How I Kit Up My Crocheted Blankets

This year appears to be the year of crochet. At least, for me it is. I have so many projects that I want to try and definitely not enough time! About a month ago I went through my yarn and kitted up seven or eight blankets for Project Linus. Very few people know my process, so I thought it might be fun to show you how I do it. Often I will spend a few hours kitting up several blankets so that I don’t have to do it very often.

My first step is to draw my blanket template on a piece of paper with the required info that I use for each blanket.

Blank Template

As you can see, I have my blank blanket shape on the left. At the top right it says, “88 rows, 1oz approx equals 3 rows, ch 154, I hook.”

I like to use 88 rows because it’s an easy number for me to remember (88 keys on a piano… it only has to make sense to me, not you). Not every blanket is 88 rows. It all depends on how the pattern is turning out and if I calculated the amount of yarn correctly. Typically they are and they turn out to be around 39″ x 54″. I like this size because it’s not too big for a little kid and yet a teenager could use it as a lap blanket, too.

I use #4 worsted weight 100% acrylic yarn and have approximated that I can get about 3 rows out of 1 oz when I make a blanket this size. I like the ripple pattern because it’s easy to remember and gives the blanket a bit of interest. Also, the lady that I first started following who crocheted a LOT of blankets for charity used the ripple pattern. The pattern that I use is essentially the Rustic Ripple by Terry Kimbrough, but with some alterations that the woman used for her blankets and then I threw in a few of my own. It all came about from trial and error.

Now onto the fun part. I stand in front of the yarn pile and let my gaze wander.

Yarn Pile

Since these blankets are for kids I try to make them fun and interesting. To me, that means starting with multi-colored yarn. So I pick a few out of the pile to see what jumps out at me.

Step 1 Choice

As I look at these I consider the colors and first determine if any of them turn me off instantly. If no, then I think about the blankets I’ve crocheted recently and determine if I’m tired of using a certain color. Then I analyze the colors to see if there are any that I’ve been looking forward to trying. This usually helps me narrow it down to my starting point.

Trying Greens

I have decided to go with the Sweet Roll green and brown color. Now, what goes with it? What would make for an interesting blanket? I tried out two different greens to see which one went better with it. I also had a yellow that I thought might make an interesting color pop.

Colorway 1

When I think that I might have a set of colors I stand back and look at it. Hmmm.. nope. This doesn’t pass the test. Back to the yarn pile.

Picked-Thru Pile

Should I keep the current brown or go with a lighter version?

Contrasting Colors

No, I don’t really like that. Okay, what goes with everything but isn’t going to really stick out?

Going Neutral

Off-white! That will look nice.

And I’m not feeling the yellow, so that gets tossed back on the yarn pile. That leaves me with this:

Final Color Choice

I kind of like that. The brown will only be used to anchor the blanket (I like to use dark colors on the ends as my anchors), and then I will feature the multi-color Sweet Roll. This yarn will essentially do stripes of color, it won’t be variegated and all mixed up. I’m not really sure how that’s going to look so I think that using the off-white to balance it out might help. And who knows, I could get into the first section of Sweet Roll and decide that I hate it and change it completely.

Now that I have the colors that I want to use it’s time to draw the map.


On my paper I write down the colors that I’m going to use, the quantity that I have, and I calculate about how many rows that will give me.

Total Material

Remember, I am striving for an 88 row blanket so knowing about how many rows I can get out of each color is important to me.

I’ll anchor the blanket with the Cappuccino, give it a little break with some off-white, and then I have three skeins of the Sweet Roll, so I will do three big blocks of it:

Initial Map

I don’t really want to break into a new skein of Cappuccino for this blanket, so I’m playing it safe and only doing 16 rows in total of it (per my calculations I can do up to 27). Next comes the off-white, and let’s do 4 rows each. I make the dividing lines for the three blocks of Sweet Roll and a stripe of off-white in between each. Now this is where I really start to play with the numbers.

I won’t take you through all of my maze of thoughts, but here’s where I ended up:

Final Map

As you can see, I changed the number of rows for the Cappucino and the off-white. I stuck with the 12 rows each for the Sweet Roll due to my uncertainty about how it’s going to look. This gives me a little wiggle room if I want to increase those sections by a few rows and decrease the off-white blocks in between. We’ll see how I feel when I get to those sections.

Once I have this all figured out I put the yarn in a plastic bag, along with the map that I just drew, and put it in the pile.

Ready to Go

When I finish a blanket and want to start another one all I have to do is grab a bag and go. Everything is already worked out and put together. It makes things so much easier!

You’re probably wondering if I stick to my maps and just how close do these blankets turn out as compared to what I drew? Well, as you can see, the size of the stripe on my drawing doesn’t always correspond to the number of rows that I end up crocheting. Here are a couple of examples:

Blanket #15


That one was pretty close. As you can see, though, each section had the same number of rows. That makes it a little easier to visualize.

Blanket #14


Blanket #12

I wanted to show you this one because it shows that I often change things on the fly. These changes all happened after I started crocheting and saw how the variegated yarn was coming out. Also, you can see that I was only ch 153 at the beginning of this one, but I had trouble getting the rows to come out at the beginning and had to increase. So, I increased my ch and it worked. That’s why I always write how many to ch so that I don’t have to think about it otherwise I’m sure I would revert back to the 153.

Anyway, I hope that I didn’t bore you. I just thought some might find it interesting to see how I pick the colorways for these blankets.

Posted in Blankets, Charity, Crochet, Project Linus | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Magnifying Glass Stand

A few years ago Jay had made a hands-free magnifying glass holder for his mom. His aunt saw it and thought that it would work really well for her friends. She asked Jay if he could make a personalized one for them and he said sure. Then he forgot about it, life got busy, his CNC router had to be torn apart, then it was reassembled and finally he managed to get the stand done last week. Better late than never, right?

A heart was requested with their names and year on it.

Magnifying Stand Base - Unfinished

Thank goodness their names weren’t Susquehanna and Johnjacobjingleheimerschmidt because that would have been a HUGE heart!

I pulled out the sand paper and did the finishing sanding to it. Jay requested a light stain. After trying three samples we went with a cherry. Once that was dried we put two coats of poly on it and filled in the letters with acrylic paint. After that was dry I did the clean up work on it and applied one more coat of poly.

Magnifying Stand Base - Finished

The red and white colors were requested due to their Polish heritage. I think that it turned out really nice, don’t you? Once QC had approved it, the heart traveled on to assembly.

Magnifying Stand Hardware

All it required was an aluminum bracket and the magnifying glass.

Magnifying Stand Side

Voila! A hands-free magnifying glass stand. The bracket can be bent to re-position the magnifying glass as needed.

Magnifying Stand Top

I believe that Jay also added some LEDs to his mom’s magnifying glass, but this is just the Plain Jane model. His aunt was happy and that’s all that matters.


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Odds & Ends – 2-8-19

I hope you don’t mind, but I have some random things that I’ve been wanting to share. The problem is that I haven’t really had the right posts for them to be included. I decided that I’m just going to put them all in one unconnected post. Okay?

First I’ll wrap up some Christmas gifts that I haven’t shared.

My friend Patty loves the beach and so when I was out shopping I saw a sea shell wreath that I thought would be great… until I saw the price. I love Patty, but I couldn’t bring myself to pay that kind of money for some sea shells glued onto a wreath form. Especially when I knew that I could easily glue sea shells onto a wreath form. You’ve heard me say in the past that often my ideas appear to be good ones… and then I try to execute them. *sigh* I gave Jay instructions that the next time I come up with a “great” idea he needs to just stop me cold in my tracks. It took two weeks, and some burns, but here’s the sea shell wreath that I made:

Shell Wreath for Patty

Luckily I have a very resourceful husband because I had no idea how I was going to hang this once I had finished gluing it together. Jay figured out the hanging part and we were all set. Patty claims that she loves it, too.

Christmas day I was very impressed when my mom gave this gift to me:

Quilted Nativity Scene

It’s a quilted wall hanging! Jay thought she had painted the scene, so I guess it wasn’t as impressive when I told him how these are really made. Oh, and it’s not uneven and wavy. I only had one place to hang it in order to take a picture and so it was kind of moving when this was snapped.

Quilted Nativity Panel

I think that my mom did a great job with her long arm. I can’t wait to display it next year!

It was also right around Christmas time when I discovered that my Dresses for Missions group at church was going to send a bunch of stuff for baby boxes down to Haiti. The birthing center was in need of the necessities to fill the boxes (receiving blankets, diapers, etc) so that they could give them out to the women who were taking the classes. And yes, the boxes are used for the babies to sleep in, too.

I decided that I could easily make receiving blankets as they are fairly simple. To get the most bang for my buck I went to Goodwill and Salvation Army where I purchased flannel sheets that were in really good condition. They were the thinner flannel so they shouldn’t make the babies too hot. Then I took the sheets up to my mom’s because she’s got a lot more room around her cutting board than what I have around mine.

Dresses for Missions - Receiving Blankets

I simply used a plate to round the corners and then I serged the edges. Easy as pie.

My mom gave me a few baby hats that she had knitted to send along with them.

Dresses for Missions - Knit Hats

I am working on an actual dress for my group, but it’s not quite done.

Finally, I just wanted to show you something that made me giggle. Take a look at this picture:

upside down ketchup

I was shopping late one night and in a hurry, but when I got to the ketchup and saw this I had to laugh. Most ketchup bottles are now made to stand on their caps so that you don’t have to shake them to get the ketchup to come out. Typically you see them displayed standing on their caps. I don’t know if it was just this store where they were displayed upside down or what. I probably looked goofy with my head turned so that I could attempt to read the labels. It’s not easy reading them upside down!

Posted in Blankets, Charity, Crafting, Dresses for Missions, Quilting, Sewing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Project Linus Blanket #16

project linus blanket #16 1-12-19 - it's not easy being green

“It’s Not Easy Being Green”

This afghan came about because my mom had given me some variegated green yarn that she had in her yarn closet. I thought I had figured everything out, but I hadn’t. When I was crocheting it I got to the white stripe and realized that I was still very far from being done, and yet my notes had the white as the middle stripe. Obviously, something was very wrong! I decided that I needed another green variegated thread to round things out. Ha! Easier said than done. I only wanted shades of green and white in this blanket, but despite the fact that I looked at all three craft stores plus Wal-Mart… every variegated yarn with green in it also had other colors. Most of them had a shade of either red or purple. Yeah, that wasn’t going to work.

project linus blanket #16 detail

I dug into my yarn pile and pulled out all the different shades of green that I could find. I finally settled on one and used it as the big chunks in the middle to make up some ground. I almost named this a minty name, but considering the difficulty that I had with selecting coordinating colors I went with the ode to Kermit the Frog.

As soon as my wrist is back up to full power I will be able to continue work on the next afghan for Project Linus. It also has green, but I made sure to complete the layout before putting the paper in my bag. We are good to go!

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Crocheted T-Shirt Rag Rug

Right after Christmas Jay had vacation time to take. While home he decided to go through his dresser and get rid of shirts he no longer wore. I was hoping to donate them to charity, but they were either stained or had holes burned in them. Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away.


There were almost a dozen shirts. My mom crochets rugs out of scraps and denim jeans, so I thought I would try to use these t-shirts. I searched the internet for an easy pattern, and while I was involved in that search I came across a tutorial on how to make t-shirt yarn. It looked fairly simple, so I gave it a try.

cut t-shirt

I cut my strips into 3/4″ wide pieces as I didn’t want to be dealing with thick yarn. I have to admit that the step to turn the material into rounded yarn was mindless and enjoyable. I liken it to popping bubbles on bubble wrap. It’s so silly, but you can’t help yourself. To turn this flat strip into this:

t-shirt yarn

… all you do is tug on it lengthwise. That’s it! I know that scientifically it probably has to do with the weave and how you cut the t-shirt, but it’s still absolutely fascinating to me. This kept me occupied for a few hours as I had almost a dozen yarn balls to make.

I picked a pattern that was in my ‘Crochet World 40+ Must-Make Projects’ magazine that I’ve been drooling over since Fall. I’m not good at crocheting in the round, so I decided to go with a rectangular pattern. I’ve already decided that this will be used for the cats somewhere in the house, so it doesn’t matter what it looks like.

t-shirt rug 1-28-19

This is what I have so far. I worked on it for three days last week and I’ve had to put it aside. It killed my wrist! I need to figure out how to support my wrist a little better because it takes a bit of pulling for this to really crochet nicely. My wrist hurt so much that I didn’t dare pick up any of my crocheting for about three days. When I finally picked up the latest afghan that I’m working on I wore a support brace and only did one row of stitches. I didn’t want to aggravate it. Luckily, I’ve had some help.

chester crochet

You can barely see that Chester’s paw is touching my crochet hook. I told her that just because she’s touching it doesn’t mean that she’s actually crocheting. She just ignored me. She thinks that when I turn this blanket in to Project Linus that I’m going to give her partial credit for it. We’ll see.

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Machining Civil War Era Cannons

If you know me or have followed my blog for a while, you might already know that I’m a bit of a Civil War buff.


It turns out that my knowledge of this era came in kind of handy. Jay was trying to figure out what project he could make next in his machining shop.

small workshop bench 1-18-19

After all, what’s the fun in having toys if you can’t use them. For whatever reason he decided that he was going to make a cannon that fires. He would turn the barrel on his lathe and make the carriage out of scrap wood in his shop. Luckily he works at a foundry so he has access to all kinds of scrap pieces of cast iron.

scrap iron

His first attempt was to make a Napoleon cannon (one of the most popular cannons during the war). Here is an image of a 1857 model Napoleon gun that can be found on the Gettysburg Souvenirs and Gifts website:

1857 napoleon trinket

Jay did a really great job with the shape. He did this freehand without any kind of template.

cannon v 1.0 2018

My expertise was constantly being called upon. Did it look right? Does anything look off? Do the proportions look good? I have to say that I shocked myself with how much I’ve remembered about Civil War artillery since I haven’t really studied it in a while. At one point I wanted to be a tour guide at Gettysburg, but that’s not going to happen any time soon so I haven’t kept up with my reading.

top cannon 1.0 2018

We discussed a few things (like the carriage), but since Jay isn’t going for historically accurate it’s not a big deal. We just want it to be close to accurate. With that in mind, he did a few modifications.

napoleon cannon 12-218

Don’t those wheels look so much better??

top cannon 1.1 2018

Yes, it really does fire. There have been wads of paper towel shot all over the basement.

front cannon 1.1 2018

You can see that firing it has worn some of the paint away.

Did Jay stop there? Of course not! That would be too easy.

Next, he decided to model a Parrott Gun.

Here’s a picture that I have in my own personal photos:

bufordsdivision and 49thny

I know, not a very good picture, but you get the idea. It’s a smaller gun with a band running around the back of it instead of just the smooth bulbous rear.

parrot gun barrel 1-18-19

This is Jay’s version. It’s just a little guy.

parrott gun 1-28-19

Due to its size Jay was not about to try to make spoke wheels for this one. So it will just have to deal with the full plywood wheels.

parrott gun front 1-28-19

It makes quite the pop when it’s fired. Yes, this one has also been fired in the basement.

parrott gun top 1-28-19

Jay has done a really good job with the barrel profiles.

I had thought that we had reached the end of cannon models, but apparently not because I was soon called down to the workshop to see this one fired:

mortar 1-28-19

I suppose that your range of artillery is not complete without a mortar.

mortar front 1-28-19

After all, when you’re laying siege to a fort you need some oomph behind your shelling. Am I right?


You might appreciate this story… the workshop is technically right below our bedroom. I was just drifting off to sleep when I was startled awake by a POP!! I actually jumped. I then heard the laughter that accompanies almost every cannon shot coming from the basement. Apparently it was the maiden shot of this mortar that I’d heard.

Finally, we have reached the end of the J. Cannon line, but we do have one more weapon to showcase. Have you ever said to yourself, “Man, wouldn’t it be great to have a trebuchet?” Well, I no longer have to ask myself that:

trebuchet 1-28-19

I’ve been told that quite a few nuts have been launched in the basement using this weapon. Here’s an “action” shot:

trebuchet fired 1-28-19

Listen closely and you can hear the laughter, too.

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Sewing Room Mayhem

If you spent the last two months in your sewing room (or even your workshop!) in order to get ready for Christmas I’m sure that you are currently looking around at the mess that remains. At least, that’s what I’ve been doing. Chester and I went upstairs to try to tackle it, but she didn’t make it very far before she had to rest.

chester in her box 1-18-19

Poor Chester!

While she napped I carried on…

I ironed and put away the 10 yards of fabric I had purchased (during a great sale) to be used for ruffles on dresses:

dress ruffle fabric 1-13-19

I like to wash and iron my fabric before using it. Yes, I bought this pink specifically for ruffles because I have a LOT of fabric on my shelf that will coordinate with this color.

Then I started working on my yarn corner. I had finished a Project Linus blanket and realized that I didn’t have anymore kitted up and ready to go. So, I spent a few hours sorting through yarn, coming up with different patterns, and kitting them.

blankets kitted up 1-13-19

I now have 8 afghans kitted up and ready to be placed in my project bags.

crochet bags with dividers

Maybe we should go check on Chester…


Whoops! I woke her up. All of my sorting and color coordinating must have tuckered Bob out, too. Life is rough in our house!

Now, keep in mind I have kitted up 8 afghans and taken those skeins of yarn out of my pile. This is what I had left:

yarn pile 1-13-19

It’s a sickness. It’s called Yarnitis. You always worry if you have enough and if you should get more “just in case.” I am hanging my head in shame as I admit that since this picture was taken I have added more to that pile. I blame Jay. I told him about the $10 off coupon that A.C. Moore had emailed me, which could be used on sale yarn, and he encouraged me to go get more. To show Jay that I love him and that I take his advice to heart… I went and bought more yarn. My hands were tied! I had no other option.

I had one last corner to clean up. Actually, it wasn’t a corner as it was smack-dab in the middle of my sewing area.

pile of flannel 1-13-19

Joann’s had been running some really great sales on flannel… so I stocked up. To be fair, I’ve actually used some of it already.

Bowling Alley Accessory Bags

I purchased it for the bags to hold the bowling pins and marbles for the bowling alleys that Jay made as gifts. As I was purchasing that fabric I couldn’t resist a few of the other prints that they had. Despite the fact that Chester thought I had purchased it as a very nice bed for her in my sewing room (I keep a clothes roller upstairs for this very reason), I did manage to get it cleaned up. And I made these:

pillowcases 1-18-19

Flannel pillowcases!

They were okay for my first try, but I definitely won’t give them to anybody I actually like. I’m using them for our bed, and I’ll send a set to my sister (she won’t care because she has to share her pillow with a couple of cats, too).

I got the idea when I was thumbing through one of my mom’s quilting magazines. I saw an ad for a Pillowcase charity thing and decided to check it out. There is a pillowcase challenge happening through the All People Quilt website. I couldn’t find any local drop-off sites, but I was intrigued by the instructions for the burrito roll method of making this pillowcase and I had to try it. It leaves no exposed seams and the cases are easy enough to make. If I hadn’t been working on six of them it would have been a quick and easy project. I’m very picky about the pillowcases that I use on my bed, so now I will just make my own as I need them.

My sewing room is still a mess, but at least it’s somewhat more organized. I have another project that I’ve been working on using some of Jay’s old t-shirts that are too stained to give away. It’s a very interesting project and prepping for it was one of those simple things that intrigued me way too much. Let’s just say that what I was working on was akin to popping bubbles on bubble wrap. I’ll explain when I actually post about it.

Oh, look who’s up from her nap and ready for a snack!

Chester - Mama pay attention to me

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