New skills and finished projects

The Halloween season is thankfully over…by about a month, I know, but I’m finally recovering. I was in charge of the foundation’s big Halloween program, Twilight Tales, this year, and it was a whirlwind of craziness (there’ll be a makeup tutorial coming, but not now). Decorations, assigning costumes, baking goodies, picking up apple cider, casting roles (and filling in for some of those roles)…lots of craziness that is thankfully behind me for another year. Although work hasn’t slowed down, I’ve been trying to get better about leaving the work at work, and using my at-home time for some of my own projects. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t.

For instance, the goal this summer was to have the main room in the basement cleared out and fixed up, and the chimney cleaned in time for fires in the winter months. Temperatures dipped down in the teens last week and we’re expecting our first dash of snow this Wednesday, just in time for Thanksgiving, and there’s still a good deal of junk in the way. 😦 I really do want to make wintertime evenings by the fire a reality this year, so I took a chunk of yesterday to do some more cleaning and consolidating of the stuff still in the way in the basement…

…and I can walk around at the bottom of the stairs for the first time in ages! I almost cried. Several years ago, I had that whole area cleared out…and then my brother filled it back up again. It’s finally, after about fours years, getting back to the state I had it in.

I had originally intended to use yesterday to work on some items on my Christmas to-do list, but I think the time was well spent. And, after I finished moving some stuff around (and throwing some other stuff out) I did actually have some time to work on a few other things.

Not really the  true color of the yarn, but you get the idea

Not really the true color of the yarn, but you get the idea

I have finally bitten the bullet and started to learn how to crochet. Up until this point, the only thing I knew how to do was single and double crochet. Nothing fancy. Just enough to make a scarf or two. I don’t know what my biggest obstacle to learning has been. It’s not like I didn’t want to know how to do it, or that I don’t like working with yarn. I’m very much a tactile person – just ask anyone who has ever walked through the fuzzy textiles section of the fabric store with me – and I love the feel of many different kinds of yarn. Whatever was holding me back, I finally decided it was time to take the plunge, and I’ve begun the process of learning to do more than single and double crochet. My first attempt at following an actual pattern (written!) involved learning to do a puff stitch. Thanks to some well-written descriptions and a thirty second video tutorial showing me someone actually making a puff stitch, I was able to complete my very first pair of fingerless gloves!

I scrounged in the basement for some extra yarn to use – which wasn’t hard to find…the stuff is everywhere! – and came up this ridiculously bright, variegated rainbow yarn. It’s not the softest, and was kind of “grabby” when I was working with it, but I figured it needed to be used up and that it would be perfect for a trial pair of gloves for myself (I don’t know who else might wear something that bright, other than – maybe – one of the girls at church). I tore the left glove out at least six times (three of those times were after I had actually taken the pattern all the way to the end – two of them after I had already woven the loose end in to the rest), but I finally wound up with something that I am happy with. I finished the gloves off with some appropriately jaunty buttons from my massive collection.

The finished product...made from the hides of Muppets, according to legend.

The finished product…made from the hides of Muppets, according to legend.

**People keep giving me buttons when they clean out family members’ sewing rooms, so I haven’t had to go out and purchase buttons for some time. If you need a place to off-load some buttons, you know where to send them.**

I’ve worn the gloves out to the store, while driving, and at work, and I’m quite fond of them. Everyone’s first comment is always about how bright they are, to which I reply “Well, it’s winter time. I figure everything is already pretty dull and drab and gray, and you need a little fun to brighten up the day.”

I’ve got a couple of other patterns picked out, for other attempts, but some of them might be a little advanced for my current skill level. I showed them to Mom and figure I can get some help with learning some of the new techniques I’ll need. Plus, there’s always Youtube tutorials – which is how my sister has been learning. Mom’s pretty excited about us learning to crochet this year. I think mostly because it means she’ll have to make fewer of the things we find online and fall in love with. Of course, she’s just picked up knitting again, so you never know…I do like a nice pair of knit socks. 😉

Before I leave off here and head back to some more crocheting, I figured I’d post all the pictures of Jack and Casey’s quilt. I delivered it to them the Thursday before they went to the courthouse to get married, so I can finally show you folks everything. Which basically translates to: I can show you all of the adorable pictures of my cats sleeping on/in the quilt while working on it.

Really…they are ridiculous. And Raven’s already started sleeping on the pieces of the new quilt I’m working on. ::sigh::

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