February Funk

It’s that time of year… spring is close, yet seems so far. We’re all getting tired of being cooped up in the cold weather, tired of sweeping up sand and road salt, and just… well… tired. It’s the end of February.

And it’s not just me, which is comforting. Seems there are quite a few people out there who also are experiencing a lack of motivation and general feeling of blah. That’s a technical term, you know.

Helping me rise out of it, though, is something new that I recently purchased. Ta-da!

new camera

I’ve been researching cameras for quite some time. I bought my last camera, a Nikon D40 that served me very well, over 13 years ago. And over those 13 years life has changed a lot! I wanted something a little more sophisticated than a basic point-and-shoot, but I really didn’t want another DSLR (at least not right now). Well, this Lumix fits the bill nicely! It’s referred to as a “bridge” camera — exactly what I wanted. And oh boy, is there a lot to learn! The features are really impressive, and I am still amazed that I can send a photo from the camera to my phone via WiFi! I’m feel like my passion for photography has been reinvigorated. I’m going to try to carry it around with me because, well, you never know when you’re going to see something that strikes you.

Another thing I’m doing is going through my books. We’re hoping to having a book sale at work in late spring/early summer, so that’s always easy way for me to pass things on. I have so many cookbooks, most of which I’ve picked up at other book sales, and some of them can definitely go in the donation pile.

Craft-wise, I haven’t been doing too much aside from collecting a lot of ideas! Noah did ask me to make him a hat in a new color, so I started on that. It’s just simple HDC ribbing, so it’s perfect TV crochet.

crochet hat

That’s just a quick little update from me! Hope all is well in your neck of the woods!

Crochet-iversary

When I checked my Facebook memories this morning, I saw the following post from 12 years ago:

I still remember it! I was pregnant with Laura and after several failed attempts, I had decided that I was finally going to learn. I thought it would be fun to look back on my journey!

 

learning to crochet
First stitches! February 2009
just fold up the sides
My first dishcloth! Completed February 4, 2009
crochet baby sweater
Baby sweater – March 12, 2009
ripple afghan
My first completed blanket – May 3, 2009
attic24 bag flower detail
My Attic24 bag – May 2009
baby hat with oversized rose
Baby hat – April 2011
Country Christmas Crochet Garland
Christmas Tree Garland – November 5, 2012
Crochet jellyfish
Octopi Amigurumi – May 2016
C2C Blanket with Caron Cakes Yarn
C2C (Corner to Corner) Blanket – November 2016
Atlanticus CAL through part 4
Atlanticus blanket in progress – July 2017
Triangle scarf
Triangle Scarf – December 2017
River Rock Blanket
River Rock Blanket – January 2019

It’s so fun to look back on all of the projects I’ve completed over the years (this is just a small selection)! Last year I honestly didn’t do much crochet, save for some dishcloths. Seems I lost my cro-jo a bit. But I feel like it’s so worth it to make time for the things that make you feel good, and I am definitely in need of a creative outlet.

So maybe this weekend I’ll actually pick up my hook (or knitting needles — I haven’t knit in ages, either) and see what inspires me!

River Rock Blanket

Hooray! I did actually finish the blanket today! According to my Ravelry notebook I started working on this on Feb. 18, 2018. I actually thought I started sometime in December 2017, so it took less than a year of work, crocheting off and on.

River Rock Blanket
River Rock Blanket
River Rock Blanket

The pattern is called the River Rock Blanket by Acquanetta Ferguson. The pattern is available for free on her blog, Olive + Brook. It’s actually really simple to do — just variations on double crochet. I opted to do my own border and worked two rows of single crochet around, and then this simple shell stitch border:

Shell Stitch Border

5 DC, sk st, SC, sk st
Repeat around and sl st into bottom of first DC.
(Feel free to fudge it on the spacing in order to get your shells just where you want them)

The blanket is huge and I am very much looking forward to getting cozy with it tonight while watching TV!

Ta-Da! Simple Crochet Triangle Scarf

Triangle scarf

I am still in love with Caron Cakes yarns. The wool/acrylic blend is so soft & squishy – I really can’t resist it! I think this colorway, called “Turkish Delight” is my favorite. I knew I wanted to use it to make myself a cozy triangle scarf. 

Because I wanted a pattern that I like to call “TV crochet” I search for something with a repeat that would be easy to remember, and minimal difficulty. I settled on Simple Triangle Gradient Shawl from Three Sticks Design. I had to rewrite a portion of the pattern in my own words (the way it is worked at the peak of each row), because I found it a little confusing as-written, but overall it is a good pattern. I also changed the picot edging up a bit. Instead of chaing between picot stitches, I slip stitched. I just prefer that look.

My notes for this project on Ravelry.
Triangle scarf

I have been wearing this scarf out several times a week, and even a couple times at work as a shawl. My co-worker made this with neutrals and it is just stunning!

With this project over, I think it may be time for me to finish up my Atlanticus blanket!

Crochet Jellyfish

Crochet jellyfish

I just wanted to share these two jellyfish that I crocheted over the weekend. If you are a crafter and on Facebook, then you have undoubtedly seen this pattern going around. They are so easy to make, and relatively quick. This pair went to my niece and nephew, and I plan to make one for Laura. If you want to give these a shot, head over to One Dog Woof for the pattern!

Hello March

Hello March

I must sound like a broken record, talking about how fast time flies, how busy the days are, and how I can’t believe (yet again), I haven’t updated with a decent post. So I’ll promise (yet again) that I’m vowing to get back to it, LOL! Must be a first-of-the-month thing, right? Spring is just around the corner, and it’s a great time to start and re-start good habits.

As for me, I’m coming off of some kind of cold or virus. Saturday afternoon, all of sudden, it hit me. It was weird, I can almost pinpoint the time I started feeling sick! Body aches, a headache, and I just could not stay warm. I cozied up in my rocking chair next to the roaring wood stove wearing a long-sleeve tee, a heavy hoodie, my bathroom, and a fleece blanket and I was still shivering. A cough decided to show up as well. Ugh. Sunday I just took it easy and started to feel better. Yesterday morning I was well enough to run a few errands, but in the evening the achiness returned. Still, nothing like Saturday.

Today I’ve just been catching up on things around the house, and not trying to do too much because I need to shake this. I caught up on the family’s laundry, and got things tidied up. I’m already itching to start some spring cleaning and switch into spring decor, but I need the temperatures to warm up a bit first. I’m growing weary of the cold and so very ready for some spring temperatures.

I also snuck in some calligraphy practice before the kids got home from school. I’m trying to be more deliberate and critical, and working on my letterforms (today I practiced full-pressure strokes) instead of just writing out pretty words.

 

A photo posted by Carol Bancroft (@carolwrites) on

It’s really the only way to improve. Think of it like barre exercises for ballet dancers — unless you fully understand each pose, you can’t exactly put everything together and expect it to be beautiful. Does that make sense? Next weekend I’m attending a workshop down in the city and I am really looking forward to working with two talented teachers and really diving in and studying Engrosser’s Script. I already know it’s going to make a big difference in the quality of my work.

Well, I think I’ll wrap this up and get to work on some crochet. I didn’t exactly keep up with the Mood Scarf I started last month, so now I’m just finishing it up using a stripe pattern. I love how it’s coming out — very simple, but sometimes that’s OK.

Striped scarf

Think I may just have to make a cup of tea and have a slice of berry pie for dessert, too!

Berry pie

Hope you all have a great evening!

 

End of January? Already?

Woah, wasn’t it just Christmas? And here we are, the first month of 2016 done and dusted. That’s just crazy. And try as I might to have been a better blogger, well… LOL! We know how that goes. I’m going to attempt something different for February though and try to make blogging part of my evening routine. Hopefully that will help.

I also am going to try to get back on track with my “Freebie Friday.” I’ve had a number of people write and tell me how much they liked what I have up here already, and if I’d consider adding more freebies. How can I say no to that? So I will tell you that I already have this week’s totally free planner sticker printable queued up and ready to publish on Friday morning. I won’t say what it is, but I will say that I use these particular stickers a lot and I am hoping they will be useful for a lot of people!

OK, so what else can I tell you? Things have been moving right along and I have a busy week ahead putting all the finishing touches on our Cub Scout Pack’s Blue & Gold Banquet. So hard to believe that Noah will be serving up the pancake breakfast with the rest of the Boy Scouts a week from today! I think I have everything under control, but I’m sure there will be something that goes askew. There always is.

I have just started playing around with the Silhouette Cameo I got for Christmas. I’ve made a couple sheets of planner stickers, but because my printer really needs the ink changed, and I am really lazy about doing it, I have not done too much with that. Today, however, I attempted my first HTV (heat transfer vinyl) project! I wanted to make a Valentine’s Day-themed shirt for Laura. I wanted to keep things really simple for my first try (i.e., no complicated designs to weed out the extra vinyl). I just purchased an image from the Silhouette store and hoped for the best. It’s not perfect, but she loves it and I was just happy it all basically worked out!

Untitled

As for crochet, I picked up my Stitchation afghan from two summers ago. I have to get this finished because it is now a thorn in my side. I have invested so much time into it already that I just need to work up the last few squares and put it all together. Also, for February, I’m going to be making a mood scarf. I didn’t purchase the kit because I have a lot of stash yarn, so I will be using that. Tomorrow I’ll share my colors with you! (See? I’m giving myself a reason to blog.)

Untitled

I also, on a whim, because I was in a bad mood the other day and needed shopping therapy (LOL) I purchased on clearance at Michael’s… a Happy Planner. I know, I know! I have been an Erin Condren girl for years. What would possess me to do this, especially since I am pretty happy with the hourly layout I’ve been using since December? Well, I am considering switching for next year because of the disc system and all of the fantastic accessories MAMBI has for this planner. But when I found out that they are releasing a punch (tomorrow, actually), I thought it was a game changer. So, for the $8.00 it cost me, I felt it was worth it to get a feel and see if I really want to jump ship. I’ll be using this planner for February. 

Untitled

OK, well this is getting long. January was kind of a blah month. I’ve missed the snow. I have been eating a ton of junk food. And I’m still relying too heavily on my iPhone’s camera. I have some pretty lofty goals for February, but I’m ready for it!

Taking a Break

 We love tea.

No, no! Not from the blog, don’t worry. It’s just that I have been going all day so I decided to take a break and check in on blogs, Facebook, etc. and pop in and update here since it’s been a while. I’ve been keeping up with my #HandletteredABCs over in IG, but I probably won’t get to post them here today. But here’s one of this week’s letters.

 

A photo posted by Carol Bancroft (@carolwrites) on

Honestly, I’m just wiped out! I’ve been cooking, cleaning, doing laundry… Drew and I brought in wood for the wood stove stove and stacked it. I poached chicken, made peppermint brownies, made turkey tacos for lunch, then cleaned up all the dishes from that. Might not seem like much but as many of you know, all those little things add up.

Finally, I’ve decided it to call it quits for the day. I made a fire, made a cup of tea, and that’s about it! Let’s see… what else has been going on? Drew was in Boston for work this week, and I admit I was a little jealous. It was funny — he texted me that he drove through the same intersection we went through all the time when we were dating and he’d drive me home from his apartment in Framingham to mine in Somerville. A lot of stuff has changed; it’s been almost 18 years, after all!

So, he got home around lunchtime on Friday and then Friday night was Cub Scouts. Aside from Blue & Gold Banquet in a couple weeks, it was the last pack meeting we will ever have to do. While we have certainly enjoyed our time as Cub Scout leadership, I have to say that I’m ready for it to be over and let someone else take the reins. Noah will be bridging over to Boy Scouts, and we will be taking a back seat. Drew is still very involved because he has a lot of fun, but it will be nice to relinquish the responsibility, you know?

On a completely different note, I’ve been having fun playing around with the Silhouette Cameo I got for Christmas. I am still learning, and there’s a lot of trial and error, but I’m figuring things out. I bought some vinyl the other day, so I am looking forward to making a custom travel mug for myself. The hardest part is deciding on a design! Mostly, I’ve just been making stickers for my planner. It is really cool to have the machine make the detailed cuts. Using an X-acto knife or small scissors is so much work. This speeds things up considerably!

A photo posted by Carol Bancroft (@carolwrites) on

And while I haven’t actually done any crochet, I’ve been organizing my yarn and patterns with the intention of getting back into so projects this week. I bought a lidded basket to keep my current project stashed away, safe from playful cats. And I’ve been putting my patterns into a binder so they’re all in one place. 

Well, I guess that’s about all for today! Hope you are having a great weekend!

{Catching Up} Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool 2014

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You might think that as an avid crocheter and sometimes-knitter who lives right here, I’d go to the famous NYS Sheep & Wool Festival (commonly referred to simply as “Rhinebeck”} every year. Well, truth be told, the crowds often make me rather anxious and the traffic near the fairground can get snarly so it’s been a while. This year, however, was different. I found out that one of my oldest blogging friends (who lives on the complete other side of the country), was going to be there. No way was I going to miss my chance meeting the lovely kadyellebee!

I don’t remember if Kristine and I originally “met” on a wedding planning e-mail group, or via our blogs, but we’ve known each other since probably 2000. No matter, it has been a very long time of knowing someone online. Kristine noted that we knew each other long before either of us picked up a pair of knitting needles! Needless to say, it was an absolute thrill to meet this lovely and talented lady. Kristine is as sweet in person as she is online and I hope someday our paths will cross again!

Kristine & Me!

It was an absolute perfect day to wander around looking at lovely things. I visited some of my favorite yarn shops, felt lots of beautiful wool, and was inspired by so many of the designs I saw. I didn’t spend too much money this time around. I felt a little overwhelmed by the variety of colors and weights and my head just spun as I wondered what to do with it. However, I did fall in love with some of the yarns from Maple Creek Farm. 

Their gold-flecked yarns drew me in, and I ended up purchasing a hank of silk/superwash merino in this gorgeous shade of red. (The needles were a freebie!) I also picked up a felted stress ball that smells deliciously of peppermint, a vintage hankie (50 cents! How could I say no?), and a quilted sachet made from vintage fabrics. 

Rhinebeck Haul

It was definitely a fun day out and maybe I’ll even go again next year 🙂

A Birthday, Rain, Cats, and Lavender

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Hello friends! It’s a wet, humid day here in the Hudson Valley. I don’t mind the rain, but I could certainly do without the mugginess. Is it awful that I’m already starting to look forward to autumn? It hasn’t even been all that hot this summer, and I do remember how I froze all last winter, but… I’m kind of ready for sweaters and fires and general coziness. That’s just me, I guess!

So, first things first… a very happy birthday to my mom today! We called her first thing in the morning and the kids all sang to her. Hope you’re having a great day, Mom!

I’m trying so hard to remember to post more often. Really, I am! It’s not that I don’t think about my blog it’s just that I’ve found myself choosing other things in my spare time. Usually watching a show or working on my Stitchcation blanket, which is oh-so-slowly coming along. The squares that use the FPDC and FPTC stitches take me so long because I have to hook them up ever so carefully or else my stitch counts end up way off. But after tonight I should be half-way there. I seriously doubt it will be finished in time for the end of the challenge (Labor Day), but oh well! It will definitely be finished for my birthday in October. 

Back in June, a friend and I both bought lavender plants at the Country Living Fair. Mine was absolutely flourishing! I was so happy! And then… I overwatered it. Let me tell you, I have learned that lavender does not like a lot of water. It went from healthy to ill beyond repair sooner than I could make it right. I was bummed because it smelled so wonderful. I confessed to my friend what I had done and we laughed over it. (Hers, incidentally, looks great!) How sweet is this: as a thank-you for taking care of her cats while she was away, she gave me a huge, healthy, new lavender plant! It is just gorgeous. I promised to be more careful with this one!

Let’s see, what else is new… Oh, I’m so disgusted with FedEx SmartPost. Back in July I took advantage of a sale on a summer sticker bundle that ErinCondren.com was having. It was some summer-themed repositionable sticker sheets, markers, the new coil clips, and a lotion sample all in a pouch. I had a bunch of referral credits, so I decided to treat myself. I also picked up the original sticker sheets. Here’s where I made my mistake: I decided to save $2 by not using FedEx Ground. Oh, friends, I have learned my lesson. The package was shipped out on 7/29. The last tracking update was from somewhere in Maryland on 8/1. My EDD was last Friday, which came and went. After dealing with “FedEx SmartPost Trace Research” team, they could not locate my package anywhere. It’s just lost. Vanished into this air. I know the issue will get settled, but it’s so frustrating that a company whose business is delivering packages loses them. 

Well, I guess that’s about all… Tomorrow is Jake’s birthday. How can he be 12 years old already? I remember when he was a colicky baby I read this saying somewhere (I’m sure you’ve all heard it too): “The days are long, but the years are short.” How true that is!