First Day of Spring! Inspirations

Spring is finally here! Although it’s been feeling like spring since February?  But that’s Texas weather for you.  Today I was planting flowers I’d purchased three weeks ago tending to my garden and noticed a lovely Texas bluebonnet blooming.

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I have a brown thumb, so I wanted to capture this moment before it dies next week.  ::insert inspirational thoughts about flowers and spring here::

This weekend was pretty great.  My friends and I decided to check out SXSW on Saturday. I don’t go to SXSW every year, but when I do, it’s always fantastic.  I think my fondest SXSW was in 2011, when Brother and I attended the Foo Fighters documentary premiere Back and Forth, and Dave Grohl was RIGHT ACROSS THE THEATER eating POPCORN and it was CRAZINESS.  That was also the year we waited in line for five hours to get into the MTV Woodie Awards just so we could watch the Foo Fighters perform one song.*

This year my friends and I took a more chill approach to SXSW, but we still had a blast.  They are all artistic people and I feel more inspired to create just being around them.  We also caught some really good shows.  I’d been feeling burned out on shows lately but Saturday refreshed my palate, I think.  My friend and I caught this one band called Happy Meals, and it was such a fun set.  But I’m hesitant to look them up now because I’m afraid they won’t sound as amazing when I’m sober.

Now that it’s spring and I’m wrapping up my pincushion project (the review will be ready this week!), I’m already eyeing more projects to add to my queue.  After my test is done, of course.**

PICTURE TIME.

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Wool and the Gang Dylan Tank

Wool and the Gang has all these awesome free patterns, and I’m eyeing this one for spring.  REAL TALK – I would nix the fringe though.

Two of Wands

Two of Wands, Movie Night Cocoon Cardi

I love this cardi by Two of Wands.  It would be a perfect transitional piece for the approximately two cooler days I can expect this spring.

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Lion Brand Afternoon Breeze Shawl

Ditto on this shawl.  It’s so cute! I can wear it to work so I won’t freeze to death in my cube.

Finally, I want to make this:

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Fancy Tiger Crafts Sailor Top

I wish I had known about Fancy Tiger Crafts when I visited Denver two years ago, because I would have been ALL UP IN THAT.  I really have been wanting to go back to Denver because Rocky Mountains, the crepes place, Garden of the Gods, it’s amazing, etc etc etc, so this is just another reason to visit, right? Anyway, I got a little sidetracked…this top is really cute and versatile, and it’s supposed to be beginner friendly.  I really want to make it.  And also move to Denver.

I need to be responsible so I should probably sleep. Good night!

*I’m very done with waiting in line for hours and hating my life, but I’m really glad I did it then and have those memories.

** I splurged on a review course so my attitude has gone from “I’m going to fail” to “I might pass, maybe!”

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Morning Routines and January Makes

Happy Friday everyone!

This morning I woke up determined to do yoga.  I’ve fallen out of my routine and I wanted to get it started again.  I woke up last night with a panic attack, which is not something I’ve had in a long time! It told me I needed to get back to yoga, which is really wonderful for soothing anxiety.  I did Lesley Fightmaster’s Day 1 of her Hatha Yoga Happiness series and I feel great!

Lately, my morning routine has consisted of sipping coffee and browsing Twitter.  I had been off of Twitter for years, but with everything going on, I’ve been checking it out more often.  Plus, who knows what country our president will threaten now via tweeting?  There’s so much excitement to be had! /sarcasm

I’ve also been doing a little crochet in the morning as I sip my coffee.  It’s been soothing and puts me in a good mindset for work. I’ve slowly started working on my blanket.

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This blanket is working off a pattern from Attic24 with some modifications.  She has the prettiest, coziest blankets and she has a really easy pattern for making a blanket in double crochet.  She includes a lot of helpful pictures for an easy go-to reference.

I can’t believe it’s February already!  Though I didn’t complete all of my January goal makes, I did complete several projects – mostly hats!

The top left is my beautiful mama, the Napoli Girl.  )She’s a fashion blogger so she has the pose down pat!)  I’m proud of this project because I crafted from my stash.  My mom originally left a comment on my Instagram post for my blue crocheted hat (top right), saying that it was hers now.  “You can have it!” I said.  “Well…” Mom responded.  “I actually want a brown hat.  Without the flower.”  Luckily I had some brown yarn in my stash and was able to make Mom a new hat.  It was a really soft yarn from Isaac Mizrahi (Skyscraper in Carlton) that was really soft and fun to work with.

My goals for my February makes are pretty simple.  I’ll be in the field for two weeks, for I’m looking for short, easy projects that don’t require a lot of effort, since I’ll be too tired in the evenings to focus very much!

I’d better get ready for work; I hope you have a great weekend!

January Craft Goals

Hello my friends! We meet again.

Are you now thinking of that Creed song from fifteen years ago?  YOU’RE WELCOME!

I’m really not sure how I’m still awake. I woke up very early this morning for field work.  The field job is local, which is great!  I really enjoy being able to come home at the end of the day and unwind.  The site is in a fun location within the city, too.  It’s funny because I don’t know how many times I’ve run by that area, not even realizing we had a site there. (I get strangely dorky when I see groundwater monitoring wells while I’m not at work.  I point to them and say, “LOOK! THIS IS WHAT I DO!” and then nobody cares).

It’s been a very cozy week.  This weekend was coooooooold.  It was a perfect time to get bundled up and make things that will keep me warm.  I’m currently on a knitting frenzy. Now that I’ve made one hat, I want to make ALL HATS.

  1.  Craft Goal # 1 – Hat that probably will not fit my head

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I’m working on this pattern (stockinette stitch all the way) using Euro Baby’s Fruits and Veggies yarn.  I bought the yarn when I was in Vegas.  It is super cute.  The ball of yarn was shaped like a blueberry and the little green stem you see in the picture above was on top of it.  Like a blueberry! Get it? Unfortunately, I just made the realization (like, ten minutes ago) that the pattern was developed for a small child.  “But Jenny,” you’re thinking, “the brand is called ‘Euro Baby.’ Is that not a big enough clue that it’s for LITTLE KIDS?” And I’m like GET OFF MY BACK GUYS, IT WAS CUTE YARN, OKAY? I need to think of small children in my life who I can gift this to.  I do have a small cousin so maybe she will like it.

2.  Craft Goal #2 –  Pussyhat

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My Instagram friend Jo let me know of this really cool project going on for the Women’s March in DC.  It’s called the Pussyhat Project.  The idea is to knit enough hats for all the DC marchers to wear.  I love it!  I’m working on a hat now.  I’m not sure if I can finish it by the January 14th deadline, though.  If not, I’ll wear it to the sister march in Austin!

3.  Craft Goal #3 – Embroidery Project of Laziness

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And finally, I really need to finish an embroidery project I started back in…November.  I am really excited about this project since it’s my first design.  I just need. to. finish. it. It’s probably about another hour’s worth of work at the most.

What craft goals do you guys have for this month?

Knit-Wise: Chunky Ribbed Hat Review

I admit that when I opened this project’s box, I was both excited and a little apprehensive!

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I had never worked a project in the round before, used circular needles, or used any decreasing stitches.  But I was eager to knit a hat and dug into the project.  This box comes with all the materials you need – two balls of yarn, a set of circular needles, a tapestry needle, a knit counter (which my dog tried to destroy), and instructions.  There is enough yarn to complete either a small or large hat.  I selected “large” for my project, though the instructions didn’t really indicate how large “large” is supposed to be.

I did struggle a little bit with using the circular needles and learning how to stitch in the round.  When I started the project around Thanksgiving, I could not find the circular needles tutorial on Knit-Wise’s tutorial page.  I checked last night as I was wrapping up my project, and the tutorial was there, so it’s possible I simply had missed it when I’d checked the first time.  There were also tutorials for the other decreasing stitches I hadn’t tried before.  These stitches (like k2tog) were much easier than I had anticipated!  Besides my initial struggles with using the circular needles, the rest of the project was a breeze.

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I really enjoyed this box.  The simplicity of the project made these techniques very accessible to new knitters like myself.  And now I have a beautiful hat to wear!  Now if only the weather can drop below 80 degrees again so I can actually wear it…

 

 

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The Procrastinator’s Guide to Crafty Christmas – Part Two (Craft Kits)

“JENNY!”

It’s okay. Just sit down for a min-

“CHRISTMAS IS IN TWO DAYS AND I DON’T HAVE A GIFT!”

 

Deep breath.  There you go.  We got this.

Welcome back to Part 2 of my series tailored especially for procrastinators like myself.  In Part 1, we discussed the different books you can purchase for the crafty people in your life.  If you’re looking to go a little above and beyond just a book – maybe you’ve got a crafty significant other or in-law and you want to make Christmas extra special – then you’ve come to just the right place.  I’m going to show you what materials you can purchase to  assemble your own crafty kits. At the end of this post, I’ll show you a perfect example of one I just received!

Just a quick note – you can find most of the items I’m suggesting at a chain craft store like Michaels or Jo-Ann.  Don’t forget to give your local craft stores some love too, though.  Here’s a shout out to some of my local Austin faves, like Stitch Lab (closing in February…sob) and Hill Country Weavers.  If you’re in the Tucson area, stop by Sew Hip and Birdhouse Yarns.  And if you’re spending New Year’s in Vegas, then you’ve got to check out Sin City Knit Shop.

Cross-Stitch and Embroidery

If you’ve got a cross-stitcher or embroiderer in your life, you have a couple of options.  You can’t go wrong with buying a counted cross-stitch or embroidery kit.  A word of caution if you are buying patterns or kits from a chain store – many (though not all) of these designs tend to be more traditional.  Which is TOTALLY FINE if that’s what you’re into, but maybe not so much if your crafty person is a fan of more contemporary, modern designs (like myself).    For me, the line between cute kitsch and “omg no never hanging in my house” kitsch is very fine.  Cross-stitch a deer?  Sure. I’ve cross-stitched a deer before.  Cross-stitch a hedgehog? But of course.  Cross-stitch a teddy bear or angel?  NO. DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT COLLECT $200.

If you’re not sure where on that line your crafty person falls, then let me suggest some patterns for you.  Don’t worry – you can purchase these as instant PDF downloads.  Just hit print and slip into your gift basket.

  • CozyBlue has gorgeous patterns that your stitcher will love.

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  • Satsuma Street has the most fantastic cross-stitch designs, and if I didn’t already have a ton of projects in my queue, I would download at least three of these gorgeous patterns like TONIGHT.satsuma-street

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To wrap up your craft kit, take a look at the instructions.  Does it recommend colors of floss to purchase?

And in case you’re like “….floss?  Huh?”

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The most popular brand (or at least, the one I always work with) is DMC.  Cross-stitch and some embroidery patterns will list what colors correspond to the pattern.  Pick up enough for your stitcher to use for the project, along with a set of needles and the cloth that the pattern recommends.  If it recommends Aida or evenweave, then no worries. That will be in the aisle with the embroidery floss.  You’re all set.

Knitting/Crochet

Picking out yarn is so much fun and I can spend a long time in the yarn aisles. If you want to buy your knitter or crocheter a pattern, it would be good to know what their skill level is.  But what’s great about a knitting/crochet kit is that you don’t even NEED a pattern, really.  Chances are your crafty person already has a list of projects and will welcome the addition of yarn to their stash.

What kind of yarn to purchase?  Luxury yarn is great to work with (and it spoils you), but it’s luxury for a reason – it can get pretty pricey!  If I’m being honest, most of the yarn I use and purchase is budget.  There’s pretty fantastic budget yarn available that does a solid job at mimicking the higher quality yarn.  The most popular budget yarn brands include Lion Brand, Caron, and Patons.  My personal favorite is Lion Brand.  I really enjoy working with their yarns and have made several larger projects with them.

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With Scarfie, you can make a scarf using one ball of yarn.  I have two in my stash waiting to be used!

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Homespun is sooooo soft.  I used the Thick & Quick yarn for a project that ended up being a doggie blanket.  It’s so warm and cozy, and Apollo loves it.

Some other fun and trendy yarn is Michaels’ Caron Cakes and Jo-Ann’s Sweet Roll.  I have each in my stash and am excited to try both.

Sewing

I consider fabric to be a really personal choice.  Same with individual sewing patterns.  Certain kinds of fabric are really difficult for beginners (like jersey or silk), so you don’t want to overwhelm your crafty person if they just started sewing.  Unless your crafty person has been very explicit on what fabric they want (“I can’t wait to try those new Alexander Henry prints!”), then you really can’t go wrong with a gift card here for fabrics, along with one of the books I featured from part one.  Cute sewing supplies are also fun to stash in your craft kit.  Tula Pink Hardware  is a popular choice, though I don’t own any of these products myself.

Putting it all together

I’ll end this post with a pitch-perfect example – an early Christmas gift I received from Boyfriend yesterday!

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Boyfriend did a great job in selecting treats he knew I would both need and enjoy.  I’ve been looking for a cute sewing box to store my materials but I dislike a lot of the frillier ones out there – so the one he got for me is perfect.  I always, always welcome a ball of yarn into my stash, and I’m really digging the color palette for this Sweet Roll.  Apollo chewed up my knit counter the other day, so the sturdier one that Boyfriend purchased will (hopefully) withstand the teeth of a willful dachshund (also if I, you know, actually store it somewhere other than my coffee table).  Boyfriend knows I want to start my craft business one day, so I’m really excited to dig into this book.  And finally, a gift card!  Thank you Boyfriend! You’re pretty awesome. 🙂

And that, my friends, is it!  Good luck with your shopping and let me know how it goes!  I’ll see you Monday! Happy holidays!

The Procrastinator’s Guide to Crafty Christmas – Part One (Books)

Say what you will about procrastination and how it’s something that we all need to ~rise above~, but it can be a really effective motivating tool.  I mean, what? I never procrastinate, coworkers who accidentally stumbled across my blog.  But let’s be realistic here.  If your week is anything like mine, you are struggling to get four different deliverables out the door before Christmas, and then one of your clients is like, “Hey, how’s it going? Sooooo even though I’ve been seeing some version of this deliverable since SUMMER, I’m going to wait a week and a half until this report is due to make MASSIVE CHANGES because YAYYYY.  MERRY CHRISTMAS.”  And you are staying at work late and Christmas shopping has slid very far down your list of your priorities.

Or due to your job/election/XBox/dachshund farm responsibilities, Christmas just snuck up on you. Your girlfriend asks you when you’re doing your gift exchange and your mind is going, “Wait, when is Christmas? It’s-it’s in a couple of weeks right OH MY GOD IT’S SUNDAY.”

Assuming that the mother/father/girlfriend/boyfriend/friend/coworker that you are scrambling to get a gift for is crafty, I’ve got just the solution for you.  In this two-part series, I’ll help you get a gift pulled together in no time.

Let’s start with books.  Books are a perfect gift if selected with care, and assuming you live within a ten-mile radius of a bookstore, easy to purchase.  There are so many beautifully designed craft books out there.  Which do you choose?  Where do you start?  I’ll help you find one that’s just right. I own each of these books I’m about to recommend and love them. I’ll also tell you of my progress for each, because if your relative or friend is anything like me, they’ll wait three years to actually start a project in one of them.

Sewing

jansdotter

This book is gorgeous.  Lotta Jansdotter takes you through her design inspirations, which often come from her travels.  Her inspirations are separated by season and each season features some beautiful projects to complete, like pretty tunics and scarves.

Jenny’s progress – I’ve read it.  It’s sitting on my coffee table, so that’s a start.  No actual projects completed.

ishida

I bought Sanae Ishida’s book when I was on vacation in Arizona earlier this year.  I was having  a rough time in my personal life, so her book – about how she turned to sewing after a tumultuous experience at a start-up – really resonated with me.  The book is separated by seasons, and each season starts with a personal essay of Ishida’s progress in renewing her life and spirit.  She then offers simple, beautifully photographed projects to complete. Sample projects include yoga pants and an origami pillow.

Jenny’s progress – I bought fabric to make the yoga pants.  Four months ago.

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Tilly Walnes presents simple sewing projects that increase by difficulty.  Each project teaches you a different skill and she provides very crisp and easy to follow instructions for the projects.  Projects include the skirt shown on the cover, comfy pajama pants, and pretty dresses.

Jenny’s progress – I’ve bought fabric for the pants and copied the patterns for the pajama pants.  Four months ago.

Crochet

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What really drew me to this book was the fresh, contemporary projects presented within it.  I probably speak for a lot of new crocheters that I get really bored of all the basic projects presented to learn a stitch.  You can only make so many washcloths.  Marion Madel presents scarves and hats for the beginner, all without making the effort too challenging or overwhelming.

Jenny’s progress – I haven’t made a project from this book in awhile, but I did make a scarf and attempt some of the smaller-scale projects, like the little pouches and cloche hat (which did not turn out well. Haha).

Knitting

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If you’re anything like me, knitting is just a different LANGUAGE.  I grew up learning basic crochet stitches, but I only started knitting this year.  While I enjoy it, some of the concepts are challenging.  I bought this book to help me wade through some of the more head-scratching stitches.  It presents easy-to-follow guides on stitches that so far has been helpful to me.

For Future Crafty Entrepreneurs 

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I’m reading this book now and I LOVE IT.  It’s chock full of advice from intelligent, badass women who are artists, entrepreneurs, and artists.  It’s been my go-to lately for inspiration.

I can go on and on, but these books are really my favorites and I think it’s a good starting point for your shopping endeavors.  Let’s meet back on Friday, and I’ll help you pull together some last-minute crafty kits for your loved one. I’ve just got to go to work now.  Oh, and I still need to get a Christmas gift for Boyfriend too.  🙂

What I’ve Been Up To

Hello my friends!

In the wise words of Staind, it’s been awhile.

I’ve been keeping busy with work. I was at my site last week. And if you’re wondering if it rained, the answer is always, “BUT OF COURSE.”  There was torrential rain the weekend before we went into the field.  It was also cold and windy.

And look what I saw:

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I’m not a snake expert but various sources (project manager, Boyfriend) are telling me this is a rattlesnake.  This will sound weird, but I’m actually kind of excited by that?  Because I feel like everyone who has worked at this site has seen a snake except for me, and I was starting to feel left out, you know?

He stayed coiled up for the duration of our work, but then on Friday, he had inexplicably vanished.  Which didn’t make us feel weirded out or nervous or anything.

Then I was studying for an exam. I haven’t taken one in almost ten years.  Luckily I passed, yay!  So now I am Jenny, STS (Safety Trained Supervisor).  And THEN I had to prepare to teach a 4 hour class held the day after my exam. I really wanted to just pass coloring books out to everyone but unfortunately I couldn’t get away with that.  And it was a HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response) refresher, so what would we color?  Contaminated soil? (The class ended up being 3 hours and fifteen minutes including the lunch break, shhhhhh.)  Things aren’t slowing down at work before the new year – I only have four reports due next week, NBD.  But no complaints from me. I feel the most engaged with my work when it keeps me busy.

This has absolutely nothing to do with my blog post except that Boyfriend’s alarm has been going off for the past ten minutes and he can sleep through THE NUCLEAR WINTER and I’ve been too lazy/busy writing this post to turn it off, and now finally he has turned it off, THANK YOU CHRISTMAS ELVES.

And now pictures of my creative projects:

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I am working on this cute project from an older issue of CrossStitcher.  It should be done by Christmas.  At least I can keep it up until New Year’s.

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I’m working on a project from Knit-Wise.  It’s my first knitted hat.  It’s also my first time knitting in the round and working with the ribbed stitch.

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“…and I can tell.”  That is what you are all thinking.  It’s okay. My feelings aren’t hurt or anything.

Maybe blocking will make the stitches appear straighter? Or am I expecting miracles?

And finally, our tree, which we only put up on Tuesday –

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I made that snowflake ornament using a kit I’d purchased at Joann.

I think that’s it for now! I hope your holiday season is going well so far and you’ve consumed a reasonable amount of eggnog.