Monday, February 28, 2011

African Flower Daisy Cushion/Pillow Difficulties

Hello Lovelies,
I was really hoping to have a finished African flower daisy cushion/pillow but I am having a lot more trouble getting it altogether than I thought. I am really looking forward to using squares for my next pillow. I connected each flower by a single crochet, which for the next time around I will do the single crochets on the backside to give a smoother pillow surface, but the textured look does look fine too. For the back I am using the Olive green color (Vanna's choice Lions Brand). You can see my granny circle connect-as-you-go blanket on the floor. Thank goodness my hubby doesn't mind my projects all over the house.

On another note, I am going to get to see baby McKenna this week!!!! I am very excited to hold my best friends first baby. She is the first of my closest friends to have a baby and I am so lucky they are also in the state of Florida so I do not have to wait months and months to see her. Today she was one week old. Her mom (my best friend) has agreed to a photo shoot with her (of course!). Don't worry, we will be putting some yummy crochet stuff on her.
I hope your week started off nicely,
XOXO Susan

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Sunday in the Sun

Hello and thanks for stopping by!
Today was a perfect Sunday, the way all Sundays should be -- some action packed fun and time to unwind and relax. Although I secretly wanted to finish crocheting my African flower daisy cushion as soon we I woke up, we woke up early and went kayaking in Matlacha, Pine Island FL. The water was a little choppy but we had a great time. We saw a manatee but I wasn't able to snap a photo to share, AND we saw two dolphins playing and hunting for food. We've seen dolphins plenty of times before, and we even saw a hunt before, but today was unlike any other dolphin hunt we have seen. At one point the dolphin jumped in the air to catch a fish. It was like when you see the sharks jump up and eat a seal on the Discover Channel. We couldn't believe it. Of course my little handy dandy camera was not ready for this type of action, but I was able to get some shots and even took a little video of the dolphins.

A shipwreck... I wonder how long the boat has been there?

You can see the second dolpin just above the surface to the left
The dolphins were a nice treat on our kayak adventure. We were tired after our morning trip, so we can home and relaxed for a little while. The little kids down the street were playing in their little kid pool and they brought out the Slip 'n Slide we got one of them for his birthday. They are still little for Slip 'n Slide but J insisted we get it for them once he saw it at the store. Since they are still young, they didn't really understand how to use it, so I showed them how to slip 'n slide! While I was slip n sliding, J made us a nice dinner on the grill: filet mignon, grilled potatoes and cauliflower.   

 After dinner we were relaxing on the lanai, (I was working on my crochet pillow) and a bald eagle stopped by on our neighbor's roof. A perfect ending to the day! He made a weird noise which we thought he was calling his other eagle friends to come by, but we didn't see any additional eagles. Maybe next time.
I hope your weekend was just as lovely. Tomorrow it is back to being inside and working away.
XOXO Susan

Saturday, February 26, 2011

African Flower Daisy Cushion

Hello Everyone,
Today was another lovely Saturday here. I attending a gathering for J's work for most of the day, but this evening I am going to try to complete my African Flower Daisy cushion. I shared some photos of the first four flowers I made and now I am working on the finishing the last few flowers and then I have to figure out how to connect them all and design the back of the pillow.

So, hopefully my post for tomorrow will include a finished African flower daisy cushion!!! I am going to do a regular granny square cushion next. Maybe I should have started with a simpler cushion first but I just love the African flower pattern... and most flower patterns in general. I hope you enjoy your Saturday night.
XOXO Susan

Friday, February 25, 2011

Finally Friday

Another late posting again -- Sarasota was beautiful. Many of the conference attendees came from the northern snowy parts of the US, and I bet they had a hard time sitting inside listening to research presentations when the pool outside at the hotel was b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l! I forgot to nap a pic of the pool to share but I did get some ocean views further south of Sarasota in Port Charlotte. 

And a lovely morning glory in bloom near the water. I love morning glories. My next door neighbor Kathy used to plant morning glories each summer on her deck and I loved how they would open every morning. I found they grow like weeds. I planted some last year and I see many starting to come up this year.

Now, I will be working on my crochet projects this weekend so I should have an update for you on my projects, but I wanted to share with you a project my friend Carolynne is working on. Her very first sweater!! and I love it so much I think I have to make one too. She hasn't completed it yet, but it is the Chevron sweater pattern on raverly (I think it is raverly's most popular sweater pattern). I made her bring it into work so I could photograph it to share with all of you. This is her first piece of clothing she has crocheted for herself. In the past she has made smaller items, she is a baby hat making pro. Don't you just LOVE it! Again, this is a work in progress. She is going to get a fabulous button for a closure at the top. Don't worry, I will provide and update of the final product once she finishes it.

Maybe I will be able to start mine this weekend. I need to make it soon otherwise I won't be able to wear it until I travel somewhere up north or wait for next winter. The current temperature outside is 73 degrees F, and my office at work in always very warm. Maybe I will make it in a cotton?
I hope you have you are able to put your feet up and relax for a while this weekend.
XOXO Susan

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lemon Flower Blossoms

Hello Everyone,
I hope you had a great Thursday. I am quite late on my posting today - you probably thought I was skipping today. My morning was a little too busy to get my posting up before I went to work. After a long day at work I am so glad to have some time to wind down and relax this evening.
I know I have been saying this a lot, but the weather right now in south Florida is simply divine! Every single day I make sure I take some time to enjoy nature around me. I don't think I will ever get tired of looking at flowers, watching butterflies around campus, and feeling the nice warm sun on my skin. So I will share some of it with you...
My lemon tree has blossoms on it right now and they smell so yummy I wish they bloomed all year round. You can see some of the spider web around the plant - there were webs all over it! They all seem to be gone now, hopefully the spiders did not decide to come inside of my house.

 Aside from the lovely plants around our home, we also have some lovely neighbors. We have some seasons neighbors or "snow birds" as many people call them who spend their winters here in Florida USA, but live in Montreal, Canada. One of their sons was visiting this past week and wanted to try blue crab. Blue crab is blue but then turns red while cooking. They sent some over to the last night for us to enjoy. J doesn't eat seafood and I didn't know how to open/eat them! How embarrassing... Luckily we have some other lovely neighbors who showed us how it's done.

 I was also able to sneak out yesterday to get some yummy organic veggies at the farmer's market. The farmer's market was so busy I had to drive around the crowded parking lot to find a place to park. It was well worth it though. I never had such tasty potatoes before. I grilled some chicken, potatoes, and some of J's venison. We had a scrumptious meal!

And for those of you who are getting snow, and even those who aren't here are some sea shells to remind you spring is almost here...

J and I had a jet ski when we first moved to Florida. We used to scoot all over to little islands around Sarasota, Bradenton, St. Pete Beach Florida and collect all kinds of neat sea shells. Although we sold our jet ski when we moved further south to where we are now, we still have these neat shells to remind us that the ocean is not too far away. 
Well the weekend is almost here. I have to go up to Sarasota, Florida to make a presentation at the Eastern Educational Research Association, then I am looking forward to a weekend of crochet bliss!
XOXO Susan 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vera Bradley English Meadow Summer 2011 inspiration!!

Gooood Morning,
I forgot to share with you that baby D arrived (my friend Gina's baby)! Her name is McKenna Jordyn. Gina (mom) and baby are both doing well. They will be coming home from the hospital tomorrow. Next week I will venture up to see them (and sneak in lots of photos of baby McKenna with crochet stuff).

Well today I am sharing my granny stripe inspiration with you. I am a big fan of Vera Bradley and I was able to get a sneak peak at the Summer 2011 patterns scheduled to hit stores in April. One of the patterns is called English Meadow. 
English Meadow Pattern

Pattern with Border
Inside of the bag pattern
My blanket does have some darker blues and greens in it. I think some of them look even darker than usually because they are next to some of the lighter hues. If I were to make another one, I think I would try to stick with all lighter colors, but I am pretty happy with the ones I have in there right now.

I really enjoy working on the granny stripe because each row doesn't take to long. I did not make it very wide, you can see the width of the blanket while laying on a queen size bed. I didn't make it for queen size bed, I just sort of made it wide enough to be able to cover one person nicely while cozy-ied up on a sofa. The ripple blanket takes much longer for each row because the rows are not straight across, they ripple up and down. The granny stripe is less counting and re-doing if you miscount and smooth sailing across each row.
I do have swatches of the other new Vera Bradley patterns for April 2011. If people want to see them I can show them - but I won't have a crochet project to match each one, haha. At least not yet...

Well I hope you have a fabulous day - we are halfway to the weekend!
XOXO Susan

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Foggy Views and Granny Stripes

Good Morning Lovelies,

We have a foggy start to the day here, but it is bright so it looks like the sun will be out shortly. Yesterday I found painfully little marks on my left heel, which J thought were spider bites. I couldn't even run last night because it hurt too much to have my sneakers rub against the skin. When I went outside to check out the fog this morning, I noticed we have spider webs all over the place (they were not there yesterday). Spider webs across the screen of the lanai, around some plants, and on some trees. It looks like J is probably right about my little marks being spider bites. I am going to put him on spider patrol.

Foogy Morning

Usually I can see all the way down the street in the backyard
Can you see the spider web?
I have made a little progress on my granny stripe. Tomorrow I will show you my color inspiration for this one. I am using blues and some shades of green and a yellow here and there - an English Cottage/Meadow look. Those of you in England you will have to be the judge for me once the blanket is complete! For anyone who missed my first posting - I explained some subtle differences between my pattern (due to my errors of course) and Lucy's pattern for the granny stripe.

I still love touching this blanket. Even though the texture isn't as differentiated as other patterns, I still think the look and feel is great.
Well off to grade all day long with a little bit of getting our taxes done in between. I usually spend Mondays grading all day but yesterday I had some other projects to finish up so this week Tuesday will be my full day of grading.
XOXO Susan

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Granny Square Garden! M.C. Escher Metamorphosis

Hello Again,
We had a lovely lunch on Matlacha, Pine Island today. We didn't see any dolphins but there were some manatees swimming around. I did share a photo of a manatee last week, but it was serendipitous for us to see some today as we do not usually see them in that area. So a trade off of manatees for dolphins was quite alright. Our dolphin friends will be there next time I am sure.

Now let's get to my granny garden blanket. I was able to take photos on the grass (I really thought the dark grass was a nice backdrop) and on the driveway. I was worried about the white and dirt but somehow everything managed to stay pretty clean.

I brought out the ladder and tried to get an over head view of the blanket. I felt like a real artist! haha My neighbors probably think I am going crazy. My husband did think I was a little weird for getting so into it until he saw the photos. He agrees, they do look pretty neat.
The connect as you go technique makes a nice pattern in between each square. At first I wasn't sure if mine would look like other crocheters' but the overhead view looks like it.

I just went for a nice evening walk with J and I think I have some of my first bug bites of the season. Since I have been playing outside all day, I have to get some work done before the week begins tomorrow. Our university is not closed for President's Day. Tomorrow starts week 7 of the semester - almost the midterm!!! I can't wait for spring break so I can crochet away all - day - long.
Happy Sunday 
XOXO Susan  

Granny Square Connect As You Go, M.C. Escher Take 2 Attempt

Hello Friends,
Yesterday I attempted to do my second take on my granny garden blanket (I call it my granny garden because I think the circles look like a colorful garden) metamorphosis photo. If you remember a couple weeks ago I took a progress photo of the blanket and it resembled an M.C. Escher style piece of art. So I decided I would make a real attempt at making a metamorphosis photo as I completed more of the blanket. After speaking with my brother about it, we thought a dark background would enhance the blanket, so I thought the dark green grass we have here in Florida would be perfect, plus it is a colorful garden after all!

So yesterday I waited for the grass to dry after the irrigation system ran, and waited for the sun to be in the right position (the sun is sometimes too bright for the colors to show in photos), and I did not have good luck. The grass is very thick here and wouldn't allow the blanket and pieces to lay flat, making the photo look un-even. As you can tell from the photo, things look a little wobbly.

Uneven grass...
On the coffee table getting ready
So, my hubby is cleaning off the brick driveway so I can do a take 3 today with the reddish brick background for the photo. Keep your fingers crossed! I will post the "Take 3" photos later this evening.  I hope you have a nice Sunday planned, we are going to go out to lunch on the water and watch some dolphins play while we eat - today is another gorgeous day!

Oh, one last thing: A.C. Moore craft store has Vanna's Choice yarn on sale for $2 again!!! WOOOO, of course I just had to buy some more for $2.50 on Friday for my granny stripe blues but I will be stocking up again for sure. You may be wondering what I would still need at this point, but after the granny garden blanket and the ripple, I ran out of some colors. Oh, and I also needed some more white, olive green, and mustard yellow for my African flower daisy cushion -- I hope to show you in the next few days!!! My very first one. Michael's craft store has Vanna's choice on sale for for $2.50 each and then tomorrow (Monday) for President's Day they are giving an additional 20% off, see the website for the coupon, so if you are closer to a Michael's you can get it for $2 each tomorrow. Ok, enough of my going on already.

Have a fabulous Sunday and check back soon for the crochet metamorphosis!
XOXO Susan

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Back at It

Hello Friends,
Yesterday I was feeling a bit under the weather so I did not share anything with you on my blog. I did start another WIP, I know I know, I already have several other works in progress but since I am new to crocheting regularly, I am so far behind! I love all of the things Lucy at Attic 24 and Alice at Crochet with Raymond have been making over the years that I feel compelled to "catch up". I am still working on my other projects for variation, but I just needed to try the granny stripe.

The granny stripe is still in the very beginning stages and I am using a certain color pattern as my inspiration but I am not going to reveal my color inspiration just yet...

I followed Lucy's pattern as best I could, except I forgot for the first row that her dc really meant sc in USA terms. SO my first row is a dc instead of single crochet. I really love making it, the rows go at a nice pace and it looks so nice, especially the texture it produces with each color having a row of front and back (you flip) which doesn't usually happen in a regular granny square. In addition to using a USA dc (instead of a UK dc which is sc in USA) my other adjustments were to put one chain in between each granny cluster for the second row only (first row of clusters, but second row of the blanket). Lucy's pattern says to make the length in multiples of three's so mine was a chain of 162. I was imagining a blanket to cover one person on a sofa or bed.
Welllll I hope you have a fabulous weekend and I just might post again tonight to make up for yesterday. We will see how much progress I make today. The weather is delightful as usual here so I may have to crochet outside.
XOXO Susan 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Can't Get Enough of the Flowers

Hello Again,
I have been bursting with excitement about my Japanese flowers. I really love them and try to sneak in time each day to make some, but of course my full time job has been getting in my way. Last week I "cracked" the pattern, well my interpretation of the pattern, and I have been making lovely flowers ever since. I think I will stick of a color scheme for my next Japanese flower project because I am having great difficulty deciding what colors to use and trying to have proper variation.

Usually each night before J goes to sleep (he goes to sleep earlier than I do), I relax with him prior to his bedtime and then I do some late night crocheting or research while watching my fav tv shows (we all know what everyone will be watching tonight - Thursdays...). Last night as I added on flowers I kept drapping it over J to see how it looked as a blanket, but he was complaining it was too warm - which it is starting to get very warm again. Crocheting blankets in the heat is not ideal but maybe mild weather will hang around just a little bit longer (mild being under 80 degrees F).

Laying Flat on the Floor... Can you see my little mistake in there?

Drapped over a chair. The flowers look so much larger than I imagined. I LOVE IT!
The pattern for the shrug/shawl/scarf is to be worked as a trapezoid shape, 4 flowers deep and then as wide and you want. I am going to stick with the trapezoid shape for now and see how it goes. I think I am going to bring this WIP into the office today to share with the ladies in person because I think it looks so fab in person (I am getting a little can probably tell).
I hope your day is fabulous and for many of your up north, I hope you enjoy the spring-like weather coming your way!
XOXO Susan

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Forgot to post the Eagle pic

My blog posting this morning was titled the Eagle Soars - which for some people reading, you may have thought about my university's mascot. I meant to provide a photo of the eagle we see in our backyard and I got carried away with the manatee photo and forgot to show you the eagle. Here is the bald eagle:

We look forward to her/his visits each time. There is also a juvenile eagle we see around. Juvenile eagles do not have a white head yet. For thos of you who are not in the USA or may not be familiar with bald eagles, they are a protected bird here. Bald eagles are only found in certain areas within the USA and many people never get to see an eagle in the wild their entire life.