30 November 2020

Mini Tree Monday

Our lovely fiber optic tree has not been displayed every Christmas the past few years. During our busier and/or darker days, I opted to put up simple decorations instead because taking down the tree (and the hand-crocheted snowflakes!) in January or February was so depressing for me. I treasure the love and compassion of Christmas, and I wish it could last all year. One of the tools I've developed to combat depression is seeking more daylight (seasonal affective disorder used to own me), and another is to not do things that bring back or cause new painful memories.

This year, I think the whole world needs an uplift. Possibly every day, or maybe even every hour. Or even every minute.

So when I found myself stressing about whether to put the tree up (because I love to see my snowflakes twirl on it) or not because taking it down likely will be miserable, I had to factor in a couple of new motivations this year.

I have less room this year because I brought in so many tomato plants for the winter. The tomato plants are taking up the space the amaryllises would occupy (and the amaryllis bulbs are coming up out of the basement one at a time each week to provide me with blossoms of joy throughout this winter), and I'm struggling to find room for amaryllis pots each week! (I may end up with an amaryllis in each room this year!)

I've had to remove all handmade rugs (mostly oversized snowflakes!) and clear paths throughout the house this year to enable Lizard to move around freely without tripping over or bumping into things. Our tree might not be Parkinson's friendly. I literally do not have a safe space for it to reside and not interfere with Lizard's at-home physical therapy.

I still get to admire my beautiful snowflake lamp every single day, so I'm not as worried about not being able to hang snowflakes on a tree this year.

And yet, I'd like to put up something more than just my nativity, our stockings and one string of lights. My pink foil tree (along with three other little lifelike artificial trees) is at work. I'm still incredibly thankful I get to work from home, but if I had that little pink tree, it would have been set up at home last Friday.

I did an internet search for mail order mini trees but wasn't irresistibly drawn to a single finding. As those who have followed me through the years know, I don't Christmas shop anyway. (Well, maybe a good yarn or fabric sale... Ha ha ha!)

I've made quite a few mini trees in the past. I've shared patterns for mini trees. (Click the crocheted mini tree photos in today's post to get the patterns.) I've given away every single mini tree I've ever made. Not a one remains. But boy, do I have a fresh supply of cardboard cones! So perhaps it's time to make a new mini tree! Or more than one... Ah! I could have a crocheted mini tree in each room to go with each amaryllis!!!

Daffy Tree

Scrappy Tree

Macaroni Shell Tree

Butterfly Tree

More than a decade ago, I fell victim to a sock yarn addiction. I literally bought every skein I could find on good sale. Shops closing. Discontinued colorways. Even thrift shops! As a result, I have an unbelievable sock yarn collection. I've filled two huge plastic bins plus more than a handful of PIGS (Projects in Grocery Sacks). Oh, and then there's the baby girl collection I bought when my granddaughter was born going on six years ago now. At the time, I intended to make her a baby fashionista. Unfortunately, only three lacy dresses were finished in time before she was too old to wear them.

When I began collecting sock yarn, I was as addicted to sock knitting and crocheting as I am to snowflake designing and crocheting. I think if I picked up a size 2 circular knitting needle, I'd be buried in unfinished socks in no time! It took quite a while, but I made socks for all my girl friends that second sock yarn year! Oh, those were the days! But where in the world did I get the time?!? Oh, yeah, I wasn't quilting as much then... Sigh. Something always has to give, right?

Well, I'm going to take a chance on reigniting my sock yarn addiction, at least the using-up part, and create a sock yarn tree for my kitchen. And who knows?!? If I love it way too much, perhaps I'll have to make one for each room of the house! That would use up a few hanks!!! Oh, but then I'd have to replace them, right?!? Ha ha ha!

You may do whatever you'd like with trees you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!

Finished Size: 7.5 inches tall
Materials: 50 grams of sock or fingering yarn, size B crochet hook, cardboard cone-shaped yarn center or suitable stuffing (great use for quilt scraps or clean recycled socks/underwear
NOTE: Sport or worsted yarn may be used with a larger-size crochet hook, but the finished tree will be much larger

Sock Yarn Tree Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 11 dc in ring. Pull magic circle tight.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Round 2: [Ch 7, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook and in each of next 4 ch, sk next dc, sl st in next dc (branch made)] 6 times.
NOTE: Oh, look! Binding off here makes a funny snowflake!

Round 3: Ch 2 (does not count as dc), working from behind and between Round 2 sl sts (skipping sl sts), [2 dc in next Round 1 dc, 3 dc in next Round 1 dc] 3 times for a total of 9 dc. Sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 4: [Ch 7, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook and in each of next 4 ch, sk next dc, sl st in next dc] 9 times.

Round 5: Ch 2 (does not count as dc), working from behind and between Round 4 sl sts, work 2 dc in each Round 3 dc without a slip st around. Sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Rounds 6-32 (or desired tree height): Repeat Rounds 4 and 5 16 times (or until tree is desired height), increasing 3 dc (and thereby increasing 2 branches on every following even Round) evenly spaced apart on every third uneven Round. This pattern is not rocket science. Don't stress about counts at all. Just work in a couple of extra branches as you need to widen the base. Finished branch count will not matter, as long as you are happy with the shape. Bind off. Weave in ends.

Finish: Place tree over carboard cone or stuff with desired filler. Display proudly where it can make you smile often. Lizard asked me if I'm going to decorate mine. I think I like the self-striping sock yarn colors as decorations, but you might like to stitch on buttons or beads, or maybe even tiny snowflakes, on your Sock Yarn Tree!

27 November 2020

White Friday

Author's Note: This blog post was written sometime around the end of November 2019. I decided to keep it the way I wrote it instead of updating it with everything that has transpired this year because I want to vividly remember and share the joy of last year.

Holy Snow, Batman, this is my fifth annual published White Friday celebration!!! I've been avoiding shopping the day after Thanksgiving for at least two decades, and for five years now, I have shared how I celebrated my version of the heavily commercialized day the following year. I look for photos with white, I craft with white, or I play with white. No Christmas shopping allowed.

I have a little confession about my 2019 observance. Lizard had a blood draw that day, and we were right near the grocery store, so we actually did shop on November 29, the day after Thanksgiving. We bought toilet paper, paper towels, Vicks-infused tissues, Epsom salts and pain-reliever. All white, and all needed. Not for the holidays. The divergence resulted in being able to stay home (or with family) the remainder of my four-day weekend, and that was a huge blessing. I was very glad we didn't have to make another trip into town to buy toilet paper, not something we can easily go without. Ha ha!

We got SO much snow in November of 2019, it lasted clear into December. I didn't have to go anywhere to find snow! We enjoyed a few hikes near home throughout the four-day weekend, and we didn't have to go to the mountains for snow. Yippee! We actually celebrated a White Saturday, and White Sunday, a White Monday and several more white days before all that snow finally began to melt. No complaints here! I'm almost always ready for more snow, especially when it results in a snow day, which one particular storm did, just two days before Thanksgiving!

Once again, my white amaryllis was not ready to bloom, and in 2019, the white (and pink) Christmas cactus had already put on a show. The reds were getting ready to burst, and one one opened a couple of days after Thanksgiving. It sported a touch of white.

One branch of one white Christmas cactus decided to try to bloom one more time. The flower didn't open until the week before Christmas, but at least there was an itsy bitsy little bud the day after Thanksgiving!

One tiny little ghost pepper bloom showed up, but there must have been about 100 more blossoms forming on the ghost pepper plant and all four indoor ancho poblano plants.

One big indoor garden surprise in 2019 was a single stalk of white hyacinth blooms the day after Thanksgiving! I hadn't even noticed that blossoms had formed!

A second surprise came in the form of three gorgeous blooms on one of my two indoor rosemary plants. This one had never bloomed, I hadn't noticed it was getting ready to bloom, and now I wish it would bloom every day!

rosemary blossom

We had the most enjoyable hikes on the greenway and at Chatfield Reservoir because Lizard was able to walk with me (after being scheduled to work full shifts almost every holiday the previous two years) and because we could walk as long as we wanted. I didn't have to be on the commuter train to downtown before 8 a.m.

Oh, did we have a glorious white walk!

The biggest white surprise of the day was an immature bald eagle nest-building right before our eyes at the conclusion of the day's walk!

Official White Friday family festivities ended with 500 tiny little pieces of Christmas successfully assembled by the whole family. Everyone pitched in. Even Lizard (who is not a fan of tiny-piece puzzles) found a piece! (It was on the floor after the entire puzzle was complete except for one little hole.) Okay, you're right. It's not white. But it's not Christmas shopping, either!

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