Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ribbed Neckwarmer

Ribbed Neckwarmer
Easy enough for beginners, once you master the front post double crochet stitch.  Don’t be intimidated by this if you are a beginner.  Front post stitches are easy, and really increase the effects you are able to get  with crochet.  This can probably be easily made in a couple of hours if you have a little crochet experience.

Here is a video link for the front post stitches.
This site has written instructions for many different crochet techniques, If you prefer written information.   You will have to scroll down a bit to find the front post instructions.

WW yarn  ( I used Bernat Super Value Yarn in gray)
Size K hook
2 one inch buttons  (the buttons have to be able to fit into the holes between the stitches, so you may have to get smaller buttons if you crochet tightly)
yarn needle for weaving in ends)
sewing thread to match your buttons
needle for sewing the buttons on

HDC- half double crochet
FPDC- front post double crochet
FPHDC-front post half double crochet

Chain 92.  (make sure your chain is around 32 inches long for an average size neck.  You can make it longer or shorter depending on your preference.)

Row 1:  HDC in  3rd chain from hook and in each chain across.  (You should have 90 stitches, but it really doesn’t matter how many you have)

Row 2 through 13:  Chain 2, turn.  (Chain 2 counts as first stitch)  FPDC in each stitch until you get to the last stitch of the row, HDC into last stitch.)
You can continue this row until the neckwarmer is as wide as you would like it to be.

Row 14:  Chain 2, turn, FPHDC into each stitch.  (Doing HDC for the last row, makes the stitches a little shorter and makes the last row match the first one in width.)

Fasten off, weave in ends.

Put neckwarmer around your neck and decide where you want the buttons to be.  Sew on buttons and enjoy!

 Pattern is untested, except by myself. Please let me know if something is unclear, or you find a mistake.
You may sell one or two items made from this pattern, but you may not sell the pattern or publish it anywhere else. Please link to the pattern if you post a picture elsewhere.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Directions for coasters made from ceramic tiles are all over the internet.  Michelle and I made these using 4 inch tiles from Menards, (11 cents each), a jar of Mod-Podge and a few sheets of scrapbook paper.  The backs of the tiles are rough so we glued on some squares of vinyl to finish them off.  Cork or felt would be a good way to finish the backs as well.  I sprayed the finished product with clear acrylic finish, but I don't know if it was necessary.

 I made these, all from the same sheet of paper.

Michelle made this set, using 4 different sheets of paper.  I like these a lot better than mine, especially that one on the bottom right.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Finished another one of those projects!

Last year I started a quilted purse, but after I got part of it finished, I couldn't figure out how to finish it.  I designed this myself and should have done some planning before starting to cut and sew.  However, it is finally finished, even though it didn't turn out at all like I had planned.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Through my kitchen window: A Pileated Woodpecker

Andy and I were both in the basement the other day when we heard a loud thud from upstairs.  It sounded like something had fallen up there.  Andy went to check it out, and called for me to come and see what it was.  This bird was pounding at the porch post.  It's a pileated woodpecker.   I think I've heard them in the woods from time to time, but I've never seen one before. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Autumn Beauty

For a week or so we have been enjoying beautiful summer like weather here.  Today it is cool and fall like, but before the weather changed we went over to the "Pickerel Lake-Fred Meijer Nature Reserve" to walk around the lake and enjoy the beautiful fall colors.  This is one of my favorite places to walk,  It's gorgeous in any season, but fall really shines here.
We walked around the lake, but there are other trails as well.

 The first thing we noticed were these three swans hanging around next to the boardwalk.   They were evidently posing for pictures.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Giveaway from Jenny of Elefantz'blog

Check out this fun giveaway from Jenny, celebrating 1500 followers.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fall Getaway

A few weeks ago Andy and I spent a few days up in the UP and in Northern Ontario.  We took the Agawa Canyon train trip and then spent a few days driving around the UP.  The train trip was fun, but it was a little early for good fall color, which was a bit of a disappointment.

We had planned to visit Mackinac Island while we were up there, but it was really too cold for a trip to the island.  Instead we went to Tahquamenon Falls and visited a few lighthouses.

                                                  Old Mission Point Light House

                                               A couple of shots in Tahquamenon Falls State Park

                                                       Old Makinac Point Light House

                                                     McGulpins Point Light House

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

 In my on-going effort to use  up some of  those herbs I planted this spring, and to eat a healthier diet, I decided to experiment with a healthier pizza crust.  I ended up trying  this pizza crust recipe.  I wasn't too sure about whole wheat pizza crust, but I was very pleasantly surprised.   Andy liked it a lot too.

I did make a few changes to the recipe.  I substituted 2 tsp. of brown sugar for the 1 tsp. of white sugar, used 3 tsp. yeast instead of 2 1/2, and added 4 tsp. of vital wheat gluten.  I also used bread flour instead of all purpose flour.  I also added a little minced garlic and some fresh oregano and basil to the dough.

This made a nice non-sticky dough that rolled out easily. It made two 14 inch pizzas with a nice tender, slightly chewy crust.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oven Roasted Potatoes

I decided to grow some herbs this year.  I put one plant each, of oregano, thyme, parsley and basil, into a big pot and set it out on the back deck.  The plants look surprisingly attractive together, and are growing like weeds.  This is a recipe I devised to use up some of that bounty.

4 or 5 medium sized redskin or Yukon gold potatoes
2 tsp olive oil
seasoned salt to taste
minced garlic to taste
good size bunch of fresh thyme, (strip leaves from the stems and discard the stems)

Preheat oven to 425.
Wash and cut potatoes into approximately half inch cubes.  Place into a bowl and toss with the olive oil.  Sprinkle with seasoned salt, minced garlic and fresh thyme leaves.  Toss again to distribute seasonings. Dump onto a cookie sheet sprayed with olive oil cooking spray. Spread potatoes in a single layer.  Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and turn potatoes.  Bake another  15 minutes or so , until potatoes are tender.
You could  cut larger cubes of potatoes, but baking time may be longer.

You can, of course use other types of potatoes, (although baking time may vary), and substitute dried thyme, for the fresh thyme.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Through My Kitchen Window

Isn't this a pretty bird?  I think its an indigo bunting.  I see these birds every spring, but they only seem to stay here for a few weeks.
Andy took this picture through the kitchen window.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A couple of finished projects

I finished both of these projects this week.  Unfortunately neither of them were in that list of UFOs I posted earlier this year, so that list is still not shrinking.
Hat pattern is here.  The tote is called Stash Buster tote and the pattern is available for purchase at Ravelry.
The hat is made from Vanna's in beige, and the tote is the same beige and "I Love this Yarn" in high meadow ombre.  The yarn was leftover from the Bernat Mystery afghan.  I used a G hook for the hat and a K for the tote.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Owl!!

I woke up this morning to the fluttering of wings outside the window.  A minute later one of the birds landed in a nearby tree and I saw that it was an owl.  It sat there for quite a long time, moving only its head.  Owls can swivel their heads quite a ways.  At times it looked like it had turned its head completely around to look behind it.  This owl blended into the tree so well, that at one point a blue jay landed on it's head.  The blue jay moved on quite quickly!  The picture was taken through the window, (and in the rain), so it's not the best, but you definitely see that it is an owl.

Friday, April 8, 2011

More finished Projects

I am still using up that lilac Caron pounder.  I used an H hook for all three projects.  (And there is still yarn left....)
The dress pattern is here.  I didn't use a pattern for the hat and booties.  As usual these items will be donated.

Recipe: Black bean and Corn Chili

Black bean and Corn Chili

1 pound lean ground beef, browned, and drained
I medium onion, chopped and browned with the beef  ( optional, I omit this, since  I have an onion hater here, but I definitely think that an onion would improve the dish)
I can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
I can (15 oz) corn, drained
1 1/2 cups salsa
2 cups water
2 chicken boullion cubes
(or substitute 2 cups of chicken broth for the water and boullion)
1 package chili seasoning mix
1 Tsp.  brown sugar
1/4 tsp dried minced garlic

Combine all ingredients in a crockpot.  ( I use a small 2 quart pot for this so I don't know how it would work in a larger pot)  Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.  It won't hurt it to cook longer.
If your crockpot is a newer one,I'd cook it for less time, since the newer ones seem to cook at higher temperatures than my old one.

This makes 5 or 6 servings and could easily be doubled.

The heat of the dish can be adjusted by the type of salsa used, (hot medium, or mild), and can also be kicked up by adding some chili powder.  This is more of a soup-like chili, rather than a thicker chili like a tomato based one would be. 

This dish reheats well, but I've never tried freezing it.

This recipe was improvised from one my sister in law, Laurie, shared with me. The original recipe called for  beef stew cubes, and instead of the chili mix, a variety of spices were used.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A couple of Finishes

I made both these pairs of booties last week Friday, in order to avoid doing anything more ambitious, like housework.
The lilac colored ones are knit from this pattern.  I used WW yarn, (Caron Pounder leftover from the doily ghan and the Lilacs in February blanket), and size 6 needles, and they are about 6 month size.
The green crocheted booties are this pattern.  The yarn is Red Heart Soft, and I used a G hook.
Both pairs of booties will be donated.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Doily Style Baby Blanket

This is made out of the same yarn as the Lilacs in February blanket.  I had purchased an extra skein (Caron Pounder in lilac), in case I needed it to finish that blanket.  I didn't use it, so I decided to make another blanket out of it.  I ended up needing more than 16 oz of yarn for this blanket, so I had to buy another skein.  Of course I still have most of that last skein left, so now I will have to think of something else to make out of it.  I made up this pattern as I went along, but so far I've only written out the first 15 or so rows.  I'm not sure that this will ever become a written pattern, since it required such a lot of ripping out and re-doing in order to get it to lay flat.  As is the case with most of the baby things I make, this will be donated to the local pregnancy resource center.

My original plan was to make a fancy border for this blanket, but by the time I finished the petal section, it was already 40 inches in diameter.  So I finished it off with a very simple scalloped border instead.

Baby Shoes

I thought it would be fun to make baby shoes for donation to the local pregnancy resource center.  With that in mind, I found this pattern and hunted through my fabric stash.  The finished shoes are cute, but the pattern is rather carelessly written and my first attempt did not go well.  However, I did manage to make these little shoes this morning.  I'm not sure that I will attempt these again, although I may look for other baby shoe patterns to try.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Lilacs in February Baby Blanket

Lilacs in February Baby Blanket

This is a very easy pattern, suitable for an advanced beginner.  The hardest parts of it are evenly single crocheting along the sides for the first round of the border, and the reverse HDC round that finishes it.

WW yarn 16 oz  (I used a Caron pounder in lilac, and only had about 5 yards of yarn left so you may need more.)
K hook
Yarn needle for weaving in ends

Special stitch:
Cluster (worked over two stitches) – yarn over hook, insert hook in first stitch, pull up loop,  yarn over hook again, insert hook in next stitch, pull up loop, yarn over hook and pull through all 5 loops on hook-1 cluster stitch made

Ch - -chain
Sc – single crochet
Dc – double crochet
Ss – slip stitch
Hdc – half double crochet

Pattern works on any even number of stitches, so you can make a blanket of any size.  You could also make a scarf or a rectangular shawl from this pattern.

My blanket is 36 inches square

Chain 85.
Row 1:  Sc into second chain from hook and into each chain to the end (84 sc)
Alternatively, you could foundation single crochet 84 stitches.
Row 2:  Ch 2, turn, DC into next stitch, * cluster over next 2 stitches, ch 1 *, repeat from * to * until you have two stitches left, DC into the last two stitches  (84 stitches)
Row 3:  ch 1, turn,  sc into each double crochet, into the top of each cluster and into every chain stitch  across (84 sc)

Repeat rows 2 and 3 for a total of 73 rows.  End with row 3.

Do not finish off.  Work border as follows.

Round 1:  Ch 1, and do a round of sc around the entire afghan, placing 84 sc down each side and across top and bottom, and 3 sc into each corner.  Join with a ss to beginning sc.
Don’t get too hung up on getting the stitch count exactly right.  As long as you have an even number of stitches the pattern will work out. And if despite your best efforts, you happen to miscount and end up with an extra stitch, you can still make it work out.

Round 2:  (work loosely)  SS to corner stitch, ch 2, dc into same stitch, ch 1 and work 2 more dc’s into the same stitch, * cluster stitch worked over next two stitches, ch 1 *, repeat from * to * until you get to the next corner, into next corner stitch work 8 2 DC, ch 1, 2 DC *, all into the same corner stitch, and then continue with cluster stitch, ch 1 down the next side.  Repeat around until you get to the beginning ch 2.  Join with ss. 
Note:  If you ended up miscounting and end up with an extra stitch, just skip a stitch in the middle of a cluster stitch.  It will barely show in the finished blanket, and it’s a lot easier than ripping out what you’ve already accomplished.

Round 2 makes a series of eyelets that you could weave a ribbon through if you were so inclined.

Round 3:  Reverse HDC row

If you’ve never done this before it might take a bit of trying to get it, but once you do, you’ll be happy you did.  This stitch makes an edge that looks a little like a twisted rope.  I use it a lot for afghans, because I think it really makes the project.  If you don’t want to bother, there’s nothing wrong with another row of SC to finish. 
And I suppose if you are a glutton for punishment, you could do reverse sc. That just means you sc in every stitch, but you work backwards.  It’s a lot harder on your hands and takes a lot longer than the reverse HDC, but it also looks really nice.

As you might expect from the name, reverse HDC is worked in the opposite direction that you would usually work in, from left to right, rather than from right to left.  (I’m right handed, I’m not sure what direction a left handed crocheter would ordinarily work in)

And finally, here’s how to work the stitch, remember to work in the “wrong” direction:

To start: ch 2,  HDC into the first ch 1 space, (which should be before a cluster), ch 1, HDC into next ch 1 space.  Continue across, working a HDC into each ch 1 space, with a ch 1 between each HDC.  When you get to the corner, work a HDC into each DC, skipping the ch 1 in between the two sets of DEC’s. (4 HDC’s going around each corner)  Continue around until you get to where you started.  Join to the beginning ch 2.  I usually pull the yarn through a stitch, rather than slip stitching.  Whatever looks best to you is fine.

Cut yarn and weave in ends.

Essentially reverse HDC is just a  series of  * HDC, ch 1 * worked backwards.  Each new HDC twists around the last set of stitches, creating a twisted looking border.  Rather than “standing up” the HDCs are “laying down” along the edge of the blanket.  I find that it sometimes takes a little finagling to make the corners look nice.  In this case I did a HDC into each of the 4 DC’s in the corners, and skipped the ch 1 in the middle of the DC’s.  This picture will give you an idea of what the reverse HDC edge looks like.

Note:  Pattern is untested, except by myself. Please let me know if something is unclear, or you find a mistake.
You may sell one or two items made from this pattern, but you may not sell the pattern or publish it anywhere else. Please link to the pattern if you post a picture elsewhere.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I've finished one of my WIPS

I finally finished the Bernat mystery afghan today.  I have to say honestly that I don't like it at all.  I don't think that the pattern is at all worthy of a professional designer (or at least I assume that Bernat has professional designers).  If I were a beginner crocheter and tried this as one of my first projects, I'd choose another craft. However, here it is.  My photograph is worse than usual, but my subject isn't all that great either.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


According to the news stations around here, the snowstorm we had last night and this morning, was record breaking.  Now, evidently, they only meant record breaking for Feb 2nd.  Apparently the record is some paltry bit of snow, 2.1 inches, is what I heard on one station.  Never-the-less, we got a lot of snow in the past 24 hours.  I'd guess its somewhere between 15 and 18 inches, on top of what we already had.
  Looking out the front door
 Snow piled on the table on the back deck
This last picture is our front yard, taken from the family room window.

Once it stopped snowing, the sun came out and it was bright and cheerful.  And this evening, when I decided to take these pictures, I noticed the end of a pretty sunset.  It's hard to believe that in only a few months, it will be spring, and pretty soon, I'll be complaining about the heat!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

January Snowday Scarf

Updated Sept, 2014

January Snowday Scarf PDF

This is another very easy beginner friendly pattern.  It can be made to any length and width, so this pattern would work for an afghan, a shawl, or a baby blanket as well.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t make a scarf that is worked lengthwise, because I hate working into a long chain.  I saw a scarf pattern that I really liked, started it, and lost the pattern.  It seemed a shame to frog what I had already done, so I decided to see what I could come up with.  This is the result.

My scarf is about 6.5 inches wide and 84 inches long.

Materials needed:
WW yarn – I started with a 10 oz skein of Bernat Rainbow Dreams, and had some left over.  I’d estimate that I used between 7 and 8 ounces of yarn.
K hook
Yarn needle to weave in ends

Of course you could use any yarn with an appropriately sized hook.  I used a larger hook than I might ordinarily use with WW yarn, because I wanted the resulting scarf to drape nicely.  If I was making a blanket, I probably would have used an I or a J hook.
You can easily adjust the length of this scarf by changing the number of stitches in the beginning chain or foundation row.

Stitches used:
Foundation single crochet (optional) - FDC
Ch - chain
Single crochet - SC
Double crochet - DC

Special stitch:  shell = 3 DC into same stitch


This scarf is worked back and forth in long rows. It has nice straight edges and square corners.  (my picture taking skills don’t really reflect this very well.)

 I have not yet tried it as a scarf worked in short rows, but it should work.  Just start with a smaller beginning row, say something like 26 or 30 single crochet stitches in row 1, depending on the width you want.  I do not think it will drape as nicely made this way.

Beginning ch 2,  (turning chain), counts as the first DC of each row.  I like to use a chain 2 to represent a double crochet, but a lot of patterns call for a chain 3.  You can use a chain 3 if you prefer.  I find that if I use a chain 2, my edges turn out nice and straight, and there isn’t a big annoying gap between the turning chain and the next double crochet.

 Each row has 174 stitches.

 Pattern uses a multiple of 4 plus 2 stitches.  This means that the number of single crochets in row 1, has to be divisible by 4, with 2 stitches leftover.


Row 1:  FDC 174 stitches. 
(or you can chain 175, and sc into the second chain from the hook and in every chain to the end to get 174 sc)

Row 2: Ch 2,  turn,  DC in next stitch and in each stitch to the end of the row .

Row 3:  Ch 2, turn,  dc in next stitch, * skip a stitch, shell in next stitch, skip a stitch, DC in next st *,  continue from * to *  until you have four stitches left, (including turning chain), skip a stitch, DC in last 2 DC and in top of the chain 2  of the turning chain

Row 4: Ch 2,  Dc in next 4 stitches,  * skip a stitch, shell in next stitch, skip a stitch, DC in next stitch *,  continue from * to * until you get to the last 5 stitches, skip a stitch, DC in last 3 stitches and in the top of the turning chain.

Starting with row 4, the double crochets are worked into the center DC of each shell, and the shells into the single DC.
Row 5-8:  Repeat rows 3 and 4. 

Row 9:  Ch  2, turn, DC in next stitch and in each stitch to the end.

Row 10:  Ch 1, turn, sc in first DC and in each stitch to the end.  End with a sc in the turning chain of row 9. 

Cut yarn, and weave in ends.

Note:  Pattern is untested, except by myself. Please let me know if something is unclear, or you find a mistake.
You may sell one or two items made from this pattern, but you may not sell the pattern or publish it anywhere else. Please link to the pattern if you post a picture elsewhere.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Quilting and Sewing WIPS

 Self designed quilted purse.  It's unfinished because I don't know what to do next.  Hopefully inspiration will strike one of these days.
 A Walk in the Woods quilt.  Pattern from the Stroll the block site.  I have 11 blocks finished and the 12th (and last block) is started.  Of course the blocks are only the beginning.  They need to be attached together, backed and quilted.
 Bird quilt.  Also from Stroll the Block.  The bird bath square is my own design and is from the walk in the garden quilt series on the same site.  I think I have 7 or 8 blocks done for this quilt. 
 Winter wall hanging.  I think this probably came from a magazine from Reiman publications, called Crafting Traditions.  It is no longer published.  This needs quite a bit of work,  The appliques need to be blanket stitched on, and it needs backing and quilting.
 Stroll the Block quilt.  This was a free block of the month pattern at HGTV quite a few years ago.  It needs a border, backing and needs to be quilted.  I do not believe that the pattern is there anymore.
Fall wall hanging.  Just needs some hand quilting done.  I believe that this was also a pattern from Crafting Traditions.

In addition to these, I have a bunch of snowmen blocks somewhere, (I love snowmen!),a half finished paper pieced wall hanging, featuring a lighthouse, and an assortment of pieced and paper quilted blocks that I made, just to try out various patterns.

Crochet Wips

I have tons of these, starting new projects is my specialty!

 Scrap tote, my own design. I was trying to use up odds and ends of yarn.  Just needs a top border and some sort of handles to be finished.
 63 squares heirloom afghan.  I have this mostly done.  I need to make a few more squares, and start sewing.  I started out making the pattern pictured,but I made squares from other sources as well.  This might be my oldest crochet WIP.
 Friendship afghan.  These 8 inch squares were sent to me by ladies on the Crochetville forum.  I have enough of them for a nice sized afghan, and have them all bordered.  I have sewn together three strips of 7 so far.
 This started out as a bottom up cardigan for me, but I know it won't get worn, so since so far it is just a rectangle, I will probably turn it into a baby blanket.  Its nice and soft, and the color is a lot brighter than it looks here.  The yarn is TLC Amore, which is not much fun to crochet with.
 A  sideways scarf.  I didn't like the pattern I was using, so I frogged it back to the first two rows.  Since I went to all the trouble of working into a long chain, (one of my least favorite things to do!), I am hoping to find another pattern that will work.
 Cool stripes hat, almost finished.  This is for one of my grandsons, and the third hat I've made from this pattern.  It's all single crochet, so it gets boring, but I like the end result.
 Simple lattice scarf.  This is my own pattern, and about the only thing that I could do with this yarn.  Its a very thin yarn, with tufts on it.
 Bernat CAL afghan.  I think this is quite possibly one of the ugliest patterns I've ever done.  I do plan to finish it, but I don;t know what I will do with it.  I have seen some finished versions of the pattern that looked really good, but I thought the Bernat example was unattractive, and so is this one.
 Granny Stripes afghan, pattern from the Attic 24 blog,  If you've never seen this blog, check it out, it's one of my favorites.  I will probably turn this into a toddler size blanket and donate it to the local pregnancy resource center.
 Crocheted mittens/fingerless gloves.  I like these, but I am thinking about frogging them.  I don't think I will use them, and all that single crocheting is tedious.
Cardigan for me.  This is my third attempt at a pattern in this booklet.  They are well written, and my gauge was right on, but even the smallest size turns out too big for me, (and I ought to be wearing  a bigger size than that!)  I am now using sportweight yarn and an F hook, for a pattern that calls for WW yarn and an H hook.  We'll see how it works out.