Finish or Frog In 2017

unfinished projects title

How many unfinished projects do you have hiding around your home?  While cleaning my craft area, I decided to gather all my unfinished projects together.

In no particular order, I have:

  • purple / Teal headband and fingerless glove set
  • alpaca shawl
  • blue nutmeg sweater
  • purple bamboo cabled gloves
  • shell stitch baby blanket
  • flower hexagon blanket
  • granny square blanket
  • grocery bag holder
  • bamboo sweater
  • crochet blue / brown basket
  • pop tart phone cozy
  • rainbow novelty scarf
  • suede bottom slippers
  • black / white cotton fingerless mitts
  • alpaca cowl
  • striped sock yarn bag
  • purple / mint cable headband
  • silk slippers
  • pink i-chord
  • blue cowl (hat?)
  • purple cable cup cozy
  • outline wrap
  • sundance beach bag
  • 2 color hot pad set
  • dark green hot pad set
  • pencil scarf (pillow?)
  • radiant circle throw
  • traveling cable handwarmers
  • lazy weekend socks
  • grey / green hat
  • family mittens sparkly blue / mint

I’m setting a goal for myself to Finish or Frog (rrrriiiiiipppp-it apart) at least 17 of my unfinished non-blanket or shawl projects in 2017. I am not including the blankets or shawls because I know I can’t finish that much in just three months. Plus, the granny square blanket is my scrap project, it will take years to get it finished.

I would love to have you join me in my challenge!  Head over to Instagram, post pictures of your unfinished projects, and use the hashtag #finishorfrogit2017 ! Check in on our Facebook page with pictures of your progress!  I’m even on Twitter to share and celebrate finishing our neglected projects. Let’s see how many projects we can get finished together!

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Fall is a time for crafts!

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Every season has a focus for me.  Summer is all about family road trips and camping.  Winter is storm season here, so we hunker down and spend time together at home.  Spring is a time of renewal, I’m ready to clean and declutter my house and start planning for summer.

Fall is all about crafting.  It is this time of year that I start organizing my craft room and thinking of projects to do.  Last week I posted about organizing my yarn stash.  This week I’ve been looking at my unfinished projects.

There is a sweater, that just needs one sleeve.  A pencil scarf that is only half done.  A shawl that has just a few rows.  A couple of sets of hot pads begun and set down.  At least two headbands and four hats.  The never ending granny square afghan I started for using up my scraps.  And another crochet afghan that was given to me in pieces that just needs a few center blocks, then it will be ready to put together.

I tend to be a bit ADHD when it comes to my projects.  I love to start new projects!  The thrill of a new pattern and excitement of a new item get me going.  Then my interest wanes as my attention is distracted by another shiny new project.

I have set a goal to finish all of my started projects, except the granny square blanket, before the new year.  How do you manage all your unfinished projects?  Are you one that finishes each one before beginning another?  Do you limit how many you have going at once?  Or, are you like me, and you realize just how many projects you have started only when you clean your craft room?

Follow me over on Instagram to watch my progress!

 

Organizing My Yarn Stash

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This weekend I decided it was time to try and organize my yarn stash.  As an avid knitter and crocheter, I have my fair share of yarn.  Some new and soft still in it’s lovely paper wrapper.  Some old and vintage of questionable ingredients.  Some still in tight skeins, some random small hand wound balls, some half used falling apart skeins.

craft roomMy craft area isn’t very large, and lacks storage.  Most of my yarn stash lives in totes stacked against the wall.  As I use my yarn in projects, I tend to leave the remains all around my house.  Stuffing them into one over full dresser drawer in the craft room when I clean up.

Every few months, I take the time to pull out my totes and try to make some semblance of the yarn stash and WIPs (Works In Process).

yarn stash

This year I discovered a wonderful new tool for organizing my yarn stash!  The YazyCraft Ball Winder turned out to be a real lifesaver!  For under $15 with my prime membership, I had an amazing little tool to help me organize my yarn stash.

Not only was it super easy to use, it quickly made yarn cakes that stored nicely and didn’t make my hand cramp from rolling all the yarn balls!

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I had a couple of complete skeins that had been damaged in storage that needed to be rewound.  Before the ball winder, I would have spent a good amount of time hand winding the yarn into manageable yarn balls.  With the ball winder, I was able to wind an entire skein into four lovely cakes in less than ten minutes.

yazy one skein

A gallon zipper baggy holds the cakes nice and neat with their band so I know what I have and can match if needed.  Larger batches of yarn or in progress projects fit nicely in 2 gallon zipper bags.

Have you seen the multi-color yarn cakes in the stores?  Such pretty combinations just ready to go for a crafty project.  With my ball winder and my scrap yarns, I can make my own multi-color cakes.  I was so excited to see how this one came out!

multicolor yarn ball

I am excited to use all those tiny balls of scrap yarn to make my own multi-color yarn cakes.    Nothing goes to waste!

Plus, is there anything prettier than a freshly wound yarn cake?

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*This post contains sponsored links from www.amazon.com.  I was not paid to do this post or review of the YazyCraft Ball Winder .  However, if you use the link to purchase I will receive a small compensation.  Thanks for checking it out and helping to support my bloggy habits!*

Black and White Photo Challenge

Last weekend a friend posted a fun challenge on Facebook.  Take one photo each day in black and white for one week.  No people, no selfies, and no explanation for the photos.  I’ve really enjoyed the process.  I decided that I would set an alarm on my phone for 5pm each day.  Then take a picture of whatever was in front of me.

Head over to instagram to check out my photos in the series.  I’d love to see more people join in the fun.  I’m using the hashtag #blackandwhitephoto.

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Back to school!

It is the beginning of August, which means I have roughly one month until school starts again.  I’m one of those teachers that actually really enjoy the process of setting up my classroom every year.  I am usually the first one in the building, and I come in for at least a few hours just about every week day to set up nice and slow.  There are other teachers that reprimand me for spending my time free in the classroom.  This is a frustration, but if it means I can relax during all the back to school meetings on our staff work days it is worth it to me.

packed

I moved into a new classroom this year.  It took me a full day just to unpack most of my stuff.  I admit, I didn’t unpack any of my teacher supplies, just shoved those boxes into the closet.

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I just love an organized closet!

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One of my most used areas in my classroom is my assignment board.  Every week, I put all the assignments, standards, targets, and events up on the board for students to refer to.  Students write the assignments in the planners and take them home for parents to see each weekend.  In my old classroom, I had three big white boards.  One whole white board was used for this purpose.  In my new classroom, I only have two white boards.  I will need all that space for teaching each day.  So, I decided to use this wall of cabinets as my new interactive calendar wall.

blank wallIt took me a while to decide how I could make this space really functional.  It had to be dry erase.  It couldn’t interfere with the cupboards opening and closing.  And, it couldn’t cause damage to the cupboard doors.  Dollar Tree vinyl book covers and my Cricut machine to the rescue!

calendar wall

It took me just over 4 hours to complete this project.  I used my Cricut to cut 10 inch scalloped squares out of the vinyl book covers.  Then put them up on the cupboards in a grid.  The vinyl book covers are sticky, but don’t leave a residue.  They are dry erase-ish.  The marker does leave a bit of darkness when it is erased.  The squares were easy enough to make/put up that I plan to cut extras to have on hand.  Then if one gets particularly grungy, I can just put up a new one!  I’m also excited to have a full month view.  My students really like knowing what is coming up at school.  This large calendar will give me plenty of space to write in events, birthdays, and assignments.

Our class mascot, Earl, approves this message.

Simple Knit Hat

Last fall, I decided to take a day for myself.  I left all the family doing what they do, and I drove ALONE to the nearest big city.  I spent the day perusing book stores, eating lunch by myself, and wandering JoAnn’s craft store.  It was amazing.  I haven’t done that in a very, very long time.

After the craziness of last summer, I had been thinking about routines and getting back to basics.  This includes getting back to my simple hobbies.  One thing I have enjoyed for the last fifteen years is knitting.  When my children were small, I would knit or craft every day.  It might only be a row or two, but I did something every day.  It was my relaxation time.  In the last couple of years, I have gotten away from that habit.  I miss that meditative process of creating something wonderful from a piece of string.

While I was in JoAnn’s, I decided to purchase everything I would need to make myself a nice warm winter set.  I chose a super soft, Buttercream alpaca blend yarn in solid brown and purple.  Because of the bulkiness of the yarn, I chose size 10.5 knitting needles in both circular and double point.  I didn’t have any scissors with me and I always like to have something to cut the yarn with me in a project.  Instead of purchasing another expensive pair of small scissors, I opted for a large seam ripper.  I like using seam rippers because they are small, have protective lids over the blades, and cut yarn with ease.  Oh, and they are cheap!  I also decided to try one of their Snapware Yarn Containers for this project.  This large plastic jar is big enough to hold all of my supplies for this project to keep it all clean while crafting on the go.  The lid has a hole so I can have my yarn pulling from the center of the skeins to work with both colors without any tangling.

By the time I was done shopping, I was excited to get started on my first non-gift knitting project in a very long time.  I headed out to my car, and enjoyed the air conditioning while I casted on my simple knit hat.

KnitHat1

The next day, we had a family reunion to attend.  I made a lot of progress during the 45 minute drive.  I just love how quickly bulky yarn works up!

Knit Hat 2

While we visited and relaxed with family, I finished the whole hat.  I just need to sew in the ends of the yarn.

Knit Hat Done

I really love simple knit hats.  This bulky alpaca yarn will be nice and warm in winter.  The two skeins of yarn should be enough for me to make a hat, finger-less mitts, and a cowl.  It really feels great to wear something I have made myself.

This pattern can be used for any size needle and yarn.  You just have to adjust your cast on number for the gauge and row count for length.  The basic hat has a rib section that is at least an inch to two inches long for the cuff.  The knit portion of the hat needs to be long enough for the hat to cover your head all the way to the crown.  I often try the hat on while in process to make sure I make it long enough.  Once the knit section is long enough for the hat to cover your ears to the crown of your head, you are ready to reduce.  The reducing pattern I use goes pretty quickly without looking pointed when you wear it.

The following instructions are for bulky yarn using 10.5 needles.  I prefer to start my hats on a circular needle, but if you prefer to work with double points go for it!  Also, I like to knit a couple of rows before I connect to knit in the round.  This makes it easier for me to see that my stitches aren’t twisted.  It is easy enough to use the end of the cast on yarn to stitch up the small opening after the hat is done.

Simple Knit Hat Pattern

Cast on 68. (brown)

Row 1: K2P2 (brown)

Row 2: K2P2 (purple)

Connect to knit in the round.

Row 3: K2P2 (brown)

I switched colors every row to create the stripe pattern.  When switching colors, tuck the previous color under the new one before starting your row.  This will prevent holes along the seam.  I continued this pattern for the remainder of the hat.

Continue the K2P2 rib for a total of 8 rows.

The rest of the hat is worked in all knit.  Continue to switch colors every row.  Knit for    12 rows. Or until the hat reaches the crown of your head comfortably.  The reducing will go pretty quickly, so error on the side of too long if you aren’t sure.

Now is the time to start reducing for the crown of the hat.  I transferred to four double point needles at this point.  Each needle had 17 stitches.

For each needle: K2tog, K until two stitches left, K2tog

Continue this pattern for each needle until you have three stitches on each needle.

For each needle: K2tog, K1

Cut a nice long tail.  Thread the tail through the remaining stitches and drop them off the needles.  Pull the tail tight in the inside of the hat to close the top.  Tie it off in a knot to hold.

Use a large tapestry needle to sew in your ends and your hat is completed!

 

 

My Happy Place

When you live in a three bedroom house with six people, it can be hard to find space that is just for you.  As the mom in the house, this seems to be especially difficult.  This summer, after several very stressful events, I decided that I needed my own space. My sewing machines had been in storage for years while I waited for the craft room that I dreamed of.  I missed my hobbies. I missed the peace and beauty of creating with fabric.  So, I took over an old dining room that was being used for storage.

I created my own happy place.

 

Just looking at this picture gives me peace.  I adore having a space where I can sit and create. This is what feeds my soul.

Where is your happy place?  Comment, Follow, Share!  We all need a happy place.