A Little Mermaid Princess

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And now, for something completely different… πŸ™‚

It is birthday season here! Kind of fun, that following the holidays we have two in a row, then one in March, one in April.

I try to make cute cakes for our girls. It doesn’t happen every year…but I learned from my mother, who learned from her mother– hmm, that’s how I learned to crochet, too! I use a cake idea site especially for amateurs, since a professional cake artist, I am not!

Find it here: http://www.coolest-birthday-cakes.com/Β  Pinterest is just too unrealistic for me, most days. πŸ™‚

This year’s request from baby #4 was “the mermaid on a rock one, please, mommy?” I was happy to comply…though we hit a bit of a snag when she wanted to help…even if she was eight going on nine last week…and had some definite design ideas that may or may not have been practical…apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and all that… πŸ˜‰

But the end result was sweet, if not award-winning. I’ll include a bit of a how-to, and a few links, if you’d like to give it a go yourself!

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First, a cake mix baked in a glass bowl. I use the Pampered Chef batter bowl; I like that one (pictured back left). Grease and flour it well! It takes a bit longer to bake in the bowl, usually about 45 minutes. I made a marshmallow fondant for the tail, so much cheaper than the regular stuff!

For the recipes– marshmallow fondant and cake decorator icing– see here: https://thesparklytoad.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/spring-longing/

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Grey for the rock, blue for waves, pink for the tail. I had fun with my decorator tips, haven’t had those out in a while!

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Added some fins…

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Went a shade darker with the pink to add some trim.

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Now the green for seaweed and leaves:

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I’m not too particular as long as the kids like it. Frosting is too changeable for my taste…sweet and such a variety in consistency!

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I do detest clean-up…the oil from the shortening never fully washes. In fact the tubes of frosting are still sitting in my fridge a week later. We will use them to decorate some cookies before I finally break down and scrub them out. At least the bags are disposable! Washing the tips out is bad enough. πŸ™‚

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A view or two of her pretty flower in the hair:

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A little sea weed, anyone? πŸ™‚

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On another note, I finally replaced my favorite orange tennies. I’ve enjoyed featuring them in crochet shots from time to time, and now they are due to retire. I used a little Christmas money to buy a new pair, black this time. Not quite as much fun, but ah well, that’s what they had at the store.

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May you have a marvelous evening! I am excited to pick up my hook for the first time in over a week. If I can stay awake…I hope to start a gorgeous cardigan.

Oh, Nativity

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Hello and Happy…!

I know that I promised you a mini-stocking this week.

But I gave them all away and forgot to take a picture. My hope is to make more, and do a cute photo shoot– but it IS Christmas week and I will have to see how the time goes.

In the meantime, my husband and I ran away to our favorite BnB (bed and breakfast) this week for a little RnR (rest and relaxation). πŸ™‚Β  I have found that a short get-away significantly increases my enjoyment of the holiday season and finds me much more peaceful during the inevitable stress and family squabbles.

We had a fabulous twenty-four hours, and capped it off with a little antique-ing, browsing several local shops and enjoying the time spent.

And I found something so marvelous! I entreated my sweet husband to capture it on film so I could share it with you. Well, digital, anyway, since he has a smart phone…

The most fabulous crochet nativity! And in such colorful thread…I love nativities, and every year I browse patterns and consider making one. I haven’t found the time yet, but one of these years…

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I had him take several close-ups so that I can reverse-engineer the patterns. I love Mary’s braids!

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I think the angel is my favorite. I love angels.

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A detailed close-up of the angel halo and wing. A simple wagon wheel and shell.

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And the sweet babe, wrapped in a solid granny square, on a double granny cushion.

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Not crochet-related, I also had him capture the lovely embroidery on this old lampshade. I often add a bit of sewing detail to my projects.

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And last but not least, the special project I have been working on instead of making more mini-stockings– a last-minute request for a one-of-a-kind Christmas dress for a real-live little angel.

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I used this Bernat pattern as a base

http://www.yarnspirations.com/patterns/i-heart-my-dress.html

but worsted-weight yarn (Caron Sparkle) and an H hook (5mm). Since the pattern called for an E hook and sport-weight yarn, it ended up coming out as a size 18-24 months when I followed the instructions for the 6 month size. Perfect!

For the trim (hem and sleeves), I used the edging found here:

https://thesparklytoad.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/mais-oui/

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I also made the flower pattern listed in the blog above for the accent rose. I gave it a Christmas-y twist by chaining 2 or 3 stitches mid-petal (3hdc, ch-2, 3hdc) for example. This made the petals a bit pointy, more like a poinsettia.

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I can’t wait to see pictures of her in it! I love making dresses.

May you have a blessed Christmas, and be surrounded by love, regardless of circumstances. I am grateful for the Babe that came.

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Until then, happy hooking!

Circling Lovlies, Part II

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I have been distracted by other projects (imagine that!) and neglected to give you the long-promised update on my Circle Of Friends afghan.

It was back in October I first shared with you:

Circling Lovlies with TheSparklyToad

I promised squares from the circles for the very next week…and then I was of on another tangent crochet adventure or two and did not return…until now.IMG_5240

And I have such cheerful news. I bought a little camera!

I have had a nightmare of dead and dying technology around here, that left me nice-new-tablet-, old-used-iPod- and digital-camera-less. Awful!

I prefer us to be a frugal, low-tech family, so I really tried to make a go of it without…but to not be able to take ANY PICTURES AT ALL was really too much for this mother.

It is my eldest’s final year in school, after all. She plans to attend university next fall, and you can imagine how many LAST school things I was longing to capture as we go along.

I caved and bought the camera a few weeks back. I am having a bit of a love-hate relationship with it, as it isn’t as nice as my previous one, and I can’t seem to get the right combination of lighting and shutter — it doesn’t seem to have adjustable speed and the flash is much too harsh. At least to please me…I am a bit particular…

Hopefully I will learn a few tricks. I have yet to read the directions. πŸ™‚ If it turns out to be the camera, not operator-error, well…then perhaps it will be visiting the dustbin!

Now, onto the lovelies…

I just love this pattern, and the satin gloss of the Caron Simply Soft highlights it beautifully. I think I used my E hook (3.5mm) for this one.

If you’d like the free pattern, it is here:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/circle-of-friends-square

I do love Priscilla Hewitt designs. They are always so nice and texture-y, but never too tricky. Just double-crochet and single in this one! Can you believe it?

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Pretty, pretty, pretty.

I bought a half-dozen skeins of light grey for joining. Now to toss around which method to use: flat-braid is a little too fancy, and also too flimsy for these thick, dense squares. Plain double-crochet might be nice, but can I make myself complete that many boringly-same stitches??? Likely not…perhaps granny clusters…or something else I haven’t thought of yet.

I must experiment. How fun!

Off to bed for me, a busy day tomorrow.

Lovely crochet blessings to you.

A Little Virus

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Hello and happy weekend!

Is it possible that Thanksgiving is just around the corner?

The unseasonably warm weather lends me toward unbelief…even if we did have a major snowstorm predicted for today.

We ended up with a few inches…

I am posting this on an entirely unfamiliar screen, which makes me a bit uncertain…doesn’t WordPress know I am too old to deal with techno-change???

We’ll see how much longer it takes me to blog.

Today shall be the shawls I promised! I must confess, however, that I miscounted…there are four, not three, and one seems to be missing?

No, you may not comment about my many WIPS and that it is likely buried in a pile of yarn! πŸ™‚ I know it all too well…

Shawl #1:

With an H hook (5mm) and RedHeart Unforgettable in Stained Glass

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http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/lilys-rose-garden-shawl

The colors are glorious though I am still learning to get along with my new camera…

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This is truly my favorite yarn these days. And a great pattern, so simple, but lovely.

Shawl #2:

A virus. I used a chart googled off the internet, but word-on-the-street is that most folks are following a YouTube video.

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An H hook (5mm) and RedHeart Unforgettable in Echo- a stunning combination of purples and greens that is somehow gray, overall. I love it.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/virus-shawl—virustuch

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And the third, featured previously here:

https://thesparklytoad.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/the-perfect-all-hallows-eve/

Shawl #3) The South Bay Shawlette in gorgeous fall colors

I am in a bit of Unforgettable frenzy…I made a special trip to the city a few weeks ago and bought a dozen skeins of color I can’t get in town: Stained Glass, Echo, Sunrise and Polo.

This is Sunrise, with a J hook:

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Pattern here:

http://www.lionbrand.com/patterns/90489AD.html?ss=

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The snow is so light and pretty on the black trees and my red berry bushes.

I find myself thankful for a quiet day to tend to hearth and home before the hustle and bustle of the holiday week.

May you be blessed now and always.

 

The Perfect All Hallows’ Eve

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Hello and Happy…Halloween!

The weather is just miserable for trick-or-treating,

and just perfect for crochet!

The moment I am done with this post you will find me snuggled under a pile of blankets with hook in hand. πŸ™‚

And, adding happiness to happiness…

I have a new CAMERA!!! Sqeeeeeeeeeee…

I have despaired of ever hearing back from the tablet repair shop (the third shop I’ve tried, mind you). That optimistic estimate of two days turned into a call a week later– us to them, not the other way around!– only to hear, “Oh, we haven’t started on it yet, still waiting for a cable,” WHAT?!?

So I capitulated to my need to record precious family moments and shelled out the cash for an inexpensive digital model. Sigh of relief. The blog continues.

Even more happy news: we got to see our precious twins this week! Well, the children did. They stopped by to visit while I was at work, but the children were home from school and, oh, happy reunions all around.

Their daddy was here to request a repair job on a hat they had. Not my work, I always sew my ends in TIGHT (well, except for that rainbow daisy afghan but I learned my lesson on that one, now didn’t I?)

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I easily saw where it had come apart, but could I re-crochet the loops or was it a sewing job? I did manage to hook and loop it back together, hurrah! They will be so pleased.

It is the most darling owl hat. I use this pattern when I make them:

http://www.repeatcrafterme.com/2012/09/crochet-owl-hat-pattern-in-newborn.html

Fun with the new camera: I just love this shot I caught of my V-Stitch, playing with settings on my new camera. COLOR.

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Updates on a few projects hanging around the house…oh, bliss!

  1. The African Queen

With just a few rounds to go, I have decided to scrap this design and rework it as hexagons instead of strips. I don’t like it as it is, and I don’t think the intended recipient will either. Stay tuned for a colorful mass of hexies, reworked…

See more of her story here:

https://thesparklytoad.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/protea-or-osteospermum-the-lovey-african-flower/

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Some fun options for making your own hexagons and African flower motifs:

http://www.mooglyblog.com/free-crochet-hexagon-patterns/

http://attic24.typepad.com/weblog/hexagon-howto.html

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/african-flower-hexagon-crochet-tutorial

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2) The South Bay Shawlette in gorgeous fall colors

I am in a bit of Unforgettable frenzy…I made a special trip to the city a few weeks ago and bought a dozen skeins of color I can’t get in town: Stained Glass, Echo, Sunrise and Polo.

This is Sunrise, with a J hook:

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Pattern here:

http://www.lionbrand.com/patterns/90489AD.html?ss=

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Just gorgeous.

3) Priscilla Hewitt’s Polka Dot Stockings

My third daughter picked her colors for these…I have hopes of making one for each family member, but after two evenings of trying to assemble them, my hopes are rather dashed that I will be able to complete even one. I need to google this…the toe just isn’t quite right and the directions on assembly are little or no help.

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Pattern here, let me know if you figure it out: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/polka-dot-christmas-stocking

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4) And the owl hat, all fixed up!

Isn’t it precious?

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Happy Halloween! I am off to crochet. πŸ˜€

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The Hawaiian Volcano

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Midsummer, next to chill, dark winter days, is my favorite time to crochet, cool and quiet in the air conditioning. All the extra sun I’ve been getting increases my energy level significantly…and the creative juices are flowing!

I was working on two or three other projects the other day, chatting with my neighbor who had dropped in, when I suddenly dashed into my office– otherwise known as the yarn cave– and began pulling out armloads of skeins.

In a sudden fit of color-coordination I had decided I needed to make something in an ombre rainbow of hues– immediately!

To my neighbor’s amusement I began to lay the skeins out on the floor, muttering to myself and springing between rooms as I would think of another box or bin that had just that wanted, next certain color.

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I stole shamelessly from the five foot laundry-sorter that holds the skeins for my worsted-weight rainbow Sophie. See her here: https://thesparklytoad.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/unveiling-the-universe/

Goodness, has she been lying neglected since March?

I shan’t apologize a bit when I go to the store for more yarn for her! The VOLCANO is worth it!

Here are my gathered shades:

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And her humble beginnings:

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The pattern is known in some circles as THE mypicot. There are a few patterns on the mypicot site, but this one seems to be the most popular, or perhaps it was the first?

It can be a bit confusing, but the pattern is here:

http://mypicot.com/4025.html

If you have trouble finding the download link, here is a clue…Find the words in BLUE that say “How to follow a crochet diagram” and click on the phrase AFTER that, in italics.

Better yet, use the ravelry link, it is much simpler. πŸ™‚

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/beautiful-shells-blanket

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I worked on this one on and off all month, while my oldest sweetie was gallivanting about Italy on a scholarship. I missed her, and worried not a little, so it was nice to have a project!

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I showed my latest projects to her upon her return as we were exchanging all sorts of stories catching up, and she exclaimed over this rainbow beauty.

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She declared it tropical and said, “The middle looks like a volcano!”

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And so she was christened, my tropical delight.

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It’s fun to start this sort of blanket, but it begins to wear on me as the rounds get longer! It takes over an hour to go around her now, making shells.

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I put in a good crime show DVD and double-crochet away.

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Just the lavender left and then I must decide…do I start over? And with which color, pink or brown?Or white?

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She’s about 3×3 ft now…I’d like her to be a bit more than that, but not double the rows of color? And then there is my yarn stash, which is SERIOUSLY depleted by my summer color craziness.

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In fact I am hoping to get to the store later this week.

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I must decide which project to bring on vacation soon.

Never an easy choice for me!

I will definitely need more yarn. πŸ˜€

Oh sorrow, cresting the halfway point of summer…the second half slips too quickly away.

Happy hooking!

Update (November 2015):

The Hawaiian Volcano has been donated to a cancer charity auction benefit to help raise funds for expenses. Please take a moment to read abut this worthy cause, donate and say a prayer or two, thank you!

http://www.communitybenefittree.org/broeniman-family-fund.html

and follow the story on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/Broenimanfamilyfund?hc_location=ufi

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Dainty Doily Delight

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Hello, Hello and Happy Tuesday!

May I welcome myself back from a lovely vacation? πŸ˜‰

It was a much-needed time; so completely detached from my usual tasks that I felt quite a different person, and was entirely refreshed.

Just before we left, I pulled several faded, mimeographed charts from my pile of patterns and worked up a bit of pretty cotton-acrylic blend.

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I wish I had a tub full of the stuff..that’s what it would take to make anything of substantial size!

Here’s the label:

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How anyone manages to buy enough fine yarn to make a sweater or camisole is beyond me; the cost is quite prohibitive.

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I contented myself with doing the first few rounds of this old chart. The fiber blend slipped so neatly between my fingers, and I love the stitch definition that comes from working with cotton.

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I really must pull out some of my finer thread and make another go at something long and lacy.

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Would you like to make one yourself? Here are a few patterns to choose from:

http://allcrafts.net/crochet/crochetdoilies.htm

Need something easy for a beginner? Maybe here:

http://www.favecrafts.com/Crochet/Free-Crochet-Doily-Patterns-for-Beginners

I could get lost on the internet, browsing patterns. Here are two more of my favorite search spots. Perhaps you need a new project!

http://www.garnstudio.com/

http://www.yarnspirations.com/

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Our vacation was such a lovely time away. I shall bundle it up into my happiest memories and keep it there, pulling it out to reminisce, as needed, during the long winters.

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May your summer be full of lovely tender moments and fair-weather fun!

Until we crochet again… ❀