Wanted: Christmas spirit (sorely lacking)

WTF. This is what happens when I start blogging again – I cook along at a good pace, and then a month (or more!) goes by and I don’t update, then I feel guilty. Well at least it feeds my neuroses.

I’ve been hella busy. I got put on a new project at work for a few months, plus I’ve been trying to finish all the Christmas crochet and shopping. I finally shipped off presents to my side of the family this week. Gave the present I made for my manager to her. Almost finished with what I’m making for my bestie. Once that’s done, I just need to wrap the stuff for Hubby and Bean.

I made an executive decision this year not to send any Christmas cards. I think it’s a tradition that’s just about run its course. I kept at it for soooo long but I think I’ve finally tired of it. So sue me!

We haven’t put up the Christmas tree or any decorations at all and I just can’t seem to muster any enthusiasm for it. Maybe we’ll put the tree up this weekend. Bean has informed me that she “knows the truth” about Santa Claus, which is kind of a relief. But I promised her we’d still surprise her on Christmas morning. She’s growing up so fast it makes me feel older than old.

Speaking of feeling old, the plans to have my spleen removed are off. Instead I’m going to see an interventional radiologist, I just don’t know when or exactly what they’re going to do. But anything is better than surgery and giving up my spleen I suppose.

Full post about completed projects coming soon – I have a ton of them! Until then, happy holidays!


Completed projects and works in progress (including me)

Completed Projects and Work in Progress: Crochet

I started making myself a corner-to-corner blanket recently. I wanted another afghan to put on the bed in the winter. But I had to put that sucker into hibernation because I just realized two stark realities: 1. It’s November already. 2. I have tons of Christmas gifts to crochet. So even though the blanket was starting to look pretty good, into the hibernate corner it went.



But I’ve had some recent progress too. I finished a scarf I was making for my facialist, Karla:


It was really simple, since it’s basically two rows of alternating granny squares, worked up in Lion Unique, which is one of my all-time favorite yarns. I was really  happy to tuck it away in its gift bag, all ready to give to her in December.

Next, I started work on a scarf I decided to make for my primary healthcare provider because I LOVE HER (more on that later). But then I realized I work with this lady who’s pregnant and will be going on maternity leave soon. We all know what a pregnant lady means — an excuse to make a baby blanket! And what do you know, I had skeins of baby yarn just sitting around waiting. So I started on a pattern I’d been waiting to try. It’s taking a bit more time than I planned, but it’s working up nicely:


Hope I can finish it before her last day.

Completed Projects and Work in Progress: Non-Crochet Version

So I completed a project near the end of October when I had a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, i.e. I had my gallbladder removed. It was outpatient surgery and, to my surprise, it was the most positive healthcare experience I’ve ever had (even though it was expensive*). The surgery center I went to was SO NICE. It felt more like a spa than a hospital, but not extravagantly so. Recovery was easy-peasy. Seriously, I felt fine like two days later, once the grogginess from general anesthesia wore off.

My only complaint is numbness in my lower lip, which I discovered via Google is an uncommon-but-not-unheard-of side effect of general anesthesia, caused by nerve damage from the mask or the intubation, and usually wearing off in a few weeks. I hope so! Because right now my lower lip has the feeling you get when the novocaine is starting to wear off – somewhere between numb, tingly, and just a tiny bit painful. It’s irritating, more than anything else.

So what about the work in progress? Well…when they did my ultrasound to visualize my gallstone they also noticed that I have cysts on my spleen. What does it mean? Nobody really knows. I’m not symptomatic, my blood work all looks normal, and it’s not causing any discomfort. However, the cystic growths are large enough that they represent a serious risk of bursting and causing internal bleeding if I ever have any serious abdominal trauma (like a car accident, bad fall, or superhero costume malfunction). After getting an MRI, and discussing it with my surgeon and my provider (the one I’m making the scarf for), I’m tentatively planning to have the surgery to remove my spleen. The whole spleen??? Yeah, I know. It’s drastic, but: 1. you can live without a spleen, it just puts your immune system at slightly higher risk; 2. they can do it laparoscopically like the gall bladder surgery (and I’m hoping and praying outpatient, though probably not); and most important, 3. there are treatments to try to reduce or remove the cysts themselves, but generally those types of efforts are not successful, and most cysts end up growing back.

So that’s where I am. Luckily my last surgery was an easy recovery and I didn’t miss much work at all (day off the day of surgery and the day after, then a weekend, then telecommuting the following Monday and back in the office by the end of the week). I’m hoping the splenectomy will be a similar experience.

And while I’m off my feet – more time for crochet projects! WINNING!!!


*I had to meet my individual deductible, then pay 20% coinsurance, which as you can imagine was quite pricy. But on the positive side, it’s put me near my out-of-pocket limit for the year, so if I have my other surgery before 12/31, it’s likely most of my expenses will be covered at 100% instead of 80%. I can’t believe that calculations like this now have to figure into my healthcare decisions – it’s a rude awakening after years of HMO-style “pay your premium and everything is covered” plans. But this, alas, is the world we live in.

Completed Project: Pillow Part 2: The REVENGE!

We have a strange quilt on our king-sized bed in the Master Bedroom. Oh, it doesn’t really look all that strange, to most people. I mean, it’s your standard-size, standard-weight quilt. But the colors…the colors are IMPOSSIBLE to match with sheets, throw pillows etc.

The quilt has several sections of different patterns in shades of blue and gray. I bought it at Macy’s, way back when I still shopped at Macy’s. I’ve never been able to find sheets, pillowcases, throw pillows, shams, etc. that really match it. It looks simple enough, but the colors are just a little “off,” such that every blue sheet or pillowcase I buy just doesn’t quite match. I find myself sticking to white, gray, and the occasional navy blue. Here’s a picture of three of the four patterns that make up the quilt:


So anyway, let me assure you first of all that I don’t spend hours obsessing over this or anything. Sure, I’m writing a blog post about it, but that’s only as background to explain why I made not one, but TWO pillows to match this quilt. First, I made this square one:


It’s a square throw pillow that I made with roughly two balls of Lion Brand Unique in “Moonshadows” and a 12″ pillow form. It’s basically two large granny squares made with an 8mm hook that I single-crocheted together over the pillow. Simple, but effective: it’s soft and it looks nice on the quilt. Since I had enough Unique to make both sides, the pillow looks really different on each side. Here’s the other side:


Gosh I love that yarn.

I decided I needed another throw pillow, a bit larger this time, so I got a 12″x18″ form, and used a pattern on Ravelry for a rectangular granny square afghan. I simply made a smaller starting chain, and then did just enough rounds to cover one side of the pillow. And I think I switched to a 6.5mm hook.

I needed a lot of yarn! I used just over one ball to make the rectangle. Since I didn’t have more of the Moonshadows and I didn’t feel like buying any, I used Red Heart Super Saver Chunky in navy blue to make the back side, and basically used the whole skein! (It’s not a great yarn – not very soft. Would be nice for a rug, though – it’s very sturdy.) So then I had to find a ball of navy blue yarn to single crochet the two pieces together (and add a double-crochet border to the front, since it was just a bit too small). I didn’t have any bulky yarn in navy, so I used two strands of worsted weight. Holy cow, that got more complicated than I planned! But here’s how it turned out:


And here they both are, hanging out:



And finally, here’s a picture of my dog, who watched me the whole time I was taking these pictures with an expression on his face that said, “And you people think I’m crazy when I lick my own butt…”



I’m happy with how both pillows look, and they definitely make the bed more cozy. But I think I’m done making pillows for a while. It’s time to move on to Christmas gifts – yes, it’s that time of year already! I’ve already got a scarf, afghan, and set of placemats to finish by the beginning of December.

Also, I’m having my gallbladder removed next week. It’s outpatient surgery, and while I recover at home I’ll be doing a lot of crocheting while I trip on percocet.

Completed Project: Hexagon Baby Blanket

Here’s a baby blanket I just made for my hair stylist. She’s due next month, and I since I couldn’t remember if it was a girl or a boy or if she even told me or knows herself, I used a gender neutral blue/green/yellow/white color scheme:

crocheted blanket

It was a pretty easy/quick pattern, and I already had the yarn on hand. Am I yarn hoarder? Well….you tell me!

yarn stash

It is nice to have yarn laying around…especially when you decide on the spur of the moment to make someone a gift. I’ve made more than one baby blanket for an expectant mom, simply because I happened to have the yarn sitting in my stash. I usually stock up on yarns that I like when it’s on sale – it’s rare that I go out and buy specific yarn for a specific project.

I am getting better about the ongoing simultaneous project problem though. Oh you’re not familiar? That’s when you keep starting projects before you’re finished with others, until you have like half a dozen sitting around in various stages of completeness. I really hate doing that so I try to keep it to a minimum. I’d say I have two really active projects going right now, and two more sort of hibernating. That’s not bad at all – for me. I think this is something that happens to people with all kinds of hobbies, not just crochet or knitting.

In non-crafty news, I’ve got health problems that are going to sideline me for a bit. I potentially need to have some minor surgery and I’m not sure when yet. If that happens, I’ll surely be crocheting while I recover, but maybe not writing about it as regularly!

Completed Project: Couch-Surfing Afghan

My most recently-completed crochet project is an afghan that I made for me, me, ME! After making many gifts recently, I wanted to make myself a blanket for vegging on the couch when the weather gets colder (just in time, as it turns out). I had a bunch of Lion Brand Hometown USA yarn in some really nice colors that I bought on sale months ago, with the intention of making myself some kind of afghan, eventually (you may recognize the colors; the yarn is featured in the header image for my site).


I used this pattern, “5 1/2 Hour Throw,” with some modifications, using a 10mm hook. It definitely took me a bit longer than five and a half hours, but I also made the blanket significantly bigger than the pattern promised. Instead of chaining 61, I did about 91. I decided to do a four-row pattern, and just repeated it until it was as tall as me (and I’m 5’8″). Then I did the single-crochet border on the long sides, and fringe on the short sides. Fringe is very annoying, which explains why mine is kind of sloppy and I never went back to trim it evenly. Whatever! I don’t really know how long it took me, since I worked at it a few rows at a time and didn’t keep track of the time I was spending. It wasn’t overly long though – definitely not long enough for me to get bored and need a break from it!

The throw is super warm even though the pattern has a lot of openings. It weighs a ton, but it’s also nice and cushy, making it useful not only as a throw, but as a cushion, pillow, wubby, etc. I took it to the cabin with us last weekend and tried it out in most of those roles! Best of all, since the yarn is 100% acrylic, I can throw it in the washer and dryer and not worry about it.

There’s another, smaller variation of the pattern that calls for Homespun; I bought some of that on sale last week and plan to use it to make the same blanket for my sister, who is always cold now that’s she’s so damn skinny. I picked out some nice heathered/stripey blues, since blue has always been her favorite color. First up though, I’m trying to finish a shawl I’ve been fussing with off and on since last Spring; and I’m going to attempt to make a Baby Groot.