Bird Toys

There’s this toy that Kiwi really likes.

Mostly cardboard with some wood pieces, held together by a soft cotton rope.  Retails for $25.  For as long as it lasts her, that isn’t too bad.  However, you will notice that she is really only interested in the cardboard.  So the last time I ordered bird stuff from I found the replacement pieces and they were pretty cheap for bird toys so I bought them and restrung the rope:

Bird Toy1

Great.  She will be very happy.   I removed the wooden pieces and will take them to the Refuge for to make toys for the birds that need wood to shred.

Then I thought about the cardboard replacement pieces.  And how many, many empty boxes we have lying around.  How I could cut them up and punch some holes and make the things for free.

And it just seemed like too much work.

So for anyone in my family (read as:  my brother, Scott) who complains that I am an impossible person to gift, there it is.  Make me these. (Sunglasses pictured for perspective.)

Bird Toy2

Obviously, the corners don’t have to be rounded but the hole should be big enough to string them on something rope-like.  And the box should be plain brown with no chemicals or adhesives.

I Totally Made This.

I have mentioned that my mother and I have been gifting my grandfather with scarves and hats and mittens to donate to his church for Christmas.  I may have mentioned that the scarves are generally crocheted The mittens are not.  And occasionally my mother will try to knit a hat.

I have more than enough scarves for this year and it is only September.  So I bought one of those cheap round looms at Michael’s and gave it a try.

And you guys.

I made a hat!

Prepping Fleece

Annette from Catnip and Coffee asked how we prep the fleece for the crochet-edged blankets.  Karen and Penny, from my chapter of Project Linus, created a video demonstration:

The first half shows how to prepare it and the second half shows how to go about crocheting.  I bought my skip-stitch rotary blade at a chapter meeting, but our website says they can be ordered from: 

Also, I seem to recall that Project Linus actually made some money off of the clicks on this, so have at it.

Too Much Yarn

The Project Linus people, and my own mother, will tell you that there is no such thing as too much yarn. ‘Cause we’re going to use it all, right?

Just like I am going to read all of these books “sometime”.

Yarn is overflowing from its designated storage area in my house.  I have officially implemented a double-discount purchasing rule – I will only buy yarn when it is on sale and I have some other discount on top of that.  My first “scrap yarn” blanket has become a “scrap and clearance yarn” blanket.  It is going to be much prettier, anyway.

However, since I’ve been buying all of this yarn I have spent rather less money in other places.  Such as:

  1. I have not purchased a single handbag in all of 2011.
  2. I quit buying DVDs (although I really want to pick up True Blood Season 3 right now).
  3. I haven’t been in a bookstore in over three weeks.
  4. I even blew off the last book sale at the Arlington Heights Library (although I did go to the Borders clearances a non-zero number of times, so this one probably doesn’t count).
  5. I’ve stopped the random toy shopping for the nieces and nephew.  They have enough stuff.
Thank you for indulging my self-rationalization.  Perhaps I can return to the daily puppycast tomorrow.

Blanket Two

I just finished the second blanket for Project Linus.  For my “records”:

Caron Soft Yarn – Lt. Country Blue, Country Blue, Dk Country Blue

(My mother says it reminded her of the Dallas Cowboys.)  Project Linus makes a point that they always need blankets for older kids, so this was pretty large.  They also ask for neutral colors, which I decided just means No Pink.  Oh, darn.

I decided to work in strips, so that each piece would be portable until I put it together at the end.  I used a much smaller hook than I normally do, and while it worked fine for the yarn, it took forever and snagged more often than made me happy.  I don’t think I will do that again.

Twelve strips crocheted together, and then I did two finishing rows around each end.  Being all careful not to make rounded corners, because my mother doesn’t like that (rolls eyes).

This took me from just before Christmas until right now.  That’s too long, I think.

The big, painful thing that I learned is that it doesn’t matter what the label says, the skeins are not the same.  I ended up having to add rows to each piece (meaning all but one) at the end to make them come out even.

However, I also learned that I can make stuff up and it turns out ok.  Even when I only know how to do one stitch.  And I am nearly through my second audio book, too.

Putt’s Pet Portraits

My mom’s friend Miss Gayle is a semi-professional artist specializing in pets.  She just launched a website

so I thought I would give her a Shout Out.  This is the piece she did several years ago of my Late Great Dog Dallas:

It is particularly precious to me because Dallas died far too young and I don’t have many pictures of her at all.  It is painted on a wooden plaque from a digital picture that my mother, Kay, took and e-mailed to her.

Side Note:  Kay wants you to know that you will not find this work featured on the web site because it was Miss Gayle’s First Commissioned Portrait.  Christmas of 2004, I believe it was.  As though I should put it in a vault to sell when she hits the Big Time.

As if I would ever sell a portrait of my dog!

I think the better point there is that if you think this is good, you know that six years later her work is even better.  Now if only Kiwi the Grey would sit still for five seconds…

The First Blanket

I finished my first blanket for Project Linus.  No – I am not a crocheting prodigy.  I have had the thing mostly done in a cubby since before Ainslie was born.  I had only three skeins of yarn to go.

I only do one stitch and I only used one color of yarn, so it was ridiculously simple.  But it was large enough and the color was such that it will be good for an older kid, which seems to be what they need.  (Note:  Toys for Tots has the same problem.  They receive way more donations for toddlers than they do for the older kids.)  So I am making the older kids my mission.  Anyway here it is:

For my own notes – the color was Garnet and the yarn was TLC Amore, which I can’t seem to find at Michael’s or Joann anymore.  Too bad, because it was soft, had an interesting texture, wasn’t too stringy, but just enough to hide my newbie mistakes.
I left it at a local drop off point this morning, which was a big mistake because I figured that as long as I was out, I might as well hit the sales.
Bad idea.
Anyway, for the next project, I am refusing to learn a new stitch.  However, when I was a kid, my mother made a blanket by crocheting long strips of different colors and then stitching them together.  I always liked that and I think I can pull it off.  It is also convenient because I can have more than one going at the same time, so I don’t have to run it up and down the stairs.
I started watching a new course on Academic Earth, so that I am not tuning in to garbage on TV while working on this stuff.  And of course, there is always some sporting event to watch.  This might get me through the winter.