An Owl and a Cowl

My grandfather transformed into an anthropomorphic owl when I was a little girl.

He did this through the fables he wrote to me. The little girl in his stories went on adventures, while the “wise old owl” hooted a lesson or two.

An original OwlCard1“mad man,” Grandpa worked first at a large advertising agency, before starting his own. He was also a clever writer who, I think, kept a daily journal for decades. Until I turned ten, he also kept a log of all my activities, with pictures. After you’ve lived a decade, he reasoned, you could remember important events in your own life. Before that, it’s all a bit of a blur.

Our family’s patriarch turned 87 last week, and I couldn’t resist having a bit of fun with the card I made for him.

The Whooo’s the birthday boy? card:

I used this pattern from Love The Blue Bird’s blog. She made her owl in pastel colours. So cute.

I barely modified it. I used worsted weight yarns (except the beak was sewn on with super bulky, because I had it left over from making my pumpkin) and a 4 mm hook. I sewed the owl to the card stock after poking a couple of holes with a pin.



With the holidays coming up–and my dogged determination to make all my gifts this year–I have a bunch of half-finished projects sprawled across my apartment. But I did manage to put the final knot in one other project this week.

It’s Knotted by Nicole’s mindless scarf, using her pattern on Ravelry. I crocheted to 52 inches with the plan to make it an infinity scarf. I turned one side and sewed the edges togetherCowl Detail Photo1 with a craft needle. (She’s right when she says this project works up fast. I did most of it on the subway to and from work.)

I used Vanna’s Choice yarn, an acrylic, worsted weight in Grey Marble. The yarn was a gift and I liked the tweed flecks of brown and black. Oh, and I used a 5 mm hook.


And let’s take a minute to reflect on the amazing effort of our global yarn community this week – especially for Remembrance Day (or Armistice Day). So many great people crocheted poppies to sell to raise money for military causes and I’m so inspired!

Here’s just ONE of the many uplifting stories I read this week about a woman who made 1,500 poppies to celebrate her 70th birthday. I’ll save you the click: She sold them all and donated the proceeds to Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion. A round of applause for that!

So, what did you make this week?

Xo Jacquie

Holiday Spending Hang-Ups

Stressed out holiday shoppers are planning to spend less on gifts this year, a new study shows.

And I, for one, couldn’t be more relieved.

After another year of wedding-related events and new baby festivities, I’m strapped for cash. And yet, somehow all my friends are buying up houses all around me. Man, I’ve got to get more money in the bank.

Fortunately, it’s trendy to be cheap this year. A recent study done by the Bank of Montreal indicates that Canadians will spend an average $1,517 on the holiday season in 2014. That’s a more than 16 per cent drop from last year. I can only assume it’ll be the same for our friends south of the border, given the state of the economic recovery.

In that bank’s study, most of the drop came not from travel plans, but from gift costs. No doubt the Pinterest crowd is having some influence here. More upcycling and baking, less mass consumerism.

But the reminder that gift-giving time is around the corner is both exciting and frightening. I’ve gained a lot of new skills with which to make more complicated crocheted and loomed gifts this year, but I’d better start my engine! Time to make a gift list…

Meanwhile, I’m snuggling up in this beauty that I made to go with my new winter coat.

Victorian Cuff 1

It’s just a single panel made on the knitting loom, using the classic loom stitch over 24 pegs — 12 on each side. (Here’s a tutorial on that twisted knit stitch if you need a reminder).

I measured it around my neck as I went and when I figured I could slip my head through, I bound it off and tied a ribbon through it like a shoelace.

I figured the best way to do this was by putting a needle on the end of each end of ribbon and threading it through one side at a time. I cut about four feet or ribbon to let the tails hang extra long, but you could do less. I also secured the ends by melting them close to a candle flame to stop them from fraying. An alternative would be to tie them in knots.

The yarn I used was Loops and Threads Cozy Wool in a kind of mustard colour.

So, what did you do this week?

xo Jacquie

Haunted by Hallowe’en

Pumpkin1The annual opening of my Halloween goody box never happened in 2014. In fact, I forgot I’d even brought it up from the storage unit.

After years of tricks and treats–hollering at live renditions of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, prancing around in sexy costumes (Alice in Wonderland) or scary costumes (a bloody Jackie O), and carving up gourds–I all but gave up the ghost this year.

I just wasn’t feeling it, y’know? So, I cancelled my plans, which were vague anyway. I settled for baking this three-cheese mac’ and cheese (highly recommend), opening a bottle of Warlock (ditto) and watching Scary Movie on Netflix in my pyjamas, reflecting on how young and adorable Anna Faris is.

I was a perfectly happy cheese-filled lump until one lazy look at my phone. It was the witching hour and selfies were flooding in. One friend did a perfect RiFF RaFF, another the spitting image of Daenerys Targaryen, the Game of Thrones Khaleesi. A colleague’s son was a Ghostbuster, and there he was in full Stay Puft Marshmallow Man regalia.


How happy I might have been if I’d just kept away from the Internet! But this is the dark place we’ve all been caught before, where you realize social media isn’t making you any happier.

We’re at the point where research has explicitly told us that using Facebook will contribute to a decrease in life satisfaction, and yet the curiosity keeps us glued to our screens. As Slate put it: By helping other people look happy, Facebook is making us sad.

I couldn’t shake the feeling I was wasting the holiday sitting on my couch when I could have been out there taking my own sassy pictures. I started imaging what last minute outfit I could craft out of the bridesmaid dresses I’ve accumulated and wigs I’ve collected. I wiped the dust off the shoe box that holds all my Hallowe’en decor—maybe just a few last minute touches?

But it was too late.

Pumpkin2I settled for snuggling a little pumpkin that I crocheted for thanksgiving. A comforting little friend on a cold, rainy night.

Now Hallowe’en is over. I awoke to a November morning with snow on the ground. I’m sipping hot cocoa and looking at the pile of thick, snuggly yarn waiting to be caressed by my hook.

And just like that, I’m happy again.

Now U.S. thanksgiving is coming up! To make your own pumpkin for the table, just follow this tutorial. In the video, the pumpkin is crocheted with a little hook and a lightweight yarn. The yarn I used was Lion Brand Thick and Quick in (I think) Butterscotch, and I used a #8 hook.

(I added the vine curl myself by chaining a few, securing the loop with a single-crochet stitch and chaining a few more before tying off. I had some green yarn hanging around, but I can’t remember what it was!)

So, what did you do this week?

xo Jacquie

Grown-Up Stuff

Candle Dark 2When I turned 13, I had a birthday party where the only gifts I got were scented candles, picture frames and decorative journals.

It was the end of the 7th grade and all the girls I knew at school and dance lessons had come to some sort of unspoken agreement that it was time to act like grown-ups. Or at least, how we thought our moms acted.

After all, we were all menstruating now, and some of us (me included) were even tall enough to shop at adult stores. We completely gave up on the teen and tween sections that had been designed specifically to cater to our demographic, probably after a lot of expensive market research.

My best friends, most of whom still slept with stuffed animals and hadn’t got around to putting their Barbies into storage, were suddenly acting as though they were ready to embrace womanhood—to give up games and toys for the things we would need to start homes and establish careers. In reality, my bedroom looked like an aisle at Hallmark.

As I pulled fluffy tissue out of each floral bag at my party, I would coo over the natural beeswax, thoughtful choice of colour or inspirational phrasing on whatever unmemorable thing was inside. (A boyfriend would later tell me I’m really good at receiving gifts, whatever that means.)

But after the celebrations were over, I spent the rest of the summer’s evenings playing basketball and ping-pong with the kids on my street, mostly dudes who didn’t give a flying flip about scented candles.

One older boy bought a cheap plastic ride-on toy made for toddlers. We all took turns scraping our knees, zooming around the court at the end of the street yelling “RUBBER BABY BUGGY BUMPER.” To this day, I have no idea why.

Amazing how you only want to grow up until you do.

Years later, I’m be more likely to get a kooky figurine (read: toy) or game from a friend than ever before. There’s only one picture frame in my house. And I’ve donated all the too-decorative-to-be-useful journals I received over the years.

But whether it’s nostalgia or some other force, I do love a good scented candle. I light one almost every night.

Here’s a cozy cover I made to soften the glow of a new one:

Candle Bright1

Candle Flower 1This cover was made in the round on a the smallest circle loom that comes in the four-pack, you can make the sleeve as long as you’d like, and then stretch it around the glass – this one came from the dollar store!

To let the light through, use the Diamond Lace of Figure 8 stitch. And if you need a reminder on a super-stretch bind off, that’s here.

The yarn I used was Lion Brand Thick & Quick in the colour “Starlight.”

The flower was made with the second-largest pink circle on the Clover “Hana-Ami” flower loom. Get a flower loom here. And learn how to use it here.

So, what did you do this week?

xo Jacquie