Saturday, December 20, 2014

Craftsy Best Sellers Sale (and My Latest Stash Additions)

It's been a while since I posted anything about my sponsors to the right of my blog (especially given the overall feel for sponsored posts in the blogging community lately), but I really wanted to share what I know is a great deal to be had on Craftsy. Before I launch into the actual sale info, I wanted to prove how much I feel it's a good deal by showing you what I recently bought, lol. This is Show and Tell Meg, after all :)

Craftsy can be a fantastic source for great prices on really nice quality crafting supplies. I have made many purchases from their supplies section over the years. About a week ago they had a sale that I just couldn't say no to and I came away with these:

They had this Cascade 220 Superwash Quatro on sale for $3.85 per skein - yes, you read that right! This yarn is up on right now for $6.79 per skein. The yarn has been discontinued by Cascade, so lots of places are running sales on it, but seriously $3.85 each for superwash 100% wool? That's just crazy. I grabbed 6 skeins of the Lupin colorway which has a great purple/fuchsia twist to it.
See? It's about like this photo in real life - a nice bright magenta/purple. I grabbed enough to make the Agatha cardigan with it, plus one extra for good measure. It's so pretty and squishy and soft. I just love it!
I also couldn't resist this fantastic deal - Lion Brand Cotton-Ease for 3.08 per skein! I've always wanted to use this yarn for a white sweater, but I've never felt like paying $6.50 per skein for it from Joann's. Even on sale at Joann's I never see it cheaper than $5.24 each, so $3.08 was an absolute no brainer. I'm not entirely sure what sweater I will make with this, but I grabbed 5 skeins so I should be good for most of the designs I had my eye on.

Just to dispel any thoughts of me telling you all this for my own gain, I paid for all of this out of my own pocket. I'm not being compensated by Craftsy at all for posting it here. It was just such a great deal I wanted to share.

All that being said, I wanted to also let you know about their Best of 2014 Sale. This sale is the "get what you really want for Christmas" sale, lol. All of their classes will be $19.99 or less, as well as some great deals on their supplies (this includes yarn, fabric, kits and more). The sale starts today (12/20/14) and runs until Midnight of Christmas Day (12/25/14). I haven't even seen what the prices are no the supplies, but if they are anything like what you saw I already got, I may need to snag a few deals myself :)

So check out the sale here and see if there is anything you can't live without! (P.S. You can still get express shipping and have it by Christmas if need be! Keep that in mind!) Have fun :)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

FO: Paulie the Poly

This is a project that I actually finished two weeks ago! I was hoping to have a funny photo shoot, but it just hasn't happened yet and I am so excited to show this off, so maybe you'll get funny photos in the future. For now, meet the biggest amigurumi I have ever made: Paulie the Polie.
He was made using the Roland pattern from Huge & Huggable Mochimochi by Anna Hrachovec. My sister bought me this book a few months ago and I hadn't made anything out of it until now. All of the patterns in the book are designed for super bulky sized yarn, so the projects come out enormous - much bigger than I was expecting, to be honest :) This guy is about the size of my nephew, lol.
I started making this after a particularly bad day - it was kind of comical in hind sight. I just needed a frivolous project to have fun making and not worry about it fitting anyone or being finished by a certain time. I also needed it to be made from yarn in my stash, which was the biggest deciding factor in making up this particular pattern. Back when I first started knitting, I went a bit crazy at a clearance yarn sale and bought a ridiculous amount of Lion Brand Hometown USA at $1.00 to $1.50 per skein. I've used a little here and there over the years, but most of it has just sat in a bin untouched. Thanks to this book, I know I will have use for it at last! This Roly-Poly used 1.65 skeins of the Charlotte Blue colorway and 2.20 skeins of Dallas Gray. That's almost 4 skeins of yarn in just one amimal! Craziness!
While I was making this up, I actually reached the point of thinking I would have to give him away simply because he was so incredibly large I would have no place to put him, lol. That shell took way too long to make, and I was getting a bit sick of it, lol. Once I had him put together though, I knew he was mine to keep. The night I finished him, I accidentally fell asleep on the couch using him as a hugging pillow - this has been his job ever since! He makes a perfect side pillow, even if it looks ridiculous to have him sitting in my bed, lol.
Just in case you don't believe me about the size of this guy, here is a terrible photo of him in action, lol. See - he's huge! When I was ready to stuff him, I was afraid I wouldn't have enough polyfill, but happily I did. This did take about half of my 32 oz bag though!
I really like how the body is constructed - the head and butt are just domed circles, but the tummy area is all done in garter stitch - this helps him stay bendable so he can roll up. Also you create yarn over holes as you work which is where each of the legs go. Believe me when I tell you - don't question the yarn overs! I just couldn't figure out what they were for (and I didn't read far enough into the pattern to find out, duh!), so when it came time to put them on the head I questioned their placement and ended up putting them in his chin. Yeah. I had to sew those holes closed and then try to ram his antennae through the bars between stitches, which was no easy feat, trust me. It worked out ok on his head, but I can't imagine having to figure out each of his legs the same way, so I was glad I obeyed the pattern.
The pattern calls for 25 mm safety eyes, which I definitely did not have in my stash. 25 mm is just shy of 1 inch in diameter, and I've never seen eyes that large at Joann's or Hobby Lobby before. Rather than order some online (and postpone my project until they arrived), I decided to make some out of felt. I used my Sizzix Paddle Punches and the balloon punch is almost 1" wide, so I just cut off the little balloon tip and called it a circle :) I embroidered French knots just to give him more life, and then I whip stitched around the eyes to secure them to the head. I think it came out really cute, and now he is baby safe :) Just look at that face!
All in all, I am thrilled with my roly-poly buddy. I had no name for him until he was completely finished, and I was just calling him "The Poly" and "My Poly" while I carried him around in one arm like a large baby, lol. In the end I thought that Paulie was a good name for him. He now sleeps with me every night - talk about an unforeseen practical make! Even though I made him at a crazy time when I should have been making gifts for others, he was just the bit of fun I needed to keep me sane. Yay for enormous Roly Polys!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

WIP: Christmas Procrastination

So, I've been plugging away at my Christmas gifts still ... frantically stitching my heart out in hopes of completing everything on time. I have reached the point on most of my items that I have to sit at home and devote time to them (either from confusing parts or small pieces and stuffing), so when I needed a travel project this weekend (that could be seen around my family members) I had nada. Against my better judgement, I started a sock.
This is my gorgeous new Knit Picks Stroll Sock yarn - it was so delicious and soft, it was just begging to be made into something. Needing something pretty quickly to grab and go, I decided to try again at the one sock pattern I have attempted (and not succeeded with) before - the lacy knee socks pattern from the Knit Sock Workshop Craftsy class. I started this pattern back when I first learned to knit, but quickly realized it was beyond my abilities. Plus I now know I had picked horrible yarn for this project (it was self striping). Anyway, I already had the pattern printed out and I knew which size to make, so I grabbed it and started. The pattern uses a swirl toe and a Tunisian cast on - I love the swirl of the toe, but my cast on could be tighter. Oh well, it's my first go, right? I love the lace pattern and it's an incredibly simple stitch pattern.
Here is the bottom - see the cool swirl? I'm pretty proud of it :) In one day of knitting I got farther in the pattern than I had years ago - and I had worked on it for at least a week, lol. Nice to see my skills have progressed a bit. Sadly, I haven't been able to work on it since Sunday because of my mad dash to finish presents this week. I am itching to get this baby on my foot and try out my first hand knit sock!

The rest of my projects are not safe to share here, but it won't be long before they are revealed! Wish me luck at getting it all done in time :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

After my great experience reading The Happiness Advantage, I was hooked on these science-based "self help" books; so I decided to grab another from the life-changing book list: The Power of Habit.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is a book that breaks down how habits form and why, and then gives you not only suggestions to change your own habits for the better but also gives countless examples who used each one of the suggested techniques successfully. The book begins by talking about how your brain works and where habits form (as well as why this is significant). All habits are a 3-part move: first you have the trigger, followed by the routine, then ended with the reward. The key to changing habits is to keep the trigger and routine the same (or similar), but change the routine. This means that when you see a plate of donuts, instead of eating one (the routine) and having your brain rushed with sugar (the reward), you can change what the donuts make you want to do but your body can still release the same chemicals to your brain as the sugar does. Pretty crazy, huh? If all you wanted to know was how to change your habits in a nutshell, there you have it. If, like me, you want to learn all the ins and outs, you should read the book. The examples included are all famous enough that I recalled hearing about them a bit before (even the sports references). I did learn a few new tidbits though. For example, did you know that in World War II, the government had to export most of our beef to the soldiers in Europe, leaving very little for the American people at large. To fill the need of proteins, the government launched a campaign on how to add organ meats to your weekly meals instead. They gave out pamphlets of recipes and put out (sort of) propaganda type posters and advertisements promoting things like liver. Ever wonder why our grandparents eat these organs that the following generations are disgusted by? It's because of this campaign. It was the most successful dietary campaign our government ever launched, and it is still the only one that successfully changed our diets so greatly. Pretty interesting, huh? That is just one teeny tiny notion in this vast book filled with other similar examples of habit change. The best thing is that the book doesn't just say, "Stop doing ____! You can do it!" It gives examples of other mass habit changes and then breaks down what made them work, which you can apply in your own life to better yourself.

There is so much that this book covers, it would be impossible to give a proper synopsis here. Just know that I thought it was an incredible book, and it really did help me to identify habits I didn't know I had and recognize how to change them. To me, that makes reading this book well worth the effort. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.