Friday, December 30, 2011

Crochet, Crochet, Crochet!

So I've been going a little nuts with crochet lately.  I have all this yarn just sitting around, and I found a really easy kids hat pattern that I've modified a bit.  These are all preemie - newborn size hats, using up yarn that I have around.  The type of yarn and size of hook changes the size of the hat.  I just went with it, and let the hats turn out like they wanted. 

Simple Hat:

Chain 3, ss to form ring.
Work 12 dc in ring, ss to join. (round 1)
Chain 2, 2 dc in each stitch, ss to join (round 2)
Chain 2, *1 dc in 1st stitch, 2 dc in next stitch.  Repeat from *, ss to join (round 3)
Chain 2, *1 dc in 1st stitch, 2 dc in next stitch.  Repeat from *, ss to join (round 4)
Chain 2, 1 dc in each stitch around.  ss to join.  Repeat this round until hat is measurement you want.

I finished some with a lacey edge, which was 3 dc in 1 stitch, 1 ss in next, repeated around:

This one started to become huge, so I reduced some stitches, (dc in two stitches at same time) which gave it a beret look, so I added a bunch of dc around the ring at the top, and a few half-rows of sc in the front to give it a brim:

Some of these hats were wool, some acrylic, and some cotton.  Again, I'm just using up old yarn.

While I was at it, I used some cotton yarn up making a dishcloth:

This was just a chain, with dc worked along it, then turn, chain 2, work dc along, turn, chain 2, continue until size needed.  I did the ruffle edge around it (3dc, 1 ss).

So have fun with this!  CareNet or some other ministry would love the hats if you start making a bunch!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Crochet Thread Knotted Necklace

A fun and easy project from yesterday.
Pick out some larger beads.  Lay out your design.  Remember the simple rule of design – use an odd number of each component.  I used three strands, and an odd number of beads on each strand.  I used a rough equivalent of rainbow colors, one strand in order from purple to red, another in order from red to purple, and a third going each direction from the center.
Make sure the beads have a fairly large hole.  Cut your strands of crochet thread about twice the length of your finished necklace.  Tie a double overhand knot in the thread.  String the first bead on.  You may need to wet the end of the thread, and twist it tightly to form an end that will enter the bead.  A dab of white glue, twisted and allowed to dry will help also.
After stringing the bead, do another double overhand knot.  If you insert a small knitting needle into the knot as you are tightening, you can move the knot closer to the bead.

Make another double overhand knot about an inch from the last knot.  String your next bead, then make another knot next to it.  Continue in this fashion until your string is finished.
Make as many strings as you would like.  Lay them out, and move them back and forth until you are pleased with the arrangement of the beads.  Tie all the strings together with an overhand knot at the end of your necklace.  Crimp a crimp end on the strings right above the knot tightly with pliers.  Trim off the excess string.  A tiny dab of clear nail polish on the crimp and end of strings will help hold it in place.

Repeat for the other end of the necklace.  Hook a ring on one end, and a clasp on the other.
Voila!  You are finished.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

As you get ready today, and sweat and stew to have the "perfect" Christmas, just wanted to let you know that the "perfect" Christmas is a myth.

Our most memorable Christmases have disaster attached.  Like the first year (yes, I said "first") our tree burned up when I was a child.  I don't know what my parents were thinking.  They drug that poor tree from the forest above the Lochsa, wind whipped on top of our old Plymouth Fury, and set it up with minimal water and strung it with lights from Goodwill.  Of course the lights shorted out.  Luckily, Dad caught it while the branches were just smoking.  The last tree we had when I was a child ended up a full blazing fire.  Mom had set it up on top of the TV. (Her decorating skills were always suspect).  When the tree AND the TV were engulfed in a blaze, Mom took it as a sign from God that pagan trees and evil noise boxes shouldn't be in a home.

Fast forward to when we had kids at home.  There was the year that Steven was rough-housing with his sisters, and landed full on into the fake Christmas tree.  It never quite worked after that - all the branches were busted off on one side.  Or the first year Jim's folks lived in the big house in Lewiston.  We learned that the garbage disposal couldn't take potato peelings.  Major plumbing disaster in the middle of Christmas dinner!

The details are a little vague - but I remember one Christmas when we lived in Deary.  Another plumbing disaster - involving the kitchen sink, hoses coming in through the window, and grease in the drain.  Then there was the year the turkey fell on the floor........

So as you gather with your family today - be prepared for the disasters.  Laugh with them - as they will make the most memorable Christmases.  Only Martha Stewart has perfect ones - and she has staff.

Gotta go - Skype date with granddaughter!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Payroll Tax Cut? Help me please...................

OK.  I promise that I won’t be talking about political subjects here very often.  In fact, politics usually bores me.  But there are times when something happens that affects the very things I am working with on a daily basis.  The recent hoopla over the “Payroll Tax Cut” is a case in point.
First of all, it isn’t a “payroll” tax cut.  It is a cut in the rate deducted for the OASDI portion of the FICA tax.  OASDI stands for “Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance” and FICA stands for “Federal Insurance Contributions Act”.  Before the “cut” employees and employers both contributed 6.2% of earnings, up to a certain level, of wages employees received.  After the “cut”, the employee share was reduced to 4.2%.
What a lot of people don’t realize, however, is that this tax is levied only on the first $106,800 earned in 2011.  ($110,100 in 2012)  This makes the tax rate very unfair to those who only earn $30,000 or $75,000 as compared to those who make over the limit. 
While Congress continues to squabble over how to pay for this cut – I have a solution.  Tax everyone equally.  If everyone paid the same rate for OASDI, like they do for the Medicare portion of FICA, the actual rate could be lowered, and Social Security would still have enough money to function.
See my table below:

FICA Tax Analysis (Employee share only)
Actual WageTaxed WageFICA Tax 6.2%FICA Tax 4.2%SavingsActual tax rate Additional tax if all earnings were taxed at 4.2% # of average workers savings paid for
Average US worker             30,000           30,000             1,860              1,260               600 4.20%
University Dean          150,000        110,100             6,826              4,624           2,202 1.47%              1,675.80 2.793
Corporate CEO          300,000        110,100             6,826              4,624           2,202 0.73%            7,975.80 13.293
BCS Football Coach      1,100,000        110,100             6,826              4,624           2,202 0.20%         41,575.80 69.293
Movie/TV Star      3,000,000        110,100             6,826              4,624           2,202 0.07%      121,375.80 202.293
In addition, Congress has only extended this “cut” until 2-29-12, which is two months into the first quarter of 2012.  This means that every single employer who will be filling out a 941 form next year will have to have special coding in their payroll software to identify wages paid before 2-29-12 and wages earned after 3-1-12.  I have a headache already.

Who knew?

Who knew how hard the first step would be?  I had the the first post of my blog all mapped out in my head.  Sat down to the computer and realized the first step was finding a name.  Of course, the name I wanted was already taken.  And the second.  And third.  And fourth.  And 45 minutes later.....

Oh well.  This really is the musings from the desk, stove, table and counter.  I've been many things in life, as you can see in my header.  But a writer?  Yes, I've composed many a story in my day, and been published in many different mediums - but not in words.  Words about things that matter.  One can only write so many procedure manuals without losing a bit of ones identity.

My first blog title choice was "Musings in Mediocrity".  Seems there are other mediocre people out there - who like to talk about it, because every variation of that title was taken - even spelling "mediocre" backwards!  There's a lot of us non-experts around.

My Grandma (who you will hear quoted a lot - she was a great influence) told me to stick to something, and become proficient in it.  Sorry Grams, I  didn't follow your advice.  A bit of dabbling in a ton of things is more my style.  My brain runs too fast to stick to one thing and do it expertly.  I can do a ton of things mediocre, though!

So if you like to be bored - or you like to learn a little of this, and a little of that as I bounce around among the varied interests in my life - stick around!  If not -- see ya!