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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tis the season!

Somehow this yearn has FLOWN by!  It seems as if it was just the beginning of September...and now here we are approaching December!  I do have to say that I had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving :), the best I've had in a long time!  I have such a wonderful family and it meant the world to me that Sean could spend the day with me and my family :).

When I was little we never put the Christmas tree up RIGHT after Thanksgiving...we sort of waited a week or two (?) or maybe even more depending on schedules!  However, since I started grad school I've learned that if I don't get the tree up on Black Friday it might not even get up! Sooo...that's exactly what Sean and I did on Friday :).  We put the tree up! It really was a lovely time....Christmas music playing as we fluffed up the branches of the tree that was in the attic for a year.  I was highly amused every time Sean said "wow you have more ornaments to go up?" :).  What can I say...I like my tree with lots of ornaments on it!  The bow I made back I think, still looks pretty good atop my tree!

What do you think?

We also have an "Our 1st Christmas" ornament this year :).  Sean bought it for me at a Holiday Boutique we went to two weeks ago....he's so thoughtful.

I have a crocheted nativity under the tree.  I bought this a few years back before I ever tried to make an amigurumi.  I'd love to make myself a nativity one day.  For now, I adore this set!

This year, I also decided to make myself a holiday bunting.  Last year I had participated in an Attic24 themed swap on Ravelry and I had received 4 little granny trees as part of my package.  I had them hanging in my office last year, but I knew that they needed a better way to be displayed! (Especially since I have only been in my school office 1 time a week lately.)  So....I made 3 others (the yellow, orange, and dark purple ones) using the same pattern--Grandma Tree by the Royal Sisters.  I attached them all together using a glitter eyelash yarn from Martha Stewart. Then I hung glittery snowflake ornaments that I found at Target (2 for $1! can't beat that!).  I'm in love with my sweet garland bunting!!

Decorating for the holidays just makes me so happy :).

Monday, November 26, 2012

Crochet Couch Caddy

Last year I had gotten a request to create a crocheted couch caddy to hold remotes and other TV items.  I did a quick look online and  didn't find any existing patterns, so I decided to make up one on my own.  It really is a simple pattern and quite easy to customize.  I hope you enjoy making couch caddies!  And as always, let me know if you need something clarified!

**To make a wider caddy, just add chains.  This stitch pattern is worked in multiples of 1.**

Couch Caddy

Dimensions: 10-12 inches wide by a few feet.  Height depends on size of couch arm.
Gauge not important for this project as it is quite customizable.

-About 550 yards of Aran or Worsted weight yarn.  You’ll be using two strands held together.
-M/N (9.0 mm) or size to give a fabric you like.
-Stitch markers or something to secure the pocket portion in place while you edge the caddy.
-Needle to sew in ends.

**American crochet terms are used in this pattern**
Skills needed:
-Double crochet
-Reverse single crochet (aka crab stitch)

-CH - chain
-DC – double crochet
-TC – turning chain
-RSC – reverse single crochet


How to determine your caddy’s length:
This pattern allows for about a 1 foot deep pocket.  Measure over the arm of your couch or chair where you wish to use the caddy.  Determine the length that you’d like to dangle off the arm and measure down under the couch cushion.  The end of the caddy will be tucked under the cushion so that it does not slip off.  Add 1 ft to this measurement for the pocket.

Holding two strands of yarn together throughout the pattern…

Row 1: CH 22 (or desired width of caddy).
Row 2: DC in 3rd chain from hook.  DC across.  CH2, turn (20 DC).
Row 3: DC in space between the two DCs in the row below.  You’ll be just about next to the TC.  (See picture).

As you start the row, it will look like this:

You want to go between these first two stitches.

DC in each space across until you reach the space between the previous row’s DC before the TC.  DO NOT DC in this space.  DC in the top of the turning chain. CH2, turn. (20 DC and 1 TC).

Here is a diagram of what you're doing.  Start at the bottom left hand and work back and forth as you go up.  See how the first DC is made between the first two DC and the last is made in the TC, not next to it.

Row 4: Repeat row 3 until the caddy is the desired length, explained above.

-Fold the top of the caddy (where the working yarn is) down about a foot and align the edges.
-Secure on each side using stitch markers or safety pins or binder clips…or the like.
-Begin to RSC all around the caddy.  When you get to the double thickness of the pocket and back of the caddy, be sure to crochet through both layers.
-Once you RSC all around, slip stitch to the beginning RSC.
-Cut yarn and tuck in ends.

If you’d like, you can also sew a line between the pocket and the back to create a divider in the caddy.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating today! I have so very much to be thankful for this year, as always.  My wonderful Mom, my family, my friends, my amazing boyfriend Sean, my health, my success thus far in school, my angels in Heaven, and so much more.  Even if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving today, take a moment or two to remember all that you are thankful for!

And if you feel like baking...why not make some turkey cupcakes?

I spent some time yesterday searching online for easy and cute Turkey cupcakes.  I got a few ideas and headed to the store.  I first thought maybe I'd use candy corn for feathers (like I saw online), but I couldn't find candy corn...then I thought maybe use Nutter Butter cookies for the face...but I couldn't find those either! So, I came up with my own idea.

Here's what you need:
-Your favorite cupcakes (made from scratch or from a box or even store bought!)
-Icing (if your cupcakes aren't iced)
-Vanilla wafers (I used the WhoNu vanilla wafers)
-Pretzel sticks
-M&Ms of some sort (I used pretzel ones)
-Two colors of gel to write on the vanilla wafers (I used red for the beak and purple for the eyes)

What you need to do is:
1) Make two eyes and a beak on the vanilla wafer.  Put these aside to dry (or in the fridge) so that the features harden a little and don't run....(yeah...I wound up with a "crying" turkey at first ha!)

2) Prepare your pretzels.  For each cupcake you'll need 5 sticks.  Break 2 in half.  Starting in the back middle of a cupcake, place in 1 whole pretzel.  Then put two whole pretzels on either side of that one, but push them in a little further so that they are shorter.  Then place a half pretzel on each side of the growing pretzel-feathers.  And finally place the last half on the side, pushing it in a little more.  You want the "feathers" in the middle to be tallest and the ones on the side to be shortest.

3) I separated out the fall colored M&Ms (red, orange, yellow, brown).

4) Place a vanilla wafer at the front of the cupcake--sort of in the cupcake a bit and sort of resting on the icing a little.

5) Place the M&Ms you sorted between the face and the tail to ad some color to the body.

And you're done! :)


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tada! Pumpkin Pi!

Halloween didn't go as expected in NJ this year, due to Hurricane Sandy.  At work we were all going to dress up in Halloween costumes, which really sounded like such fun!  Remember I had that great idea to be a Pumpkin Pi?  I made little pumpkins and sewed them onto a black shirt in the shape of Pi!  I was THRILLED!  I even made one for Matt. 

Unfortunately I still haven't really gotten a chance to wear it.  I put it on for a very short amount of time on Halloween, but didn't wear it all day.  I really only put it on to take a picture or two and feel a bit "Halloween-y."

I had even made myself "whipped cream" to wear on my head :).

So...what I've decided to do is wear it for Thanksgiving!! I eat pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, so why not wear some Pumpkin Pi?!! :)

Saturday, November 17, 2012


I absolutely love making baby hats lately--especially ones for my friends' 4 month old son.  So far I've made him a football hat and a theta hat.  I learned the other day how much his mom loves owls.  So of course I immediately thought I should make him one of the cute owl hats I've seen everywhere.

I decided to make Sarah Zimmerman's crochet owl hat because it looked so cute and had excellent directions! (Oh and as a side note, I adore her blog, Repeat Crafter Me.)  I really cannot wait to make more of these hats!!  I decided to make the 3-6 month size and was very careful about my gauge (I'm usually a tight crocheter).  For the eyes I used vintage buttons that my Baba (grandma) had.  I love the way the hat came out.  It seriously is one of the cutest things I've made!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Long distance hug

It has been a little over 2 weeks since Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey and the surrounding area.  The after effects are still quite apparent.  I was very fortunate during the storm.  I lost power in my apartment  for 3 and a half days, but thankfully I was able to go stay with my mom who didn't lose power at all.  A lot of my area was without power for over 10 days.  Transit is still a mess, which makes getting to work and school a bit tricky.  However all of these things seem so insignificant when I think about the people who are homeless now because their houses got destroyed in the storm.  There have been drives for supplies, toiletries, food, clothing, blankets, and other items all over my area.  One was even started at my yoga studio.  My heart just breaks for anyone hurting because of the storm.  Right after Sandy hit, the weather became so so very cold here and people were freezing.  I wish that I could just help everyone one out and make it all better, but I know that I can't do all of that.  So, I tried to do what I could.  I donated 3 bags of gently worn clothes and a whole bunch of brand new socks and underwear in all different sizes.

I still wanted to do more.  I looked around my yarn stash and I realized that I had a bunch of yarn that I could use to make a blanket.  I knew that it would be a challenge to do, but I was determined to make a blanket for donation, as quick as I could.  I gathered up all different kinds of purple-ish yarns that I had.

I had a lot of Lion Brand Homespun, some other Lion Brand color waves yarn (or something like that) and a few other random fuzzy yarns.  I also had a bunch of Red Heart Super Saver in various purples and some white yarn.   I got out one of my largest hooks, held a fuzzy strand and a RHSS strand together, and got crocheting.  I don't remember how many I chained, but the blanket ended up being large enough to cover the top of my full-sized bed.   The blanket is just all double crochets.  I changed yarns as the other ran out and I edged it with a round of single crochets.  I was able to get the entire blanket done within 25 hours of starting it---and no, I did not crochet every single minute of that time :).

I really am happy with the way that it came out.  I love the color changes and it is SO snuggly soft!  I was so happy to donate it at my yoga studio.  I attached a little note to it saying that I was thinking about the person who got it and I hope it kept him/her warm.  I only wish I could make more of these.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Baby Theta Hat

As you might know, I am a PhD student.  My field of study is measurement, evaluation, and statistics which are all parts of educational measurement and psychometrics.  Now I'm about to get a little bit technical, but hang in there :).  Psychometrics is the study of test development and psychological measurement.  We study how to measure things like knowledge, abilities, and personality traits--which are all things that you can't see or observed and are also called latent traits or variables.  In one type of analysis called item response theory (IRT) ability is estimated by responses on a test.  This ability is represented by the variable theta.  When you estimate a theta, this estimated variable is called "theta hat."

Ok, here is where the knitting part comes in! Are you still with me :).  Well, a few weeks ago I got this funny idea to make my friends' son a theta hat!  This is the little boy that I made the football hat for :).  His dad, Brian, is also in my PhD program and he works at the company where I intern.  I just knew that Brian would get such a kick out of his son wearing a "theta hat!"  Sooooo I decided to make my own theta hat pattern! Annnnnd...without further ado, I present to you my pattern for a Baby Theta Hat.

Feel free to sell any items made from this pattern, just please do not sell this pattern itself.  Also, if you find any corrections, please let me know! :)

Baby Theta Hat

Size: 0 – 12 months (approximately)
Finished dimensions: Height = 5.5 inches (not including pompom).  Relaxed circumference of about 15.5 inches, but stretches to over 20 inches.  
Gauge: 18 stitches by 24 rows = 4in on size 8 needles.

Aran or Worsted weight yarn in a main color and a contrasting color.
Size 8 circular needles—either 1 long circular for magic loops, 2 circulars, or dpns—or sized needed to achieve gauge.
Size H crochet hook
stitch marker
needle to sew in ends

Skills needed: 
Knit stitch
purl stitch
knit two together (k2tog)
knitting in the round
Surface slip stitch crochet. (You can find some good tutorials online).

CO – Cast on
K – knit
P – Purl
K2tog – knit two together

Using larger needles and main color yarn CO 60 stitches, place marker, and join in the round.  

Round 1: K1, P1 around.
Round 2: P1, K1 around.

Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 for 1 inch.

Next round: K all stitches around (60 stitches).

Repeat this round (aka K all stitches around) until piece measures about 3.75 inches from the beginning.

Crown shaping:
Round 1: (K8, k2tog) repeat this around (54 stitches).
Round 2: K all stitches (54 stitches).
Round 3: (K7, k2tog) repeat this around (48 stitches).
Round 4: K all stitches (48 stitches).
Round 5: (K6, k2tog) repeat this around (42 stitches).
Round 6: K all stitches (42 stitches).
Round 7: (K5, k2tog) repeat this around (36 stitches).
Round 8: K all stitches (36 stitches).
Round 9: (K4, k2tog) repeat this around (30 stitches).
Round 10: K all stitches (30 stitches).
Round 11: (K3, k2tog) repeat this around (24 stitches).
Round 12: K all stitches (24 stitches).
Round 13: (K2, k2tog) repeat this around (18 stitches).
Round 14: K all stitches (18 stitches).

Cut yarn and leave a long tail.  Thread the tail through all of the stitches on the needle, pull tightly, tie securely, and tuck ends in on the reverse side.

Theta detail on hat:
Using contrasting color yarn yarn, tie a slipknot in the yarn and place yarn inside the hat (right side of hat is facing you).  Decide on placement of theta on the hat and begin surface slip stitch crocheting the theta.

Secure ends when you’re done by weaving them into the reverse side of the contrasting color stitches only.  I’ve found that they tend to show if worked into the main color.

Make pompom:
Using both the main color and contrasting color yarn.  Wrap both strands around 3-4 fingers on your hand a bunch of times (maybe 15).  Cut a long piece of the main color yarn and wrap around the bundle of yarn that is on your fingers.  Slip the bundle off your fingers.  Tie a knot in the middle of this bundle with the main color yarn.  Make sure this knot is very tight.  Begin cutting all of the loops of yarn.  Once all of the loops are cut, give the pompom a trim into a nice round shape.  Align the pompom to the top of the hat and thread the long tails of the main color into the inside of the hat at the top.  Tie a knot inside the hat and secure the ends.