Sunday, January 13, 2013

Homey weekend

This weekend saw us doing a lot of relaxing and resting at home. The Bear and I have both been feeling some kind of illness brewing for a few days and it has been exceptionally cold outdoors, so the best course of action was to stay home as much as possible. That's what we like best anyway.

Friday was the Bear's day off from work. His schedule gives him a day off every other Friday. Our "Fridays off," as we call them, are always interesting. The LB has school, but the GB only goes to school Tuesday and Thursday mornings, so Fridays are a special time for the three of us. As the younger child, she hasn't had much time without her brother around. And her brother's personality can be a bit dominating of hers, so we feel like this is an important thing to do.

The GB has ballet (well, pre-ballet) class on Friday mornings and we like to take the LB to school, then do something fun before ballet. This week we tried a doughnut shop, Rebel Donut, which is a few minutes from where live. What a neat place. I wish I'd brought my camera. The shop itself is fairly standard (though there is a lot of interesting artwork to see), but the doughnuts are incredible! The Bear had a maple-frosted one with pieces of bacon on top. I had an apple pie-filled one (with bits of granola and nuts on top) and the GB had a birthday cake doughnut, with frosting and sprinkles. We brought an "early bird" doughnut home for the LB; this was a chocolate doughnut with chocolate frosting, "dirt" made from cookie crumbs and a gummy worm crawling out of the hole. So interesting and different, but not more expensive than your chain doughnut shops. We like to patronize those local businesses as much as we can and I think we'll be going back to this one again.

On Friday afternoon, I finished a little project I've been working on this week. I made a Rose Heart Hanger, inspired by Attic 24. I plan to give this one to my mother for her birthday but I may make some more. I think they would make cute teacher gifts for the end of the school year.

I used leftover bits of Stylecraft Special DK; I had plenty from my Giant Granny Square. From left to right - Meadow, Pomegranate, Spring Green and Clematis.

It's a really easy little project and it works up very fast. I used Lucy's tutorials for roses and leaves, as well as the other tutorial she links to in the above post for making the heart pieces themselves. That was another easy tutorial but I had a hard time crocheting the heart pieces together as suggested. I ended up sewing them together with matching yarn. I sewed a little shell button into the center of the rose, just for something special.

Speaking of yarn needles, I finally got around to doing something that I have wanted to do for a long time. My yarn needles came in a little cardboard folder with a cellophane insert where the needles were held. They were kind of woven in and out of several holes in the cellophane. Over time, it began to rip and the needles were falling out. I kept saying I should come up with a better way to store them. I wish they weren't too blunt to be stuck in my pincushion. I came up with a yarny solution. I crocheted a little swatch in hdc, using DK yarn, and stuck the needles through. Now I can just set this in the tray inside my sewing basket and they won't fall out and get lost.

Saturday was another quiet day for us, apart from a birthday party in the afternoon for the GB's little friend. The party was held in one of those places with a giant indoor play structure and inflatable bouncy structure; noisy and hot, but everyone had fun. I love that the GB is getting big enough to have her own friends now; the little girls are so adorable together. The party had a Star Wars theme and the GB was very pleased with her Chewbacca mask.

Saturday nights are special in the Thistlebear home. That's when the Bear and I have our weekly at-home date. This usually involves a quick and easy dinner and a movie or TV show on Netflix. This is the one night of the week when I'm fine with making use of convenience foods, like the frozen Trader Joe's eggplant parmesan "stacks" we had this week. We don't get our by ourselves much (babysitters are scarce and very expensive), but we look forward to this every week.

On Saturday morning, the Bear and the small Bears had gone to the library and I had stayed home for a blissful quiet hour. I decided it was a good opportunity to begin working on the traditional granny afghan I discussed the other day. I'm using the combination of worsted acrylic yarns I bought last weekend; some of it is Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn (including a ILTY Neon shade) and some is Lion Brand Vanna's Choice.

I'm using Bunny Mummy's tutorial for granny squares again. I love this tutorial, which really simplifies the technique. Jacquie makes them a bit differently than some other tutorials I've tried. I think it's because she doesn't flip her square over for each round. Instead, she turns the square to a different side for each new round. This helps prevent the twisting you commonly see with granny squares. This worked well with my giant granny square too.

I'm doing five-round squares this time. With the worsted-weight yarn, and an I/9 hook, this ends up making a square which is almost five inches across. By my calculations, I'll need about 143 squares to make the blanket the size I want. That seems like a lot but I'm finding the squares to be rather quick to make. I made three so far this weekend.

My palette this time is meant to be sort of vintage-y. I love the bright, vibrant colors of my giant granny square, but this blanket is going to be used in our family room and I think a toned-down look is a good idea there. The room has good natural light, having several windows and a skylight, but it's open to the kitchen and main foyer and I'd prefer a more subdued look for this part of the house. The outer round of each square will be the same blue shade you see above, which matches our couch and chair in the family room but is not as light as it looks in this photo. It's actually more a navy blue but all the colors look a bit washed out here.

I do have to say that the Hobby Lobby yarn is probably misnamed. I don't actually Love This Yarn. I find it to be a bit stiff and rough, especially in the darkest shades; it's also somewhat splitty and it knots easily. I greatly prefer working with a lighter-weight yarn, such as DK or sport-weight, but I'm going for affordable and durable here. I know I have not given the yarn a ringing endorsement, but this blanket is going to get a lot of use in a common area of our home. I'd rather see the blankets get really used - blanket forts, tents and the like - than sit on the couch folded neatly. So I'm willing to tough out the less sumptuous yarn if it means I'll have something my family can use and enjoy.

Our Sunday has been quiet thus far as well. We're hanging out in the family room with our small Bears, feeling a bit under the weather and wishing they'd entertain themselves a bit better. Shortly I will make lunch. More cooking will follow later this afternoon, when I will roast a chicken for dinner. I usually make a larger dinner like this on Sundays in order to have leftovers for other meals during the week. This week I'll make a soup with the leftover chicken, probably on Wednesday. Tonight we'll watch "Downton Abbey" after the small Bears are in bed. I'm really happy to have it back on TV; we don't watch very much television but I enjoy this one a lot.


  1. Looks like your new project is off to a good start! I love Downton Abbey too. It's the only show I watch right now, although I try to catch The Middle and Modern Family when I can.

    Isn't Maggie Smith fantastic on Downton? The things she says are hysterical.

  2. Thanks, Jenny. I've got seven squares as of this afternoon. I'm enjoying this project so far. I can do a square from start to finish, including weaving in ends, in under an hour. It's the perfect little project to fit into those downtimes in the day.

    Downton is great. It's rare for my husband and I to both get sucked into a TV drama but this one has done it. I love Maggie Smith. She's very wise and I love the things she comes out with! What a character.

  3. Lovely heart, they are seriously addictive! I'm sure your Mum will love it.
    Your blanket will be beautiful.
    I've just ordered another Lucy pack from Deramores as they sent me a discount code
    (DK15 - I believe anyone can use it) which gives 15% off all their DK (I think you call it "worsted" weight?) including the Lucy pack.
    Carol xx

  4. Thank you, Carol. I do hope she likes it. The blanket is coming along; I have almost eight squares now! Just have to finish the outermost round on the eighth one. I like doing these because I can make them all different and they work up fast!

    I did see the sale. Thank you! I receive their emails. I am tempted to buy more Stylecraft but I have a lot put away, a whole Lucy Pack plus another 8 skeins in other colors. Good thing I have a week to think about it before the sale code expires. Actually, DK is a thinner yarn than worsted and I really prefer the DK. We would call the equivalent "sport-weight" here, or sometimes "baby yarn" is the name used, whether in "baby" colors or not. I just love the Stylecraft, though...what a wonderful yarn!


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