Friday, December 09, 2011


Yesterday, I became an aunt again...twice. Twin girls to my brother and sister in law, congratulations! Everyone is doing fine, and they're hoping to come home today. I decided to have some fun on Etsy and put together a treasury of 'pairs'. The items should be clickable, if you would like to see the listing page of something.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Window Shopping!

I do sell on Etsy, both patterns and finished items, and certainly do shop there too!  Sometimes, I kill some time hanging out in the team forums there and checking out other members' goods.
And sometimes, it's fun to put together a collection (treasury, on Etsy) of themed items that catch my eye. 
My latest one is from members of the Etsy Threadkillers Team, a fun group of people with a variety of crafts, supplies and vintage items to offer.  The pictures in this treasury should take you to the item's listing, clicking on the seller's name will take you to their shop. If you click on the treasury name, that leads to the treasury on Etsy, and the curator's name (in this case, me) leads, where else, to my Etsy page.

'December is...snow and ice' by Smudgekitty

Okay, so it's not exactly snow and ice here yet. More like mud and water...but it *should* be snow and ice. Icy blues and snowy whites from ETK team.

Hand Rolled Paper Beads...

Hearts of Joy and Lov -...

Christmas Bright Electr...

Snow Bird Sings The Son...

Sterling silver earring...

Holiday Blue and Gold H...

Crystal Gilded Covered ...

Artist Miniature Bear, ...

Floral Arrangement Blue...

Blue Abstract Art - Win...

Compote Vintage Hand Bl...

Glittery Round Snowflak...

Blueberries and Cream W...

Vintage Silver Glass Gr...

Crystal Puffy Heart Nec...

Blue Bell wedding cake ...

Treasury tool by Red Row Studio.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Free Patterns, Stocking Stuffers

Until I figure out how on earth I can edit my web page more easily, I'll add a few free patterns here.
Just in time for Christmas, for that naughty someone on your list...

Lump of Coal

App. size:  5.75cm in diameter
worsted weight acrylic yarn
eyelash or fake fur yarn
12mm-15mm safety eyes
polyester stuffing
crochet hook size H (5mm)
Lump is worked by holding acrylic and eyelash yarn together as one.
Rounds are not joined, place marker in first stitch of each round to keep track.
To sc 3 sts tog:  draw up loop in each of next 3 sts.  YO, draw through all 4 loops.
To dec:  draw up loop in each of next 2 sts, YO, draw through all 3 loops.

Rnd 1:  Ch2.  8sc in 2nd ch from hook.
Rnd 2:  (3sc in 1 st, sc in next) around.  (16)
Rnd 3:  Sc in 1 st.  (3sc in one, sc in 3) three times.  3sc in next st, sc in last 2.  (24)
Rnd 4-6:  Sc around.
Place safety eyes on one side between rnds 4&5. 
Rnd 7:  (Sc in 1 st.  Sc 3 sts together.) around.  (16)
Rnd 8:  Dec around.  (8)  FO, leaving long end for weaving.  Finish stuffing tightly.
With long end, weave in and out of stitches of last round, pull tightly to close and weave in securely.

And for those that weren't quite so naughty:

Everlasting Snowballs

worsted weight acrylic yarn
eyelash or fake fur yarn
12mm-15mm safety eyes
polyester stuffing
crochet hook size H (5mm)
Snowball is worked by holding acrylic and eyelash yarn together as one.
Rounds are not joined, place marker in first stitch of each round to keep track.
To dec:  draw up loop in each of next 2 sts, YO, draw through all 3 loops.

Round 1:  Ch2.  6sc in 2nd ch from hook.
Rnd 2:  2sc in each stitch.  (12)
Rnd 3:  (2sc in 1 st, sc in next) around.  (18)
Rnd 4-6:  Sc around
Rnd 7:  (Dec, sc in next st) around.  (12)
Place safety eyes between rounds 4&5.  Stuff piece firmly.
Rnd 8:  Dec around.  (6)  Join, FO, leaving long tail for weaving.
Stuff more firmly.  With long tail, weave in and out of stitches of rnd 8, pull tightly to close and fasten in end securely. 

*I've also made these snowballs with a Christmas eyelash yarn in white with red and green flecks along with white acrylic yarn for a 'peppermint' ball.  They make great Christmas ornaments, just thread some ribbon or invisible nylon line through the top and make a hanging loop.

**These patterns have been tested by myself.  If you do find an error, please feel free to contact me at crochetsal (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Window Shopping

Window shopping for now!  But, I do have a brother whose wife is expecting twins later this year. : )
I think I spotted this seller in the forums on Etsy:  her avatar was enticing enough to make me click, and I am so glad I did!

DiaperCakeBaby not only sells completed diaper cakes, but offers instructional videos for creating adorable accents out of washcloths!  They would look awesome on a diaper cake, but I am also thinking some would make great shower favours, like these lollipops (click on images to see the listing):

 Some would be great in a bouquet centrepiece for the mom-to-be, like these tulips
The seller has other wonderful instructional videos for carrots, peas in a pod, cars...and does sell a licence agreement in order to sell items made from her designs.  So, whether you want to have some fun creating something special for the mom-to-be and the new baby (or babies, as in my sister in law's case!), or would like to create diaper cakes adorned with these wonderful pieces to sell, DiaperCakeBaby's shop is a must-see!

***Images used with permission from DiaperCakeBaby.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Fall is Coming!

It has to be coming!  Our Sears Fall & Winter catalogue arrived a month or so ago, so autumn can't be too far away.  Since the catalogue arrived before we'd had any real summer weather, I put off opening it, wanting to enjoy summer for a while before thinking about fall!  It is waiting patiently in its plastic wrapper to be opened when the time is right.

I've started designing a few Hallowe'en items, along a goblin line.  I had such fun with the bulging eyes and protruding nose on my Snot-Nosed Goblin Hat
that I wanted to try something similar in other projects.  I was describing to my neighbour about the water bottle cover I was working on, how I hated setting it aside just when I got 'into' it to get dressed and trot off to work, when she mentioned 'wine bottle'.  So, there's another project or two.  :)
Now, if only I can stay off the computer long enough on my day off to 'get into' my water bottle cozy, I may just finish it today.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Welcome to August!

This side of July, Christmas seems like it's just around the corner.  Maybe due to all the special days and activity between August and December.  I mean, back to school, Hallowe'en, Thanksgiving (my birthday!).
We took a bit of a vacation this year, and tried something new:  we decided to rent a cottage.  After much looking on the net (MUCH, with no help at first) I narrowed choices down to about 6, then BEGGED the family to check them out.  I will say, this one was in the lead...until I found out there were leeches in the water.  To me, no big deal, we could still canoe or use the rowboat, just no swimming.  But to a 16 year old girl, NO WAY was she going anywhere near water with leeches.  (That she knows about!)
So, she chose one in Owen Sound that was listed on RentCottage.  The house looked nice, a little private, but not overly so.  Four bedrooms, bath, laundry, nice wrap around porch, sounded great...and we got a 'last minute' savings and wound up paying $1,200 and change for the week.
This was the south side of the house, the porch where I had my morning coffee almost every morning and watched the ducks, geese, kingfishers and cormorants.  Not to mention the little chipmunk and vole that I spotted on a couple of occasions.  There is a private marina for members only, behind me as I took this picture.

A view of the sunset over the bay, and below, a shot of the moon over the marina.  If I'd had a tripod with me, the picture might have turned out a little better, the moon didn't just shine on the water, it glowed.
While there, we did go out and about just a bit.  The owner of the house had told us about a market every Tuesday in Keady, so on Tuesday, we headed out.  No pics, sadly.  The market was huge!  Others may be used to that, but I'm used to markets on a much smaller scale at festivals and the like.  The parking took over a large field, and there was row after row after row of vendors.  There were the resellers that you normally see, and many handmade, antique/vintage booths, and food!
Afterward, we stopped at a quaint little diner in Kilsyth where the owner was very friendly and chatty.
  After finding out where we'd been, he commented that some of the produce sellers DID grow their own, but some bought in Toronto, then hauled it there and claimed they grew it.  Ya gotta love honesty in a seller.

We also took a very short trip up the road to Indian Falls Conservation Area.  Indian Falls is a 'tad' smaller than its cousin farther south on the Niagara Escarpment, but beautiful nonetheless, and made for a nice hike.
Add caption

^^ The falls from the trail along the escarpment .
And from the top of the falls--->>

Across the bay from us and a little north was Hibou Conservation Area, the brochure at the cottage boasted a swimming beach, so off we went.  The beach was large, more so because there were only 2 other families there.  Once we got in the water, that made about 5 people swimming.  The bottom alternated between smooth rocks and sand, and was very clear, not at all like Lake Erie where you're afraid to put a toe in the water and health warnings on beaches abound.

In town, we checked out a few shops.  Sadly, no one would let me go in the yarn shop.  Our youngest daughter and I did visit a secondhand book shop.  I don't think our town library has that many books!  Paperbacks on wire racks along both walls, on racks in the centre, all stacked 4-5 deep, piled on tables, under shelves, towering stacks along the counter, I swear it would have taken weeks to go through them all.  And the owner was great, chatted with us a bit, a total contrast to the guy in the first bookstore we stopped in who barely spared us a glance or even a word when we finally went up to pay.

To go back to the cottage...actually, I really would like to go back!  The house was finished in 1919 by the grandfather of the two men who currently own it.  Bill and Bob were awesome 'hosts'.  They did respect our privacy, but as owners, suggested places in the area to visit, and Bob even treated us to a boat ride toward the end of the week.
The house is for sale.  Once we got home, my curiosity took over and I looked it up on the realtor's site.  Asking price:  $995,000.  I tried digging through my couch and loveseat, checked the washing machine and even the car and still come up short.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Some people just don't get it!

A few weeks back, I noticed a seller on an online selling venue selling PDFs of patterns that looked REALLY familiar.  Since they had requested to join a team I manage, I thought I would be nice and caution her against this.  Lawyers are hungry people (apparently Disney's lawyers have a particularly voracious appetite for copyright and trademark infringers! but I digress) and who wants an official letter telling them in legalese that what they're doing is stealing? 
After a week or so, the patterns were still up.  So...YES, I DID contact the magazine that published them.  I had a brief reply thanking me and mentioning this had been passed on to their lawyers.  The patterns were removed, so I assumed the magazine or its lawyers contacted the seller.
BUT, a few weeks later, BAM!  The patterns were put right back up in the seller's shop.
I contacted the magazine again, via the person who replied to my first message, and got an answer today...this has been passed on (again) to their lawyers, AND the selling venue has been contacted, so there's a possibility this shop will be shut down.  
I mean, honestly...what HONEST person ignores a friendly word of advice and prefers to wait to see if they're busted by the legal owner?   Of course, most honest people KNOW you cannot sell scans of someone else's work legally, or even morally.
Now, 'who wants an official letter telling them in legalese that what they're doing is stealing?'  The same person who admits she doesn't know *who* designed the patterns, they were in her collection and she wanted to 'share' at 'bargain' prices.  I have a feeling if her shop is shut down, she is such a generous, sharing person (with other people's goods anyway) that she'll merely open up under another name.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The pitter patter of little feet!

It took several weeks after our cat passed away in January for me to even consider getting another cat or kitten.
When I was finally ready to think about it, *someone* put their foot down:  no more pets!  Then, a couple weeks later, it was "no more pets before we go on vacation".  Last week, *someone* decided while we were in Windsor that we would stop at the humane society on the way home.  Of course, that someone was looking at dogs, our 13yo and I looked at the numerous cats and kittens.  Sadly, it did not surprise me that there were SO many kittens, a lot of people don't feel it's important to spay or neuter a cat.  (side note:  if you have EVER had a female cat go into heat, you would NEVER consider NOT spaying a female ever, ever, ever again!  The added benefit of neutering a male:  if he has not yet sprayed, chances are, after the surgery, he will not spray.  Cat spray is as much a desired fragrance as skunk spray.  Not quite as potent, but definitely pungent.)
We humoured my husband and did look at the dogs--if we didn't have two already, I would certainly have considered one or two of them!--then suggested he look at the cats with us.
The result:  we brought our 16yo back the next day to help pick one out.
After 'test driving' 4 kittens ranging from 2-9 months, three of us couldn't agree.  I was easy.  We took a few minutes to discuss things outside, then went back in and saw a 2 month old calico kitten, similar to the older one my husband had looked at.  An assistant showed us into what I shall call the visitor's room, brought in the kitten, and we ALL agreed.
Now, technically, we are only fostering her until a week after her appointment in July to be spayed.  I didn't ask what they do with people who don't show up for the appointment, but curiosity may force me to ask in July.  Hopefully they chase the people down and either retrieve the animal, or force the 'foster parents' to bring the animal in for the surgery.  I'm sure most people who see the result of people refusing to take responsibility for their pets wouldn't consider avoiding the appointment, though.  (says Sally hopefully)

My husband picked up little Cairo the next day, and she has certainly made herself at home.  One coincidence: the birthdate on her papers happens to be the same day my sister Sue (1968-2002) was born--March 17th. 
A week later, Cairo still tries to play with our older cat, who seems to have forgotten what it was like being the new kid on the block and trying to make friends with a grumpy older resident...she is warming up a bit to the dogs, today I even caught her laying on her back trying to swat our part sheperd's tail as he stood in front of my husband wagging it.  I imagine that must be tempting to a young kitten!  And, little Cairo doesn't hiss and growl if one of the dogs gets too close, as long as they don't move too quickly.
I have discovered that Cairo likes my laptop.  The computer too...but the laptop more.  When it's closed, she lays on top of it.  When someone is using it, she walks across it.  Which can lead to some momentary confusion when your top toolbar suddenly disappears, or you can't scroll or click on anything.
I think she also likes the television, I'll know for sure if I come into the room to find the tv tuned to Animal Planet instead of Space. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I think I was called a liar this morning

But I did laugh.  After I was safely in the back room out of earshot of customers.
I was putting some more reduced items on our produce reduced rack as an older couple were walking away.  The man said to his wife "Hey, she has bags of mushrooms."  So, they turned back.  The woman picked up a bag from my cart and turned it over in her hands.
Her:  "How much?"
Me:  "They would be $4.40 a kilogram...that's about $1.99 a pound."
Her:  "THAT'S not half price!"
Me:  "Actually, the regular price is $8.80 a kilogram, or $3.99 a pound."
She looked at me with what looked like a mixture of disgust and anger on her face.
Her:  "IT IS **NOT**!"
She put the bag down and walked off.  I walked off too, after I finished at the reduced rack, and laughed as I told a fellow employee about my encounter.  His response?  "They're $8.80 a kilogram?  Since when?" (Okay, so he hasn't been paying much attention to the mushroom price over the last few months either!)
Uh...I may not always remember what on earth day it is, and I may sometimes fib a little about my age (but when pressed, I do reveal my true age), but I've been bagging up reduced mushrooms several times a week, and they HAVE been $8.80 kg/$3.99 lb for weeks now. 
It makes me wonder if she's someone who shops with total disregard for how much produce really is...until there's a 50% off sticker slapped on, THEN they're aware of the price.
Honestly, I did feel a bit sorry for her, I think I burst the bubble of denial over high prices she'd been living in.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spring at last.

At least, I *think* it is.  It feels like it finally, smells like it...and hopefully I can get to my garden at last to remove the almost foot high weeds that had no trouble growing in the colder spring weather.

I would like to say thank you to my daughter Allie for my banner, she loves playing with graphics and creating her own for herself and others.  I may have to recruit her to do more soon.  :)

I have been working on my 70s colours afghan, and am almost done the last square and will be ready to assemble soon, I'm looking forward to having it finished and taking pictures--hopefully some good pictures--and listing it in my Etsy shop.  I love that you can take a few colours from a bright and playful project such as this:

add a few different colours, and have a very different, very retro 70s project! (Stay tuned for pics!)

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Companies are quick to take money, but...

Yes, we all knew that.  But did we know how hard it is to stop GIVING them the money?
A few years back, when our furnace broke down, I called for service and was talked into buying their protection plan, it would cover the visit, maintenance, and any future service calls it may need.  Since it was cheaper to do that than pay the actual service call, okay.  Please note, my husband's name is on the account, I'm not sure if I'm even an add-on.  Most places won't even till you what time of day it is if your name's not on the account due to strict privacy laws here.  Heck, I remember Bell, when I tried to call just to ask if they were having problems with their internet in our area, I had to give them my password...strangely, with Cogeco, a similar call got me an automated message that would tell even a wrong number that their service was down--so, no password required for that sensitive information!

I digress:  I was told then that the furnace was more than 40 years old, that if it broke, chances were, they would not be able to find parts, we needed a new furnace.  (He rigged it so it would work, but he wasn't sure how long that would hold.)  Well, that and I'm pretty sure at that age, the dinosaur is not exactly energy efficient.

Flash forward to today, I've been paying $20 a month, *just in case* the furnace broke down and somehow, they would HAVE to help us.  We've had no problems, have paid them somewhere in the area of $700, and haven't even called for a maintenance check in all that time.  With both of us working full-time, and warmer weather coming (eventually), I felt it was worth taking a chance and cancelling the protection plan.

Yikes.  First, I explained the situation.  She put me on hold, came back, tried to talk me into keeping the plan.  "NO.  If it breaks, we're not looking at FIXING it, we're getting a new one, and do plan to have one by the next cold season anyway."  She puts me on hold again, someone else from some other department gets on, tries again to talk me into holding on to the plan.  I repeated what I told the other one.
She finally gave in, BUT, I have to EMAIL my request, they need a signature.  HUH???  I started to get angry but kept my cool, she explained that because it was a contract...BULLFEATHERS.  I've cancelled other contracts similar to this one without having to act like a circus animal and jump through hoops.

Send them that email?  You bet!  When we do start looking for the new furnace, will it be through them?  Highly doubtful.  And we may start looking to buy a hot water heater as well instead of renting.

And along the lines of companies eager to take your  money...please, be VERY cautious when dealing with retailers that will offer you credit no matter what.  Even if it's a low amount you're paying out per week, most often you'll wind up paying a lot more than if you'd saved up and bought the item cash.
It really does tick me off that people with no/poor credit can so easily be preyed upon.  I know someone who was in very rough financial shape.  Easy Home offered a great way for her to get new furniture, low payments a week, that's great!  Unfortunately, they don't emphasize ahead of time what you will actually have paid by the time you're done...
This friend, seeing that she was doing okay with the payment for one set, decided to purchase something else she wanted.  Then later, another....she wound up going about SIX or SEVEN times.  When she lost her job, she was left with no money to make  the weekly payments, which led to sixty or seventy dollars EVERY WEEK she fell behind.  Why so much?  It was $10 per TRANSACTION, and Easy Home does not combine them easily.
Sadly, Easy Home did get their furniture back, and my friend was left with almost nothing in her house.  Of course, this was after Easy Home drove to her house several times a week, at least once, followed her when she was out driving through THREE towns, and then, according to one neighbour, offered him money to let them know next time she went out so they could come sit on the porch and wait for her return.
To finish this one up, friends got together and helped her purchase a new living room set--and my friend was amazed that  a NEW set could be purchased so inexpensively, when she paid about triple through Easy Home.  :(
I am not saying never use Easy Home or companies like them, although honestly, I'd much rather buy second-hand than through them, I'm just advising that if you should consider purchasing through them, KNOW what you're getting in to, and do NOT be sucked in to buying more than you can really afford.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Chasing away the winter blahs

We had a teaser of decent weather last week, of course being on midnights I slept half the day away and missed it, and now we're back to the brutal reality of winter.  Freezing temps, more snow, and even freezing rain in the wee hours this morning...with more snow expected tonight.
I love creating with colour, and browsing through Herrschners one day, found their kids brites yarns.  I will say, I was slightly disappointed with their green and pink, and I do think it's hard to make a vibrant/almost neon lilac, but the afghan made from this yarn was bright nevertheless.
Now, I have bought bright yarns before, think they were Red Heart yarns, and they were bright!  I think that's what I was expecting with the Herrschners yarns; even knowing that computer monitors can vary, the colours on their site seemed to almost glow.  The colours I used were the pink, lime, aquamarine, light purple, and tangerine, which is more like a true orange than a tangerine.  The square used is my Autumn Warmth 12" square, although with the yarn/hook used, they were a bit smaller than 12".  They were assembled in strips of 3, with a border around each strip, then a final border around the entire assembled ghan.
The afghan measures 36" x 36" (about 91.5cm x 91.5cm), and would make a great gift either for a shower, or for a new baby--I can just see a toddler holding a favourite doll in one arm while dragging this as it hangs from the other.  This one is finished and ready to ship, just click on the picture for the listing, or one can be made in your choice of colours--including more traditional baby colours!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Farewell, Dear Friend

Smudge at 18 1/2 years, in an extremely rare moment, laying beside our Westie on the back of the couch.
We had Smudge for 18 1/2 years.  We got her in the spring from a friend whose cat had a litter; Smudge was the name my friend had given this little tortoiseshell kitten, and it did seem to suit her, so it stayed.
When she was young, she loved to chew things.  I remember one pair of red high heels that was one of my favourite pairs of shoes:  Smudge chewed the heels and made them unwearable--to my husband's delight, he hated those shoes. 

A few years after we got Smudge, we became pregnant with our first child, and Smudge was there to greet us when we at last brought our little bundle home.  The cat accepted Delainey (more than she ever accepted any animal we brought in to her home!), and taught Delainey as she grew how to show affection by pushing her head against you.  Honestly!  I would ask for a hug, and I got a gentle headbutt from my now toddler.

When Delainey was two, we discovered we were to be blessed with yet another baby.  By then, we had moved to a slightly bigger apartment, and decided to bring in another cat, this one a male orange and white that we affectionately called 'Scooter'.  Yes, the name did fit him.  He would hide around the corner, and as you walked by, jump out, attack your ankles with his clawless front paws, then dash off madly, leaving you standing there laughing at his antics.
Delainey took to Scooter, as did our second baby girl, but Smudge would have nothing to do with him.

A few years later, and another two moves, we were now in a house of our own, complete with a new four-legged addition to our family:  Buster, part sheperd and part terrier we were told by the Humane Society where we picked him out.  Sadly, Scooter was found lifeless in a neighbour's yard after we'd been here just a couple of years, I can't remember if he associated with the dog at all...but Smudge did not.

Several months later, we brought in another second cat, this one we didn't have to worry about choosing which cat to adopt from Kittenaide...Vixen (afterward called Stormy) chose us.  When we brought her home, wondering how she would react with the dogs (two by now, our second being a Westie called Daisy), we discovered to our delight that she would play with the dogs...and the dogs with her.  Anyone watching might have been frightened upon seeing Buster's teeth around Stormy's little kitten neck, but sitting as closely as I was, I could tell he was holding back and we wouldn't have to worry. 

The difference in the two cats was huge:  Smudge didn't like animals, Stormy did.  Smudge didn't like to play, Stormy did.  When winter weather hit, Smudge still enjoyed going outside, Stormy did not.  :)
A few more years passed, and Smudge started to show her age.  Her once charcoal and orange coat had faded to a light grey and pale orange coat.  She stopped wanting to go outside as much, especially in the winter.  Last summer, she stopped eating and simply laid on her cushion in the basement and we feared it was time for her to leave us.  After three days, this spell ended, and Smudge was her 'normal' self once more.  The winter of 2010-2011, Smudge didn't go outside at all, but by then, she was approaching what to us would be 90, and having lost a lot of weight, I am sure the cold would have seemed even colder.

Near the end of January, Smudge again stopped eating.  One night, she jumped from the seat of the couch to the floor and fell over.  She did manage to get up and walk to the kitchen, where she wound up laying on her side on the mat with a small patch of urine beneath her.  I knew my dear friend of almost 19 years was leaving us soon, this time there was no doubt. 
Thursday, January 27th, I went to work, wanting nothing more than to stay home to be with my feline friend.  When I came home from work Friday morning, rather than heading off to bed once the girls were in school, I laid awake on the couch, with Smudge as comfortable as I could make her in a box beside me.  How could I fall asleep when I didn't want to leave her alone in her final hours, for I knew it would be only hours.  I petted her, and watched as her breathing slowed until she drew her last breath.

I had known it would be hard to say good bye, had known the time was coming and thought I would be prepared, but losing my faithful pet was devastating.  I cried all day, and still as I write this, there are times I feel that if I turn my head from the television, and look at that dent centred on the back of the couch, there will be a little ball of pale grey and orange fur looking back at me.
To Smudge, not a cat, but a dear, beloved part of the family, I find it hard even now to say...good bye.