Monday, December 26, 2011

Sitting Thankful

I'm so thankful this week for~
1. Sitting on the couch with a plate full of Christmas treats on my lap (yum!).

2. Sitting on the couch with a cutie-poo niece on my lap!

3. Sitting on the couch with my mother-in-law and a pile of crocheting on my lap.

4. Sitting on the couch watching a movie with our puppy curled up on my lap.

The happiest moments of my life 
have been the few which I have passed at home 
in the bosom of my family.  
~Thomas Jefferson

May this week be one of family and relaxation for you all!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; 
He is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:11

Blessings to you and your family!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ready for Christmas!

The last of my made from scratch gifts is done. It's taken months, but I finally put the finishing touches on this sweater. Isn't it adorable?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Finally finished!

Months ago I wrote here about how I wanted to crochet a scarfette. Well, it's taken me a couple months to finish, but I came up with two different ones both of which I really like.

I kept some notes on how I made them. The key was starting with a chain of 99 and crocheting around the length of the scarf versus crocheting in rows.

I'll definitely make these again! And I'd love to hear suggestions on ways to improve.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's almost Christmas!

Thankful this day for
1) Christmas lights
2) Christmas packages in the mail and on their way to family and friends
3) Christmas carols playing on the radio
4) Curling up to watch a Christmas movie with my husband.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A good night

What makes for a good night? For me it is to curl up on the couch with my hubby and puppy, turn on something like Top Chef Texas, and pig out on pizza. I could do that every single night and never grow tired of it.
Hope you are enjoying a good night!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Quick Ornaments

We don't have a Christmas tree in our tiny apartment, but that hasn't stopped me from making a few ornaments. I used stash yarn, ribbon and pretty stick pins for these.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Love Christmas!

Source: Microsoft Office
I even love all the busyness of it and all the checking items off your to-do list.  (Really, I'm goofy like that.)  Far from being stressful or tiring, I find the planning of everything exciting.

Ok, I'll admit it- I'm one of those people who start planning and shopping months in advance.  And I'm not someone who decorates every inch of our home (yet) or feels the pressure to keep up with our neighbors.  Both of which definitely bring down the stress level a lot.

One of the things I love most about Christmas is the focus on blessing others.  I think about that as I get gifts together and as I'm wrapping them up.  I think about that as I make little treats for my husband and I to share at our workplaces.  And I think of that as I fill out our Christmas cards.  This is a special time of year where we get to reach out to all the people we love and value and let them know that we care.  Isn't that wonderful?

"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving." ~ W.T. Purkiser, Pastor

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Feeling Grateful

Source: Microsoft Office
"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." ~ William Arthur Ward

Thank you Father for
1) A warm home against the chill of winter
2) A warm family to welcome me home each night
3) A warm heart that is hopeful
4) A warm welcome which You've promised me at the end of this journey.

Blessings to you and yours!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Crocheting a doll

I promised last week that I would do a follow up post talking about how I crochet a doll.  I can't give a complete tutorial or pattern, because I don't use one.  However, I can roughly go through the steps I take as I crochet.

As background, I have some experience making amigurumi animals and from that I learned how to do a magic circle.  You can see that when I'm crocheting in the round, I don't do a proper increase each time around.  I personally think it leaves a line in your finished crochet that I'm not a fan of.  The downside of this, though, is that my finished work does twist slightly.  I can offset some of that when I attach limbs, but it's still going to be visible.  And finally, I don't turn my work right-side out.  I've read on other blogs that I should be turning out my pieces before sewing them together.  Because of how I attach the limbs, I don't do this.

Whew... So onto the good stuff.

Supplies: As much as possible, I use 100% cotton yarn.  I want something that will be soft and durable over many washes.  I also stay away from using any kind of sewn on eyes or beads just for safety's sake.    I've been giving these to little kids who might pull on them or chew on them and so on.

The Feet: I start my dolls at the feet and work my way up from there adding parts until they are finished.  For the feet, I start with a magic loop and by either doing dc on one side and sc on the other side- or by using increases and decreases- I get them into a foot-like shape.

The Legs: I keep crocheting in a circle until I have them the length I want.  I get two to the same length and then finish one by sewing in the loose ends.  With the other, I crochet across the "back" side and link it to the next leg, follow that leg around to the front and then link it on the "front" side to the front of my first leg.  I keep building on this new cylinder to make the torso of my doll.

The Torso: I immediately add increases to my torso until I get it to the diameter I want.  On this doll, I also worked in slightly larger stitches in the back- maybe dc or hdc- for a row or two until I had a bottom to the doll.  I keep building up the torso until I'm ready to add the arms.  

The Hands: For this doll, I crocheted a chain of four and then used that to make a row of three hdc (the "fingers" on the hand).  At the end of that row, I chained two and then with a sc connected them back to the starting point.  I then did a sc two more times across the base of the hand.  Voila!  One hand. 

The Arms: At that point, wanted to keep going and crochet a cylinder for the rest of the arm.  I chained one, turned and crocheted in the back loops only of my row until I reached the end and then I kept going by turning my work and crocheting in the front loops of my row.  I now had six sc in a circular shape.  I built on that round by round until I had my arms the length I wanted them.  

I attach my arms to the torso in the same basic way I attach my legs.  I crochet the bottom parts of both arms as I'm doing a round.  On my second round, I go over the tops of them and they are connected.

The Chest/Neck: At this point, I usually start making decreases until I get to the diameter I want my neck to be.  Then, I start increasing again for the head.  Pretty simple.

The Face: First I build up the bottom of her head in this flesh-toned yarn.  Then, I work on just the face of my doll.  I go back and forth in rows until I have the height I wanted for her face (leaving the back alone).  At that point, I finish off this color by weaving in my ends.  If you saw her at this point, you'd see that she's missing the back of her head completely.  That's the last feature I add.

For the expression on her face, I try to keep it simple with embroidery floss.  I use a little bit of crayon to get her cheek color.  

The Hair: When I'm done with her face, I need to finish the head and add hair.  I change the color of yarn I am using to whatever I want to use for her hair and then begin to do a sc all the way around the flesh colored parts of her head.  After establishing the new color, I do decreases in this color until I have a head shape, finish stuffing her, and then close her off. Lastly, I add her braids and bangs.

So... I think this is officially the longest post I've written.  Hope that some people find it helpful.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Shackleton's Way

It's month four of my Book a Month reading challenge, and I've just finished another great one Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer by Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell.  I'm not generally someone who reads leadership books, but this one intrigued me because of who it profiled, one of my heroes, Ernest Shackleton.
My dad introduced me to Shackleton and the story of the ill-fated Endurance when I was a teenager.  Through the years, he's introduced me to many incredible men who fought valiantly against their circumstances: King Leonidas at the Battle of Thermopylae, Lewis and Clark on their trek through the uncharted lands of the Louisiana Purchase, and Sir Ernest Shackleton who brought home all of his men after being stranded on the ice floes outside of Antarctica for two years.

In Shackleton's Way the authors do a nice job of retelling the key events in Shackleton's life, focusing on his exceptional leadership skills that carried his men through the trial of losing their ship, the Endurance. There are so many leadership lessons to be learned, but the one that impressed me most is how well Ernest Shackleton understood his men and how well he cared for them throughout their entire ordeal.  Part of what made him such a phenomenal leader was the trust and respect his men had for him, which came in large part from the way he related with them.

For anyone interested in leadership, this is a short and interesting read.  It's both practical and offers examples of modern leaders who have applied principles they've learned from reading about Shackleton.  And even if you're not particularly interested in the topic of leadership, like me, there is still so much to learn from a man like this who overcame some pretty incredible odds.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

For this day...

I am thankful for-
1)  The sights and sounds of the northern coast
2)  Time with family
3)  Turkey dinner, turkey pot pie, turkey noodle soup, turkey sandwiches... We are blessed with abundance.
4)  Sleeping in late and waking up to the smell of fresh coffee.

What are you thankful for this day?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Are you giving books this Christmas?

I saw this post over at the Life Your Way blog- it would make such a cute way to gift some kids you know with books this Christmas!
Source: Mandi Ehman