Birthday Dress Update

IMG_9578I’ve made a commitment to knit G a sweater each year for her birthday.  As a knitter with a winter baby, it seems like a sensible time to knit her an annual sweater (and an inspiring excuse to do so).  You can see her first birthday sweater here.  I can’t believe she’s going to be 5!

It feels particularly important and special that I put some extra love and work into the Birthday Sweater this year.  Our new baby is due later this month, and I want her birthday to be special, memorable.  She may not remember whether the dress was finished before her birthday or after, but I hope she remembers that I made her special clothes for her birthday.  That I knit a different one each year until she asked me to stop.

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Except this time she requested a dress.  A floor-length dress. With a train.  Like Queen Elsa.

I wasn’t about to commit to that much knitting!  Fortunately, we quickly negotiated and agreed that a sewn train/cape would be acceptable.  But that’s a whole other project…

A couple of months before her birthday, I start asking G what she’d like in a sweater this time.  Color, style, themes.  This gave me time to favorite some patterns on Ravelry and pre-select some yarn for her to choose from.  She quickly chose Oriental Lily by Georgie Hallam and this shade of yarn from Yarn Ink, appropriately called Frozen.

This dress has been a really fun knit. I’ve been working on it monogamously (more or less) for a couple of weeks.  It’s been in the car, at work, in cafes, and just about every room of our house. Of course, it seemed like it was not growing at all for a few days there; every time I measured it felt like I still had 6 inches to go!  Thankfully she has requested it have short sleeves, so this should be done by the weekend.

Now to figure out how to sew an organza cape…

Cousin Skirts

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I went to the craft store seeking out fabric for a completely different project.  But there was an unavoidably cheerful end cap of all Hello Kitty fabric and accessories and I was immediately sucked in.  My 3-year-old niece loves Hello Kitty, and my daughter is a pretty big fan, too.  It wasn’t long before a yard of this fabric was being cut, and I needed to figure out what I was going to make with it.

Sewing is still new to me, and I’ve been having a lot of fun.  I had sewn up a couple of simple skirts for G over the summer, and decided that this fabric would be perfect to make my niece one too. I quickly figured out that I had enough fabric to make both of them skirts, and a Christmas plan was hatched!

I used a combination of this tutorial and this tutorial (thank you, Pinterest) to create the Cousin Skirts.  I added a bit of the pink print in (from my small but growing stash) to add some interest.

These skirts both went really quickly, and I couldn’t be more delighted with the result!  As with knitting, I find it meaningful to think about the recipient while I’m making something.  I imagined both girls twirling around in these skirts this summer, dripping with red watermelon juice.  We live in different states, so any time they’re together is precious.  I pictured my niece’s energetic smile and goofy little walk.  I imagined G helping me make a skirt for one of her dolls out of the leftovers.

The reality is, they’ll probably both open the skirts on Christmas morning and quickly toss them aside in favor of new toys.  But my secret hope is that when dress up time comes, or the warm weather starts to creep in, they will turn to these skirts and think of one another.  In the meantime, I had fun making them, learned a couple new tricks, and enjoyed the journey.  That’s a win in my book!

Fairy Party Favors

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PB’s birthday falls just a few days into the new year, an inevitably busy, post-holiday blitzed out time of year.  And each year, I’ve felt like a celebration was an afterthought, something thrown together at the last-minute, just as the Christmas tree was starting to get crispy.  Oh yes, it’s birthday time.

This has resulted in over-inviting, over indulging, and generally overdoing it.  I would usually feel like the point of the day was being overlooked in a rush to make things just-so, and the day would end with any number of babies or adults in tears.  This year we chose to keep it small and simple (thank you, Trader Joe’s), and it was a relaxing day.  With the exception of the party favors…

I had so much fun going over the top with these!

We had a very loosely themed Fairy Party where guests were encouraged to dress up. Then at the end of the party, each kiddo got to choose a wand and a vial of glittery pixie dust. Not to worry: I glued the lids on!

I spent a lot more time on these than I thought I would, but once you start it’s hard to stop. And I have to admit: it was fun to get so immersed in a creative project that wasn’t knitting. It’s good to mix things up once in a while.

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Flower Fairy Wand Materials:

  • 1/4 inch wooden dowel, cut to 18 inches long
  • green glitter paint
  • styrofoam ball
  • bouquets of silk flowers, leaves, butterflies
  • ribbons
  • hot glue
  1. Paint the dowels with green glitter paint and let dry.
  2. Separate flower heads and leaves from bouquets.  I had a pile of larger flowers, one of smaller flowers, and a pile of leaves and add ons like butterflies and more elongated pieces.
  3. Put a dab of hot glue on each flower before pressing it into the styrofoam ball until it is covered (there was some styrofoam showing if you looked closely).
  4. When the dowels are dry, put a dab of glue on one end and attach a 6-10 inch length of ribbon.  I put 3 ribbons of varying lengths on each wand.
  5. Press the dowel about halfway into the ball, remove it, and fill the hole with hot glue. Then put the dowel back in and press firmly until glue sets.
  6. Put in a pretty jar or vase to let dry and display!

We also had a craft area for the little ones to decorate cardboard crowns.  I put out some glitter glue, foam stickers, markers and crayons and they were entertained for quite some time.  It’s pretty exciting to be out of the imminent choking-hazard age and into the age of semi-independent crafting!

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PB loved it, and charged herself with decorating all of the extra crowns, and now we’re all royalty.

All in all it was a very fun little celebration. I’m thankful I was able to make time to create something interactive that I knew PB would enjoy.  In a busy season, and a busy life, taking time to create with PB is one of the things that truly helps fill my bliss-cup.

My only problem now: what to do with all those naked bouquets of flowers.

Block Party

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Oh, the needles have been very busy lately. Sometime in late October I decided to knit a certain amount of holiday gifts. My goal was to use existing stash yarn + patterns for all the projects. I ended up having a lot of fun searching patterns in my Ravelry and real libraries.  A few of them had been in my queue for a very long time; casting them on was almost as satisfying as using vintage stash!

I celebrated over the weekend by hosting a block party. We indulged in some bubbly Soak, took a long bath in the washing machine, and then laid out on the table in my crafty room. It was a pretty wild night.

The last gift knit is on the needles now, and it’s only the 10th.  Hubris has me contemplating another gift…surely 2 weeks is enough time for what I’ve got planned!

How about you? Are you working on any gifts?

We had a really fun yarn craft over on the Stash blog last week.  Check it out if you’re looking for a little holiday crafting cheer!

Cambrian Cowl

My first (and only planned) Christmas gift is finished! I decided to keep it simple this year, and wasn’t planning on making anyone anything unless inspiration struck. There would be no forced sweat-factory-style knitting in my home this year! Not that I feel particularly obligated to give knitted gifts, I just have the good fortune of having family who really appreciate it when I do.


This year’s lucky recipient is PB’s babysitter, a sweet, smart, and energetic college student from Portland. She more than deserves a hand knit for all the TLC she gives PB.  I hope she enjoys wearing it as much as I enjoyed knitting it.

This cowl is from Coastal Knits, and was a quick knit on chunky yarn. My gauge was off from the pattern (Ravelry notes here), so I had to fudge things a bit, but it all worked out in the end. The tweedy sage green Imperial Native Twist yarn was soft to begin with, but got even more so after a lovely bath. The buttons are a new favorite from  One of a Kind Buttons, and the main reason I chose this pattern; chunky yarn and buttons together? Yes, please. Oh, and the yarn buttons are both from Oregon!

Are you making gifts this year? How’s it going so far?

FO: Secret Baby Sweater

We’re home!  It was wonderful to get away, spend good time with family, and just relax into a daily rhythm revolving around fun.  Today is catch-up day around here: laundry, sorting through mail, errands, chores, and blogging, of course!

This project has been done for a while, but I wanted to keep it a secret until I could present it in person.  As soon as I saw these colors together, I knew the little cardigan was destined for my sister’s new baby and got knitting right away. Then it was all about waiting: waiting for my little niece to be born, then waiting to make the trip to Idaho to see her for the first time.  The wait is over, and it was all worth it.

Of course, I knit the sweater to fit baby M this fall and winter, so no photos of a cute sweater on the cute baby; we’ll all have to wait a few months for those!

This sweater was a fun knit, though a bit fiddly (isn’t that true of most tiny projects involving more than one color?). Early on I realized there would be about 10,000 ends to weave in, so I took care to weave some of them in batches so the finishing didn’t seem as daunting.

The yarn was heavenly to work with. It was smooth and bouncy, and the colors were delicious. I really love this yarn and am already looking for an excuse to buy more. The good news is that after knitting up the sweater kit, there was quite a bit of yarn leftover. I made the bunny nuggets and still have enough to make a wee hat, I’m sure.


When sifting through my stash in search of the right buttons, I was delighted to find these sweet little pressed flowers. They match perfectly! The only problem was I had just 2 buttons; after a heart-pounding trip to the craft store, I happily found another card of 2 buttons and was set.

All in all, an extremely cute project. And the sweater’s okay too. ; )

Mommy & Me Hat

This was one of those perfect knitting projects; it’s as if the yarn and pattern were meant to be knit together.  The saturated cinnamon tones of the yarn and its buttery, lofty texture were heavenly to work with.  The hat pattern was straightforward with just enough going on to keep your interest. If I’m honest, I expected there to be a little more to the pattern, but more on that later.

I finished this up in time to present it to Sweetie for Mother’s Day, and am pleased to say she loved it.  So did PB, who promptly stole it and popped it on her head, hipster style.  I guess I’ll be using the leftovers to make her a matching hat!

  • Pattern: Windschief by Stephen West, size Large (Ravelled here)
  • Yarn: Becoming Art Agave Worsted in Cinnamon, about 1/2 skein
  • Needles: US 6 & 7
  • Mods: I decreased every row a little earlier than the pattern suggested.  This would have been slouchier, otherwise.

Two things I want to mention while I have you here:

  1. this yarn is incredible (click the link, buy the yarn!)
  2. this pattern seemed a bit pricey to me; I was expecting a little more innovation or complexity for $6.  This is not to say that the effect of twisted stitches with strategically placed increases and decreases isn’t dramatic and worthwhile.  And to be fair, you do get a hat and cowl pattern, but the cowl is just the hat without decreases, so…  Couldn’t I buy a complex sweater pattern for $6? Or one of Westknits’ other dynamic shawl patterns? After feeling a little duped by this pattern, I’m going to think very seriously before shelling out the big bucks for downloads.
Have a great weekend, my fellow stitchers!

FO: Bunny Nuggets!

The Nuggets are here.

They’ve been hiding, congregating, and generally getting into mischief.

Apparently if you keep them in small groups and give them cookies from time to time, they will be quite happy.

  • Pattern: Bunny Nuggets, a free pattern by Rebecca Danger
  • Yarn: Wool Candy leftovers
  • Needles: US size 6
  • Mods: I did 3 and 4-stitch icords for the ears instead of knitting them in the round.

These knit up so quickly that you’ll have a warren of wee nuggets in no time.  You can use any weight of yarn, which means they’re great for busting old leftover bits of yarn from your stash.  And let’s not forget how cute they are.

What are you still doing here?  Go get your yarn and make a few!  And be sure to have a great weekend, too.

Dabbling

For Valentine’s Day this year, Sweetie suggested we forego purchasing gifts and make each other something instead.  Swoon!  I had about 76 ideas, and ultimately settled on cross stitching Sweetie’s motto for the year: Keep Calm and Carry On.  It’s a good motto for life in general, but I also thought a prettily stitched and framed version on her desk at work might be just the thing on a rough work day.  Besides, all the letters are there to stitch myself a Keep Calm and Carry Yarn version, should I desire such a thing.  Which I do.

I found a great pattern from andwabisabi on etsy, bought the supplies at the craft store, and started stitching on the Friday night before Valentine’s Day.  Silly, silly me, I thought I could finish the whole thing in a couple of hours.  Despite having attempted a rather large cross stitch pattern and never finishing it, and in spite of watching fellow SnB’er Fake Knitter work on her intricate Christmas stockings for months at a time, I thought this would be a fast project.  At the end of that first evening, I only had the word keep finished.  Boy did I underestimate an entire craft!  One evening turned into one week, and my stitching strategy and skill gained speed.  I would add a letter as I had 5 or 10 minutes, and after a few weeks it is finally finished!

The pattern was very nicely laid out and came with a bit of helpful info for a cross stitch novice like myself.  Grace has some very fun patterns available, and should the urge every strike me again, I will definitely go back to her shop.  The main struggle for me was strategizing where to start on a letter so I could get a good run of stitches without having to float the thread too far, and I occasionally did a letter with the stitches crossing the opposite direction of all the rest.  And I messed up the crown a bit.  Nothing that affect the design, but definitely some beginner mistakes!

Once I finished the main pattern, I cut the piece to fit in a frame, then improvised a little border.  The pattern suggests letting your finished piece soak in tepid water and pinning it out to dry before framing or sewing with it.  This made all the difference.  The wrinkles were sorted out, the white got whiter, and the colors popped.  As with knitting, blocking really can take something to the next level.

I feel bad for not having my end of the love day deal complete on time, but I think this was worth the wait.  Happy Valentine’s Day, Sweetie!

The Birthday Sweater

Long before PB’s first birthday, I made up my mind to knit her a celebratory sweater.  I planned on making this one, then an opportunity came up to do a test knit for a friend back in CT.  The rest is knitting history!

  • Yarn: Cascade Sierra and Crystal Palace Yarns Cotton Chenille
  • Pattern: Baby Rock ‘n’ Rollneck by Crystal Guistinello (Ravelled here)
  • Needles: US 5 and 7
  • Mods: There is a cute crochet heart detail that I failed to make.  My crochet is miserable.  Check out the pattern page to see how cute it is!

This is a finely crafted pattern, with lots of attention to detail.  I enjoyed knitting it, even if I had a hard time keeping the 2 yarns untangled when working the stripes.  I eventually worked that out!  This was my first time knitting a bottom-up yoke sweater, and it was nice to work out the new technique on a small-scale.  I was able to knit this while riding in the car, watching over PB as she played, during holiday gatherings, and while watching TV.  Good, portable knitting with spectacular results.

It turned out pretty darned cute, and I think PB is really showing it off to its best advantage.  She was a little preoccupied with her newly inherited chucks, enabling me to get some great candid photos.

This is such a sweet little sweater, and after knitting the 18 month size I see she has plenty of room to grow.  These yarns are both cotton blends, so work well for all seasons.  Mix up the fiber content or colors, and you could have a completely different-looking sweater.  This is such a versatile pattern in a good range of sizes; I’m already thinking of knitting one in wool with different color stripes for next winter.