The third book I read in the Back to the Classics Reading Challenge falls under the category of a Gothic or Horror classic. Now before I go any further with this review I need to give you some background ...
I do not like scary stories or being scared ... at all. I have been known to partially cover my eyes with my hands during particularly intense or scary scenes when watching movies. I've even thrown a crocheted blanket over my head watching the scary parts through the holes!  
...for the full review go to my new Wordpress blog!


I Have Moved!

... not to a new house, but I do have a new address; a new blog address that is. 

I have moved from Blogger to Wordpress and my new address is:

Please come visit! We can read together and crochet and have so much fun visiting!

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Thanks so much!

Reading Challenge 2017: Second Book Review

The second book I read in the Back to the Classics Reading Challenge is The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith first published in 1766. This book falls under the category of a classic originally published before 1800.

The book became very popular at the time of publication and was read and appreciated by many readers of the Victorian Age. Interestingly, the novel is mentioned in various works of George Elliott, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Mary Shelley, and Louisa May Alcott. In fact, The Vicar of Wakefield has the distinction of having never gone out of print since its original publication. 

Be that as it may, when all was said and done my thoughts on the book left me somewhat conflicted.

I didn't quite like it ... but I didn't hate it either! One thing is certain, when I closed it for the last time I had no desire to open it again. 

It's not that I didn't find some passages well written and memorable. Towards the beginning there was one humorous section that I read out loud to my husband.

The Vicar of Wakefield written during the Age of Romanticism tends to be over sentimental and unrealistic, with much moralizing and a fairy tale ending where all live happily ever after. It's not that I don't like happily ever after, but these circumstances require the suspension of reality.

The story of the Primrose family is narrated by the vicar, Dr. Charles Primrose, a loving husband and father of six children. The family endures one misfortune after another but manages to make the best of things for the most part. They are deceived, abused, taken advantage of, with life changing consequences, until finally at the end, all (or almost all) that has been done to them is made right. 

Oliver Goldsmith,  1728-1774
The Vicar has a solid faith in Providence and his faith never waivers, or almost never waivers, and if it does he repents immediately. Towards the end he longs for death and heaven to give him the joys that are lost to him on earth. 

I do admit that it was difficult to put the book down when reading the final chapters. I couldn't see how it could possibly all work out in the end, but it does, even if it is pretty unbelievable.

This is not one of those books in which I gush over it and encourage you to read it for yourself. But I won't tell you it has no redeeming value either. If nothing else it's a study in forgiveness and perseverance!

I really wanted to like this book. When I began reading it I had high hopes. I almost felt guilty about not liking it, like somehow there was something wrong with me that I wasn't fully appreciating this English classic.

But I got over it! To each his own, as they say! 

Blanket Finally Finished!

Way, way back in February, 2015 Sandra posted on her blog, Cherry Heart, about a new blanket pattern she was working on, The Weekender Blanket. I was so drawn to it and determined I would make one for myself. And what a great way to use up stash! Who doesn't have a boatload of stash?

With a name like Weekender Blanket it sounded like it would be a quick project. NOT! Especially when you get side-tracked, which is definitely my modus operandi. I can't say for sure exactly when I began the project but I downloaded the pattern in March 2015 and began working on it shortly thereafter. It took until this January 2017 to finish it ...

Almost 2 years.

But I finished it!

It's not that the project was so massive that it took that long to complete. No. Just me, getting side-tracked, putting it aside when something else looked especially appealing at the moment.

I think I have ADD.

Sandra's pattern is easy to follow and well written. I did change it up though, which is very common for me. Instead of solid hexagons I decided to make the third round of every square the same ivory color. I was kind of looking for a polka-dot theme.

All of the yarn used in this blanket was yarn I had on hand, except for the ivory. For that I had to buy additional skeins. If memory serves me correctly I purchased 3 skeins of Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn, and even had some left over...more stash for another project.

To make the blanket I began by crocheting 2 rounds of each hexagon. I would grab a color and go for it. I had stacks of mini 2 round hexagons.

In fact I have some left over. I might just make a pillow to match the blanket.

The names and brands of yarn I used are many. Most of it was acrylic but some was a washable acrylic/wool blend. All of it was worsted weight and I used a size H (5.0 mm) hook.

The hexagons were joined at the corners only, using the join-as-you-go method.

I love the look of the four round border but I must confess I had some problems. I was on round four and there were places where it just wasn't looking right. I made silly mistakes in previous rounds and had to pull it out and begin again. That was pretty discouraging.

I gave myself several days before I picked it up again and redid the border.

Notice the half hexagons on the straight side! I really like the look of them. Sandra's pattern also has directions for a filler for the pointy sides if you want it straight on all four sides. I never considered that option since I love the look of the points.

So the final stats on the blanket are as follows:

346 full hexagons
22 half hexagons
measures approximately 62 inches (157 cm) by 68 inches (173 cm).

Two of my daughters have very graciously offered to give it a home. Aren't they considerate?  But I'm nowhere near ready to part with it. It sits on the couch/futon in the guest room, and often when I walk by I stop for a bit and admire it. I will sometimes read in that room, and when I do I wrap myself up in it. It's soft and warm and I'm so glad I finished it, even if it did take almost 2 years.

Thanks Sandra, for your lovely pattern!


Reading Challenge 2017: First Book Review

The first book I read for the Reading Challenge is authored by my favorite, Anthony Trollope. I actually downloaded the book to my Kindle and began reading it in December. I was looking for some fun reading and hadn't planned to include it in the 2017 Challenge. But December is a very busy month and I didn't make it past the first few chapters. When I saw that romance was one of the categories for the Back to the Classics Reading Challenge 2017 I knew this book would be perfect.

He Knew He Was Right was published in serial form from 1868-1869. It is mainly the sad, tragic story of the marriage of Emily Rowley and Louis Trevelyan. The "He" in He Knew He Was Right is Trevelyan. He knew he was right, completely convinced that he was right, and lived by his conviction that he was right ... no matter what.

Louis and Emily are married about two years and have a son, also named Louis, when the trouble begins. Colonel Osborne, a man who has known Emily since she was a baby, and who is actually a few months older than her father, begins to associate with Emily. Louis is not at all happy about this and makes it clear to Emily that he wants her to have nothing to do with him. But from her perspective, Colonel Osborne is an old family friend, and how could her husband not trust her? She is much offended by his attitude!

It was, moreover, well known in London, --though not known at all to Mrs. Trevelyan, --that this ancient Lothario had before this made himself troublesome in more than one family. He was fond of intimacies with married ladies, and perhaps was not averse to the excitement of marital hostility. 

Marital hostility did occur. Louis' jealousy consumed him bringing much suffering both to himself and Emily and it even spilled over to affect others.

I don't want to give too much away so I'll leave the details of Louis's and Emily's troubles untold and hope that your curiosity will motivate you to read it!

But while their story is being narrated there are a number of side stories going on; other couples in the novel whose romances and "wished for" romances are occurring at the same time. In fact, this book has the most romances of any Trollope novel I've read so far. A few of the romances could have been expanded into books of their own.

Following are the possible "couples" whose stories are told...

Nora Rowley, Emily's younger sister, and Mr. Charles Glascock, son and heir of Lord Peterborough

Nora Rowley and Mr. Hugh Stanbury, journalist writing for "The Daily Record," a penny newspaper

Dorothy Stanbury, sister of Hugh Stanbury, and Mr. Thomas Gibson, a "minor canon"

Dorothy Stanbury and Brooke Burgess, a clerk in London

Camilla French and Mr. Thomas Gibson

Arabella French and Mr. Thomas Gibson

Caroline Spaulding, an American, and Mr. Charles Glascock

I think I included them all!

This book is also much more than a romance! A number of other topics are explored including women's rights, and madness (insanity). Women were completely dependent on their husbands, fathers, brothers, or other family members. They had little legal recourse if they were being mistreated. From what I read Anthony Trollope was not a proponent of women's rights. That may be so, but he certainly portrayed the women in this book with great sympathy and compassion.

This book was less light-hearted and more serious than the other Trollope novels I've read so far. Not everyone lived happily ever after as is usually the case. That said, the book contained humor and sarcasm, the little jabs towards some of the characters, and the author spoke directly to the reader in a number of places; all of which makes Trollope novels such fun to read. I laughed out loud a number of times and, as usual, was always looking for someone to read a passage to!

The book left me more introspective than previous Trollope novels as I considered how the story unfolded. There were certainly consequences for actions, with the exception of one character, who, in my opinion, should have had been more severely dealt with. Nevertheless, the book was a page turner, another Trollope book worth your time and attention.

Definitely put it on your list of "to be read" books!

A Table Runner For January

When we took down the Christmas decorations I left the winter wreath and garland hanging, several amigurumi snowmen sitting on shelves and tables, and a number of crocheted snowflakes hanging on little suction cup hooks in various windows. It definitely gives a cheery winter theme to the house. And while we haven't had much snow to speak of, so far anyway, we've had some fairly cold days, and nights with wind chills down as low as -15 to -20 F. Brrr! So the "inside winter" decorations go well with the season outside my windows.

When the Christmas table runner (not crocheted) was tucked away I was left with a very naked dining room table. Unlike most homes, the front door opens directly into the dining room. It's the first room you see when you walk in.  So I try to decorate the table (with other than dirty dishes).

I have crocheted several table runners (here and here, and one for my daughter) but I have none that are right for January. Therefore, I decided to crochet a January table runner; one with shades of blues and whites only.

I checked my stash of cotton (Sugar 'n Cream) and found three blues and a bright white and thought it would be easy enough. My plan was to use a size 4 mm hook (I am pretty sure I used a 5 mm hook with another runner) to make granny squares of two rounds, joining them together at the corners only, using a join-as-you-go method, the same method I used for the other table runners. It would be one row of four squares followed by one row of three squares, with none of the same colors touching. That would be my pattern.

I didn't plan which color would go where ahead of time. I was shooting for random, just like the other runners.

But in this case I was only working with four colors and the "none of the same colors touching" rule wasn't nearly as easy to work out as when you are working with ten or more colors. I couldn't just grab a color and go with it as can be done when working with many colors.

I noticed something after I completed maybe 5 or 6 rows. There were patterns popping out all over the place.

Diagonal rows of 2 shades of blues, diagonal rows of navy and white, blocks of nine squares with navy in each corner, blocks of nine squares with white in each corner and all of the white in the interior of the table runner with only the blues on the edges. Talk about patterns!

How did this happen when I didn't plan it? It was as if I had pre-planned the placement of each individual square, when I did no such thing. I discovered when working with only 4 colors it's much more challenging to produce random!

Almost nothing appeared to be random.

Almost nothing.

But if you look carefully you will notice the top right square is white and it's the only white square in that position in any row in the entire table runner. Huh? It is the only square that doesn't follow the pattern that surfaced from the second row and following.

I began joining the squares from the top left and attached each square from left to right across the rows, so the white square in the first row at the far right was the fourth one to be joined. Every other white square ended up along the inside of the table runner and not at the edge. But here was this white square doing its own thing, hanging out on the edge. No matter how many rows I add there will never be another white square in that position.

It's a mystery!  And I'll leave the unraveling of this (mathematics?) mystery to others more learned than myself!

After thinking about that errant white square for several days I simply removed it and replaced it with dark blue. It was a bit tricky to do without ruining the light blue square below and to the left of it. It did take a little jerry-rigging but I managed to pull it off.

And now the patterns are consistent throughout.

I added a simple white border using chains and single crochets; (sc, ch 2, sc) in each corner space (the points) and then I chained 3 and worked one single crochet in all the side spaces of the squares. Where the squares are joined along the edges I worked a single crochet in each space. Pretty simple.

It measures (unblocked) 45 inches long by 12 inches wide and has a total of 109 squares. I had wanted to make it a few rows longer but decided otherwise. The pattern of white squares on the inside seems to draw the eye (mine anyway!) and adding more rows would have made that pattern unbalanced. So I stopped where I stopped. When it was completed I realized the rows at each end are mirror images of each other. Another surprise pattern.

I couldn't have planned this better if I had tried!

So now I'm thinking maybe I'll make one for February; two shades of pink, a red, and a white. But when I do I'll actually plan the first row making sure I only use the two shades of pink and the red, repeating one color twice, and save the white for the second row. That way I won't be left having to carefully remove an errant square.

A Journal Pen Holder

As I've mentioned before I use a bullet journal. It has made all the difference in the flow of my days. Being someone who is naturally disorganized and easily side-tracked, the bullet journal has been a great help keeping my days more focused.

Having a pen always at the ready is absolutely essential. Previously I used a small clip attached at the side of the journal to hold my pen. It worked. But then I found Kate's post about the journal pen holder she made and decided to give it a try.

Kate's directions are easy to follow and she has pictures that explain the process. I did make some changes in construction and measurement though that differed from hers.

So what did I tweak? To completely understand what I did you'll need to jump over to Kate's directions and read them first. Otherwise my tweaks may not make complete sense.

I added iron on inner facing to the pocket in order to make it stronger. I was afraid the pen tip would end up putting a hole in the fabric considering that I was using thin cotton. The pen would be removed and reinserted into the pocket multiple times in a given day and I didn't want to tempt fate.

I also cut the back pieces a full inch longer than the height of the journal. Kate indicated she cut her lengths 8 inches long but that wouldn't allow for a seam allowance in keeping with the fact that I wanted the finished pen holder to be as close as possible to the height of the journal. My journal is approximately 8.25 inches long, same as Kate's, so I cut the back piece and back facing piece 9.25 inches. That gave me a full half inch seam allowance on each end if I thought it would be needed.

I used elastic that is 3/4 inches wide, mostly because I had it on hand, and cut it about 9 inches long to allow for overlap. It can be trimmed if it's too long before the second end is inserted at the top. Plus, I felt the wider elastic might be sturdier. She doesn't specify the width of the elastic she used but looking at her pictures I think she may have used 3/8-1/2 inch wide.

I constructed mine a little differently too. Kate's directions tell you to lay the pocket piece on top of the back piece wrong sides together and stitch, but I skipped this preliminary sewing step preferring to stitch the pieces together all at once with only the one seam.

I sandwiched the layers of fabric and elastic together as follows:

1. bottom layer is the back piece right side up, 9.25 inches by 2 inches wide.
2. middle layer is the pocket (with iron on inner facing attached) also right side up, 6 inches by 2 inches wide.
3. next comes the elastic, 9 inches long, with about 1/4 inch extending beyond the bottom.
4. top layer is the back facing piece wrong side up, 9.25 inches by 2 inches wide.

I hope that's clear...

After pinning securely I made one continuous 1/4 inch (or thereabouts) seam, beginning at the top of the side, down along the side, across the bottom, and up the next side ending at the top. I DID NOT sew across the top but left it open so the other end of the elastic could be inserted.

Turning it all right side out was a little fiddly and took a bit of time, but I was happy with the end results. I top stitched across the bottom for extra security.

The only thing left to do was to turn under the top by folding the ends inside and inserting the elastic. At this point you can adjust both the length of the holder and the elastic before top stitching across the top.

I did two rows of top stitching across the top simply because I'm neurotic and was concerned the elastic might pull out. Unlikely though since once the pen holder is placed onto the cover of the journal it is not messed with. It will sit on the journal until the journal is full and then it can be transferred to the next one.

Check out Kate's pen holder! You might be inspired to give it a try!

Reading Goals 2017

This will be my third year participating in the Back to the Classics Reading Challenge hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate. I am excited to begin and have a general idea of most of the books I hope to read. I've chosen titles for nine of the categories and of those nine three are authored by Anthony Trollope. Did I mention I'm a Trollope fan?

Only a few of these books actually reside on my bookshelves. I will likely buy several, and some I will read on kindle (not especially my favorite method of reading). I will probably also listen to one or two with the Hoopla app on my phone, while others will be checked out of the library.

1.  A 19th Century Classic ~ The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope. This is the fifth of six books in the Chronicles of Barsetshire series. 

2.  A 20th Century Classic ~  My Man Jeeves, by P G Wodehouse.  

3.  A classic by a woman author ~ Maybe Jane Austen or Elizabeth Gaskell?

4.  A classic in translation ~ Our Friend Manso by Benito Perez Galdos. My good friend Silvia introduced me to Galdos in the Fall of 2015. This will be my third title by him and I am looking forward to it.

5.  A classic published before 1800 ~  The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith, published in 1766.

6.  A romance classic ~ I'm going with Trollope again. He Knew He Was Right contains several romances. Looking at the cover below I'm guessing at least one of them doesn't turn out too happily. But again, how can you go wrong with Trollope?

7.  A Gothic or horror classic ~ I'm thinking perhaps Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. 

8.  A classic with a number in the title ~ Again, I've found a Trollope title that will fit, The Three Clerks. According to Wikipedia it is considered to be the most autobiographical of his works. 

9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title ~ There are a number of books that would satisfy this category, but at the moment I'm thinking of The Dog Who Wouldn't Be by Farley Mowat.

10. A classic set in a place you'd like to visit ~ This one is still very much up in the air. 

11. An award-winning classic ~ Again, undecided.

12. A Russian Classic ~ One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Of course there's no guarantee that the books I listed above will be the books I actually end up reading, except for Trollope of course ... (did I mention I'm a Trollope fan?) but no matter. The end result will be the same ... a fabulous year of great reads!


Crochet Christmas Projects

I've not been posting much recently but that doesn't mean I haven't been very busy crocheting, among other things.

I thought I'd share a few Christmas projects I've been working on.

First of all I finally completed the Granny Tree Skirt I started 2 years ago. It was love at first sight the moment I laid eyes on Sandra's creation back in September 2014. To say I was wowed by it is an understatement.

I finished 2 of them and am going to begin a third very soon. One is under our main tree in the living room (both pictures above) and the other is under the tree in my daughters' room. The third one I plan to make will sit underneath another small tree in our guest room.

I had to make some adjustments to the pattern because I wanted it to be larger. It took a little fiddling and I wasn't sure I'd be able to pull it off but thankfully, I did. The project was a great stash-buster! It works perfectly with the mish-mash, unmatched, no-theme Christmas tree that we have. Most of the ornaments on it have been handmade with love by myself, family, and friends, some dating back to my childhood and before, that were handed down in the family.

I've made a number of Christmas dishcloths, mostly for gifts for friends and family. But it hit me a few days ago that I had none for myself so now I'm working on several for me! I've made many dishcloths over the years; too many to count. At the moment I probably have 10-15 sitting in a drawer ready to give away to whoever wants one but none of those are in Christmas colors!

I also made a little mandela "tree skirt rug" for a miniature tree I have sitting on a dresser in the dining room. I followed this pattern using Christmas colors, and a size H (5.0 mm) hook and it ended up with a diameter of almost 16 inches (40 cm).

The little tree wears a button garland and that's all it wears except for a tiny gold star at the top! It seems to be enough.

And last but not least is the little elf Holly (about 12 inches tall). She was such fun to make! I'm especially happy with her elfin ears. I began working on her brother Jolly but so far I only have his legs made. It was my plan to share the pattern for them but unfortunately that isn't likely to happen before Christmas.

The little sleigh is one that my mother found years ago, probably at a thrift store. Somebody constructed and painted it by hand. It's too far from perfect to have been made otherwise. Back in the day it held a little Santa doll but he's been lost for a long time.

Now Holly can sit in it.  I think she likes sitting there!

And aside from these projects I've also crocheted some little owl ornaments, scarves, hats, headband ear-warmers, snowflakes, and Christmas coasters. Christmas is only 10 days out and I still have a number of projects going at various stages of completion.

I think Christmas will get here before I finish everything!

How about you? Do you have any projects going?

Little Owl Ornaments

For a number of years I've given my grandchildren Christmas ornaments. Recently I've crocheted them and with fifteen grandchildren this is no small undertaking. In previous years I've crocheted Icicle Boys and GirlsLittle Christmas Trees, Santas, Snowmen, Little Stockings, and Matryoshka Dolls. I began the little owls in late August. Good thing too because I made numerous changes along the way.

Shortly before I wrapped them in November I took them outside to my neighbor's yard. She has a beautiful "Christmas" tree in her front yard and I hung all the little owls on it so I could take some photos.

I strung number beads and a little jingle bell along with a colored bead below the owl. The bell is a nice little touch with its jingly tingle when it's moved.

The finished size is about 2 inches square (5 cm), or thereabouts, depending on the yarn used and the hook size. Not too big and not too small. Just about right as a Christmas ornament. Of course that doesn't count the ear tufts or the number beads and bell hanging below.

I personalized them by adding the year and the name. After all, most of my grandchildren have siblings and with the name and year attached there is no confusion as to whose is whose.

It took me awhile before I was satisfied with the finished product. I played around with different yarn and hooks and with the number of stitches to begin with. I experimented with different styles of wings and with different colors and sizes of buttons for the eyes. It seemed like every time I gave these owls some thought I was making changes. But finally, I settled on the pattern that I'm sharing below.

Little Owl Ornaments
Finished size approximately 2” tall by 2” wide, not including ear tufts or number beads and jingle bell

Worsted Weight yarn (size 4) in 2-3 colors for owl
Worsted Weight yarn in gold for beak
Size E (3.5 mm) hook
Light weight yarn or embroidery floss in black for sewing button eyes onto owl
two 1/2 inch buttons for eyes
Tapestry needle that will fit through holes in buttons
small jingle bells
alphabet and number beads
heavy weight button or nylon thread
sewing needle with small enough eye to fit through beads
fishing line for hanging loop (or embroidery floss or a piece of yarn)

standard American terms
picot = chain 2, sl stitch into first chain
F/O = finish off

Construct the owl in the order below:
1. Make body of owl
2. Sew on eyes and beak
3. Sew on wings
4. Sew ear tufts

Body of the Owl
1. Ch 6, sc in second chain from hook, 1 sc in each of next 3 ch, 4 sc in 4th ch. continuing along opposite side of chain (working over yarn tail to end of round), 1 sc in each of the next 4 ch.  12 sc

2. (2 sc in first st, sc in next st) x 6. 18 sc.

3. (2 sc in first st, sc in next 2 st) x 6.  24 sc

4-13. sc around.  24 sc. Change color with last st of row 4 or wherever desired.

14. The piece of yarn marks the end of row 13. Crochet 5 more stitches ending at the side of the owl. The picture below is the back of the owl after completing the 5 stitches of round 14. The color change on the back will be covered by the wings.

Fold the top of the owl closed, and sc front and back together about half way across the opening, stuff the owl and then continue to close the top. F/O, but leave a long tail. 

Thread tapestry needle onto tail, insert the needle into the owl directly below where you finished off and come out at the back of the owl at the row below the center top. 

Take a stitch across the top and insert needle into the front of the owl at the row below. 

Lightly tug on the yarn pulling the top center down which will accentuate the "ears". Do this two times. You may need to hang onto the left top where you originally finished off so it doesn't pull it out of shape.  Hide the tail in the owl.

A 2 hole button will look like sleepy eyes and a 4 hole button will look more like open eyes.

Position holes in button eyes 3 or 4 rows below the top. Leaving a long tail hanging out the back of the owl use black yarn to attach the eyes sewing through the button holes several times. When the button eyes are attached bring both thread tails out the same stitch hole. Tie both tails together, knotting them twice and hide the yarn tails inside the owl.

(If the holes in the buttons are too small for the tapestry needle with light weight yarn you can either use a regular sewing needle and thread or an embroidery needle with embroidery floss.)

With gold yarn sew a triangle just below the eyes, with 3-4 straight stitches. Bring the yarn out from the back to the front leaving a tail about 3” long. When you’ve completed the beak bring the yarn out the same hole as you started. Leave another 3” tail. Tie the two ends together with a double knot and hide the ends inside the body.

Use a contrast color for the wings.

1. Ch 6, sc in second chain from hook, 1 sc in each of next 3 ch, 4 sc in 4th ch. continuing along opposite side of chain (working over yarn tail to end of round), 1 sc in each of the next 4 ch.  12 sc  (Cut off remaining yarn tail at end of round.)

2. 2 sc in first st, sc in next 3 sc, (sc, picot) two times each in next 2 sts, (sc, picot, sc) in next st, sc in next 5 sts, ss in next st. F/O leaving a long tail to sew wing to body. 

Using the long tail of the wing sew a few stitches on each side along the straight edge. Where the wing "feathers out" towards the bottom make a stitch straight under the wing across to the center, take a tiny stitch in the center of the wing, and then continue along the opposite straight edge of the wing back up to the top, ending where you began. Bring out the long tail at the back. 

Attach the second wing as the first and bring out the second long tail through the same stitch as the first wing, tie them into a double knot, hide the tails in the body, and trim the ends. 

Ear Tufts
Cut 3 strands of yarn approximately 7 inches long, any combination of colors. Insert crochet hook (you made need a smaller hook) from the back of the owl to the front in the stitch at each side. 

Fold the strands of yarn in half and pull the loops through to the back. Pull the free ends through the loop and tighten the knot. Trim the tufts to desired length. I trimmed mine at approximately 3/4 of an inch.

Name and Year
Cut a piece of heavy weight button thread or nylon thread approximately 24 inches long (60 cm). Thread the bell onto the thread and then bring both ends through the eye of the needle. Put the year beads (2016) onto the thread above the jingle bell, finishing with a colored bead above that. Sew the strand of beads onto the bottom of the owl. Allow a little give so the beads move some and the bell will jingle. Do not cut the thread! Insert the needle to the back of the owl, thread the name beads onto the needle and decide how you want the name to lay. Bring the needle out again and if desired, make little stitches between two or three beads of the name to secure it. Bring the needle out of one of the stitch holes, tie the two ends together several times and hide the tail in the body of the owl.

Hanging Loop
Cut approximately 12 inches of fishing line (if you want the hanging loop to be virtually invisible) or any yarn or thread. Tie a square knot close to the body of the owl and then tie the two ends together at the top making the loop however long want it. I usually make the hanging loop approximately 3 inches long. Cut off excess thread about 1/4 inch above knot.

And there you are…a little owl ornament! 

I hope these directions are clear! If you see any mistakes or need further clarification please let me know.

Have Fun! 

Reading Challenge 2016: Wrap Up

Looking at the list of books that I read this year I'm finding it difficult to decide which single book was my favorite. Obviously, I enjoyed some more than others but every one of them had something worthwhile, some thought to ponder, some words to enjoy (and beg someone to listen to), some truth, some Thing that resonated with me. Some of the books drew me in instantly while others took a chapter or two or more. Some had endings that made me sit and smile and sigh and feel like all's well with the world, while others left me hanging, feeling somewhat dissatisfied. The book didn't seem quite finished. The author needed at least another chapter to bring about a proper my humble opinion.

Of the twelve books I read this year, six of them I already owned. Five books I borrowed from the library, and one I listened to with the Hoopla app through my library.

Five of the six books I already owned. One is packed away in one of my many book boxes.
I introduced myself to a few new authors; Agatha Christie, Jules Vern, Junichiro Tanizaki, Aldous Huxley, George Macdonald, and revisited a few old favorites; Willa Cather, Elizabeth Gaskell, Benito Perez Galdos, and of course my most favorite, Anthony Trollope.

Since I have already posted individual reviews I won't mention specifics about any of the titles. You can click on the links if you'd like my take on any of them.

1.  A 19th Century ClassicNorth and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

2.  A 20th Century Classic - any book published between 1900 and 1966 - Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes

3.  A classic by a woman author - Sylvia's Lovers by Elizabeth Gaskell

4.  A classic in translation - Fortunata and Jacinta by Benito Perez Galdos 

5.  A classic by a non-white author - The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki 

6.  An adventure classic - Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Vern 

7.  A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic - The Princess and the Goblin by George Macdonald. 

8.  A classic detective novel - Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie 

9.  A classic which includes the name of a place in the title - Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope 

10. A classic which has been banned or censored - Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

11. Re-read a classic you read for school (high school or college) - My Antonia by Willa Cather

12. A volume of classic short stories - Three Blind Mice and Other Stories by Agatha Christie

In addition to these books I've read a number of other works this year (and the year isn't finished yet!), novels as well as short stories. I'm so glad I have participated in the Challenge these past two years because it has certainly broadened my reading horizons.  I definitely look forward to participating again next year.

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