Mystery Project

I recently quit Instagram. Probably temporarily (I didn’t delete my account, but I did remove the app from my phone), but for now it’s gone.

Before I did, however, I saw a post from a mom-owner business called Pixel Hooker. They create corner-to-corner (sometimes abbreviated C2C) crochet “graphgans.” A graphgan is an afghan created using squares of color (made with double crochets) to make a picture, usually done in the C2C style. The post was advertising a promotion they’re running, in which you download the free pattern and make the blanket. There’s no picture of the blanket included (unlike most other graphgans). Instead, it’s a row by row list of the colors to crochet. The reward for completing the mystery blanket is one free pattern from their store. 

I’ve always wanted to try making a graphgan, so I bought the yarn needed and started making the blanket. It’s one of three projects I have going right now, so even though it’s been a couple of weeks, I’m not done yet. But here’s what I’ve got so far.

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Any thoughts on what it might be? For a while I was thinking it was going to be a bee, but now I’m not so sure. I’m excited to finish up and see! Stay tuned for the reveal when I finish. And make sure to check out Pixel Hooker; they’ve got some amazing patterns that I’m excited to try out in the future!

Blessings,

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Yarn Thoughts: Yarn Bee 44th Street (and what I made)

I’m starting a new series using my primary interest as inspiration: yarn. I’ll be offering my thoughts on various yarn that I use, both good and bad. Each one will include project(s) that I’ve made as well as my thoughts on the yarn itself.

For my birthday in July, my father-in-law got me some yarn (perfect gift!). The first thing I did was look at the label because it wasn’t yarn I’d ever seen before and I loved the feel of it from the very beginning. It’s from Yarn Bee (Hobby Lobby’s brand), and the line is called 44th Street.

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Let’s start by looking at the label. It’s listed as a 3 weight yarn (or DK), and there are 540 yards and 100 grams (3.5 oz) per ball. It’s sold in cake format (a cylinder shape), which is my very favorite. The fiber is 70% acrylic and 30% polyamide. A quick Google search tells me that polyamide is basically a type of nylon. The yarn is available in 10 colors and costs $4.29 (US) when it’s regular price. Of course, being Hobby Lobby, it goes on sale frequently. When I needed more to finish my project (more on why in a minute), I was able to pick it up for $3 apiece.

IMG-5888Because yarn cakes are flat on the top and bottom, they sit easily on the floor beside you while you knit or crochet, with little bouncing around.  As far as artificial fibers go, acrylic-nylon blends are some of the softest yarns you can buy in my opinion. 

When I first pulled the yarn out of the gift bag, I was super excited. It was in the middle of a party (I threw a surprise party for my husband’s 40th birthday, and because our birthdays are only two days apart, my FIL brought gifts for both of us), and I was basically useless after that! I don’t go to Hobby Lobby very often (it’s only in the last couple of years that they started opening stores out west where I live), so I’d never tried any of their yarns. I’d heard a lot about them, but never tried one. And when I pulled the 44th Street out of the bag, I was immediately in love. I couldn’t wait to knit a sweater for myself using the yarn… which brings me to the next part of my review: How does it work up?

IMG-5890The first thing I noticed when I actually started pulling yarn up from the cake to start knitting (the day after the party) was that it was very thin, even for a 3 weight yarn. It felt more like a 2 weight yarn to me. I was willing to admit that maybe I was wrong because I rarely use anything but standard worsted weight yarn, but I have used other DK yarns in the past, and this felt a lot thinner than those to me. I started knitting anyway, but just with a test swatch. I know what my gauge is when working with worsted (4 weight) yarn, but not so much with the DK. So it was really important to know that whatever I made was going to fit – it’s no fun to spend a month making a sweater and then not be able to wear it in the end. I knew that I wanted to make a sweater for myself with this yarn, so I chose the Strange Brew pattern (the same one I used to make my kids’ sweaters earlier this summer). I opted to work bottom-up, which meant that I could start knitting a sleeve straightaway and not bother with a standalone swatch. Once I got a few inches up, I could stop to measure; if it was the right gauge then I was good to keep going and I’d already started the project. If not, it wasn’t so much knitting that I’d wasted loads of time – and yarn.

Turns out, my gauge was much too tight for the sweater project, even using knitting needles much larger than what was recommended both in the pattern and on the yarn label. Sad. So I decided to make a series of shawlettes with my yarn instead. There were several patterns on Ravelry, and I had enough yarn to make four of them. But that’s not what I wanted to make, so I was unhappy with the project even though there was absolutely nothing wrong with what I was making. I looked at other people’s opinions of this yarn (the consensus is that it’s too thin to be classified as a 3 weight) and how they overcame the “problem.” The answer was to hold two strands together and knit as if they were just one. So ripped out the shawlette and tried this method. It’s one I’ve used before, but only to make a marled effect with the yarn, not simply for making it thicker. I started a new sleeve, this time with two strands together. I measured it when I’d gotten up a few inches, and to my excitement, the gauge was right! I was off to the races with my sweater.

IMG-5887Because I had to knit with two strands together, I went through twice as much yarn as I would have otherwise. This meant that I needed to go back to Hobby Lobby and pick up more yarn to go with what I already had, but because they were having a 30% off sale, I was able to get all of the supplemental yarn needed for $15 (and I have quite a bit left over).

The colors I used were camel (for the main body), shale (the dark brown), and ruby (red).

Final thoughts? I really liked this yarn a whole lot. It’s a little disappointing that they label it a 3 when it’s clearly not. That distinction really matters when you’re trying to plan out a project. But knowing what I know now, I can work with the knowledge I’ve got. Some projects would be just fine with a single strand of this; others will use two strands together. Either way is A-okay with me.

Bottom line: Would I buy this yarn again? Definitely, especially when it’s on sale.

Blessings,

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Reading Eggs (review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.

You might recall that Dragonfly, my 4-year-old has been learning to read this summer. He’s super excited, and I want to encourage that hunger to learn, so I was really interested to have him review Reading Eggs from Blake eLearning Inc. I’d heard of Reading Eggs before (if you’ve homeschooled little kids for any length of time, you probably have too), but never really tried it, so this was an adventure for both of us. 
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When you set up the account, there’s one log-in for your family, but each child has their own “map” within the account. When you get logged in, you choose the student and where you want them to work. There are 4 levels of reading: Reading Eggs Jr (ages 2-4), Reading Eggs (ages 3-7), Fast Phonics (ages 5-10), and Reading Eggspress (ages 7-13). We also got access to Math Seeds. I had Dragonfly start at the beginning of Reading Eggs. I probably could have (maybe even should have) had him start partway up since he’d learned quite a bit previously, but it made sense to me at the time to start at the beginning since the program was an unknown quantity to us. 

Reading Eggs is available as a website (on a phone, tablet, or computer) as well as an app (phone or tablet). I didn’t realize at first that there was an app available, so we used the website. When I learned about the app, though, I downloaded it right away to my iPad. I was able to log in using the same credentials as the site, and all of Dragonfly’s progress was there. That was great, because now we don’t need to log in every single time anymore. Since then, we have used the app exclusively. 

The program itself is really fun. Each lesson consists of about 10 different activities/games, all centered around a specific letter or sight word. The first activity always introduces the sound with a fun song, usually sung by mascot Sam the Ant. Then the letter (or word) pops up in different places on the screen and the student clicks or taps on them. The final activity of each lesson is reading a book that focuses on the letter of the day. This is usually a little 4-8 page booklet that has single words, each beginning with the letter. There is an option to have the book read to you, which you can turn off with a little toggle switch at the top of the screen. We always left it on.

The games in between the first and last one each time vary somewhat. I never really counted them, but there seemed to be about 10-12 total games on an (approximate) 8-game rotation. This means that the games get repeated a lot, just with different letters. But don’t take that to mean that it was boring or repetitive, because it definitely wasn’t. And even if it was, kids at this age thrive with repetition anyway. But even for me, as the teacher/monitor, it still felt pretty fresh each day. Obviously, there were some games that I liked better than others (and my preferences were usually based on what was easier for him to succeed at!), but all of the games were fun and really pushed the letter sound of the day. Let’s take a quick look at a few of the games.

Listen for the sounds: The child sees two pictures and has to determine which one has the sound of the day in it (for a single letter, the sound should be at the beginning; for another type of sound, it just has to be in the word).

A415D448-DC88-497F-B12F-648B8EBF62A0Picture Match: There are six pictures taking up most of the screen, and six words down below. When you click on a word, it is read to you and you drag the word to the correct pictures. This is done twice with the same words, but they get mixed up between.

Word Blending: Sounds are shown, each in a bubble. The sounds are read, then blended into a word, and the child repeats.

Frog Hop: There are many iterations of this game, but the concept is the same. The sound or a word with the sound is shown amongst two others and your child chooses the correct one. They do this ten times to get the frog all the way across the pond.

A129A32D-FE8E-468D-A2AC-41107506CD7ADot to Dot: Touch the spots in order to create the letter of the day.

Word building: The final sound(s) are shown along with a picture and three possible starting sounds. The child chooses the correct one.

Letter Grid: In a 6×6 grid, there are 6 of the letter of the day (in different fonts). The child finds them all. The game is repeated with the capital version of the letter.

This is just a small sampling of the different games; as I mentioned, they go on something of a rotation from lesson to lesson. With each game, the child is allowed 3 mistakes. If they succeed with fewer than three errors, they can move on. With the third error, they are automatically restarted on the game.

At the end of the lesson, your child is awarded with some sort of creature that hatches from an egg on their map. This creature is based on the letter of the lesson (Pram Lamb for the “am” sound, for example). Each lesson took Dragonfly about 20 minutes to complete.

So what did we think? We love it! Dragonfly is always asking to do Reading Eggs. Seriously, not a single day goes by when he doesn’t ask to do a lesson (even the weekends). That’s a raving review if ever there was one!

Blessings,

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Make sure to hit the Homeschool Review Crew blog for more Reading Eggs reviews!

Bumblebee’s Birthday

My baby turned 2 this weekend! We had a small get-together with the grandparents and a couple of friends, and it was (mostly) great fun. The exciting moment of the day was when the kids went outside to play only to come running in with bee stings a short while later. Turns out they were wasps, not bees, and a couple of the kids had them trapped inside their shirts. As I’m sure you know, trapped bees are angry bees, and as soon as they were freed they started chasing down everyone inside. Many of us ended up with multiple stings (I personally got 4 on my foot). We were able to kill all the wasps inside within just a few minutes (though it felt longer), and my husband went outside and sprayed the nest so that wouldn’t happen again. All in all, much more exciting than we anticipated!

But back to Bumblebee (an ironic nickname, considering…). He’s 2 now! He is definitely my most difficult child. I’ve heard stories for years about kids who climb all over things, get into the fridge, and generally cause trouble. I’ve never had a kid like that before, though, until now. It can be exhausting at times, but he’s so sweet the rest of the time that it’s worth it. 

Here are a few pictures of him over his two short years of life 🙂

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Bumblebee and me enjoying our first skin-to-skin after his birth while I get stitched up from the c-section.

IMG-1598Moments after birth

IMG-2089At 6 months old, meeting Grandpa (my dad, who passed away this past January) for the first time. Bumblebee’s middle name is my dad’s first name, so they’re namesakes.

IMG-2836First birthday cake. He wasn’t terribly interested because he was super tired; we’d had a busy day at the waterpark that day.

IMG-3912About 17 months old; his first buzz cut (it’s par for the course now)

IMG-5617New clothes for his 2nd birthday. He looks so grown-up!

IMG-5637Instead of cake, we did fruit salad for dessert on his birthday. Ballet Boy (16) made the dump truck out of a watermelon.

Blessings,

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Homeschool Easy Full Year Curriculum (review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.

We have homeschooled our kids from the very beginning; none of them have ever attended a public (or private) school. For nearly that entire time, I have wanted to try a “everything provided, open and go” curriculum. So when the opportunity to review Homeschool Easy, I practically begged to be chosen. Homeschool Easy provides full curriculum for grades 1-5, so I chose the 3rd Grade Entire School Year Curriculum for Grasshopper (who is 8 now).

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When I first got access to the product, which is digital downloads, I immediately went to my computer and clicked the appropriate link. This took me to a folder which contained all of the worksheets needed for the whole year’s lessons. It was very easy to download them and place each subject in a folder within the “Homeschool” file on my desktop, and then to open and print each week. The 3rd Grade curriculum contains 32 weeks worth of lessons in the subjects of grammar, math, history, science, reading, book reading, and writing. We have been using all of them except math (because our current math curriculum is working so well I didn’t want to mess with it) and book reading (because Grasshopper is still building up to novel reading).

homeschool easy logoEach week, usually on Sunday evening, I get on my laptop and open the files I need. The various subjects are broken down into weeks; some of them are broken down into months and then weeks, but in the end the PDFs are all weekly. I open the weekly PDF and print out the pages. Then I write the dates we’ll be doing each page at the top, hole punch them, and put them into Grasshopper’s binder. After we’d been working on the curriculum for a couple of weeks, I asked him if he wanted me to organize the pages by subject or by date. He chose by date, so that’s how they’re in the binder right now. When we finish the school year, I’ll likely rearrange them into subjects since that’s more standard, but for now I want to keep things working for him as best as they can. It’s one tiny way he can have a bit of control over his school day.

The worksheets are very self-explanatory. It’s not completely hands-off on my end, but there are moments that are, and that frees me up to work with Dragonfly (4) on some of his lessons. Or to fix lunch, or deal with the baby, or assign things to the teenagers… but I digress. Let’s get back to the worksheets, shall we?

IMG-5561We usually start our day with Grammar. Grammar is my jam, and I love teaching it to my kids, so I’ve always done it first, even when the big kids were little. With many curricula, 3rd grade is the first time they introduce formal grammar (I don’t know for sure if that’s the case with Homeschool Easy because I haven’t seen the other years), so it starts quite basic. The first two weeks are all about different types of sentences (statements, questions, commands, and exclamations). It expands from there into word types, parts of sentences, proper comma usage, and more, but it starts slow. I support this method; the basics are super important, and it’s best not to rush them in something as important as grammar. Grammar is the most teacher-heavy of the subjects we did.

Third Grade history is all about America. The first month teaches Patriotism, and then it moves on to “normal” American history from there. The Patriotism lessons teach all about the flag, the bald eagle, the Statue of Liberty, and more. There’s even a short project assigned in which students research about their own state. In the second month, you dive right into the beginnings of America, starting with a bit of Native American history. The history lessons are each started with a video lesson which can easily be found on YouTube. After watching the video, there are questions to answer. I typically had Grasshopper watch the video on his own and then we worked together on the questions.

IMG-5563Science is much the same as history: watch a YouTube video and answer questions. The first three months are all about the Solar System, and my son has learned quite a lot about things through the videos that have been assigned. He’s gone over the order of the planets (which require a different mnemonic device than the one I was taught in third grade due to the demotion of Pluto), rocky planets vs gas planets, the approximate sizes of the planets, and a whole week on just the sun. When we finish the Solar System unit, there will be a month of Energy and Light, followed by 4 months to finish out the school year with Animals and Habitats.

Writing is done two days a week instead of five, and it consists of a writing prompt question (Did you enjoy your summer break?) and many lines for the child to write on.

Reading is the most diverse of all the subjects in Homeschool Easy. Each week has a list of sight words, and they are used in various activities all week long. There are flash cards to print out and go over each day as well as the worksheets. Worksheet activities include fill in the blank, crossword, word search, and two days of comprehension.

IMG-5562The two subjects we didn’t do are Book Reading and Math. Book reading assigns two chapter books each month. Each day has the child read 1-2 chapters and answer a few comprehension questions.

Math is pretty basic, and honestly, looked more like second grade stuff than third grade stuff to me (with the exception of the multiplication unit). It would have been very easy for Grasshopper to whiz through most of those lessons without even breathing hard.

Overall, I’ve been pretty happy with the Homeschool Easy curriculum. I love not having to worry about what to teach. That, by far, is the most stressful part about homeschooling for me. It’s not the actual teaching – it’s the planning and the worrying about “is it enough?” With a full curriculum like Homeschool Easy, I don’t have to worry anymore!

Make sure to head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to learn more about Homeschool Easy. Check out a few of the other reviews while you’re there – my fellow members have been reviewing all five of the grade levels.

Blessings,

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Project Bag (sewing craft)

I’ve been knitting a lot lately (as I’m sure you’ve noticed!), and in order to bring my projects along wherever I go to always be able to work on them when time permits, I’ve just been stowing everything in either a paper bag or a little basket I have. The basket actually works really great for working on stuff at home, but it’s a bit too big to comfortably fit at my feet when riding in the car, for instance. When my paper bag tore last week, and we didn’t have any others that were at least a little bit cute, I decided to make one out of fabric. I’ve developed quite a fabric stash over the past few months, but lost my interest in sewing when I had two or three projects in a row not work very well for me. (I’m still glad I have the sewing machine, but I don’t really see it becoming my main crafting outlet any time soon based on the difficulties I had.) So I poked around into that stash and found two fabrics that I really liked and that each had quite a large piece that I hadn’t really cut into yet, and made this bag.

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I used this tutorial from The Spruce Crafts, but modified it slightly. Here’s what I did. Unfortunately I don’t have “in progress” pictures, so hopefully my words combined with the pictures of the finished product will be sufficient.

CED7CFDD-FBE6-430E-AC26-ACF17AD6AF53First, I made two straps instead of one. And I made the straps double sided. So instead of cutting one piece from the lining fabric only, I cut two pieces of each fabric, each 2.5″ x 12.5″. Then I sewed them together on three sides (both long sides and one short side), right sides together. I turned them right side out and pressed them flat. Then I top-stitched around the edges to get a nice flat pair of straps. (Also, I didn’t use any interfacing because I didn’t have any on hand. The bag would be more stable with it, but I find that it stands up just fine with the fabric alone.)

I opted to use just one fabric for the outside of my bag instead of a printed top and plain bottom. To accommodate, I cut the pieces for the outer in the same dimensions as those of the lining (12.5″ x 13″). So I had four pieces of fabric the same size. I cut out two of the corners from each piece just like the tutorial says. I’d never made boxed corners this way before, but I rather liked it. There was a lot less guesswork as to how high up to sew this way.

When the lining and the outer were both completed, I sewed the straps to the right side of the lining. I didn’t measure or anything, just eyeballed the first one. Then I lined the second one up with the first so that they would be at the same position on either side of my bag. With the lining right side out and the outer wrong side out. I tucked the lining into the outer, making sure that the straps were tucked down in between the two pieces. With everything in position, I sewed around the top, making sure to leave a 3-4 inch hole for turning the bag. At this stage, it’s really important to pay attention to the stitch lines for where you sewed the straps on and sew the top of your bag below that level in order to keep your straps looking nice when you flip your bag. I thought I’d done okay at this, but I noticed the next day after making my bag that it’s not perfect. I might go back and rip some stitches out and correct it, but I haven’t decided yet.

D87BE3BB-4EA6-42BC-BB1A-BF3EA2CF82C5Turn the bag right side out through the hole you left. Press the top, then top stitch all around.

That’s it! (Obviously this isn’t a comprehensive tutorial – make sure to visit The Spruce Crafts for that. This is just my modification of their design.)

I couldn’t be happier with my new yarn project bag (except for the imperfect straps sticking out). I really like the fabrics I chose, and the size is exactly right for holding two cakes of yarn – exactly what I need for my current project!

Blessings,

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Curriculum Review: CTCMath

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.

What if you could have one math curriculum for all of your children, no matter what age or skill level they were? With a 12-month Family Membership to CTCMath, you can have exactly that! Let’s take a brief walk-through on how it works.

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The first thing you need to do after you sign up is log in to the parent account. From here, you will set up a separate account (with username and password) for each of your children. This is really easy; all it asks for is your child’s first and last name, a username, password, and the score for which you allow your children to move on to the next topic (ours is set for 80%, which is the default). You can even have the program assign you a random username and password if you like. After that, most of the work is done on the student accounts, but of course you can log in to your parent portal at any time to check on your students’ progress. The parent dashboard shows you at a glance which students you have set up under you, their average score for all lessons as well as how many lessons they’ve completed, and the last 30 action items for all of your students (combined, not each). Action items are things like “Ballet Boy logged in,” “Scorpion viewed the counting to 100 lesson,” “Grasshopper scored 82% on the counting to 100 lesson,” etc. You also have the option of receiving a weekly update email which gives you all of this information right to your inbox each Sunday evening.

The student accounts are a bit different. Once you’re logged in as a student, it’s time to choose the lessons. I have 4 kids using the program right now: Ballet Boy (16) is doing Algebra 1; Scorpion (13) is doing Pre-Algebra; Grasshopper (8) is doing 2nd grade; and Dragonfly (4) is doing Kindergarten.

ctc 3You can see from this screenshot that there are many, many lessons. Each lesson belongs to a category, and you move through the categories one at a time. Each category builds on the last one, so it’s recommended to do them in order. This is Dragonfly’s dashboard, and I didn’t start him on the program right away, so he hasn’t completed as many lessons as his brothers.

ctc2Once you choose a grade level and category, the screen changes and you’re shown the list of lessons for that category. Simply click on a title to be taken to that lesson.

Each lesson consists of video instruction and an interactive worksheet of questions. The videos range from about 2-6 minutes long, and include narration from company owner and math teacher Pat Murray (a dad of 10 from Australia). The lessons use a sort of digital white board to show the concepts; Mr. Murray’s face never appears. He speaks the instruction and the images change as necessary to help with the explanation.

ctc 4For example, in this screenshot from the Kindergarten lesson “Counting and Colors,” he goes over the different colors for the children. The lesson then moves on to the “counting” portion, and he explains how sometimes you need to count only parts of a group. How many blue cars are in this picture? for instance. Once the child has finished the video (and feels like they understand the material), then they can move onto the questions portion of the lesson. As I mentioned before, this is mostly just a digital, interactive worksheet. There are questions related to the material just taught, and the child answers them. They’re told right away whether they got the answer right or wrong, and at the end of the lesson are given a score out of 100 (straight percentage system). If they get above the designated “pass” score, they’re given the option to move on to the next lesson. If they don’t, then they need to try again (and possibly go over the video once more too). When all of the lessons for a specific category are complete, students are awarded a certificate with a “medal.” There are four levels of medal: Platinum (if they get 100% on every lesson), Gold, Silver, and Bronze. I don’t remember the exact breakdown for when each medal is awarded, but it’s either at 5% or 10% marks.

ctc 5So what did we think of the program? Everyone but Scorpion has loved it. Ballet Boy has done a lot of hodge-podge curriculum when it comes to Algebra I, but I think (hope) we’ve found one that will finally get him to the end of the subject so he can move on to other math. Grasshopper and Dragonfly like it so well that they’re both doing multiple lessons per day, always hoping to earn a “gold medal.” I have full confidence that they will each get 2 school years done in the 12-months of our subscription. But Scorpion… Math has never been his strong suit; he’s more a literature guy through and through. And his scores in this program prove that. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad program or that he’s not learning – I absolutely know that he is because his scores are slowly improving. I’m sure that with continued diligence working through the program, he will absolutely learn the material needed to get him through his 8th grade year and be ready to start high school next fall (2021).

I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what CTCMath has to offer (which by the way, is a full, traditional [non-common-core] math curriculum from Kindergarten through Calculus), so please visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read more reviews and get more information.

Blessings,

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Two Sweaters for Bumblebee

Because Bumblebee is so small, making sweaters for him is super fun – and super quick! I started this whole “sweater making in the summertime” kick with a sweater for him that matches the feel of one I made for myself a couple of years ago. He doesn’t particularly like this one (yet), so I don’t have pictures of him wearing it, but he has worn it a couple of times (namely once when we were at the beach and it was chilly so we made him!).

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64006710-C79F-4D1D-804C-1E354B399720I used the pattern “Caribou,” but when I was making mine, I realized that I didn’t like the way the cable pattern was forming. It left too many large holes. Instead, I found a different cable pattern that was a similar width that I really liked, so I used that as the basis for the one I made myself. Armed with this information, I skipped the pattern’s cable right from the start when I started making this sweater for Bumblebee. The cable I used on mine was 30 stitches wide, which was too many for a baby sweater, so I found something else for his, which was this six-stranded plait. Then I was able to get a set of buttons that were exactly the same as the ones I have on my sweater (wood elephants).

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Love the costume glasses almost as much as the beautiful sweater!

When I’d finished making the other two kids their Strange Brew (colored yoke) sweaters, I went back and made one for Bumblebee too. I started, like the others, with 100% wool yarn (I was out of my Knit Picks order by then, so this one is Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool that I picked up at JoAnn using a 50% off coupon). I dyed the yarn blue using the same recipe as the blue for Grasshopper’s sweater, minus the McCormick’s drops. By the time I got the first skein of yarn in, all of the black had absorbed so there was none left for the second skein. This means that even though both were dyed in the same pot, one is stripe-y and the other just a straight pale blue. Odd, huh? Because of this discrepancy, I opted to use the stripey yarn for the sleeves, and the plain for the body of the sweater. The variation of the mottled yarn combined with the stitch count of the baby sleeves made almost perfect stripes, so it worked out really well. In order to get a good contrast for the yoke, I made the background in undyed yarn and then added the design using the stripey yarn. Then I finished off the top with the plain blue again.

Both of these are just so beautiful, and I’m super excited for the fall when he can start wearing them regularly!

Blessings,

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A Sweater for Grasshopper

Here is the sweater I made for Grasshopper:

CD59DAD6-847A-4597-8761-2A96446F903A

FA2ADCAE-7A27-438C-8ABD-04506066C37EIt’s the same pattern as what I used for Dragonfly’s sweater (there’s one for Bumblebee that will be posted in a few days, too, and one for myself that I’m in the early stages of knitting). The pattern is really more of a “recipe,” meaning that it tells you the basics and gives lots of freedom in the decorative portion at the top rather than a specific set of pictures to knit. I’ve really been enjoying making these “Strange Brew” sweaters.

Grasshopper’s sweater was made with Knit Picks Wool of the Andes yarn that I dyed myself, just like Dragonfly’s. He was adamant that he wanted a pullover, and he wanted it to be dark blue. I also incorporated some orange that I had left over from making a sweater for Bumblebee (not the same one I mentioned earlier, but one that I will talk about soon). Because dark blue and orange are Grasshopper’s favorite colors, it was too perfect to not use both of those in one sweater for him. To dye the blue, I used 35 drops of McCormick’s blue food coloring (the liquids from the baking aisle) per skein. When that had dried, we looked at the yarn and decided it wasn’t dark enough, so I over-dyed it using Wilton’s Sky Blue icing color mixed with a bit of Black icing color. The black, because it’s made up of different dyes, splits beautifully, and that’s what gave this yarn that gorgeous marbled effect.

31BE549E-5FB9-411A-8E9A-653F0DBB96C1I knit this sweater from the bottom up, and I was anxious to see how the colors would play together, so I incorporated a design into the bottom of each sleeve and then used that same design on the bottom of the sweater, just above the hem. I was a bit concerned about having enough blue yarn, so I also added orange stripes to each sleeve.

When it was time to knit the yoke, I chose to incorporate the same pattern from the bottom as one of the motifs. Upon looking at it more closely I thought it looked like a maze, so I tried to find other motifs that fit that same feel. This was actually the first Strange Brew sweater I knit, and I was so in love with how it turned out that I immediately started Dragonfly’s green sweater – and when that one was done, I started one for Bumblebee! And these three sweaters are some of my favorite that I’ve ever knitted.

Blessings,

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