Friday Gratitude: Ain’t No Cure

“Sometimes I wonder that I’m a gonna do, but there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.” — Eddie Cochran, Summertime Blues

The summertime blues have set in a bit (I’m BORED) … but, let’s focus on some good things about this last week.

I crocheted a mermaid using this easy pattern. I was inspired by the funkiness of the doll in the example photo, and decided I wanted my doll to have a Betty Boop look. I think she turned out okay (note: I think she’s actually much cuter in real life). Also, I ran out of yarn, but have since gotten more and will finish the fins for her tail.

crocheted mermaid

My (very kind and thoughtful) site mate brought me a bottle of wine from her vacation to Greece. I love a good port!

Greek port wine

And finally, here is what my new rug looks like in my current bedroom. Yes, this is the third photo I have posted of the rug. Because I love it and it makes me happy! 🙂

hand made rug kosovo

As far as media consumption this week, I saw the latest episode of Game of Thrones, and have been re-watching Breaking Bad. I also finished reading A Year in Provence, which I thought was pretty “meh.”

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I continue to try to find ways to fill my time, now that I’m on a break from teaching. As I mentioned previously, I’ll be hosting a writing workshop next month in Pristina. I had wanted to host a different workshop at a nearby NGO, but they are closing for the month of August due to extreme heat/no air conditioning. So, that project will have to wait.

I had a meeting in Peja about helping out with a film festival next month. It’ll be nice to work on a project that has nothing to do with teaching English. I’m ready for a change.

Aaaand … it took almost 5 months, but my grant proposal has finally been approved. 🙂 I’ll be posting more about that project this fall.

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The weather has been slightly cooler (though humid) this week. I took an evening walk with my host mother and 12-year-old host cousin. Along the way, we picked up a neighbor and her granddaughter. There was a wedding going on down the road, and the sound of traditional dance music filled the air. The sun was just setting and the moon was a sliver tucked among the clouds. Occasionally, someone at the wedding would set off a burst of fireworks. I told myself to remember the walk, because someday I won’t live in Kosovo anymore, and I won’t have nights like that to enjoy.

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If you read this blog regularly, you may have noticed I made some updates to the sidebar. <—- I added links to my photography portfolio (non-Kosovo, non-Peace Corps stuff) and to my Vimeo video page (all are videos I’ve previously published within blog posts). I keep playing around to see how I like the layout and if I need to add or remove anything. Feedback is welcome!

Happy weekend! Talk to you on Monday.

The Island of Misfit Toys, and Other Adventures in Crochet

I haven’t posted about many crochet projects lately. That’s because most of what I have been working on have been gifts for other people (and I didn’t want to spoil the surprise). Now that I am back from my trip to the States (and have distributed said gifts), I want to share what I’ve been working on over the last few months. I have also included some small projects I didn’t bother posting earlier.

Back in the fall, I crocheted this small heart pillow for my host mother. I followed along with this YouTube video.

crocheted heart pillow

My sister asked me to make her a winter headband. I made two — one for her, and one for my friend Nicole (who I met up with in Paris for New Years). I followed along with this easy YouTube video.

I’ve followed this pattern numerous times to create different scarves. I crocheted this one for my mama, modifying it slightly by adding a single crocheted row of red for extra ridging.

crocheted striped scarf

My mom had sent me this crochet book in a care package. I used one of the patterns in it to create this cardinal for her. (I followed the pattern exactly … I have no idea why its head turned out so big.)

crocheted cardinal.JPG

I modified a “beaver” pattern from the same book to make this panda bear for my friend Chelsea’s birthday:

My parents have an inside joke about alligators, so I crocheted this toy, following along with the free pattern I found here. My critter did not turn out as cute as the one pictured … I thought this pattern was pretty difficult to follow.

crocheted crocodile
In progress and unstuffed …

Isn’t it funny when serendipitous things happen? My friend Lisa sent me this book, after purchasing a copy to support the Michigan Humane Society (which happens to be where I adopted my cat, Sweeney Todd). Then, my friend Christian asked me if I could crochet a hat and scarf for his kitty back home. I said yes, but I told him he’d have to wait until after my trip to the U.S. I wanted to use Sweeney Todd as a model for pictures.

cat crocheted hat
This is why cats don’t like humans …

Last, I followed along with this very easy YouTube video to create a series of crocheted purses.

purple crocheted purse
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crocheted purse
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purple striped crocheted purse
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crocheted beach bag

If you like to crochet, follow along with me on Ravelry at http://www.ravelry.com/people/hellofromkosovo.

Jax the Unicorn

I pay attention to my blog stats and lately, I’ve noticed a big spike in the number of times my post, Jennifer the Unicorn, has been looked at. It is by far my most popular blog post to date.

Around the same time, I noticed a big spike in blog traffic from Canada. (Hello, Canadian friends!) I don’t know if it is a coincidence, or if Canadians really like crocheted unicorns …

Anyway, I mentioned to my mom that I was thinking of doing another unicorn project, since the first one had been so successful. (Hey, I’m not above pandering to the masses.) She suggested I make my unicorn, Jennifer, a boyfriend. My mom also suggested that I give my new unicorn a “J” name to go along with Jennifer, so I chose Jax. (And no, I’m not a Sons of Anarchy fan. I just think it’s an interesting name.)

Processed with MOLDIV
Jax

I used the same crochet pattern that I did for Jennifer. It was much faster going this time. Jennifer took me weeks to complete, while Jax only took the better part of a few days. Maybe that’s because it was my second time using the pattern.

The only change I really made this time around was to follow a different pattern for the horn and mane.

Unicorn Mohawk

So now I have two crocheted unicorn toys. (Are you worried that I’m cracking up over here? I know! Me, too!) 😛

So happy together!

 

Friday Gratitude: Madness

Here are some things that are making me happy this week:

  • I bought plane tickets this week. Buying plane tickets makes my bank account sad. But it makes me very happy!
  • I finally decided to stop being lazy and upload my crochet projects to ravelry. You can see them here (not sure if you need an account): http://www.ravelry.com/projects/hellofromkosovo
  • I am heading to a language training for Peace Corps early next week. Good things: I’ll get to be in a city I like with friends I like. Bad things: I’ll be evaluated on my Shqip progress. *gulp*
  • I had a lovely dinner with another volunteer. You will get to “meet” him next week, when he guest blogs for me.

Media consumption:

  • I re-watched the movie Notes on a Scandal. It is one of the only movies I think is better than the book upon which it is based (the other is Revolutionary Road). In it, Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett play teachers at the same school. The movie is told from the perspective of Judi Dench’s character, as she learns of Cate Blanchett’s character’s affair with a 15-year-old student. Though CB is the one having the affair, JD plays such a creepy, evil character you end up hating her more.
  • I decided to treat myself to a movie and went to see Beauty and the Beast. It was the second time I’ve visited a movie theater since I’ve lived in Kosovo. I didn’t care for the movie much. But these days, I appreciate stimulation of any kind.

On a sad note … They say things happen in threes and I know three families in the U.S. who have lost loved ones within the last week. A lot of people are on my mind, and a lot of people are in my thoughts and prayers. I am sending love to you all.

Owl Baby Bib Crochet Project

owl baby bib easy crochet project.JPG

Given my mood lately (which borders on “ugh” or “meh”), and the slew of half-finished crochet projects I’ve got lying around, I told myself last Sunday I would feel better if I started and finished a project.

I’d seen these cute owl baby bibs on Pinterest (where else?) a while ago. A close friend of mine is expecting her third child this summer (good Lord, when did I get so old?), so I decided to make this bib as a gift. It was ridiculously easy.

You can download the free pattern here. As an added note, I used a size J crochet hook for this project.

I’m not exactly sure what size baby this bib will fit. Hopefully it isn’t too big for a newborn, otherwise, my friend’s new son or daughter will have to wait until they’re older to enjoy his or her owl friend.

Also, at the suggestion of my friend Katie (thanks, Katie!) I joined ravelry.com. You can follow me here. I don’t have all of my projects loaded on the site, but hope to at some point.

Chelsea’s Christmas Gifts: Crocheted Unicorn and Crocheted Bear

Bonjour, mes amours! And a Happy, Happy New Year! Wow, a whole week off from blogging. Did you miss me? 😉 Have you been following along with my Paris/London travels on Instagram?

I am so excited to be back online. I’ve got lots of great blog ideas for 2017 (WOW, it’s 2017 already?!) I wanted to start off this year by blogging about two Christmas gifts I crocheted for my friend and travel companion, Chelsea.

Chelsea loves unicorns and bears, so I decided to make her one of each. A while back, my (awesome and amazing) parents sent me this mini-toy crochet kit  in a care package. Though there weren’t instructions for either a unicorn or a bear, I figured I could modify the patterns from the book to make Chelsea’s toys.

First, I modified the squirrel pattern to make the body and head of my unicorn. After several failed attempts at modifying other patterns in the book, I finally just decided to wing it and make the arms on my own. I don’t think they look great, but they are the best of the options I tried.

small-crochet-unicorn

Chelsea is a bit of a punk rocker, so I decided her mini unicorn should have a similar ‘tude. For the rainbow main, I just looped individual pieces of yarn through the head and tied each one off. It was somewhat time consuming, but easy to do. For the horn, I just chained a few loops and attached it to the head.

crochet-unicorn-mane

Here is a picture of my unicorn, Jennifer, with her new little friend seated on her lap. 🙂 Aww, aren’t they cute? (If I say so myself.)

large-crochet-unicorn-small-crochet-unicorn

For the bear, I modified the beaver crochet pattern from the book. I accidentally finished stuffing it before I attached the plastic safety eyes included in the kit, so I just crocheted a magic circle using 3 stitches to make eyes, and looped black yarn through the middle to make the irises.

I opted not to give the bear limbs for several reasons: 1) I am lazy. 2) I wasn’t entirely happy with the way the unicorn’s legs turned out. 3) I wanted the bear to look similar to a Ty Beanie Ballz.

smallcrochet-bear
“Hello! I am homely, but cute.”

Also, I used a smaller crochet hook on the bear than on the unicorn … I didn’t realize it would make such a difference in their sizes! The bear looks a bit like R2D2. 🙂 He also definitely looks home made!

small-crochet-unicorn-small-crochet-bear
“We hope you love us, Chelsea.”

Crochet Project: A Scarf of My Own Invention

My friend Charlie’s birthday was a few weeks ago. I wanted to crochet something for him. I tried making a hat, but it didn’t turn out so well.

crochet-fail-hat

I don’t know what happened … I followed along with this YouTube video. My hat was shapeless, and the brim was too floppy to stand up. I scrapped that idea.

I decided to make a scarf instead. I started along with another YouTube video. But after crocheting about seven rows, I realized I hated the design. I decided to scrap that project, too.

I decided to just crochet a scarf using my own pattern. It is a pretty simple design … it’s possible I didn’t actually invent it. But anyway, it’s the first thing I’ve crocheted without following someone else’s pattern.

I like the subtle texture. I also really ended up liking the color combination (navy blue, dark gray, and white), though it wasn’t a completely intentional choice. I was running low on yarn.

**I created this downloadable PDF, if you would like to try the scarf pattern yourself. 🙂 scarf-pattern-by-april-gardner

mens-scarf-three-colors

 

In retrospect, I probably would have made this a few rows wider. But, I was also running short on time. I wanted to give this to Charlie at his birthday party!

happy-birthday-charlie-lowe

Urime ditelindja, Charlie!

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I then used the same pattern to crochet a birthday scarf for my counterpart. I made it a bit thicker this time, connected the ends to make it circular, and triple-wrapped it around my neck to look like this:

mens striped scarf free pattern.JPG