Tag Archive | blue

Boy sweater

That’s a boring title, isn’t it? But there won’t be any confusion as to what I’m writing about today. Boy sweater. A sweater for the boy. A yarny garment for a male child.

If you sew/crochet/knit, you probably already know that there are a dearth of patterns out there for the little boys in the world. And, considering that around 51% of the world’s population is male, you’d think there’d be more of a demand for this type of thing. Well, I should rephrase — there is demand, but the supply is seriously lacking. So, when I saw that there were THREE boy sweater patterns in the Winter 2014 (that would be this past January) issue of Interweave Crochet, I jumped all over that. And these weren’t embarrassing granny square 70s throwback sweaters; these looked like sweaters that boys of today would actually wear and {gasp} enjoy wearing.

I chose the “Jonas” sweater and Konik and I took a trip to the yarn store. Not a craft store — an honest-to-goodness yarn store. I often can’t afford all the fancy yarns, but I wanted this to be a nice, durable sweater for my boy. The original pattern was worked with Brown Sheep Company Cotton Fleece, which the yarn store carried, but I didn’t like any of the colors. Instead, we went with Cascade Yarns Cascade 220 Heathers; it’s a 100% Peruvian Wool. That should keep him warm! I let Konik choose the colors and he ended up choosing two that were quite similar to the picture in the magazine — a rusty brown and gray-blue.

This pattern was worked in Tunisian crochet. The last time I tried to make a garment for one of my children in Tunisian, I was a novice at it and very            very            slow. Working the Axl afghan changed all that and now I can go almost as fast as I can in regular crochet. I started right away and whipped out the front and back of the sweater in a week or so. And then I made the fatal mistake: I put it away. I can’t remember why now. But I did. And the little sweater languished in my yarn drum for months and months until I finally picked it up again earlier this month to do the sleeves. Aside from a little counting issue I had, the sleeves worked up just as quickly as the body of the sweater and sewing it together was no sweat (see what I did there?). Hurray! The boy sweater was finished! Well, apart from inserting the zipper in the collar, but I didn’t want to wait on that to try it on Konik.

IMG_5944 - Copy

Still awaiting the zipper.

Still awaiting the zipper.

Close-up of the stitches. Ribbing along the bottom edge, cuffs, and collar of the sweater.

Close-up of the stitches. Ribbing along the bottom edge, cuffs, and collar of the sweater.

Konik was just as excited; he had been looking forward to this sweater for a long time. I helped him put it on and… he looked like a little wool-encased sausage. And the sleeves were at that awkward length in between “long” and “3/4.” Yeah, I should have expected it: in ten months, my son grew. It made me claustrophobic just looking at him and the poor kid couldn’t even get out of it by himself. We extracted him from the sweater and sadly admitted that it was going to have to be put away for a couple years until Sprinkaan grows into it. Hopefully I won’t miss that window! It looks like Konik and I are going to have to make another trip to the yarn store and this time, I’ll make it a size bigger. Maybe two.


Monday’s post was long, wasn’t it? Whew. I think all of us need a little breather after that behemoth. So look here: I sewed a tablecloth!


It barely counts as sewing. This length of fabric (a generous gift from a friend in France) — genuine Provençal, I might add — was perfect in width for our table and nearly so in length (that is, sans leaves). I let the selvedges be the long edge and then trimmed and hemmed the shorter ends. Ta dah! I know, I know, I have such a pretty table now. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to change things up! The bright blue and yellow and the smattering of sunflowers make me happy.

I heart craigslist, part 1

How do I love thee, craigslist? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when I find a deal that’s just right

For the woeful grammar and hilarious typos.

(With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.)

When my family moved into the log cabin in the Fall of 2011, there was already a table in it, so we put our little kitchen table into storage, along with 75% of our stuff.

When we moved into the cabin in the Fall of 2011, Konik was not quite yet 2 years old and was still in a high chair.

When we were preparing to leave the cabin last fall, we realized that our seats-4 table was going to have to accommodate 5 and, soon enough, a 6th person. No way, no how. Craigslist to the rescue!

Mr. Gren found a solid wood table with double turned legs and three leaves for $30. Caveat: it was in rough shape and desperately needed refinishing. But not enough to scare us off! When we moved into the house, Mr. Gren put the table back together and we ate at it for months, albeit with a tablecloth to hide the ugliness and protect little arms from rough spots. Finally, in May, I was feeling well enough and the weather was dry enough that we felt like we could tackle this project.





As you can see, the finish was gone, the veneer on the side was chipped up beyond repair, and some of the “medallions” on the legs had fallen off (although the woman who sold us the table did have a few in a baggy that she gave us). First things first: removing the remaining veneer with a putty knife and a chisel file. Correct tools for the job? Not really. Eventually, we did get every last scrap of veneer scraped off, but not without a few banged-up knuckles.

Little helper

Little helper

Once that was done, we had to sand any remaining varnish off before painting time. Then, Mr. Gren had to reattach the middle pair of legs. Even though they were original to the table, they were too tall and made a hump in the middle of the table. He sawed off and sanded the feet until they were the right height. We also had to match up and glue on the missing leg medallions. So hard to wait through all that when I just wanted to paint! All necessary evils to get to the good stuff. The dry, dark wood took three coats of white paint for a good, bright finish.

The sun was going down, but you get the idea.

The sun was going down, but you get the idea.

All three leaves in

All three leaves in

Do you see that thing? I didn’t measure it exactly, but the table stretches to about 8 feet. Banquet at my house!

After the white paint, things got fiddly again as Mr. Gren meticulously measured and taped out 12″ diamonds from one end of the table to the other which we would paint in a pale blue. In order to keep the measurements correct when we painted, he could only tape out the two outside rows at first, leaving the center blank. Once the paint dried inside those diamonds, he could finish taping out the diamonds down the center. It was tedious work and I love him for it. I love him for other things, too, like washing the dishes, changing light bulbs and killing spiders.


You may be able to tell that the skirt of the table is also the same pale blue as the diamonds. We wanted it to be a very subtle shade — enough to give the table visual interest, but not a bold slap in the face. When all the blue was dry, I gave it three coats of clear polyurethane for protection and to make clean-up easy. I have four kids; I know it’s not going to look pristine forever, but I can at least give it a head start.


The back diamonds look discolored, but that was just the light in the dining room. It was really hard to get a picture where the blue showed up!


As long as my children stop using those horizontal pieces as footrests, we’ll be alright.


I kinda like blue in the dining room.

I am in love with this table now. Forget odes to craigslist; I need to write an ode to my beautiful table! Every meal feels classier now. Except… notice the mishmash of ugly chairs? Stay tuned for part 2…


** Seriously, still not a food blog. But occasionally I impress myself with such aesthetically-pleasing culinary creations that I have to share. **

For the non-Americans out there, yesterday was the Super Bowl — the American football championship game. It’s an unofficial national holiday, and if you grew up in a football-loving family like I did, it’s a big deal. If your team is in it, it’s a really big deal. If TWO of your teams are in it, well, then that’s awesome and you can’t lose. Yesterday’s game was between the Denver Broncos (representing my childhood and family) and the Seattle Seahawks (representing my current life, married to a lifelong die-hard Seahawks fan). My dad and brothers have done their part to encourage my children to bleed orange by supplying them with Broncos gear throughout their short little lives; meanwhile, Mr. Gren extols the virtues of the blue and green. Basically, this means my children have dual loyalties — it’s kind of like dual citizenship, which isn’t really a problem until your two countries go to war. I couldn’t make them choose sides, so we celebrated both teams.

I grew up in Colorado during the Elway Era. John Elway led the Denver Broncos to three Super Bowls, only to lose in spectacularly heartbreaking fashion each time; they later went on to two more Superbowls and won, but my family had moved by that point and we didn’t get to celebrate the victories on “home turf” (hang with me, non-football fans; I’m getting to the relevant stuff). I can’t speak for their last three Super Bowl appearances, but for the three that I experienced in Colorado, a culinary phenomenon occurred: orange and blue Hostess Sno-balls sprung up in grocery stores and 7-11s all over the state. My siblings and I lived for these. Nothing said “Super Bowl Season in Denver” like artificially-dyed coconut-covered cream-filled chocolate cupcakes. Makes you want to run right out and find some, doesn’t it? For me, personally, I just couldn’t watch a Broncos Super Bowl without an orange Sno-ball. That’s like Thanksgiving without the turkey. I’m all about tradition and I wanted my kids to experience the same excitement as I did when I was little. Knowing that I wouldn’t find any orange and blue up here in Seahawks Land, I was going to have to make these treats myself. Luckily for me, other people have already done the legwork and figured out how to duplicate the recipe. Here are some thoughts on the process:

  • Making cupcakes: fairly straightforward. Mine, however, did not produce the nice fluffy cap on top, but instead spread out all over the top of the muffin pan. I don’t know why. It didn’t matter, as I just turned them upside down and then they were approximately the right shape.
  • Marshmallow making: Time intensive. I stood holding the mixer with one hand and eating my lunch with the other. Also, this may have been the swansong for my poor little mixer — it was overheating by the end of this process. Still, it’s pretty cool watching the transformation from a brown syrup into voluminous white fluff. But the sheer amount this recipe produces! I have so much left. It seems a shame to throw it out, but I don’t know what I’m going to do with it all. I could probably save it for when the bathtub needs caulking.
  • Cream filling: it’s taking all my willpower not to get out the piping bag that’s in the fridge and empty it directly into my mouth. Willpower may expire once the kids are in bed.
  • Coating process: wow, what a mess! My hands were glued to the piping bag by marshmallow fluff that had escaped. I was dubious that the stuff would set up enough for us to even be able to pick up our sno-balls, but time and the coconut both remedied that dilemma.
  • Coconut-tinting: fun! I never use artificial food coloring, but there was no way around it with this project. Besides, “health” had pretty much been thrown out the window by this time.
  • Coconut-sprinkling: more fun!

The verdict?

Tastes like childhood.

Tastes like childhood.

With the Broncos duly represented, I needed some kind of Seahawks snack counterpart, but the Hawks, being more or less Super Bowl novices with just one prior appearance (a loss), don’t have any kind of team snack tradition. I had to make a grocery run on Saturday and, whilst there, spotted a display of blue and green Jello. Ding ding ding! I think most people consume Jello in the form of vodka shots nowadays, but I was going to go old school with a layered salad (Jello plays pretty fast and loose with the definition of “salad”). I needed a little guidance, so I found a Jello-layering tutorial and set to work. Did I  mention that I was making this at the same time as the above sno-balls and another treat (which I’ll show in a bit), in addition to frequent interruptions by all children and periodically having to stop to feed the baby? I commented to Mr. Gren that I am overly ambitious. He laughed. Also, time management is not my forte. Additional thoughts:

  • The first layer took longer to cool and set than subsequent layers.
  • The white layers will taste like nothingness unless you add a little sugar.
  • Once again, more artificial coloring than I’ve eaten in years, but it’s a monumental occasion, so, eh.
  • Don’t do this while you’re working on two other multi-step recipes or else a 2 hour process will stretch into 6.
Now that just looks cool.

Now that just looks cool.

Last but not least were what my family dubbed “Super Bowl Brownies” because that was about the only time my mom made them for us. In actuality, they are called “butter fudge fingers” and I have no explanation for that, other than they use a lot of butter. But they are not fudge and do not resemble fingers of either the anatomical nor cookie variety. {shrug} As with the previous two recipes, this was the first time I had ever made them. I screwed up the chocolate glaze that goes on top and had to seek some Super Bowl Day help from my mom via my dad (where were you, Mom?) to find out where it went wrong. Because of the mess-up on Saturday and having to wait until the next day to correct it, the brownies got a bit hard and didn’t turn out as pretty as they should have. But they tasted just like I remembered. (Here is an online recipe that is pretty similar to my mom’s).

Even sloppy chocolate tastes good.

Even sloppy chocolate tastes good.

Headlines are calling the game “disappointing.” For Broncos fans, yes. For casual football fans who wanted to see more of a duel, yes. But for Seahawks fans and our little family? It was a great party.






Haiku progress report

Sorry, peeps, I don’t have much time to stick around and regale you with stories about sewing and yarn and new craft books and whatnot. Mr. Gren is off work today and has promised to run interference with Granota and Konik while I crank out Easter dresses! My sewing machine is ensconced in an impenetrable fortress of large plastic bins to keep out said kidlets. I’ll tell you more about the construction process of these dresses in another post, but I won’t leave you with nothin’ today. Here are a few haiku poems I composed this morning while finishing up Granota’s dress.

I made a blue dress
The pink one is coming
Little girls will smile

Brocade is quite slick
Edges fray like Shredded Wheat
Strings all over me

The iron is hot
You’d think I’d know that by now
Hand moved too slowly

Slippery fabric
The pins don’t stay where they should
That isn’t helpful

Husband took the kids
Oldest daughter is at school
Peace and quiet reign

That seam was too thick
Straight pins are no longer straight
Good thing they are cheap

Mystery gift #2 unveiled!

Merry Christmas to my mom!

This became this…

Mom's afghan

I had a bunch of yarn left from other projects that was taking up space and I didn’t seem to have a real use for it in individual projects. Then I started looking at it together and realized that the colors seem to suit my mom’s Southwestern decor.

I took a basic ripple pattern and then drew up a little schematic with how many rows of each color I wanted to do. I started working on it back in the summer; it was a great project to do while watching TV in the evenings. Once I got the afghan itself done, I was left with approximately 720 ends to weave in. That’s just an estimate.

In sewing, my least favorite task is turning tubes. In crochet, it’s weaving in ends. So I put it off until the middle of this month. ‘Cause I work best under pressure. The stripes are cool and all, but what was I thinking with all those color changes? I considered leaving the ends as an organic sort of fringe along the sides, but something told me that wasn’t going to fly. So Mom, the afghan was crocheted with love, but I’m sorry to say that the ends were woven with grumbling.