Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dainty Keepsake Afghan

It's done! and in the nick of time, too. The baby shower was at 11:30 this morning. I finished the Dainty Keepsake Afghan at 4:30 yesterday afternoon and washed it at 10:00 last night. I'd say that was just under the wire. The details: It's Lion Brand Baby Soft sportweight, just short of three skeins. I got the pattern from the Leisure Arts booklet Keepsake Baby Afghans, purchased at Michael's. This is a pretty good booklet; it's not cheap, but there are six baby afghan patterns with no duds in the bunch. Any of them would make a pretty gift and would be enjoyable to make. The photos are clear, and show the body and border stitches in detail. This is a valuable aid to me because I've learned over the years to read patterns, but a clear picture can make all the difference to me. If the pattern is not clear to me I can usually duplicate the look from the image. Unlike knitting, where I am a slave to the pattern, I have great confidence in crochet, probably because I learned when I was so young I have no memory of it. I'll count a million times, usually nearly every repeat, but it takes me no time to memorize a repeat, and if I don't like the way something looks I'll tear it out without hesitation and work it differently. I'm not afraid to fudge a little to get the stitch count back on track, either. I can also tell with more confidence how long it might take me to finish something. I did end up working the picot edging that I thought would be such a pain to do (and it was, but well worth the effort), but I tried about three possible variations until I found one that lay flat and looked good to me. The mother-to-be loved it, and a couple of the shower guests thought it might be fun for me to teach them to crochet (I think so too), so I'd say it was a success. I'd love to infect a few more people with the crochet bug, but I'm not altogether sure my rough and ready skills are up to the task.

Last weekend I cashed in the Lowe's gift certificate I won at our company anniversary party and bought some crepe myrtles and ribbon grass for the empty bed in the back yard. One young man at the first store I visited told me they did not have any yet because it is too early to plant crepe myrtle, but because it's actually just about too LATE to plant crepe myrtle here I was not convinced and motored on over to another store. There I was able to score four young white trees, of the variety Natchez at 75% off. They are about 8 feet tall, and all but one have great roots. I must admit they are very skinny and puny looking at this point. I think they will look just beautiful with the green and white ribbon grass I planted between them. They've been in a week, and all but one have new leaves sprouting already. The slow starter looks good; I expect to see some kind of new leaf action in the next week. Crape Myrtle is a great shrub/tree for this area. It will flower for about three months during the hottest period of the year in every shade of red to white and comes in every size from shrub to tree. It's drought tolerant once established and can look good with minimal attention. Thoughtfully pruned (avoiding the dreaded crepe murder) they can look good even in winter because they have a nice shape and beautiful bark. Even at full price they are inexpensive and don't need a lot of expensive fertilizer. I went out tree shopping in my Focus. When I arrived at my car with 6 bags of mulch, two good sized ribbon grass plants in pots and four trees there was a car parked in front of mine with some people in it. When I got everything in my car without even a leaf hanging out and closed the doors they applauded!

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