Thursday, April 28, 2011

Girls Night: April

Last week we met at P's with husbands and children in tow for Girls Night. I worked on my flower pillow (and finished it the next day--hooray!) and K. started working on a knitted cupcake hat for her littlest one.

P. really put us both to shame because she has been going crazy lately with crafting at her house.

Here's a fun scarf she's knitting with novelty yarn. It produces a very soft and fluffy texture, but takes a little getting used to when knitting; you have to knit in between the puffs of yarn and P. said the stitches didn't always match up with the amount of space she had, etc.

And here's a beautiful ruffled scarf that I love. P. got this kit at the yarn store we all visited together. I hope she's able to finish it. Unfortunately she's had a lot of issues with yarn breaking on this one.

Hopefully she can continue it.

And if that wasn't enough already, the girl went and made herself a dress too!

It's Simplicity Pattern 2369. Now that she's played around with it in brown jersey knit, she's going to try it again with this print:

As K. remarked, it's very Diane von Furstenberg. I'm so impressed. Now she's getting me inspired to try my hand at an actual sewing pattern. I don't know though. The sewing machine and I don't always get along.

I was so excited by all the craftiness going on. But I was even more excited about this cotton candy vodka drink (left) and whipped cream vodka (on the right). Who knew they made vodka in those flavors?

I can't forget my hastiness to eat these desserts either (the scale certainly didn't forget). Gotta love Cowboy Cookies and chocolate covered pretzels.

It was a very fun craft night and good to see the girls. I was so inspired afterwards that I was determined to finish my flower pillow. The next day I added strips of leftover yellow flowered fabric from C's baby quilt. I then top stitched it to the flower top, stuffed in the pillow form, and sewed it closed.

I presented it and the doll blanket to my nieces on Easter.

They really liked them and that made me most excited of all. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring Stash Cleaning: Twister Doll Blanket

I'm a pretty stubborn determined person. When I have my mind set on something I'm probably going to do EVERYTHING (legally speaking) possible to make it happen. It sounds nice when you call it perseverance or determination, but truthfully, it's really just about stubbornness. I'm like a donkey that won't budge when it comes to certain things (like maybe about using up my yarn stash). Unfortunately the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. The Little Man has been starting to show this trait with a vengeance since he entered full fledged toddlerdom and man, am I getting a taste of my own medicine.

Little C. and I have been battling over his emerging values. These pillars include:
  1. drinking water ONLY out of the blue plastic cup--not the green one! For the love of God, not the green one, so help us!
  2. reading Little Quack Dial-a-Duck (the sequel to Little Quack Hide and Seek) no less than 10 times in a row.
  3. "sweeping" (and I use that term expansively) the floor anytime he catches sight of a broom. This is fine in our own home, but he had a fit in the fabric store over the weekend when he saw a maintenance man with a dustpan and broom and wasn't allowed to "sweep" the floor himself.
  4. watching Guy Fieri on the Food Network when he is eating his lunch/ snack as well as Ina Garten during dinner (God help me when they change the lineups).
  5. only eating food that is smothered in tomato sauce or apple sauce.

While coping with the development of my son's determination and perseverance, I have been doggedly going through my stash and trying to use up yarn. I'm making progress on the flower pillow for my niece, but red warning lights and sirens starting going off in my head when I realized that I couldn't give something to one little niece without giving something to the other one. (this post of mine pretty much covers that topic).  Thankfully, that's when I spotted these forgotten Circles in the Square that I made for her two years ago.

When I made the "Twister" throw for her back then I overestimated the number of squares I needed. Hence, I was left with 3 strips of joined granny squares and about 5 that were unjoined--all sitting in a bag in my closet. I didn't have any idea what to do with them until I remembered how much my niece loves her baby doll. All baby dolls need a blanket, don't they? I merely had to join the strips and assorted squares, sew in a bunch of ends, and block it. Voila! A doll blanket for my niece that matches her throw.

 I have one odd square left. Now what do I do with that? A washcloth? A coaster? A book cover for Little Quack Dial-A -Duck?

Maybe I'll just keep it as a stash busting memento. I'm almost as excited to be lightening my stash as I am to be giving this to my niece. Hope her baby doll likes it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April Flowers

These flowers are very addictive.

And they're another way to use up stash yarn.

This will eventually turn into a pillow.

I'm going to try to get a pillow form this weekend so I know how many more to make.

Until then I guess I'll just keep making them.

Like I said, they are really addictive.

The pattern is from here. I love all the different color combinations other crocheters used on Ravelry and would love to make one in a wide variety of colors, but I have this earmarked for a special little someone already and these colors match her bed spread (mostly). I'll probably revisit the pattern again later and go crazy with color. Wouldn't this make a great throw at the bottom of a little girl's bed in a bunch of pinks, greens, oranges, lavenders? I've been yearning to make some girly things lately and this pattern fit the bill. I used a 3.75 mm hook and a mishmash of acrylic yarns.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Not My Knits: Newborn Sweaters

One of the things that I loved about my old teaching career was the creative environment that was always present. No matter what subject (even math!) there were numerous creative possibilities hanging about, only waiting for the teacher or student to grab them.

The school where I worked thrived on creativity, and I remember many a workshop tapping into the creative side of the faculty's mind. There were many challenges associated with my pre-baby career, but there were also a lot of psychic rewards like this.

One such creative outlet was started by the school art teacher. One year she thought it would be a good idea to participate in Warm Up America. Like Crochet a Rainbow, participants knit (or crochet) squares which are then joined together to make blankets. Warm Up America benefits various people in need. 

The students and some faculty members set to work making their squares. A lot of us didn't know what we were doing and came together as a community after school to learn this new skill.

I had a little experience with knitting (not much) and a little more with crochet. I remember the school librarian asking me for advice on her knitting. She had never picked up needles before in her life. I offered the little knowledge I had and didn't think much more about it. The Warm Up America project had ended, and we all moved on with different things.

The following year I noticed the librarian carrying around a tote with knitting needles sticking out of it. I asked to see what she was making and she shyly showed it to me. It was a gorgeous pink baby blanket with cables and bobbles (in a beautiful cashmere-like luxury yarn, I might add). The blanket was stunning and I was overcome with awe. "Wow, you made this?" I gushed. She nodded proudly. It was for her soon-to-be-born, first grandchild. I was shocked that this woman who had never knit before the year prior, had taken to the craft like a pro. It was very inspiring. It made me want to knit like never before because I had clearly seen how far she had come in so little time. People learn how to knit, I finally saw. It wasn't a skill people are just born with, I told myself, so what was stopping me from trying it too?

All throughout that year I saw the librarian's prolific work: a knitted shell and cardigan set she wore to work, a fisherman's sweater with aran cables for her husband, a felted purse...Everyday she toted in her bag of knitting; it was a daily reminder that I wanted to do it too.

Our roles reversed as I questioned her about her needles, her yarn, how did she know what she was doing (she asked the ladies at her local yarn shop), when did she find time to knit (in bed at night or early in the morning), how did she keep her place in the pattern (she wrote down notes and pinned them to her actual knitted rows). My old co-worker doesn't know it, but she was a huge influence on me and why I wanted to start knitting.

For various reasons, I never quite made the time to delve into knitting wholeheartedly until after I had Little C. and left teaching. Maybe this is part of the reason I have so much stock-piled yarn. I bought the yarn back then with the hope that I was somehow also buying the time to use it, much like buying books you want to read from the bookstore and then having them sit on your shelves at home unread.

There are things I miss about teaching, but one thing I don't miss is the prep work and grading that filled many of my evenings. Not having that looming responsibility has freed up a lot of time and allowed me to jump into this hobby and finally learn about the craft. It feels good to be the student right now instead of the teacher.

About the pattern:
These sweet little garter stitch sweaters look like they are made from the One-Piece Baby Kimono pattern in Mason-Dixon Knitting. My old coworker graciously made these for me and presented them, along with a matching baby blanket at my work baby shower. They are made in a soft (organic?) cotton and fitted with cute little bow ties at the side. One is tan and the other a steel blue. It's hard to decipher the colors b/c the pictures are so dark. It has been pretty overcast lately, and the light has been terrible.

The first days of having Baby C. were kinda rough (he was wonderful; I was pretty beat up though) so he never got to wear these. He spent his first weeks in comfy sleepers and play sets; I did not have the ability to play dress up with him. Instead these sweaters hang over his changing table as part of the nursery decor. Incidentally, I've been able to see and enjoy these little sweaters every day--a daily reminder of knitting inspiration.
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