Thursday, 22 January 2015

Two More Sleeps

Two more sleeps and we're off to Cuba on a 2-week bike tour called "A Tribute to Celia Sanchez" with CanBiCuba. We did this tour five years ago so I have a good idea what to expect. If you're interested you can check out our photos from that trip here.

I am so looking forward to a total change of scenery and routine but I'm also a little worried about my fitness and ability to manage the hills and distances. We have been spending 45 mins to an hour on our indoor trainers a few times a week but it does not compare to riding every day for hours outside in the heat. I think that's what makes it so exciting - challenge combined with uncertainty. 

I started packing about two weeks ago and went through everything again last weekend. We can hand wash clothing but things don't always dry overnight and we're on the move almost every day. My challenge is to keep it light and easy to organize but still have everything I need. 
I've been reading about minimalism and wondering how to implement some of the concepts into our lives. This trip provides a good opportunity to practice. There is no way I can travel with only a backpack while biking, hiking, swimming and dressing casually for dinner. After taking this photo I removed 3 pairs of socks but everything else is staying. I think I've done a good job keeping it simple. I'll see how it goes and make adjustments for future trips. 

While we are away, I will be taking a break from technology and crochet. Internet access is unreliable and expensive on this trip so I'm leaving my laptop behind. I could pack some hooks and yarn but I won't. I plan to socialize and rest when I'm not riding. I wonder if I'll get bored? Maybe I'll pack a book and a little journal just in case.

We are taking a camera but only our little waterproof camera - all part of keeping it simple and easy to carry. I'll be sure to share a few photos and highlights from our trip. 

Before I go, I have a couple more exciting things to share with you. 

This week, for the first time, I decided to crochet a doll without a pattern. I am, in fact, writing the pattern as I go. Even though it's a bit of a creative stretch for me, I am thoroughly enjoying the process. Here is a sneak-peek photo of what I've done so far.
I have finished the legs and body and plan to work on the head next then the arms. I will be sure to show you the finished doll and share the pattern when I get back as I'm pretty sure it won't be done before then. 

OK, here is the last bit of exciting news. I saved the best for last. My Mom and I have booked a trip to Boulder to visit my daughter and her family for a week in March. We traveled together last winter and had a fabulous time. You can read all about that trip here. I can't wait to do it again. I am totally excited and happy to fit in another family visit.

So now I'm back to wondering how I'll manage those hills and long rides in Cuba. Just Two More Sleeps. Wish me luck. 

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Saturday, 17 January 2015

Sweet Summer Ripple Doll Blanket

In September I crocheted my first "Sweet Summer Ripple Blanket" named for the soft summery colours selected for our sweet granddaughter. This week I finally got around to making a matching doll blanket from leftover yarn. I love how it looks so teeny tiny and cute.
If you look closely, you can see I used a ripple made of 10 stitches instead of the standard 14 stitch repeat. I also switched colours every row instead of every other row working all the rows in the same direction. There is clearly a right and a wrong side with this blanket.
With so many colour changes I made good use of my yarn needles, yarn threader and scissors. With DK weight yarn, I used a 4 mm crochet hook.
A small bowl full of yarn ends. I counted 34 stripes with a 3 row border for a total of 74 yarn ends so lots of weaving in for this little blanket.
I still have yarn left but will find a use for it. No yarn wasted here.
I had fun taking photos this morning. See how much smaller my Sweet Summer Ripple is beside my Cosmic Rays Ripple Doll Blanket. It's mostly due to the difference in yarn weight and hook size. My Cosmic Rays Ripple Blanket was made using worsted weight yarn and a 5 mm hook. 

Miss Violet enjoys laying on ripples dreaming of summer and picnics in the park. Bunny likes to snuggle under ripples for a much needed nap.
Miss Violet admires both ripple doll blankets folded and piled together. Any doll would be happy to have such cozy and colourful blankets.
In case you would like to make one too, I've included instructions on how to make this Sweet Summer Ripple Doll Blanket.

PDF Version

Stitches Used:
ch (chain)
dc (double crochet)
dc2tog (double crochet 2 together)
sc (single crochet)

Starting Chain 53 (5 x 10 + 3)

Row 1: dc in 4th ch from hook, *dc in next 2 ch, dc2tog 2 times, dc in next 2 ch, 2 dc in next 2 dc**, repeat * to ** across ending with 2 dc in top of last dc, finish off leaving a long tail to weave in

Same as crochet ripple pattern described here but reduce by 2 dc on either side of the 'valley' and the 'bump' to get a 10 stitch repeat instead of 14

Change colour every row, work right to left (for right-handed crocheters)

Border - 3 rounds (follow instructions found here by blogger Lucy at Attic24)

Finished size - 13.5" x 16.5"
34 stripes randomly selected colours
10 colours (left over from Sweet Summer Ripple Blanket)

Yarn Used (10 colours):
  1. Bernat Softee Baby - Soft Peach
  2. Bernat Softee Baby - White
  3. Bernat Softee Baby - Antique White
  4. Bernat Softee Baby - Flannel
  5. Bernat Softee Baby - Aqua
  6. Bernat Softee Baby - Pale Blue
  7. Patons Beehive Baby Sport - Violet Mist
  8. Patons Beehive Baby Sport - Spring Clover
  9. Patons Beehive Baby Sport - Rose Bud
  10. Baby Marble - Shade (blues, pinks, purples)

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Sunday, 11 January 2015

Crochet Moss Stitch Infinity Scarf

I am always reluctant to buy really good yarn because it seems so expensive. A couple years ago I bought two hanks of Alegria yarn at The Yarn Factory Outlet in Listowel. Alegria yarn is super soft hand-dyed fingering weight or sock yarn made from a blend of superwash merino so it's both easy care and durable.

To start I had to roll the hank into a ball by hand. I convinced my husband to hold up his hands and support the yarn while I rolled. It takes quite a long time to roll this amount of yarn into a ball so once my husband was tired of 'helping', I draped the yarn over a kitchen chair back to finish. I didn't think to take a picture. The whole process is really quite labour intensive and I still have the second hank to roll. It can wait.
I was saving this yarn for something really special. I finally decided to make an infinity scarf with it. I love the moss stitch so I followed this free crochet cowl pattern. The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn which works up much bigger than fine sock yarn. 

I made this pattern last Christmas and it was much easier to do with worsted weight yarn. Working with sock yarn and a 4 mm hook is challenging when you have a starting chain of 215 and have to join it without twisting. I started over about three times before I was satisfied. 

Once I realized how much smaller it was gong to be, I decided to carry on but call it an "Infinity Scarf". It was not going be long enough to wrap twice around the neck but if I made it wide using all the yarn, it should drape nicely on its own.
When I first started working on the cowl in this colour I had my niece in mind as bright colours look so good on her. Once I finished I tried it on and decided it made a perfectly fine Infinity Scarf. I also discovered I could take a decent selfie in front of a mirror. The camera reflection in the mirror shows where you're aiming which is much easier than working blind. My head is cut off on purpose as I just wanted to show the scarf.
I also draped the scarf over a wine carafe to show a close up of the stitches and beautiful colours in this yarn. The crochet moss stitch is one of my favourite stitches. I just love how it looks.
I was so pleased to finish in plenty of time for our niece's birthday today. It's wrapped and ready to go. I hope she likes it.
I think the colour suits her perfectly and I'm pretty sure she likes it. Another Crochet Moss Stitch Infinity Scarf made with love to help keep her warm this winter.  Happy 25th Birthday to our beautiful niece. 

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Crochet Fluffy Ripple Blanket

Remember the 12 balls of yarn I bought on sale at Michael's on Boxing Day? I decided to crochet a fluffy ripple ripple blanket for my son. Lion Brand Homespun Thick and Quick is not my favourite yarn to work with as it tends to stick and catch on the hook but it does make a soft fluffy blanket. It's just the sort of blanket our son prefers so worth the effort.

I bought 12 balls of yarn thinking it would be too much. I asked if I could return unused yarn and confirmed I needed to keep the receipt and return it within 60 days of purchase. No problem, I was hoping to finish this blanket before our son headed back to University on January 3rd.  
I used two colours to make this blanket; pearl and dove. Pearl is the slightly darker colour. When my son headed back to University, I was still three balls short of finishing and I was beginning to think I might have to buy more. In the end, I used all but a small amount of each colour.
I finished the blanket on Monday night but had to wait until Friday for some decent sunlight to take photos. Our son's room faces West but the sunlight fades fast after work. I plopped the folded blanket in the middle of his bed before unfolding it a bit then spreading it out across the bed.
The blanket fits crosswise on a queen size bed with lots of coverage down both sides. Twelve balls of bulky yarn make a really big blanket. I also stretched it out lengthwise on the bed. I like it this way as well.
I love the way this blanket looks and it really is oh so cuddly. Here is a closeup showing the stitches. I do love this colour combination. It's such a warm neutral look that I'm sure our son will love too.
So I've shown the blanket both crosswise and lengthwise on the bed but here is the way I imagine it will look when our son gets it, all crumpled and cozy and ready to use of course.

In case you would like to make a blanket just like this one, I've included the Nitty Gritty Details below:

I followed this basic crochet ripple pattern by blogger Lucy at Attic24.

12 balls of Lion Brand Homespun Thick and Quick yarn
  - 6 balls of pearl (creamy white and taupe)
  - 6 balls of dove (warm cream)
Hook size N 10 mm

Starting Chain = 129 (9 x 14 + 3)

Stripes worked as follows:
Start with 6 rows of pearl 
Alternate: 4 rows of dove (7 times) and 2 rows of pearl (6 times)
Finish with 6 rows of pearl

Border in pearl: 
Starting at lower right corner with front side facing up. 2 dc (double crochet) in each row end up the side. 3 sc (single crochet) in the corner and sc in each stitch across the top. 3 sc in next corner. 2 dc in each row end down the side. 3 sc in third corner and sc each stitch across the bottom. Finish with 3 sc in last corner. Join to first dc and finish off. Weave in all ends.

Finished size: 92" (wide) x 72" (high)

Note: Each ball worked approximately 4 rows with a starting chain of 129

12 balls x $7.99 (sale price) = $95.88 + $12.46 HST = $108.34 Total
12 balls x $12.99 (original price) = $155.88 + $20.26 HST = $176.14 Total
Savings: $67.80

Total Time: 
I'm not really sure how many hours of work went into this blanket as I didn't time how long it took to finish each row. I can tell you I started December 27th and finished January 5th (10 days total). It was a relatively quick and easy project.

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