Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sewing Machine Disaster

Hello Friends,

Before I share the story about my sewing machine, I wanted to share a July photo collage like many of you do at the end of each month. I had a slower month of postings, but did have some goodies to share. I am  not sure what program others use to make their collages but I use Photoscape for my photoediting needs. Photoscape of a program you can download for free and has many neat features.

I was hoping to have some great sewing projects to share with you by now, but unfortunately my luck was not so good. I ordered my very first sewing machine last week and waited eagerly for it to arrive. Actually, it was a birthday gift from J,  but of course I did some research and picked out the one I wanted. The last time I used a sewing machine was in middle school (7th and 8th grade) home economics class. We made little duffel bags, mine was purple, a pillow (cushion) was a pre-made sewing kit - mine was a basketball, and a pair of shorts - I picked a tropical fabric. I wish I had photo of those to share with you but I think they are all long gone by now. I do remember my dad used to use my purple little duffel bag when he would go on short trips and I was horrified when I saw him using it because I was very concerned that it would fall apart at any minute.

Well, back to my story of my sewing machine disaster. With my sewing experience limited to making my green vest for girl scouts in 4th grade and my middle school home ec stint, I wanted a basic sewing machine good for a beginner. I was hoping to start out by making some adjustments to my current clothes and doing some basic crafty things that I read about on all of your blogs. I researched and researched reading reviews, machine specs, and other useful resources. Similar to most products, there are always some people who have a bad experience, maybe a bad machine or product, a defect.

I am sure you can see where this is going. I got the machine out of the box, set it up on our dining room table. I read the manual from cover to cover - I really did. I confessed to J that I really did not know how to operate a sewing machine. He said he figured as much and knew I would figure it out. Treading the needle was easy, I started to sew experimenting with the different stitches on a old shirt I was planning to get rid of. In less than 3 minutes, the machine stopped. Needle down. No movement. Read the manual a few more times, nothing was stuck, no thread, and it was past 4:00pm which meant the singer call center was not open. I was so mad! I wanted to sew! After speaking with the call center the wheel arm dis-engaged and I would need to take it to a certified technician which was 2 hours away. I decided to return the machine. If it broke in less than 3 minutes, I don't want to have it fixed. Any suggestions for a beginner sewing machine?

I wish you a fabulous week ahead,
xoxo Susan

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Day at the Beach

Hello Friends,

Are you enjoying the summer goodness? Most of the U.S. is experiencing very warm or hot temperatures recently. Although the heat can be too much at times just remember how cold you were all winter long and the spring you never had. Go outside and let the warmth sooth your muscles - it does the body good. Drink a lot of water too!

We've been getting some heavy rains late afternoon which is slowly filling up our ponds. A few more good downpours and the pond should be filled back up. J and I were able to take some time to go to one of the beaches nearby. We went to Sanibel Island one of the areas best beach locations and enjoyed the sand and sun. J is the master of finding good treasures in the water and he found a star fish.

We have never found these before while at the beach in Florida. J has found some 5 "leg" star fish in the back waters (mixed salt water and fresh water) but this was a new find! We brought it out of the water to take some photos.

The star fish was still alive and was starting to try to move back to the water...

I took one last photo and we set it free into the water. Sanibel Island is located on the west coast of Florida so this was found on the gulf side of the state. Does anyone know if these have a special name? It looks like it would be called a star fish or sea star as some people call them. We thought it was really neat!

Have a Fabulous Friday!
xoxo Susan

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thunder and Lightning

Hello Friends,

Welcome to all of my new followers! And thank you for all of my followers who have been following for a while :) I have been working on finishing up my granny garden blanket but every time I want to take some photos to share, it starts to get like this...

A summer storm coming on.
You can see the rain falling from the clouds on the left side
I enjoy the rain here in Florida because it is a nice break from the constant sunny days we have here. The sound of the rain is nice and it makes me feel like I must curl up and read a book, or crochet the day away. When the sun is out I usually feel like I should be out and about doing things.

So, since I wasn't able to get some natural light, I had to settling on the lights inside of the house and the camera flash because I really wanted to share my additional rows on the granny garden. Although the blanket is now eight squares by ten squares and sufficient to be a throw blanket, I want to make it ten by ten so it is a little bit bigger. I do look forward to finish this so I can check one more project off my list.

Right now with 8 by 10 circles
I am almost done with the last two rows of circles, then I will just have to doing the outer edge with a connect as you go. One of my friends saw some of my baby hats and sent me an email to see if I could make a custom hat for her daughter's first birthday! I am working on it right now and will share pictures once it is complete. I hope your week is starting off well.
xoxo Susan

Friday, July 22, 2011

Granny Gardening...

Hello Everyone,

Although this is my first week of summer vacation, I have been busy working on research proposals for an upcoming conference this coming academic year. I have been getting some crochet in though, I just haven't been updating you accordingly. Do you remember my granny garden blanket? Well I am expanding the lapghan to a larger blanket. I loved all of the color granny circles turned square when I first started reading blogs back in January. As a born again crocheter I wanted to make all of the great projects everyone had been working on for the last few years so I made several lap afghans to satisfy my desire to try so any of the great patterns all of you out there have been using!

Granny Garden
I also got to the point where I just needed a break from weaving in all those ends and making all of those little circles. This past week I have been making some more circles to add a few more rows to the blanket. I also used the connect-as-you-go technique.

We've also had some excitement in our backyard the last few days. Do you know what this is?

I bet you have an idea now!
 A small alligator has made its way to the backyard pond. This is very common in Florida, but we have not had one lurking around our pond in a few years. With several small children around our street, all of the neighbors were concerned. Fish and Wildlife officers will remove alligators from community or public areas if the alligator is over 4 ft long or if it is at least 18 inches and considered is a danger/nuisance.

Small Alligator in our Backyard
 We did not see the alligator today, so we are not sure if s/he decided to move to another pond or if Fish and Wildlife came and removed it. So that was our backyard excitement this week!

I hope your week has been moving along nicely. As I said, I have been busy crocheting so stop back tomorrow for another project and another post!

Have a fabulous Friday,

xoxo Susan

Saturday, July 16, 2011

First Hat Sale!

Good Morning Lovelies,

Thank you for all of your nice comments on my giant granny. Your comments make the crocheting go faster!
I finally got my etsy site up and running and in less than 24 hours I made my first sale! I only listed 6 of my baby hats on the site, because I was short on time. My first hat order was for the little green closed eye owl for 3-6 months. The prototype I made was for 0-3 months so I quickly got to work on the 3-6 month one.

On the left 3-6 month; on the right 0-6 months
Just a little bit bigger!
This little owl was shipped off yesterday to the new owner. My site is a little pitiful right now, I am working with a professional photographer to get some good images to post to advertise the hats. For now, just the hats will do.
Here is a photo of my whole gang right now:

The sleeping owls seem to be everyone's favorite, as I said in my last post, they are just so darn cute! I can't wait to see how they look on a real baby/person.

As you may have guessed, I will be spending my day grading. I hope you have some fun plans for this beautiful weekend.
xoxo Susan

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Vera Bradley Winter 2012 Floral Nightingale

Hello Friends,

I have had a busy week this week as we are wrapping up the summer semester so I have not been posting. Last week the Fall 2011 Vera Bradley patterns were released in stores and online. I want to share with you a sneak peak at the patterns coming out for Winter 2012 (or Winter 2011-2012, depending on how you like to think of it). Four patterns will be released and they are lovely! I do think the four released last week were great though.

Vera Bradley has been releasing purple for the last few years and the winter line will be no different. This pattern is sure to be a pleaser for the purple lovers out there. Stayed tuned for a sneak peak of the other three patterns over the next few weeks.

This weekend will be filled with grading so I can get all of my students' grades submitted by Tuesday at noon when they are due. I will sneak in as much crochet as possible. My giant granny wants to grow.

xoxo Susan

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Granny Growing

Hello Friends,

I am very lucky to be spending my Sunday crocheting my granny for Angie's giant granny challenge. My  goal is to keep the granny bright and cheery! So far, I am very happy with the progress. Sometimes when I use a darker color I get nervous it may not work well with the others but so far so good.

19 Rows Granny Square

25 Rows Granny Squares

Folded Granny Square

I am always amazed at the way the outside row makes the square look very different. When blue was the outside row the square had a whole different look, and the red made it look even more different. One of the things I do not enjoy about making giant granny's is the more rows you add the more time it takes to complete a row.
I feel like I had a refreshing weekend and I am looking forward to the week ahead. We are in our last week of class for the summer semester!!!

I hope you had a lovely weekend,
xoxo Susan

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Grannys and Owls

Hello Friends,

As always, thank you for stopping by :) I would also like to thank everyone for your advise on the Japanese flower scarf for my mom. One row it will be, unfortunately I stitched two flowers in the second row already so I have to find my woven ends and relocated them. I have gotten much better at weaving in the ends so my job will be a little tricky. An update on that will be coming soon.

I decided to join Angie's Giant Granny Challenge over at Le Monde de Sucrette. My granny is starting a little bit later than the rest, so I am trying to make it grow as much as I can this weekend.

I started the granny with scraps that I had and now I wish I would have started the center with a warmer color, but I think the dusty light blue will be alright. I want to make this a bright colorful giant granny :)

No real news to share for this weekend. We finally have some good rain falling over the last few days. The pond in the backyard is slowly started to fill up to somewhat normal levels. The best part about the rain in Florida is the sun that shines bright after. Hopefully I can snap a shot of a rainbow to share.

Since I still can't stop, I made a few more owls hats too...

For a little baby

I really love the closed eye owls. There is something about the eyelashes and the sleeping look that is so cute! Instead of the little streamers for the ears I tried little points (these were a little tricky for me).

The blue one was made by holding two pieces of yarn together so this hat is much thicker than the others.

Well I hope your weekend is going well. I am trying to get in as much reading and crochet time as I can. Have a fabulous Sunday tomorrow!
xoxo Susan

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Good Morning

Good Morning Friends,

I started a new project with our favorite Japanese flower pattern. Since finishing the blanket for my brother and his wife, I have not crocheted any flowers. My mom has not made any requests since I started crocheted back in January and when I was in Buffalo I asked her what I could make for her and she asked for a scarf. About 6 years ago before I moved to Florida, my mom started knitting again. She made me a beautiful green scarf which was extra great during St. Patrick's Day, which is a holiday taken very seriously in South Buffalo.
Anyways, she told me the different color jackets/coats she wears and I decided she needs two different scarves!  So the first one is underway...

Since my mom wants it to be a scarf (not a shawl like scarf), I am thinking just 2 rows of about 9 or 10 flowers? I will take some measurements once I have 18 flowers together and see how long it is and how it feels. For her second scarf  I am thinking hexagons. I saw some neat scarves with smaller sized hexagons.

Have a fabulous week friends,
xoxo Susan

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July!!

Hello Friends,

Happy Independence Day for those of you in the U.S.A.!! I hope everyone had a safe and fun holiday weekend. We had a nice weekend with some work here and there (well maybe about half of it filled with work). Today I was able to relax the entire day and watch some fireworks with a skinny girl margarita in hand - very yummy.

We had a lovely dinner at our friend's house for a nice 4th of July cookout. One of the weird things about being in Florida for the 4th of July is that it is very hot and humid, so we eat inside instead outside like I used to do growing up.

 Luckily the food was finished cooking right before a thunderstorm came through.

Kate over at the Garden Bell has been showing us some watermelon crochet goodness and it got me thinking about a watermelon baby hat. So I went to work and I think turned out pretty good...

Now I just need to find a newly born baby to see how it looks live!

In addition to the watermelon cap, I also made a little devil hat.  

My summer class has 2 more weeks to go and then I am officially on summer vacation for a few weeks before we start back up for the fall semester. Time flies as I am sure you all know. I really cannot believe it.
Before you know it we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. 

I spent this evening watching the fireworks on tv and listening to the Boston Pops. I always love hearing Stars and Stripes Forever, it is one of my favorites!!! Happy Birthday U.S.A.
xoxo Susan 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Niagara Falls in June

Hello Friends,

While I was in Buffalo, my brother's wedding was beautiful and the rain held up at just the right times. Growing up in western NY, I visited the falls many times. Each time I visit I am always amazed by the fast current.

Current of the Niagara River approaching the falls

Very close to the falls

Beautiful greenery on the walk from the street to the falls

Niagara Falls (Canada is on the right)

American Falls to the left. Canada to the right
 If you ever visit Niagara Falls, make sure you go on the Maid of the Mist boat ride (in photo below). The Maid of the Mist brings you right up to the falls. This is enjoyed the most on a hot summer day.
The Maid of the Mist
 My brother and his bride were married at the oldest church in Niagara Falls, NY fonded in 1836 - St. Mary of the Cataract. The church was very lovely and located right next to a casino (owned by the Seneca Nation of Indians).

Saint Mary of the Cataract Catholic Church

At the church for the wedding rehearsal

Front Doors to the Church

This was my first time inside of St. Mary of the Cataract, and it was a nice church. In case you were wondering, we did sneak over to the casino and several people who attended the wedding won some money!! I was not so lucky, but I enjoyed my visit.

I was able to crochet some more hats while in Buffalo - and I have some assignments to make more and more...

Happy Saturday!!
xoxo Susan