We've had one heck of a day here weather-wise--torrential rain, a possible tornado, and widespread flooding.  Thunderstorms have been churning around and around all day long, and it was the perfect weather for a bit of crocheting. 

I don't know why I always associate rainy, inclement weather with handwork, but I think it goes back to my days in theatre.  On rainy, horrible summer days in the wardrobe workshop we would put on old jazz cds to drown out the driving beat of rain on the corrugated tin roof above our heads.  We listened to everything from Cole Porter to John Coltraine while we stitched away, and to this day I think of a rainy day as an 'old jazz day'.
Today I took up my crochet hook and some pretty yarn left over from my Happy Flowered Garland project and set out to make a cat toy mouse.  I looked online for a bit of inspiration, but in the end I just made it up out of my head.  There's my continuity issue popping up again.  Oh well... 
Pussito is inside due to inhospitable weather conditions so I decided to treat him with the catnip-laced toy.  He was so sleepy that he bit and kicked it for about a minute and fell back asleep with his paws resting against it.  I guess that's his half-hearted seal of approval.

I think he's annoyed with me that he is wearing a girly pink and brown collar (I used one that I already had on hand until I can go pick up a suitably manly replacement for the one he lost earlier this week), but with Oliver, who can ever tell?  At least he got the blue catnip mouse... I'm going to make a pink one now for Sophie Puss.

If anyone is interested in crocheting a cute mousie toy for their feline companion, here is a whole page of links to free patterns. 

Happy Crafting!
I've been prettying up my new workroom with little pops of handmade color since I painted the walls a simple white and moved everything into it several weeks ago.  Despite my usual love of bold, vibrant color I decided to leave the room itself white because there is always such glorious sunshine flooding through the window and balcony door to transform the walls to a lovely warm yellow.  It lessens the need for so much extra artificial lighting and makes sewing and close-work a pleasure.

For ages now I've been eyeing the flower garland creations made by Claudia from Mockingbird Hill Cottage.  She has a variety of different colored garlands available for purchase in her Etsy shop, so head on over and take a look if you're interested in having one of these beautiful garlands of your very own--she will even use specific color combinations upon request.
I've actually been working on this garland for a while, not due to any great degree of difficulty but because I only work on it when I sit down for a few minutes in front of the TV.... and that hasn't been very often lately!  I have finally managed to amass nine of these little beauties, and they've found a place to call home on one of my pristine walls.  Aren't they happy little things?!  I really love the combination of rosewood and light turquoise, and I even ran across a fat quarter with a floral pattern in similar tones--which I plan to somehow integrate into the garland at some point soon!
Now on to the next project...  photos to follow!

Happy (almost) weekend, everyone!
I've been meaning to make this tote for ages now, and last week I finally dove into my fabric stash and came up with enough odds and ends to make it!  There is such a great sense of accomplishment when you finally finish a project that you've been procrastinating over for a long time, isn't there? 

This little beauty is actually a mail bag--I swear, we receive more mail than anyone in the country, and I always go to collect it when I go for a stroll around the neighborhood with my Charlie Dog.  I'm all about multi-tasking, but we run into problems when I have Charlie's leash in one hand and my phone, mail bag, and keys in the other one.  If it is really hot and I'm wearing a skirt or shorts, I usually don't have a pocket to use, so I was in dire need of a multi-functional tote where I could stash my phone and keys as well as the mail.  And here it is!
I used a natural heavy cotton twill for the body of the bag and lined it with a pretty summery blue paisley, then added a contrasting stripe of the lining fabric around the outside.  I liked the blue paisley so much that I ended up using it as contrast for the handles as well, and placed them so they would be visible on the right side of the tote.
Inside I used a repurposed blue shirt pocket (my husband's old shirt has been reincarnated in countless projects now!) and also attached a long grosgrain ribbon with a key fob to attach my keys.
I had originally planned on using pink floral scrap fabric from Sophie Kitty's little tent, but when I went to cut out the lining, I realized that I didn't have enough of it for this project... so I had to set aside my crochet cutie flowers in shades of pink and purple and whipped up a few new ones in blues and peach with some embroidery floss I had hidden away.  My sewing and crafting stash never ceases to amaze me--I swear, I have things in it that I'm sure I have long forgotten!
I'm so pleased with this tote--I debuted it last week, and it makes my life so much easier when it comes to mail time!  I love the fact that it's kind of pretty and girly without being too 'every little girl is a princess'-esque.  I confess I have issues with that.
I have to admit that I've had a terrible time trying to photograph it...  the colors just aren't coming out true to shade, and every shot seems to look dull and lifeless.  Apologies for that.
As Charlie is my constant mail-collecting companion, when he decided to photo bomb my little snapshot session, I decided to include him--he gives this project his seal of approval!
Here we are in another week again...  what are you working on this week?!

Happy Crafting!
I've been seeing everyone's beautiful crocheted creations lately and it has inspired me to take ten minutes out of my day and whip up a cute little ornament of my very own.  I found this particular double flower pattern online and followed instructions that were more complicated than they needed to be, so I'm not going to bother sharing it with you, because seriously, I found it really confusing.  Suffice it to say that it involved making the smaller flower and flipping it over to create the larger flower on the back side...  It was not really to my liking, so I think for my future endeavors I'm going to wing it and come up with my own design.
I will however say that if you have a favorite crocheted flower pattern, this is so cute and easy!  I used MADEIRA silk embroidery floss mainly because I have a bunch of it in my stash, and it is the loveliest shade of dusty rose... plus the silky sheen is a nice addition.  You could use literally anything that takes your fancy--it's your party!  The center is a shell button and the leaves are from my fabric scraps.  Oh, how I love my collection of fabric scraps!  I whipped it together quickly and have a little round of brown felt attached to the back with a bit of hot glue.
I definitely plan to make a few more of these to use as brooches--very simple with the addition of a little brooch clasp sewn onto the felt backing.  This little cutie is going to grace my next project--coming soon! 

Happy weekend, everyone!
Are ye the ghosts of fallen leaves, O flakes of snow,
For which, through naked  trees, the winds A-mourning go?
~John Banister Tabb~
My Eternal Snowflake
It's a funny thing, winter.  I grew up in eastern Canada, where the winters were long and blisteringly cold.  The month of January seemed to linger on forever, a frigid expanse of snowy white hills rolling toward the horizon in all directions.  With the flurry of the Christmas holidays behind us, spring was the next thing to look forward to, and those months in between stretched endlessly in a sea of snowstorms, toboggans, hot chocolate, and wooly socks. 
Print from Katherine Ivey on Etsy
LL Bean--identical to my childhood sled!
The hot chocolate in my house was always made from a packet with hot water and a splash of milk... and a few mini marshmallows thrown in for good measure!
Dream wooly socks from Grieta at Etsy!
As an adult, obviously my perspective has changed on winter.  Playing outside in the warm air is not high on my list of priorities (although maybe it should be...), so January's childhood connotations are no longer relevant.  

Now I find myself in a place where snow is non-existent.  Southern Florida isn't exactly prone to snowstorms, ergo toboggans and wooly socks are of little use here.  The hot chocolate isn't really de rigeur either, except on the odd visit to Godiva when I feel the need for a bit of decadent indulgence.  (Is anyone else in love with their dark chocolate drink?  Wow.)

The strange thing?  I miss winter.  It is so easy to look back through memory and fantasize about cold winter mornings waking up to a foot of snow blanketing the landscape in a sparkling, tinkling calm.  Days when huge fluffy flakes would fall gently past the big window in the living room of my old house and my kitties would sit in the window for hours, fascinated by the moving white landscape. 

Of course, in all of these amplified memories I omit the fact that in order to be able to leave the house I had to put on three layers of clothing, a huge down-filled coat, double-knitted mittens, a wool hat, heavy boots, wool socks (over my other socks) and a scarf wrapped around my neck enough times to break the cutting wind.  The walkway had to be shovelled in order to get to the garage (luckily my 'winter guy' would have already gotten up at 4am to plough out the main driveway), and then there was the difficult manoeuvering out of the end of the driveway over the mess that the plough had made when it went by and cleared the road in front of the house.  The car had to be started and allowed to run for 15 minutes to warm up the engine because running it cold would destroy it.  At least half an hour extra (sometimes more) had to be allowed in the morning to be able to get to work on time, over roads that were slick with black ice and snow.  The power bills in the winter would be at least $300 more than they were during the other months, and I had to invest in a heated mattress pad and turn it on to maximum power every night before going to bed--old houses are beautiful but not particularly energy-efficient.

But, having said all that, I still miss winter.  All the negative things recede to the back of my memory and I find myself longing for a few days of glorious winter.  And that being the case, I find myself fixating on snowflakes and incorporating them into a variety of projects.
My Christmas cards this year
I learned a beading technique many years ago to make an adorable little snowflake--and I find myself returning to it again and again.  It can be made into such a variety of items that are both beautiful and useful.  I used to sell them as keychains, necklaces, and bracelets both on my Etsy shop and at local craft markets.  They were a huge hit, and I really enjoyed making them. 

They can be done with any color combination, and are very beautiful when there is a color variation to create a unique design within the snowflake.  In the past I have done a few with hearts worked into the center, and I think I may try to do a few again this year with Valentine's Day coming right up!

If anyone is interested in trying the beading pattern, this one is somewhat similar to mine, and there are great step-by-step instructions with diagrams to help you figure out the technique and bead placement.  It may take a few attempts to become familiar with the technique, but once you get the tension right, you will get the hang of it pretty quickly!

My Eternal Snowflake keychain
A midnight web version of the pattern.
I have also crocheted so many snowflakes in my lifetime--they are a great project and also make quick, lovely gifts!
Crocheted snowflake framed--now I can have my winter in Florida!
These hooked snowflakes are so easy to make!
I made a series of three of the above framed snowflakes and they were wonderful Christmas decor.  I used this pattern from Red Heart Yarn and substituted crochet cotton for the thicker yarn. 
A set of these little guys has graced my tree for the past 18 years! They went through the flood, but I salvaged them--I couldn't lose them, we had been through too many Christmases together!
Here we are--ten days into January. 

In Canada my family has experienced two snowstorms in the last ten days.  My Dad was out snowblowing the driveway this morning and Mum was telling me how cold it's been for the past several weeks as she has been trying to recuperate from a persistent winter virus.
Guess what I did this morning?  I put on jeans and a camisole, slid my feet into  sandals, donned a pair of sunglasses, and went on a neighborhood stroll with myfaithful companion  Charlie Rose.  The birds were singing, the sun was hot on my shoulders, and the  wind was flowing around us, rustling the heady fuschia blooms of the  bougainvillea that grows in profusion everywhere in our neighborhood.

The lesson?  Be thankful for the memories of winters past... and enjoy my  current lush, green, vibrant January. 

And keep making those snowflakes :-)

What's your current theme?  Please share it, I love inspiration!