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1. Determine a need.  Or want.  Doesn’t really matter.  Ahem.  So, you’ve decided to make an afghan!

2. This is tricky, either (a) choose your yarn, or (b) choose your pattern.  In this instance, I went with pattern choice first.  I’ve had this book

for nearly ten years.  And I hadn’t made a single afghan out of it.  There are some pretty cool ones in there.

3. If you chose your pattern first, now find yarn.  Or vice versa.  I went with an acrylic yarn.  This is a comfort gift for a family in very sad circumstances, and I would hate to send an afghan along with care instruction in this situation.  (Can you imagine?  “I’ve been thinking of you in your time of need, so I made this for you.  Make sure you hand wash it and lay it flat to dry, okay?”  Yikes.)  Someday, enough superwash wool for a single afghan will be in my budget, but for now, it’s not.  This afghan is warm and cozy, AND it can be put in the washer and dryer.

So there.

4. Crochet.  Crochet.  When you run out of one color, drive like a bat out of hell to the craft store or yarn shop and pray they have more yarn of the same dye lot.  And crochet some more.  (Or, if you prefer, knit.  Knit.  Aaaaand…you get the picture.)

5. Wash.  Block.  Okay, okay, I know most of you fiber folks are saying, “You don’t block acrylic, Aimee,” and rolling your eyes.

But here’s the thing: I do.  For two reasons.  One, it helps make the finished item straight and square, which is always nice when you’re giving a gift.  Two, I always find after washing acrylic items that I end up with a bunch of these,

because acrylic doesn’t splice.  Yep, little ends that had been woven in sometimes pop out the first time it’s washed.  I’d hate for the gift recipient to find these after throwing it in the washing machine for the first time.  I had over twenty of these to snip on this afghan.  Tacky.

6. Take photos!  Document your work!  You’ll enjoy looking back on it.  Trust me.

That’s it!  Congrats!  If you’ve made the afghan for yourself, snuggle up.  If not, wrap it up and gift it or ship it.  This guy’s in the mail right now.

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Happy May!  I know, I said I’d see you after the afghan’s done, and it certainly isn’t, but yesterday was the 12th.  You know what that means…

8:44 am – Heading out to school.  A few minutes late.  And we still had to go back for something.  Good thing I have extra time built in with our 8:40 departure time.

1:38 pm – Bits of the aforementioned afghan.  It’s coming together!  (See below)

1:44 pm – Calling to schedule my first physical therapy appointment.  It’s only thirteen years overdue.

4:15 pm – Homework time.  Exciting spelling words.

5:08 pm – Since the boys don’t have portable gaming systems, they take books in the car.  We gave Nicolas this one for his tenth birthday.  The verdict: “So far, it’s good.”  Goblet of Fire is hiding behind it.

5:28 pm – In the waiting room prior to Nicolas’s occupational therapy appointment.  It’s a fun waiting room.

5:46 pm – Gorgeous afternoon, so I dragged Kalen out for a jaunt around the block while Nicolas was inside.  Neither of us was dressed appropriately.  Thankfully, it was a small block.

6:22 pm – Back inside to wait.  They have an assortment of donated books in the waiting room.  I’m looking forward to finishing this one on days like this when I remember my crocheting but forget the instructions.  (Doh!)

6:39 pm – Winter’s over.  Methinks it’s time for a pedicure.  (My new flip-flops are supposed to tone my legs and rear end.  That’s an awful lot to ask of these cute & comfy shoes!)

7:07 pm – Choosing to counteract whatever toning the flip-flops are doing with a little Teriyaki takeout.  Num Yummy.

7:10 pm – My Mothers Day presents are getting a lot of play time in the car.  Unexpected benefit: the boys are requesting Defying Gravity every time we get in, so I get to hear Chris Colfer’s glorious voice over and over.

7:51 pm – The afghan!  There’s another row on it as of this morning.  Several more to go.

12 of 12 is Chad‘s baby, and 2010 is the last year for it!  *sniff* Go check out other 12ers here.

randomtuesday

  • I’ve only turned my computer on twice in the past five days.  I have 615 unread items in my RSS feed.  I was hoping a good chunk of that was due to a Woot Off, but no such luck.  No worries, those posts aren’t going anywhere.
  • I’m spending most of my time speed-crocheting an afghan from this book:

  • Please keep this lovely family in your thoughts and prayers.  I’ll say it again: cancer sucks.
  • See you when the afghan’s done!

It’s been ages since I’ve had a Finished Object in the needlework realm.

Today, I wove the ends in on a shawl I crocheted last week.  It’s for a family member going through a battle with the dreaded, evil C-Monster.  I can’t be there to hug her in person, so I’m mailing her a long-distance hug.

Pattern: One-Ball Half-Moon Shawl by Lion Brand
Yarn: Loops & Threads Country Loom
Hook: N (10.5 mm)
Pattern modifications: I left off the border after running out of yarn.

I chose acrylic yarn for this project, because it’s fluffy, soft, and (most importantly) completely machine washable and dryable.  I figure the last thing you need to deal with when you’re going through cancer care is wondering how to care for a gift.  It was a very fast crochet (2 evenings), especially with the bulky yarn and huge hook.

(Right, Barbie?)

Tomorrow, we’re meeting a friend and her daughter for lunch.  Maybe I should backtrack…

Last week, Mom mentioned that she’d like me to take all of my sister’s and my old Barbies with me when we move.  Um, I don’t really want all my Barbies, but I really don’t want to get rid of them, either.

Then it hit me: what am I saving them for?  When I was a little girl, I kept them looking so nice – I lost almost no shoes, I kept their hair combed – all because I knew that someday my daughters would want to play with them.  Well, that’s certainly not going to happen.  My boys couldn’t care less (they just like to race the Corvette alongside their dumptrucks), and even if they wanted to play with the dolls, I don’t think I could watch them play rough with the toys I kept so carefully for so long.

Did I mention the friend I’m meeting tomorrow has a daughter?  Who likes Barbies?  *Lightbulb*

So today, Mom and I played Barbies one last time as we set up for a fashion shoot.  I decided to give all of them to Haylee, and relive my memories of my favorite childhood toys through my camera.  Ready to climb in the time machine with me?  Instead of a Delorean, we’ll be taking the pink Corvette…

Let’s start with a night on the town with Ken and Crystal Barbie.  She was my favorite.  I remember removing her from the box.  That dress!  That stole!  And the earrings had crystals in them!

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Next, a trio of favorites.  On the left is Twirly Curls Barbie; she belonged to Heather.  Twirly’s poor neck is beyond the help of any chiropractor – her hair is so heavy that her head lost the ability to stay upright years ago.  In the center: Kissing Barbie.  This Barbie has a button on her back that pushes her lips out – she really kisses!  She came with a little tube of “lipstick,” and letters and envelopes to S.W.A.K.  The envelopes quickly ran out, though, and the backs of our hands got the brunt of the kissing.  On the right: Golden Dreams Barbie.  If this outfit doesn’t scream, “Bridging the gap between the 1970’s & 1980’s!” I don’t know what would.

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Next, make way for Western Barbie and her horse, Dallas! This beautiful lady also has a button on her back, but instead of kissing, she winks at you, displaying a nice, heavy swath of blue eyeshadow.  Stylish!

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Barbie wasn’t always out riding the range.  When she hit the city, she did it in style!  Here she is in her ’79 Dream Vette.  (Complete with mobile phone and television in the dash.)

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So we know Barbie winks, kisses, rides and drives.  Did you know she can also rock out in the most 80’s way?  Yep, in the mid-to-late-80’s Barbie fronted her own band, Barbie and the Rockers.  One year Heather and I saved up ALL of our money to head down to Toys R Us and buy their tour van.  What could be cooler than a purple splatter-painted camper with its own working tape deck?  Absolutely nothing.

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Now what Barbie girl worth her salt would have such a fine collection of dolls without the threads to go with them?  Our girls were oh-so-fashionable back in the day.  Take a gander at this 70’s halter dress.  And how about the Sergio Valente denim duds?  Don’t you miss the 80’s?

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The very best Barbie clothes, however, were not to be found on the shelves of the toy store.  Pattern makers have always capitalized on our love of fashion dolls, and Mom provided our dolls with the greatest array of fashion choices.  My favorites are the two outfits on the left – how awesome are they?  (The house dress…meh.  However, it brings back so many memories, I can’t not love it.)

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And of course, Barbie had to be prepared for her wedding.  Here we have a double ceremony, complete with bridesmaid.

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Once I got old enough, I started following in Mom’s footsteps and making my own outfits for the girls.  Most were still held together with straight pins when I found them in storage, but these two are great.  I didn’t even realize until I found them that I’d known this much about crocheting at such a young age!  I forgot it somewhere along the way…

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So tomorrow, all these ladies and gents, vehicles and animal, clothes and accessories get passed to the next generation.  I’m excited to have them once again fulfilling their purpose, rather than sitting in boxes in the basement.  Thank you, Barbie, for the endless fun.

As I promised on Twitter last week, I can finally reveal my latest crochet project.  Saturday was the shower for some dear friends, who are due next month with a little girl.  Since I have so few opportunities (that is to say, no opportunities) to dress little girls, I had to go for a garment.

BabySweater
Pattern: Lacy Cardigan by Hilary Mackin, Sue Whiting
from The Big Book of Weekend Crochet
Yarn: Knit Picks Risata
Hook: 3.5mm (E)

I’m very happy with it, although I didn’t find the pattern too easy to read.  I got it done though, and it’s adorable, and that’s the point!  The yarn matches embroidery on the little dress I picked out for her, and it was a dream to work with.  It has some stretch to it, and it created such a nicely-draping fabric.

Today, the baby fun continued when I drove out to meet a good friend from high school and her new baby boy.  She and I had lost touch for a number of years (12!) before we met again at her baby shower this summer.  Talking today, it was like we’d just been hanging out together last week.  Good friends like that don’t come a dime a dozen.

Remember the Sólás Caomh blanket?  That was for Little Baby Thomas:

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Babies are so cooperative when they’re napping, aren’t they?  Thomas, like both of my boys, was born prematurely due to preeclampsia.  He is thriving, though, and ate like a little piggy while I was there today.  (And his mommy is doing well now, too.)

He continued napping long enough for us to grab lunch…

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…and then woke up to let me capture my favorite photo of the day.  I love the look on Monica’s face.

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(How freaking adorable is this baby?!?)  Of course, when Thomas heard about Bench Monday, he got really excited and begged his Mommy to play along.

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The boys and I are home after our lovely staycation at our best friends’ house.  They hit the beach, and we spent the week puppy-sitting and making use of their extended satellite TV, cozy reading chairs, and neighborhood pool.  It was a good deal all-around.

Of course, Monday meant that I could take advantage of a new-to-me bench…

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Tuesday, the boys each had a swimming lesson with the neighborhood’s swim team coach.  This young woman has such a way with kids!  I hadn’t been able to get Kalen to do anything resembling a stroke before this day, and look at him swimming right to her!

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Nicky also made great progress in the pool, and he got the hang of side breathing.  He can now make it all the way across the short width of the pool without putting his feet down.  This kid has come a long, long way in just over a year.  I’m in such awe of him.

I also spent an awful lot of time reading (Lynn Kurland – one of my favorites!), and I got a start on that baby gift I mentioned before.  No details until after the shower, but a little sneak peek can’t hurt, can it?

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We really enjoyed our little faux vacay, and it was made even better by the knowledge that Jason will be coming to see us next week.  He flies in Tuesday night to spend a week and celebrate Kalen’s birthday.  We’re all so excited.

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I set to work on the latest Digi Dare yesterday afternoon (main components of the challenge – one word title and one photo containing only one subject).  Looking through my 2005 photos, I found this one of Nicky with his listening equipment.  His occupational therapist at the time, Ms. Yolanda, had determined that he was a prime candidate for a program called Therapeutic Listening to help with his Sensory Processing Disorder.  Nicky continued with TL for many months.  I don’t know how much it helped, and how much was the other forms of therapy or simple maturity, but he did show improvement over that year.
Listen
(Credits behind the cut)

Today I finished up another baby blanket.  This one’s bound for the NICU, to warm some little baby while he or she is having feedings.  I needed something mindless to work on while the boys and I watched the original Star Wars trilogy last week, and j. had sent me a great skein of bright orange yarn, so this was born.  I’m halfway in love with it, just for the colors.  I’m so tired of pastel baby clothes and blankets, I swear I’ll never make anything pastel for a baby again!

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I love this pattern!

IMG_9447Sólás Caomh by Jodi Euchner
Yarn: Wool-Ease (wool/poly blend for washability)
G hook

The finished product was well worth the rows and half-rows I frogged each time I realized I’d put a cable in the wrong place or forgotten a part of a cable.  It’s a pretty small blanket, not big enough to keep anyone warm, really.  However, I hope it will be perfect for little Thomas to drag around behind him, cuddle up with, and generally treat with tough love.

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My boys

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