Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Swallowtail Shawl - Lace is Addictive!

Yes, I'm definitely all about knitting lately. And while I'm also working on hats, mittens, warm scarves and potentially useful items I love knitting lace and seeing the beautiful patterns created. I think lace looks much more intimidating and complicated than it is. If you told me at the beginning of the year that I'd be making this, I never would have believed you. Once you get the hang of some tricky bits (reading lace charts, general triangle shawl construction) it's really just the same knit and purl stitches. But that doesn't mean I'm not excessively proud!!
Raveled here.

The pattern is the Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn C. Clark and is a free pattern. The yarn is a sock weight that I bought on Etsy. I was instantly mesmerized by the colors in it - definitely overall green but with some blue and dark gold in the mix also.

This was my first beaded lace project too. I used size 6 beads an the crochet hook method to get them on the yarn. Beading definitely slowed me down, but I am really pleased with how they look in the end.
Getting the beads to show up in photos is tricky!

This is definitely the kind of project that blocking wires were meant for! I got a nice straight top edge and my points are all even too.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More Koigu knitting - Woodland Scarf

This is the third scarf I've knit with Koigu yarn and it won't be my last! This time I'm using their KPM yarn which is the mostly-solid version of their sock-weight yarn. It has just enough variation in it to not be a solid.

I had the pattern in mind first and went to yarn shop looking for something that would work well with it. I didn't want it to be too busy or else it would distract from the lace pattern but a completely even solid wasn't want I wanted either. This Koigu was a perfect balance. Plus I loved the rusty color and knew I enjoyed knitting with the yarn.

The pattern is called Woodland Shawl, though I knit the scarf-width version. This was my first time doing a lace pattern that is patterned on both sides. Meaning there weren't those simple "purl each second row" instructions. The wrong side follows the lace pattern too. For the first repeat I thought it all seemed a bit too complicated but then I got to see how interesting the back was turning out. After a few repeats I had the whole thing memorized and could easily put it down and then later pick it up and jump right in. By the end it was truly enjoyable and it's a pattern I could see myself making again, definitely.

These early pictures show the stitch pattern really nicely, even though these were unblocked. Now I'm interested in finding more of these patterned on both sides designs! They are worth the extra work I think.

Raveled here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Holiday Prep

Our Tree! I love all our colorful ornaments and Ben and Nate enjoy redecorating the bottom 3 feet every day. :)

I was such a busy littler crafter last year. I made 20 gifts for the infants and toddlers we know. These were not quick simple gifts either. Seven of those gifts were hat, mitten and scarf sets. The scarves had hand-stitched animal faces. Three of those gifts were baby clutch balls that used 36 different fabric prints. Two of those gifts were stuffed dinosaurs with spikes all down the spine. Those spikes took forever to turn right side out!

I also made 11 more soft ornaments for our tree including these from the Spool birdie pattern:

And this year? Well I'm burnt out. Plus I'm hooked on knitting which is much slower than sewing. I'm working on knitted hats for the boys, but really that's all. Maybe next year I'll have a big push to do a handmade item for everyone, or maybe not. It got to be a lot of pressure -- making one item for one person made me feel obligated to make something for many others. For now, I need to stick with projects that are fun.

Here is the single solitary holiday decoration I made this year, but I think it's adorable!

I had made a bunting for my 3-year-old's birthday but didn't even consider making them for holidays until my secret swap parter made a cute Halloween one for me! For the holiday version I just pulled out my favorite prints and started cutting. Just sew the triangles right sides together, turn and press, then sew store-bought double-fold bias trim around it. So easy!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Knitting Catch-Up

Despite the last two posts about sewing projects, I really have been doing much more knitting lately. I'm definitely hooked!
Just in time for the real cold weather to begin, I finished (mostly, kinda) my winter set. I finished the hat long ago but I had bought two more hanks of the Sheep Shop Sheep 1 yarn to make a scarf and mittens to match.

For a scarf I decided to go with a neckwarmer. First, I found a great pattern by the owner of Loop, my favorite local yarn store. It the Herringbone neckwarmer and it's a free pattern. Second, a neckwarmer is a heck of a lot faster to make than a scarf! I think mine is about 26" long while a scarf would be at least 48". The pattern is just 2 lines, but looks amazingly confusing in print. Actually trying it with your needles and yarn works much better and in the end it was a really fun and fat project! I love how thick and squishy the finished fabric is.
Raveled here

And then there are the mittens. My first mittens.
As happy as I am with the neckwarmer, I'm the opposite with these mittens. They do not fit in several ways -- too loose in the palm, thumb starts too late, too short at the fingers, too frumpy and bumpy and lumpy! And to top it all off, my mainly pink and brown yarn got a big pool of GREEN near the top of one of the mitts. I didn't even notice it as I was knitting, I think I was just relieved to be almost done.
I definitely learned quite a bit about what NOT to do, and I plan to frog (knitter-speak for unravel) and redo it in another pattern. So no I'm not posting too many close ups of these!

A few quick works in progress:

I fell head over heels for this adorable cabled hat pattern on KnitPicks.com called the Master Charles. Of course I went out and bought some lovely Malabrigo yarn to make one for each of my boys!

And I always have some sort of lace on the needles as well. This is the Swallowtail Shawl in a stunning yarn I bought from an indie dyer on Etsy. This one will even have some beads, a first for me.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Moda Soiree Quilt

Another quilting project! I did a LOT of catching up when I took a vacation day just to sew basically. I didn't get everything I wanted done, but it gave me the motivation to continue through the weekend and finish up my quilts. Then of course my mom visited and finished up the bindings for me! Yes, I can do them, but she claims she likes to have something to work on while she's here and I'm happy to work on other (knitting) projects instead. :)

I've become a big fan of these lovely pre-cut sets all from one line. Moda is the champion of this. For my Soiree quilt I chose a "layer cake" which is a pack of forty (or more) 10" square cuts, all different prints from their Soiree collection. Add in a 1/2 yard for binding and some yardage for the quilt backing and you're set.

The pattern is... well I don't know if it has a name actually. I think I'll call it wonky stripes. :) It was pretty simple and I took pictures of the process so look for a quick tutorial soon!

The backing is 2 yards of a Michael Miller dainty damask that I had. I was able to stretch it wider by adding the strip of stripes. Plus I love having an interesting back to the quilt also!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Strip Twist Quilted Runner

Another quilted table runner! This was done just in time to decorate the table before Thanksgiving. We're already decorating for Christmas today!

I got the idea of this one from the Connecting Threads catalog. They have tons of lovely table runners and quilts photographed in there. They sell many kits and patterns but this particular one is from a larger quilt pattern called Strip Twist. I thought it would make a great runner if it were only 2 squares wide. I actually didn't buy the pattern, I thought I could figure it out and I did!

The fabric is set of strips plus maybe half yard of the binding and backing prints, also from Connecting Threads. They sell strip sets, FQs and just about any cut you could want too.

I ended up going with a simple diagonal line quilting. The lines are spaced at different widths and there is an occasional line the other way too. I used good old painters' tape as my line guides.

Here is a matching potholder/trivet. It is also my first project attempt at free motion quilting and I give myself a D. If you look at the stitches its a big old mess. Some long stitches, lots of teeny tiny stitches, bizarre jogs in the curve. Just look at the overall pattern please. :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Felting Class

My mom is in town visiting and I thought it would be fun to plan out some activities for just us. So I signed us up for a Felting class at the local art center. It was called Felting: From Fuzz to Form and it covered needle felting, wet felting and ideas on how to combine them with things like felted sweaters material too. I'd never done any of these and it was a nice change from all the knitting I've been up to!

First we did needle felting. It's just stabbing over and over some wool roving with a barbed needle until it submits to your will. Or turns into something like a cupcake. ;)
Here is my little project:

I also made these little circle shapes, not sure what they will become yet...

Next was wet felting. Just dip clouds of roving into warm/hot soapy water and turn into a ball. Or something. I was most excited for this part but it was NOT a good fit for me. My first attempt wasn't turning into a ball, it ended up more flat. Actually it looked like a T-bone steak! Or a human heart. But DEFINITELY not a ball.

Next I tried wet-felting a snake. Much better!

My mom had much better success with felting balls but she managed to forget all of her projects back at class! The only piece that actually came back with us was this embellished felted sweater piece. The orange and turquoise bits were needle-felted on. Quite cute!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Another Koigu Scarf - Berrylicious

It's hard to go wrong with any of the Koigu KPPPM yarn colors. I went to a local yarn shop with the idea of getting some purple Koigu. Oy, there were at least a dozen options! I ended up falling for this more-pink-than-purple colorway. So pretty!

I had a bit of trouble finding a pattern I loved to use it for. I started a drop-stitch pattern but didn't enjoy it. Too fiddly and slow for me. Then I wore my first shawl, the Feather & Fan Comfort Shawl and I was reminded of how much I loved the finished product AND the knitting itself.
I had wanted to avoid repeating patterns since I'm still pretty new to knitting and love learning new techniques and stitches, but the Feather & Fan was calling to me.
This scarf version is a 4 row repeat - knit, purl, pattern, knit. Easy! So I didn't really learn anything new but I did enjoy it thoroughly. :)

Love love love my blocking wires! Really this scarf didn't NEED blocking but it's never a bad thing. It smoothed and shaped the ends and added a whole lot of length.
Raveled here

Friday, October 30, 2009

Autumn Scarf

Yes more knitting. I'm actually doing very little sewing lately as I've found knitting to be so much easier to pick-up-and-put-down. Plus it's fall and there's more to watch on TV so I can knit and watch. But I do have two quilting projects I will finish in November!

This scarf was knit with Koigu's KPPPM yarn and it's lovely to knit with. Plus Koigu comes in every color under the sun - from slightly varigated solids to tonal stripes to wild rainbows! Really, the prettiest part of a yarn store may be the Koigu section - it's a riot of color.
Here's a few skeins of Koigu, including the 2 that created this scarf:

The pattern is called Sock-it-to-me and is from the 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders book. Yes there are definitely some fluff and silly things in there but there is also a ton of good projects you'd actually make. Good book.

I got through this scarf in just two weeks! I was really pushing to finish it though since I wanted to wear it to our family portrait day last weekend. I hope it photographed well!
Raveled here

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Noro Shawlette

What is a shawlette? It's a tiny shawl. Or something that was supposed to be a shawl but the knitter was sick of the thing and decided to quit early. So now instead of keeping shoulders warm, it's just basically a triangular scarf.

This is a lace pattern called Kellokukka that I did intend to make as a full size shawl. However I did not enjoy knittign with the yarn, Noro Kureyon Sock. Ick. It's thick and thin (and I mean blobby, really thick and then thin as thread), it's not soft and I was all done with it. I do love the look of the slow color gradation but I need to find it in a nicer yarn. Did I mention that this Noro isn't cheap either? Definitely not buying it again!

So I had done a decent amount was coming to the end of a repeat. I could have kept going, maybe knit at least one more 18-row repeat but I decided to quit before I hated the whole thing and end it short. At least it's usable as I was able to block it it to 40" wide! In the end I used just over half of the skein. As I said, I just couldn't take it anymore!
Raveled here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mittens and Hats

Brrrr! Suddenly it got very cold here and I had to admit that just throwing on a hoodie on myself and the kids wasn't going to cut it anymore. I dug out our box of mittens/gloves/scarves and then scavenged around to see if coats from last year would fit the boys this winter. It looks like we are OK on coats, but Nate only had one mitten. I found a pair of Nate's old mittens that would be fine for Ben but I have vivid memories of wrestling Nate's fingers into them and thought we could do with a easier pair.
Some new mittens were definitely in order!

Now I've been bitten by the knitting bug but no way could I have finished 2 knit pairs in one evening like I did sewing up these fleece pairs:

Fortunately I still had the mitten pattern pieces I used last year when I made mittens/scarf/hat sets for all the toddlers. The pattern is free, but there is some work involved scaling the pattern to the right size for the user. It was great to just be able to cut and sew! For Ben's I just basically winged it. No thumbs on his. I used up all of the blue making Nate's pair and didn't have a good other color for Ben's. So I ended up using this luscious smooth minkee. I used white fleece for the inside to make sure it would be warm enough. (Of course white wouldn't have stayed clean for long on the outside!) These were pretty quick jobs but definitely functional. :)

Then back to the saga of the pumpkin hat. Sigh. I really had a lot of problems with this. My first hat was too big and stretched even bigger. I also didn't love the rolled edge (especially with the stretchiness.) I ended up taking out some bottom rows and knitting a ribbed bottom instead. However, it is too big for Ben and almost too big for Nate! So it's officially Nate's hat now. I started knitting another, making it a bit smaller, for Ben. I finished it and tried it on him (bad idea to wait to the end to do this!) and it was too small now!! My notes for the first hat were wrong and I knit the 2nd one with a much smaller gauge resulting in too small a hat. Argh! I had to put it away for about a week I was so frustrated with it.

But the cold weather made me determined to pick it up again. I undid the bottom, knitted up more rows, put a nice garter stitch edge on and bound off. I was as usual, so very very close to running out of yarn! But it finally FITS him now. (Of course, he still hates wearing hats!) I have a bit more green yarn (no more orange) that I may use to make ties for this still. We'll see.

I shared this project before but I'm really only calling it complete now that I found the perfect button for my hat!

And this won't really be a cold-weather scarf but the fall colors definitely make me want to get it done NOW! It's knit with lovely Koigu KPPPM yarn which is sock weight meaning it isn't a fast knit, though it is fun and pretty easy. I love love love the colors on display here. Only a few more feet to go! ;)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pumpkin Surprise

This ended up being a bigger project than I first imagined! Actually I think the problem was that I thought I was "almost done" a half dozen times and a full week's worth of knitting before I really was. This was definitely a learning experience.
The pattern is the Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman. It has a really unique ingenious construction and as soon as I heard about this misshapen dishtowel that folds to make a jacket I had to try it out. Really, here it is when I "finished" knitting it and laid it flat. Crazy looking right?

So at this point I had completed all the pattern rows and thought I was almost done. Nope. I needed to bind off. Many bind off methods are quick but I wanted to try an I-cord bind off. Of course I didn't know how to do that but YouTube is a modern knitter's friend and it didn't look too hard. I got about a 1/3 of the way through the slow process when I discovered that while I'm a loose knitter in general I'm a very tight I-corder! So I had to rip it out and redo. S-l-o-w. I do think it was definitely worthwhile though. I used the aqua for the I-cord and I love the look. It also gives a nice firm edge to the jacket which might have become too stretchy and droopy without it. Oh and during this I near had a heart attack thinking I was going to run out of the aqua yarn a foot short. It was close. (OK, the picture above has the I-cord step done too)

Almost done? Not quite. I needed to seam up the shoulders. Not hard but again, not fast.
Next? Buttons. I didn't want to make a trip just for buttons (as I knew this would lead to buying too much fabric I don't currently need) so I dug through my supplies instead. I happened to have a 1/2" fabric button kit so I searched through my fabric stash and then my scraps. I was just hoping for a decent match to the aqua but I hit the JACKPOT. I had teeny tiny scraps of a Park Slope print that not only was the exact blue but also had the exact orange AND a cute bird print that was the perfect size for the button too. Really, if I designed it it wouldn't have come out any better.

Whew. Finished? Hardly! Apparently the Baby Surprise Jacket proportions really only work for a newborn. Since this was for a tall one-year old I needed to make the sleeves longer. I ended up adding about 4" to each sleeve. And please remind me next time I'm working an unfamiliar pattern to not add crazy stripes. I originally had the sleeve ending with the wide aqua band but since I was lengthening them I had to continue the stripe pattern - one ridge of orange, two of green then back to orange.

But now? DONE! And maybe Ben will wear it for a few weeks before he outgrows it. ;)
Raveled here

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A little Fairy flew in yesterday

And brought us some amazing Halloween (and other) goodies!
This fairy swap was with some lovely crafters from thebabywearer.com. Is it weird that a site about baby carriers got me hooked on sewing and crafting?? So many of us were making and sharing pics of clothes, toys, home items, etc. that we needed a new sub-forum over there just for DIY that wasn't babywearing-related. So the fairy swap was to make almost anything. It could be things for the mama, the kids, the dog, whatever! Really it just has to be one tiem but everyone loves to go above and beyond and my fairy was no exception. We got so many fabulous gifts!!

First, aww... the box art

My boys digging into the box! (They never seem to be wearing shirts after dinner)

An amazing bag packed with goodies!

A super cute Halloween bunting!

Wine charms! They are actually tiny pictures of Lizzie Dish fabrics!! That's the print line I made a lot of kitchen accessories with. How perfect are these?
I have no idea how these were made but I'm in love!

2 adorable bags - perfect for trick or treating

And more pictures of my new bag. I love the shape, the color, the details! Now I need some tips on sewing cording too!

Thank you thank you thank you!! We had so much fun opening up all the gifts and they will all definitely be used!