Amigurumi · Amigurumi Monday · Crochet

Amigurumi Monday: Occamy

Hi friends! I thought it might be fun to start a post series featuring my many amigurumi, many of which haven’t been featured on the blog yet. In the future, I may take my fandomgurumi on photo shoots, which is a lot of fun. 🙂 I’m planning for these to be short posts so I can keep up with them regularly – goodness knows I have enough amigurumi to keep a steady supply of posts ready.

Today I’d like to introduce you to the Occamy:

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He’s made from the wonderful free pattern by Fillie Fanatic, which was well-written and easy to follow. The Occamy is a creature from the Fantastic Beasts movie that I absolutely loved, so I was delighted when I saw this pattern and could make my own. He’s living on my Harry Potter bookshelf, but the above photo was taken an early college morning (as evidenced by the Starbucks cup, before I gave up caffeine!) Turns out the Occamy can be worn as a very fashionable bangle bracelet. Not sure how he feels about that. 🙂 In any case, it was a very fun project, if a little fiddly with the embroidery floss and small hook.

Thanks for reading! What have you been crafting lately?

 

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Book Review · Books · Uncategorized

Book Review: “Whisper” by Mark Batterson

Hi friends! Today I’m posting something different, a long-overdue book review. I’m reviewing a religious book today, and I know this blog isn’t “religious” per se, so I definitely understand if you want to wait for the normal crochet posts! I also have some craft-related posts in the works, as well as a new amigurumi pattern, so stay tuned for those. 🙂

“Whisper” by Mark Batterson

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Saints and prophets…sure. But does God really speak to me?

Most people would say they’re unsure. But His voice is all around us, all the time! His ability to speak is not limited by our human range of hearing. So if you want to hear His voice, you just need to learn some new ways to listen.

Nothing will change your life’s trajectory or determine your destiny like a whisper from God. That’s how we discern the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God and seize divine appointments. It’s also the way bold visions are birthed and unprecedented miracles are ushered in.

Through powerful stories and practical advice, New York Times bestselling author Mark Batterson shows how natural it is for believers to hear the voice of God. He reveals the obstacles to hearing the seven creative ways God speaks to His children and the value of having a “whispering spot” where you listen for His voice.

The question isn’t whether God speaks. The question is, what does He have to say to you?

Goodreads | 207 pages | Where I got it: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.

My Thoughts

Today I’m reviewing a religious book that I originally planned to read and review during Lent, but life got crazy and I didn’t get a chance. So I apologize to Blogging For Books that this review is late. However, I’m really glad I chose this book, because it ended up being really thought-provoking. I’d like to read it again more slowly, maybe over a period of time like Lent, so I can absorb it more. I found myself taking notes as I went because there’s so much to take in.

The book is about learning to hear the voice of God, and is divided into a few different sections. Part 1 is called “The Power of a Whisper” and acts as an introduction to the book. Part 2 is “The 7 Love Languages” and discusses the 7 love languages of God. I found the second part a lot more interesting. I took a pretty long break from the book in between the two sections because of this. I really liked how the author broke it down into seven categories, explaining each of them in their own chapter. For those curious, the 7 languages are, according to this book: Scripture, Desires, Doors, Dreams, People, Promptings, and Pain. My favorite ones to read about were probably Scripture and Doors, although they were all interesting and relevant.

The writing style was conversational and easy to read. The author is the pastor of a church, and I’d really like to hear one of his sermons now. Whisper is definitely a Christian book, but I couldn’t tell exactly what denomination it was written for – I’m Catholic, and I could tell it wasn’t for Catholicism, but there were only a few moments I noticed that. For instance, one time the author talked about confessing your sins, and Catholics actually have the Sacrament of Confession, which wasn’t mentioned in the book. So I’m not sure exactly which branch of Christianity this was written for. But it didn’t take away from the reading experience. Mark Batterson shares a lot of his own experiences, and he shares wisdom and tips while still sounding humble. He admits a lot that he still struggles with certain things, which is encouraging for a reader. The only thing I would change is the fact there were a lot of exclamation marks in the book…which got a little old after a while.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to learn about listening to God. I’ll be reading it again and will be happily adding it to my ever-growing shelf of religious books. I’ll check out more books from this author, too!

Rating: 4/5 stars ****

Have you read any good books lately? I’m always looking for new recommendations! 🙂

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A to Z Challenge · Crochet · Uncategorized

Daffodils, dogs, and deadlines

The three main things in my life right now (in an Attic24-style post):

daffodils

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My favorite flower has emerged in droves, making me smile whenever I see their happy bright faces. They’re all over my college campus, where I snapped the above picture. I love them because they’re such a silly little flower, what with the bright orange trumpet, but they make me happy every day. So I wanted to crochet some of them, naturally, which leads me to my next thing…

dogs

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Patterns from Barefoot Creations and Attic24. Maisie, our puppy, and Ruby, our 13-year-old poodle, graciously modeled for me. They were present throughout the crocheting process, so I thought they should be part of the final result. I love crocheting daffodils and am thinking about making a springtime bunting. I’ve already put one on a headband. The great thing about crochet flowers is it doesn’t depend on the season!

deadlines

It’s the first week of term, and I have come to the abrupt realization that the A to Z Challenge was overly optimistic of me. Deadlines are already approaching in my classes (yay for French assignments, not-so-yay for literary analyses) and all my energy is going to that. So I’m going to resign the A to Z Challenge for next year. I can’t wait to see what everyone else comes up with, but I will keep to my regularly scheduled programming over here – I’m planning on some crafty posts throughout the month.

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What have you been up to this spring so far? What’s your favorite kind of flower? 🙂

A to Z Challenge · College A to Z · Uncategorized

College A to Z: Backpacks

Hello my lovely blog followers! Happy belated Easter, if you celebrate, and happy springtime if you do not. 🙂 I just want to thank you for your supportive comments on my last post; I’m so lucky to have the best blogging friends in the world. I’ve decided to do the A to Z Challenge this year with a college theme. It won’t hurt my feelings if you want to skip this month’s posts, as it’s not what I typically post. I’ll make sure to post some crafty things in the near future, too! But if you’re interested, then I’m excited to chat about college stuff with you all.

In this series, my plan is to write about the basics of college life, in the hopes that it might help new college students who are nervous about the day-to-day things. A college adviser I am NOT; I don’t even know what my major is. But sometimes the little things are the tricky things: like finding your classes, taking the bus, or figuring out what to eat for lunch. And sure, study habits are important, but so are the little things like getting a new notebook or putting stickers on your notes.

Maybe you’d like to know a little about my own college experience before we start. I’m a sophomore in college, majoring in either English, French, or both, with a writing minor. (Unfortunately, crochet was not an option.) I commute to my university, which means I will be talking about buses quite a lot rather than dorm life. And I’m starting this challenge a day late because, ironically, college got in the way. 🙂

College A to Z

(I love canva.com for making graphics like this!)

College A to Z: “B” is for Backpacks

Backpacks. I’m starting to think I will never be free of them. Mine is sitting next to me, my constant companion, while I write this post. It never fails to amuse me when someone goes to pick up my backpack without realizing how heavy it is, and exclaims, “What do you have in there?!”

Although they might not be the most fashionable choice of bag, they’re the most practical for sure. There are some pretty cute backpacks out there, though. (I have my eye on the ones with glittery sequins all over them.) I received a North Face backpack as a high school graduation present, and it’s been invaluable. But any backpack will do. The important thing is that it has enough space for all your books.

Once you have the bag, it’s a matter of filling it with school supplies. The end goal here is to be prepared for the day without the backpack weighing 25 pounds (an issue I have all too often). Here’s a list of things you may want to have in your backpack. Keep in mind that I’m a commuter student, so I need to have a lot of stuff with me. If you live on campus, you can probably disregard a lot of these suggestions.

  • Necessary textbooks for the day – it’s best to leave the ones you don’t need at home or in your dorm, because otherwise it gets really heavy!
  • Notebook
  • Planner
  • Water bottle (it gets expensive to buy drinks from a vending machine – there are usually places to refill your water bottle on campus)
  • Snack (granola bar, peanut butter crackers)
  • Mints
  • Pencil case
  • Umbrella (depending on where you live – it rains all the time in my city, so I have a collapsible umbrella with me at all times)
  • Hand sanitizer (when one student on campus gets sick, it seems like everyone does!)

One other thing I keep in my backpack is a customized “emergency kit” – basically a small bag with any medication you might need throughout the day, like ibuprofen or whatnot. I also put nail clippers, ponytail holders, hair clips, Band-Aids, and cough drops in here, and it acts as an emergency kit. Just customize it with whatever works for you. It’s a lot easier to put this bag in your backpack rather than packing up each individual thing. This has saved me a lot of trouble.

What do you keep in your backpack? Any tips for making it weigh less? Goodness knows I could use all the help I can get!

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A to Z Challenge · Uncategorized

Updates & A to Z Challenge

I can’t believe it’s been two months! I’ve really missed blogging and commenting on all your wonderful blogs. These last few months have really trampled me. I actually just spent about two weeks in bed between a cold and having my wisdom teeth removed, and I had no spare brainpower for blogging. But now it’s springtime, and my creativity has returned along with the daffodils.

I have done basically zero crafting in the last term. But I have been writing! I’ve started a new novel in keeping with my goals for this year, and I’m thinking about doing another “Blog a Book” here. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter – do you enjoy reading those?

The lovely Lydia at Noveltea recently posted about the A to Z Challenge on her blog, reminding me that it’s that time of the year again. I had so much fun with writing Crochet A to Z last year that I’d like to do the challenge again. This year, though, I was thinking about doing something unrelated to crafting, in the spirit of expanding my blog topics.

What do you think of the topic “College A to Z”? I am definitely far from an expert; I’m only in my second year of college, and I have pretty much no idea what I’m doing at any given time. But it occurred to me that, at least, I understand the plight of my fellow college students. As an anxious, perpetually confused, sleep-deprived sophomore, I may be able to offer a few tips to other college students experiencing similar struggles. At the very least, there are some tips I wish I could pass along to my younger self when she started college.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Should I blog about College A to Z? Should I do something craft-related instead? Or skip it altogether? Feel free to be honest…as well as with the Blog a Book! I know my posting tends to be a bit all-or-nothing, but I’ve missed you guys! What have you been up to? I hope your spring (or whatever season it is where you live) is off to a wonderful start. 🙂

Barbie Outfits · Crochet · Crochet Patterns · Uncategorized

Barbie Fencing Outfit: Free Crochet Pattern

I’m super happy to finally be posting a new free crochet pattern…and one that I’m really excited about! I’ve designed a pretty good variety of Barbie clothes by now – swimsuits, mermaid tails, leotards, ball gowns – but there are always more to make. My sister does fencing, and she suggested that I make a fencing outfit for Barbies. This was a great idea and I was happy to oblige.

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I’ve learned a lot about fencing in the years my sister has done it. It was my goal to make this the most accurate outfit possible, so I did some research as well as asking her for advice. For instance, there are three types of fencing – foil, saber, and epée – and each has a different kind of sword, and target area on the body, so the fencing outfit looks slightly different for each kind. My sister does saber fencing, so that’s the outfit I made.

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There are four parts to this outfit: knickers, jacket, T-shirt, and lame. The first three are self-explanatory. The other one is pronounced luh-MAY, and is an extra layer worn over the fencing top. It is usually gray or gold-colored and often has the fencer’s last name on the back, however, my embroidery skills were not up to the task. The lame is used in electric fencing, which is where the fencers are hooked up to cords to tell when someone scores. Although the actual lame is worn over the other layers, crochet fabric is far too thick for that, so this is designed to be worn over the knickers + T-shirt.

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Materials

  • Worsted-weight yarn. I used a thinnish worsted-weight for the white fencing top and knickers, which made a more flexible fabric. My yarn didn’t have a label, but a similar style would be Caron Simply Soft. For the lame, I used I Love This Yarn in a  gray color (Graybeard, maybe?). This is a thicker yarn, which the lame pattern reflects.
  • G (4.00 MM) crochet hook
  • Yarn needle to weave in ends (yes, I can hear you sighing)
  • Needle and thread
  • Stitch marker (or you can use a yarn scrap)
  • 3 hook-and-eye clasps for the fencing top
  • 3 snaps for the lame
  • About 18″ of elastic cord
  • Small amount of stretchy knit fabric for the T-shirt (I used part of an old T-shirt for people)

Notes

I use US crochet terms in all of my patterns. Click here to see a translation chart as well as the abbreviations.

This pattern is designed to fit the Barbie belly button body type (basically the newer style of Barbie without the super tiny waist). It’s being modeled on my Made to Move Barbie, Laia.

The legs of the knickers are worked in unjoined rounds, amigurumi-style. You’ll need a stitch marker to mark the first stitch of the round.

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Knickers

LEGS (MAKE 2)

Ch 14.

Round 1-8: Sc around.

Round 9: 2sc, sc around.

Round 10-14: Sc around.

Round 15: 2sc, sc around.

Fasten off on the first leg. Make one more leg and do not fasten off.

JOINING & WAISTBAND

On second leg, sc in next 2 stitches. Use long tail from first leg to sew those 2 stitches together. Then continue on from the second leg with the same yarn.

Round 1: Sc in 8 stitches on each leg for 16 total.

Rounds 2 & 3: Sc in each st around.

Round 4: Decrease (sc2tog) at front and back.

Round 5: Decrease (sc2tog) at both sides.

Round 6 & 7: Sc in each st around.

Round 8: Sc around in back loops only.

Round 9 & 10: Sc in each st around. Fasten off, weave in ends.

Cut one long piece of elastic and tie a lark’s head knot in the back middle of the garment. Then thread the front pieces through the front of the knickers and knot those. These form the straps.

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Jacket

BODY

Work in front loops only for the entire top.

Row 1: Ch 16. Sc in 2nd ch from hk and in each ch across. (15 its)

Row 2-4: Ch 1, turn, sc 15.

Row 5: Ch 1, turn. Sc 1. Ch 3, sk 3, hdc 1, dc across. 2 dc in last st.

Row 6: Ch 1, turn. 2 sc in first st, sc in each st across.

Row 7: Ch 1, turn. Sc in each st across, 2 sc in last st.

Row 8-10: Repeat Rows 6 and 7 once more, then repeat Row 6. This forms the increases for the bottom triangle. Now we’ll begin decreasing for the other side.

Row 11: Ch 1, turn. Sc in each st across until 2 sts remain; sc2tog.

Row 12: Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog, sc in each st across.

Row 13-15: Repeat Rows 11 and 12 once more, then repeat Row 11. This concludes the triangle.

Row 16: Ch 2, turn. Sk first st, dc across until 5 sts remain. Hdc. Ch 3, sk 3, sc in last stitch (through both loops for this stitch only).

Row 17-21: Ch 1, turn, sc in each st across.

Ch 1. Turn to crochet along the bottom, where the triangle shaping is. We’re going to crochet an edging to make the edge smoother. Single crochet along the edge, making 3 sc when you reach the point. I found it worked best to make approximately 1 sc per row, trying to insert your hook under two loops to prevent gaps. When you reach the end, fasten off and weave in ends.

SLEEVES (MAKE 2)

Row 1: Ch 17. Sc in 2nd ch from hk and in each ch across. (16 sts)

Row 2-8: Ch 1, turn. Sc across in front loops only.

Fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing. Fold the sleeve in half lengthwise and seam the ends together. I suggest sewing through the front loop of Row 8 as well as the remaining loops of the starting chain. When you reach the other end, use the tail to sew the sleeve to the armhole. For best results, make sure the seam is facing down (along the underside of the arm).

FINISHING

Sew 3 hook-and-eye clasps to the back.

Cut a 6″ piece of elastic and tie one end to the bottom point. The other end can be tied to the back of the jacket. Adjust as needed. This helps make sure it stays put for the fencer.

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Lame (luh-MAY)

This pattern is the same as the jacket without the front triangle, and with the opening in the front to mimic the neckline of a real lame. (The picture shows the back of the lame.)

NOTE: The yarn I used for the lame was thicker than the jacket yarn, so there are less rows in the lame pattern. If your yarn is the same thickness for both garments, and your lame comes out too small, simply add more rows of sc along the back so it fits your Barbie.

Work in front loops only for the entire top.

Row 1: Ch 16. Sc in 2nd ch from hk and in each ch across. (15 its)

Row 2-6: Ch 1, turn, sc 15.

Row 7: Ch 1, turn. Sc 1. Ch 3, sk 3, hdc 1, dc across. 2 dc in last st.

Row 8-17: Ch 1, turn, sc 15.

Row 18: Ch 2, turn. Sk first st, dc across until 5 sts remain. Hdc. Ch 3, sk 3, sc in last stitch (through both loops for this stitch only).

Row 19-23: Ch 1, turn, sc in each st across.

Work a row of sc along the bottom as for the jacket. Then sew 3 snaps along the front so that the fabric lies at a diagonal. The lame should actually have elastic at the bottom too, but I forgot to include it. I’ll add it later.

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T-Shirt

I don’t have a pattern for this, just guidelines. Essentially, it’s two T-shaped pieces of knit fabric sewn together. I cut out two square pieces bigger than my Barbie’s torso, set her atop it, and traced around in a T-shirt shape. When you cut the neck hole, make sure it isn’t too big, because it will stretch. Also make sure there’s enough seam allowance and extra room for the shirt to be put on. Next, I whipstitched the underside of the sleeve and the side of the shirt together, on both sides. I turned it inside out and put it on the Barbie. There are also no-sew versions of Barbie T-shirts if you prefer those. A quick Google search will yield you plenty of tutorials.

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I hope you enjoy this pattern! Please leave a comment if you need help or find something in the pattern that doesn’t quite add up…it’s happened before and will happen again. If you do make this, I’d love to see pictures of your results.

This outfit is far from complete…the next thing on the list is a fencing mask, since of course you shouldn’t fence without one! I’d also like to make a rolling duffel to hold the saber and supplies, and maybe I can figure out how to make a sword for the Barbies too. Because who doesn’t want a doll rebellion on one’s hands?

Book Review · Books

Book Review: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

If you’re a long-time reader, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Marissa Meyer’s books. Perhaps that’s an understatement. I loved The Lunar Chronicles and Heartless, so of course I had to get my hands on a copy of her latest book, Renegades, which released in November. I’ve been meaning to write this review for a while now, but I’m finally getting around to it.

And now I’m excited to share my review with you guys!

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About the Book

28421168Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

Goodreads | 552 pages (yay!)| Where I got it: Bought it to add to my ever-growing Marissa Meyer collection!

Book Review

I will do my best to avoid spoilers, but there may be some mild ones – no major plot points.

I had mixed feelings on this book!

The first time I read through it, I had a difficult time slogging through, which was a huge shock to me as I usually cruise through Marissa Meyer books (Heartless brought me out of a reading slump last year). But I just couldn’t connect with the characters. I felt like I was reading the second book in a series, where everybody has already been introduced to the characters.

The gist of the plot, without spoilers, is that superheroes (or “prodigies”) used to be feared, until the Anarchists rose to power. But then the Renegades defeated the Anarchists and built a system of rules so the superheroes were held accountable. Nova is one of the Anarchists, and at the beginning of the book, she’s been living with them for quite a few years. I think this is why I felt a disconnect from the Anarchists – because the readers don’t have this backstory.

However, later on in the book, Nova is introduced to the Renegades, and I began to get a lot more interested at this point. Again, this is because I finally felt like I was getting to know some characters. I really liked Adrian; I thought he was quite sympathetic and sweet. He also has an awesomely creative superpower: his drawings can come to life.

I think Marissa Meyer is making an effort to include more diverse characters in her books, which is fantastic, and definitely adds to the rating for me. I believe Nova is biracial, and Adrian is described as having dark skin. He also has two dads who are the lead superheroes of the Renegades, and who are a super endearing couple. (As a side note: Adrian also wears glasses, which is not particularly diverse, but something I don’t see very often in superhero books! I’m wondering how that would work in a fight scene. 😛 ) There are a wide variety of races represented in the Renegades, which is awesome and also makes a lot of sense, given that they come from all over the world. It just wouldn’t be realistic to have everyone be white (but that’s definitely the case in a lot of media).

Speaking of which, there are also a LOT of fight scenes in this book, which I think is because of the genre: they’re superheroes! Unfortunately, fight scenes are my least favorite thing to read. Despite all the action, I find them quite boring, no matter what book they’re in. But that isn’t Marissa Meyer’s fault – you can’t really have a superhero book without some fight scenes. There’s a several-chapter-long fight scene during the beginning of the book, which probably contributed to my initial reaction.

I began to like the book a lot more as I crossed the 250-page mark or thereabouts. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have persevered if not for the fact that it’s a Marissa Meyer book, and that I hate to leave books unfinished. But I really didn’t want to give up on this one. At the 250 mark, it felt like the plot really kicked into action and I began to feel invested in the story and the characters. I really like the Renegade characters that are introduced. The plot was well-done and held my interest once I got into it, and the end wrapped things up nicely while still leaving some things to be solved in the next book. For me, it was just a matter of getting past the first section. (For what it’s worth, I enjoyed it much more the second time through!)

One huge plus for Renegades is the super creative powers that the author invented. For instance, Adrian’s drawings. Nova’s superpower is that she never sleeps, but she can make other people fall asleep. That’s a power I wish I had as a college student. Marissa Meyer’s strength is characters, I think, and this book has a whole group of them to grow attached to. She can also write a wide variety of genres: sci-fi, fantasy, superhero, and graphic novels.

This review may sound quite critical, but on the whole I really did enjoy Renegades. The pros strongly outweigh the cons. I would definitely recommend it for any fans of Meyer’s. Although Renegades isn’t my favorite of her books, it was still an enjoyable read, and I will definitely pick up the sequel.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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I know there are some Lunartics out there! Have you read Renegades or Heartless? If so, what did you think?

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