On the fourth day of Christmas…

One of the girls at work set out a box at her cubicle with a sign asking for donations of hats, scarves, blankets, or really any warm things anyone could spare for the homeless served by SAMMinistries.

Naturally, I took the opportunity to make some warm things, figuring hand-made scarves and hats not only supplied warmth, but said, “Somebody cared enough to make you something new.”

I ran out after work and bought four skeins of Red Heart – two green, two red – and decided I’d just make things until the yarn ran out.

The scarves were all made with double-stranded yarn and a size Q hook – roughly the size of my thumb, for reference.  The hats, sadly, just weren’t working out with the Q, so I had to go to single-strand on an N.

I knocked out the full set of red things over the course of two nights, and I didn’t get overly creative with the stitches.  I did one scarf in the standard form, with a short row repeated the full length of the scarf.  The other two I started with a chain the full length of the scarf, then did only a few rows.  The hats are really basic, just crocheted in the round.  I think I started one with 6 stitches and the other with 8.

I had more fun with the green yarn. I have a new crochet stitch guide, so I tried out some new patterns.  I think the most successful one was the really wide one, made with Rope Stitch, which yielded maximum fluff for minimum yarn.  Sadly, I ran out of time before I used up all the green yarn, but my contributions were much appreciated.

I arrived at work with the stack of scarves and stuff, and immediately one of my coworkers asked if I could make a set for her little girl.  I’ll be adding hats and scarves to my January list, apparently.

For an impromptu project, I’d call it an overall success.  My only regret is that I didn’t have time to make more.  I’ll just have to get an earlier start and stock up for next year.

On the third day of Christmas…

I have to start with another “na-na na-na boo-boo” for all my friends back in Texas:

The sky has cleared, the mountains are now visible behind the trees, and we topped off at just shy of seven inches of light, fluffy snow.  Local officials strongly recommend everyone stay off the roads today.  With a view like this from the warm comfort of my parents’ living room, why would I possibly want to go anywhere else?

With that out of the way, on to the crafting!

Bright and early on the morning of December 1, Dear Roommie hits me with another unusual request:

Roommie:  yo
can you crochet a squid?
me: Probably

(Why a squid?  For a Secret Santa gift.  Naturally.  That’s all I got from her.  I’ve learned to stop asking.)

me: What color?
Roommie: squid colors?

(Apparently in Roommie-world, squids are purple and blue.)

me: How big?
Roommie: ummm
maybe like 8″ with tentacles?
it would mostly be tentacles

(TENTACLES! …see, this is funny because there’s this spoof that someone did that’s Fiddler on the Roof, but about Cthulu… Yeah, that’s one’s pretty obscure, isn’t it?)

Yet again, I set to work and knocked the thing out in one night, because really what could be more fun to make than a blue and purple squid?

There was a good sale on Vanna’s Choice a while back, so I now have a sizable stash of yarn that is ideal for amigurumi.  I similarly stocked up on doll eyes and stuffing at some point last year.  The idea was that I could just make critters whenever the mood struck me, and this was an excellent proof of concept.  I didn’t have to buy any new supplies for this project.

The real trick was figuring out how to make all those legs.  I finally landed on an inspired little idea.  I made a grey base in the round, starting with 8 stitches.  The second round was 16 st (2sc in each st), and the third was 24 (2sc in one st, 1 sc in next).  The next row was where all the magic happened:
1sc in st, ch 20, turn
1 sl st in each chain back to base, 1 sc in st from the original round
1sc in st
repeat that pattern around a total of 8 times (to make 8 legs)

Then I built the rest of the body from there starting with a sc up and down the top of the legs.  The two long tentacles, purple fins, and eyes were added before I finished off the body.

Dear Roommie squee’d in delight upon first view of the unfinished bottom portion.  I actually worried briefly for her health when I presented the finished product.

I think I’ll be making some smaller versions – maybe some anatomically simpler octopi – for general sale in the new year.  We were discussing a little octopus with a tiny red bow tie for Valentine’s Day.  Adorable, yes?

On the second day of Christmas…

So back in November, I’m bothered by one of my very best college friends with the following Facebook message:

“Random Question: Do you crochet?”

I responded that I do, and she soon commissioned… a panda hat.

I was thrilled by the picture she sent, and managed to knock out the hat in one night.

I did the main body of the hat with two strands of I Love This Yarn and a large hook (maybe N?  I can’t remember), and used a half double crochet for those nice big fluffy stitches.  The ears were also double-stranded, but with a smaller hook (J-ish).

The placement of the ears is a little Mouseketeer-ish, but it’s just so cute!

Of course, my friend wasn’t able to collect the hat until three days ago, but it was well worth the wait.  She was overjoyed, and giggled heartily at the thought of how her friends at law school would disapprove, and how much she wouldn’t care.

On the first day of Christmas…

I woke up this morning to this view:

By the time Dad and I finished our first pass at shoveling the driveway, there were just over two inches of snow on the (non-driveway) ground.  By the time Mom and I finished the second pass after dinner, it was just shy of six and slowly coming to a stop.

There is nothing particularly crafty about this lovely Christmas treat – this is just my loving “Neener-neener-neeeeener” to all my fellow Texans before I get into my Christmas projects.

That said – part 1 of the Christmas blitz:

Let’s face it – Christmas is a good excuse for making good things.  I’ve done more crafting and creating in the last four weeks than the previous four months.  Last week I made the open of the Christmas Season official…

I made Scramble.

I think I have referenced an old cook book in the past.  Usually, that old cook book is the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, specifically, the 1969 edition.  For my first post-graduation Christmas, my sister went to the trouble of finding two of the very same cook books that our mother has been working out of since well before we were born (I can only assume they were wedding gifts), and even marked some of the staple recipes for me.  As much as I would love to credit her with the idea, she actually stole it from a family friend who did the same thing for her three daughters (thank you, Ebay).

Anyway, one of the noted recipes has long been a holiday staple at our house.  It may be just another Chex mix, but it’s our Chex mix.  The recipe calls for a few varieties of cereal that we generally don’t include (the Shredded Wheat soaks up all the goodies and leaves everything else bare, and that’s just no good), but the critical ingredients are Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, and seasoned salt, mixed with vegetable oil and baked into the whole mess.

I was thrilled when I successfully made my first batch last year and it actually tasted just like Mom makes.  It seems like just a dump-and-bake thing, but the two-hour process requires careful skill, acquired over many years of practice under Mother’s watchful eye.

It’s all in the stirring, you see.  All the oil and seasonings sink to the bottom of the pan, and if you don’t stir thoroughly enough, the pieces on top don’t get enough flavor.  But then if you stir too much, you have cereal all over your kitchen.  (Then in my case, you have a dog consuming things covered in garlic, which is apparently bad for him.)

Needless to say, I’ve been working really hard at staying hydrated this last week, as I don’t generally consume that much sodium, nor can I resist eating unhealthy quantities of this stuff.

(Next year I’ll be working out a less salty version.)

Oh yeah? That’s what you think!

There was some vague mention of a Halloween costume contest at work last week, and I’ve been itching to do a little paper mache recently, so come Monday night, I decided to make a new mask.

But what to make?

I thought about it a while, then after brief consultations with my usual co-conspirators, inspiration finally struck:

And thus, late last night, it was finished:

Ladies and gents, I give you…

Sally Brown!

I was really pleased with face part of the mask. I was a little worried about how lumpy it started out, but then I realized that it would perfectly fit with Charles Schulz’s shaky line.

(I should say now, I am not by any stretch the world’s greatest Peanuts geek, but I pretty well idolize Schulz and remember hearing about his retirement and death the same way my parents remember when Kennedy was shot.  Peanuts was just a given in my day-to-day existence growing up, and was a major contributor to my early drive to cartooning.)

The hair piece would have benefited from an extra week of work time, so I could make it fit correctly.  The shirt is actually left over from a production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown that I directed and acted in my senior year of high school.

Today I was one of the winners of the aforementioned costume contest (along with the Box of Tissues/Sick Person pairing), and was generally met with choruses of “You made that?  No way!” all day.

Sometimes I forget that everyone in the world doesn’t compulsively make things just because things are there to be made.

Jackets for Jakes, Day 6

I put absolutely no stock in the idea that the sole purpose of the daily lunch break is eating lunch. As it fits into my (not entirely healthy) worldview, it is an hour of found time most days, and today, I found two legs and the back ribbing:

Around what should have been dinner time, I finished the hood, and Roommie and I commenced with the torture sessions fitting process.

It looked to be a good fit, but Jake disapproved and wiggled free.

I attached the buttons at the neck, hoping that would reduce the wiggle room.

Foiled again!

We decided it was too loose around the middle, so I added an adjustable gather in the middle of the back.

Somehow he still pulled a leg free, then burrowed under Roommie’s comforter to get it off the rest of the way.

I moved the gather further up the back, which held long enough for him to run out into the living room…

…where he pulled himself free yet again.

For the time being, we all give up.

Anyway, here are the less wiggly shots of the (nearly) final product:

I’ll be needing still another Joann’s run to get another set of buttons.  There will ultimately be three at the neck.  We are now effectively taking the straight jacket approach.  I’ll also see if a run through the laundry this weekend can shrink it at all.

And… umm…  Roommie doesn’t seem to be the least bit interested in this competition business.  She spent this evening’s shopping expedition getting more supplies for the wizard costume.

But the tassel on the hood is entirely her doing.