19 December 2012

Stash-busting IV: Gift-wrapping, Round 1

As a continuance of my stash-busting mentality for this Christmas, I decided I needed to bust my gift-wrap stash. Every year, I go out and methodically select wrapping paper and ribbon so that all of my efforts are coordinated and beautiful. I love wrapping gifts, and I love making them pretty.

That being said, I have a lot of half-finished rolls of wrapping paper and spools of ribbon that I've picked up on clearance just sitting in my wrapping paper storage bag (yes, I'm that person). I decided that, this year, I needed to finish off what I already had before I could be justified in purchasing anything new. Should all go as planned, I should be cleaned out and ready to start looking for new paper for next year right as everything goes on post-Christmas clearance (which is the best time to buy anything that you needed before Christmas!).

I'm taking gift-wrapping in chunks this year so that papers are similar in the same families. My first set of gifts to wrap was for my brother-in-law, his wife, and their two boys. I chose two similar papers, both with snowflakes, and wrapped as many as I could in one paper before moving on to the next. For tags, I chose monogram letters this year, printed on card stock that I had left over from last year (stash-busting all over the place). I used this font (Apex Lake), which is available for free at dafont.com.

Thus, I give you a glimpse at my first round of wrapped gifts:

17 December 2012

Stash-busting III - Lovely Cowl

So, I want to preface this stash-busting post by letting you know that I totally failed in following this pattern so that the product was as it should be. I realized more than halfway through that I missed something in the instructions that affected the pattern, but I kept going and I still like the results.

Here's the pattern, from Patons. I think you have to create an account to actually log in and see it. But they have a great pattern library online, so it might be worthwhile to sign up just because of that.

I also didn't use Patons yarn, since I didn't have any in my stash. What did I use, you might ask? Baby yarn. Because it's super-soft and it was pretty.

Yarn: Baby Bee, Sweet Delight Baby (60% Acrylic, 40 % Polyamide)
Color: Iris Dreams

Really simple cowl. Essentially, I alternated rows of dtr and sc stitches. You're supposed to alternate one row dtr and three rows sc, but I missed the repeat. At the end, when everything gets joined together, I improvised rather than following the pattern and chained 5 for the dtr rows and single-chained into the sc rows because I didn't want just a line of single chain.

Regardless, here's the result:

It's a Christmas present, so I'm not naming who I made it for. You'll just have to deal. And I'm debating making a second one, since I have more yarn... though I'll try to do it correctly this time.

13 December 2012

Stash-busting II - The BFS

One of the first holiday projects I began was this front door stocking that I found at the Caron web site. I used the size of hook that was recommended and a bunch of leftover red yarn balls (if you look really closely, you can tell that they weren't all the same color, but in the dim light of our living room at any time of day, you can't tell at all). The pattern says that the gauge doesn't matter, but let me tell you something:

The gauge does matter.

That's why I've labeled this the "Big Freaking Stocking." Honestly, that's what I call it at home. I look at it and think, "Man, that is a big freaking stocking."

It's supposed to be about 11" wide overall, but mine is at least 13" (which equates to about 5 extra circular inches). It wasn't a terribly intensive project, because it made up pretty quickly and it's worked in continuous rounds so there's not a bunch of time wasted in the turning, but it is certainly big.

It's pretty great, in spite of its size. I decided to not do the buttons that are part of the pattern, but just leave the lacy cuff as-is instead. It's one of those classic decorations, and I can always look back and laugh at how I didn't think it would be so big in the end.

Here it is:

10 December 2012

Stash-busting I

It has certainly been a while since I last posted, well, anything. Our no-media November was a great stretch to refresh our hearts in what matters, to read, to work on projects, and to simply get things done.

December, thus far, has been an odd mixture of both, mostly because this season is busy! And, for me, December often means that I'm trying to finish up as many half-finished projects has humanly possible before Christmas arrives.

This year, I decided I needed to bust my stash.

Hopefully, this will need little explanation. Most of us have a stash. It's that section of storage that is made up of leftover and inherited craft supplies that you keep, but for which you have never found a use.

Well, I decided mine was overgrown and needed to be trimmed down, so I took a strategic aim at Christmas gifts in particular (but, you know, projects in general) trying to find items that could be made with stuff I already had.

My yarn collection is receiving the brunt of the fall cleanup, while I'm thinking my fabric stash will receive the brunt of the spring/summer cleanup.

See, this was my yarn collection before I began sifting through it:

I scoured a bunch of sites for free crochet patterns to see what my options were, and I was pretty amazed at what I found: Everything from stuffed animals to home decor to practical things like dishrags and mop covers, and scarves, hats and clothing. I printed off my favorites, set all my yarn out on a clean couch (I know, right? It's been a while since that last happened) and started matching project printouts to yarn I already had.

Great sites with free project patterns:

Over the next few weeks, I hope to bring you glimpses of what I've done with my stash (though some projects are, naturally, still unfinished). The first major project I undertook was the gingham blanket I finished earlier this fall, which was done completely with stash yarn. But there's a lot more to come...

09 December 2012

For the Love of Books: 2012 Reads

Books I read in 2012...

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back
Todd Burpo & Lynn Vincent, 2010

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains
Nicholas Carr, 2010
   This was a book from Christmas 2010. I began reading it on the shuttle from our apartment complex to campus when I was still doing the "going to class" thing. Then, Christopher's accident happened, I put down the book, and I haven't gotten into much that has to with my field since. Since we had a long car trip down and back from Arizona, I decided I was going to read, loaded my suitcase with books, and hoped I would get around to this.
   As it had been more than a year since I read the first half of the book, I started over. It's not an incredibly difficult read, but you'll probably want to be awake because of the way Carr walks through the brain's plasticity and the historical perspectives around various written and (now) mediated technologies, leading to the Internet. It's a great narrative, missing some of the technological skepticism from his first novel, The Big Switch. A Pulitzer Prize finalist, and definitely deserving of the nomination. 

In Praise of Prejudice
Theodor Dalrymple, 2007

The Idiot
Fyodor Dostoevsky,1868-1869
The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume I
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
   One of four absurdly large volumes that I received for Christmas (by request), I'm eager to dive into the world that Conan Doyle created that still captivates millions today. I love that, while the opening and closing tales are quite lengthy, the middle is constructed of several shorter stories concerning the world's most infamous fictional detective, which make for easier swallowing and less preoccupation - things I don't think I'll find so much in Eliot's Middlemarch or Dostoevsky's The Idiot. I'm fairly certain that my desire to read the classics increases almost every time I pick up a modern piece of fiction, and I love that Barnes and Noble has simple editions that make them readily accessible!

The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume II
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
   After finishing the first volume of this collection, I'm diving into the second. Aside from the odd adventures and cases, the stories when assembled like this present an interesting literary delight. The combination of Watson as narrator and his telling of past cases and Holmes is an interesting juxtaposition. It's written as a biography of sorts, which makes the stories all the more interesting for me because there are so many layers. It's no surprise that people at the time thought the stories and Holmes were real, as they seamlessly are woven into the London of Doyle's day.

The Prodigal God
Timothy Keller, 2008

Til We Have Faces: A Myth Retold
C.S. Lewis, 1956
   Lewis' last piece of fiction, published after the last of the Narnia series (The Last Battle) and just before his marriage to Joy Gresham, is perhaps my favorite - but certainly for much different reasons than his other fiction. The book retells the myth of Cupid and Psyche and, though not allegorical, has always managed to cause me to delve into the deep places of my soul looking for the light of the living God.
   I finally purchased a new copy for myself, but am trying to read it on car trips with Christopher, which means that it is taking quite a while to get into... 

Now is Gone
Geoff Livingston, 2007
   One of the most influential books for my study of communication on the current organizational level, I'm re-reading this one as I begin my ventures back toward finishing my thesis. Livingston's understanding of how public relations is changing in light of new media strategies and online communities is without comparison in my opinion - particularly as he is one of the few who approaches the subject in a practical way for everyday media managers. Excited at the prospect of reading his latest release, Welcome to the Fifth Estate: How to Create and Sustain a Winning Social Media Strategy after I finish.

The Fitting Room
Kelly Minter, 2011
As with Minter's No Other gods, I have found myself re-reading this volume of her wit and wisdom. When I first read through the chapters on forgiveness and peace last summer, I was challenged in how I work through things - particularly past hurts. This winter, with everything that has been going on, I've been challenged to live and believe differently while navigating this season. There is something about Minter's tone, charm, warmth, and understanding of reality that just draws me in and invites me to read her books over and over.
Emily Climbs
L.M. Montgomery, 1925
   If you haven't figured it out, I have a serious love for Lucy Maud Montgomery. It's just one of those things that I feel I need as a part of my daily diet. Having read and re-read the Anne of Green Gables series, a friend loaned me the Emily of New Moon series, which are proving a slower read because I'm unfamiliar with them (unlike the others, which I zip through because I know them so well!). There's a simplicity to Montgomery's work that is so refreshing. She wasn't necessarily trying to impress people - she just wanted to convey everyday life and the extraordinary people that inhabit it. As a result, I'm quite enjoying the series and looking forward to adding them to the pile of Montgomery reads that I re-read more regularly than I probably have time to do.

Emily's Quest
 L.M. Montgomery, 1927

The Golden Road
L.M. Montgomery, 1913 

Kilmeny of the Orchard
L.M. Montgomery, 1910 

Short Stories: 1896-1901
L.M. Montgomery, 1896-1901
   I find Montgomery's short stories to be the perfect endcap to a day. Each is beautifully executed in the same style as the rest of her work and is self-enclosed, which means I can put it down when my time to go to sleep arrives. All available for free on Kindle. Awesome.

Short Stories: 1902-1903
L.M. Montgomery, 1902-1903

Short Stories: 1904
L.M. Montgomery, 1904
Short Stories: 1907-1908
L.M. Montgomery, 1907-1908

Short Stories: 1909-1922
L.M. Montgomery, 1909-1922 

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way
Shauna Niequist, 2010

Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life
Shauna Niequist, 2007 

Redeeming Love
Francine Rivers, 1991/2005 

What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage
Paul David Tripp, 2010