Project Linus Blanket #39

Project Linus Blanket #39

Project Linus Blanket #39 - 09 2021 Lake Views

“Lake Views”

Yes, I realize that picture is slightly out of focus, but that’s the best you’re going to get tonight. I feel like I’m a little out of focus so the blanket really fits the mood.

I saw Creative Grandma’s video on YouTube where she showed the Two Way Shell Stitch. After seeing it I thought it would make a great Project Linus blanket.

Project Linus Blanket #39 Lake Views

It would be dense enough that little fingers can’t slip through and it should be a good stash-busting project. I still had some of the Red Heart ombre yarn left over from the Tulip Afghan. I bought two more skeins of the blue ombre and figured I was good to go. Except, I didn’t realize how much yarn this blanket was going to eat! I ended up having to buy MORE of the green ombre yarn, so yet again I’m left with a partial skein of it. If I had continued to crochet with it then the blanket would have turned into a really long and narrow rectangle. Not really the look I wanted.

Project Linus Blanket #39 Detail

This is a free stitch pattern so Glenda doesn’t tell you how many chains to make or how big it will be. I guessed based on my ripple afghans and chained 150. I used an H (5.00mm) hook with the #4 worsted yarn. I really enjoyed this stitch, but I think I’m going to modify it a bit. This is the stitch pattern I’m going to use for the yarn I received in my last Caring Crochet Kit. I have PLENTY of baby yarn so I’m going to see how far I can get with a thinner yarn and the same size hook.

This turned out to be a nice size for a baby’s crip, about 36″ x 38″. It will be very nice for the winter or else to put on the floor. Either way, it was an enjoyable blanket to crochet.

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A Photography Light Box

This blog is very picture-heavy and the problem with that is I’m not a photographer. I don’t have a creative bone in my body and I really am not good at taking pictures. Yet, I like to show you guys what we’re working on, and even though a word can really paint a picture, it just won’t do justice to actually seeing things with your own eyes.

That’s why you get pictures like this:

ACC Knots of Love Hats

I’m doing my best, but it’s just not good enough.

I was thinking about it on my way to work the other day when I realized that if I had a light box I could stage the smaller items in there and use my tripod to hold the camera. Half of my problem is that I can’t get my hands to hold still. Just when I think they are motionless I go to press the shutter button and the camera moves.

As I was grumping around this past Sunday Jay asked me where my box was that I wanted to use for this project. I pointed it out and went back to sewing. The next thing I knew I had a box.

Light Box 2

Light Box 1

I covered the side windows with parchment paper for the light diffusers.

Light Box 3

Then I used some fleece interfacing for the backdrop.

Light Box 4

I couldn’t wait to test it out. I got it set up, my tripod in place and the lights turned on.

Light Box 5

It was at this point I was informed that it had not been properly inspected for use. So I had to go through the inspection process before I was allowed to proceed.

Light Box Bob

“The ceiling is a little low and I don’t know how I’m going to nap in here with all of this light!”

Despite those flaws, the approval was given and I attempted to take good pictures.

First, let me show you what those hats look like using the light box.

Light Box Crocheted Hats

Not too bad. I’m still playing around with camera settings.

Luckily Jay has been making a lot of pens lately, so I had no shortage of items to try photographing.

Turned Icon Pens

Icon Pens

These use regular Bic pen inserts and I love them. The black acrylic one is mine, plus Jay made me a wooden one with my name lasered on it that I use at work.

Turned Bottle Openers 10-12-21

A maple and an oak bottle opener

Turned Bolt Action Pens

Two bolt action pens; one wooden and one acrylic (in a tactical rifle case)

Turned Acrylic Golf Pencil

A golf pencil with a built-in sharpener

Turned Acrylic Blue Comfort Pen

A comfort style pen made using an acrylic blank

And finally, I wanted to take at least one good picture of a cat pen.

Pen Turning - Cat Pen

I am more impressed with these pictures after seeing them on the computer screen versus the screen on the camera. I still need a bit more practice with the camera settings, but I’m already impressed with how well these turned out.

Oh, and does anybody want to buy a pen or bottle opener? 😉

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Project Linus Blanket #38

Project Linus Blanket #38:

Project Linus Blanket #38 9-19-21

“Grandma’s Good China”

This was one of the blankets that I kitted up in 2019. It’s always a surprise to me when I open up the totes, pull a bag out, and look at the colors and my little diagram. Most of this yarn was Red Heart Super Saver, but the wide stripes of variegated yarn were some of the Nicole Stitch Studio that I purchased when A.C. Moore went out of business.

As I was crocheting the blanket the colors reminded me of faded blue and white china that your grandma would have in her china cabinet. My grandma didn’t, but I’m sure somebody’s did.

Project Linus Blanket #38 Detail

In this post I also want to share the latest Annie’s Caring Crochet kit that I received.

ACC - 09 2021 Project Linus

This month’s charity is Project Linus. Gee… where have I read about that charity before? 😉

Since I’ve been contributing to this charity for a few years now, I’m not going to do a separate post for this kit. The one thing I would remind anybody who is going to crochet for these charities is to make sure that you check the group’s website before working on your project. I say that because when I saw the pattern that was included this month I knew it wouldn’t work for my local Project Linus.

ACC - 09 2021 Pattern

The woman who runs our local chapter specifically tells knitters and crocheters to be careful when choosing “holey” patterns because little fingers and medical equipment can get caught in them. I’m not sure she would like this pattern. That’s okay with me, though, because I can still use the yarn. I’m going to use a much denser stitch and make a slightly larger baby blanket. I’m going to try to gear it more towards a boy (since my chapter coordinator is always in need of boy blankets) so I dug through my stash of baby yarn to see what I had that would match. I think I came up with a couple skeins.

ACC - 09 2021 Yarn Plus

I have a few skeins of white and a light mint green that seems to go with the green in this striped yarn. I couldn’t figure out what yarn this is so it might be a discontinued yarn. Who knows. We’ll see how it crochets up when I get to that blanket. I tried to get a better picture so that you can see how well these colors go together.

ACC- 09 2021 Yarn Colors

I wish I had some of that blue to add, but the green will work.

This will end up being blanket #40 because I already have #39 ready to be photographed. My fingers have been busy!

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Let’s Table This…

If you can believe it, I’ve actually been working on projects other than crocheting or sewing. I know! Jay was shocked, too!

This past spring Karen, Jay’s mom, asked me if I could help her refinish her dining room table. It had seen better days. I forgot to take pictures before I started working on it, but luckily I found some older pictures in Jay’s files that kind of shows you what the table looked like before I started on it.

KTable Before 1

This isn’t the worst damage, but I wanted you to see the beating that this poor table has taken in its lifetime. It was originally purchased in 1979 and has been refinished once since that time. However, thousands of games of Hot Dice will really take its toll. There were some really rough spots that I worried I wouldn’t be able to smooth out.

KTable Lee's Spot

This spot in front of Jay’s grandma was the smallest of the two bad spots. You can see how the finish has literally been chipped away. There were ridges that had developed, too. The worst spot, though, was this next one.

KTable Dan's Spot

It’s not the best picture, but you can see under Dan’s hand that there’s a lot more chipping and ridges. Plus, you can see all of the dimpling in the reflection on the table.

I knew that this was an oil-based finish and I was a bit nervous because the only experience with oil-based poly I have is when I refinished my living room floor at my last house. I’ve never used it for furniture, though. I did some research and settled on the Arm-R-Seal from General Finishes. There is a woodworking store near my sister’s house, so when I was there this summer I picked up some of this finish plus an Antique Walnut gel stain. I went purely by memory on that one.

So first I had to strip the old finish.

KTable Stripping2

KTable Stripping1

KTable Stripping 3

I was using a furniture stripper that I’d had sitting around for a few years so I actually ended up slathering the table top twice with it in order to get most of the color and old lacquer off. Karen and I ended up using some old fashioned elbow grease to scuff down the more stubborn spots.

After two stripping sessions (and no cash!) the table looked like this:

KTable Before Sanding1

KTable Before Sanding 2

The next step was to sand the snot out of it. Not only did I want to remove some more of the color, but I also needed to beat down the ridges from those really worn spots. I pulled out the oscillating sander and worked my way from 80 grit up to 220 grit.

KTable After Sanding1

KTable After Sanding 2

I managed to sand the ridges out pretty well. I didn’t want to take all of the “memories” out of it, but I had to get it almost smooth. I think I did a pretty good job.

Then it was time for the stain. As I said, I bought a gel stain so this was a first for me, too. I can’t say that I’m a big fan. I’m used to the liquid stain so I’ll probably stick with that for future projects.

KTable Stained 1

KTable Stained 2

I was afraid it was too dark, but it turned out to match the legs exactly. Karen says that it looks exactly like it did when it was new.

After three layers of Arm-R-Seal, this is the end result:

KTable Finished1

KTable Finished 2

Karen is happy with it and that’s all that matters. I guess the big compliment to me will be if nobody notices that it’s been refinished. 😉

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I Need A White Sweater

I kept telling myself, “I need a new white sweater!” If you’ve ever worked in an office then you know that in the summer most offices could easily store gallons of ice cream as a side business. Although, they might get too cold and be hard to scoop when you actually need them. Needless to say, I always take a sweater to work with me so that I don’t freeze. Except, I had given the two white sweaters I had to Goodwill because they were annoying me. They didn’t fit very well and the one would constantly fall off my shoulders no matter what I tried.

Then one day it hit me, “Hey Dummy! You crochet. You have some cotton acrylic yarn waiting to be used, not to mention an entire stack of crochet magazines. Make your own sweater!”

After pouring over my magazines I settled on the Two-Lace Cardi designed by Margret Willson. I couldn’t find a link to just the pattern, but it was in the April 2020 issue of Crochet World magazine.

Two-Lace Cardi CW042020

I settled on this pattern because it was dressy enough for the office without looking like a nice bag lady, and it called for yarn that was very close to what I had in my stash.

I had purchased some Alara yarn from Ice Yarns last year.

Ice Yarns Alara

The pattern called for Premier Yarn’s Cotton Fair. When I did my comparison to see if they would be close enough, it looked good to me.

Cotton Fair (#2, 317yds per 3.5oz) – .0110 oz/yd

Alara (#3, 153yds per 1.76oz) – .0115 oz/yd

I did a gauge swatch and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get gauge. I could get it height-wise, but not width wise. I kept getting too many stitches in the gauge. I was tired of looking at it and trying to fix it, so I decided that since the height was fine I wouldn’t have to worry about that because the cardi would end up being long enough. My problem was making sure it would go around me. I decided that I would make the biggest size because then if it was a bit smaller, it would be okay. Also, keep in mind that you’re supposed to block this sweater when you’re done, but let’s be real… after I wear it and wash it I’m not going to block it each time. I want a sweater that I can toss in the washer and then hang to dry (at the most).

For the most part the pattern wasn’t difficult to follow. It was marked as ‘Intermediate’, so I figured I could easily handle it. The only problem I really had was when it came time to make the sleeves. Essentially she says to use the stitch pattern that you’ve been using in the body of the cardi, but increase so many stitches over x number of rows. This is lacey so there are lots of chains and spaces and such, and I didn’t know how that would end up working to increase a row on a space. I ended up spending a few hours literally writing the pattern out using symbols and figuring out where my increases would go and how I would do them. Then I figured out the repeat and followed that for the sleeves. I must not have done it right because I feel like my sleeves are huge as compared to how they look in the picture.

Anyway, here is my final result:

Two-Lace Cardi Front 2021

Yes, it’s way bigger than I needed, but on the plus side it fits around my chest perfectly!

Also, please note that I haven’t washed it yet so that might tighten it up a bit. Like I said, I’m not blocking this. I just needed a white sweater to keep me warm in the summer.

The pattern has you make a button band and they want you to put buttons on this. I said no and just did a solid border. If I want to clasp it closed I can sew on some hooks or snaps or something. I’m not too worried about it.

Two-Lace Cardi Back 2021

Cotton tends to grow as you wear it, too, and it doesn’t shrink back into place. Cotton yarn doesn’t keep it’s “memory” if you know what I mean. Think about a cotton washcloth and how stretched out it gets after you use it for dishes. After you wash and dry it it pulls itself back. In fact, I might dry this in the dryer the first time I wash it to see if it shrinks it up a bit. Then after that I will hang it to dry.

I don’t think it turned out too bad. With every sweater I’ll get better.

I kept all the ball bands so that I would know how much yarn I used. I used 13 full balls and one partial. Not too bad. This yarn was great to work with and I can only think of one knot I came across while crocheting. Not once did I want to put the project down because the yarn was annoying me. It was also nice to work with and didn’t tire my hands out at all. I love Premier yarn, but at almost half the price I would definitely use Alara again for a cotton top.

Two-Lace Cardi Side 2021

“Bob, Mama is busy! I’ll feed you in a minute!”

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I Wish I Had a Pen…

I know that it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted. It’s not for lack of projects. I am currently in the process of crocheting two different blankets, I have two different sewing projects underway, plus I am in the middle of a refinishing project. The problem is that I don’t have enough pictures of any of these to make a decent blog post.

Jay has been working odd schedules and taking classes for work, so he hasn’t had a lot of productive time in the shop. He did get two more 3D wooden puzzles put together, but I don’t have pictures of them. So, we’ll go with the old stand by… pens.

This time I want to show you two different pens he made at my request.

Up first is the Icon Pen that uses the ballpoint end and ink from a Bic pen.

Icon Pens

Aren’t they pretty? I have to admit that I’m pretty low maintenance, so I prefer these Bic pens. I also enjoy the cushioned grip. Plus, Jay loves me so he personalized one for me.

Personalized Icon Pen

Next up I saw some kits and asked Jay to purchase them so that I can give them away for gifts. Are you ready for some absolute adorableness???

Cat Lovers Pens

AWWWWWW!!! Kitties!!!!

Come on, you have to admit that the little kittens in the baskets are ADORABLE!

Cat Pens Tops

Everybody needs a cat pen.

Cat Lovers Names

With their names on them. The outside two pens were given to the director and assistant director of the cat shelter where I volunteer. They have to do a lot of stuff that is difficult and would hurt my heart, so I wanted to show them my appreciation. They really loved them.

And one more picture because you just can’t have enough adorableness.

Personalized Cat Lovers Pens

Finally, the last picture I have does not have a pen in it. Are you ready?

Turned Bottle Openers

Do you know what these are? Any guesses? No, they aren’t extra-classy whistles. They are bottle openers. Every time I look at the very light middle one I think it looks like bone. It’s actually maple. Isn’t that neat?

I hate to make you groan, but even though this is the last of the pen pictures today I can guarantee that they will be back. Jay has a BUNCH of kits still to make, so you’ll be hearing more from his lathe.

Until then, may your nib be sharp and your ink well full!

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ACC: Knots of Love

Recently I decided to subscribe to Annie’s Caring Crochet club (ACC). This is a monthly kit club where Annie’s will send you a kit that includes a pattern and all the yarn needed to complete a project based on a charity’s needs. This way if you like the finished object you can keep it, or you can send it to the charity that is included in the kit.

I decided to do this because I enjoy getting yarn in the mail, but I really enjoy getting yarn in the mail that already has a project slated for it. Annie’s has all kinds of kit clubs; crochet, knitting, jewelry, crafting, etc. I’ve seen various YouTubers open their kits and I’ve always thought it would be nice to have a subscription to a club, but I know that I would either never use the yarn or else I wouldn’t care for the pattern. I really didn’t want to spend my money on something that would never be used. I decided to go with the Caring Crochet club because this way I already know who the recipient will be and Annie’s provides the information needed so that you can ship your finished project to the charity.

ACC Knots of Love

From what I can tell, the first kit is always the same. Maybe all of the kits are numeric so that no matter when you join you will always get kit #2 for your second mailing. That’s fine with me. I’m not very particular about what kit comes when.

The first kit is to make Chemo Caps for Knots of Love. It came with the pattern, two balls of yarn and a scarf for the hat that you see pictured on the front of the pattern. I forgot to take a picture of the kit BEFORE using the yarn.

ACC Knots of Love Hats

One thing that I don’t like is that the kit doesn’t tell you what brand of yarn you are using. This way if you happened to have more of that same yarn on hand you could make more projects and really give the charity something nice to open. From the feel of it I’m pretty sure it’s Caron Simply Soft, or it could be Premier’s Ever Soft. Either way, it was soft and silky.

After I’d made the two different caps I still had quite a bit of yarn left. I knew I wouldn’t use it for anything so I decided to make a two-toned hat. I think it looks okay.

The patterns were easy to follow and were designed by Britt Schmiesing.

One thing I do suggest is that if you decide to participate in the club, go to the charity’s website to see how they want you to send them the project. Normally I wash my Project Linus blankets in hypoallergenic detergent without any kind of fabric softener, and then I spend the time to remove as many cat hairs as possible before putting them in a sealed bag. I realize that not everybody wants Bob’s fur in their blankets or hats. Some charities don’t want you laundering the projects at all because they will do it when they get them. So definitely check out to see what each charity requires before you package them for shipping.

ACC Knots of Love Hat

The club is $19.96 per month, which might be a little steep for some people, but I think I will enjoy it. It will give me exposure to some projects that I would never make otherwise, plus they will be small enough that they will be a nice pallet cleanser in between my bigger projects. I was working on a larger project, but it was bad and was put in Time Out, so I worked on these while my other project had time to think about what it had done.

I hope to be able to make each project every month that I receive them, but we’ll have to see how that goes. We are nearing Christmas and that always puts a few things on the back burners. At the very least I will share the kits with you so that you can see the yarn and maybe be introduced to a charity that you really want to help.

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To Every Pen (Turn, Turn, Turn)

I told you this was going to be a dangerous rabbit hole for Jay to dive down. It all started with the bolt carriage pens.

Finished Pens

Let’s just say that it has QUICKLY snowballed from there!

Now he is making fat twisting pens.

Pen Turning - Fat Pen

And skinny twisting pens.

Pen Turning - Pen Slim

Does it stop there? No. He has, of course, figured out how to personalize them.

Pen Turning - Roberto Fat

And now he’s making them in sets.

Lexi Pens

Boo-boo Pens

Then I enabled him even more (I didn’t know it was possible, either), by sending him a picture of a pen case that I found. That night an order was placed for not only some cases,

Rifle Pen Case

(Yes, a rifle case for your bullet pen)

Tactical Pen Case

(And a tactical case, too)

but he also purchased a kit to make me a crochet hook.

Turned Crochet Hook

As soon as I’m finished with my current project I will start another blanket so that I can put this to the test.

Is that it? Of course not!

What would life be like if he didn’t also try to make measuring spoons?

Measuring Spoon Kit

When I went into his shop to take these pictures he was standing at the lathe. He has a P.I.P. (Pen In Process) that was on the bench.

Pen in Process

And apparently another manufacturing order has been released, which I think you can technically consider to be P.I.P., too, since the material has been issued to the job.

Kitted Up Pen

I’m not sure how many more he will make before he has completely saturated our household turned pen market, but I suppose we shall see!

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Lunch Bag Update 08 2021

I can’t recall when the last time was that I updated you on my Lunch Bag Progress. I had made a few versions of it and finally decided that I was going to go for it.

After making three of them, plus the beer cooler, I realized that the largest part of my time was spent cutting out all of the pieces. For each lunch bag you need a top and bottom (insulation, liner and exterior fabric), a back piece (insulation, liner and exterior), a side piece (insulation, liner and exterior), top side piece (liner and exterior) plus the top handle, the adjustable strap and two D-rings.

I had already cut out the insulating pieces.

Lunch Bags Insulation

So now I needed to cut out the exterior fabric sides,

Side Fabric Piece - LunchBox

(8 Black, 8 Burgundy, 8 Hunter Green plus 8 of each color of the thinner top side piece)

the side piece linings,

Lunch Box Linings

(12 Gray, 12 Camel)

and the top and bottom pieces, plus the back piece.

Lunch Box Back and Ends

(8 of each back exterior, 16 of each top/bottom exterior, 12 of each color back lining and 24 of each color top/bottom lining)

Including all of the insulation pieces, lining and exterior fabric, I’ve cut out a total of 456 pieces!!! I am making 8 of each color (24 in total), with 4 of each color lined in gray and the other four in camel. I think they will look nice.

That was a lot of work, but then I started assembling the straps and D-rings.

Lunch Box D Rings

Lunch Box Straps

(Addie refers to this as her ‘bling.’)

When I wasn’t sewing hardware onto nylon strapping I was hand-basting insulating pieces together.

Basted Insulation Pieces

This will help them stay together and not do a lot of shifting when I put them in the lunch bag shell. Why did I hand baste them? They were too thick to fit under the presser foot of my machines.

Hand-Basted Inuslating Piece

And that’s not all of the sewing that I’ve been doing. My friend’s son will be turning one in about a week so I had to make him some hooded towels (that’s my go-to first birthday present).

Charlie Hooded Towels 08 2021

I’ve actually had this ribbon sitting around for over a year waiting for a project for my friend. She LOVES minions. So her son does, too.

Charlie Minion Towel 2

Charlie Minion Towel 1

Now that I’ve taken a little break I need to get back to the sewing room. I only have 456 pieces of lunch bag to start sewing…

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A Shot At Pen Turning

While we were visiting my sister, Jay and I went to a woodworking store to pick up the stain and finish that I wanted to use for his mom’s dining room table (I promised to help her refinish it). We don’t have one of these stores near us, so it was neat to just walk around.

As we were walking around Jay suddenly remembered something that he’d seen in the store’s catalog. Before I knew it, we were standing in front of the supplies for turning your own pens. Jay decided he wanted to have a go at this type of woodworking, so we bought some insert kits and a few blanks.

When we got home we watched a couple of YouTube videos about pen turning (isn’t that how you learn how to do everything now?) and then Jay headed to his workshop. Before long he brought his finished products to me to see.

Finished Pens

I thought they turned out rather nice. It’s hard to get a good picture with the bright LED lights in the workshop.

Jay took his pens to work and a lot of his coworkers didn’t believe that he’d made them himself. You would think by now they would know that if he says he made something, he probably did. Anyway, another coworker brought him a mechanical pencil and asked if Jay would be able to make the barrel out of wood. Jay likes a challenge, so he brought it home and in one night did this:

Mechanical Pencil 07 2021

His coworker was so impressed that he is supposedly going to bring the other three that he purchased for Jay to make wood barrels for them, too.

A few more coworkers have been eyeing his pens, so guess what showed up in the mail today?

Pen Pieces

Yep. Guys, I think we’ve unleashed yet ANOTHER monster…

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