an Ethiop's finger.
I love buttons so much they deserve another post... Much Ado About Nothing was on TV the other day and that got me started thinking about Shakespeare and some of his plays. I randomly thought of this quote from Romeo & Juliet and because I have buttons on the brain I started thinking of how buttons are a lot like jewelry on clothing.

Just like a necklace or pair of earrings can change a look, so too can the buttons you choose to accessorize a handmade item. Here are some of the different choices I looked at for Baby C.'s navy sweater.

Tortoise swirl:



Wooden hearts:

White plastic:

Maybe they should invent pop off buttons so you can change the look of an outfit whenever you want.
It was a tough choice, but I went with the first picture, tortoise swirl.
Footnote: I said before that "Happiness is a bag of buttons." Let me end here with a little story that happened last week. As I considered which buttons to use for the sweater, I dumped the contents of the Big Ol' Bag of Buttons on my table and started running my hands over the contents. It was then that I realized a large, shiny, black, misshapen button started moving under my hand. My surprise turned to complete disgust as I realized it was a giant cricket mixed in with the buttons I had been sorting. How the cricket became trapped in this bag, I do not want to know. All I know is what followed was some screaming and my husband engaging in cricket hunting as the evil insect hopped behind the couch. I loathe all insects (except for lady bugs and butterflies). All I can say is "Happiness was a bag of buttons."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Buttons Part 1: Big Ol' Bag o' Buttons.

Happiness is a bag of buttons. The other day I thought of an old memory: watching my mother sewing with her sewing kit next to her. It was an old faux tortoise shell box with all sorts of interesting things in it. As a little kid I remember being fascinated by the straight pins that were decorated with yellow enamel tops almost like little candies. Or the strange silver thimble that I loved putting on my own fingers. Then there was the tape measure which I tried measuring my height with. These things could provide much joy on their own, but by far the greatest treasure of all was the assortment of random buttons found at the bottom of the box. Each one was unique and had a little history that went with it. Maybe it belonged to a wedding dress, or an ordinary frock. Maybe it belonged to a sixties style coat or a responsible tailored blazer. I liked the buttons for their randomness, for what they were, and what they could become.

Recently I asked my mother if I could look at her saved buttons, and she told me I could have them (Thanks, Mom!). She handed over a fun glass container packed with them. My mother is a firm believer that " keeping a button is a guarantee that you will never lose one." (Mom, if you ever lose one, you know where to find me.) I found some favorites and even got inspired from them to make some crochet items in the future.

That very week I was in a local craft store and stumbled upon the Bargain Button bag. The childhood excitement hit me again as I inspected the bag and let my eyes scan over the random buttons inside. These would be perfect for the two sweaters I'm making for Baby C.

I can't wait to try out the different combinations. I'm also going to make sure to hold onto my spare buttons from now on. Of course this is mostly for myself since I doubt Baby C. will be interested in sewing. I have a feeling he'll be a little more interested in football instead.

Friday, September 11, 2009

For My Sister

Circles in the Square for my sister's lovely daughter.

Twister anyone?

I liked this pattern. Hope my neice likes it too.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

On Top of Spaghetti

Being a new mom I am carrying around more than just an adorable little monkey on my body all day. I'm also carrying around those pesky pregnancy pounds. Aside from the regular exercise regime of baby lifting, laundry lunges, and stroller power walks I have found another sure-fire way to lose weight whether it's from pregnancy or not. Move over, Atkins, South Beach, and Flat Belly. Say hello to The Crochet Diet!

Most moms will attest to the fact that when baby is awake there is time for very little else but baby. This can be good if you are trying to lose weight because there is very little time to eat anything. However, I have found that once Baby C. goes to bed at night with the sound of "On Top of Spaghetti" (one of his favorite songs) resonating in his ears, dangerous snacking can occur. Many people find themselves to be night snackers. What usually happens after dinner is over and the dishes are put away? You and millions of other Americans find themselves on the couch in front of the TV. It's time to relax and enjoy yourself. And somehow the urge to snack is overwhelming.

Some popular diets stress the importance of not eating after 7 pm. Have you ever really tried to do this? I have. I sat there. On the couch. Watching TV. My hands motionless on my lap. Something felt really strange. The universe was off-kilter. I felt so restless. That was it. I couldn't take it anymore. My head was pounding---I needed something to snack on!!! Seconds later the feeding frenzy began.

After numerous attempts to subscribe to the "no food after 7" philosophy I finally realized that what was really bugging me was not that I couldn't eat (because I actually wasn't even hungry) but that my hands were completely idle. And you know what they say about idle hands being the Devil's playthings. (Apparently the Devil can not rest unless I eat a chocolate peanut butter sundae every night).

Question: Have you ever tried to eat a bag of chips or a gooey dessert and crochet or knit at the same time? It can not be done. Even if you are really determined you will not be able to do both. Again, I've already tried it. Here's what happens: You're hands will become oily or sticky and even with careful napkin wiping you will inevitably not be able to properly grasp your needles or hook. Who wants to contend with a slippery/sticky needle while crafting? And who wants to risk soiling the item they're painstakingly creating? Hence, the birth of The Crochet Diet.

It's certainly not a novel idea to distract yourself in this way, but it took me awhile to come to this A-Ha moment. It really does work. The best part of this diet is that you can multi-task in three distinct ways: 1.) Create a beautiful handmade item 2.) Watch your favorite TV shows 3.) Lose weight by not snacking/ burning calories. According to most activity calculators, knitting/ crocheting burns around 99 calories per hour. Not too shabby. If you did this every night and changed nothing else about your lifestyle you could potentially lose 10 pounds a year. Not bad for sitting on your butt.

Usually you can tell if your diet is working by weighing yourself or trying on your clothes. With The Crochet Diet just look at the progress you're making on that lovely afghan or sweater.

I have to practice what I preach, however b/c Baby C's navy blue sweater is still missing a sleeve, and it's going on 3 weeks now. That's no surprise since I've been hitting the ice cream in the freezer pretty hard most nights. But I resolve to be better and give The Crochet Diet the focus it deserves. Besides, birthdays, baby showers, and the holidays are coming up and I have gifts that must be made...and pounds to lose.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Generic License.