Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tips and Tricks for making a crocheted afghan

I've been asked several questions about making my afghans, so to make things easy I thought I'd just do a post about it for you all! :) I've got a few tips and tricks and thoughts to share on creating a handmade afghan.

Firstly, I get all my crochet block patterns from this wonderful book, 200 crochet blocks for blankets, throws, and afghans by Jan Eaton.

This book has taught me so much about crochet and the patterns are all so clearly written and easy-to-read! There are illustrations in the back that show how to make each crochet stitch mentioned in the block patterns. From this I learned how to make Popcorns, Bobbles, Puff stitches, and Triple and Half-double crochet stitches. (SO much fun!) 
These are some of the patterns in this book.

Ok. First thing I do when starting an afghan is to make a plan. I choose what size I want my finished afghan, and what crochet blocks I want to use in the afghan. I draw up a diagram like so... (Sometimes I take the time to use a ruler and make much straighter lines) This diagram below was hastily drawn in a moment of frenzied creativity... :D

And here we have one of my typical crochet blocks. I use an H/8 size hook, and regular worsted weight (4-ply) yarn... sometimes mixing in some baby yarn here and there... and since I've discovered I crochet with such a large (rather loose) tension my crochet blocks all come out about 8 1/2 to 9 inches.

When creating your afghan, make up a 'test block' and then multiply the dimensions to whatever size you want the finished creation to be and calculate how many blocks you'll need.
To piece the blocks together, I lay them out in the order I want on top of a solid-colored surface (i.e., a white sheet on top of my bed) and pin them in place, for a large afghan. I sew the blocks together, row-by-row, with coordinating yarn and a large plastic needle. I use a whip-stitch sort of technique... ah, might have to post pictures of that later so you know what I mean.
Colors are very important for me when making an afghan. What 'feel' do I want the completed piece to portray? The muted berry colors and purples I'm using in my current afghan create a feeling of understated elegance and sophistication, and the touches of pink and lavender add a hint of sweetness.

Feel free to ask me any other questions you have that I didn't answer in my post! :) I'll be happy to help.

Rachel asked me ... Q: Where do you get your yarns?
My answer ... A: I wait for super-duper sales, like you, Rachel, and I also adore this beautifully soft and inexpensive yarn that you can get at Hobby Lobby called "I Love This Yarn" - how appropriately named - It's usually $2.39 for a 7-ounce skein, which is a great deal when you consider that the Vanna's Choice yarn (which I love as well) is usually around the same price for only 3 ounces of yarn. So check out the Hobby Lobbys in your area! :D 

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Funny Bunny Caption Contest!

I just realized the other day that I've never had a caption contest!

So here's one for you!

Rules for entering:
  • Leave a comment on this post and tell me what you think these bunnies are thinking (or saying to each other).
  • The caption that I think is the funniest will be chosen as the winner. If I get two that make me roll on the floor with laughter, both entries will win. :D
  • Contest ends Monday, January 4th, 2010.
Aren't they cute?

The winner (or winners) will recieve a custom-designed blog header made by me! If you want it, that is. Feel free to enter even if you don't want a new blog header! :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Purple Berries" afghan in the works...

So... there is a very quick preview of some of the squares for my new afghan! :) I've been crocheting them for a little while now and I keep falling in love with each one I make. :)

My color scheme this time is composed of dreamy, muted shades of purple and warm berry colors, iced with a sparkling white and lightened here and there with delicate lavender and pink. Ahhhhh. :) Doesn't that sound nice?

This afghan also features some of my finest crochet work, with tons of actual, 3-D, stand-up flowers in many of the crochet blocks. I LOVE making those! :)

I know what you're thinking... "But Julia, didn't you just make a huge afgan?"
Yes, I did... It's on my bed right now, and there it will stay. This one will hopefully be a Twin/Large throw size and will go in my hope chest when I can bear to put it away.  :D No, I'm not tired of crocheting... in fact, as soon as I finished my other afghan, I was itching to start another one! :) It didn't happen for a while, because mama insisted that I take a break from crocheting and focus on other homemaking skills. But now I'm back at it, picking up my crochet in the evenings to work away. :) 

I was actually going to make an afghan in greens and blues, but the inspiration just wasn't flowing there for some reason. I love the colors I'm working with now, though!!

How about you? Are you creating anything right now? I'd love to hear about it. :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

A not very short little ramble

So... this is a little post about nothing, because I don't have a lot of time to write a blog post, but I feel like I haven't posted in too long, so here you go. :)

50 things I'm enjoying right now (in no particular order):
  1. Pomegranate and sweet blossom fabric softener. Oh yeah. :)
  2. My iPod
  3. Some random Chris Rice songs
  4. Our new-to-us wood-burning fireplace insert. Warm. :)
  5. My wonderful and smart brothers
  6. Fuzzy Socks
  7. Losing weight by only eating 1200 calories a day (so easy.)
  8. Blue Sky, after days and days of rain...
  9. Sunshine!
  10. Thinking about my future
  11. Peach Tea
  12. Pretty Teacups
  13. Pink, purple, and blue pens
  14. Happy thoughts
  15. Bible verses
  16. The wind blowing through the pine trees around my log home
  17. My red calculator (and perhaps most useful tool)
  18. Elegant brown boots
  19. Down comforters
  20. Roses blooming in the front yard (yes, in December!)
  21. The leaves still clinging to the oak trees
  22. Beautiful photographs
  23. Reading my friend's blogs
  24. Wireless Internet
  25. Memories
  26. Good health
  27. Sight
  28. Computers
  29. Free fonts
  30. Creativity
  31. Fluffy sweaters
  32. Ponytails
  33. Also, my hairbrush
  34. Swarovski crystals
  35. Dancing sunbeams
  36. Soft pillows
  37. Clean floors
  38. Lightbulbs
  39. Imagination tempered with common sense
  40. Mindy Starns Clark books
  41. Velvet
  42. Paper
  43. Yarn. Always yarn!! :D
  44. Stationery
  45. Humorous comments
  46. Laughter
  47. Dishwashers
  48. Movies
  49. How I'm never bored for some reason
  50. This Day. :)
And that is all..... for now. :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A most interesting Tag

Two posts in one day! Wow! Is this a first for me? Actually I'm not sure. I'll get back to you on that one. :)

ANYway, I was tagged by my dear friend Lindsay and shall now proceed to do the tag.

1. Six names that you go by: <- this question, to the girl without a nickname? Okay... well, let me think... "Julia", obviously, "Doogwa", was what my little brother called me before he could say Julia, "Georgia peach" - that's from Rachel, "Julia Child" -Daddy, when he's kidding around, "Jellybean" - that's from a long time ago, "Jujubear"... and yeah. That's from like age 5. :)
2. Three things that you are wearing right now: Aqua corduroy pants, white long-sleeved shirt, and aqua pearl and rhinestone earrings.
3. Three things that you want very badly right now: Our house to sell (if it's God's will), A laptop, and to live near a good library. :D  
4. Three things that you did yesterday: Watched "Jeeves and Wooster", crocheted on a pink, lavender, and yellow pillow, and I wrote in my journal.
5. Two things that you did today: Slept in until 10:00 (I must have needed the sleep!) and downloaded fonts from  
6. Two things that you ate today: BLT Salad for lunch, Hamburger on homemade whole wheat roll for dinner.  
7. Two people that you last talked to on the phone: Daddy, and Mama. :D
8. Two things that you are going to do today/tomorrow: Crochet today, and go Grocery shopping with Mama tomorrow.
9. Your three favorite beverages: Strawberry Lemonade, Apple Juice, and Peppermint White Hot chocolate. :)

*mischeivous chuckle* Here's the fun part. I tag:

and Mckenzie! :)

Of Songs and Hearts and Praising God

I'm wondering what has happend to the chilly weather... where I live in Georgia it's actually up to 60 degrees (farenheit) today! That's not very cold. It's supposed to cool down this evening to the 40's so ... that will be more like usual December weather. Are we really half-way through December already? Wow. :)

This morning my parents and I were sitting in the living room and Daddy put on a song and we listened to it. It was "Your Love is Extravagant" by Darrel Evans... a very moving worship song. I closed my eyes and listened, amazed at how the words spoke to my heart. Sometimes I don't take the time every day to worship my wonderful Lord, and I was thinking... why don't I? What could possibly be more important than praising my God? Certainly not my chores, or crochet, or even (gasp!) blogging! Yet I do these things instead of sitting down to have some quiet time with my Savior. It doesn't make sense, does it?

God, I praise thee
You amaze me
Take my life
And let your light shine through.
Jesus, Savior,
Friend of sinners
Fill me up,
'Cause all I really want is more of you.

^ that is not the song we were playing this morning but those words just ran through my head. I think I actually have more worship songs memorized than Bible verses... and having the songs in my heart is good, but I know I need to spend some time washed in the water of the word and hide that in my heart. :)

I hope all of you are having a blessed day!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Starbucks: The Verdict

OOoooooooooooh Yuuuuuuuummmmm! :D

I must say, I am very impressed with the Starbucks Peppermint White Hot Chocolate. Delicious! :) However, next time I might order it *with* whipped cream on top. :D I forgot to specify that at the register (just naively assuming it CAME with whipped cream) and to my surprise it was whipped cream-less. :P Oh well. It was still mouthwatering.

I had a great time chatting with Kierstyn and Alex ... that was the first time I'd met Alex (Kierstyn's newlywed husband) and to my delight I found that he's a very nice guy. Yay! I am SO happy for both of them. :D :) :D

We ended up hitting Jo-Ann fabrics and I took advantage of some on-sale Lion Brand Yarn... I actually came home with a huge bagful... like I need more yarn. Ha! :D It doesn't help that some of the skeins I bought are the size of watermelons. (no kidding.) The check-out lady asked me what I was doing with all that yarn and I replied calmly "I'm replenishing my stash." *giggles* We ended up having a nice (albeit short) conversation in which I told her about my crocheted afghans.

Speaking of crochet... yesterday I saw a pillow at somebody's house that was crocheted. I examined it and noted what stitches were used, came home, and made one of the mini-blocks that it was created out of with my new yarn, and sat back and marvled. I was surprised at how I could make something without a pattern, just from seeing something else that I wanted to copy. :)

Now I just need to learn how to sew! :D But that's another story... :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ramblings of a Starbucks Newbie

Hello friends. :)

Tonight I am sitting at my old desktop computer in my bedroom, thrilled at the makeover we've given it. We finally got a wireless router so my brothers can go online with their laptops, and then invested in a whatcha-macallit that plugs into my desktop computer so it can also go online. So now, I can blog from my room instead of going upstairs to the loft. Yay! :)

I remembered why I never used this computer before when I tried using the new internet on it... the monitor fuzzed out after a few seconds and you could only barely read the letters... that is, if you were straining your eyes. I was concerned about damaging my eyesight! Thankfully, my dear friend Taylor's family had a monitor they weren't using and let us take it to use on my computer. We will probably return it to them when I get a new laptop. But anyway - we installed it and I LOVE IT! :) It's a huge dinosaur of a monitor, but it has such a nice big flat screen! I already adore how it looks. :)

Now, as for the subject of my post.

I have never been to Starbucks before in my entire 18 and 3/4ths -year-old life. Can you imagine? I do have an excuse in that I live in a small town that has been affectionately (and not-so-affectionately) called "the Land that Starbucks Forgot"... but then, I also don't drink coffee, so I've never had a burning desire to visit one.

Tomorrow afternoon, I will be up in a busier, thriving city and I am going to meet my dear friend Kierstyn (that I've known practically since birth) at Starbucks and spend some time catching up with her and her new husband. This means I'll probably want to order something to sip on while we chat.

So I surfed the web and checked out the Starbucks menu.

Mmmmm. They look like they've got a lot of yummy drinks there. No wonder they're such a smashing success! Much to my relief, I discovered that they DO serve other beverages besides coffee.

I particularly fancied the description of the "Peppermint White Hot Chocolate". Yum. ♥♥♥!

I think that's probably what I'll end up ordering. ;) How about you? Do you have any Starbucks Favorites?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A deluge of awards

So, I have quite a lot of awards here to pass on and without further ado:

The TRUE Princess award
I love this award - it's so cute! :) I was awarded this darling award by Abby from Tales of a Left Brain. Thank you Abby! :)

I am awarding it to: Lindsay, Rachel, Jessica, and Mckenzie.

Abby also awarded me the "Against the Flow" award, which I have also gotten in the past but decided to give out again to:
Mariah, Rachel and Jessica , Arianna, and Kierstyn.

I was awarded the "Friend In Christ" award by Allison, AND Lindsay, (Thanks girls!) and I award it to all my followers who believe in Jesus Christ.


The Over The Top Award
I was awarded this one by Allison (thank you Allison!) and thought it very unique. This one I am only awarding to a blog I really think is 'over the top' in excellence.
Jasmine at Joyfully Home. To see what I mean, go and visit! :)

I was awarded this award by so many girls that I lost track. I know that sounds really pitiful but seriously, I had about 5 or 6 (or was it 7?) people comment and say they'd awarded me with this! Aah! :)

I award this award to anybody who wants it! :D (I know, that's lazy of me... sorry!)

 So, Here are the 7 "Unknown things" about myself that I'm supposed to post to accept this award:

1. I just started another crocheted afghan in greens and blues with lots of "bobbles"- a special crochet stitch. Pictures will be forthcoming. :D

2. To hear me sneeze is about as rare an experience as spotting some elusive and endagered kind of wildlife... I sneeze so quietly that it's seldom I get a "Bless you!" or "Gezondheit" because nobody notices that I've sneezed! ;) When my oldest brother Mark does catch me sneezing, he exclaims "Wow! I heard that one!!" :D ....sorry, that was kind of random... moving on:

3. ...this is harder than it looks. Hmm... Ah. Here's an interesting fact for you. Whenever somebody in our house pops a batch of popcorn for themselves, they invariably get mooched upon by the other members of the family who didn't make themselves any popcorn. I have a natural remedy though... nobody likes snitching my popcorn because I sprinkle it with garlic powder and parmesan cheese. I think it's delicious, but that opinion is not shared by anyone else! So my popcorn goes untouched by anyone but me.

4 Someday I would love to have a purple and yellow kitchen, aqua and brown master bedroom, rainbow-polka-dot-painted laundry room, red-and-white bathroom (or aqua-and-white) with matching beta fish in goldfish bowls, and a living room in warm brown tones with bright accent colors. I will definitely have a unique house. :)

5 Daddy and the boys just put in our fireplace insert! It only burns a small quantity of wood per hour, and it constantly blows out a stream of hot air into the living room, making our house very warm and toasty! :) This I find very exciting.

6 Yesterday I ripped my right middle fingernail nearly in half (it got bent completely backwards) while reaching for something under my bed too quickly! Owwww! It hurts but is protected by a band-aid. I hate messing up my nails like that. It almost never happens, thankfully!

7 Whew! Last one! I am very close to getting my driver's license. Any tips for taking the test from those of you who've gotten yours? :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Jewelry and Blog Header Giveaway!

As those of you who follow my friend Jasmine's blog already know - she is hosting a giveaway of  one of my necklace sets, and a custom-designed blog header that I'll make for the other lucky winner! :)

I just thought I'd let you know the giveaway post is up and open for entries! So go on over to Joyfully Home and enter to win!

To recap on how to enter:
Leave a comment on Jasmine's post telling her you want to enter for either the necklace set, blog header, or both.

For EXTRA entries:
  • Grab my new blog button (it's over there on my sidebar) and put it on your blog or website and comment letting Jasmine know you did.
  • Head to my Jewelry Shop and then tell Jasmine what your favorite item is.
  • Do a post about the giveaway on your blog or facebook and then come back and tell Jasmine that you did.

DON'T COMMENT TO ENTER on THIS post, the entries will be counted over at JASMINE'S post. ;)

Giveaway ends on Friday, December 18th - you have 2 weeks!

Happy Entering!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Three Exhilarating Things

NOUN: The state of being enlivened, cheerful or exhilarated.

That's me at the moment! I have so much to be excited about that I'm thrilled right down to my fingertips.

Reasons for this feeling of euphoria?

1. Emily Joy helped me fix my background! Yay! My little blog looks so purty now, I could just burst with happiness! :) A great big thank you and hug to Emily for helping me out!

2. This Friday, Jasmine Baucham is hosting a giveaway on her blog of a custom designed blog header AND a fine glass necklace and earring set that I created ! Woohoo! This is such a blessing for me as it will help promote my Etsy shops, and hopefully send some customers my way! :) Thank you Jasmine. You are such a sweetheart!

3. I have no less than FIVE blog awards to post about and pass on to some of my dear bloggy friends. Whew! Ya'll are overwhelming me with your awards here! :D I love it but it's a lot of work. :)

Soooo... I will be kept hopping in the days between now and Friday listing things on my Etsy shops for people to look at and hopefully purchase. :)

Blog awards will be forthcoming soon, just not right now. :P

Love & Hugs,