A Crochet Flower Blanket for Someone Special

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first we start with some flowers...

first we start with some flowers…

Happy New Year!  Well, almost Happy New Year.  My forte has never been to have perfectly timed posts, something that perhaps I should work on.  Thankfully, this isn’t earth shattering stuff, and a light hearted post about a crocheted blanket can really be a “perfect” read any time at all.

The caption under the first photo above (“first we start with some flowers…”) is in fact, incorrect.  The first photo and caption should be of Pinterest.com.  THAT is where it all begins.  Lots of time scrolling through endless photos, searching for that one look that not only captures my attention, but seems reasonable enough for me to attempt to make it.

Not surprising to myself, my finished product looks nothing like the blanket for which it is based on (pin above).  I have a knack for that…  I also had to make small adjustments due to the fact that my yarn was heavier than what she used.  But I must give credit to the very talented woman who made this pattern, and who’s blanket is simply beautiful. Here is the link to where I found it:

http://atime4allseasons.blogspot.ie/2015/04/rebekahs-flower-afghan.html?spref=pi

I like to learn something new with all of my projects.  With this one I learned a few things.  First I learned about not mixing different brands of yarn.  Yeah, I know, I’m sure everyone knows that already. But due to lack of ‘stash’,  and the colors I wanted to use, some of my flowers are made of Caron Simply Soft yarn, while the majority of the blanket is made of Redheart Supersaver yarn.  I think to the untrained eye, this isn’t a problem. But to anyone who works with yarn it is blaringly obvious.   I also learned that it is most ideal to have all of your yarn purchased before you begin a project AND that you actually know what the project is going to look like when finished (again, before you begin).

starting at my desk

starting out small at my desk

I’ve discovered that my creativity is unpredictable and rather unreliable.  I couldn’t visualize the blanket at the start, so I just had to go with it and see where it brought me (not a great strategy for planning ahead!).

still early days

still early days

This project evolved from a small throw to a rather large throw.  The colors also changed as I went along. It really was crazy, because I didn’t know what pattern of colors I was aiming for: rows of colors, random colors, diagonal colors.  I’m not sure how to describe the pattern I chose in the end: an arrow?  It fit the bill as something different…

two new colors were added two months into the project!

two new colors were added two months into the project!

I started the blanket in October.  I have a day-job, so I worked on the blanket every spare moment.  My family really helped out too, pinch-hitting for me by doing all of my typical house-jobs.  It took three months, and everyone was happy when I finished it!

taking over the family room on a white table cover

taking over the family room on a white table cover

working on the border while in the car

working on the border while in the car

I love flowers.  All of the different colors of flowers in the blanket reminded me of our visit to Monet’s garden.  The green within the squares are like leaves (in my head!), and I decided to join them with green to brighten it up, versus joining with cream which would have been a more conservative option.  {Thanks goes to my daughter for helping with that decision.}

still a work-in-progress here, but with the sunny day I wanted to capture how it was coming along

only joined together horizontally

It was absolutely a labor of love.  I so enjoyed making it and it was being made for a very special someone.  She is someone who is always doing for others, and yet is somehow in the background and never seeking attention.  It really is the little things that people do which make them so appreciated and loved.

almost there... border not quite finished

almost there … and a view of my laundry drying outside and on the other side of the blanket is my very messy compost heap 🙂

a close-up

a close-up before the border is completely finished (graciously being held up by my daughter)

the pinks

the pinks

I enjoyed making the border, too.  The entire blanket is lined in green.  I think if I were to be critical, I would say that I should have made a more substantial cream border before moving on to the pinks.  Time was not on my side at this stage (it was a Christmas gift), and my hands were in a permanent cramped state, so I really couldn’t undo it once I’d moved on.

the final border

the final border, which apart from the lack of cream color, turned out quite nice

I went back to a blanket I made a couple of years ago for the final round with the trefoil motif:

while I copied this lovely pin for the first three rows of the border:

See, you can get lots of great ideas from Pinterest!

our final ta-dah! with the frosty garden as a back-drop

our final ‘ta-dah!’ with the frosty garden as a back-drop

The blanket is an awkward size, making it difficult to photograph the entire thing. Natural lighting is always best to capture the colors, so on the first sunny day I ran outside and took as many pictures as possible.  I know the white beneath the blanket (a table cover) looks unattractive, but everything was wet & frosty not to mention not the cleanest so there wasn’t much I could do.

a frosty sunny day

a frosty sunny day

close-up

close-up

the blues!

the blues!

all scrunched up

all scrunched up

I’m happy to say that the recipient likes it (phew!).

folds up neat and tidy

folds up neat and tidy (isn’t big and bulky)

Kitty sitting on our hutch

Kitty sitting on our hutch

And that is a wrap.  2016 is nearly finished.  I hope that your 2017 will be everything that you want it to be and so much more.

Thanks for stopping by, for reading, and for your lovely comments.

In peace,
Dana

Get out and Garden: Loosen up your soil (and don’t mind the birds!)

Flower bed at our front gates

Flower bed at our front gates

Hello!

I had the great pleasure of working in the garden a bit this past week.  I was loosening up the soil in one of my beds.  It was only recently that I learned that this is quite a good thing to do for your soil. Make sure you don’t dig up your plants, but the soil around them should be nice and loose.  This also makes it MUCH easier to pull up weeds.

Sunflowers at the end of their lives and the blueberry plant showing off some lovely red coloring

Sunflowers at the end of their lives and the blueberry plant showing off some lovely red coloring

I live in the country and we have lots of birds around nearly all of the time.  It is kinda fun to see them when they move in what seems to be a huge formation. A wee bit of a distraction during my gardening.

The video is quite short.  I was just sharing the beautiful day with you!

I hope you are able to get out and enjoy some nice weather where you are.

In peace,
Dana

Adding Color for a Cabinet Remake

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cabinet "before"

cabinet “before”

This blog post is not a “how-to” for painting furniture.  There are plenty of sites offering lots of advice on that topic.  No, this post is a little “nudge” to anyone who has been thinking about painting a piece of furniture but has been hesitant for whatever reason.

I wanted to paint the cabinet in the above picture for a few YEARS.  It is a number of years old, was passed among a couple of family members and had two heat marks from tea cups by the time we got it.  The color is very dark, too.  But I really like the piece of furniture itself.

glass door cabinet painted turquoise

glass door cabinet painted turquoise to match the vessel

The problem was, well actually I should say MY problem was that I was afraid of “messing up”.  My fear of not doing a good job stopped me from trying.  Simply stated: I was chicken.

That is pretty sad, isn’t it?  But thankfully, I have some pretty awesome friends in my life, and they tackle all sorts of challenges, all of the time. That kind of pushed me and inspired me to give it a go. Also, I wanted my kids to see me go out of my comfort zone, to teach them that they can do anything they put their mind to, too.

A bit of color in the bathroom

A bit of color in the bathroom

Everyone is different.  Some people might not understand this “fear” of failure. I think they are pretty lucky.  The other thing is, it is only ‘painting a piece of furniture’. Logically, it wouldn’t be a big deal if I messed up.  But “fears” aren’t usually based on logic!

But that fear is now very much behind me, because I researched what I needed to do and tackled my project head on! I am very happy to say that I am absolutely delighted with my new turquoise cabinet.

If you are looking to paint furniture for the first time, I would recommend this site to get you started:  http://www.countryliving.com/diy-crafts/tips/a266/paint-furnishings-and-learn-from-my-mistakes/

The color was inspired by the ceramic vessel, which you can see in the above photographs.  I brought the vessel home last year (in carry-on luggage!) following our trip to Paris.  I just loved it, and how it reminded me of the wonderful time our family had on our vacation.

Painted cabinet

Painted cabinet (I might have an issue with buying multiples of soap & stuff …)

This is the cabinet now.  It is being put to good use.   I didn’t really know I had that many soaps! Now that they are in a glass cabinet I can keep track of all of our cleaning items.    🙂

I wonder what project I’ll tackle next?

Go on, tackle that job you’ve been putting off for all the wrong reasons!

In peace,
Dana

Pears, Sunflowers, Blueberry plants, Strawberry plants

A fall look at our Pears, Sunflowers, Blueberry plants, Strawberry plants

 

A Childhood Crochet Blanket “Remake”

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In the beginning

In the beginning

Some things are just worth holding on to, don’t you think? The picture above is of the first blanket I ever made.  I was 10 years old, and staying with my aunt and her family for the summer.  They lived in Florida, so for this New Yorker it was a huge treat.  But what was my aunt going to do with me all summer when we weren’t at Disney World or at the beach?  Being an avid “crocheter” herself, she started me on my first blanket.

granny "squares" that were anything but squares

granny “squares” that were anything but squares

The blanket has done fairly well over the past 30 plus years! But recently it became clear it was in need of some serious repair. My aunt had me sew the squares together, instead of crochet them, and the sewing was coming apart.  I think I figured out why she had me sew them together instead of crochet: they weren’t squares at all!  I did a TERRIBLE job of counting my stitches, so none of the squares were the same shape.

every shape imaginable except "square"

every shape imaginable except “square”

Yeah, I was 10.   🙂  So I decided to “Square them up”!  I did the same border on all of the squares so I’d have the same number of stitches.

crocheting everything together

crocheting everything together

There are a million and one different styles for granny square blankets.  I looked at ALL of them on Pinterest!  I like nice clean white lines.  It is so easy.  And neat. I like that.

crochet together with a simple stitch

crochet together with a simple stitch

Next to decide: the border. I like to try something different with each project, so I played around with the border.

White & Pink edging

White & Pink edging

I wanted to make the blanket a little more substantial, so I went a few times around, each time with a different stitch.

White, Pink, White, Yellow & White border

White, Pink, White, Yellow & White border

I love the yellow border best.  They are like little puff balls all the way around.  The funny thing is, that is the BACK of them.  I crocheted them the entire way around before I discovered the “puff” that I liked so much was on the back of the blanket!  So I undid it, and turned the blanket around, and crocheted them on “backwards”.  I felt better after I did that.

almost finished ... one more border to go

almost finished … one more border to go

I was tempted to call it quits after the yellow border.  VERY tempted.  But I decided to see how it would look edged in a frilly white.

frilly white edging

frilly white edging

This gives it a bit of a different look, but I like it for this blanket.

full blanket all finished

full blanket all finished

I’m really happy with it, and glad that I took the time to remake it.  That summer was pretty special to me, especially since we didn’t go down to Florida very often.  That side of the family is my American-Italian side, and there is something quite special about that heritage. I have very fond memories, especially of my aunt.   Unfortunately, she has since passed away, and this blanket is my special connection to her.

blanket remake

blanket remake

really happy with the end result

really happy with the end result

I don’t spend a lot of time crocheting, and I tend to take long breaks between projects!  But I do love it, and I find it to be a relaxing past-time.

What about you?  Any projects keeping you busy at the moment?

In peace,
Dana

The garden with its fall color on

The garden with its fall color on



Birds vs. Laundry

Hi there!

Just a quick hello today.  I thought this was rather funny.  It was SUCH a lovely day this morning that I had to hang my laundry outside.  But as I was hanging it, I could see the birds gathering around.  Lots and Lots of birds.  I should have just called it a day and brought the sheets inside…

 

A little bit of purple is just about everywhere!

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I hope I made you smile!  (I rewashed the sheets and hung them inside…)

In peace,
Dana

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A view of the garden (video)

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Abieskoreana (which we call our Christmas tree)

Abieskoreana (which we call our Christmas tree)

Hello!  I am having a bit of fun with making videos.  This one starts with an opening shot of what we call our Christmas tree (Abieskoreana) [sideways, I might add] and me saying “Hi, this is mom in the garden” … I actually laugh after saying that, realizing that it seems like I am the tree.  Please smile with me!  I’m still learning 🙂

Flower bed with Japanese anemone

Flower bed with Japanese anemone

In the picture above you can’t even see the new bed as it looks to be all grass!  I managed to get about half of it cleared tonight (after my video).  It was pretty dark when I finished!  But I’m so excited to get the bed ready.  My goal is to get roses in there this winter.

a slightly different view

a slightly different view

I was in the garden the past two nights and both times I was treated to the most amazing sunsets.  The only downside was that the way I was weeding had my back to the sun so I had to keep stopping to enjoy the show!

Another glorious sunset

Another glorious sunset

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I snapped this picture this morning. Still more to do, but huge progress has been made!

The video is just a quick hello and a short visit around the garden.  I hope you like it!

Thanks for stopping by.

In peace,

Dana

 

A Simple Garden Wreath

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Garden Wreath collage updated

everything you need!

I love wreaths.  I love using plants from the garden.  I love making things with my hands. (that’s a whole lotta love!)  What a great start to my day to be able to make this wreath!  I dried all the flowers this season and it was so easy to put it together.

My video is not a “how to” but more of a summary.  I wasn’t sure how the wreath would come out so I didn’t video me making it.  Next time I will!

Super easy to make!

Super easy to make!

We’ve had some much needed rain, but now the sun is out and it is just glorious.

Enjoy the video, and enjoy your weekend!

 

In peace,
Dana

Purpose driven flower beds … Gladiolus: The Dark Knights

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In the beginning...

In the beginning…

I.Love.Flowers. I do. Over the past 6 years I have created quite a few flower beds (10 beds, actually!) because like Claude Monte I need flowers every day. 🙂

then came the first bloom

then came the first bloom

I am still learning and deciding which styles I like for beds, and how to display the flowers in the beds; i.e. in groups or dispersed throughout, one color / color theme or a mix of colors. I also like the idea of a ‘cutting flower’ bed, where the flowers are purpose grown specifically for cutting.

every stage of growth shows something new

every stage of growth shows something new

This particular bed (photo at top) was created with the intention of using it for planting squash.   I wanted to grow squash on a trellis. Maybe you’ve seen pictures on Pinterest of how lovely that can look? So I killed the grass with newspapers (that is shorthand for explaining how to kill grass without chemicals: cover with newspapers for minimum 3 months), dug up the soil, added compost, let it sit for a season and then it was all set for planting.  The only problem was that we weren’t set for building a trellis (yet).

gladiolus with supports

gladiolus with supports (calendula in the bottom left photo)

The squash lost out, because I decided that I was going to fill the bed with the 40 Gladiolus which I had bought the previous year. Of all 40 bulbs, not a single one bloomed in the containers I had planted them in.  I was hoping that maybe in some nice compost and enough room they might be happier and I’d get a few flowers.

the blooms are quite large

the blooms are quite large

What a turn-around those bulbs had after I planted them in the bed.  They have been blooming since mid-July and it is now mid-August and they still looking all showy.

growing a bit sideways

growing a bit sideways

About the colors… I like purple in the garden, and the picture on the package is purple and burgundy and nothing at all like the purple and red colors which have bloomed in my garden.  It reminds me too much of Christmas!  But never the less, I love them.

we get a lot of wind!

we get a lot of wind!

Can you guess which way the winds blow at our house?  The poor stems were fighting a loosing battle.  I’m not sure how much help our supports are for them either, since they are still leaning forward! But they continue to bloom and they are simply stunning.

between the bloom size and color and hardiness, I love these guys!

between the bloom size and color and hardiness, I love these guys!

perfect flowers

perfect flowers

cuttings from the garden

cuttings from the garden

I have indeed cut stems and put them in a vase a few different times.  The stems are so long that after the lower flowers die I can cut the stem a second time and continue with all new blooms at the top of the stem.

2nd half of the stems!

2nd half of the stems!

showy from across the garden, too

showy from across the garden, too

I really like how they stand out across the garden.  Unusual colors for my garden, but I can make them work.

Purpose driven gardening, I like that. 🙂

In Peace,
Dana

Crochet fish go exploring to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge & the Giant’s Causeway

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View from the walk near Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

View from the walk near Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

What a title, huh?  I could not decide on whether to go the “crochet” route, or the “travel” route, so I combined them! The truth is that I thought it would add a little bit of fun to my post. 🙂

two crochet fish

two crochet fish

I’ll start with the story about the fish.  Last year I visited my young nephew while on vacation in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I scored some major points after giving him a cuddly seal for his birthday. He *loved* it.  He did comment though, that he had no fish to feed “Sealy”, which of course was a very sad situation.  Well, it was even more sad since it took me an entire year to make some fish for him!

easy pattern crochet fish

easy pattern crochet fish

I wanted an EASY and free pattern and of course I found one on Pinterest. I won’t tell you how long I spent on Pinterest even after I found a pattern…  Anyway, the one I used fit the bill perfectly.

http://oombawkadesigncrochet.com/2014/10/little-amigurumi-fish.html

If you follow that link and have a look, you will wonder if I used that pattern at all!  It was an easy pattern, but I made my fish a wee bit differently than the ones by the talented lady who created the pattern.  And that I am going to call ‘creativity’! 🙂

This yarn has sequins in it and is lovely and soft.

This yarn has sequins in it and is lovely and soft.

I found the eyes to be rather challenging to make.  I couldn’t decide in my mind what I wanted, which is a recipe for disaster.  Never the less, both fish ended up with eyes.

Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge view

Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge view

The older siblings of the young nephew mentioned above were visiting us this summer. They would be taking the fish back to their brother for me.  I finished the fish during their visit.  They don’t take long to make, it is just that I never managed to find the time to make them during the year. Deadlines seem to do the trick though, as I finished them on their last day while in the car fitting in some last minute sight-seeing!  First stop: Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.

Views around Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

Views around Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

Our family has been to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in County Antrim quite a few times.  I am not a fan of heights and have never crossed it before.  But this time the weather was quite mild (read: very little wind) and I crossed with no bother at all.  Not wanting 5 kids to show me up might have something to do with that new found courage…

another view after crossing the rope bridge

another view after crossing the rope bridge

It is well worth the walk to the bridge and crossing the bridge.  The views are lovely. We were there late morning and only had a 10 minute wait to cross.  The kids really enjoyed it too (they are aged 12 through 17).

Rope bridge selfie with my daughter and niece

Rope bridge selfie with my daughter and niece

After our visit to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, we visited the Giant’s Causeway.  We decided to take the scenic route which involved parking about 2 miles away and following a walking trail to the Giant’s Causeway.  It was a pleasant walk, especially since we had good weather.

on the stones at the Giant's Causeway

on the stones at the Giant’s Causeway

We had a very nice visit to the Giant’s Causeway, too.  The boys enjoyed searching for fish and sea animals in small ponds of water, while the girls enjoyed climbing the rock formations.

Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

Our 2 mile walk back to the car was along the water, which was so beautiful.

View from Giant's Causeway

View from Giant’s Causeway

a well traveled fish

a well traveled fish

We had the most wonderful time with my niece and nephew during their visit.  Ireland has so much to offer and is truly beautiful.  Those two fish are now in their new home in Connecticut.

two fish on their travels

two fish on their travels

I hope you enjoyed our quick visits to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and the Giant’s Causeway.  If you ever come to Ireland they are well worth seeing in person!

In peace,
Dana

Making Lavender Wands: The Video!

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lavender & lilies

lavender, lilies & hydrangea

I LOVE lavender.  I love the smell of it, how it looks before it is in bloom, how it looks after it blooms,  and how even just brushing past it in the garden will cause it to emit its lovely scent.  I love everything about it!

view of the fields, too

view of the fields, too

There are a few different things you can do with lavender.  I usually dry it and then make sachets.  I have also made lavender wreaths.  You could probably find a vase or two around my house, full of lavender!

dried lavender bouquets, wands & sachets

dried lavender bouquets, wands & sachets

lavender sachets

lavender sachets

lavender wreath

lavender wreath

But I think the most interesting thing to do with it is to make wands.  They are kinda quirky.  I have a bunch of them arranged in a vase.  One daughter has a wand on her dresser.  They are also pretty on a bathroom counter.  I think they also make a nice “little gift” to give someone.

lavender wands

lavender wands

My lavender is at the perfect stage for making lavender wands; the flowers are just starting to open and the stems are not yet stiff. The stems have to be pliable to bend them over the blooms.  You can have a look at my picture instructions of how to make wands here:   https://mominthegarden.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/lavender-wands-my-first-lavender-wreath/

lavender in bloom

lavender in bloom

a mature lavender plant

a mature lavender plant

I have ventured to make an instructional video, prompted by my dear neighbor from NY, Betty.  Since I can’t show her in person how to make them, I thought I’d make a video for her (and share it with all of you!).

wands in a vase

wands in a vase

This is my first attempt at making “a” video.  The outcome was making 4 short videos! As it happens, I prefer having nice short videos when I look up how to make things myself.  Please feel free to let me know what you think!

 

In peace,
Dana

Mom in the Garden (2014)

Mom in the Garden (2014)