Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Azaleas Have Exploded in Bloom

The only bad thing about azalea plants is that they only look this good when they are fully blooming. Once the blooms have died, the rest of the plant remains, but they look so thin and unhealthy. Right now, they are looking the best they will look all year.

The line of rocks around the top of the edgers are to try and keep the mounded soil from washing down over the edgers eveytime it rains. Plus, I just wanted to see what it would look like, and it's starting to grow on me. The rocks all came from the rock beds around our house.
This is actually my favorite plant of the three azaleas. When it's in bloom like this, it reminds me of some kind of funky brain coral.

The front of the flower bed, with hostas (I think), liriope, and two blue hydrangeas (planted just this year).

Friday, April 6, 2012

Another Steelers Blanket To Share

Oooooh, Cheryl Hajduk just sent me a picture of the Steelers blanket she just finished crocheting. This turned out so good!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And look how wide it is. That's an awesome blanket!

Doing Some Halloween Up-cycling

I've seen a variety of web pages of projects for little potion cabinets and bottles and I decided I wanted to try something like that for myself for Halloween. But I decided to make mine be full size bottles.

In my journey around the internet, I came across this information sheet on how to make some scary Halloween bottles too. Click to embiggen for more Halloween goodness.
I actually thought, in the beginning, that I'd need some friends so to save some glass bottles and jars for me, since I didn't really want to buy any. I didn't think that just my husband and I would be able to come up with enough glass on our own. Boy, I was wrong! :)

I didn't want to have hand drawn labels on my bottles and jars, because I knew I'd never be happy with how they turned out. Somewhere online, I came across vintage looking Halloween labels and I started saving them. On an unrelated side note, I don't "get" Pinterest. I've been saving images of things I like and projects I want to do on my computer for years. That's how I knew I could make these labels.

I'm still working on a few other containers, but these are pretty much done.

From left to right: The Swamp Fog jar was a jelly jar in a previous life. For fun, I packed it lightly with Fiber Fill. The Fur of Werewolf jar used to have gravy in it. Now, it's stocked with fur that was shed by my German Shepherd. The Graveyard Dust bottle is actually one I bought because I didn't want all the jars and bottles to look the same. It's got white sand and some shell fragments in it, from Tampa, FL. Last on the right is the Mermaid Scales bottle, which used to have sweet chili sauce in it. It now has cut up rubber fishing minnows in it. Word to the wise: when you buy rubber minnows from Wal-Mart to use them in a project like this, make sure you aren't buying SCENTED minnows. These suckers reek, and unfortunately, I will have to reopen this bottle. I want to add some more minnow pieces to it, and I need to buy one more package. But I did like these minnows: they are two colored, grey on top, silver/white on bottom. All I did was snip them in slices and then I had to put my scissors in the dishwasher. 

From left to right: The Powdered Horn of Unicorn was a former hot sauce bottle. Now, it's filled with broken and crushed chunks of white chalk. The Earth Worms jar was a pie filling jar. Now it's filled with rubber sticky fishing worms. The Twisted Twigs jar used to have olives in it. Now, it's filled with small sticks from our maple tree. The Cemetery Dirt jar was a gravy jar in it's previous life. Now, it's got dirt from one of my flower beds in it.

To be on the safe side, I left the jars of dirt and twigs open and sitting on my kitchen counter for a few days, trying to dry them out. I didn't want condensation build-up on the inside of the jars. I printed out the labels at work on the color printer on regular paper and used a glue stick to put them on.

I actually have a couple more bottles at home, that I'm going to be working on soon: poison, human skin and petrified butterflies. I think I'll fill them with iced tea (so I be seen drinking out of it for Halloween), some candied ginger (so I can be seen eating them for Halloween), and some silk butterflies from AC Moore.

But I have so many more fun labels that I want to use, so I probably aren't too close to being done after all. :) I intend to scatter these around the kitchen and dining room for Halloween as decorations. Since they are all nice bottles and jars, I can easily box these up and put them away when Halloween is over. Right now, I'm just sticking them in the cabinet under my china hutch.

I figure if I got an early start on them now, then I'd have plenty of them when Halloween rolls around so it wouldn't be a mad scramble at the last minute. My husband was actually surprised that I was starting my Halloween crafts so early this year. :) I think it's cute I was able to get that kind of honest reaction out of him.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Look, Up in the Sky!

It's a bird!

It's a plane!

It's Super Grover!!!



Super Grover, a birthday gift for my niece, has become the bane of my existence. He's the reason I needed to take a break from all things yarny. But at least, he's finished and boxed up and will be flying home tomorrow.

I was going to enter his helmet in a contest over at Crafster, but I've since decided not to.

I know my niece will like this, because she's only 2 and doesn't know how to recognize something that sucks yet. But I really hate how this turned out. I mean, look at him. I can't get him to sit up straight, he's got a wobbly neck and his face looks weird.

I had such high hopes for him too.

But onto the details.

The helmet has already been covered.



Materials
• Stitch markers (optional)
• Fiber fill
• I sized crochet hook
• Yarn needle (steel, not plastic)
• Premier Yarns Deborah Norville Collection, Everyday Soft Worsted in Royal Blue (# ED100-09)
• Lion Brand Yarn Fun Fur in Sapphire (# 109)

You can tell I was losing interest in how Grover was turning out, because I stopped keeping track of how many skeins of yarn I was using. I think it was 3 of the Deborah Norville and about 6 of the Fun Fur.

Head
Work with both blue yarns together. For Grover's head, join the rounds with a slip stitch. Chain 1 at the beginning of every round (this counts as the starting stitch) but do not turn. Keep working in the same direction.

Rnd 1: Start with a magic circle of 1 chain and 4 SC (starting from the top and working down).
Rnds 2-3: Work 2 SC in each stitch around.
Rnd 4: Work 1 SC, 1 SC, 2 SC and repeat for the rest of the row.
Rnd 5: Work 1 SC, 1 SC, 1 SC, 1 SC, 2 SC and repeat for the rest of the row.
Rnd 6: Work 9 SC in as many stitches increase by 1 SC, and repeat for the rest of the row.
Rnds 7-14: Work 1 SC in each stitch around.
Rnd 15: Work the first 2SCtog, 1 SC in each stitch around in the middle, and work the last 2SCtog.
Rnd 16: Work 1 SC in each stitch around, and decrease by 3 evenly spaced SC.
Rnd 17: Work 3 SC in as many stitches, work 2SCtog, and repeat for the rest of the row.
Rnds 18-19: Work 1 SC, work 2SCtog, and repeat for the rest of the row (the neck).

At this point, stuff Grover's head.

Rnd 20: For the neck, work 2SCtog and repeat for the rest of the row.
Rnds 21-23: Work 1 SC in each stitch. Fasten off yarn and leave a length of several inches of the Deborah Norville yarn at the end of row 24. This extra length of yarn will be used to attach the head to the body.

Body
Work with both blue yarns together. For Grover's body, join the rounds with a slip stitch. Chain 1 at the beginning of every round (this counts as the starting stitch) but do not turn. Keep working in the same direction.

Rnd 1: Start with a magic circle of 1 chain and 6 SC (starting from the bottom and working up).
Rnds 2-3: Work 2 SC in each stitch around.
Rnd 4: Work 1 SC, 2 SC and repeat for the rest of the row.
Rnds 5-6: Work 1 SC in each stitch around.
Rnd 7: Work 1 SC, 1 SC, 2 SC and repeat for the rest of the row.
Rnds 8-10: Work 1 SC in each stitch around.
Rnd 11: Work 1 SC, 1 SC, 2 SC and repeat for the rest of the row.
Rnds 12-18: Work 1 SC in each stitch around but decrease each row by 1 SC.
Rnds 19-21: Work 1 SC in each stitch around but decrease each by 2 SC, evenly spaced.
Rnds 22-24: Work 1 SC in each stitch around but decrease each by 3 SC, evenly spaced.
Rnd 25: Work 1 SC in each stitch around but decrease each by 6 SC, evenly spaced.
Rnds 26-28: Work 1 SC in each stitch around.
Rnd 29: Work 1 SC in each stitch around but decrease each by 4 SC, evenly spaced.
Rnd 30: Work 1 SC in each stitch around.
Rnds 31-32: Work 1 SC in each stitch around but decrease each by 4 SC, evenly spaced.
Rnds 33-40: Work 1 SC in each stitch around.
Rnds 41-44: Work 1 SC in each stitch around but decrease each by 3 SC, evenly spaced.
Rnds 45-46: Work 1 SC in each stitch around.
Rnds 47-48: Work 2SCtog, and repeat for the rest of the row. At the end of row 48, thread the yarn needle with the Deborah Norville yarn and pull it tight to close off the top of his body.

Arms (Make 2)
Work with both blue yarns together. For Grover's arms, do not join the rounds with a slip stitch and work in continuous rounds. Do not turn and keep working in the same direction.

Rnd 1: Start with a magic circle of 1 chain and 4 SC (the hand--fingers worked separately).
Rnd 2: Work 2 SC in each stitch around.
Rnd 3: Work 1 SC, 2 SC and repeat for the rest of the row.
Rnd 4: Work 1 SC in each stitch around.
Rnd 5: Work 1 SC, 2 SC and repeat for the rest of the row (the wrist).
Rnds 6-12: Work 1 SC in each stitch around.
Rnds 13-14: Work 1 SC in each stitch around and decrease by 1 SC (the elbow).
Rnds 15-25: Work 1 SC in each stitch around
Rnds 26-27: Work 1 SC in each stitch around and decrease by 1 SC (the upper arm).
Rnds 28-48: Work 1 SC in each stitch around
Rnd 49: Work 10 sc in as many stitches, chain 1 and turn (the armpit).
Rnd 50: Work first 2SCtog, 6 SC, 2SCtog, chain 1 and turn.
Rnd 51: Work first 2SCtog, 4 SC, 2SCtog, chain 1 and turn.
Rnd 52: Work first 2SCtog, 2 SC, 2SCtog, chain 1 and turn.
Rnd 53: Work first 2SCtog, 2SCtog, fasten off yarn.

Leave a length of several inches of the Deborah Norville yarn to attach the arms to the body. Stuff the arms. I purposely stuffed the head and body pretty firm and stuffed the arms with less Fiber Fill because I wanted him to have wobbly arms. Finished length of the arms, to the end of rnd 53, is 15".

Legs (Make 2)
Work with both blue yarns together. For Grover's legs, do not join the rounds with a slip stitch and work in continuous rounds. Do not turn and keep working in the same direction.

Rnd 1: Start with a magic circle of 1 chain and 6 SC (the ankle--the feet are worked separately).
Rnds 2-3: Work 2 SC in each stitch around.
Rnds 4-9: Work 1 SC in each stitch around.
Rnds 10-11: Work 1 SC in each stitch around but decrease each row by 1 SC (the knee).
Rnds 12-18: Work 1 SC in each stitch around.
Rnd 19: Work 1 SC in each stitch around and increase by 1 SC.
Rnds 20-22: Work 1 SC in each stitch around.
Rnd 23: Work 1 SC in each stitch around and increase by 1 SC (the thigh).
Rnds 24-26: Work 1 SC in each stitch around.
Rnd 27: Work 1 SC in each stitch around and increase by 1 SC.
Rnds 28-35: Work 1 SC in each stitch around.
Rnds 36-38: Work 1 SC in each stitch around and increase by 1 SC.
Rnd 39: Work 1 SC in each stitch around.
Rnds 40-42: Work 1 SC in each stitch around and increase by 1 SC.
Rnds 43-48: Work 1 SC in each stitch around.

Leave a length of several inches of the Deborah Norville yarn to attach the legs to the body. Stuff the legs with the same amount of firmness as the arms. Finished length of the legs is 13".

Assembling the body
Sew Grover's head onto his body before putting the face on. Whipstitch his head and neck onto his body. Finished length of the head and body together is 17".

Grover's eyes are each two pieces of iron on patches. His nose is made from an oval piece of felt that I ran a drawstitch through, pulled it somewhat tight, stuffed it, and pulled it tight all the way. His mouth is an piece of black felt that was fabric-glued on.

The G is a denim iron on patch attached to the white lightening bolt of felt. That is whip stitched to his chest.

Whipstitch Grover's legs to his body. Start with the inside of the legs and the crotch of the first leg and position them slightly towards the front of the body. If you line them up like this, then you'll be able to position them correctly and it gives Grover a little bit of a bottom to be able to sit. Yeah, that sounded good in theory, but not so much in real life. That Deborah Norville and Fun Fur combination makes for a really stiff little body!

Whipstitch the arms to the body, using the legs as a guide. Sew them on a few rows below the neck.

The cape
The red cape is actually a woman's dress, size tiny, that I picked up today from the thrift store. I was going to get new fabric at the Fabric Hut this afternoon, but I realized they were closed and I didn't want to put it off any longer. I'm glad I re-purposed this dress.  It was strappy and pretty short, but it was very nice. I cut just below the bodice (it was princess seamed with a high waist).

I ripped out the seam in the back, and it actually became the new front of the cape. I used some bright blue thread and a special stitch on my machine to make the cape a little brighter. I sewed new edges and attached a piece of black ribbon on the neck to tie the cape on around Grover.

Once I had it figured out for length, I hand sewed ribbons on the edges to tie around his wrists.

The dress had nice weight and drape to it. And I loved the effect of the princess seams on it.


I really think the only things I like about Grover are his helmet and his cape. I don't know why I'm not happier with him. He's got such a simple face that it should have been easy to match up a toy version of him. I think maybe I've just been looking at him for too long.




A Wizard of Oz-themed birthday card, which my sister will enjoy more than my niece will. :) The images of the Wizard came from my friend, Crystal, a few years ago. This is the Wizard from the traveling musical, Wicked.