Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hat of the Month: January Heat Waves

Yep, it's still Melissa's birthday! Here is the last of the 3 January Hats of the Month.
Heat Wave
I'm not sure why that picture's so tiny? Anyway, once again I'm taking artistic license with the names of the hat. Technically the pattern I used is called "Brain Waves Beanie," but since I used red, orange, and yellow, I decided to call it a heat wave. :-)

This pattern was so much fun to make! This one was the last one I made and it was a nice refresher after the fish fiasco. Let me warn you, YOU MUST PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU ARE DOING. Eventually, you establish a pattern to the wave, but until that point you can't let yourself get distracted. This pattern is really well written though, so it shouldn't be a problem. She even has a handy dandy YouTube video to help you out.

My only suggestion is to print out the available PDF and highlight as you go. Oh, and don't let anyone talk to you while you're establishing the waves. :-)

Hat of the Month: January Hungry Fish

Happy birthday, Melissa! Here is post 2 of 3 for January's Hat of the Month Club...

Ok, so technically this pattern is called "Stinky Fish," but I didn't really like that title. So in Melissa's box this one was labeled at "Hungry Fish." I mean, the hat looks like it's eating her head, so hungry makes sense, right?

Before I begin, I feel the need to confess something to you all. I am a cheap-o. Especially when it comes to buying crochet patterns. Since I can usually look at a picture and figure out the pattern, I have to be really determined if I'm going to shuck out the money for one.

When I originally saw a fish hat pattern, it was this one. Cute, right? But, I'd have to pay for it. And I'm a cheap-o. So I started looking for a free pattern. I found one! And it's the one I used in the above picture. But, I'm going to tell you something....
I should have bought the pattern.

Nothing against the writer of the pattern I used, but the tail was a little complicated, and the transition from the tail to the body was more than a little confusing. Case in point....
Ooh, I'm doing good....
Ha, no you're not.
I also was not a huge fan of the way the mouth turned out. Somehow the mouth was getting off center. Twice. The second time around I just slip stitched over to where it was supposed to start and went from there. By the time I had gotten that far I was just ready to be done with fish. 

I didn't crochet the eyes or the middle fin. I used some over-sized buttons for the eyes, and I felt like the hat was cute enough with just the side fins. Like I said, I was ready to be done. 

The hat turned out fine. I'm sure it's a good pattern, and maybe if I had given it a third shot I would have figured out where things were getting so confused. But, in all honesty, I really should have gone with the pattern I fell in love with instead of being a cheap-o.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hat of the Month Club: January Birthday Party Hat

My cousin's birthday is tomorrow (Happy b-day, Mel!), so I figured I would post the review/tutorial for the first hat in her collection: the Birthday Party Hat.
As I said before, this hat was a Frankenstein that I pieced together. My original inspiration was this, but I couldn't find the pattern or a link to a pattern anywhere on the site. So I just found bits and pieces I liked and put them together.

I based the main part of the hat off of this pattern. Her pattern was very straight-forward and easy to follow. The only modifications I made were to increase to a J-hook since it was for an adult and I added a single crochet row of pink at the bottom.

Next were the circles.
I didn't follow a pattern for them, but here's (sort of) what I did.
Using a G-hook, working in the round:
Ch 2 
sc 5 in second ch from the hook (5)
2sc in next 5 sc (10)
*sc in next st, 2sc in next stitch* repeat from * around (15)
*sc in next 2 st, 2sc in next stitch* repeat from * around (20)
finish off, leaving a long tail 

If I'm being honest, that's how I started, and I just kept going til it looked right. I didn't want them all to look identical or perfect. I made 3 circles in each color I was using (pink, yellow, green, and blue).
Then, using the long tail and a plastic canvas needle, I stitched it on to the base.

My final pieces were the curly tassels.
I had seen these in pictures before and assumed they were going to be complicated. I mean, look at them! They're adorable! How can they be simple? But they are. Here's how to do it:
Using a G-hook:
Ch 25
3sc in second ch from hook
3sc in each ch across
finish off, leaving long tails

That's it! When I first saw the directions I thought I must have missed something, but nope. that's it. The spiral starts to form by about the third chain. Obviously my spirals are different lengths. I just started with base chains of 10, 15, 20, and 25, respectively.

To attach the spirals to the hat, first I twisted all of the long ends of each spiral together and pulled them through the top corner of the hat. Next I started tying the ends to each other. For example, I tied the pink ends to the yellow ends, and the blue ends to the green ends. Then I switched partners and tied the blue ends to the pink ends and the green ends to the yellow ends. Finally I tied all the strings into a knot close to the corner of the hat. I trimmed my ends and I was finished.

I know that last part may have been a bit confusing.... If you have any questions, please ask and I will do my best to answer them.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Return to Civilization

Or at least that's what it feels like. We have been without cable, internet, and a home phone since Tuesday morning. Apparently, U-Verse had some massive outage. There were a lot of people in our area with spotty to no coverage. We still had electricity and cell phones, but we still felt like we were completely cut off. It was very odd to be without even the local news for 80+ hours. But we have service back now (obviously).

To make things a little more awkward, we've been building up to a "severe winter storm" all week. I have the  Weather Channel on my phone, but it still wasn't telling me much I couldn't figure out by walking outside. We kept hearing secondhand about how bad the roads were going to be and what places were closing. I just so happened to see on facebook via my phone that Anthony's school was out today. It was a little disorienting when it hit because my neighborhood wasn't that bad, but I kept hearing about iced over bridges and salt trucks sliding. Greg and I decided not to risk crossing the bridges to go to K-town and called it a night after dinner. Better same than sorry.

Of course this week I had lots of things I wanted to post, but I couldn't get online. I guess I could have drafted in Word or something, but I didn't think about it honestly. I got my cousin's Hat of the Month box off on Wednesday. I plan to go over each hat individually, but here's a preview of what this month's box contained.
"Birthday Party," "Heat Waves," and "Hungry Fish"
Oh, yeah... the first Hat of the Month ended up being hats. I could say that you need a few to start a collection, but really... I just couldn't decide which one to give her first. And yes, my "head" was a balloon in a coffee mug. The mannequin heads I could find all had teeny tiny child-size heads. Anyway! I had a lot of fun putting this together and I'm looking forward to reviewing the patterns I chose to use. Actually, "Birthday Party" was more of a Frankenstein pattern I put together myself, but I'll get into that when I do my review.

Since this was her initial Hat of the Month Club box, I figured it was appropriate to include a a letter explaining what was going on.

Welcome Letter
Welcome Survey

Friday, January 18, 2013

An Idea is Born...

In November of 2012, my cousin, Melissa, went for an MRI because the doctors thought there was something going on with her inner ear. They discovered that her problem was actually a brain tumor the size of a tennis ball in her frontal lobe. The doctors said they thought it wasn't cancerous, but obviously they had to go in and get it. So on December 5, 2012, Melissa went in for brain surgery. The surgery went fine, she came out without any real complications (other than, you know, they had to cut into her head). They were able to remove most of the tumor, and the part they couldn't get looked more like normal brain tissue anyway. 

The doctors ran the pathology on the tumor, and unfortunately it wasn't benign. Melissa has Stage 3 brain cancer. So I started praying. Not only was I asking for healing, but I was also asking God what should I do. Melissa lives in Virginia, and it's about an 8 hour drive so the standard helping around the house option was out. But I feel the need to DO things to help people. Enter the Crafty Jenguin Hat of the Month Club! 

She had to shave her head for the surgery, and her treatment might include further hair loss. I thought sending her a different hat each month might brighten things up a bit. And of course these aren't going to be standard beanies. Melissa's a bit of a quirky chick, and I'm trying to brighten her day, so my intention is to make her hats that are more fun and less standard. Here's a peak at part of the first hat I'm making.

Since her birthday is this month, I'm trying to get the first box off by next Tuesday. That being said, I need to get back to work!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

What Alice Forgot

The winning book for the Peanut Butter Fingers December Book Club was What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.
Back Cover Summary:
Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice's surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over -- she's getting divorced, she has three kids, and she's actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it's possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure our why her sister hardly talks to her, and how it is she's become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it's possible to start over...

My Review:
Fun fact, for the first few pages I thought this book was set in England. Nope, it's totally set in Australia. After my poor little brain got that figured out, I settled in and really started to love the book.

Alice wakes up after an accident at the gym to realize that she's forgotten the last decade. Through the course of the book we discover just how much has changed in the past 10 years of her life. Her marriage is ending, her relationship with her sister is strained, and she's learning how much she has drifted from the person she was.

I really enjoyed this book. While it covered a variety of darker topics, I was engaged in the story the whole time. There were times that I wanted to scream because Alice couldn't remember and no one wanted to tell her certain events that led to her current life, but that made me want to read more so I could know what happened. One of the things I appreciated the most was the realization that, not only had Alice forgotten the last 10 years, but in those 10 years she had forgotten who she was at age 29. She had lost some of her free-spirit in the process of growing up. I think the overall moral of the book is that it's not to late to remember who you are.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Books, Books, Books

Have I ever mentioned how much I love to read? Hmm, maybe not, but it's true. From the time I was little, my mom gave me a great love for reading and for the local library, too. And every once in a while I will go on a total book binge where I must read all the things! Which is where I am now. I finished reading What Alice Forgot for the PBF December Book Club (I still need to write my review, but *spoiler* I loved it). Then I finished off the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and started re-reading The Screwtape Letters. I think I read 6 or 7 books in December. I loved it.

Today I went to Lifeway to look for a new devotional for this year, and I found so many more books that I want to read. I ended up getting 2 books while I was there.

This year's devotional
It looked good :-)
I'm excited to read both of them. I'm thinking about making a list of books I want to read in 2013. I made a list for 2012 and read most of them. Some of them I changed my mind about, some I couldn't find. And of course I added to the list. Maybe tomorrow (after I write my review) I'll make this year's list. That will be my goal for the weekend.

But for now, I'm going to turn in. I have the 6am shift tomorrow, which means the first alarm goes off at 4:45.  Early birds!
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