Crochet Along Squares

Happy July to everyone!  July came in with a bit of a bang here, as the new home that we’ve been patiently waiting for seems like it’s finally coming together.  I’m having to hustle a little with packing – first we were supposed to move in May, so I packed then.  And then when delays happened, I ended up going through and unpacking all the boxes.  So we’ve been kind of just living half-in, half-out of boxes, and without any kind of organizational system, and two young boys to the mix… well, it’s been kind of a mess!  But we’re just waiting on some finishing details, and it looks like we’ll be moving in the next two weeks.  So that’s a LOT of re-packing to do.  Fortunately, I never bothered to pack any yarn.  No, the yarn will be transported from old home to new not in any moving truck, but loaded in the back of my van, and carefully unloaded by me.  Priorities, right?

Anyway, as with the beginning of any new month are the crochet along squares from the BAMCAL group!  A couple of months back, I decided to cut myself a break from making 12” square to 9”, and I’ve been so happy with the results!  In fact, it’s inspired me to redesign the whole layout of the blanket.  If you recall, this particular afghan is supposed to end up being a Christmas gift for my sister come the end of the year.  Usually, I piece together all the twelve-inch squares in a grid (with my 6” squares grouped together in a four-patch to make another 12” square), and then stitch a border onto that.  This year, with the change from 12” to 9”, I’ve decided to go in a whole different direction:

Crochet Along Squares

As you can see, it’s going to be a LOT more fun than the typical grid pattern.  I have the 6” squares intermingled with the 12s and the 9s, and then I thought adding strips of grannies to even out the extra spacing would be perfect.  I later modified the plan even further by changing some of the 3” grannies to 4” and adding a 2” granny strip to that.  Anyway, the result should really be a lot of fun!  I’ve had a whole new level of enthusiasm toward the project since, and I plan on making the coordinating afghan for my mom’s Christmas present the same way.  So I spent a good three solid days making up all the grannies necessary and waving in what felt like a couple thousand ends.  Much better to do that now than to end up doing it a panicked hurry a week before Christmas, anyway!  And now I’ll just keep up with the squares that are selected over the next few months from the BAMCAL group and put the whole thing together.  So I’m pretty excited to see the final result.  

Crochet Along Squares
The squares for this month were a lot of fun to make too.  The first square was one of my favorites to make.  It’s called Whimsical Block, and can be found for free here.  I love the way the outline looks like little Christmas lights against the black yarn, like they’re sparkling a bit.  The yarn for all these, by the way, is Caron Simply Soft.

Crochet Along Squares

The second block is called Posie Field and is a free Ravelry download that can be found here.  It looks a bit complicated, but the instructions are fairly straightforward, and the square turns out lovely in the end.

Crochet Along Squares

And the six-inch squares are SmoothFox’s Charity Square Number 1, a very easy to make granny circle within a square.  I had a lot of fun planning out colors and will definitely make this one again sometime.  The free pattern can be found here.  

Tonight I’m going to put a good show on Netflix and start attaching all these grannies together, and maybe when that’s done I might get this color group ready to move.  I certainly hope that August won’t roll around with me still stuck in between homes!  But no matter what the case, I definitely won’t run out of things to crochet.

~Mellie ★

In Love with Color

I make a lot of crochet squares.  A whole bunch.  So when the pattern In Love with Color was brought up as a possible crochet-along for the VCFC group on Ravelry, I was intrigued.  I loved the octagon shape with the small squares in between, but not so much the square center.  So I decided I’d take just the octagon motif and use that all the way through.  

In Love with Color

In Love with Color
The colors are so fun.  They’re like nothing that I usually put together.  But I thought I would select a photo from my color inspirations (you can see it here on my project page) and just go with it, since I didn’t have any pressing color schemes that I wanted to make up.  I originally had a bit of light blue combined with these, but I’m not really a “blue” person, and so I left it out to go with a much warmer color scheme.  

In Love with Color

The official crochet-along for this throw doesn’t start until September and goes through till the end of the year.  There’s a good chance that I may not finish until then, considering ALL the projects that I have that are half-done! But I’ve found that these motifs are so quick-working, that it’s easy to make up a half dozen of them in a day with no problem.  So we’ll see where this takes me.  In the meantime, I’m having a lot of fun making something besides squares.  The pattern is free and can be found here.  

In Love with Color

Have a great weekend!

~Mellie ★

Workbasket Magazine

June 27th, 2014 | Posted by mellie blossom in Vintage - (0 Comments)

Workbasket Magazine

This week, a good friend of mine stopped by to say that she was cleaning out some of her crafting things and came upon a huge collection of Workbasket magazines – sprawling all the way back from the 50s to the mid 90s.  This was the first time I had heard of Workbasket, but I knew it was right up my alley when she started to explain it to me: crochet patterns, knitting patterns, recipes, craft ideas… it’s like everything I love rolled into one, with a vintage twist on top.  

Workbasket Magazine

As if it couldn’t get any better than that, she showed up at my door a few days later and said that she had found a bunch of duplicates, and was wondering if I would want to take them off her hands.  Would I!  While these duplicates weren’t the old 50s ones, they were late 70s and early 80s, and I have to keep reminding myself that those years really were quite a while ago.  (Let’s not go into how quickly those years have flown by though, right?)

Workbasket Magazine
I have had such a great time looking through these magazines, sticky-noting pages with interesting patterns and recipes, getting ideas and inspiration all over the place, and chuckling at the fashions that were once so stylish.  I’m pretty sure that my entire weekend will be spent combing through each and every one of these magazines… and then heading over to hear house to page through the collection she has as well.  

Workbasket Magazine

Workbasket Magazine

The collection of Workbasket patterns on Ravelry seems woefully low, but I do hope to be adding to this pattern collection as I make my way through the magazines.  There are some quite lovely patterns (and some sillier ones as well).  But I’m so glad again that we have the resources and technology to share and keep these patterns alive.  

And now, I’m off to read!
Happy Friday to you all.

~Mellie ★

So it’s been weeks since I updated on the Crochet Sampler Favorites crochet along squares, and it was one of my crochet goals for the other week before life got a little crazy.  But I have indeed caught up on most of the squares, except for the latest one (which I hope to work on later today).  This is an open crochet-along on Ravelry, so if you’re looking to join in, you can jump in at any time.  Crochet Along Squares

So to start off with, this one above is one of my favorites from the crochet-along so far.  This is Yarn Clouds, a really easy pattern with some stunning results.  The free pattern can be found here.  Shown below is Heat Wave Square, and the free pattern for this one can be found here.  I’ve altered these squares just a little to fit 10″, because that’s the size that my squares for this crochet-along are.  Once I get the hang of a pattern, it becomes easy to see the direction and intention of the pattern and to follow that out.  Like for the Heat Wave square, I repeated the pattern in the outer rows twice.  It’s a little different from the pattern, but I think it holds true to the concept.  Likewise with Yarn Clouds, there’s some extra “clouds” and I eliminated the outer rows.  But I do love the outcome for both of them.  

Crochet Along Squares

Crochet Along Squares

Mum’s the Word is the name of this next square.  I had a lot of fun with color placement on this.  Most of the projects I looked at for this pattern had the center mum in a single color, and it really looks lovely.  Changing the colors of the mum to go from light to dark really changed the whole look of the square.  Color placement is so enjoyable for me to plan out.  Even when it doesn’t end up exactly what I was intending, I still find it to be so interesting to see how it draws your attention from one area to another.  Anyway, the free pattern for this square is found here.  I used a smaller hook with it, and I think it looks a bit cramped compared to the original pattern (again, I did that to get the square to be 10″).  Again, little changes make very different results. 

Crochet Along Squares

Here is the Versailles Square.  I love this square, even though the original pattern called for a few more rounds with the circles.  I think without those extra rounds, this looks a little less magnificent like Versaille and a little more organic like garden buds, especially with the center looking more floral than sun-like.  I’ve always been more of a down-home kind of girl rather than a princess anyway.  This pattern is a free Ravelry download and can be found here

Crochet Along Squares And finally, Merrian’s Square.  This was SUCH a fun square to make.  I absolutely fell in love with it.  I’ll admit I had to play around with the first few rounds to get the color layout the way I wanted it but I love the way the beige single-crochet rounds look like little dotted lines that sparkle in the color blocks.  And easy to make, too.  The free pattern is here, and as the author says, is “very forgiving”. 

All these squares were made with Vanna’s Choice yarn, a worsted-weight acrylic, and one of my favorite go-to yarns (with no dye lot to speak of, hooray!).  The colors are beige, scarlet, terra cotta, mustard, magenta and eggplant.  I’ve written before how much I love this color palette, and each time I make a new square with it, I fall in love with it all over again.  Now I’ve got only one more square to catch up on for this crochet-along, and I’m planning on working on it today.  Here’s a sneak peak of the pattern if you’re interested.

Don’t forget you can follow me on Instagram to see all my projects as they’re finished up too!  And everything in between. 

Until the next time,

~Mellie ★

The Work We Leave Behind

My apologies for disappearing for the past couple of weeks.  I lost my dear friend Jimmy in that time to cancer, and I don’t think I could have formulated a coherent blog post.  I am heartbroken.  It was also a difficult time for my children.  This is their first encounter with the death of someone close, and they have been playing “death” games all week, processing the event the only way they know how.  While it’s a little disconcerting to hear, especially in the midst of my own mourning, I know it’s important that they deal with it in their way. 

The Work We Leave Behind

Death, by its very nature I think, turns us philosophical, and I had my own moments of  existential crisis and some long nights of deep thought and heavy tears.  The truth is that nothing we have here on earth goes with us when we leave.  And so my thoughts turned to those things that are most precious – the words and works that we leave behind.

The Work We Leave Behind
I cannot help but wish that he had left more behind… his stories, his dreams, his views of the world.   Jimmy had the most amazing and inspiring stories.  I had often told him he ought to write an autobiography about his fascinating life, and he agreed.  But now that story will not be told.  I fell asleep that night and dreamt that he had a blog which he had written in every night that had inspired so many people to the ends of the globe, and when I woke, I desperately wanted to read that.  

The Work We Leave Behind

I don’t have the writing or storytelling skills that Jimmy did, and so when I thought about what I might leave behind one day, my mind turned to the works of my own hand.  For that reason, crochet brought me some deep comfort through these dark hours.  In the same way that my great-grandmother’s blanket still wraps its warmth around my children and me on chilly winter nights, I like to think that my crochet will do the same one day after I am gone.  If I were to leave this world tomorrow, my children could at least have these lovingly made blankets around them, warming their little bodies in the same way my arms hold them now.  It’s not much in comparison, I know – but it is something.

The Work We Leave Behind

So my fingers twisted the yarn around my hook as the burial arrangements were made.  I knitted a row as insurance companies brought us all back into the mundane world of the living.  I stitched together squares as we toasted Jimmy’s life and turned to a ball of yarn as my children’s youthful laughter intermingled with the grief of mourning.  

The Work We Leave Behind

And now I am ready to start writing again, if only about how much I love that yarn.  

Have a wonderful day, and hug those around you.  We are so blessed to be alive.

 
~Mellie ★

  Weekly Crochet Goals

It’s time to set some weekly crochet goals!  Every week, I make myself a list of  what I’d like to accomplish.  Sometimes I accomplish those things, and other times I don’t.  I was wondering to myself how many other crafty folks are out there with their own list of goals, and then I thought about how lovely it would be if we could all share those goals – like a virtual crafting get-together. Wouldn’t it be fun to hold myself accountable and hear what everyone else has going on – I love to be inspired, and there are so many inspiring folks across the internet.

So let’s try it, why not have a weekly check-in, where we share our projects and encourage each other along the way? If you have a blog post about what you’re working on, go ahead and link to it so we can all check it out (but that’s totally optional). Won’t you join in?  Here are crochet goals for this week!

*~ Crochet Goals Week 1 ~*

Weekly Crochet Goals

First, I need to hustle a little on my County Fair afghan. I only have about 6 weeks and I have a lot of work yet to do on it. My goal for this week is to finish up the green leaves behind the flower and to add the yellow border. I also want all the ends woven in so far.

Weekly Crochet Goals

Have I introduced my Bobble Blanket here yet?  Oh, I have much to say about this one, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite projects to work on.  I will definitely share what I’ve done so far this week, along with the free pattern link (it’s here, if you can’t wait!) It’s coming along pretty well. I aim to make and attach two bobble flowers a day, and that’s the goal for this week as well.

The Crochet-Sampler-Favorites newest square was chosen upon yesterday (join in this leisurely-paced, twice-a-month crochet-along if you’d like!) I’d like to finish this one up this week as well.

Weekly Crochet Goals

The Flowers in the Snow crochet-along is also starting later this week on the Vanna’s Choice Fan Club board (but hasn’t started yet, so join in if you’d like!)  I started making this project some time last year when it was selected as a stashbuster, but I stalled halfway and lost steam. My goal is to find this project somewhere tucked away in my yarn closet and to bring it out and assess what I’ve got going on; how many squares I still want to make and to set up an plan of how many I want done per week.

Those are on my “must do” for this week! There are a couple of other projects that I’d like to get around to as well if I have extra time (which I certainly hope to!) but in the meantime, this will put me in a great spot to be on top of a lot of my works in progress (which I really must narrow down, sheesh!)

So how about you? What will you be working on this week? Do tell in the comments!

~Mellie ★

Green Quinoa Salad Recipe

I became a vegetarian over 20 years ago (and sheesh, I’m really showing my age when I say that!).  But when I did, I pored over all the cookbooks I took out of the library (using the card catalog! eek!) and took home every vegetarian cookbook I could get my hands on.  One of the most frustrating things for me is that, a new vegetarian with very little cooking experience, I was not only confronted with a new diet, but was absolutely clueless as to half of the ingredients that these cookbooks called for.  What was soya?  What was millet?  Or bulgher?  Or quinoa?  I came from a very midwestern, meat-and-potatoes kind of family and I was confounded with all this new information.

But, I’m a good student, and I made my way, twice a month, to the only health food store in town, a little place leftover from the hippie days that featured all sorts of strange things like bulk bins, ethnic ingredients and strange vegetables I had never heard of, much less tried before.  And so I dutifully picked one or two new grains to try every month, one or two new vegetables, and the unusual-named ingredients became a part of my cooking repertoire.  My sister followed in my vegetarian footsteps a few years later, and we had great fun making each other new and interesting dishes for our family get togethers. 

Fast-forward a couple decades and all these “unusual” ingredients are found in the aisles of every mainstream grocery store.  Health food stores are popping up in every city.  And there are still fun and exciting new foods to try!  I’m so grateful for the abundance and availability of things that were once so difficult to find.  Especially quinoa!

  Green Quinoa Salad Recipe

Quinoa is one of my favorite grain-type foods.  I love the nutty flavor, the texture, everything about it.  We’ve eaten it hot in casseroles and under stir-fries; we’ve eaten it cold in salads.  We’ve sweetened it for breakfast cereals and we’ve eaten it savory in frittatas and other egg dishes.  We’ve eaten golden quinoa and red quinoa – and even black quinoa!  It’s so incredibly versatile and delicious that it’s become a staple part of our diets. So when my sister called me a few weeks ago to tell me about her newest quinoa creation, I had to try it right away.

Now my sister’s tastes and mine are quiet different.  She likes things… bland (my word, not hers!) and I prefer food that is much more seasoned and flavorful.  So I took her basic salad and tweaked it just a little and came up with this winner – a perfectly refreshing, and very healthy salad that’s great for summer days. 

Green Quinoa Salad Recipe

This green quinoa salad recipe was the star of several picnics we had over the past couple of days.  It just tastes green!  The spinach, arugula and cucumbers can be garden fresh, and the feta cheese gives it just the right amount of tang, balancing out the vegetables and blending with the quinoa.  I love the added lemon flavor, but if you prefer a more basic salad like my sister, you can use a good quality olive oil alone.  It still is a wonderful salad and I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

~Mellie ★

Green Quinoa Salad
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  2. 1-1/2 cup vegetable broth
  3. 1/2 t cumin (optional)
  4. 1 cup chopped fresh spinach
  5. 1/2 cup chopped fresh arugula
  6. 1 cucumber, chopped into large chunks
  7. 3 sliced scallions
  8. 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  9. 1 lemon, juiced (or about 2-3 Tablespoons)
  10. lemon zest, optional
  11. 1/2 t coriander seed (optional, but adds great flavor)
  12. sea salt
  13. black pepper
  14. feta cheese
Instructions
  1. Rinse the quinoa and agitate with your hands to remove any residue that could cause it to be bitter. Place the quinoa in a saucepan with the vegetable broth. Add 1/2 t cumin for extra flavor if desired. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Let simmer 10-15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  2. Chop the spinach and arugula. Chop scallions and cucumbers. Place the cooled quinoa in a large bowl and add the vegetables. Stir to coat.
  3. For the dressing, combine olive oil with the juice of the lemon. Add lemon zest and coriander. Season with salt and pepper. Stir into quinoa and vegetables, mixing well.
  4. Serve topped with feta cheese.
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County Fair Afghan

For three years, I wanted to put a crocheted afghan in the county fair.  I wanted it to be beautiful, an afghan that I worked very hard at and that was challenging enough for me to feel like I really earned it.  One day, while browsing about the crochet books at Joann’s, I fell in love with this knitted afghan: 

  County Fair Afghan

Now to be honest, I am a very novice knitter – I can knit and purl, but am no where near the level of this afghan (it’s on my to-learn list!  Someday!), but the pattern kept creeping back into my mind, so I went back a few weeks later and bought the book (Herrschener’s More Blue Ribbon Afghans).  Since I had the book, I thought I would browse through and try out some of the crochet patterns as well.  I must have been so overwhelmed by the knitted throw that I had not realized how beautiful some of the crocheted ones were.  And right then, I decided that I’d crochet one of them and submit it to the county fair.  So I headed back to Joann’s; bought some yarn and started on the first pattern in the book.  (And yes, this is also the same book that features the Eve’s Coverlet pattern that I made for the carrots swap last year; this pattern is called Tropical Delight )

County Fair Afghan

 That was three years ago.  Each January, I pick up the project again and think to myself: I’d really like to have this finished by this year’s county fair.  And each year I start to panic right around the June mark (the fair is in August) and think: oh no! I’m running out of time! and end up putting the whole thing aside with thoughts of how I’ll finish it over the winter and be ready come the next fair.  Ha.  Well, here it is, June again, and I have a whole bunch of centers finished and am nowhere near putting the whole thing together, much less make the complicated border.  So here I go again, starting to frantically whip up squares and counting down the days, trying to figure if I have enough time to finish these up.  

So I’m posting this here in hopes that having it out there will help motivate me to finish this up and get it into the fair in time.  Here’s my Ravelry project page, which I’ll keep updated with my progress.  Give me your encouragement, because I have a long way to go!

~Mellie ★