Wearable Crochet – Wool and the Gang’s Calvin Top

Good morning friends!

Today I want to talk about my first experience with crochet garment making!  I made the Calvin Top from Wool and the Gang.  With this project kit, you get three balls of Billie Jean yarn in one of three colorways.  I made mine in Washed Out Denim. This yarn is made from upcycled denim waste, and works up to be really light-weight and breathable.

Voilaaaaaaa!!!

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I’m modeling a couple of different looks here.  The top is perfect for weekend wear – seeing a movie with friends, hanging out at the park, or a casual date.  I’m wearing an undershirt to illustrate how you can wear this top in a more professional setting – you can very easily swap the jeans for a skirt or khaki pants.  (Also, I don’t want all of Instagram to see my bra, since the top is kinda see-through.  SORRY NOT SORRY).

This project is fairly straightforward as it uses primarily double crochet stitches.  The pattern does a good job of walking you through the piece and for the most part, I did not struggle with any of the pattern mechanics.

What I DID struggle with was gauge.  I had made the gauge swatch as recommended, and had hovered in between two hook sizes.  I went with a larger hook but then did not continuously check my gauge as I moved forward with the project.  This resulted in my needing to order another ball of yarn when I was so close to finishing the project.  That was a frustrating lesson to take my gauge more seriously.

I was also in the phase of stubbornly not counting my stitches when I worked up this piece.  It did look wonky at some parts but luckily the effect was hidden when I sewed the top pieces together.  It goes without saying that I should have been counting my stitches instead of just being like, “Whatever, it’ll work itself out.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I made a slight modification to the pattern – it has a little cord/tie at the bottom. I wasn’t feeling it, so I left it out.  The top is also little shorter than I would prefer.; if I would make this top again, I’d make it a little longer.  But overall, I’m really happy with the piece.  I was so happy to finish my first crocheted garment!

On a slightly unrelated note, I still struggle not to burst into laughter when modeling the “trying to remember if I made a doctor’s appointment” pose that is so popular on Instagram right now.  “Just be yourself,” Fiancé said as he snapped photos.

So I did this*:

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“…maybe be less of yourself,” he responded.

I don’t think I’ve ever posted this many pictures of myself on this blog.  I am feeling slightly narcissistic and I should probably stop now.  Until next time!

*When I was in high school, I was taking a group photo with the rest of my Academic Decathlon team after a competition.** The photographer told my team to be silly.  I made this exact same pose and covered up everyone else’s face in the photo.

** Yes, I was in Academic Decathlon. ***

*** It probably all makes sense now, right?

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Little Box of Crochet – Darling Little Duck Project Review

Happy Saturday, friends!  Today I want to show you a Little Box of Crochet project that I recently finished (and by recently, I mean an hour ago).

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This little duck looks really world weary, doesn’t he? He’s BEEN THROUGH A LOT, OK?

This fun little project was designed by Anisbee Anisbee  using Three Bears Yarn.

Let’s peek inside this box, which was released this past July to all subscribers.  (So I’m only two months behind, cool).

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Let’s open it up…

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With this project, you get an encouraging postcard from Nicola Rowlands, a pen and notebook, your hook and project yarn, and a stitch marker from Koro Clay Studio.  You also get a little bit of stuffing for your duck, but if you don’t have any on hand, I’d suggest you purchase some.  The stuffing included in the box is just enough to get you started, but won’t be enough to fill the entire duck (which makes sense – there’s no way to fit all that stuffing in one box!)

The yarn is soft and easy to work with.

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I moved along with the project pretty quickly at first.  This was my first large-scale amigurumi project but the pattern was easy to follow.

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He looks like a little bowling pin here.

I was moving along swimmingly until I got to the part where I had to make his little feet.  I thought, “This looks challenging” and put the project away for about a month.

Finally I felt guilty and started assembling the feet.  It wasn’t as bad as I’d thought, but I think a couple of photos to guide me through the process would have made me feel a little better about making them!

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I finally finished the feet last night.  I definitely miscounted on one of them, and they look a little wonky overall (don’t tell Ducky.  He’s a little touchy about his feet, ok?)

This morning I sewed on his little feet, beak, and created his eyes.

Voilaaaaaaa!

 

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This sweet little guy is all complete!  There are also some bonus projects if you’d like to use up your extra yarn, like a garland or finger puppet.

For anyone wanting to wade into the world of amigurumi, this is a great box to get started with!

Things I Love Hate Watching: Tiny House Hunters

I didn’t realize it until this year, but I love hate watching Tiny House Hunters.  The show is both utterly charming and completely infuriating.  I like seeing the pretty houses.  BUT I ALSO HATE THIS SHOW.

Let me be clear – I can respect the trend to simplify and downsize.  I totally get it.  I live in a house where one of us has a penchant for keeping everything.  And my dog isn’t any better, as he has a giant basket of puppy toys.  My dog! Why does he need so many toys?   Single homeowners, childless couples, young families needing to downsize to save money for their future- I completely respect these people want to restructure their lives and simply live with what they need, and they are excluded from this post of hate watching.

But I have a harder time with the otherwise affluent parents who want to move their large families into a 300 square foot home for the ~experience~ and then pay a boatload of money for a house that is essentially the size of my master bedroom.  The time I really, really enjoy hate watching this show involves the following typical scenario:*

“Hi!  We are looking for a tiny house.  I really want something that will bring us closer together as a family – and by family, I mean my husband, two teenage kids, two toddlers under the age of 3, and our dogs! They’re part of the family too! They are both labs and they are the BEST! Anything larger than 200 square feet just WOULDN’T FIT OUR FAMILY’S NEEDS.”

So by this time, understandably I am simultaneously questioning the sanity of these people, feeling terribly sorry for all the juveniles involved, and feasting on the JUDGMENT THAT IS ABOUT TO COMMENCE.

So then they start their tiny house tour, and it always, ALWAYS involves one of the following:

  1.  Someone gets real excited over a composting toilet.
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Source: HGTV

2.  A tiny loft is somehow supposed to fit a couple’s 4+ children.  Because all growing kids want to do is SHARE A REALLY TINY SPACE WITH ALL THEIR SIBLINGS 24/7.

Bonus points if at least one of the kids is a teenager and one of the other siblings just stopped having to use a teething ring.

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Source: HGTV

3. My favorite part:  when someone complains about the lack of space, either in the kitchen, bathroom, loft, bedroom, closet, etc.

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Source:  HGTV

This scenario is the pure culmination of my hate watching experience!  It brings me so much rage and joy!  Why are you complaining about lack of space when you are wanting a TINY HOUSE?  What were you expecting to find when you opened up your closet?  Narnia?

Thank you for reading this rant, and please tell me what you hate watch so I can feel less like a terrible human being.

*Please note that I’m digging up a bunch of random pictures of tiny houses off the internet.  If this is your house, I AM SORRY.

 

Little Box of Crochet – Crochet Mug Cozy Project Review

Hello friends!

The weather in Texas actually…dare I say it?  Feels like fall?  I’m almost afraid to make that proclamation, because usually once I feel really happy about cooler weather, the temperature will jump back up into the 90s.   I am now able to go for a run without feeling like I would get a heat stroke, and I’ve already dug out my boots.  Fall is my favorite season!

Today I wanted to share a review of Little Box of Crochet’s February project, Crochet Mug Cozies.  This pattern was put together by Attic24, so I was really excited for this box. If you don’t follow Attic24’s work, her projects are all studies in color and they are marvelous.

This completed project has been waiting for a review for quite some time now.  I was working on it during my first test attempt in the spring.  Several weeks before the test, I was in this dark mood where I would stay up past midnight watching Forensic Files and working on this project. ??? I don’t know why I was going down that hole of darkness, but at least I was able to get this project finished that way.

Let’s take a look at the box, shall we?

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Already it’s mega-colorful!  Now to open the box…

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With this box you get a beautiful pin and some really fun crochet stickers.

Just look at all that yarn!

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This project’s yarn is from Yarn and Colors.   The yarn was beautiful and really easy to work with.

Let’s meet the mugs who will be modeling my finished projects, shall we?

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Fiancé’s “Let the F=ma be with you” cup (GET IT?!) and this cute ass cup:

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(This has nothing to do with crochet, but the inside of the mug is just as cute. Check it:)

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I have another mug that says, “How ewe doing?”

ANYWAY.  And here they are completed, voilaaaaa!

I’m really pleased with the finished results!  The colors work beautifully together and are so bright and cheery.  In terms of difficulty, this is completely accessible to a beginner.  I’m still learning how to work in the round so you can see that my leaves and flowers are just a little wonky. But nearly everything is in single crochet (double crochet for any UK readers), and the pattern was pretty simple and easy to follow.

I will admit that I am very lazy when it comes to doing extra work with crochet.  I just now started counting my stitches after having to frog rows too many times.  The pattern suggests you try your cozy on your favorite mug after completing your first row to make sure it fits.  Nahhhh I thought, it’ll be fine.

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The cute ass sheep mug may or may not have had tape on the back of it to make the cozy fit.  

Overall, this was a fun and simple project, and I had a lot of fun making it.  And now that the weather is getting cooler again, it’s the perfect opportunity to use them!

An Update: Caverning, Adulting, and Some Crafting

Hello everyone!

I’m still struggling with finding a good update schedule for this little blog as I delve deeper into test mode (now less than two months away, gulp).  After doing yoga this morning, I grabbed a cup of coffee and here I am.  If there’s anything I’ve learned in my life, it’s that progress and improvement happens slowly.  I’m not going to build an amazing blog overnight, just as I am not going to become a super strong runner or indispensable employee in just a couple of days.

Here’s what I’ve been up to the past week:

  1.  CAVERNS

This weekend, Fiancé and several of our friends visited the Natural Bridge Caverns in New Braunfels.  It’s one of those things I’ve wanted to do for so long but had never set aside some time to do.  It was so awesome!  We took the Hidden Passages tour and went 180 feet underground to explore the caverns.  We got to sit in total darkness for several minutes, which was unlike anything I’d ever experienced.  I couldn’t even see my hand when I held it out in front of me.

Confession time – the more our guide told us not to touch the cavern walls and stalagmites,  THE MORE I WANTED TO (but didn’t.  Because I respect nature, etc. Also I did not want a 3rd degree felony on my record).

2.  Books (for fun)

I took a break from studying and blazed through this book over the weekend: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.

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It was okay.  It was pretty predictable, and wasn’t as scary as Reese Witherspoon’s cover quote promised (actually, it wasn’t scary at all).  In terms of atmospheric thrillers, it doesn’t even come close to someone like Tana French.  But it was a fun, quick read, and something to add to my Goodreads tally, which has been sorely neglected for the most part.

3.  Adulting (the Front Yard Edition)

Confession time # 2 – I am a terrible gardener.  TERRIBLE.  My gardening methods are like so:  purchase 15 plants from Home Depot, come home, stare at the plants, think, “Man, that’s gonna be a lot of work,” leave the plants in their containers for two weeks, finally plant them out of guilt, and then let the garden become its own version of Lord of the Flies.

This time I was determined not to let the plants die, and to not overwhelm ourselves with gardening for more than 20 minutes.  Our front yard needed some TLC, so I decided that we would only buy 3-4 plants max.

Voilaaaaa!

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Yayyy! So pretty!

Please don’t die, plants!

4.  Crafting

I’ve been in a major crochet mood lately, digging out a blanket that I had started during the spring during the first exam attempt.

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The colors I selected are very cozy, and as the weather gets (slightly) cooler here in Texas, I am feeling more inspired to dig out the long-term projects again.

I’m also catching up with a Little Box of Crochet project from last fall.  I am making a wreath.  Here’s the beginning of a leaf:

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I hope wherever you are, you are keeping cozy!  Talk to you soon!

The Importance of Taking Time Outs

I’m the kind of person who thrives on discipline and routine.  Otherwise, I don’t have motivation to complete my goals.  There are many times I don’t really feel like running, for example, but I know I’ll feel really guilty if I don’t.  And so I run.  Or cleaning my house.  I’m never, like, “YAYYY I CAN’T WAIT TO MOP!” but I get stressed when my house isn’t clean.  And so on Sundays, I do all my weekly cleaning chores.

Theoretically, there are many things I’d still  like to accomplish with my life.  I make it sound like I’m getting into my twilight years – I’m 33 and that’s still relatively young.  But there’s only so many activities we can devote time to until we feel overworked.  Getting my Professional Engineer’s license and project management certification are tangible, responsible things I’m working on now.  But if we’re talking theoretically – I’d like to be published (maybe a book of poetry); learn guitar well enough to release a self-recorded EP of songs (but not those overwrought covers that are suddenly trendy because I think we can all agree that those are officially The Worst); be fluent in Italian and French; be a craft designer and blogger; qualify for and run the Boston marathon (!); be a studio drummer.  What else?  If we’re getting really fantastical, have a dachshund farm and sheep farm (for my own line of home-dyed yarn, duh!). And throw raising a couple of kids in there.

But since I can’t do ALL THE THINGS, I choose some of the things.  A handful of the things.  Really just three things.  Right now I’m focusing on work, studying, and running.  I wake up, do yoga, go running on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, come home, eat dinner, study for an hour and a half, then go to sleep.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

But yesterday I just felt so exhausted.  I’ve been trying to increase my running distance and in this heat, it’s just taxing on my body. I felt bleary-eyed at work all day and didn’t feel any kind of  motivation to do much of anything, other than wanting to fall asleep.  My routine was catching up with me and I couldn’t motivate myself to come home and study.  So instead I made a nice dinner with Fiancé, we walked our dog and then I did NOTHING! It was great! No studying.  No reading serious articles about North Korea and our increasingly unstable president on the internet.  Instead I read about the real issues, like WHY DID ANNA FARIS AND CHRIS PRATT BREAK UP? and ARE ANGELINA JOLIE AND BRAD PITT EVER RECONCILING?

I fell asleep before Colbert came on and just slept all night. It was great.  I woke up this morning and instead of doing yoga, I typed out this blog post with a cup of coffee and belligerent dog by my side (he’s upset about the unknown entity in the chimney. Let’s give him some space).

Goal-setting, keeping a routine, and having discipline are all crucial elements to accomplishing what’s on your constant to-do list.  But sometimes if you don’t listen to your body, you’ll burn out.  By taking a break from my routine, I feel refreshed and motivated to start my day.  Sometimes a quick little break is just as important when it comes to meeting your goals.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go to work and stuff.

Where I’ve Been

HELLO MY FRIENDS WE MEET UUUUUUGAIN!

I nearly upgraded my site just so I could post that Creed video and you all could judge accordingly, but it’s kind of pricey to upgrade so I’m just going to trust that you all click the link and shake your heads.

So.

How’s it going?

It’s been over three months since I posted and I’ve been missing this little blog.  I’ve been keeping pretty busy, but to keep from boring everyone I will just focus on the highlights.

TEST

After my last post, I succumbed to “obsessively check and wait for results” mode, which was awful. Waiting is the worst!  I finally received results in late May and, like I expected, I did not pass.  It was pretty disappointing.  But the difference between my score and the passing score was in the single digits…so…I am not far.  The next test is October 27th, and I have already started studying. I will pass this time!  I NEED TO PASS THIS TIME.  The next test after the October one is April 2018, which is when I’m getting married, which is a big NOPE.

TRAVEL

Another thing I started focusing on after my test was scrubbing up my admittedly weak Italian.  My family and I had a trip planned in June.  It was probably late May where I realized I wasn’t going to learn 32 years worth of Italian in a month, so I relaxed a little bit.

I will need to do an entire post on Italy but it was a pretty great trip.  We were there for two weeks and I was able to see my family, who I hadn’t seen in so long! My Italian was still bad, but I learned a lot being immersed over there.

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Selfie in Positano

Work

As one of my aunts says, “Lavoro é lavoro” (work is work), but I’ve been enjoying it.  Lots of reports to keep me busy. I really enjoy the projects where I get to dig deeply into the data (because I’m a nerd), but projects involving a lot of data can always be stressful because you want your analysis to be perfection.  I was also in the field for two weeks this month at a couple of my sites.  Guys. I’ve lived in Texas for over 20 years so I’m used to this heat – or I thought?  But one week was just so bad!  I’m so glad August is crunch time at the office and I have an excuse to be in the AC.

I do have one funny story – a gate wasn’t closed properly at my site, so we arrived the next morning to find a bunch of cows who had decided to make a visit.

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Just a small sampling of the cows at the site.

 

That was a call I wasn’t looking forward to making to my project manager.  He said we needed to herd them off-site.  “I…um…is there a way you recommend herding them?” I asked.  He told us to make lots of noise.  So I started running at the cows wildly, waving my arms and yelling “SHOOOOOO!” while my coworker jumped in his vehicle and started honking at the cows.  We were able to get the cows off-site and back to their proper home in ten minutes, which exceeded my expectations.  I can now add Jenny: Cow Herder to my resume.

CRAFTS

I want to post a couple of pictures of things I’ve either worked on or finished. I finished a couple of other neat pieces, but I want to spend more time on those posts.

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Fun sashiko-inspired piece from Studio MME

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Another Studio MME piece. I finished this one in Italy – this is my aunt’s table, isn’t it beautiful?

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Fun amigurumi piece from Little Box of Crochet

Wedding

We’re actually getting a lot done.  Booked a photographer (NOT the guy who told me, “I’m a hugger, deal with it” and openly admitted to google stalking the both of us – good lord), finding a caterer, and narrowing down on a baker and officiant.  Fiancé has been really helpful and taken the lead on a lot of the vendors.  Go Fiancé!  Planning is making this wedding less of this nebulous event and something real and tangible.  I’m getting really excited!

Alrighty, I need to get ready for work, but I will be back soon! I have been toying around with ideas for this little blog and hopefully we’ll have some fun in the process!