Thursday, December 29, 2011

Most Used Items of 2011

Well, December has certainly come and gone in a flash for me. Despite my best planning (I shopped for presents starting in Oct.,  decorated the weekend after Thanksgiving, mailed out cards on time, and even made a calendar/ itinerary of Christmas activities I wanted my family to do throughout the month) Christmas snuck up on me and then was gone like a thief in the night. No one is to blame for this situation; it just turns out that nearly everyone in the family was struck with some sort of lingering illness starting at the end of November. Whether it was bronchitis, sinusitis, croup, or a really bad cold, these minor illnesses made us pretty miserable for the month of December. It's hard to make merry when you're feeling sick.

Fortunately, everyone seemed to be on the mend the week before Christmas--just in time to get my baking butt in gear for the annual cookie swap with the girls.

There were so many delicious treats it's hard to remember everything but P. made sugar cookie cutouts, spritz, those yummy cookies with a hershey kiss baked in, and chocolate chip. K. made tri-color cookies, rugelach (from Barefoot Contessa), and Santa Party Mix (which my husband inhaled). I brought snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, and pecan snowballs.

Anyway, I'm already on a diet after eating way too many Christmas cookies and cakes, but before any more New Year resolutions can be made, I thought I'd reflect back on some of the most practical items I made from the past year. So without further ado....

C's Nursery Blanket . Since the width of the blanket was the length of the crib, I decided to just use it with the stripes running vertically. Little C. LOVES this blanket. It's probably the most-used, most-loved thing I've ever made. So rewarding! Many a nap I go into his room to wake him up and he has this blanket curled around his head like a turban. And the pink is not an issue for my modern Little Man. He thinks it's funny. It's been thrown in the wash a bunch of times and still looks great- gotta love machine-washable acrylic for that. Since this blanket was such a success, I've been thinking about making another. He really should have another, especially since we're going to try potty-training soon....Gulp!

Basket weave Throw. Another blanket. Excuse me, another AWESOMELY WARM blanket. I don't know what my problem is, but I have never been so cold as I am this year. I'm always freezing; my husband can be sitting next to me in a t-shirt and shorts perfectly comfortable, and I'm shivering in a heavy sweatshirt and sweatpants. It's times like these when I snuggle under this heaven-sent blanket and immediately warm up. I can't tell you enough how much I love it; it gets used almost every other day.

Anthropologie-inspired Scarf . I wear this all the time. I love everything about it. The color perks me up during gray, dreary weather and it's incredibly warm, which as I just established above, is of the utmost importance to a cold-blooded being like myself. I like this enough to knit it again in a different color. We'll see for next year. I am pretty partial to the red, however.

Little C's Modern Rib Hat . Out of all the hats I made the little guy this year, this is the one that's always on his head. It fits and looks the best. Again, this is a pattern I will definitely return to next year.

C's Goodnight Mittens. I really didn't know how well these would go over with my son, but every time he puts these on (almost every day) he giggles and recites "one mitten...two mittens." This goes back to Good Night Moon which we used to read over and over to him. (Now we have moved on to Good Night Gorilla). Like the matching hat, I will definitely use this pattern again and again.

There are other items from the past year that saw a lot of use, but nothing like these top 5.

I always think that the things I knit or crochet will be used a lot, but the truth is sometimes they're not. Sometimes they're never used/ worn at all. It's definitely a good feeling when something you've spent hours on has a life beyond the actual creative process. That's something I'll try to strive for in 2012.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Seed Stitch Stinks

I've been laboring through a project lately and my heart isn't exactly in it. The finished product is really cool and I think the gift recipient will like it, but the process of knitting it has been kinda rough.

I'm over the big needles, for one. And two, if I ever have to knit seed stitch again I will probably have a breakdown. I can see myself purposely avoiding any pattern that features seed stitch in the future. It's slow going, monotonous, boring...

I finally finished this project last night and the result is worth the monotony of knitting it, in my opinion. I had planned on making another one either for me or someone else but hell will have to freeze over first!

Ok, seed stitch does produce great texture-I'll give it that. And it probably wouldn't have even been that bad if I was using smaller (more comfortable) needles.

I'll show the finished product once it's been gifted. Now, it's back to crocheted snowflakes for my sister for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Girls Night: November

K. hosted Girls Night last week and it was the perfect opportunity for me to finish adding C's name to his Christmas stocking using duplicate stitch. I had planned on lining the stocking so gifts don't get stuck on the floats inside, but there's a 50/50 chance that I will actually get around to doing that. At least the name is finished though.

Another project that's finished? P.'s Koigu Ruffle Scarf.

The yarn colors are so pretty on this--of course my camera does them no justice. If I recall correctly, P. said she had to cast on something like 600 stitches for this? I have a headache just thinking about that.

After dazzling us with her scarf, P. whipped out this ongoing project she's been working on: a cute punch needle design.

It was interesting to watch her work. Punch needle looks fun. I can definitely see myself getting into that in the future as well as embroidery. *

I don't have any pictures of K's projects, but she was working on some applique letters for personalized towels (these are great gifts) and she is still struggling with that knitted cupcake hat. It's very cute, but it might be a love-hate relationship at this point.

Hopefully I also can finish up some projects that have been hanging around too long over the Thanksgiving weekend.

K. was a lovely host as usual and the food and company were a wonderful break before a crazy holiday week.

*Painting, knitting, sewing, embroidery...what am I? A reincarnated Victorian lady?! I can't carry a tune though. So I definitely don't possess that Victorian skill. That's a real bummer too, b/c in every Jane Austen novel (or movie adaptation) there comes a pivotal scene where the heroine impresses the man she loves with her singing skills while accompanied by the pianoforte. Thank God it's 2011 and I didn't have to impress my husband with the sound of my voice.  Yeah, it must have been my knitting that did it. What guy isn't impressed with knitting?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Good Night Blue Mittens

Our Indian Summer is long gone now, and it's time I made some mittens for Little C. to keep his hands warm on our walks.

I think he likes them because he kept trying to snatch them away when I was taking the pictures.

I made them from the leftover scrap yarn from two of his hats, so they match nicely.

I've been sort of thinking about knitting mittens for him since July. Remember the unnatural influence of Good Night Moon on me? And the repetitive phrase "Good night kittens. Good night mittens" which echoes throughout the book? Again, after reading this classic hundreds of times...I broke down and had to knit some mittens for C. already!

These are from a vintage pattern from 1953, which can be found here. I had to use tiny (to me) 3.5 mm double-pointed needles, which took some getting used to. The pattern was straightforward, fast, and easy to follow; I will definitely be revisiting it again--there are sizes listed for toddler all the way to adult men/ women so the options are endless. You could also easily add a pattern, cable, etc. I think I might try a striped version next time.

I've just moved on to a project which requires gigantic (to me) 9.0 mm needles. It definitelyy feels odd to switch between the two sizes, but it also keeps me on my toes/ keeps things interesting.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I am Not Precise

As I finished my quilted mini-table runner it became very apparent that I am NOT a precise person at all.

I do tend to eyeball things, instead of relying on the easier, truer, more fool proof way of doing things, which would be measuring. Rulers. They are our friends!

Never has it been more clear to me. Society at large owes me a huge thank you.  You're welcome, Society, that I am not a surgeon, an architect, an engineer, or an accountant. You wouldn't want any of those professionals "eyeballing" their work, would you?

 I learned the hard way that from now on, so help me God, I will always square off and always use a ruler when it comes to quilting.

Despite the crazy Dr. Seuss-like lines/ angles of my table runner, I still think I'll be able to use it this Christmas. It was a great learning experience and that's the most important thing. (I used this tutorial to learn how to sew on the binding.)

And dare I say it--despite the lack of precision, I am a little proud of the thing.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fair Isle Finish

I finished my Fair Isle-inspired hat for C. this week and just in time too. There's a Nor'easter in my area and we even have snow on the ground. That's early for these neck of the woods.

It was an involved, but fun project to make. Here's the original inspiration hat again:

Early on I decided that I wanted it to have earflaps. And I decided to minimize the orange color (C. has red hair so I love orange on him, but he has an orange winter coat this year and I didn't want to go overboard.)

The darker gray top was made one night a little impulsively; I wasn't really following the pattern and I didn't have the original picture in front of me. Turns out I had to rip it all out the next day b/c the top was way too long and C. looked like a conehead.

Instead I added a multicolor pom pom.

Here's a peek of it on the Little Man.

It's definitely a departure from the original, but I really like it and it looks cute on him, so I'm pretty happy with the end result. I would like to try more fair isle or stranded knitting sometime soon. It was also really fun to play around with the knitting graph software too. Maybe I'll even design my own original designs at some point? Who knows.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Modern Rib Hat Take 2

I thought I'd give the Modern Rib Hat another try in a bigger slouchier version.

I knitted the child's size this time instead of the toddler. These are all stash yarns.

My model wouldn't cooperate this time, so this is the best shot I could get of it on his head.

It's such an easy and enjoyable pattern that knits up so quickly; I definitely recommend it.

I think I may be getting over hats now that I've made three in a row, though. (I'm doing some finishing work on the Fair Isle Hat as we speak). I've got some WIPs to work on, and snowflakes to make but other than that I'm feeling a little uninspired. Not quite sure what I want to make next...I'm sure the craft blahs will pass soon enough.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I finished my Anthropologie-inspired-ruffled scarf and I'm so excited to wear it this winter!

It was a little monotonous, as I mentioned, but overall it's a very interesting design. After knitting the middle, cabled portion, you use a crochet hook to create the broomstick lace around the edge.

I had never heard of this crochet stitch before so I used this video to learn how to do it. It was easy once I got going, but it really is quite an unique method. There are so many different ways you could use this technique. It's always good to learn something new!

I used Cascade 220 wool, so it's pretty thick and warm. I'm hoping the vibrant red color (I couldn't get an accurate shot of the true color at all; it looks different in each picture) will be warming in the coming frigid temperatures too. It was Red #9404.

We've been having an Indian Summer in my area, however I know it won't last. I'm not looking forward to the cold, but winter and knitting kind of go hand in hand, right? So maybe it's not so bad after all.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I've been such a good student this past week! I've been doing lots of studying and working hard on my homework.
I've been putting tons of thought into the Janie and Jack-inspired fair isle hat for C and plotting out possible designs on knitting graph paper. (I printed mine out from here.)

I studied the Norwegian Star hat pattern and followed its design.

After playing around with graph paper and pencil, I turned to the Internet for a quicker design solution. I found this great website, TricksyKnitter, which allows you to graph your design and print. Much easier to add or delete things you don't want that way.

Here's one of my changes: an all white background.

Or gray background.

I still wound up making a mistake on my final print though.

I started the actual knitting this week, and I'm still studying and thinking about the design as I go.  I am probably going to keep it on the simple side, but I'm not 100% sure.

I also completed my sewing homework from P. I entered into this activity completely clueless so this was a big step for me. Above you can see my quilt sandwich and basting pins. Again, I have no clue if I did it correctly.

Here are the strips of binding I made.

And here's the finished binding I ironed, using this cool little tool P. loaned me. I didn't know it's name so I looked online; it's a bias tape maker. It's awesome! Makes it so much easier.
All in all it's been a pretty productive week even though I haven't really finished anything. Again, I'm trying to focus on the process and enjoy that as much as the finished product.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Girls Night: September

P. hosted a sewing-intensive Girls Night last week, which gave K. and me a great opportunity to dive into some projects that normally might be a little scary to tackle on our own.

I find that martinis, especially cotton candy-esque ones, really help one deal with fears-craft related or otherwise.

A couple weeks ago I spotted some cute Christmas fat quarters at a local craft store. At $1.49 I couldn't resist snagging a few, even though I had no idea what I was going to do with them.

I threw around the idea of making wine gift bags, but P. suggested a little quilted wall hanging or table runner. I was kind of nervous b/c of my mediocre sewing skills, but P. helped me do the whole thing--from the measuring and cutting to laying out the squares. (By the way, that telephone-looking suction cup thing above? What an awesome tool! It makes cutting so much easier).

Again, I know very little about quilting (so far) but P. told me this is a log cabin design.

While I labored with my log cabins, K. went to work on a Cat in the Hat hat for her daughter for Halloween. (I'm not sure, but I think she was following this tutorial).

Unfortunately, there was a slight mishap: sewing in the lining backwards. I once sewed the hem of my workout pants backwards three times, so I can totally relate. She had to rip out all those stitches, and they were made with a serger! Not fun. I can't wait to see the finished product.

I'm hosting Girls Night next and I have a lot of homework to do before P. shows me how to attach a binding and finish the quilt. I have to sew strips of binding, sandwich the quilt, and quilt it before our next meeting. Gulp. I don't know if I'm ready for this. I feel kind of freaked out. Where's that martini?
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