A Tale of Two Cowls

I was having lunch today with a couple of friends, both who had lived northeast for awhile but had migrated back down to Texas.  “It’s weird that it’s the holiday season and we’re all in shorts,” one of them said.

And that’s pretty much what fall and winter is like in Texas.  Eighty degrees?  Well, I guess it’s time to pull out the winter boots, because when else are you going to wear them?  Below seventy degrees outside?  BRING OUT ALL YOUR WINTER GEAR.

I have two finished cowls to show you, even though it’s currently 75 degrees outside and I will get a heat stroke if I wear them.

Rock Climbing in Vegas Cowl

Last year Fiancé and I went to Las Vegas for a friend’s wedding. It was such a wonderful trip!  Before we left, I stopped by the Sin City Knit Shop and bought a skein of their famous “Roll the Dice” yarn.  I received a free pattern with my purchase and selected the “Rock Climbing in Vegas” pattern by Debbi McCarty.  It seemed the most accessible for a beginning knitter.

As is customary with my projects, I didn’t start it until June of this year, when my family and I were traveling to Italy. I figured it would be a fun project to take with me on a plane.  I worked on the project during the two weeks we were there.  It was a nice way to take a mental retreat.

My cousin’s cat was really intent on helping me with the project.

“I got this.”

“But seriously…just let me try it.”

My aunt’s cat really wanted to help, too.  Italian cats are so nice, you guys!

The project worked up really nicely. I love the ombré effect.

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And the cowl is so soft and squishy!

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Decreasing the size of this picture so my face doesn’t take up your entire screen.  HEY GUYS!

This cowl is perfect to wear for transitioning into cooler weather.  It’s lightweight enough so I won’t sweat to death if I wear it in sub-70 degree temperatures.

Lil’ Snood Dogg

When I got back from the field last month, I decided to treat myself to a Joann’s trip. My brother had gotten me a gift card, and the money was burning a hole in my pocket.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a whole rack full of Wool and the Gang projects.  I excitedly took home a Lil’ Snood Dogg kit.

Let’s see what we’ve got inside.

The yarn is a cheaper wool/acrylic blend than the Crazy Sexy Wool you would get with ordering the kit directly from Wool and the Gang.  I’ve never worked with Crazy Sexy Wool but I liked the blend that came from the Joann’s kit.

The project is worked up in moss stitch. There were definitely some tension issues on my end.  A couple of rows to the end, I messed up and did a couple of knit stitches in a row, but was too lazy to fix it.  Sewing the ends of the cowl was a wonky task given the tension differences at the beginning and the end.  The stitches also worked okay, considering my dog decided to try and eat my knitting needles halfway through it.

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Despite the imperfections, I like the look of the cowl.  It’s snuggly and I don’t think my mistakes will be noticeable.

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I look like I’m about to rob a bank?

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MY FACE HAS TAKEN OVER YOUR SCREEN. HI.

I think I’ll wait until we get really cold weather to wear this cowl, though. So…I can wear this for like three days in January. Can’t wait!

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A Chronicle of My Jerkface Dog

My dog Apollo is one of my favorite creatures in this universe.  The way he snuggles up to me on the couch after a long day or leaps with joy when I return home makes me think the feeling is mutual.  I adore my little dog, and I spend a lot of time worrying about his well-being.  I imagine this is, in a very small way, what a parent feels like.

So I love my dog.

We got that part out of the way.

But you guys…can I tell you secret?

HE IS A MASSIVE JERK.

It’s not so bad now that he’s a little older.  Apollo is five and a half now, and he’s much calmer now.  But when he was a puppy, oh god.  I still remember the second day after we’d gotten him.  I was sitting on my carpet in tears, staring at this adorable but totally destructive little puppy, thinking, “What have we done?  I HAD A GOOD LIFE.”  In his heyday, Apollo chewed up, among other things, my carpet, the bottom of my blinds, two laptop chargers, and shoes.  And since he’s a dachshund, he’s incredibly stubborn and, admittedly, not very well-trained.

Like I said, he’s a massive jerk.  I don’t remember when the switch happened – when he stopped being utterly exhausting to a pet that brings me a lot of joy, but it happened and here we are now.  He’s cuddling next to me as I type this.

But the jerk gene is strong in this pup and he wills it as he chooses.  When Apollo was a baby, his insatiable appetite to destroy everything in my apartment was really a function of his curiosity.  Now that he’s older, he only steals or chews things when he wants our attention.

Relevant example – I was cooking dinner yesterday.  Fiancé was traveling home after being gone for several days, and I was very excited to see him.  I’d left a knitting project on the couch so I could preheat the oven for the chicken wings I was making.  You guys are probably all, “Why did you leave your knitting project on the couch after talking about what a jerk your dog is?” I KNOW, GUYS.  But I’d already taken him for a walk and thought that I’d expended any energy he had.  Wrong.  I heard this unusual crunching sound and rushed out of the kitchen to check on Apollo.

Jerk face knitting needles

This is not the first pair of knitting needles he has munched on. (I should have known better, etc etc I GET IT).  Thankfully, he did not ingest the bit that he’d torn off.  I was very upset since I don’t have extra needles in this size, and I wanted to continue being a loner introvert and not have to, you know, drive to a store and deal with people.

I found a pencil sharpener from my cosmetics kit and was able to file the needle down fairly well.  It’s been a bit of a struggle to continue using this particular needle, but it’s getting the job done without too much damage to the project I’m knitting.

Apollo’s reign of terror and bid for attention did not stop there. Fiancé surprised me with an adorable teddy bear when he came home.  I placed the bear on my coffee table and was attempting to take a picture of it when my dog snatched the bear and ran off with it.

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I laughed so hard when I saw this picture.  It is probably one of my favorite pictures of Apollo. This perfectly captures his endearing jerkface qualities.

And then, by the end of the night, he crashed hard.

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A History of My Dave Grohl Fandom

Hello friends!

I’m all done with my test! Did I pass it?  Meh. Probably not.  But that’s ok.  At least it’s over with and I can focus on some exciting things – like my wedding in five months! You know what else is going to be in a little over five months?

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FOO FIGHTERS.

I’ve so far kept pretty quiet about my Dave Grohl fandom on this blog, but I’m so pumped about seeing them live again that IT IS TIME.

I’ve always liked Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, but it wasn’t until my brother and I saw them at ACL in 2008 that I became a huge fan.  To this day, that show is still the best I’ve ever seen (and living in Austin, I’ve seen a lot of great shows!)  My brother and I camped in the same spot for seven or eight hours, so we were essentially the fourth or fifth row.  They opened up with “All My Life”  and that was pretty much it.  I was sold.  Fan for life.  A year later, my brother and I were fortunate enough to get tickets to a Them Crooked Vultures show over at Stubb’s.  Seeing Dave Grohl drumming live was so impactful that I decided to learn how play drums.

In 2011, the Foos came back to Austin for SXSW.  Their documentary, Back and Forth, was premiering at the festival, and yet again, my brother and I were so lucky to get tickets.  Watching the movie in the theater, looking to my left, and seeing Dave Grohl watching the documentary and munching on popcorn was surreal.  Afterward, we made our way over to Stubb’s.  We weren’t able to get tickets for their show there, but we were able to hear it from a parking garage across the street, and we danced as if we were in the front row.  Then a day or two later, we stood in line for four or five hours to get admission to the MTV Woodie Awards (which I was miraculously able to get tickets to).  It was a long time to wait in line to watch them perform just one song, but it was worth it.  We were also very close to the stage for that set.

In November of that year, I flew to Philly to visit my relatives and to catch the Foos’ show as part of their Wasting Light tour.  Wasting Light is one of my top favorite albums, and to this day, “Bridge Burning” is my go-to motivational song.  I had a blast seeing the show with my cousins, but my brother, who was in his final semester in college, hadn’t been able to go with me.  I felt guilty seeing the Foos without him there, and vowed after that not to go to another Foos show without him.

In 2015, Fiancé (then Boyfriend), my brother, and I flew to Boston to catch the Foos as part of their Sonic Highways tour at Fenway Park.  I think the Fenway show is my second favorite Foos show.  We topped off 2015 with seeing them one more time at ACL.

When tickets for their Concrete and Gold tour went on sale today, I didn’t think I would purchase the tickets.  The Austin show is 13 days after my wedding and we haven’t even planned the honeymoon. I wasn’t sure what my brother was going to do either. So I didn’t buy the tickets.  But as the day went on, I found myself feeling wistful about seeing them.  At dinner, I checked ticket availability and was depressed to learn that all the Austin tickets had sold out.

I sent a text to my brother.  If I bought tickets off of Stubhub, would he be down for seeing them?  He responded yes, so I excitedly purchased tickets for the three of us.  Then my mom texted saying she wanted to join too, so AHHHH! It’s going to be so much fun! My mom hasn’t seen them live before, so I’m so excited for her to have this experience.

I know this is a lot of yammering about the Foos, but this band means a lot to me – not only because of the awesome memories I have with my brother seeing all these shows together (watching them perform “One of These Days” at Fenway is probably one of my top favorite brother/sister moments), but because their music got me through some unhappy times in my 20s.  Their music has also been so motivating for me – I run to their albums all the time, and their discography got me through two marathons.  Dave Grohl’s musicianship was so inspiring to me and becoming a fan of their music really forced me out of my shell in so many ways that it would take another long and rambling blog post to explain.  Simply put – I love this band and I am so excited to see them for the fifth time next April.

A Quick-ish Hello

Hello friends!

I just wanted to drop a quick note and say hi.  It’s been really busy over here – I’m five days out from my test, work has finally started getting really hectic again, and we’ve been planning our wedding in between.

I’ve logged 133.75 hours of studying for this Friday’s exam.  I didn’t log how many hours I studied in the spring (it can’t have been more than 60-70 hours), so I definitely feel more prepared this time around. It’s still a very broad exam and all the hours I’ve logged doesn’t guarantee I will pass. I’m just ready to get it over with. I can’t wait to come home from work and not have to spend the rest of my weekend studying.

Right after the exam, I’ve got field work at a relatively new site.  I’m pretty excited that the chances of getting stuck in mud at this site are pretty low.   Then after field work, I’m freeeeeee to do nothing on my weekends.  (Except plan for the wedding.)

I finally pinned some bridesmaids dresses for my ladies this weekend (I’m letting them choose their dresses).  Fiancé and I are taking our engagement photos on Wednesday and I am so excited. I’m getting my hair and makeup done for the shoot, which I’ve never done before.  It’s going to be a really fun study break.  I already have my wedding dress as well, so everything is slowly coming together.  My hair stylist gave me the idea of making my own veil, which is something I’m definitely going to pursue. I have zero interest in purchasing a veil that is half the cost of my dress.

I’m typing on my new laptop because yours truly dropped her old one several weekends ago and cracked the screen.  I really like it so far, and the photo editing program that comes with it is just basic enough for me to grasp.  I honestly haven’t been doing much in the craft department, other than working on a simple blanket that doesn’t require any counting. But up until a couple of weeks ago, I was working on a wreath from an old Little Box of Crochet project:

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Well, I’ve procrastinated long enough.  Time to hit the books again.

 

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?

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.