A Handmade Birthday

Thank you for your kind birthday wishes for Peaceful Baby!  I have one last bit of birthday to share with you, and then we will get back to all things yarny, I hope.

Since PB’s birthday follows on the heels of Christmas, I wanted to keep our gifts somewhat restrained.  What better way to do this than to try to make or buy handmade gifts?  My big effort was to knit her a birthday sweater; it was a test knit for a friend, so I can’t share that just yet.  Trust me though, it will be worth the wait!  For now, here’s the finished birthday crown I made:

 

This was a pleasure to make.  I love the idea of the birthday crown being something that will get pulled out year after year as PB grows up.  I especially enjoyed thinking up the little icons that represent some of my little one’s likes at this point in her life: a fish, a cat, a heart, and a clover.  It was a lot of fun stitching these onto the crown, and even had me contemplating the merits of embroidery as an additional needle art hobby.

Naturally, all this hand-work has its imperfections, and I was challenged to leave them be.  There was a moment where I ripped something out two or three times before giving myself a little talking-to: this doesn’t have to be perfect!  I don’t generally think of myself as a perfectionist, but there are moments when a part of me pushes a bit too forcefully in that direction, turning something fun into something stressful.  Once I reminded myself that this was something I was doing for fun and that there was no need for every stitch to be evenly spaced, I started having fun again.

Felt seems to have been a theme this year as the two gifts I purchased were also made from the stuff.  I had hoped to make a birthday bunting after being inspired by Kathy’s at While Tangerine Dreams.  Time ran out however, and I found myself looking on etsy for something someone else had already made.  I found this amazing cupcake banner that far exceeds anything I would have been able to piece together last-minute.

 

image from heartfelt handmade

 

How cute are those plump felt cupcakes?  Check out Heartfelt Handmade for more charming banners and whimsies.

And last but not least is this spunky doll from Crafty Mama Creations. PB has been gravitating toward baby dolls lately, and didn’t have one of her own yet.  So when I saw this blue-eyed babe with spunky golden pigtails, I was instantly reminded of PB.  The craftsmanship is exquisite, and I love the vibrant fabrics in all of the dolls.  Unfortunately, PB has not shared my enthusiasm and has barely touched the doll.  So for now she sits on the dresser, waiting to be noticed someday.  Good thing she makes me smile every time I walk past!

 

A Week of Crafts

Thank you for all the kind birthday wishes!  We are saving the big celebration for this weekend, but I can say PB had a nice, simple birthday on Tuesday.  The best part of which was a little impromptu crafting.  More on that later…

First up this week is a little project having nothing to do with knitting.  Rachel and I had been talking about playing around with paint samples and on Monday decided to do it.  She and her hubby came over with food, and while we cut up tiny pieces of colored paper and munched on homemade egg rolls, he and Sweetie watched the game.  It was a lot of fun to play with scissors and glue!  My first inclination was to keep everything very orderly and methodical.  When that proved to be more frustration than fun, I mixed up all my shades and just randomly started gluing.  So fun!

Rachel's piece in progress

 

And mine.

I had some empty frames that were just begging for colorful art, and so I was able to display my work immediately.  Talk about instant gratification!  We have more than enough color cards leftover, and I can see myself employing this technique in a variety of ways.  Apparently there is a whole paint chip-crafting underworld to gain inspiration from.

The next day, Impromptu Craft Day, came about after I mentioned I was going to make a birthday crown for Peaceful Baby.  My friend Liz’s daughter has her 1st birthday next month, and so she decided to see what she could come up with as well.  Felt and embroidery floss is almost as fun as knitting.  And I don’t say that lightly!  As with knitting, is immensely satisfying to see a project take shape before your eyes.  It just seemed to happen so much faster with this project!

I’m still working on the finishing touches for my little lady’s crown, but I really like where it’s headed.  If you’re in the crown-making mood, I got some of my inspiration here and here.

What non-knitting crafts have you been inspired by lately?

Bedrest Knitting

The Christmas holiday is officially over.  This can be proven by the lack of festive decorations, holiday music, cookies, and wrapping paper strewn about the house.  Also, family have returned to their respective homes, Sweetie is back at work, and PB and I are trying to get back into some sort of routine at home.

This post-holiday time is always wrought with feelings of transition for me.  Of course, there are the inevitable feelings of wanting to begin this new year with intention, organized closets, getting back to a yoga class, and baking bread from scratch.  Then there’s my knitting to-do list!  I’m thinking of January as a Knit All the Leftovers from 2010 month.  More on that later.  For now, I’d like to share one last gift knit, documented with my new big-girl camera on a sunny winter’s day.

  • Pattern: Dashing (free from Knitty)
  • Yarn: Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Aran in color 360028, 96 yards
  • Needles: US 6/4 mm
  • Mods: Made shorter.  See mods on Ravelry

I was sick as sick the two weeks leading up to Christmas.  So much so that there was talk of me having mono.  I don’t, thank goodness, but until we found out for sure, I was assigned a strict regimen of bedrest.  Which, for a knitter with a toddler in the house, is a little like heaven!  I napped, caught up on podcasts, and knit these mitts for Sweetie.

Dashing is a pattern I had been meaning to make for years.  This simple, elegant cables just called out to me, and paired with a tweedy yarn I thought they’d be perfect for Sweetie.  The creamy oatmeal color of this yarn was so soothing to knit with; I have a tendency to go for bolder, saturated colors, and working with a neutral was unexpectedly thrilling.  I only had one ball of the yarn so I made the mitts significantly shorter, eliminating most of the rounds between the last cable twist and the thumb opening.  I think it worked out well, especially since I only had a couple of yards of yarn leftover!

And finally, because I have to share the cuteness, here’s a shot of PB and me, decked out in mama knits.

Happy Monday!

Speedy Gifts

There’s still time to knit a couple of small yet festive holiday gifts.  That’s what I keep telling myself anyway!  And since I’ve been stricken with some sort of sneaky virus whose main characteristic has been fatigue of the too-tired-to-knit variety, I need fast projects.  When I occasionally resurface from the haze of Sick, I have been working on these little guys:

Fast, friendly, and kitschy all at once, they’re the perfect tidbit for the wine or yarn lover in your life.

  • Pattern: Korknisse (free pattern)
  • Yarn: Pink Carrot Creations, about 12 yards
  • Needles: US size 4/3.5 mm
  • Mods: I knit this with 2 strands of sock yarn held together.  Knit 2 plain rows between each decrease on the hat, and used the tail to make a hanging loop.

I’ve also been working on more beaded ornaments.  I thought I had quite a stash of them, until I started giving them away like candy to PB’s music teacher, as hostess gifts, and as gift toppers.  The good news is I have plenty of sock yarn leftovers and a decent selection of beads, so in a couple of hours of knitting I should be able to finish ornaments for the rest of my gifts list.  If you’re in need of a quick knit gift with a big payoff, take a look at my most recent pattern:

Click here for a Free Download

I have also been the lucky recipient of some great handmade gifts recently.  The first came from a holiday traditions swap I participated in over at Sweetbug Farm.  My partner Darcy and I sent each other packages that contained a handmade ornament/decoration, some recipes, and a description of some of our favorite holiday traditions.  She sent me the most amazing package!  I always say that knitters are the most generous people, but I think I’m going to have to amend that to say creative people are the most generous since she’s a quilter and not a knitter.  She kindly took my obsession into consideration, and made me this lovely yarny wreath.  I promptly hung it on my craft room door where I see it all the time.

She also sent me a mountain of homemade cookies, which I have been dutifully testing out, as well as two adorable dresses for PB.  I was blown away by this swap experience, and it has restored my faith in such activities.  Thanks again, Darcy!

And last but not least, is a little something I received from my BFF in Connecticut:

Recognize anyone in those stitch markers?  These tiny treasures are from Knit Girl in Idaho, who can take your photos or artwork and transform them into stitch markers.  This is one of the most thoughtful and personal gifts I have received, and I can’t wait to put them onto a projects.

Okay, so I think that’s it for now.  A bit scattered, but that’s how I’m feeling this week!  I hope you enjoy the holiday weekend, whatever your plans may be.  I’m off to bed to work on some top-secret knitting I’m trying to get done before Saturday…

On Pins and Needles

Have you seen the special holiday issue of Interweave Knits?  I was visiting the yarn shop recently and somehow ended up snagging a copy before really looking too much at it.  This isn’t like me; I usually read through an entire knitting magazine (or at least do a long look at the pattern photos) before committing to a purchase.  So you can imagine my relief and delight when I fell in love with this issue’s contents.

There are a number of delicious looking projects, both in the Gift and Selfish Knits categories.  The first pattern to jump onto my needles was the Fleur de Lis pincushion.  My mother in law is an avid sewer, and I knew immediately that this would be a charming gift for her.  I located some festive red and green alpaca yarn in the stash and got knitting.

This is where my super-speedy process slowed way down.  I haven’t done any colorwork in quite some time, except for stripes, and I forgot how much coordination goes into the process.  It took me a while to get into a rhythm of switching colors, floating the non-working yarn, and remembering to make increases while following the chart.  After a full evening of TV-knitting, I wasn’t even halfway through the chart.

I thought I’d be done in one sitting!

The good news is, things really sped up once I hit my stride, and I am quite happy with how this little pincushion has turned out.

I carried the red yarn along, catching it every three stitches with the main color.  It’s important not to pull these floated strands tight, or you will get puckering or distorted stitches on the right side of your knitting.

I tacked down the ends of the red yarn inside the pincusion, then simply tossed the remaining ball of green wool into the pouch.  I then stuffed it full of wool roving and secured the top with a button as per the instructions.  De finition!

  • Pattern: Fleur de Lis by Tammy Eigman Thompson in IK Holiday Gifts 2010 (Ravelled here)
  • Yarn: Misti Alpaca Worsted Solids in color C815 (heathered green) and Berrocco Ultra Alpaca Light in color 4234 (red)
  • Needles: US size 2/ 2.75mm
  • Mods: Knit this with larger yarn and needles.

I’m very happy with how this turned out.  The yarn was a great choice, as the alpaca fluffs out just enough to fill in between stitches and provide a charming halo.  Like I said, once I got comfortable with knitting with the two colors, this went quickly.  For all that hard work, I think it’s a little unfortunate that so much of the lovely fleur de lis motif falls on the underside of the pincushion.  Perhaps one could knit more in the main color before beginning the chart to raise it up a bit.  You could also attach a button on the bottom side and it could be reversible!

This was a wonderful melding of my love for knitting and my mother in law’s love for sewing, the result of which is a much sought-after moment of gift-giving harmony.  I am so excited to see her open it in December!

That’s one gift down, 6 or 7 on my knitting wish list left to go…

How’s your holiday knitting coming along?

The Joy of Mail

I love getting mail.  More than receiving mail, I enjoy the small daily ritual of walking down to the mailbox, hoping that as I open that little metal door there is something interesting waiting inside.  Usually it’s just bills and catalogs.  Occasionally it’s a new magazine for me (as opposed to a woodworking magazine for Sweetie), and that is very exciting indeed.  Rarer still are the days when I open the door to reveal a package.  If it’s small enough to fit in the mailbox and it has my name on it, chances are it’s something soft and squishy.  And you know what that means, don’t you?

Knitabulous Softsock in Pink Granite

Over the summer Bellsknits began her adventures in sewing, turning out one great project after another.  At one point, she put up a contest on her blog giving away one of her handcrafted project bags.  And I won!  Since I was in geographical transition, Bells kindly put off mailing the bag until I got settled at my new address.  I suspect she felt there was so much of a delay she should put a little something extra in the package, and I am more than happy to receive it.  Hand-dyed sock yarn, I swoon for you.  Thank you, Bells!

Cute & Creepy

I was knocking around Ravelry recently, when I noticed one of my friend’s project page showed a picture of some adorable Pac Man stitch markers.  The note said she had not made them, but had actually purchased them on etsy.  I immediately followed the link (I am a devoted Ms. Pac Man fan) in search of my own set.  Oh my.  There were so many cute, creepy, and funny stitch marker sets to choose from!  Naturally, I got distracted from my original search and ended up with two sets of stitch markers in my shopping cart.

cute

This set was so cute that I went immediately  from mailbox to knitting chair in order to get them onto on of my wips asap.

creepy

Not only are these markers fun, they are well made.  I haven’t experienced any snagging or loosening that can sometimes happen with stitch markers of this type.  These whimsical creations are handmade to order, and so worth any wait you may have to endure.  Check out Scary Merry’s etsy shop to see what you might fall in love with.

The Gift of Handmade

It has been a little overwhelming around here, what with all the baby gifts that keep showing up on our doorstep.  A very high percentage of them have been handmade; knit, crochet, or sewn, people’s talent is astounding.  I am impressed and inspired by the time and thought that has gone into each item.

The blue cabled hat is from my friend Natasha, to whom I will be forever grateful for teaching me how to knit.  She also made the blanket below, complete with itty bitty crochet edging.  The brown hat is from a family friend.  I love the big flower, don’t you?  Just in case Junior is a boy, she included a knit band and two brown buttons that could replace the flower.  Clever!

Another family friend went way above and beyond, sewing up this baby quilt, a matching fitted flannel sheet, and a couple of burp cloths.  The quilt is puffy and soft and fits perfectly in the co-sleeper I recently snagged at Once Upon A Child for 1/4 retail price.  And to think I had almost bought one new for $200!  Can you tell I love a good bargain?

And last but not least is this fabulous red sweater from a fellow Stitch ‘n Bitcher, Denise.  I’m loving the hood and the frog closures:

Thanks again to everyone for their creativity and generosity!

Day 27

A knitter’s baby shower brings out the generosity of other crafters, I tell you.  There were handmade gifts all over the place exhibiting the mad skills of sewers and knitters alike.  I am overwhelmed with the thought and time that went into these gifts and would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all of you.  I can’t wait to put these to good use!

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Baby Surprise Jacket from Archiknist

 

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Baby socks from Pixisis. There were 4…

 

 

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Hearts & Squares Blanket from Pixisis

 

And lets not forget about our friends with sewing machines:

 

alphabets

Plush Alphabets from Jennsquared (her photo too)

 

 

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Flannel sleep sacks from Sweetie’s mom

There is something so special about wrapping the ones you love in something handmade.  I feel great comfort and satisfaction knowing that what I’ve knit will be keeping someone warm and cozy.  And while I’ve received hand knits and sewing creations before, these baby items are overwhelming me.  Maybe it’s the hormones, or the fact that I understand what goes into making these things, but I am truly at a loss for words.  Wow.  Again, thank you so much!

 

 

 

Day 26

Over the weekend my mom and sister threw us a baby shower!  A great collection of friends old and new turned out for the event to share in our celebration of the impending arrival.  Instead of traditional shower games (melted chocolate bars in diapers, anyone?) I thought it would be fun to set up a crafty activity and see what happened.  Fortunately my friends are all creative, fun people who dove right in!

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The craft was painting onesies.  We gathered up some brushes, fabric paint, fabric markers and freezer paper for stencils and just watched what happened.  I jokingly said that participation was mandatory, but I think it was something most people were keen to try.  Everyone was so creative, adding personal touches to their work, like my college logo, a Superman insignia for Sweetie, and of course a cute sheep. I think Peaceful Baby is going to be one stylish, original kid!

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After everyone left, we jumped in and started painting onto the leftover onesies as well.  It is super fun!  If you’re interested in trying freezer paper stencils, check out this website for a tutorial.  It would be a great way to refashion some clothes in your wardrobe, dress up a knitting bag, or personalize a gift.  There are still a couple of shirts left that need decorating…  Off I go!