2012: A Year of Changes


Again, I have sadly neglected my poor blog. My last post was in August, right before a family camping trip. And, right before I had the wind knocked out of my proverbial sails. It was at that point that my husband informed me he wants a divorce. So, for the past few months, things have been incredibly nuts around here, and we’re finally arriving at a “new normal,” so to speak. 🙂 I will admit that at first, things were rough for me, but as time as gone on, God has shown me that, while it isn’t part of His ideal plan, it is for the best. This has been a long time in coming, and without going into detail, I am doing just fine. We decided to wait until the end of our school year since we made the commitment to homeschool Munchkin for at least that long, so as of this summer I will be single again.

In lieu of these new changes coming up in my life, I am looking for employment as well as working on new designs. I have the very lofty goal (for me, that is) of 12 new shawl designs this year. I currently have 4 new shawls in the works, one of them being–wait for it–the annual Mystery Laceweight Shawl! 😀 The others are top secret projects, perhaps to be revealed later in the year, BUT I can tell you a bit about this year’s shawl.

This year’s shawl–without giving away too many details, will be a Faroese-inspired shawl. As always, the recipe will be easily customizable, and I am most certain those of you who have enjoyed my patterns will enjoy this one as well. 🙂 I am in the writing stage, having a bit of a late start, but I should have it ready for testing by the end of the week in preparation for March! Are we getting excited yet? I know I am! 😀

fu·sion/ˈfyo͞oZHən/

Noun:
The process or result of joining two or more things together to form a single entity.

I am also working on a fusion lace project. For those who know me, you are aware that I am a HUGE fan of Irish lace. Well, I am just a fan of lace, period. 😀 Over the past few months I have been working on knitting lace (gasp! I know! I feel like SUCH a traitor to my fellow hooker friends!), and I have become quite familiar with knitted lace charts. Wweeeeelllll…there is a method to my madness. I’m actually a spy for the CLF working on ways to emulate some of the most fantastic laces in the world. I have been working on researching Shetland lace and the shawl construction for a couple years now, and this year, my focus will be on researching Orenburg lace. 😀 I am really loving it so far, and I am sure you will too, dear readers. I have more photos to take of my swatches, and I am certain you may like the results. The fusion part? Well, I am working the Orenburg patterns using (gasp!) crochet. It isn’t an exact match, but what I have been doing is, in my humble opinion, fairly close. You can still tell the stitches are crochet, but in a really suitable manner. Once I perfect crocheting these patterns, I will be blending Orenburg motifs with Shetland (which already has crochet lace patterns), and perhaps edging with traditional Cluny (Irish) laces. I have been toying with this idea for years, and it was only in the past few weeks that I had that AHA! moment, and I cannot wait to share it with you all! I will be adding a page here with general information, but if there is enough demand, I may develop a class to explore it more further in depth. If you think you may be interested in such a thing, feel free to add a comment. All comments are moderated and sent to email, so I will receive it. If you are local to me, it would be a fee-based face-to-face class with printed materials, and if you are non-local, there will be a paid .pdf available on Ravelry. In both cases, you will be required to provide your own materials of yarn and hooks necessary to complete the project(s). Mind, this will not be available for some time, but I ask that those interested would consider it when the time comes.

For now, I leave you with a quote from the infamous Barney Stinson of the “How I Met Your Mother” fame: “When I get sad, I stop being sad and be AWESOME instead. True story.”

Have a great day all!

Dollar Store Pocket Calendar


A couple posts back, I gave a tutorial on how to make a homemade pocket chart. Today, I’ve revamped it, making it a pocket calendar. At this point, I know you’re just dying to find out how I did it. Right? Right? Ahem.

Anyway, this is what you’ll need:

Supplies needed

  •  1 piece 2’x3′ foam core–I chose black because it makes all the colors stand out more; you can go elsewhere to buy one of those larger sheets and you can alter step one as listed below
  • clear packing tape–don’t use the kind with fiberglass in it
  • scissors
  • 2 regular page protector sheets that fit an 8.5″x11″ sheet of paper
  • about 6 trading card protector sheets (these come in a 10-pk at Dollar Tree)
  • 1 bulletin board calendar poster, complete with the days of the week listed
  • 1 bulletin board month card–this is used for sizing purposes, since most of the month cards on the market are the same size; if you don’t have a set that are all the same size, choose the largest one, since the month pocket is not adjustable
  • 1 set bulletin board number/special day cards–you may have to trim these a bit to fit the trading card pockets; you could use a straight-edge scrapbooking trimmer, and just taking off the perforation nubs should do the trick. The only downside to this calendar is that the numbers cannot be laminated and still fit into the pockets 😦

Directions:

Taped calendar board

Taped calendar board

 

Directions:

Taped calendar board

Taped calendar board

1. Center your calendar board on the foam core at the very bottom of the board. Putting it at the bottom will ensure that there is room at the top for the month pocket. If you are using a larger sheet of foam core, just center it how you like, but make sure there is room for the month pocket. Tape down the calendar on all four sides.

Notebook page protectors cut in half

Fitting the half sheets to the month card

Tape the pocket around the seam

The taped month pocket

2. Next, take the notebook page protectors and cut them in half length-wise, as seen above. Discard the halves with the notebook holes (or you can save them to make a pocket for the date cards in the same way as this if you are using a larger board). Slip the longest month card you have into one of the halves, then slip the other half onto the other end. Where the two halves overlap, tape the outside of the seam. Remove the month card, then tape the inside seam–this helps with the stability.

The taped month pocket at the top of the calendar

3. Center the month pocket above the calendar, making sure the days of the week are not obscured, then tape the bottom of the pocket to the board. Next, tape the left and right sides. Whatever you do, resist the urge to tape the top of the pocket; if you do this, then there isn’t a pocket. ;)

Trading card sheet being measured over the calendar squares

4. Next, take a trading card sheet and lay it over the squares of the calendar, making sure the top of the sheet is pointing upward and the holes of the sheet are on the left. Pick up the scissors, and cut across the sheet where the second line from  the bottom square is. This is why you want to make sure you’re cutting across the bottom of the sheet:

Ummm, yeah

Repeat this step with the rest of the sheet. It doesn’t matter if the top of the cut-off row is still attached to the bottom of the next row–I simply used this as extra stability to tape the pocket strips to the board, like so:

The first taped strip

I taped each strip to the board, starting at Sunday through Tuesday all the way down to the bottom of the board, then Wednesday through Friday and down. When taping, make sure the tape doesn’t cover the tops of the pockets, or there won’t be any pockets to use.

The tricky part: Saturday

5. For Saturday, you will need 2 strips from a trading card sheet, about 5 pockets total. VERY CAREFULLY cut along the dotted seam between 2 pockets to make individual pockets. Try not to cut into the next pocket over. Once you have 5 pockets, start at the first week and tape down the pockets, working your way down.

The finished calendar

This is what the finished calendar looks like, without the date cards inside the pockets. Ain’t mine purty? :D You can use the other halves of the notebook sheets to make a bag or pocket for the date cards, but I haven’t quite gotten that far yet with mine.

Calendar with dates

Here is my finished calendar with the dates. I did cheat a little, because I haven’t trimmed off the perforation nubs from my numbers and I simply inserted the numbers into the larger pockets right behind the actual pockets; these larger, secondary pockets are great for those “special day” cards, like “Assembly today”, or a holiday, or “Field Trip”, or “Test Day”…that kind of thing, and you just put the number card in its appropriate pocket. And no, your eyes are not deceiving you, there is one number that is different (and for those of you who haven’t noticed, I am not going to tell you which one!! ;) ). I used these number cards last school year when dd1 was doing kindergarten work, and somehow that number came up missing. For these photo purposes I had to switch. :)

Anyway, if you decide to follow these instructions, please feel free to email me your pics, or post them on your blog with a link back to my blog here at Homegrown and Homespun, so that everyone can see!

Storm Watchers


In July, a thunderstorm pushed its way through our area right after suppertime. My husband had gone over to visit a neighbor, so our front door was wide open to it. Bug sat right next to the door, watching wide-eyed the whole time, becoming quite excited whenever the lightning flashed and exclaiming “Mommy! Did you see that?” She would even call her sister to come over and sit and watch the storm with her. Now, Munchkin, on the other hand, had been apprehensive, and, remembering the devastation in the aftermath of storms she witnessed earlier in the spring while watching the news with Daddy, once the tornado hit Joplin and other places, was getting rather upset. So, Bug, in her ingenious little mind, decided she wanted to rock in the large rocking chair, while Munchkin was rocking in their kid-size chair. Then, the storm picked up again, so Bug tugged and pulled and pushed and shoved my big, heavy rocking chair to the front door. Within minutes, this is what I saw:

The girls watch the storm

Have a great day!

Easy home-made pocket chart


Hi all! I know it’s been a little while, but I do want to share a nifty school supply idea I had that works wonders for my 3-year-old when it comes to learning to read: a home-made pocket chart.

Now, I’ve been wanting a pocket chart for ages but neither had the money to purchase a store-bought one, nor the time to sew one myself. Wellllll…I was browsing the Dollar Tree about a month ago (surprised? 😀 ), and found some trading card pocket sheets for a 3-ring binder. They also had 2’x3′ sheets of foam core (you could also use poster board if you need to roll it up and put it away much more easily; the foam core simply fits under or behind our couch, and I just grab which ever board I need at the time 😉 ), which I snagged up a sheet of black. They also had word strips–blank, as well as printed; I picked up packages of pre-k, kindergarten, and 1st grade words, because the pre-k and kindergarten words are all in the Dick & Jane readers I use when teaching beginning reading. I then brought everything home, and set aside the word cards for later.

On with the instructions! You will need:

  • foam core board
  • trading card sheet protectors to fit a 3-ring binder
  • clear packing tape (not the fiberglass reinforced kind)
  • scissors, optional
Supplies

Supplies for pocket chart

Lay out your board on a flat surface. Arrange the sheet protectors to fill the board. On a 2’x3′ board, I was able to fit 6 sheet protectors, overlapping the holes.

First layer

First layer of trading card sheets

Make sure you start with the bottom layer. The sheet protectors should be laid sidewise with the binder holes on top, and the pocket openings on top as well–if you have it arranged as I do, the bottom seam of the sheet protectors should be left-facing and the pocket openings pointing to the right.

Take your packing tape and, without moving the sheet protectors from the edges of the board, tape across the binder holes of the protectors. DO NOT go below the margin line or you will tape across pocket openings, and your pocket chart will not function properly! (um, please don’t ask me how I know this…moving on…)

Taped sheet
Tape on the border

Next, add another layer of sheet protectors. You will want to line them up, over-lapping the binder holes of the previous row. Holding each in place, tape this row as you did the last row.

Beginning of second layer

Carefully add short lengths of tape on the bottom edges of the 2nd layer of sheet protectors, taping them vertically to the first layer. The photo to the right does not show the tape well, but it’s there.

Now, tape the left edge of the board, covering the left edge of the pockets on the first and second layers, and wrap the tape around to the back of the board. The photo below shows this step, and gives a better example of how short the pieces of tape must be in order to keep the pockets open.

Flip the board over, and run a strip of tape across the ends of the tape that had been run down the pockets–this prevents the tape from coming back up and pulling away from the other side.

the finished pocket chart

To use: Take your word cards and arrange them as desired within the pockets. When I play with Bug, I only pull out the words she knows as well as a few she is learning. I include all our names as well as pets’ names and extended family, and make a single simple sentence at a time. There are lots of other uses for this pocket chart. If you have other ideas on how to use it, please leave a comment and share what you end up doing with yours. 🙂

Have a good week, all!

Great News! :D


To those of you who are yarnies, and to my friends who have not yet heard, I’m going to be published again! Woohoo!

Back in January, I sent in a pattern proposal for submission to Interweave Crochet, and I just received word yesterday that they would like to purchase my pattern! Can anyone imagine my excitement? Wow! I am beyond thrilled, and I cannot wait for all of you to see it in print when the issue comes out this coming fall. I can’t say much more about it, because at this point everything is rather hush-hush, but I am going to be working on some adjustments to my original pattern, working it up in the scrumptious yarn they will send me (and I, sadly, have to send it all back *sniff!*), and in just a few short months (HAH! Short?! If any of you have been personally around me since January, you’d all know the anxiety and impatience I’ve exhibited! How on earth am I going to be able to wait until September/October when it is released?!) I get to share the pattern with all of you. HOW GREAT IS THIS?

Should I torture myself even more by sending in more submissions? What do you all think?

Good night for now!


Yay! It’s March! We’re just a couple weeks away from spring, and this weekend is the time change. I’m not looking forward to the loss of an hour’s worth of sleep, but at least we’ll have more daylight hours, and it’s a step toward being warmer (or so I hope! O_o). The warmer it is, the longer the girls get to stay outside and play. The longer they’re outside and play, the longer, deeper, and better they sleep! (See? There’s another ulterior motive 😉 )

On the news front, there are two Mystery Shawl CALs going on in my free patterns pages. I can’t wait until everyone starts posting their finished projects on Ravelry!! 😀 My Ezekiel’s Wheels shawl design is a motif shawl, which can be put together to make a scarf, a stole, or a shawl (triangle or square). I still need to finish my own, and I hope to be able to wear it for Easter next month. I’m making it with Skacel 100% lace weight merino in tan, purchased at Knitter’s Temptations in Dublin. 😀 My Aleatha Shawl is a triangle shawl that I’ve named after my great-grandmother, who passed away when I was around 8 or 9 years old. She was also a crocheter, and, I suspect, a knitter. I’m about 75% finished with my Aleatha, which is being made with Alpaca With a Twist, which is 80% alpaca and 20% silk, and it’s in a really nice raspberry-wine colorway. Soooo soft, beautiful, and very squishy! One skein of this stuff will probably make 2 shawls, and I think I waaaayyy overestimated the amount of fiber needed for the shawl; I really need to make adjustments to my calculations, or find a better formula for the estimations for laceweight. *sigh*

I also have a few more shawls in the works for later this year. I just need to finish the two for the CALs, another that I designed but need to work out for the math so I can get it tested (I’m hoping to submit it for publication), as well as a few other much smaller projects I need to start/work on/finish. I’ve joined a read-along on the Folktales and Fairytales group on Ravelry, and this spring we’re reading J.R.R. Tolkein’s “The Hobbit” . This group also works on projects based on the chosen book or story, and I’m thinking of expanding it into the LOTR as well. I might make my girls dwarf hoods (I have to design them, but I think they’ll be adorable!), since Bilbo’s visitors have a myriad of colors when they come in to his hobbit hole. If I can figure it out, I might even make a replica of the Elven brooch that Merry, Pippin, Frodo, and Sam were all given when they visited RivenDell. Or, perhaps I’ll follow the pattern for the Circular Shawl (available in my Free Patterns section) but make the center yellow, and the rest green to represent a hobbit’s door. Hmmmm…lots to think about!

We are also about 2/3s of the way through Munchkin’s kindergarten year, and Buggaboo’s first year of preschool. Munchkin is almost finished with reading E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, and I am in the search for another good reading book. I’m going to be perusing book lists this week, and try to get to the thrift stores this weekend to find a suitable book for her to read. We’re also going to be starting to work on her elocution; as she reads, she reads the words so quickly that she skips over the smaller words and does not enunciate her consonants (thank you, mid-west accent! 🙂 ). My MIL has lent to us her set of McGuffey Readers, so I’ll have her practice reading aloud the various lessons within them. Bug has really come a long way these past few months, and knows her letters, recognizes most of her numbers, and can already read about a baker’s dozen of words. 🙂 She’s going to start learning to write soon, though she doesn’t know it, and she loves coloring. I have an alphabet border chart from the Dollar Tree taped to a wall in their bedroom at a low height so she can take her finger and trace the letters. I also take worksheets and put them in a Crayola toy thingy so she can take a dry-erase pen and trace letters, do mazes, dot-to-dots, etc. For PE, they will be beginning to take swim lessons in a couple weeks, and they are both doing quite well in their dance classes for music. Munchkin is also doing well with her piano, and is almost done with the Alfred’s Lesson Book 1A. In the next couple weeks, I’ll have to be purchasing the 1B book and the Theory 1A. Bug may be starting the 1A lesson book with me as her teacher soon, but I need to see how far her hands stretch over the keys.

Time to cut it short while I can. Such a pretty day, I may have to take the girls outside to kick a ball around. 🙂

Spaghetti Salad


This is a recipe my mother-in-law used to make for her family, and I now make for mine. It’s so good, and filling, and it contains all 4 food groups! Kids just love it, plus, it’s also good with leftover meat and spaghetti noodles!

 

Ingredients:

1-lb ground beef or turkey

spaghetti noodles–enough for your family

lettuce or lettuce greens

shredded cheese–I tend to use medium cheddar or monterey jack. Mozzerella is not a good match for this salad!

tomato, diced

onion, diced

carrots, diced, sliced, or shredded (my dh doesn’t like them diced or shredded, so I have to slice them instead)

Catalina-style dressing

 

Directions:

1. Prep your vegetables, greens, and cheeses, if necessary. It is best to get these done first, if you want your meat and noodles to be hot. Set your pot of water to boil.

2. Brown the meat, drain, and rinse, all the while putting your noodles into the boiling water. Cook the noodles until al dente, drain, and rinse (if desired). I also add a little bit of olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking, and lemon juice to add a bit of tang.

3. Begin serving. Start with only half as much spaghetti as you would normally eat in a spaghetti dinner, because this salad gets large really quickly! Add meat, then cheese, lettuce, onions, carrots, and tomato. Top with Catalina dressing. Serve with a side of garlic bread.

4. Enjoy!