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.
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