Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December 2015

Hello Dynamos!  It's time for an end-of-year update!

I have had a very interesting year.  I went back to school.  Going back to college is awesome in this amazing digital age (the last time I was a full-time student was pre-smart phone and YouTube!).  Sadly, I discovered that I have absolutely no talent for being able to do simple chemistry experiments, so a mid-life career change to become Doctor Jaime is no longer in the cards for me.  But on the up-side, I've got a whole new appreciation for the microbial world and how it affects our daily lives (Thanks Microbiology class!!).

Merry Christmas from the Dynamite Family!
My grandma's dementia has gotten dramatically worse this year.  I don't think I was prepared for what that would mean for our family. She's 94, so I'm so grateful that she's still with us, but it's hard to not be disappointed that it's not HER anymore, if you know what I mean.  She lives most of her life inside her head now, and while it's a pretty pleasant dream-space (based on the delusions she tells us about - ie. the ice crown she misplaced or the phone calls she receives from long-deceased relatives) I wish she was able to live in the real world with us a little more.

Karate Mims!

Mims started 3rd grade this year.  She's the tallest girl in her class by several inches, which I take a strange pride in, even if it wasn't MY genetics that contributed to her superior height (my husband's family is very tall, so at family events I'm the shrimpy one at almost 5' 6").  Her height has had extra benefits this year, because it has made her really good at karate.  We put her in classes last March and she fell in love with the sport.  She's come out of her shy-shell and become like a whole different kid.  Plus, her karate teacher is really a great guy, and has encouraged my husband to start taking classes too.  So now Mims and her dad go to private lessons on Saturdays, as well as twice-a-week classes that Mims has been doing for the last nine months.  I am enjoying this so much more than being Coach Jaime for her volleyball team last year.  Being a karate mom is more about sitting at the side of the room and silently focusing all of your e.s.p. energy on making your kid perform their kata correctly... I have never once been asked to run across a field to chase after a rogue ball...

Hippopotamus Christmas cookies!

I'm embarrassed by how little crochet I have done this year.  I took family photos (with a tripod and a remote I hid behind the back of the couch! My nieces (in the elf and santa hats) were not impressed.).  I decorated cookies (like legit decorated, with bags and tips and a rainbow of royal icing).  I read 30 non-school-related books.  I went to 5 plays.  I fell in love with my (new to me)  2012 Nissan Leaf (electric car, FTW!!).  I also fell in love with the Hamilton soundtrack. The hubs and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. My sister had another baby, my sweet little CJ (who loves me the most, but barfed all over both of us the last time I saw her.) My daughter convinced us all to dress up for Halloween (she went as Mavis Dracula from the Hotel Transylvania movies, and she got her dad to go as Dracula.  I got to be a bat, since the mom in that movie is dead...) I decorated our Christmas tree on November 1st (blasphemy!) and got reprimanded in Target for declaring their abundance of PepsiMax a Christmas Miracle on November 20th ("Thanksgiving Miracle! It's not even Thanksgiving yet!" said the random guy in the soda aisle said.  "We're Canadian," my quick-thinking husband replied).  I drove my kid to karate lessons and swimming lessons, to the water park and to the beach.  I memorized most of the Periodic Table of Elements, and learned about Fungi.  I perfected the art of taking pictures on my phone through the eye-hole of a microscope.

Me and CJ!
15 years later!
The Draculas!  Note the crochet bat hat, see I've still got it!

But please, don't confuse my lack of crochet this year with a lack of DESIRE to crochet.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, and I wish you all the best in 2016!!

Love always,
Crochet Dynamite xoxo

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tunesian Crochet Washcloth

Wow!  Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!  I've been so busy, it feels like I haven't had a moment to myself lately.  As some of you (most of you?) know, I'm a full-time caregiver for my 93-year-old grandma.  Just before Thanksgiving, she had another mini-stroke that has left her very confused, and barely mobile.  It's been very challenging to create a new routine that works for both of us.  I was used to a (small) amount of freedom in my day, you know, to run errands, grocery shop, etc.  My new routine requires an additional person to come in and watch her while I'm gone.  Thankfully, my Dad has been able to come watch her for a few hours during the day for the last 6 weeks or so, and my Mom has watched her a few evenings so that we could go to a couple of movies as a family.  

The good part is that I've had a lot more time to crochet, now that all of the holiday hoopla is over.  I've become fascinated with tunesian crochet, and I've been simple-stitching away like a mad woman!  

I made some crazy simple washcloths using the simple stitch, which were so quick, and so fun, I really think you all should try it (unless, of course, you're already a tunesian crocheting goddess, in which case, carry on!).  I used THIS great tutorial on The Purl Bee to help me get started.


Size H tunesian crochet hook
100% cotton yarn - worsted weight (I used Lily's Sugar N Cream in Pink Camo - one skein will make 2 washcloths!)

Ch 30
R1: Starting in 2nd chain work a preparation row into each st of the foundation chain (30 loops)
R2: Work a return row (1 loop on hook)
R3: Work a forward row (30 loops on hook)
R4-51: Repeat rows 2-3
R52: Work a return row (1 loop on hook)
Fasten off.  Weave in ends.

Attach yarn in corner, sc 30 st along each side, working a (sc, ch 1, sc) in each corner.
Fasten off. Weave in ends

Alternately, you could just start your final sc border without fastening off, and then re-attaching yarn. But honestly, the stitches look a lot like purl stitches in knitting, so weaving in the extra ends is not a big deal.

I've got some fun and exciting projects planned for the next couple of months, so I hope you'll come back soon!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Back!

Happy Thanksgiving Back Dynamos!

I'm taking a break today (and watching my fave, You've Got Mail on Netflix), between my first Thanksgiving feast and my second Thanksgiving feast, while Jake and Mimsey are out at what will be their 3rd feast of the day.  Whew!  It's our first year not hosting in FOURTEEN years, and we're excited to be guests at so many welcome homes!

I just noticed that I passed 5K Pinterest followers!  Wahoo!  I'm incredibly thankful for that, and for all of you who read and follow and subscribe and comment.  I'm feeling very loved and grateful for all of your support and care.  So to celebrate, (and to give you something to do while you're waiting in all of those Black Friday sales!) I'm declaring a Saint Spoilings weekend and making all of my books free starting TOMORROW November 28th through Monday, December 1st!

You can get them all HERE, and if you don't have a Kindle, they have FREE software (and apps!) to allow you to read Kindle books on your computer, phone, and tablets!  I use the Kindle software on my phone and tablet and it works GREAT!  So, if you haven't downloaded it, do it now and get your books!  Treat yourself!!!  And tell a friend!

**Make sure that the price for the ebooks is $0.00 or FREE, BEFORE you place your order.  I don't have any control over when Amazon starts the sale, or ends the sale (I just tell them I want to do it!) so please make sure that the books are actually free.  I can't refund your money, they don't allow me to credit anyone back.  So make sure that they're free before you check out!  I wish I didn't have to place this disclaimer, but there have been problems in the past, and I don't want any unhappy Dynamos. **

So have a happy holiday, happy shopping days, and let's get ready for the crocheting-est Christmas yet!  LOL!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Merry Dot Garland!

So, I set up my Christmas tree last week for my post about Christmas Crochet. And since my sister bought a giant new house recently, she's determined to host Thanksgiving this year.  Somehow those two things have combined in my brain and I've completely skipped Thanksgiving.  I am all Christmas, ALL the time.  The upside is, most of my shopping is done.  The other upside, I'm not cleaning frantically to get ready for Thanksgiving company, which leaves me more time to crochet!

A couple of weeks ago the very kind people at Belkin sent me the coolest thing.  It's their Portable Tablet Stage.  It's designed to hold your tablet, and give you a clean white surface, so you can do presentations, or TUTORIALS (!) without trying to balance it with one hand and work with the other.  So when I started working on my Merry Dot Garland, I wanted to see what my new tablet stage could do!  Oh my goodness, it's so awesome!!!  I was able to stage my pictures, and adjust them by looking at my screen, and once they were composed the way I wanted, I just snapped the picture.  It couldn't have been easier,  So often, with my camera, I have to take 6 or 8 shots, just to make sure that it's angled the right way, or centered the way I want it,  I LOVED being able to fuss with my pieces until they were perfect, and then take exactly the shot I wanted.  

Not only did I get the exact picture that I wanted, I didn't have to clean off my desk to do it!  LOL!! 
I still haven't brought the ornament boxes up from the basement yet (there are spiders, and vampires, down there!) so my tree is still pretty bare.  I really wanted to crochet a fun garland for the tree, but the only ones that I liked this year were not crocheted, they were made of felt dots in fun colors.  I decided I could totally re-create that look, but in crochet!  It was so easy, it took me about 2 episodes of So You Think You Can Dance (Season 11 on Hulu Plus. I stream it through my Roku!) to make the thing from start to finish (and that included stopping to watch the dancing, and then only crocheting through the critiques!)

If you'd like to crochet a fun new garland this year, here's what I did:

approximately 10 feet long

Worsted Weight Yarn -  It doesn't take much yarn to do this project, less than 50 yards for each of 3 colors. I used cheapy-cheapy acrylic in holly berry red, grinch green, and snowy white, because I wanted it to be cartoonishly bright (those aren't the real color names, btw.  I think the actual color names are Red, Spring Green, and White).  **I think that if it was made with more sophisticated colors, it could be exceptionally beautiful.  I'm considering making a shades-of-blue garland to hang in Mimsey's surfer girl bedroom year-round.**
Size H crochet hook
Yarn needle

Large Circles:
(make 10 in white)

R1: Make 10 dc in a magic loop, pull loop tight, sl st to first st to close round (10 st)
R2: ch 2, 2 dc in each st around, sl st to first st to close round (20 st)
Fasten off.  Weave in ends.

Small Circles:
(make 18 in red, make 9 in green)

R1: Make 10 dc in a magic loop, pull loop tight, sl st to first st to close round (10 st)
Fasten off.  Weave in ends.

To Make the Garland:

Using white yarn, sl st across large white circle, (ch 6, sl st across small red circle, ch 6, sl st across small green circle, ch 6, sl st across small red circle, ch 6, sl st across large white circle) 9 times.

Fasten off.  Weave in ends.

I made a short video tute to go with the instructions, which is a first for Crochet Dynamite.  I know, it's about time, right?!  The Belkin Tablet Stage made it so easy.  I got to just crochet away, and pick stuff up off my floor (you'll see) and I didn't have to worry about the dreaded shaky camera, since it held my tablet securely in one place.  I will say that I think my tablet camera had trouble with it's auto-focus, but that's something I can improve on in the future.

Mims liked wearing the garland as a scarf, she doubled it up and flipped it around her neck.  I like it on the (super bare!) tree,  It's fun and festive and a little silly, which I think should be my tree theme this year. 

One last thing about the Belkin Portable Tablet Stage - the software that goes with the tablet stage lets you write on your pictures!  How flippin' cool is that?!  Very cool.  I think I need a stylus, because my finger writing is clearly not up to par.  LOL!!  It makes me want to give a presentation!


*Full disclosure, while I received the Belkin Tablet Stage for free to try out, all of the opinions about it are mine alone.  It really is incredibly cool, and I loved working with it!  If you'd like to check it out, or get on of your own, you can go HERE:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Christmas Crochet Blog Tour and Giveaway!

**The Giveaway may be over, but I'd still love to hear what your favorite Christmas Crochet projects are!**

I have a confession to make:  I'm a Christmas Craft Procrastinator.  I know, it's sad, but true.  I chronically wait until after Thanksgiving to even start THINKING about Christmas projects. This means that every year I stay up way too late most nights, and still don't get everything finished in time.

Product DetailsBut not this year!  The folks over at Storey Publishing sent me a copy of their new book, Christmas Crochet for Hearth, Home & Tree by Edie Eckman.  Kids, Christmas is finally coming early for the Dynamite family!!

The first thing I wanted to make was some new stockings for the whole family.  A few years ago tragedy struck and our beautiful, handmade stockings were lost.  That year I just purchased some dollar store cheapies, promising that someday I would make us new stockings.  Four years later, I've finally made good on that promise!

There were so many stocking patterns to choose from (9, plus many variations!) I couldn't choose just one.  Mims got the Mix-and-Match Stocking (in Gryffindor house colors!). I got the Colorful Stripes Stocking. Jake got the Basketweave Stocking, which was my favorite to make out of all of them.  The single color, but great texture, made it really fun to work on, and I didn't dread weaving in ends when I was done!  I think they look so cute hanging from the mantle!

There are so many great decorations in the book!  I'm planning to make some cool crochet trees for the mantle, and there are a whole bunch of felted ornaments that I'm just dying to make with Mims.  There's even a tree-skirt pattern, which I desperately need since I usually just throw one of those fake "snow" blankets around the bottom of the tree and call it good.  

I think my favorite patterns in the book are for the crochet stocking and mitten Advent Garland.  The little stockings and mittens work up so quickly (Oh, how I love simple, well written patterns!).  However, I don't plan to turn them into the cute garland that they show in the book.  I'm planning to use them as gift-card holders!  I'm going to stick a candy cane (or a burt's bees lip balm!) and a gift card in them, which I think will make a great handmade present for Mim's teachers, my teenage cousins, and I'm even making backups for unexpected holiday guests!  

 Isn't the mitten so cute?  I set up our tree just to show you how adorable it is as an ornament!

By the way, seeing the tree up so early this year was shocking to Mims when she got home from school.  "Woah. Um, Mom, you ARE going to put other ornaments on it, right?"  LOL!!!

The little stockings are also super cute!  The purple and white stocking on the left was made with Red Heart Soft, and the Red and White stocking was made with Red Heart Super Saver.  I only mention it because the stocking is MUCH smaller with the Soft, which might, or might not be a good thing.  For a gift card and candy cane, it really doesn't matter, but if you wanted to put something else in there, you might want to use a worsted weight yarn on the larger end of the spectrum.

I think that Christmas Crochet for Hearth, Home & Tree is a cute little book, full of projects to decorate your home for the holidays.  It's just the right size to travel with you everywhere you go for the next 6 weeks!  Don't Christmas Craft Procrastinate!  Start your Christmas projects now!!!

Okay, so do you want to know the best part?  The amazing folks over at Storey Publishing are letting me give away a copy of Christmas Crochet for Hearth, Home & Tree!  If you'd like a chance to WIN your very own copy of this awesome crochet book, leave a comment below telling me your favorite projects to crochet at Christmastime along with a contact email address!  The giveaway is open from now until 11:59 pm Sunday, November 16th!  I'll use to draw a winner on Monday, November 17th!

Psst!  If you'd like more chances to win, check out the other blogs on the book tour!  They're all giving away copies of the book too!!!  There are only a few more days left!

4-Nov Moogly
14-Nov Yarning4aSmile

For even MORE information about Christmas Crochet for Hearth, Home & Tree, check these out:

Facebook: Edie Eckman and Storey Publishing
Twitter: @EdieEckman and @StoreyPub
Instagram: @StoreyPub


11/17/14 - - The giveaway is now closed! Thank you to everyone who commented!  I LOVED hearing about all your Christmas projects!!!

I used to pick a winner:

Congratulations to ajz!  I'll be sending you an email very soon!  


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Crochet Roses

If you follow my I Love Crochet board on Pinterest (and why wouldn't you?!  I'm a pinning rock-star! LOL!) you have probably seen that I went crazy pinning crochet rose patterns a few weeks ago.  I was crocheting a cadet hat for my sister, and I wanted to add a little extra to it, so I went looking for roses. The pattern that I liked the best (THIS one from Kati Crafts) was designed with small hooks and crochet thread in mind, but I wanted big, full blooms!  I used a size H hook and some worsted weight yarn and POW! I got some giant roses!!!

I ended up using one on my sister's cap, and I LOVE how it turned out! It looks SO good in person. I got the pattern for the cadet cap HERE from Sick Lil Monkeys.  It was so much fun to work up.

But THIS is what I'm the happiest about: I turned one of the roses into a giant pincushion!!

It's heavy enough to sit nicely on my sewing table, and the petals stick up nicely for me to poke the pins into easily.  I adore it!!!  I used to have a magnetic spot on the front of my old sewing machine, so I've never worried about pincushions before, but with my new machine I've been keeping my pins in a little dish which has resulted in more finger pokes than I like to remember!  Now my fingers will be nice and safe, and my sewing table is extra fancy!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Yorganza Ruffles!!

Howdy Dynamos!

I just wanted to let you know that I just finished designing a project for All Free Crochet using Yorganza yarn!   It's called the Frosted Rose Toddler Dress and you can find the pattern HERE! It's for sizes 18-24 months!

Lucky for me I was able to cajole my adorable niece, Katy-bug, into modeling it for me!

I'm such a lucky auntie!!!

I even managed to get a pretty good picture of my mom and sister with the model!  Three generations of cuties!

Mims was my awesome model-wrangler!  She kept Katy laughing and facing the right direction, when they didn't need to sit for a break!

Talking about Mims, this is her Halloween costume this year.  Every year we try to take a picture with my grandma (her great grandma!), so this is Mims, my sister Sandy, my mom, and Katy with my Mema.  Sandy is dressed as French Toast!  Mims and Katy are Elsa and Anna from Frozen.  Really original, I know, but Mims desperately wanted to wear a matching costume with Katy.  The highlight of the whole evening, for Mims, was when they went trick-or-treating and everyone thought she and Katy were sisters.  LOL!  

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