Hanukkah and hiking

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First Hanukkah candles 

We lit the first Hanukkah candle yesterday, and of course, couldn’t resist the temptation to make something fried (I always declare that I won’t, and the kids always talk me into it).

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Then today we went for a little hike in the area where we live. The weather was beautiful, and the cyclamens and crocuses are beginning to poke out!

Wishing a happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish friends, and an enjoyable holiday season to the rest of ya’ll!

Modified Dragon Scale Crochet Gloves

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The crocodile stitch is one of the most fun crochet techniques I have mastered lately. Once you get the hang of it, it’s quick and easy.

I was determined to learn it because I had my heart set on making a pair of these dragon scale fingerless mittens for a friend who had actually written a book about a mysterious disease that leaves human beings covered in dragon scales – I figured it would be the perfect gift for her book launch. DSC_0347.JPG

I followed this tutorial, but once I got to the wrist part, I did a stretchy ribbed cuff in the round by working single crochets in the back loop only – you can find a tutorial for working stretchy ribbing in the round here. I am now really addicted to making stretchy hat brims and cuffs!

Because I was working with color-changing yarn and no two skeins are exactly the same, there were slight differences between the two mittens, but I was pretty pleased with the dramatic “dragon color” effect.

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And here is the recipient with her newly published book! If you’re into dystopian sci-fi with dragons, deadly disease, and major conspiracies, check out The Dragon Plague by Anna Mantovani.

Soft Shells crochet beret

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Since I’ve ordered plenty of enticingly soft velvet yarn, I couldn’t resist making another cozy beret for these cold rainy days. This one is snugger-fitting than my slouchy beret, although it uses the same amount of yarn – and, what makes me really excited, it’s the first time I actually wrote down a row by row pattern when making an original item, so now I can share it with you all!

Materials: 1 skein velvet yarn

Crochet hook 4mm/ G

Special stitches used: shell; single crochet two together (sc2tog)

Row 1: make foundation circle and work 12 double crochets into it.

Row 2: Work 3 shells across the dc (double crochet) tops. Slip stitch and join.

Row 3: Work two sc (single crochets) into the top of each stitch.

Row 4: Work 6 shells into sc row.

Row 5: Work 2 SC into the top of every second stitch: it would go 1sc, 2SC, 1sc, 2sc… All the way around, slip stitch and join.

Row 6: Work 9 shells into sc row.

Row 7: 1 sc, 1 sc, 2 sc in top of same stitch… Repeat all the way around.

Row 8: 12 shells.

Row 9: 3 sc, then 2 sc in top of same stitch, repeat all the way around.

Row 10: 15 shells.

Row 11: 4 sc, 2 sc in top of same stitch, repeat around.

Row 12: 18 shells.

Row 13: Now we’re beginning the decrease. Make 4 sc, then decrease by crocheting two sc together (sc2tog).

Row 14: 15 shells.

Row 15: 3sc, sc2tog, repeat around.

Row 16: 12 shells (or 13 if tension seems too tight).

Row 17: 2sc, sc2tog, repeat.

Row 18: 10-9 shells (adjust for tension).

Row 19: 1 SC, sc2tog… Repeat.

Row 20 onwards: make a few rows of brim in SC, adjusting for desired tightness of fit.

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In the photo: Tehilla (9) modeling the Soft Shells beret for me. It’s adult-sized so it looks a good bit slouchier on her than it does on me.

Chunky crochet hat with stretchy brim

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We’ve finally had some rain, which means long, cozy evenings with lots of yarn! I just finished making this lovely textured hat with a long stretchy brim that can be folded on itself.

It’s really quite similar to my Cozy Cabled Crochet Beanie, except that I made the cabling wider by adding two front post double crochets and alternating the location of the crisscross in each sequence.

I also opted to make the brim with single crochet, rather than slip stitch, in the back loops. It makes for a lighter, less dense texture, uses less yarn, and is less weighty.

Made with yak wool blend and crochet hook number 5.

A picnic lunch

It was a lovely, sunny day, and since Hadassah got up from her nap early, I hurried to pack a lunch and we took a short bus trip to the local park.

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Check out those eggs!

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The ducks got me confused at first, but I was told they actually belong to the guys in the picture below. They are apparently supposed to lay a clutch of 25 or so before the male begins sitting (I like this arrangement).

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This beautiful peacock ate from my hand before flying off. I do so miss having peafowl. Wish we had more space!

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A fountain.

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I’m so glad we were able to fit this trip in before the long spell of rain we’re supposed to have soon.

Hope everyone is having a lovely day!

Lots of sunshine

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November days are short, but sunny and breezy – perfect for picking, sorting, washing and drying dates that grow on some palm trees that apparently have been planted for purely decorative purposes. Well, we’re definitely not wasting these. Separate post about it coming soon.

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Look what a great find – a practically ready made deck path which is going to come in handy soon when we have lots of rain and mud. My husband found it discarded in the industrial zone, and we are going to sand and stain it.

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This handsome fellow belongs to our neighbors. It’s a Black Orpington and they have recently acquired a hen too. I will see about getting some hatching eggs in the spring (right now it’s not a very good chick season).

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Six days of creation art!

T-shirt yarn bicolor basket

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This was my first time crocheting a basket with t-shirt yarn, something I have wanted to do for a long time. Here are some insights I came out with:

Pros:¬†I love working with t-shirt yarn! It’s fairly stretchy and slides through the fingers so nicely, with none of the scratchiness of some super bulky yarns or fibers like jute.

It also works up extremely quickly. This little basket here was whipped up in about two hours total. Which brings me to…

Cons: I got a rather smaller basket than I thought I would get. The diameter of the bottom is about the size of a dinner plate. I love little baskets and have a myriad uses for them, but I was kind of hoping for a larger one this time. When I finished, I realized that if I want a larger basket, I would have to spend more on materials than I was willing to.

Tips: This was my first time using the waistcoat stitch, and I think it’s just perfect for baskets. It works up very similarly to single crochet, except that instead of working into the top of the stitch, you insert the hook right into the middle of the little “v” in the previous row. This creates a sturdier texture that is really great for getting the basket to stand up on its own.

I also feel I’ve discovered my favorite yarn proportion for bottom vs. sides: 1\3 yarn for bottom, 2\3 for sides. That is, if you have 3 skeins, use one for the bottom and two for the sides.

I’d love to try making my own t-shirt yarn, but I’m not convinced it would be a good use of my time. If I give it a go, I’ll be sure to let you know!