Hello out there! I am back from the holidays, after all this long while. This time our holidays included a Thanksgiving, three Christmases, a New Year’s, a birthday, a wedding shower, and a bachelorette party – a lot of fun crammed into a short time!
It also included what I will just call a Significant Heartbreaking Event for Nicky and me. I will spare you the details, but suffice it to say that it was the type of Significant Heartbreaking Event that left me wanting to just be alone – I felt like the wind got knocked out of me and any type of motivation to do anything got sucked right out along with it.
But, life does go on in spite of ourselves, and unlike the Polar Vortex nightmare that is going on outside right now, I do feel like I am slowly thawing out. In an effort to distract myself from myself, I started working on some projects I have been putting off for forever. It all began with some ancient crochet bedspreads . . .
I inherited two enormous bedspreads that my Great Grampa made – apparently he was an avid and very skilled crocheter. The bedspreads haven’t been well taken care of and they need some heavy-duty mending and stain-removal. I started in on what is turning out to be the herculean task of mending all of the rips and ravels and missing pieces . . . and just got overwhelmed (I will share the bedspreads with you in two years, the actual time it will take me to fix them). So, I moved on to something a bit more manageable: doilies.
The doilies have been passed on to me from one of Nicky’s Great Grammas. I wanted them out for everyone to see . . . but I am not exactly the type of person to have doilies sitting out on tables and such. Enter Pinterest, as usual. I saw this post over at Goodknits and knew I had a winner – Lisa’s idea is genius!
This project was many things: Meditative. Easy. Satisfying. Also, it made me feel really connected to the past in a weird way, and happy that I found a solution for displaying these heirlooms.
No doilies were harmed in the making of these mandalas – I only stitched into the backing fabric, or gently slid the thread through stitches!
The exclamation is supposed to make it positive and exiting. It’s that time of year again, when I need to step away from the internet for a bit to focus on the holidays and family and myself – so I don’t become insane! Take care everyone, and I’ll see you in a few months, all renewed and fresh as a daisy.
After doing something complicated or difficult or stressful, it’s necessary to take a break with something mindless. Especially now, when the days are short and cold, all I want to do is watch Netflix and shove carbs in my face. Here’s a mindless task to keep your hands busy and out of the box of Cheez-Its.
- Find a cheap scarf and buy it. I found this one on sale for five bucks. It was too long and it had some tears in it, so I cut it apart and Steam-a-Seamed it back together into an infinity scarf (no sewing!). You don’t need to do that, but I thought I’d put that out there in case you find yourself in the same predicament.
- Cut lengths of embroidery floss that are a few inches longer than your scarf. I separated the lengths into three strands of floss.
- Make running stitches all the way around. I taped my starting ends down so I could just tie the floss together when the ends met back up again. If you’re not working into an infinity scarf, you’ll have to tie knots at start and finish.
- Make sure to check that everything is flush as you’re going, so you don’t end up with bunches in your scarf.
I used the weave of the fabric as a guide to try and keep everything relatively straight. There were times when I was paying more attention to the TV than my work and the rows got out of control – but that’s okay! It looks just as nice when it’s imperfect, and nobody will be able to tell when you’re wearing it, anyway.
That’s it! I think I saved saved myself about three thousand calories making this. And I ended up with a pretty new accessory rather than a gut full of guilt. Yay! Here it is in action:
I have a surplus of crochet thread. And I almost never buy it. I think my family finds it at yard sales and gives it to me, or maybe it’s just multiplying on its own, like Tribbles. Either way, I need to get some of it out of the stash and into my life.
Maybe I should have called this post The Trouble with Trebles. Haha, Get it? anyway . . .
Because you can only make so many doilies, so many crochet rocks, and jewelry only uses little bits – I needed to think of something different and BIGGER. So I thought, why not use a big hook and make a big scarf? I know I’m not reinventing the wheel here – I think knitters use big needles with thread all the time – but this is new to me, and a challenge.
I’ll reveal what I did here in case you want to give it a try, but I’m not going to call it a pattern, and this is why:
The edging is directly influenced by this one I found on Pinterest. I started making it verbatim, but I didn’t like how it was looking, so I altered it some.
I’m becoming a little gun-shy to post patterns because I get comments telling me I should make You Tube tutorials and/or that written patterns are too difficult and they aren’t good. While I do partly feel bad about this, that’s just how I roll because I do a lot of my work in the car or at night. This doesn’t really lend itself to taking photos every step. And, I don’t own a Go Pro, which would allow for video. When I win the lottery and I can quit my job, I will make video tutorials . . . I’m still holding out hope! Now,
You’ll need: crochet thread, beads, a H8/5mm hook (for the main body), a size 4 steel crochet hook (for the edging), a needle, and something to string your beads onto (I used clear nylon beading line).
Please note: the 5mm hook is a big(ger) hook, like one you would normally use with worsted weight yarn. The size 4 steel crochet hook is a tiny hook, like one you would use to make doilies. When making the main body, pay very close attention to what you’re doing and make sure to count your stitches often – you really need to know the anatomy of the stitches, as they look very different when using thread and a big hook. Because of this, I am calling this an ADVANCED pattern, not for beginners!
The main body of the scarf will be made in rows, and the edging will be made in the round.
You’ll need to know how to make picots, and I’m sure you can find lots of You Tube tutorials for that. Usually, picots are made with three chains, but I find that making four or five chains is a bit easier and helps the picots lay nicer. I used both four and five in this edging.
Partial pattern chart for the edging (click to make bigger or click this link to download: Lace Edging Chart PDF):
Thread and Beads Scarf
With the 5mm hook, ch 20.
1. Dc in 4th ch from hook and in each remaining ch. (18 dc counting the 3 ch from when you dc in 4th ch from hook)
2. Ch 3, turn (counts as first dc). Dc in each dc from previous row. (18 dc)
Repeat row 2 until the scarf is as long as you’d like. To make the edging, you’ll need to have a multiple of 10 rows. I did 80 rows and my scarf is about 43 inches around. When you get to the end, cut thread to leave a long end for sewing and finish off. Sew the two short ends of the scarf together with the thread end you left and weave in all ends. Now the main body of the scarf is done.
With the size 4 steel crochet hook, join thread in any space along the outer side.
1. Ch 1, sc in same space. Ch 6. *(sc in next space, ch 6). Repeat from * around. Join to first sc
2. Sl st into first ch 6 space. Ch 3 (counts as first dc). Make (2 dc, ch 3, 3 dc, ch 1) in same space. Ch 1, sc in next space, ch 1. *[make (3dc, ch 3, 3 dc) in next space. Ch 1, sc in next space, ch 1]. Repeat from * around. Join to first dc.
3. Sl st to center ch of first ch 3 space. Ch 1, sc in same space. Ch 13. *(sc in next ch 3 space, ch 13). Repeat from * around. Join to first sc.
4. Ch 1, sc in same st. (Ch 1, sc in space) 3 times. Make 3 chain-4 picots. (Sc, ch 1) 3 times in same space. Sc in next sc. In next space: Ch 1, dc, chain-4 picot on top of dc. (Ch 1, tr, chain-4 picot on top of tr) two times. Tr, make 3 chain-5 picots on top of tr. (ch 1, tr, chain-4 picot on top of tr) two times. Ch 1, dc, chain-4 picot on top of dc, ch 1. *[Sc in next sc. In next space: (Ch 1, sc in space) 3 times. Make 3 chain-4 picots. (Sc, ch 1) 3 times in same space. Sc in next sc. In next space: Ch 1, dc, chain-4 picot on top of dc. (Ch 1, tr, chain-4 picot on top of tr) two times. Tr, make 3 chain-5 picots on top of tr. (ch 1, tr, chain-4 picot on top of tr) two times. Ch 1, dc, chain-4 picot on top of dc, ch 1]. Repeat from * around. Join to first sc and finish off. Weave in ends.
You are now done with the crochet portion. Before you add your beads, make sure to block your scarf.
Cut a length of nylon beading line (or whatever you’ll string your beads on) that is several inches longer than the diameter of your scarf. Tie one end securely to one of the sc from round 3 (the orange sc in the chart). String on some beads then thread the beading line through the next sc on round 3. Repeat all the way around. Tie your beading line ends together securely and weave the ends into the scarf. Repeat on other side.
This mobile is a fail, in that I intended for it to be a very “instant gratification” project . . . but instead it turned out to be very labor-intensive. I don’t know why I always think mobiles will be easy (like this dang thing, or this one). I mean, Calder made a living on them, so of course there must be some work involved.
But in the end, I really like the finished result. No pain, no gain! It’s not the destination, it’s the journey-blah-blah-blah.
This is a zero-budget project if you’re already a crafter – you probably have all the supplies on-hand. I try to spend as much of my life as I can near the water, and when you live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, driftwood flows freely in and out of your life.
To make this driftwood mobile, you’ll need: small bits of driftwood (find it at craft stores or online if you are land-locked), embroidery floss, tacky glue, a drill, a large hoop, a small ring, and scissors. I used a plastic hoop that (I think) was part of a macrame set, but you could use an embroidery hoop instead. If you have a cat, I strongly suggest shutting him in a room throughout the duration of this project. Also, please remember to tie your hair back when wielding the drill, okay?
- Drill a hole at the top of each driftwood bit.
- Wrap thread around the driftwoods as you wish. Run a thin bead of tacky glue over the wrapped threads and spread it around to secure the threads.
- Cut three long threads. With all three held together, fold them in half and secure them to your small ring with a lark’s head knot (this will be the business part of the hanger).
- Tie the loose ends of those threads to the large hoop at equal distances from each other, in three spots (two threads held together at each tie-to spot). You must also try to make them as close to the same length from the hoop as you can. This is where things start to get tedious.
- For each driftwood bit, thread a long string through the hole. Tie a square knot at the top of the driftwood. Now take the small end of the thread and make a few half hitch knots to secure it. After making a few half hitches, cut the small thread end close to the last half hitch knot and dab on a tiny bit of glue to prevent it from coming apart.
- For the remainder, I highly recommend hanging your hoop up somehow, so you can get a better feel for where to place the driftwood, and at what length.
- Tie your driftwood danglies onto the hoop however you like.
- Move the danglies around until they look evenly spaced.
- Wrap thread around the hoop as you did with the driftwood and secure with glue at the end.
‘Tis pretty, but t-e-d-i-o-u-s. Hang it up where your cat can’t destroy it, and you’re good to go.
This recipe won’t blow your mind, but that means it’s quick and easy – so, WIN! I needed something that could pass as breakfast, and something I could shove in my face quick on my way to work. After checking out several recipes for homemade Luna and Clif bars . . . I gave up and just threw a bunch of stuff in the food processor to see how it would turn out. And it just so happens they didn’t turn out half bad.
I can’t attest to the calorie or fat count for these, but it’s full of healthy fats from the nuts, flax, and coconut oil, so I feel okay about it. Next time, I’ll try adding some protein powder into the mix for some extra oomph. And maybe I’ll roll them in chia seeds or something. If you try it first, let me know how it turns out!
Fruit and Nut Bites
This makes 16 inch-ish-sized bites:
1 cup nuts (any – I used cashews)
1 cup dried fruit (any – I used a mix of dried berries and raisins*)
2 TB flax seed, ground (I used a coffee grinder)
2 TB flax seed, whole
1 TB coconut oil
1 TB of honey or brown rice syrup (if you want to make vegan bites)
Some sunflower seeds (optional – about ¼ cup or so)
Put the nuts and flax seed (both ground and whole) into a food processor. Whirl it up until it’s ground up nice, but not so much that it turns into nut butter. Dump the nut mix into a bowl.
Put the fruit, oil, and honey (or brown rice syrup) into the processor. Grind it up until it looks like a paste. This takes patience and your food processor will make some ugly noises. Talk nice to it and take your time. Scrape the fruit paste into the bowl with the nut mixture.
Use your hands to combine the fruit and nut mixes thoroughly. I found that treating it like you’re kneading bread dough makes for less messy hands. Sprinkle in the sunflower seeds and combine those in, too.
Once everything is good and incorporated, grab something to make balls. I used this 1.5 TB scoop, but you could use a regular spoon. Scoop, then roll into balls. Keep these in the fridge for face-shoving.
* Raisins. You want to know what bothers me about raisins? This is what the ingredient list says, “Ingredients: raisins.” Shouldn’t it say, “Ingredients: grapes?” This drives me nuts. Welcome to my brain.
Since we got engaged on our trip to Portland, Maine, we decided to honeymoon in the other Portland – OREGON! And why not kill a few birds with one stone: we visited friends and family while we were there, too! We did a little bit of everything, including a small road trip on the coast, so I’ll try to narrow down the pictures as much as I can.
We saw Wilder Lee at the Portland Saturday market. Mesmerizing. We also ate food and drank local beers and shopped at said market.
We met up with my uncle and aunt for a tour of the Columbia Gorge. This also included lots of waterfall sightings, a trip to the lock and dam, and a visit to the sturgeon/trout/salmon hatchery. Which is much more interesting than it sounds.
We had lunch at this little place in the middle of nowhere in the mountains. ‘Twas delish, and they had three-feet-tall ice cream cones!
Here now, the coast. We stopped about every ten minutes to take in the scenery, so I’ll just put a few out of the hundreds of coast pics here. We were lucky enough to find two ocean-view rooms along the way: one in Lincoln City and one in Cannon Beach.
Cape Foulweather. A good place to start because our coast trip was gray and rainy the whole time.
Yes, we stopped at the Tillamook Cheese factory. Cheese and ice cream. And more cheese. And some cheese curds.
Cannon Beach was to be our final destination. We were planning on two solid beach days there, but the weather was SO crazy. Super high-powered winds, driving rain, and sand blowing everywhere.
So, we just spent one windy, snotty, rainy day at Cannon Beach (Romantic!), then headed back to Portland.
Beer! Lots of local crafty beers in Portland. I don’t drink much beer . . . but when in Rome, you know . . .
Rogue Pub House!
Deschutes Pub House!
Downtown Portland is much cleaner than downtown Minneapolis. With a lot more fountains and greenery.
Went to Voodoo Doughnuts. Saw the line. Decided not to wait for an hour and a half for a doughnut. We don’t even really like doughnuts, anyway (I know, the HORROR – we can still be friends though, right?).
And also, this guy! No, we did not have a baby on our honeymoon, but we did spend lots of time with our friends and their little one. Zach may have ruined us for babies, as he is the cutest, happiest, best-natured-est boy ever.
We loved you, Portland, and we can’t wait to visit again!