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1  CROCHET / Crochet: Completed Projects / Summer Drop Shawlette on: July 19, 2018 09:41:33 AM
So excited that photo hosting is back up, so I can share this.  I finished it a few days ago.  The pattern is called the Summer Drop Shawlette, and it is free.  The yarn is Darn Good Yarn's Silk Retreat yarn, in Morning Glory.  I received 1 skein (275 yards) in their monthly subscription box, and initially tried to make the shawlette pattern that they sent with it, but wasn't happy with how it was coming out.  Later curiousfae offered to trade the same skein she received for one I had from a previous month, so I'd have enough to do something with.  (I love the generosity of Craftster peeps!)  A quick search on Ravelry found me a pattern that would work well with the fingering weight silk, but would also be done with a larger 6 mm hook, saving my hands which were tired from working on a lace weight shawl with a tiny 3.25 mm hook.

It's a very long and skinny shawlette, and wears more like a long oddly-shaped scarf.  It's incredibly soft on the skin, and oddly enough, the yarn smells amazing.  Not perfumed or anything, just clean and lovely.  It even made my hands smell nice while working on it!

The colors are beautiful, but I'm considering dyeing it, since I don't really wear pastels.  Maybe a nice indigo?

2  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Repairing my Furin (Japanese wind chime or wind bell) on: July 11, 2018 10:31:30 AM

A few years ago a friend of ours who is half Japanese and grew up for the first several years of his life there before moving to the US, went back to visit his mother's family.  He brought us back a beautiful iron bell, or furin.  Similar to a set of wind chimes, they are hung mostly in the summer in Japan.  Either indoors near a window or outdoor on a eve of the house.  The ringing of the bell is equated with the sound of summer in Japan.  Here's some info about them from an online travel magazine:  

For some people, the relaxing sound of the furin paired with the sound of the Japanese cicada eases the summer heat.  The furin has a piece of paper hung from the center of the bowl shaped bell. When the wind blows, the paper catches the wind and moves the clapper to produce the sound. Thanks to the paper, the furin is able to emit the gentle sound that everyone likes enjoy during the summer months.  Furthermore, the paper is used to enhance the feeling of a cool summer breeze. The paper allows us to visually see the wind. Even when the paper moves from a light breeze, you suddenly acknowledge the presence of the wind. It is the secret of how to feel cool even on the hot and humid days of the Japanese summer.

The bell has hung on our porch for about 5 years now, but recently the cotton string broke, which in turn let the paper float away into the wind.  I though about repairing it with new paper and cotton string, but noodle-bug drew my attention to another Japanese tradition, Kintsugi, or repairing broken pottery with gold, in order to highlight the breaks, rather than hide them.  Showing the beauty of the new life the object has received through repairing it.  (She's been repairing favorite broken mugs, and repurposing them as a mini garden for her narrow boat home!)

So I repaired mine with some treasured bits and bobs from my beading stash, including a stunning handblown glass focal bead (the black one in the center of the string), some round quartz crystals, picasso art glass beads, seed beads, bead caps & spacers, and a large crystal pendant I've been holding onto, awaiting the perfect project.  I'm not sure it will ring as often as it did with the paper wind catcher, but I do love the site of it repaired and rehung on my porch, with the beads highlighting its ongoing presence in our lives, and reminding us of friends we don't see often enough.
3  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Lemon Basil Scones on: July 11, 2018 10:14:03 AM

My basil plant is going nuts, so I'm looking for more ways to use it up while I have it fresh!  This is my latest creation with it.

Lemon & Basil Scones

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Zest of 1 lemon
5 tbsp butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon extract
5-10 medium basil leaves, minced fine
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp milk of choice (I used cashew milk)
Turbinado or raw sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Mix the 1/2 cup milk, lemon juice & lemon extract.  Add the minced basil and allow to sit for a few minutes for the basil oils to infuse the milk.

Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, salt, & lemon zest.

Using a pastry cutter or large fork, cut in the butter until the texture resembles a coarse meal. (Alternately, you can use a processor to do this Just pulse until you get small pea-sized lumps.)

Add the milk mixture to the scone mixture. Combine until dough just comes together.  Do not over mix.
On a lightly floured surface, shape dough into a disc shape, gently patting flat, about 8" across. Slice the disc into eight wedges.

Place scones on a baking sheet and brush with remaining tablespoon of milk.  Sprinkle the tops lightly with some of your sugar.  

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden on top and cooked through.

4  CROCHET / Crochet: Completed Projects / Cloud Waves Silk Shawl on: July 05, 2018 02:43:31 PM
I *finally* finished this project shawl!  I've been working on it off and on since November of 2016.  I am thrilled with how it came out, but don't think I'll be taking up a project with such a thin yarn and tiny hook again anytime soon.  It was tough on my hands.  The pattern is called Cloud Waves, and I bought it as part of a kit from Darn Good Yarn.  The yarn is their lace weight silk, in shade Enchanted Forest.   When I finished the prescribed 100 rows, I had a bit of yarn left, so I repeated the pattern until I ran out, giving me 110 rows.  I like to say I literally gave this project 110%!  It's 75" long, by 24" wide.  This was my first project that has needed blocking, and it certainly helped me get over my fear of blocking a delicate piece.  

5  CROCHET / Crochet: Completed Projects / Summery Strawberry Dishcloths on: July 05, 2018 02:09:17 PM
When I saw this adorable pattern, I knew I had to make some dishcloths from it!  It's the Granny Strawberry Dischloth pattern, and is free from Yarnspirations.  The granny triangles are a breeze to make, but the leaves & stem are a bit more confusing.  In the end I mostly did what the pattern said and then just winged the last row which I found to be confusingly written.  

The yarn is Red Heart Scrubby Smoothie in Cherry, and Sugar'n Cream Scents, in Aloe Vera.  I hadn't realized the yarn was scented when I bought it.  I just liked that shade of green the best.  It's so subtle that I didn't notice it when I was working with it, and will be curious to hear how it smells while doing dishes.  I had so much green left, I ended up doing a few solid green, the round is the Fire Blossom pattern, which seems to have disappeared off the net now, and the square is one I made up for a friend, that I call Amber Ridge.  If anyone wants a copy of it, I'll write it up and post it.  

6  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / Scissor Fob & Stitch Markers for sheepBlue on: July 05, 2018 02:00:34 PM
I recently helped out our very own sheepBlue, by picking up a yarn for her that was out of stock in her area.  Since I was going to mail it her way, I decided to include a few little goodies to brighten her day.  A scissor fob, so no one can try to run off with her snips, and a set of crochet stitch markers featuring a bunch of her favorite things.  The scissor fob was obviously inspired by her user name, with various shades of blue beads, and a cute little sheep charm.

The stitch markers feature a gun & skull (for her love of My Favorite Murder podcast), another sheep, a tv for her favorite shows, buttons, dinosaur, skeleton key, book & reading glasses for her book club, embroidery thread, a little artists, and an eye.  

Curiousfae & I recently swapped some yarn we had received in Darn Good Yarn's subscription box.  After sending extra crochet goodies to sheepBlue a few weeks ago, I couldn't not send extra goodies to her too!  So I added a scissor fob & some stitch markers for her as well.  A curious little fairy in reference to her username, and a set of stitch markers inspired by some of her favorite things including tarot, photography, gnomes, glamping, the Frog Prince, a K for her initial, a fae, paw print for her pup, rose, miniature fairy/gnome house, and a heart.   Smiley

7  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Strawberry Basil Muffins on: July 05, 2018 10:46:54 AM

Sometimes, after keeping you up for hours and hours during fireworks, your dog then wakes you up at 4:45 am because she has to pee.  Because she wouldn't go before bed, because fireworks.  And sometimes on those days you make yourself muffins as a consolation prize.  

Strawberry Basil Muffins
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp milk of choice (I used cashew milk)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups AP flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped strawberries (chopped small)
2-3 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil

Preheat your oven to 350F.

In one bowl, whisk together the milk, vegetable oil, egg, sugar, vanilla, and chopped fresh basil.  Allow to sit for a few minutes so the basil oils flavor the liquid while you mix the remaining ingredients.  

In a separate bowl mix together the flours, baking powder, and salt.  Mix in the strawberries and stir gently to coat in flour, but don't mash the berries.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir just until batter is formed. Do not over mix. The batter will be thick.

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 cups in a muffin tin.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top and toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Serve with several cups of tea.

8  CROCHET / Crochet: Completed Projects / Protego Shawl by pottermouth & I! on: June 21, 2018 06:06:31 AM
This is a buddy-created project, by the absolutely amazing pottermouth & I.  Recently I've been working on shawls for a few friends who are going through rough times, and was getting a bit behind trying to finish them in a timely manner.  So pottermouth offered an awesome solution;  she had started this shawl, and offered to send it to me, along with a second skein of the yarn, so I could finish it.  I ended up adding 13 rows of the written pattern, then a row of single crochet all the way around, to give it a more finished looking edge.

The pattern is the Mystic Morning Wrap, and is free!  The yarn is Lion Brand Mandala in Chimera.  It's made its way to a new home, and is bringing some cheer to its recipient.  Cheesy

Pottermouth, thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and generosity!  It is truly appreciated.
9  CROCHET / Crochet: Completed Projects / Set of Chunky Mandala/Doilies for our Bedroom on: June 20, 2018 11:36:18 AM
Monday I was feeling the need to make a quick and easy project.  I grabbed some Bernat Maker Home Dec yarn from my stash to make a few mandalas/doilies for our bedroom.  The yarn is a chunky knitted hollow tube of material, somewhat like tee shirt yarn, but more even and without seams in the way.  It's incredibly soft, and I am definitely going to make some more projects with it.  I like how the chunky yarn keeps them feeling fresh and modern, rather than fussy & old lady.

The large mandala is made from the Bloom Mandala Centerpiece pattern.  I did the first 6 rounds as written, and since it was getting pretty big, I did an amended version of the 2 border rows.  (If you want to do what I did, then for the first round of border, sc between each group of 5 dc, then 6 ch. For the second border row, sl st, sc, hdc, dc, picot, dc, hdc, sc, sl st in each ch 6 space around.)  This one took my just one evening, watching tv after dinner.  It's amazing how fast this yarn hooks up!  It's about 16" across and a bit over 1/4" thick.

And here it is on the chest of drawers in our room.  It fits just right under the antique pitcher & bowl my parents gave us.

The smaller pair was made from the medium size pattern in the Aunt Aggie's Trivets pattern.  I did the first three rounds as written, then as it was getting close to the finished size I wanted, I improvised a new round 4.   (sc, picot, sc in the dc's in the points, sc in next 4, repeat)

These are about 7" each, and took just a few hours yesterday morning.  I made them to go under the lamps on our night stands, and like how they soften up the look of the room.  
10  CROCHET / Crochet: Completed Projects / Jenny's Rainbow Shawl on: June 14, 2018 08:48:00 AM

This shawl was made for a friend-of-a-friend that I haven't met.  She is also a ginger artist named Jenny (a musician), and she means a lot to my dear friend David.  David is absolutely one of the best human beings I've ever had the privilege to know.  He's the person who is there, no matter the time, no matter the place, just because you called him.  When he told me about what happened to Jenny, I knew I had to help in some way.  

Backstory:  Just before Christmas in December 2016, Jenny was driving home a friend who had a bit too much to drink that night when she, herself, was hit head on by a drunk driver.  The impact was so severe that it ripped the front wheel off the driver's vehicle, throwing it into Jenny's windshield and crushed her left leg in the door causing her immediate and severe physical trauma.  She sustained multiple lifelong injuries, including hernias in her spine, injuries to her brain, a damaged sciatic nerve, and more.  She's also the single mother of an 8 year old daughter, and unfortunately due to New York state law regarding auto accident insurance, Jenny has ran out of medical coverage.   Though she has a dedicated team of doctors and specialists, who have helped her make several breakthroughs in her healing, she still needs daily & monthly trips to neurologists, physical therapists, chiropractors, message therapists, pain management specialists, etc.  Her recent lack of coverage has caused several major setbacks; the lack of physical therapy and massage has caused her to, once again, lose the feeling in her left leg.

Her savings account has been depleted since the accident and she has been forced to sell most of her musical instruments and performance gear to stay afloat and remain stable for her daughter.  To make matters worse, she was informed by her doctors that due to the several brain injuries she sustained as well as the damage to her vision she will be unable to return to the marketing career she spent 13 years of her life in.  When all of this happened, Jenny didn't tell friends how badly she was hurt, as she didn't want to be a burden, but thankfully she finally let friends like David know.  David has started a Go Fund Me page for her.    

My husband and I donated, but I knew I had to do something else for her, to let her know that people are thinking of her and rooting for her, even if they haven't met her.  So I started on a comfort shawl for her, hoping it could be a warm hug when she needs one.  The pattern is called Lost in Time, by Johanna Lindahl, and is free on her website.  I used 2 skeins of Lion Brand Shawl in a Ball in the colorway Restful Rainbow.  This was my first time making and adding tassels to a shawl, and I am really happy with them.  I love how the whole shawl came out, but if you're going to try the pattern, know that it's a bit wonky to read as it was translated from Swedish.  Last night David sent me a few pics of her wrapped up in it.  Apparently she's kept it with her while dealing with doctors offices and insurance companies, so I'm glad to know it's brought some measure of comfort.  

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