Mystery Afghan CAL Week 3

Mystery Afghan CAL Week 3

What is a mystery without some drama?

When reading a good mystery novel, there is usually some good drama and a little adventure during the unfolding of the story. Am I right? Well, apparently the same goes with a challenge to crochet a Mystery Afghan with a very large group of people.

mystery afghan

Our clues for each week are supposed to be delivered around 10 AM EST each Tuesday morning. Many of us (and I was surprised to see just how many) are waiting with bated breath for that clue to come out so that we can get our hooks to crocheting the next step. This week there was a tangled mess with the releasing of the clue. Yarnspirations posted an adorable picture of a kitty all tangled in yarn (if you have a cat you know it can happen) with an explanation that they were having some technical difficulties and would give us the clue as soon as possible. The beginning of the drama and an additional mystery. How long would it take to untangle the mess?

Folks, I’m here to tell ya there were some mighty unhappy crocheters when they didn’t get their clue on time! I wasn’t sure but what there wouldn’t be a riot of some sort. There was a riot of comments, that is for sure. After about 6 hours of waiting (that is some mean tangle of technology!) the clue was released and all was calm in the crochet world.

Our clue this week involved two steps and introduced our last two colors. In my case, there was a round of the Passion yarn (purple) using Ch (chains), SC (single crochet) and SCFP (front post single crochet). There is also a neat little trick using a grouping of SC, HDC, DC and a TR (treble crochet) before and after each corner. We went around the existing square adding a neat kind of dimension to the square. I really liked the way it looked with that round and my existing colors.

mystery afghan clue 3 step 1

The second stage of Clue #3 in the mystery afghan was to use our 4th color which in my case is the Limelight yarn. Again, we went around the edge of the existing square using SC, HDC (half double crochet), DC and Chains (lots of chains). Simple enough stitches, but boy howdy it sure changed the look of the square! I’ve seen examples of other crocheters work after doing Clue 3 and theirs looks pretty neat. I’m not so sure that I like that green on mine, though. I’m going to continue with it because it was a color combination suggested by the designer of the pattern. I’m hoping that it will end up looking just fine and that with the next 7 clues that green will make some sense in the pattern and hopefully will tone down just a little.

mystery afghan clue 3 step 2

I thought it would be fun this week to share what some of my friends are doing with this challenge. They chose a different color scheme and the difference in how the squares are turning out is amazing with the different colors. Here is a picture of my friend Terry Boroff’s after having completed Clue 3. I love her choice of colors! Terry writes a blog called Flip Flop Nana so you might enjoy going over to her corner of the web and see what she is up to.

terry mystery cal square

 

My sweet sister-in-law Amy Rumler is also participating in the challenge. Her squares look like this after Clue 3. You can follow her page on Facebook dedicated to crocheting to see what she is getting from her hooks. Amy’s Knotty Corner

amys mystery afghan square

 

Another piece of drama this week was the discovery that there have been mistakes in the printed pattern pages. Remember in week 1 when I thought that I had my squares too big? I frogged every one of those squares and worked until I had a 4 inch square. Now, the pattern has been changed to read that the squares should be 5 inch squares which is what I had to begin with! That kind of miffed me just a tad. My finished afghan is going to be smaller than it should be because I’ll be darned if I’m going to go back and frog (rip out) all those squares again and basically start over.

Well, that is it for this week, I’ll be back with Clue #4 and we will see how this is all raveling out. I once thought we would have squares that looked like 3 dimensional flowers of some sort but after this week, I’m starting to see a butterfly.

You might also like to read about:
Week One Of The Crochet Challenge
Week Two of The Crochet Challenge

Mystery Afghan Crochet A Long Week 2

Mystery Afghan Crochet A Long Week 2

Week 2 Progress In Crochet Mystery Afghan

The clue was released for week two in the Mystery Crochet-a-long afghan challenge. I have to admit that I was a little surprised at what the assignment was. Let me explain…

mystery afghan crochet

I figured that we would be told to make more granny squares only in different colors. Since in week one we made 20 squares that were only 4 inches that will not be a very big afghan. Well, I was wrong (trust me, that isn’t the first time in my life that I have been wrong!). I’m not saying that later on we won’t be told to make more squares but it wasn’t this week. Mikey did say in this week’s video that we will eventually make our original squares a little larger but this week we worked on an interesting addition to the squares from week one.

crochet squares

Do you see the difference from last week? Those were just plain granny squares in my pagoda yarn. This week we added these very interesting x’s to them. We were told to crochet these intriguing forms using our contrast color b which in my case was the watermelon on top of the squares from last week. The task in week 2 didn’t take very long as it required only a few stitches. A combination of SC (single crochet), SCFP (single crochet in front post) and chains make up the over all “x” design along with a combination of SC, HDC, and DC for the corners. Easy to do with a dramatic look when completed.

That watermelon yarn really looks spectacular on top of the wonderful dark teal of the pagoda! I’m wondering if next week we will add something to those squares that will make this to look like a flower sitting on top. Could be but then again, it could be something totally different.

I’m really having fun working on this project and wish that the clues were not spaced one week apart. Not only will I be learning to read pattern diagrams and new techniques but I’ll also have a lesson in patience before this is all over with.

I do want to make something clear. The links that I give to Yarnspirations and to The Crochet Crowd are not affiliate links. I’m not making any money from them by posting about this mystery afghan challenge. I’m just sharing the progress with you, my readers, as a fun thing to do. Besides, I will have a wonderful journal of my progress for my own use when it is all over.

If you want to peek at last week’s post: Crochet Along Mystery Afghan

Crochet A Long Mystery Afghan

Crochet A Long Mystery Afghan

Decorating With A Mystery

I recently decided to do something that I have never done before. I’ve joined a “Crochet-a-long” with a group of crocheters from around the world. The funnest part of all…we have no idea what the afghan that we will be making will look like until we get our last clue.

crochet along week 1

Well, I love a mystery and I love to crochet so I decided this would be fun. When the idea was presented we could order enough yarn to make our afghan in suggested color schemes. I picked colors that will look nice in our bedroom and will display this afghan on our bed when it is completed.

The 10 week event is being sponsored by Yarnspirations and The Crochet Crowd. Each week on Tuesday mornings a new clue is released to those of us who signed up. Now, isn’t that just too much fun?

I’m not going to put the directions here because honestly that wouldn’t be fair to Yarnspirations or to Mikey at the Crochet Crowd. You can use the links above to see the selections of colors and to sign up if you want to join the fun. Mikey is doing a video each week to help us understand the patterns as they come out. I find his videos so very helpful!

I chose to use the colors in the Jewel Tone combination which included:

  • 4 skeins of Pagoda (a nice dark teal color)
  • 2 skeins of Watermelon ( a pretty bright shade of pink)
  • 2 skeins of Passion (a purple)
  • 2 skeins of Limelight (a bright shade of green almost chartreuse)

The picture at the top of this post shows my colors that I will be crocheting with.

crochet a long

Above you can see our first assignment. We are to make 20 of these little granny squares and then wait until the next clue comes out to find out what we do next. Now, the squares are not done in the typical way a granny square is made. Sort of, but there is a bit of a twist that Mikey shows us in the video.

Another thing that I should mention is that the pattern suggests using an H or 5.00mm size hook. It also says that the squares should measure 4 inches square when completed. I started making mine and then noticed a post on Facebook that said to make sure that our squares were the correct size because we might run out of yarn before we were done with the project.

Oh darn! I hadn’t even bothered to measure my completed squares and I certainly didn’t want to run out of yarn! Aww Snap! My squares measured 5 inches! So, I try one with a G hook and it was 4 1/2 inches and then I went to an F hook and that one was still 4 1/2 inches. What? How can that be?

Turns out I am a loosey goosey with my tension when I crochet. I figured out that in order for my squares to measure 4 inches that I needed to use the F hook and to crochet tighter than I have ever crocheted before. After having “frogged” (ripped out) the ones I had already completed; there was a correction on the page that said that 4 1/2 inch and 5 inch squares would work and we would have enough yarn. Instead of getting aggravated, I just considered it a learning experience. I now know that I should crochet tighter than I normally do in order to get the gauge that a pattern calls for.

I have my 20 squared finished and am awaiting Clue Number 2 and that assignment. I’ll be sharing the progress with you here so that when it is completed you will see that sometimes it is fun to decorate with items that we make ourselves. It is also fun to trust instructors that you trust and make something that you are not sure exactly what it is going to look like. I have that kind of trust with Mikey at the Crochet Crowd.

How To Install Vinyl Tile

How To Install Vinyl Tile

diy install vinyl tile
This article will walk you through how to install vinyl tiles using the self-adhesive or self stick tiles. I just recently did this do it yourself project in my half bath so I have the experience to teach you how to do it too. You will not believe just how easy it is to do.

I will tell you the tools that you will need and the steps that I went through to make my little bathroom look brand new just by changing the flooring. I’ll even show you the progress as I installed the tiles and the completed room.

bathroom tile

Using Self Adhesive Vinyl Tiles

Before you can install the vinyl tiles, you will need to find out how many tiles that you need. To do that you need to get the square footage of the room that you intend to install new flooring in. If you are not sure how to do this, it is pretty easy. Measure the width of the room and then the length of the room and multiply those two numbers for the square footage.

Example: My bathroom measured 5 feet wide by 7 feet long giving me a total of 35 square feet.

Since most self adhesive tiles come in 12 X 12 inch squares that means that I needed 35 tiles to do my floor. Most tiles can be purchased in boxes of 20 so I purchased 2 boxes of tiles to lay on my floor.

NOTE: Don’t subtract out for cabinets or vanities. You might end up shorting yourself on tiles. It is better to have a few left over than to be 1 tile short!

Shopping For The Tiles

The absolute most fun step of all is the shopping for the tile that you will use in your room! Take your time and make sure that the tiles are what you really want, after all you are going to live with them for a while! Below are just a few samples of self adhesive vinyl tiles that can be purchased online at Amazon. There are so many choices! You can have a stone look, wood look, romantic floral look, just whatever will work best for your home. Maybe something like the image below will work:

vinyl tile
12 Inch Square Vinyl Tile

There are so many beautiful styles to choose from so the one above is just an example of one choice.

Prepare Your Floor First

The half bath that I installed vinyl flooring in was carpeted and I just really don’t like carpet in a bathroom! It is too easy to attract mold and mildew from the often damp environment in a bath. So the first thing I did was to remove the carpet, padding, and tack strips from the floor. I got a few scrapes on my knuckles but otherwise not too dangerous of a chore.

Because it was a bathroom, I decided to seal the floor with a sealant that prevents mold and mildew from occurring and also kills any that might be on the floor. The picture below shows the floor painted with the sealant.

If removing carpet or old flooring, be sure to check with your local municipality on the regulations for discarding or recycling that flooring!

bathroom floor project

 

Tools You Will Need

The basic tools that you will need for this job:

  • Tape Measure
  • Magic Marker
  • Sharp Scissors
  • Straight edge rule

Additional tools that will come in handy would be a hammer, nails, and saw if you plan to trim your baseboard after you have laid your vinyl tiles.

Laying The First Row Of Tiles

 

laying tile

It is wise to look at your floor and figure out the best place to begin that will give you the least amount of cuts. Take your straight edge rule and draw a line on the floor with your marker for a vertical row. Now intersect that line for a horizontal row. It is best to do this in the center of the room. Don’t worry about the edges, most times you will need to cut the edges to fit. It is more important to have the first tiles centered in the room.

The above picture shows my first row after I had marked the place to start and filled in the first row.

You don’t see my lines because I used a pencil and I will be honest…they were difficult to see! So, that is why I suggest you use a marker instead. You are going to cover them up so it won’t be seen after you lay your tiles.

Make sure you line up your tiles so that they are butting together with no gap and that they are even. One slight little offset, causes the floor to be off in the pattern and it will show.

Once you peel off the backing, press the tile with your hands to insure that it sticks well.

I recommend laying all of the tiles that you can that do not have to be cut first. Measure the space that will not take a full tile and cut one to fit the space. Your straight edge will come in mighty handy for this step! Drawing a line with your marker on the paper side of the tile and then cut with your scissors to fit the space.

Hint: your scissors are going to get messy and sticky. You can remove the sticky residue with lighter fluid or Goo-Gone.

flooring tile for bathroom

 

The above picture is the almost completed room. Since our room had carpet before there was no finish trim around the baseboards. I thought they looked too sparse and I didn’t like the register vent from before.

My husband and I decided that we wanted some finish trim around the baseboard. Since the woodwork in our home is about 30 years old we couldn’t match the color of the stain exactly. So I chose some trim that was a little lighter but matched well with a color in the tile. I think it looks pretty darn good.

I also found the prettiest register plate to replace the old standard looking one. There were so many neat designs and colors to choose from! You can find them at Home Improvement stores like Lowes, Home Depot or Menards.  You can also find them for sale online at places like Amazon.

This is not a step that you have to do but it certainly gives a finished look to the project.

So, there you have it… my instructions on how to install vinyl tiles in a room. I thought you might enjoy seeing the completed project. We are pretty proud of this DIY project that we tackled.

completed tile floor

I hope you found my tips helpful and will consider doing a project like this in your home some time soon. If you do or if you have any questions, just leave me a comment.

Create The Illusion Of Wallpaper

Create The Illusion Of Wallpaper

Faux Finish Stenciling Can Create The Illusion Of Wallpaper

Faux finish stenciling is an inexpensive way of adding decorative detail to our homes. The key is to apply the embossing material evenly over the stencil, building depth in thin layers. It is certainly true that stencils can wake up a wall or create an eye-catching detail on a cabinet door.

You will need the stencil, paint, and a tool brush or sponge to apply the paint. You can buy stencils complete with instructions and registration marks, or make your own. As with other decorative techniques, the simplest schemes are usually the most successful when you are a beginner in the process.

Once dry, faux finish stenciling images can be lightly sandpapered to soften or age them. Quality supplies and proper care of stencils is key. If you find a painting, drawing, or photo with great stencil potential, it’s not difficult to use that image to generate a stencil.

Apply the stencil as a ceiling, wainscot or baseboard border, or as an all-over pattern, like wallpaper. If the stencil becomes too built-up with paint or if you want to save it for another day, scrub it clean with detergent and dry on paper towel.

Test out your patterns either by cutting the stencil from colored paper or by drawing it onto a sheet of paper and holding the results up against the surface to be decorated. The wall to be painted should be clean. Apply a base coat of paint.

Creating The Look Of Wallpaper

I found a wonderful video showing how to stencil an entire wall in a faux wallpaper design.

Basic technique no matter what you stencil

Hold the stencil in position with masking tape, load your brush or sponge with only a very small amount of paint, starting at the edges of the design and working inwards, hold the stencil in place for a few moments afterward to let it dry. Clean the stencil and reapply the paint as necessary. It is really that easy. A word of caution, this usually takes some time so make sure that you allow for the entire process. Except in a very few instances you will need to do several steps in the process. Apply the first coat of paint, let it dry and then add the next coat. To add depth to the finished product you might want more than one coat of one or more colors to add the depth that you desire. My past experience showed me that the best technique is to do a very light coat, let it dry and then add another coat until the desired color is accomplished. You can always add more color but it is difficult to take color away once it is there.

You can really have some fun with stencils so I highly recommend giving this a try. You might want to do a small project on a piece of wood for your first attempt but you do not have to. Find a stencil that you really like and go for it but most of all have fun.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Cats To Do In Counted Cross Stitch

Cats To Do In Counted Cross Stitch

cat counted cross stitch One of my favorite hobbies is counted cross stitch and now that there are numerous cat cross stitch kits, I’m feeling the need to purchase one or two to work on in the coming months.

I love my cats and I find it relaxing to cross stitch, combining the two loves just seems like a natural choice for my evenings. I have discovered some lovely kits for cats in counted cross stitch that I would like to share with my fellow lovers of needle crafts and the feline.

When I first saw a rendition of the picture to the left, it was in a calendar and I thought then…what a fantastic cross stitch piece that would be. It can be purchased along with other kits below. So, come on, let’s get stitchin’!

Just In Case You Do Not Know How To Cross Stitch

Here is a great video for you to watch if you do not know how to cross stitch. It is also a good reminder if it has been a while since you counted those stitches to make a piece of art with thread.

Maggie The Mess Maker In Counted Cross Stitch

Created from the original art of Charles Wysocki called Maggie The Mess Maker. Counted cross-stitch kit includes 18-ct. beige aida fabric, cotton floss, thread palette, needle, chart, and instructions. Don’t you just love all of the wonderful things in this picture?

This cross stitch kit is sold at Amazon at this link.

“The stitch is lost unless
the thread be knotted.”
~An Italian Proverb~

Frederick The Literate Cat And Books

One of my favorite cats in counted cross stitch

Frederick’s idea of the perfect place for a catnap…just curl up with a good book. The detail of this feline portrait by Charles Wysocki will enchant you and the humor will keep you smiling. Stitched on 14 count black Aida with rich hues of cotton thread, this design is ideal for both the cat lover and the bibliophile. Kit contains cotton and metallic thread, 14 count black Aida, thread palette, needle and easy instructions.

I am definitely ordering this cat counted cross stitch kit from Amazon. It is less than $13 and I just know I will treasure it for years to come. You can order this counted cross stitch kit, too by clicking the link below.

frederick the literate cat cross stitch kit
Dimensions Needlecrafts Counted Cross Stitch, Frederick Literate

Counted Cross Stitch:
Painting with thread….
one stitch at a time.

There are so many options when it comes cats in counted cross stitch that it is almost overwhelming. Isn’t that the fun part, though? Having several options to choose from so that our creations fit our decorating themes along with our personalities is a treat. I remember when I first started to stitch way back in the 1980s there were not a lot of choices and many of the designs were what I would call primitive now. The art and hobby has come a long way since then where actual artwork has been transferred into graphs for us to stitch. If you think that you would rather do a different type of cat instead of the Charles Wysocki kits that I have showcased here, you can see the options available now from this link to counted cross stitch kits with cats.

Have you started or completed a counted cross stitch piece lately? Let me know what you are working on by leaving a comment below.

How To Make Feather Wreaths

How To Make Feather Wreaths

Attractive And Simple To Make

Feather wreaths can be a strikingly attractive decoration for a door or wall in your home or office. These adornments are surprisingly simple to construct and give us a unique alternative to the floral wreaths that we are accustomed to like the ones in my introductory image.

A wreath made from feathers (real or artificial) can take many forms. They range from playful decorative items constructed from artificial pink fuzzy feathers to more traditional looking seasonal door pieces made from the feathers of wild turkeys or peacocks. The options are only limited to your creativity and imagination. A quick look at any major crafts show will reveal hundreds of possibilities. The many varieties of styles of these decorative pieces make them a consistently popular accent item. Making feather wreaths can be fun along with being decorative.

Although there are many different patterns and ways to construct a feather wreath, one of the more simple means to produce one is by using a basic straw or styrofoam wreath form (available at any major craft store) and several large feathers. This approach requires no additional supplies, except a pencil or other device that may be used to poke guide holes into the form. You can’t get much easier than that, folks.

We, the wreath makers, simply splay out the feathers to create a ring around the bottom third of the form. Usually, the feathers are inserted at an angle to produce a more organized and attractive final product. After completing the first ring of feathers, additional layers are made using the same pattern. Generally, three or four layers will produce a desirable outcome if the feathers are sufficiently large relative to the wreath form’s size. After all the feathers are properly inserted, we can then add accent items to improve the final overall appearance. The traditional favorite is a bow placed at the bottom of the wreath but depending oon the type of feathers you choose it can be just about anything that you want to attach.

A Feather Wreath With Paper Feathers

This video shows a fun way to get creative with paper! Even if you decide to use real feathers or a different type of medium this shows the basic way to make a wreath out of feathers.

This strategy for producing a feather wreath works wonderfully with large turkey feathers and can produce a stunning seasonal piece perfect for fall and Thanksgiving decorations. However, the technique will work with virtually any kind of feather. For instance, one can create an angelic wreath from white feathers or a fun, colorful craft from a bag of multicolored artificial feathers.

Making feather wreaths can be relatively simple and provide us with a popular alternative to wreaths constructed from leaves, twigs, flowers or branches. The exact nature of a flower wreath is limited only by the maker’s imagination.

If you feel that you do not want to make your own wreath, you can always find one that has been made already by someone else. I feel that it is much less expensive to make your own but there is no law that says you can’t buy it ready made. Take for instance this lovely one:

peacock feather wreath
Peacock Feather Wreath 24 Inch

One of the great things about these wreaths is that you can change them out for different times of the year. They are particularly attractive during the fall and Christmas. I’ve seen some really cool ones made up for Halloween that used crow feathers. I will just bet that you will find something really cool to add to your decor!

Image Credit: Introductory photo compliments of Pixabay Free Images