Crocheted Christmas Gifts – 2019

I have a confession to make. I haven’t worked on a Project Linus blanket for a little bit. I’ve been working on crocheted Christmas gifts. There are some that I can’t show because I think those friends read this blog, but I can show you some other projects.

I decided that I had a lot of crochet cotton so I made some dish cloths.

Christmas Dish Cloths 2019

I decided that since I’d made some dish cloths then I also needed to make some scrubbies.

This fall JoAnn Fabrics had a really great sale on fleece so I bought some yardage for lap blankets. I then found some border patterns and crocheted around them.

Christmas Fleece Blankets 2019

I think they turned out okay. I’ll give you a closer look at the borders.

First we have the Atlanta Braves blanket.

Braves Fleece Blanket 2019

The pictures are kind of dark due to my poor lighting, but you get the idea.

Braves Fleece Blanket Border 2019

I did more of a ruffled border for this blanket.

Next, I worked on a Steelers blanket for my friend’s husband (and kind of for her, too).

Steelers Fleece Blanket 2019

The interesting thing about this blanket is that on the reverse side it’s got a faux wool backing so it’s extra cozy. I found an angular border that I felt went really well with the Steelers’ logo.

Steelers Fleece Blanket Border 2019

In this picture I was trying to show that there’s also a black toothy border along the very outside edge, next to the yellow.

The last one to show is an Air Force blanket for my step-niece. She just graduated from Air Force basic training and she is being assigned to a base in Colorado.

Air Force Fleece Blanket 2019

The colors in the yarn that I used for the Warm Embers Cardigan were perfect for this blanket so I used it even though it was chunkier than the pattern really required.

Air Force Fleece Blanket Border 2019

It’s a nice ruffle, though, so I left it. Also, I don’t think that the recipient will really mind.

As you can see, I’ve been slightly busy, but then I decided that there was another project that I needed to do before Christmas. As a special little treat to myself, I decided that I wanted a sparkly top for Christmas Eve. I looked through all kinds of patterns and then finally found one.

Abundant Motifs Tunic Picture

This appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of Crochet! Magazine. I knew exactly what yarn I wanted to use…. Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn in Metallic Black.

I can picture it with a black skirt and a red turtleneck. Won’t that look great??

To make this I have to make 12 large motifs, 32 medium motifs and I don’t know how many connecting wheels. A few weeks ago I posted about substituting yarn in blanket patterns and I mentioned that when it comes to garments you have to pay closer attention to gauge. I want to show you why.

Abundant Motifs Tunic Lg Motifs 11-28-19

Here are four of the twelve large motifs that I have to make. Can you spot the obvious issue?

Motif Gauge Difference

This might be a better picture. I tested my gauge and it matched. I changed hook sizes because the pattern called for a #3 light yarn, but my choice is a #4 worsted. I crocheted the left motif with a tighter stitch. The finished motif is suppose to measure 6.25″, but lacking the finished round you can see that the motif on the right is almost that size already. If I don’t pay attention to the gauge then it’s not going to fit like the design shows in the picture. What I’ll probably end up doing it pulling out the larger motif and recrocheting it with a smaller hook and a tighter stitch.

I just wanted to give you a visual of how important gauge can be when making a garment as compared to a blanket.

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Warm Embers Cardigan – Finished

To be fair, this garment has been finished for a while. I just had to find the time (and daylight!) when I could get Jay to take pictures of me modeling it. Unfortunately, I can’t afford a decent model so you will just have to tolerate me in the pictures.

The last time you saw the cardigan I was still in the process of sewing it together.

WEC Sewn Sleeve 9-4-19

I actually finished this before the end of September.

WEC All Sewed Together 9-13-19

The pockets don’t match, but they are sewed on and look okay. Once I had the cardigan at this point I had to do a single crochet border all around the edges.

WEC Finished No Buttons 9-18-19

I worked on this in the morning and was excited to fasten off after the last stitch. While I was at work I was thinking about the edge and how it ruffled like a leaf of lettuce. I thought that maybe the pattern was wrong, and then I suddenly realized that I had placed too many stitches along that one edge. Except, at this point I decided it wasn’t worth pulling out. My sister will just have to deal with a ruffled edge. I sewed some buttons on and called it good enough.

As I’ve stated earlier, this cardigan is meant to be worn and not babied. If it doesn’t look perfect then maybe that will help. Or, if that fails to do it, how about seeing it modeled by this very grumpy-looking model:

WEC Modeled 11-29-19

Please excuse my frumpy-ness. I was in the middle of cleaning the house and wanted to get pictures taken so that I can get it washed and wrapped.

This is super baggy on me so it’s going to be especially big on my sister. I hope she doesn’t mind. The good thing is that it’s very warm. It was quite chilly the day that we took pictures, but I was definitely warm enough.

WEC Hood Modeled 11-29-19

I wanted to show this buttoned up, so of course I quickly buttoned it off-kilter. *sigh* This is why you should always hire a professional model. Also, I’m not really fond of the hood. It will definitely keep the weather off of your head.

WEC Hood Back Modeled 11-29-19

The back looks okay. The hood looks really pointy, though, doesn’t it?

WEC Back Modeled 11-29-19

It definitely looks better with the hood down.

Overall the pattern was decent. It was easy to follow and understand. My biggest issue was due to the yarn that I chose. The next time I might leave the hood off, but then I’ll have to do something with the neck because it looks goofy without the hood. I would give the pattern a 3 out of 5.

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Chester 2005 – 2019

Chester's Bed 1-17-16

I wasn’t sure that I was going to post about it here on my blog, but there might be somebody who follows me and might wonder why they haven’t heard about Chester in a while. Unfortunately, I had to have my dear little Silly put to sleep last Tuesday, November 19th. She had a growth in her throat that was very big and very deep. I knew when I first felt it back in September that there wasn’t going to be much that could be done. You see, when Chester was fixed at the age of 6 months our vet told us that she didn’t handle anesthesia very well and he wouldn’t put her under again if he could ever help it. Couple that with the fact that she was 14 years old, and I knew I didn’t want to put her through all of that just to end up in the same place. My sister kind of had the same decision to make this year with her beautiful Himalayan, Joey.


Joey had a gastrointestinal tumor, which she treated for over six months with steroids and other medicines. Finally in October he wasn’t able to walk very well and was having difficulty eating and using the litter box. So now, Chester is keeping cousin Joey company.

Chester on Blanket 7-6-19

Two weeks ago she began having difficulty breathing and eating. My fear was that she would possibly suffocate while I was at work. I couldn’t let that happen.

I miss her SO MUCH.

Yes, I still have Bob. He misses her, too. They are the same age and he’s never been without another cat in the house.


I never realized just how much I looked forward to her companionship. In the last two weeks I’ve realized just how much time she and I spent together.

She supervised me in everything I did: folding laundry, picking out clothes to wear, putting groceries away, and organizing my choir music. There wasn’t much that she didn’t help us with.

Wing Walking

She was really good at opening packages, too.

Chester Helping 7-16-19

She was always there to be my Quality Control. She wanted to make sure that she personally tested everything before it went out the door.

Chester Sleeping 9-1-19

Yesterday I was walking through the living room and saw a couple of mourning doves perched on the bird bath. Mourning doves were her favorite. We used to sit and watch them all the time.

Chester Just Chillin

It’s silly, but the house seems so quiet without her here. I miss her greeting me at the door in her woodchuck pose, pawing at me to hear all of her adventures of the day.

And I miss her company at night while I crochet. She wanted to be right close to me.

chester crochet

You always know that this day is coming. You try to tell yourself that you will be strong and be happy that you at least had them in your life. And even though you’ve experienced heartache in the past, you’re never quite prepared. So please make sure to give those special pets in your life an extra kiss and hug so that they know just how much you love them.

Chester Bowling

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Bodycon Dress – Continues

It’s been a little bit, but I posted about the bodycon dress that I am attempting to make for my friend, Jamie.

Bodycon Dress and Fabric

When I last posted about this dress I was at the point where I needed to grade from one size down to another.

Two Sizes

I decided that I was going to attempt to fit the pattern to Addie and pin out the extra that way. Luckily Jay came along and helped me, so that when I was finished this is what I had:

BodyCon Dress Outline

If you look closely you can see that I have pins in this. They marked where the seam would actually end up if I sewed the dress together.

Bodycon Dress Pattern Revision

What I did, with Jay’s help, was to hold the pinned pattern on Addie as if she was wearing it. Using a pencil I then traced the shape between the two points where the pattern would need to be graded between sizes. I included the seam allowance and drew the line that I would need to cut against in order to get the right shape.

Bodycon Dress New Line

The result is the blue line in the picture up above.

I transferred this line to the other part of the pattern so that the line was the exact same for the front and the back.

Bodycon Dress New Shape

Then I cut away the extra. That was all the adjusting I was going to do to the pattern. Next I would need to cut the pieces out of the fabric.

Bodycon Dress Pieces

This picture is fuzzy, but it shows you the front and back pieces. Fairly easy, right? You just sew them together at the shoulders and sides. I decided to do a sleeveless version of this dress. Then I realized that it’s very difficult to tell the right side from the wrong side of this fabric. So I picked a wrong side and marked it.

Bodycon Dress Marking

The knotted side of the thread is the wrong side.

I used a basting stitch to sew it together in case I needed to remove it for any adjustments. But I had been so careful that there shouldn’t be many adjustments to be made, right?

Bodycon Dress 1 Front

To say that I was disappointed would be a huge understatement. As you can see, this is WAY too baggy almost every where. *sigh*

Bodycon Dress 1 LSide

The only part that seems to fit like I wanted is the hip area. Otherwise, there’s just too much fabric all over.

Bodycon Dress 1 Back

And after seeing this, I’m not sure that I needed to add the 2″ of length.

I could have posted this after I had figured out where I went wrong and fixed it, but I want to be up front and real with you guys. This first attempt, as good of a try as it was, really sucked. So much that I wanted to just throw the whole thing in a pile, pout, and tell Jamie that a bodycon dress is way out of the question. Yet, that’s not how we learn, is it? Before you get something right you need to fail a LOT so that you learn all of the ways not to do something.

So was this really a fail? Maybe not. I learned how to do pattern grading one way. I learned that this process isn’t going to be as easy as I’d hoped. And I also learned that I was terrified to make any adjustments to the dress until I knew for sure that Addie is very close to Jamie’s measurements. Luckily I received pictures from Jamie a few weeks ago so when I have some time I can compare them to Addie and figure out what parts might need tweaking. That will allow me to feel a little more confident that the adjustments I make on this dress will more likely help the fit on Jamie.

Also, it gave me an excuse to buy this pattern:

Bodycon Dress

McCall’s #M7999

I feel that this dress is much closer to the type of bodycon dress that Jamie actually wants. I will need to lower the neckline a little, but I think this might be a better pattern to attempt. I’m still going to try adjusting the first one that I made, but I needed a back-up so that when I get irritated with one I can work on the other.

So that’s where I stand with this dress. Once Christmas is done and I have more time to work on projects that aren’t gifts, I will try to jump back into this dress with more gusto.

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Finished Painting the Carvings

It seems like it was forever ago that I showed you the samples I had painted.

Carvings - Sample 2

I decided that I just needed to sit down and do them so that they could be done and off of my table. I started with the wolf.

Wolf Step 1

In order to get the lines dark I first used the gray wood stain. I felt like I had to use a LOT of stain in order to properly fill in the lines.

Then I went over the base of the wolf with a light gray.

Wolf Step 2

I also started to add color to his nose and the inside of his ears. This actually required two coats to get decent coverage.

Next came the darker accents.

Wolf Step 3

I added a slight washing of brown to the nose and ears as well. I was trying to get a little depth and not make it blah.

The last part was to finish touching up the nose and ears, plus add the eye color.

Wolf Almost Finished 11-18-19

This picture is a little dark because I didn’t take it in the best light. I have handed it over to Jay so that he can cut out closely around the head. Once it is cut to shape I will stain the sides and back to finish it before clear coating the whole thing. We’ll add a hanger to the back and it will be done!

One down, one to go…

The tiger wasn’t complicated. It just had a lot more fiddly parts.

Tiger Step 1

Obviously, I started with a thick white coat. Look how much the face stands out. Isn’t that neat?

Then I added some color to the ears and nose.

Tiger Step 2

There’s nothing exceptional with that. Apparently I didn’t take any more progress pictures until after I’d spent a week and a half fussing with the black stripes.

Tiger Almost Finished 11-18-19

I had to go buy some new brushes because I was splaying mine out trying to get down into the carved bits. Then I was getting black paint where I didn’t want it on the white, and when touching up the white I would get it on the black where I didn’t want it. It was a vicious cycle!

After a little more touching-up I finally had to put my brush down and say enough! I could probably sit and dab away at it for another three weeks, but it’s time to move on. I am calling this finished.

Tiger Finished 11-20-19

Once Jay has cut it out I will paint the sides and back, then also throw a clear coat on it. After the hanger goes on we can wrap them up and hand them over to the coworker.

Let me see if I can show you the samples next to the finished objects.

(Ignore the wolf)

The finished big tiger is on the left with the sample painted in chalk paint on the right.

Actual finished big wolf on the left, sample (with the brown accents) on the right.

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A Jesus Shed – Part 2

So, I told you that Jay is building a Jesus Shed (a.k.a. creche).

Jesus Shed Framed 11-8-19

It is massive and taking up a large portion of our basement. However, we are only a few weeks away from Advent so this has to be done very soon.

He has done a great job on it. In fact, he has already wired it with lights.

Jesus Shed Wiring 11-15-19

Hopefully this picture gives you some kind of perspective on its size. He has wired up a power supply and put warm white LEDs inside.

Jesus Shed Lighting 11-15-19

He even created two spotlights that can be pointed at the baby Jesus.

Jesus Shed Spotlights 11-18-19

To help keep some of the snow out of it, he added “sides”.

Jesus Shed End 11-18-19

This is by no means the vision that we had pictured. I was hoping to figure out a way to create a thatched roof, but unless I want to buy two tons of broom straw I have no way to do it. I mean, what am I going to do with 1.95 tons of broom straw after this project is finished? I don’t need that many brooms!

Jesus Shed 11-15-19

Just this much, though, is way better than our current creche. Once it’s completely together and in place with the figures installed it will look great.

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How to Prepare to Crochet/Knit A Blanket From a Pattern

There are a LOT of blog posts, instructions and YouTube videos about this topic, but perhaps I can put some of this in such a way that it might click for somebody. I am FAR from an expert on the topic so please take everything with a truck-load of salt. After all, I still have problems keeping my edges straight. And I somehow managed to drop two stitches when I was 2/3 of the way through this rug.

T-Shirt Rug 8-28-19


I read a blog post written by my friend “Jamie” the other day where she talked about her first knitting project.¬†I thought it was very well done for her first try! However, it reminded me that not everybody is used to reading patterns and knowing how to substitute materials, etc. I thought that I would take you through my process of preparing to crochet from a pattern. I’ve already shown what I do to prepare to make my crocheted afghans for Project Linus, but this is a bit different.

If I am going to make a blanket then I will usually have a certain yarn in mind that I want to use. Almost all of my yarn stash is made up of #4 worsted. A lot of times your pattern will tell you what weight of yarn it suggests.

4 Worsted

Typically if the pattern tells you to use a certain number, then any yarn that is rated at that weight should work. When I make blankets I really don’t sweat the weight because if it’s a bit thinner or thicker it won’t make that much of a difference. You will, however, want to make sure that you have enough of the yarn you will use before starting your project.

As an example, let’s say that I love the look of the free Diagonal Crochet Blanket¬†pattern on Premier yarns’ website. Let’s take a look at what materials are required.

Blanket Materials

It doesn’t tell me what size yarn it uses because they have used a special yarn that is part of their line. The problem is that I have a TON of yarn in my stash that I want to use. I don’t care about the design that the yarn makes as it’s stitched, I just like the look of the stitched rows. I have a lot of AC Moore brand yarn (Studio Classic by Nicole) and I want to use one of the variegated colorways that I already have on hand.

Project Linus Blanket #22 - Yarn

The yarn label will give you all of the information you need. Looking at my yarn I see this:

Stitch Studio Plus

The Premier yarn called for in the pattern is 7 oz/200g, 656 yds/600m and 100% Acrylic. How does this compare to my yarn?


If we divide the total yardage by the weight we will be able to tell just how many yards we get out of each ounce of yarn.

Premier = 656/7 = about 93 yards per ounce.

Stitch Studio = 520/9.87 = about 52 yards per ounce.

What does this mean? That tells me that the Stitch Studio yarn will be a little thicker than the Premier yarn. One ounce of yarn stretched across 93 yards will give you a thinner strand than only stretching it across 52 yards. For me this will be okay because a thicker blanket might be better anyway. But how many skeins of yarn will I need?

Blanket Materials

How big do you want to make your blanket? They give you three sets of finished measurements. Then when you look at the yarn it gives you three quantities. It says that we can use Sweet Pea, Peony or Hummingbird for the blanket and for the small size we will need 2 skeins. To make the medium (36″x36″) we will need 3 skeins, and then 5 skeins for the largest size given. Let’s say that I decide I want to make the biggest blanket.

Premier yarns = 656 yds x 5 skeins = 3,280 yards.

Stitch Studio = 3,280 yds / 520 yd per skein = 7 skeins (rounded up from 6.3)

So, I would want at least 7 skeins of yarn for this project. Are you ready for me to throw one more monkey wrench into the mix? Let’s say that I need to stick to the yarn that I have in my stash so that I can see the floor of my crochet corner.

Yarn Mess 5-18-19

After sorting through my entire pile I find that I only have four skeins of the yarn that I wanted to use. Before throwing yourself on the floor in despair and lamenting the fact that you have a zillion skeins, but only FOUR of the seven that you required for this project… not all is lost.

If we look at the blanket pattern we see that they used a size G hook. This means that using the G hook (4 mm) and this Bloom Premier Yarn it took 5 skeins of yarn to make a 48″ x 48″ blanket. Let’s do the math to see how much yarn would be required to make the 36″ square blanket.

Premier yarns = 656 yds x 3 skeins = 1,968 yards.

Stitch Studio = 1,968 yds / 520 yd per skein = 4 skeins (rounded up from 3.78)

You can easily make a 36″ square blanket using the four skeins of yarn that you found in your stash. But what, there’s more! If you use a larger hook, say a I or J, then your stitches will be slightly larger and your overall blanket will end up slightly bigger, too. That’s not to say that you’ll be able to get a 48″ square blanket (because that won’t happen), but it will be slightly bigger than the middle size. The only thing I caution with this is that by using a bigger hook you are using up more yarn. So you might not want to go crazy because you’re only going to have about a quarter of a skein left if using the G hook. Also by going up a larger hook size you are decreasing the density of the stitch, thus decreasing the density of the blanket. You can always crochet a swatch and see if you like the stitches that you are getting from your yarn and hook.

Swatch 1A - G Hook

(This is a #5 yarn)

I think I’m going to leave that right there for now. It takes a little experimentation to get familiar with the yarns, hooks and what results when you put the two of them together. I just have a few more tips that I would like to share with you before I end this post.

There are some patterns that will give you directions for Row 1, Row 2, Row 3, Row 4 and then for Rows 5-40 they will tell you to repeat Row 2-4. Since not many of us will sit down and crochet a blanket all at once, how do you know where you’re at when you are able to pick it back up? This is where a little planning comes in VERY handy.

I’ll show you my cheat sheet and then explain what’s going on.

Tracking Rows

It looks like you need a magic decoder ring for this, doesn’t it? After I read a pattern I look to see how many rows in total there should be when it’s finished. In this case I am beginning work on a blanket with a very specific pattern stitched into it that has a total of 75 rows. You can see the pattern repeats every six rows until you get to the very last row, which is probably just a row of single or double crochet (I don’t have the pattern here in front of me). When I crochet I keep a stitch counter next to me so that as I finish a row I click the counter. I was using a plastic one, but I found this one on Amazon and I LOVE it. You do have to remember to click it because otherwise you will still lose track of your rows. However, if you’re consistent you will know that you are on row 56 when your counter says ’55’. If it helps you can also place a stitch marker on every 5th or 10th row, too. The stitch markers that I use look like little plastic safety pins. This way if you forget to click the stitch counter you should be able to quickly count how many rows you’ve already completed.

Also, on my cheat sheet above, I made a note as to when I will need to change colors. This way I shouldn’t be able to get too far before realizing that I needed to be using the other color. It takes a little bit of work to prepare, but it makes crocheting a LOT faster.

I hope that this was helpful to you. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll write up how I prepare to crochet a garment. Thanks!

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