Aran Islands Project Part IX – The Garden

The Philadelphia area just got HOT for the first time this year. (Boo.) The only part of summer that I enjoy is the garden. Growing up with a huge yard and two gardening parents, I wanted to include a square in my Aran Islands project in homage to my parents’ garden. This is the last square I made for this project, in which I repeated the same Fisherman’s Knot square over and over using different colors to reflect memories or places which I’ve visited.  I’m not sure if I will create a wall hanging with the original nine, or keep adding squares to reflect new memories.  So without further ado, the garden square!

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As you can see, I messed up the corner, but I decided to just leave it as is.

These are just some of the many pictures I have from the back yard.

How about a rainbow in the hose spray?…..

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Or maybe an old photo of Dad with said hose? …….

Dad garden

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Just look at those colors!!!  Here are some orange cherry tomatoes my Mom grew, and of COURSE what would my blog be without a picture of blue roses? These really do grow in my parents’ garden!

The next two pictures are taken with Hipstamatic, so the colors are not literal, but this is what you see when you look up into the huge trees.  It’s like walking through a fairy wood!

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The featured photo at the top of this blog post was also taken in the garden.  It really is a beautiful yard.  I hope you enjoyed this garden tour!

***Update: I wrote this blog yesterday, but today I was asked to go purchase ladybugs to release into the tomato plants.  (We have little red bugs and Ray says the ladybugs will eat them.) Anyway, I didn’t even know it was possible to purchase live ladybugs.  And so, I give you: The Release of the Ladybugs!!

 

 

 

Nuts About Squares CAL

Hello, and welcome to Spring! Before you start, you should play this song while you read my blog. Let’s make this an interactive experience! 🙂

I am currently creating my first original blanket, but I also found myself starting a second project. It is a CAL (Crochet-Along.): the Nuts About Squares CAL.  This post has hyperlinks all over the place to give proper credit to the designers.

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For this CAL project, the leader, Esther, releases a new square each week, along with video tutorials and written instructions on how to put together each square. The patterns are all made by different designers, and Esther brought them all together in one blanket.  ****I received a question about the photos on this blog. To clarify, I did not design the patterns, but everything you see pictured I have crocheted myself using other designers’ patterns. **********

In this blog post, I want to show you photos of my progress, as well as some pictures of the beautiful things around here that bring me sunshine, love and joy.

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That is one happy cat!

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Osteospermum. A new flower I planted.

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No editing needed! The first osteospermum is doing so well, I planted a copper-amethyst version!  It is also called African daisy.

Next up: two tiny things I want to show you.

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The middle of a Spiro star on top of Polly Plum’s Lotus Moon blanket, my first project.

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We also planted this Lobularia. I could fit five of these tiny flowers on one fingernail!

You have already seen  some photos of my progress with the challenging and exquisite Esme’s Winter Cottage square by Dedri Uys in my Story of a Square blog post.  The second week’s square is called Spiro Star by Helen Shrimpton.

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A Spiro middle happily nestled amongst the violets.

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Spiro Star by Helen Shrimpton. I am not torturing my square. This process is called “blocking.”

The third week’s square is called Denna square, and is designed by the wonderful Polly Plum.  You have seen her work before on this page, including the Lotus Moon blanket, the Harry square, and this Blizzard Warning snowflake!

Don’t you just love the tiny cross in the middle of this square? (See top left.)

The next few pictures are for my fiancee, Ray. He does not want his picture on the internet, but he is a huge part of my life, so here are some little things for him.

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My second amigurumi. I asked Ray what he wanted me to make for him.  He said, “A sperm whale.”

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I love pickles, and Ray loves cooking. Here are some jalapenos he is pickling for us. I just asked him to make the next challenge: pickled cabbage!

Lastly, here are two more photos I made playing around with Hipstamatic.  The first one is the middle of a Spiro star hanging above a running rabbit. It is an homage to the beginning of the 1979 Watership Down film animation of the great Frith.  OriginalPhoto-513898026.687007

This second picture is a psychedelic Hipstamatic picture I took of the little things on my desk. It looks like a pretty cool world to live in! OriginalPhoto-514652617.244666 Until we meet again, I hope you have a happy, healthy day!

 

Lyndsay (Aran Islands project Part VIII)

Everybody has certain days emblazoned on their memories. That day for me, and my friend Lyndsay’s family, is May 8, 1994.  On that day, my childhood best friend was killed in a car accident.

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Lyndsay and I met in kindergarten. Her birthday was nine days later than mine. We were both unusually small for our ages, with funny high-pitched voices, and we both had frequent extreme bouts of the giggles. I remember we were separated once in kindergarten because of how much we were laughing, and when the teacher moved Lyndsay to another table, it felt like she was on another continent.  As we grew, we played with many of the same toys as other kids in my generation will remember: Popples, Garbage Pail kids cards, Quints, Polly Pockets, Rainbow Brite, Charmkins, and My Little Ponies. We were particularly obsessed with My Little Ponies. I think we each had, no joke, about 100 ponies.  We would line them up in her basement and create elaborate plots to act out and narrate with the ponies, even creating extensive family trees like little pony soap operas. This is where my crochet square comes into the picture. I made a square with the bright colors I remember from the ponies. (See photo at the top of this post.) If you want to read more about my Aran Islands project, click here.

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Lyndsay and I spent a lot of time outside: climbing trees, riding bikes, talking to imaginary characters like unicorns and fairies.  We had endless sleepovers where we would write little notes to each other on our mini Hello Kitty paper, and put the notes in tiny envelopes with tiny stickers. 71KEKXTZb2L._AC_UL320_SR268,320_

We made up pretend languages, and forgot them soon after. We watched The Little Mermaid together over, and over, and over, belting out the songs together.  We participated together with our Dads in a Father-daughter group called Indian princesses where we all created faux Native American names and did group activities. (Mine was Princess White Feather and my Dad was Soaring Eagle.) I know it sounds very politically incorrect, but it was a lot of fun. I remember having my mind blown on one camping trip where Lyndsay’s Dad, who taught physics, shown a flashlight at the sky and told us that the light would reach some of those stars long after we were gone.  Little did I know how soon that would be.

One blog post cannot summarize all that she meant to me. When Lyndsay and I found each other, it felt like I had found a sister that I wanted to be around all of the time, who believed in the same sort of fanciful whimsical ideas and stories that I did. She made my childhood perfect. When she died, we had both just turned 13. It felt like it drew a huge line in the sand for me: this is the day that childhood ends. Death came into my life and it was time to grow up instantly and enter high school. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me.

This post is not to memorialize that awful day when everything changed, but to celebrate her birthday. Today, she would have turned 36. I always thought it was extra special that she got to celebrate her birthday on Earth Day. It goes without saying that I wish she were here to celebrate it with us. I miss you Lyn, and I will always love you.

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The Story of a Square

I apologize for my absence. Work, (that pesky dayjob,) has recently dominated my life. However, I have not forgotten about my crocheting! I have been working on three projects since we last spoke.  Two of them I will describe in a later post.  Today, I want to show you the story of THE most COMPLICATED square I have made yet.  It is the Esme’s Winter Cottage Square (made by Dedri Uys at www.lookatwhatimade.net) from Week One of a “Crochet-along” that I decided to start. It is the Nuts About Squares CAL. Each week, you make three squares with a different combination of your six color selection.  I am two weeks behind, but I am hoping that the next two weeks aren’t quite so complicated.  It took me several tries, and multiple unwound rounds to complete this square.  I took pictures along the way to assist myself, but crocheters might be interested to see some of the unusual stitches in this square and the way that bizarre chaos of stitches in the beginning rounds eventually comes together into a pattern. (I listed my color scheme at the end of this blog post.)  For the pattern, please visit Dedri’s page at www.lookatwhatimade.net.

The round below calls for a fun stitch. I think I just like its name. It’s the bobble stitch.IMG_0019

In the next round, we make one of my favorite stitches, which is called the Puff Stitch.  This stitch involves yarning over and pulling through a lot of loops, creating a little puff.

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In the next few rounds, there are a few front post and back post stitches involved. These are stitches in which you insert your hook AROUND the post of the stitch, entering from the front or back, rather than inserting your hook INTO the stitch, which is a normal way to stitch your yarn through.

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So how do you make the purple square in the middle here look “raised?” When you attach the dark green yarn onto the purple square, you stitch into the “back loops only.”  By not stitching into the front loops, you are not covering up the purple yarn, (since you are essentially attaching the green yarn to the BACK ONLY of the purple square.) This gives it a raised 3D effect.

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How about some diamonds? I’ve never crocheted diamonds before!

This part was so difficult that I created a video for myself by propping my iPod on a jar of peanut butter. I decided to post it because it shows the way that I talk myself through a pattern, and the logic and order I have to make out of the counting in order to complete it accurately.  As I originally made this video for my own private use, please excuse my poor grammar. I kept saying, “There’s two stitches” instead of “There’re two stitches.”

 

Next, you finish the tops of the diamonds.

After your diamonds are completed, it is pretty much smooth sailing from there on.

One square done, two more Esme squares to go. Then I move on to Week Two, (Spiro Star squares,) and Week Three, (Denna squares, made by my crochet mentor, who inspired me to start this crochet obsession, Ms. Polly Plum.)  I hope you enjoyed this journey through a very challenging “granny square.”  This is the modern great-great grandchild of the granny square haha.

As promised, my color scheme.

1-King’s Canyon (Heartland yarn) (dark green)   2-Dusty Blue (Vanna’s Choice yarn)

3-Victorian Rose (Loops and Threads Color Wheel yarn) 4-Dusty Purple (Vanna’s Choice)

5-Woodland Heather (Vanna’s Choice)  (light green)   6-Linen (Vanna’s Choice)

Birthday present

I tried my hand at amigurumi a second time to create a Momma hedgehog and baby hedgehog for my Mom’s birthday today.  I made her hedgehogs because, in my memory, they live in Great Britain, but are not native to the U.S. My Mom is a huge anglophile, so I thought she would enjoy this animal in particular.  The baby is holding a snowflake and the Momma has little snowflakes decorating her hair.

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This pattern is from the book, “Amigurumi World: Seriously Cute Crochet” by Ana Paula Rimoli.

Aran Islands VI, VII, and other projects

Hello friends! I have been catching up on sleep and testing out new stitches and projects since I last wrote a post.  Today, I want to show you two more squares meant for the crocheted reflection of my travels, real and imagined, (also known as my Aran Islands project.)  Then, I’m just going to splash up some pictures of various crocheted things I’ve been making over the past few weeks.

Aran Islands Square VI:: The Psychedelic 60s

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This is the first square I made using the fisherman’s knot pattern. I really just wanted to combine the colors of Vanna’s Choice Electric Blue, purple and the Red Heart Supersaver variegated yarn called “Grape Fizz.”  Once I began making this a full-fledged project, I decided that this square could be my homage to the high school obsession I had with the clothes, colors and music of the 1960s.

Aran Islands Square VII:: Aurora Borealis

One of the few things I have on my “bucket list” in life is to see the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, in person.  So I made a square to represent that. The white is the snow, and the variegated yarn is meant to mimic the light show in the sky.

Now for the miscellaneous projects. Below is a collection of random squares I’ve been trying out. You can click on each individual photo to see a description for each square.

 

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Whoa knitting! How did that get in there? So, the story with this is that I found this yarn at A.C. Moore. They are discontinuing it: Stitch Studio by Nicole “By the Fire” in Sunset. The yarn is a chunky weight 5, and when I tried to crochet with it, I just found it impossible. I couldn’t see the stitches in each row.  However, for those of you who knit, you know that when you knit, the stitches are literally individual loops on the needle. So, I am doing the only thing I know how to do with knitting: knitting in a square. I am making a shawl. I don’t like knitting, but I was DESPERATE to use this captivating yarn. I have about 14 more skeins of this yarn, so if anyone has any other ideas, do let me know!

 

The color combinations above are WAY outside of my comfort zone, which is why I wanted to try them together.  I’m calling it “Psychedelic Berry Trellis.”  In the book, this square is called “Berry Farm.” It is Square #28 from “The Big Book of Granny Squares” by Tracey Lord.  It combines two stitches that I found very challenging, separated by a row of single crochet (which I did in turquoise) to join them.  The first is a series of crossed treble stitches, which you see in the “Grape Fizz” variegated yarn. The second is called a “pineapple stitch.”  If you look closely at the photo on the right, you can see four bumps that look like little pineapples.

Below are more winter squares I made for my “winter” project. I’m not sure what it will be yet. I am just having fun making the color combinations.

Last but not least, I documented the progression of another winter square I made, which I am calling my winter medallion square, because I think it looks like a huge coin on a square.  This pattern is called “Chameleon Square” which was Day 341 from yarnutopia’s 365 days of granny squares. It was designed by Button Nose Crochet.

Anyway, I’m including this in my post because the real magic of crochet is following a pattern and watching this thing almost magically create itself in your hands. It’s pretty cool. The slideshow shows you how to make a “popcorn stitch.”

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Here’s how each subsequent round looks as you continue to add onto the “popcorn” flower.  Doesn’t it look like a big coin at that one stage?

And ta-da!

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I hope you had a fantastic January and are looking forward to February! Until then, take care my friends!

Christmas presents!

I have been waiting since OCTOBER to post some of these pictures, so I am excited to reveal to you several projects I made for friends and family this Christmas.

First, my good friend Julie was admiring the fingerless gloves I made for myself. I wasn’t sure how to recreate them, since I made them up as I went along. Instead, I found a fabulous pattern called “Shells & Bobbles” made by Beatrice Ryan Designs. Shells & Bobbles fingerless gloves pattern

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I used Caron Simply Soft yarn in the color “Blackberry.” Instead of crocheting around and around my hand, this pattern goes straight across, and then you sew up the sides. The last step is to single stitch in a round in order to create the thumb, but for some reason I never took a final photo of this project.

The second Christmas present I made was a hat for my Mom.  It is a cable twist hat I found through the A.C. Moore website (or also on yarnspirations.com.) Thank God for this guy or else I never would have made it. I attempted this hat several times and needed his guidance to get me through those tough cables!

 

The third and fourth presents you may have already seen, if you follow me on instagram.

The first one is a combination of a hexagon pattern I copied from a book, (unfortunately, I don’t remember which one,) as well as a strawberry appliqué. I combined them to make a little end-table topper for a co-worker to imagine the joy of having chocolate and strawberries any time.

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The finished product

The fourth project was a fun holly triangle I found in a magazine. (It might have been Simply Crochet, but, once again, I’m not quite sure.)

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It ended up being so large that my Dad calls it his “Reindeer Crossing” sign.  I wanted to give him something to hang up at work.

Lastly, and the project I am MOST excited to reveal is my first step into the world of Amirugumi, (creating small crocheted or knitted creatures.)  I found a “Beary Cute Mountain Play Set” pattern on The Yarn & Hook blog.

Crocheting the bear was actually the hardest creation I have yet encountered.

Unlike “granny squares,” a bear has to actually look like an animal, with the nose and the ears and the legs in the right place.  I started and scrapped a few bears before ending up with this one.

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Of course, I had to take Mr. Bear out into the world to get his…., well, his bearings!

And so, through the woods we went…

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Into a clearing….

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And after a long day outside, Mr. Bear came back indoors to live inside my African Violet plant until he had a real “beary” home to live in.

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On to the next stage! The mountain!

 

img_3744In this case, you start from the top,

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img_3762Ta-da! A Beary Cute Mountain playset!

 

img_3761Goodnight!

Aran Islands Project Part IV and V – Off to Auld Reekie

**For a link to my first post explaining the “meaning” of my Aran Islands Project, please click here **

Before the days when people traveled to Scotland in hopes of meeting Jamie Fraser, (see “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon,) I spent a semester abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland during my junior year of college.

The effect that this old city had upon my tastes and interests is unsurmountable. Although I enjoyed a two week trip to London during this time, it cannot compare to walking the streets of the “Old City” where I lived in Edinburgh: The Royal Mile, the Cowgate, and all of the myriad “closes” which are not quite large enough to be streets; (closes are basically glorified alleys.) On a few foggy evenings, I found myself unsure if I was passing by real people or ghosts from some distant century.

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The Cowgate

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The photos above were all taken within a few blocks of where I lived. The Cowgate was a street I walked every day. (Fun fact: You can catch glimpses of the Cowgate in the beginning of the movie “Trainspotting.” The scenes in the beginning where Ewan Macgregor is running through the streets were filmed here.) My loft was a few steps away from the cemetery I photographed in the second picture. The last is one of the “closes” I walked down every day. In both of these pictures, you can see the immense hills of Holyrood Park looming above it all. To be able to wander up those craggy hills was like a dream.

Below on the left is a photo of some ruins that were on the hill just above my flat and the bottom right is a photo I took of the ruins of Holyrood Abbey. I was blessed to live two blocks up from Holyrood Palace, (and the abbey ruins,) which lies at the end of the Royal Mile, with Edinburgh Castle seated at the opposite end. Rumor has it that there used to be a tunnel under the Royal Mile connecting the two places in order for royals to escape should the castle be under attack.

 

So now, as I always say, on to the crochet!

 

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I chose colors to reflect my memories of Edinburgh: it’s very damp and stony. So many of the stone buildings are centuries old. The green is for the lush green landscape. You may wonder why I included this rusty orange color. This color is connected to my memory of the unique smell of Edinburgh. You can smell it as soon as you arrive within the city limits. It is this very odd yeasty, organic smell, almost like fermented old beer.  They’ve even written articles about the smell! that Edinburgh smell  Evidently, it had something to do with the distilleries. I’m not sure, but I know I will never forget that smell.  Like everything else, I got used to it after a few days, and I didn’t even notice it.

This blog post is a two-for-one deal! Although my love of all things medieval truly blossomed a few years ago, this trip to Edinburgh certainly contributed to my adoration of the past.  Hence, I created a square in tapestry colors as a nod to the medieval.  It is not a place I have physically visited, but it is a place where my imagination travels frequently.

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I hope you enjoyed this non-Christmas post on the second to last day before Christmas and Hanukkah! My Christmas wish for anyone reading this is to remember that you are blessed to be made as a person with a blend of gifts that makes you a completely unique individual in this time and place. This means that whatever you give in this life comes uniquely from your experiences and knowledge. No matter what has come before, you always have the choice to take a small step turning toward what is right and good for you and for other people. May you enjoy a holiday season that is happy and peaceful.

 

Winter colors

Winter photo above courtesy of “The Old and Whimsical World” http://www.facebook.com/TheOldandWhimsicalWorld

Hello everyone! I’ve been a bit off kilter for the past few weeks. Working retail during the holiday season will do that to you! However, my advent tree is set up and I am reading the stories and devotionals for each day, so I am feeling much more centered.  On to the crochet!

As much as I love crocheting hats and scarves and things people can wear, my real passion, and the reason I started crocheting, was to follow patterns that weave together different colors and stitches to produce interesting shapes. So…….I am back to “granny squares” for a bit.

I showed my Mom some pictures of this square, and she initially thought that they were all different squares. I realized that most people don’t get to see the magic of each unique round as the piece develops when you crochet.  Except for a few rounds that I forgot to photograph, I wanted to show you the development of this square I just crocheted. I pieced together a blend of wintry colors I was eager to use in this “Harry” square designed by Polly Plum at Everytrickonthehook.com.  **As always, if any crocheters are reading this and want to know the name of a specific yarn I used, I’ve managed to keep track of the names of most of them, so feel free to reach out to me at http://www.facebook.com/ihaveblueroses or http://www.instagram.com/ihaveblueroses or ihaveblueroses@gmail.com!**

img_0049Picking out my colors. I used a combination of Caron Simply Soft #4 yarn and Vanna’s Choice #4 yarn.

 

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Pretty purples and greys.

After making a magic circle, you add a round of white, then light purple. Using the dark purple, you create a “spike” stitch. This reaches down across the lavender round to create a dramatic look.

 

img_0051Blue “spike” stitches on top of purple spike stitches.

 

img_0052The next round adds another round of spike stitches. This instantly made me think of the “Star of Bethlehem.”

 

The colors are a bit off in the next few photos because I took them at night, (which comes so soon this time of year!)

img_0053Round 7 adds this shell stitch look. I used Vanna’s Choice “Dusty Blue.” Isn’t that a lovely name?

 

img_0057Next round, I outlined the whole thing with a very dramatic teal color. I had faith that it would not veer the color scheme off the rails. I wanted this whole piece to look icy and wintry.

 

img_0058Oops! Here is where I skipped a photo. I added a round of white, then made purple spike stitches down across the white. I see a star, melting ice around a pond, snow and icicles. What do you see?

 

img_0059One more round of blue added, and finally……the border….

 

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I haven’t blocked this yet. (That means shape it.) What do you think?

Happy winter!

Finishing the hat

 

I’m excited to show you the results of my first crocheted hat!

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So here’s the disappointment: it was supposed to be a big, bunchy slouchy hat.  On the plus side, I managed to complete the complicated stitch pattern after starting the hat 5 times, and unraveling several rounds as I progressed.

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I learned a lesson about gauge: the size of the crochet hook and my yarn will affect the final product. As I moved along, I was getting the feeling that it was too small.  So, now I have this beanie, which fits, but it’s really much tinier than I wanted it to be. The GREAT news is that my friend Candice gave me some tips on blocking this by wrapping it around a dinner plate, so maybe I can stretch it out a little bit. I’ll post the results of this endeavor in a few days!  UPDATE 11/29: I stretched the hat around a dinner plate. It’s a little better, but ultimately, I realized that the instructions said to use a size 6 hook, and not a size 5.  Oops!