Tag Archives: Joann Fabrics

Jigsaw Puzzles and True Love

13 Jan

A jigsaw puzzle in progress can almost always be found in my family room.  My husband loves to work on them, especially after a long day of work. It is his way of unwinding and relaxing. Many evenings we sit in the family room, him finding the right piece for the right spot, while I am busy crocheting my next creation. It is peaceful and fun as we chat, or even sit comfortably in silence.

We have found that jigsaw puzzles are wonderful for opening a conversation. People who come to our house for the first time, will often sit at the table and start working on the puzzle. Then they start to talk.  It takes the stress out trying to make conversation for some. To be truthful I think jigsaw puzzles should be part of every host/hostess’ repertoire entertainment.

img_0685

Our son in law had two of his brothers working on a puzzle.

When our daughter got married, her future husband and two of his brothers stayed at our house for several days before the wedding (They are Canadian.). The jigsaw puzzle was a great success.  In fact, his brother, the best man, said during his toast that he was worried at first about staying in our house. “But once I got there, I saw a jug of real maple syrup in the refrigerator and a jigsaw puzzle on the table.  And I knew it would be just fine.”  And it was.

Almost everyone enjoys them. And even those who do not, will sit around and talk while others complete the puzzle. When we have a house filled with guests, we make sure one is always out. Whenever there is down time, someone can be found working on the puzzle.

My sister and her family are great puzzle workers.  We got our jigsaw puzzle love from my Dad.  We often had a jigsaw puzzle going on the table in the Catskills.  Great rainy day activity!  I also remember the one we could never finish!! It was so difficult!  But I digress.

Recently a friend came over with her 7-year-old granddaughter. She was amazed when she saw my husband working on his 1000-piece puzzle.  “I have never seen a puzzle with so many pieces before,” She stated. “How do you know where to begin.” My husband had a great time talking to her about puzzles! He welcomed her to come back any time to work on one. I do know that she was gifted a 300-piece puzzle for Christmas, which was put together by her family.

As my sign of love, I usually buy my husband jigsaw puzzles for his birthday, Fathers’ Day and as Hanukkah gifts.  I search them out. The best stores I have found for puzzles are Tuesday Morning and JoAnn’s Fabric. But I have found some on line and in specialty stores. I am always searching and keeping a stash hidden and ready for a celebration.

This year I went out of control in my puzzle buying.  My husband had surgery in July, and I thought jigsaw puzzles would be great entertainment during his time away from work. I knew he would be bored so I purchased 15 puzzles!  It did not work out as I thought, as he had a brace on his neck and could not look down.  The jigsaw puzzles stayed in their boxes for months. Finally, we could take them out and work on putting them together. The good thing about puzzles is that they do not go bad!

I do not always buy them.  I have found that jigsaw puzzle enthusiasts will trade puzzles when they are done.  Which we have done. I have met friends in parking lots and at home to exchange a bundle or trash bag filled with boxes of puzzles.  My husband always puts the puzzle pieces into a ziplock bag after completing one and then into the box. And we have found other true puzzle enthusiasts do the same.

I have a friend with a second- hand store.  She is great about giving us puzzles she thinks he will like so that he can put them together and see if any pieces are missing!  Then we return them with the answer to that important questions, “Are all the pieces there?”. I will admit that there was one puzzle my husband loved so much that was missing a piece. He spent days working to make a new piece for it.  I won’t go into detail, but I will say he did a wonderful job.

Friends and family members often purchase puzzles for him. They are the perfect gift. No matter how many we have, we always have room for more. I see the gift of a new puzzle as a sign of love.

We have another couple with whom we get together every so often. They also love to compete jigsaw puzzles. Twice now we have tried to finish a 500-piece puzzle in one evening.  Each of us takes a different part to work on.  It makes for an enjoyable evening for all of us.

img_5821

I think I will sit right here!

One major issue in working with the puzzles our tortoiseshell cat.  She seems to think the puzzles are there for her to enjoy.  We often see her trying to get into the box and run off with one of the pieces.   Her favorite place to sit is in the middle of a not yet completed puzzle… as we are working on it.  She believes we should be paying full attention to her and not the puzzle.  It is a dilemma because if we chase her off, she disrupts the puzzle.

img_5842

Current puzzle with the plastic cover!

We have been covering up the puzzles with old poster board when we weren’t working on them to protect them from our cat.  But now, we no longer have to do that!  Our son’s girlfriend gave us the best ever gift!  She purchased a sheet of clear plastic and four clear placemats for us to put over the puzzles when they are not being used.  It is great!   We can still see the puzzle, but our cat cannot mess it up when she sits on it.

Since I usually purchase the puzzles, I chose topics that I enjoy as well: Disney, cats, travels.  For my husband, I find space related puzzles, or Star Trek and Star Wars themes.  The one we are working on right now combines our loves; it is a jigsaw puzzle about knitting and crocheting. I realized my husband was at a disadvantage with this one, when I said, “That purple piece goes with the doily on top.”  And he said, “What doily?  Now I know he knows what a doily is, but these were very small and not what he was used to seeing.

We actually know someone who owns a jigsaw puzzle company.  I have been trying to arrange a visit to it for my husband for over a year now.  First, we were gone.  Then my husband needed surgery.  Then they were gone. I know it has to happen.  My husband is intrigued by the thought of seeing how the puzzles are made in person.  We did see an episode of “How It Is Made” that showed the process. But in person would be so much better.

My husband is extremely kind in his jigsaw puzzle work.  He knows that I am competitive and like to be the ‘winner.’   He always saves the last piece of every puzzle for me, and says, “Okay, here is the last piece, so you can complete the puzzle.”  In this way, I can say I finished every puzzle.  That my friends IS true love.

Crocheting Toddler Blankets Is Keeping Me Busy

26 Mar

Although I am not a grandmother yet, I recently became a Great Aunt. And I have more ‘grand’ babies on the way. I am excited. I love seeing a new generation and watch my nieces and nephews become parents.

I have, over the years, seen many of my friend’s children and former students become parents. And I have enjoyed buying gifts and holding these new arrivals. But it did not occur to me to start crocheting gifts for these beloved babies.

I think I was so wrapped up in my doily making that I forgot that I could make something bigger. I made lots of baby and toddler blankets and sweaters when my children were little. I stopped when I broke my elbow. I only made small items after the accident. However, I have been healed for years.

My other issue is that I love cotton yarn. I do not like to crochet with polyester and other synthetics. So what to do? Baby blankets are usually soft and cuddly because they are made with manufactured yarns.

Thanks to a post on a Facebook group that I follow, Crochet Addict, I had a answer. Someone asked what else could be made with Sugar’n Cream, 100 percent cotton yarn. This yarn is usually used to make kitchen towels and washcloths. I have made some washcloths for a good friend from this yarn. I love crocheting with Sugar’n Cream yarn, but did not know quite what else to do with it.

On the comment line, someone said they made baby blankets from this yarn. I was hooked. Baby blankets? I could do that. The next day I went to one of my local mega craft stores (Michael’s) and bought some brightly colored Sugar’n Cream yarn. I also bought a pattern book for crocheting “Blankets for Toddlers.”   And I began a new journey. The other thing I like about this yarn is that it washes so well. Since it is made for kitchen work, it is also strong. Perfect for use with little children.

First two blankets with Sugar'n Cream yarn.

First two blankets with Sugar’n Cream yarn.

My first blanket is slightly off kilter. I did not plan well with the weight of the yarn and the pattern. So it is longer and narrower then I wanted it to be. But then I saw that people make blankets this size to use in strollers. So it will be used. I am presenting it to a neighbor who just had a little girl on my husband and my 35th wedding anniversary. She is the first baby born since I started making blankets.

My second blanket has come out much more in the shape I wanted.   I went back to Michael’s when the store was having a yarn sale. There is one problem with this yarn. It is sold, at Michaels, in just 2 ounce and 2 ½ ounce skeins. It is difficult to find enough skeins with the same lot number to make a full blanket! (The lot number means that the skeins were dyed on the same day at the same time. If they were not dyed together, then the colors can be slightly off and fade differently.)

I solved this problem by buying three colors and putting skeins of the same dye lots together, while separating them from other dye lots with the other colors. It forms a striped blanket, using one stitch throughout. I think it looks darn good.

Now I am ready to begin blanket number three. I have to make four in all by September. I was out and about and decided to go to a different mega craft store, Joann’s Fabric. I was in for a surprise. At Joann’s, the Sugar’n Cream yarn comes in bigger skeins! There are both three and four ounce skeins. But more than that, the store sells 14-ounce skeins on the cardboard tubes. I can definitely get the same lot numbers there. I now have enough yarn to make my third blanket. And I have a plan in mind for blanket number four!

My new Clover hooks.

My new Clover hooks.

I am having a great time. Especially since with this blanket, I will be able to use my new crochet hooks. Clover crochet hooks were another great idea from the Crochet Addict group. Someone posted a photo of these wonderful European crochet hooks that have a thicker handle. That is the most difficult part of using this yarn for me, the slipping handle. I am hoping these new hooks work better and cause less stress on my hands.

Once I finish the blankets I have promised myself I would make for grand nieces and nephews, I know I will keep making baby blankets. I posted a photo of the two I finished and now some of my younger generation friends want one for their children. I am happy to oblige!

When I am done with those, I will still make the blankets! A friend I know makes them and donates them to a hospital NICU for new babies who need lots of love. I will crochet lots of love in each blanket I make.

I am so happy that crocheting toddler blankets is keeping me busy. And am happy that all my blankets will be going to loving homes.