Sunday, 25 May 2014

Sunday Morning Crochet

I am thoroughly enjoying this beautiful warm sunny Sunday morning. First I took the 'girls' for their morning walk around the block. When we got back, I couldn't resist taking a photo of this nesting cardinal in our blue spruce. She is difficult to capture as she is much more nervous and flighty than the turtle dove her neighbour one branch down. I think this is a pretty good shot considering I was balancing on a kitchen chair and holding the camera above my head. 
I fed all the girls (Maggie, Sadie and Minnie) before taking this photo then I quickly tidied up the kitchen and folded a couple loads of laundry before heading upstairs to finish another crochet Baby Dragon. Crochet and cappuccino ... perfection.
For fellow crafters who might like to make this dragon, the free pattern by Marjorie Jones can be found here. This is the third dragon I have made. The first was done using Bernat Handicrafter cotton yarn and was given to my grandson. The next two were made using 100% wool yarn Lopi Lettlopi. I like the look and feel of wool yarn for the dragons but must admit I find it difficult to join the pieces. Wool yarn is rough and tends to fray and break as it is pulled through the tight Amigurumi style stitches. I recommend either cotton or acrylic yarns for crochet toys as you'll have a much easier time joining.

Here is the latest baby dragon completed using two different colours of wool. 
I like the way these baby dragons look done in wool. I also like that they have a nice rough 'dragony' feel if you know what I mean.
While I work, my fur friends keep me company. Minnie who is blind and deaf takes the best spot beside me while Sadie perches on the back of the sofa. Aren't they cute?
I was surprised to find our other 'girl' Maggie sleeping under a corner desk in a cozy bed. Our 'girls' like their comfort and know how to relax.
Now that I've finished the dragon and shared the photos, I think it's time to get outside and enjoy this beautiful weather. My bike and my husband are calling. He was slow to rise as he was suffering from a nasty neck/head ache this morning. He tells me he feels much better now thanks to extra rest and drugs. I wonder if we'll venture further than the 60 km we did yesterday? 

I hope all of you are enjoying this beautiful Sunday as well.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Boulder Bound Belongings

A couple months ago my parents started planning another cross country driving trip to Boulder for the end of May. As soon as they mentioned it, I started gathering stuff for them to take to my daughter who has young children and can make use of things we no longer need. I love it when belongings stay within the family but are useful instead of just taking up space. This is my favourite way to declutter.

This glider rocker was a gift to me when I had my first child, our daughter. It was well used but not abused as it always sat in a corner of a bedroom first as a nursing chair then a reading chair. Most recently it sat in a corner of our seldom used spare bedroom in the basement. I moved this chair to the front hallway on Monday night where Maggie promptly took ownership. She slept on it all night and most of the day as far as I can tell. 
Maggie was our daughter's cat who got left behind when our daughter moved out. I wonder how many parents inherit their children's pets? Actually Maggie is attached to our home and our son so it hasn't been so bad keeping her. I tell myself that as I scoop her litter, vacuum massive amounts of cat hair, wipe paw prints off the stove before each use and clean up yet another coughed up fur ball. Despite all that, we really do love having her around so Maggie stays. Only the chair goes along with a few other things I gathered together.
Our daughter wanted to have our children's books so I gathered together four boxes full. I kept a few for when they visit plus a few my son specifically requested. My daughter can sort through the boxes and donate any she does not want. I am also sending her guitar, guitar books and music stand. The bag on the right is full of Halloween costumes we collected over the years. I thought they should have a 'dress up' box for the kids. The other bag is full of bits and bobs; a crochet blanket (not made by me) to add to our grandson's 'nest', special dolls that belonged to our daughter, a couple hoodies I no longer wear but will fit our daughter and a hand-made sun dress for our granddaughter.
My parents piled everything in the back of their SUV with plenty of room to spare for their luggage and extra gifts. I wonder if I should have packed more? No, I think that's enough for now. That's it for our pile of Boulder bound belongings. 

My parents left this morning (Wednesday) and expect to arrive Friday morning. They could do it in two days but prefer to arrive when everybody is awake and ready to start the day. I wish them a safe trip and a happy visit full of cuddles with their beautiful great grandchildren. I hope they take lots of pictures to share and I look forward to hearing all about it when they return.

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Sunday, 18 May 2014

Turtle Dove and Puppy Love

I have two bits of exciting news to share. At least I think it's exciting, but then anything involving baby animals is exciting to me.

A Turtle Dove is nesting in the blue spruce in our front garden. The dove sits on the nest at eye level on the outer branches and does not seem to be the least bit bothered by me peering in every time I walk by. The dove has been facing tail side out until today. When I saw her facing me I just had to take a picture. I think Turtle Doves (aka Mourning Doves) are lovely birds. Doesn't this one look amazing?
They have been nesting for about a week so I expect there will be babies in another week. Apparently the mortality rate can be as high as 69% for the young but they can raise up to six broods in a season to compensateI hope these babies survive. 

If you would like to know more about this pretty bird, Wikipedia provides encyclopedic quality information here

The other bit of exciting news as you may have guessed involves a puppy. Our neighbour picked up a gorgeous 10 week old bichon/poodle puppy from the London Humane Society today. They called her LOLA short for Lots Of Love Always. Isn't she adorable? I get to spend a whole day with her next weekend because our neighbour has tickets to a game in Toronto. It'll be so much fun. I can't wait. 
My husband took the photo above and my son took the action shot below. Our neighbour is so happy to have a puppy to love again. Run Lola run.
I predict Sadie our poodle and Lola are going to be great friends. Our son has an open invitation to visit and play with the puppy any time he likes. My Mom has already volunteered to be Lola's sitter. I get to cover next weekend because my parents will be in Boulder visiting their Great Grandchildren.

So that's my exciting news for today. Time to make dinner then relax for the evening. I'm looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow as it's Victoria Day holiday in Canada - bonus. What are you enjoying this holiday weekend?

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The Dress Fits

As mentioned in a previous post, I made an aqua dress which was much too big for my little crochet mouse. To fix this dilemma I made a bear using a free pattern by Yellow, Pink and Sparkly found here. As promised, here are some photos of Betty Bear along with instructions for those of you who might like to make one too. 

I think Betty Bear turned out rather well. She is 8" tall which is perfect for little hands. The dress fits yet is loose enough to remove and also fun for little hands.
To crochet Betty Bear, you will need to make the following alterations to this free pattern offered by Yellow, Pink and Sparkly:

I used Bernat Softee Baby yarn in white and aqua for the bear and black acrylic worsted weight yarn for the eyes, nose, mouth and feet. Hook size 3.25 mm

Instead of working stripes on the bear, the first 6 rows of the body are done using aqua to form matching panties for the dress. The body of the bear is crocheted in the round meaning the rows are not 'joined'.

The arms and head are worked in the round in plain white.

The legs are worked in black for the first 5 rows to make shoes. I followed the pattern for the right foot then made a left foot by switching the beginning and ending stitch count for rows 5 to 7.

So for the left foot, use the following instructions:
R5 - 1 ch, 1 sc into next 11 sc, [sc2tog] 4 times, 1 sc into next 7 sc. Sl St into 1st sc (22 sc)
Switch to white
R6 - 1 ch, 1 sc into next 11 sc [sc2tog] 2 times, 1 sc into next 7 sc. Sl St into 1st sc (18 sc)
R7 - 1 ch, 1 sc into next 10 sc [sc2tog] 2 times, 1 sc into next 6 sc. Sl St into 1st sc (15 sc)
Continue working in round with white to end of R15.
Switch to aqua
Last 3 rows worked in aqua to make matching shorts/panties for dress.

It is Victoria Day weekend here in Canada. I hope you're all having a great time. I am happy to have finished another project. Another toy to add to my stash.  

I haven't decided what I'd like to make next.  Oh well, it's time to take a break and enjoy some fresh air before it rains.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Mothers' Day Weekend

This was a perfect weekend to celebrate Mothers' Day. With such warm and sunny weather, I asked my SO (Significant Other) to take some garden shots on Saturday. Our magnolia tree is in full bloom and beautiful. Who doesn't love magnolias?
We have flowers blooming along the back wall of our house as well. I love the white Flox. It's such a pretty tiny flower. 
I also love this purple Pasque Flower. It's so intricate and colourful with lacy green leaves. 
Our garden is relatively small but I thoroughly enjoy the few flowers and herbs we grow. I say "we" but really I mean my SO. My gardening enthusiasm ends with the enjoying part. It's my SO who takes care of planting and maintenance. 

He was extra busy planting pots and cleaning the pool this weekend. He added some green by planting basil and removed other green by adding five 10 L jugs of chlorine to the pool over the past few days. The pool looks quite inviting although much too cold for me.
"We" also planted sage and parsley (no photo) and our garden is already full of tarragon, oregano, mint and chives. I love using fresh herbs from our garden all summer long.

On Sunday to celebrate Mothers' Day, we gave my Mom a bouquet of white roses, crochet dish cloths and a card. My favourite pattern for crochet dish cloths can be found here. I like to add a single crochet border to this pattern to give a clean finished look.

In my recent clutter clearing efforts, I found this card from 1972 made when I was almost 9 years old. I thought the verse was funny so I wrote an updated version and gave it to my Mom along with the original. 

Clutter clearing trick - scan paper items so you no longer have to keep the original. You'll save the memory without the clutter. I plan to do more of that to cut down on stored photos and various keepsakes.

I took my Mom to Starbuck's in Byron where we enjoyed cappuccino on the patio then spent some time chatting in my parents' back garden before heading over to my In-Law's for lunch. Lunch was delicious and it was great to get everybody together again. Our son who recently got a part-time job was working but we did manage to save him some apple pie.

After lunch my SO and I had massages booked for 3:00 and 4:30 p.m. which was exactly what we both needed. Me for my shoulder injury and my SO from doing so much extra work around the garden and pool. 

With the timing of massages and extra jobs to be done at home, we missed our son's first soccer game of the season.  Luckily our parents went and our son was happy to report a win which was very exciting and a great start to his season.

My SO also planted Tuberous Begonias in a pot which sits in the corner of our patio. We loved these flowers last year as they were full of blooms all summer long and into the fall. We also love the ambiance provided by colourful light sticks in this pot all year round.

Sitting outside enjoying a glass of wine at the end of the day. A weekend full of simple pleasures.

Then to top it off, our son finally took the time to check his email and discovered he has been accepted at both Carlton University and University of Guelph in Computer Sciences. He had already been accepted at Brock University back in February. Now he has a decision to make. How great is that? He is looking forward to the next step after high school but also thoroughly enjoying himself right now.

I'm so excited for him and looking forward to the inevitable changes this year. I wonder what it will be like to have him out of the house in September? I wonder if I will finally be able to sleep through the night? The house is going to be so quiet. I haven't decided if that is a good thing or bad thing but I'm leaning towards good.

I hope you all enjoyed your Mothers' Day weekend including the ups and downs and everything in between because that is what life is like with kids or without. 

Friday, 9 May 2014

Very Good News

It has been almost 2 weeks since my last post Crochet Cushion Covers. In that post I mentioned taking a break from crochet due to a painful bout of what I thought might be frozen shoulder (left side) starting Easter weekend. 

I am happy to report that I do not have frozen shoulder which is Very Good News. My physiotherapist Jim Millard at Body Mechanics in Byron Village tells me I have what is commonly referred to as 'baby' shoulder. Basically, a shoulder injury from 20 years ago flared up after riding to work on my commuter bike all week then taking it for a longer 35 km ride on Good Friday. It's a fun bike but the straight bars put my arms in a position similar to cradling a baby (hence the name) which pushed my shoulder joint forward in the socket creating an impingement. That's just a fancy word for pinching. The prolonged irritation caused inflammation which resulted in extreme shoulder pain whenever I tried to lift my arm in any direction or even lay down to sleep.

The first week, I visited my chiropractor Dr. Carolyn Dalgity twice for laser therapy and adjustments. The second week, I saw my physiotherapist who immediately diagnosed the problem and taped my shoulder for a few days which helped immensely.  He also gave me some simple shoulder exercises designed to get my rotator cuff muscles to activate and relieve the tension in my shoulder and neck resulting from other muscles doing extra work to compensate. 

I will continue to see my chiropractor and physiotherapist once a week until the inflammation has completely cleared. Already it is much improved which is Very Good News and I have the all clear to ride my bike also Very Good News. Although, I am riding a different bike to avoid aggravating my shoulder too much.
Crochet has taken a bit of a back seat while I've been nursing this sore shoulder but now that things are improving, I'm happily back at it. I made a bonnet for Sweetie Bear using this free pattern. Does it look like a baby bonnet or more like a bonnet worn by a granny? I haven't decided if it is an improvement or not. What do you think? 
Another small project I finally finished is this cute little mouse. If you would like to make one too, this pattern by blogger Yellow, Pink and Sparkly is available for free and can be found here. The first time I made this mouse I used pink yarn for the dress and added a small button nose. I gave it to our niece who happened to be wearing a very similar style dress in red when she was visiting and she loved it. 
This time I made an aqua dress using a 3.25 mm hook instead of the recommended 3.0 mm as I do not have that size, at least not among my favourite Addi-Swing crochet hooks. If you're not familiar with this ergonomically friendly hook and are interested, there is a very thorough review on blogger PetalsToPicots site here
Of course the aqua dress is too big and does not look right on this little mouse. You'll have to take my word on that as I did not take a picture of the mouse wearing the aqua dress before making a new dress in white using hook size 2.5 mm.  
This white dress fits just right. Doesn't it look adorable with a little green ribbon adding a pop of colour?

I'm considering making a bear from another free pattern by Yellow, Pink and Sparkly found here. I expect this bear will be just big enough for this lovely aqua dress to fit nicely. When I finish I'll post a photo so you can see how it looks. 

I love making these little crochet toys but I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all of them. Over the past few years, I've made a bunch for my grandson and a few for my new granddaughter. They have so many toys now that they don't really need any more. I might just continue to enjoy the process of making them and taking photos for my blog and then perhaps sell a few. Do you ever make anything without any particular purpose in mind? I like the idea of making things for fun but for some reason I hesitate to make things to sell. Although if I made something for fun and somebody wanted to buy it, I would be willing to sell it. Phew, that is a roundabout way of saying I might perhaps be selling a few of my hand-made pieces.  

So my Very Good News is I'm on the mend and getting back to enjoying some of my favourite hobbies - crochet, biking and blogging. I hope all of you are also keeping well and able to get out and enjoy this warm spring weather which has finally arrived. It looks like a perfect weekend to celebrate Mothers' Day here in Canada.

Happy Mothers' Day to all the wonderful Moms out there and especially to my Mom, my Mum-In-Law and my Daughter. Have a wonderful weekend.