Just For Fun is my way of sharing all the little things I like to do... from crafty things to thoughtful things!

Monday, January 24, 2011

"She's quite clever, you know... for a human being." - C3PO

Wow, what a busy weekend!  And by that of course I mean a weekend where there was nothing to do but watch football (first one in a long time, so actually quite welcome).  When that happens, my hands have a mind of their own, and the yarn begins to call my name.

I had a couple of nebulous ideas running around my head: Pirates, the new term at Hogwarts at Ravelry, and there IS that cute R2 hat idea I saw while surfing patterns last week.  Oh where to start?  No doubt, pirates!

You might remember I made a pirate hat for Steve, oops, I mean Captain Steve,  last Halloween.  Since I can get two hats out of one yarn purchase, I gave the other one to Captain Andy.

But... then I borrowed Steve's hat to wear to a hockey game when we had subzero temperatures, and it was so nice and warm.  I began thinking I needed one of my own.

I did, and here it is!  I used wool yarn, and felted it into fabric.  All that it needs now is a coin or two on the side.  I declared it 'wear your pirate hat to the game day' and Section 215 was full of scalawags.  Thanks to Captain Andy and Lisa for joining in!  A couple of our arena friends are now certain we are the silliest people they know.  I may have to wear it again tonight just to reinforce that!

I think my next pirate hat might be admiral style... with a feathery edge along the top.

That done, I decided to get my class materials together for Hogwarts (yes, they are all made of yarn, even the wand). 

Here I am casting shrinking charms onto my cauldron and quidditch broom in order to easily fit them into my trunk... and wouldn't you know it, my owl Minerva (named after the Roman goddess of wisdom, aaaand my favorite Professor!) flinched and dodged the charm.  It took me all afternoon to get her down from the rafters in the kitchen!

At least I can rest assured that I am ready for Hogwarts.  This term, I am taking Divination, Ancient Runes, and Muggle Studies.  Sounds right up my alley doesn't it?!  I hope I get sorted into the proper house.  While Gryffindors seem to have all the fun, I'm pretty sure I'll be a Ravenclaw with Loony Lovegood. 

Just when you're thinking "how could she possibly do any more?", I did.  I took on the Star Wars challenge and made these great droid beanies.

They are the most hysterical thing I've seen in a long time (ok, maybe just since pie-rets), and you'll see Steve and I sporting them soon.  I'll be sure to get a photo of us wearing them, because this does not do them justice.

I "forced" Steve to watch A New Hope so that I could get a fresh feel for how these characters look.  He was nice enough to pause the movie long enough for me to snap a few photos with my phone for reference.  I missed R2s lens in the back, but you won't tell anyone will you?

Hope you all enjoy your week.  Now that I am all packed, I need to run for the Hogwarts Express... classes begin today!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Blankets and Beach Totes

Don't think for a moment that just because I've been quiet that I haven't been busy!

At the end of summer, I managed to catch a great sale on cotton yarn, my personal favorite.  I found some fantastic colors and came home with a complete rainbow.

When I used the lilac cotton to make this beach tote, I had in mind the large straw tote my Mom used to carry.  You know the one I mean, wide at the top with big shoulder straps so you could carry not only your beach towels, but the zinc oxide for your nose and that new book you hope the kids will let you read.

The cotton yarn means it's machine washable and dryable so if it gets wet, no worries!  I used a shell stitch, and Disney's Little Mermaid fabric to line the inside.

The dark olive bundle is a lap blanket I made for myself.  My allergies have gotten worse lately, and my old wool blend blanket makes me itch.  Time for something in acrylic!  This blanket is 7 ft long and 4 ft wide, because I like to tuck my feet in, especially when watching scary movies.

Speaking of movies... Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I was released in November!  I made several Hogwarts house scarves for family and friends, including all four houses even though I only have Gryffindor and Slytherin pictured here.  I enjoyed wearing my scarf to the movie, and was the envy of all.

Deathly Hallows, Part II is due out in July, and I can hardly wait.

Then I discovered my scrap pile growing out of control.  I've since been working on hats, scarves, and small blankets to donate for charity.  If you crochet and have a scrap pile, please consider doing the same and donating to a local homeless shelter or the Salvation Army or check with your local yarn store. 

Here are some other ideas too!

I love crochet!

I recently had the pleasure of talking with my friend Amanda of Amanda's Patch about my love for crochet.  You might enjoy reading my responses to her thought provoking questions, and seeing some of my projects I have not posted here.  You might also enjoy seeing Amanda's projects, so be sure to check out her shop!

In particular, I had to find a way to verbalize what I like about crochet.  It sounds easy, doesn't it?  I found it a complicated question.  Crochet is in a category all by itself for me.  It's not like jewelry making, that I enjoy but comes and goes in phases.  It's not like painting, or building fairy houses, or stenciling, sewing, cross-stitching or any of the other crafty projects that catch my eye every now and then.

No, there's something special about crochet for me... so what is it?

Giving it some thought, I realized that for me crochet is more than a project.  It's more than a product I can have pride in.  It's more than a way to creatively kill time.  For me, it's a way to use up nervous energy, a way to relax my busy mind, a way to show someone I care, a way to channel my emotions.

So much wrapped up in a ball of yarn!

Thanks Amanda, for asking what you thought was a simple question and enabling me to connect with my own complicated answer.

She's baaaaack!

I love fall, I really do.  The crisp air, the leaves changing color, the anticipation of the upcoming holidays... it's all part of my favorite time of year.  For various reasons though, fall also plays an allergy trick on me that lasts all winter long.  It starts insidiously, a little extra sinus pressure, a slowly increasing wheeze, and often ends up as some sort of respiratory infection in January.

Not this year!  This year, my doc has attacked my favorite season with a change in asthma medications and in depth blood testing.  We've discovered that along with allergies I was conscious about, there were a bunch I had not made any connection with.  Most of the previously unidentified allergies are food related.

Avoiding these allergans has brought some challenges that are a constant struggle.  I found there is little readily available information about allergies, especially multiple food allergies.  The reason for this is that allergies are a truly individual thing.  Allergy test results are not an indicator of an actual reaction, i.e. a positive test does not mean you will have a noticeable reaction to that allergan.  Then there are the zillions of different ways your body can react!  Some are quite obviously identifiable like anaphylaxis, and some are not, like a sniffly nose or itchy skin.

Most importantly in regard to food, I've learned that there is a difference between an allergy (an immune system response) and an intolerance (a digestive system response).  The symptoms can sometimes be alike, but the root cause is quite different.  Over the years, I've considered myself intolerant of certain foods, like meat.  I've avoided those foods because I just don't feel good when I eat them.  Recent testing has shown that I am actually allergic to those foods (yes, you can be allergic to meat!). 

It may seem like a fine point, but for me it means that I needed to change my perspective.  Eating a food I usually avoid does not just mean an upset stomach for a few hours (intolerance).  It means my immune system gets charged up and creates general inflammation over my entire body (allergy).  All those little things add up to mean one big constant and chronic, decades old allergic response which is the source of my asthma... and why the asthma continues to worsen as I get older, as the general level of overall inflammation constantly increases.

Test results I received right before Christmas suggested I should avoid wheat, milk, eggs, soy, nuts, and to a lesser degree corn and meat.  ALL of the 'big eight' that account for 90% of all allergic reactions to food!  Added to my previously known allergies to various grains, fruits and vegetables, it made the list of what I could eat rather short.  It also made the usual Christmas feasts difficult to enjoy.  That said, after a few weeks of carefully watching every food, I can honestly say that I feel like a completely different person.  There is something to this food allergy thing!

On the odd chance that you or someone you know also suffers from food allergies, here are some helpful links:
Food Allergy Survival Guide - the BEST book I've found
great list of links!
Allergy Grocer - you can sort by allergan!