The Rundown

Some days the ideas flow nonstop, one thing leading to the next in a mythical progression of inspiration.  On those days, I have a multitude of knitting project and writing ideas, feel inspired to take photos or sew and bake.

Today is not one of those days.

We had a great Easter weekend.  On Saturday there was sunshine and much playing and knitting outside, baking of strawberry rhubarb crumble, and I didn’t take a single photo.  I even resurrected a long-languishing lace project and enjoyed knitting several rows before returning to the ease of stockinette on my Rayonnant, which I’m still trying to salvage.  Then on Sunday we had an early morning departure planned, and I completely forgot to put together PB’s basket.  I got her some of these play silks and painted a story box, but again there was no photo. Soon, I hope.

On Monday the rain came, and with it a sense of domestic responsibility.  There was a lot of laundry and unopened mail to catch up on, and I spent my usual morning blogging time working around the house.  It was a dreary day all around, followed by a bit of a rocky night.  I’ve had a lot of coffee this morning, and my outlook is definitely improving!

I don’t know why I’m sharing all of this, except to show that blogging isn’t always as intuitive or timely as we might like.  Where I would have prefered to show you the colorful and crafty images of select parts of the past few days, I’m challenged to describe them and share the moments that happened in between all the blog-worthy activities.

I do have this photo that Sweetie took of PB holding a hand-carved bunny her grandmother made. Isn’t it great?

I hope you have an inspired day.

Valentine Crafts, Part One

With just under a week until V-Day, I thought it high time I share some of the holiday-themed craftiness that has been going on around here.  I haven’t really decorated for this day before, but I love hearts and the colors pink, purple and red, so it was inevitable.

I have been yearning to make giant pom-poms for some time now.  I think this stems from a photo I saw somewhere (I can’t remember where now) of a scarf made of enormous yarn pom-poms strung together.  While that’s not something I want to wear myself, the uses for these delightful, yarny poofs are endless.  At Christmastime I tried making some for use in a garland, but they came out limp and sad looking.  Then I came across the Clover pom-poms makers, an ingenious little contraption that made all the difference.  One can churn out a happy, plump pom-pom in no time, an act that is incredibly addictive.  The gadget is simple enough you could get little hands involved, too. Or spouses and in-laws; I had both Sweetie and her sister slaving away volunteering to making pom-poms!

 

I bought this yarn for its particularly festive colors (couch*Vanna’s Choice*cough), but you could certainly use little bits and bobs you have leftover from other projects.  A multi-colored garland or wreath would be incredible, a nice reminder of past projects.

I threaded all my pom-poms onto a piece of yarn about 10 feet long and then attached them to a wicker wreath form using the ends. It’s important to leave enough room between each pom to let them poof to maximum fluffiness.  Then I braided 6 strands of yarn together to create something to hang it all from. Simple, fun, and oh so festive.

I think my dusty front door is actually smiling a bit.

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!

Moments

I have been having a lot of fun this week with family visitors.  So much so that I am almost too exhausted to think clearly, let alone write something eloquent about the passing of another year.  I will say this: it has been a year chock full of Moments–good, challenging, beautiful, messy, sweet, silly, and (you guessed it) tiring moments.  I wouldn’t change a thing.

 

Here’s to hoping that 2011 brings a balance of good things to us all.  Peace out 2010!

Holidaze

So, Christmas came and went in a flurry of wrapping paper, sugar cookies and new toys.  It was joyful and fun, a little bit tiring (at one point during present opening, I hit my attention span wall and got a little loopy), and there’s still more fun to be had with family in town.  For now, I’d like to share with you some of my  holiday knitting, a pair of festive socks for my sister.

  • Pattern: A Nice Ribbed Sock by Glenna C (Ravelled here)
  • Yarn: Pink Carrot Creations hand dyed merino
  • Needles: US size 2.5/3 mm
  • Mods: After thought heel, place 5 inches from cuff, decreased to 28 stitches before grafting closed.

These came about from a need for some simple travel knitting over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I wanted an easy, portable project that I could pick up and put down as needed and that wouldn’t require fussing with a pattern along the way.  I have knit these socks before, and the ribbing is just enough to keep your fingers busy while your brain can focus on other things going on around you.  For some reason I was feeling repelled by the idea of turning a heel at the time, and so decided to try my hand at an afterthought heel.  The hardest part was picking up the stitches, but after that I found the whole thing to be easier than turning a heel.

A quick overview:

First, you decide where you want to place the heel; I went for a shorter, 5-inch cuff as my sister is on the smaller side.  Then, I knit half the stitches with waste yarn, slipped them back onto the left needle and knit them again with the sock yarn.  This holds the heel stitches for later, and you simply continue knitting along as usual.

 

For some reason I used brown/grey waste yarn. A brighter color would have been easier to see!

 

When you’re ready to knit the heel, slowly start pulling out the waste yarn and slipping the live stitches onto your needles.  I used 2 dpns at this point; you’ll alternate picking up a stitch from the top and bottom all the way across until you have the same number on both needles.

Next, you can divide the stitches onto 3 or 4 dpns and start knitting just as you would for a toe.  I decreased every other row, ending when there were 28 stitches.  I slipped half onto the top needle, the other half onto the bottom, and grafted them closed using Kitchener stitch.  It was super easy, and I really like how it looks.  There was the small matter of a hole at each corner of the heel, but I used the tails of the red yarn to cinch them closed.

Since these socks were a gift, I can’t speak to how comfortable this heel is compared to my favored heel flap construction.  But I certainly like how it looks, and it seems like a nice way to use contrast yarn, or create an easy-to replace heel.  Same goes for using a second yarn at the toe, something I hadn’t done before either.  All in all, I am very happy with how this project turned out.  It met my knitting needs, and the colors helped me feel festive while we were together, even when I was racing against the clock to finish them in time.

For now, I’m off to eat another sugar cookie and enjoy the post-holiday down time.  I hope you are enjoying some quiet time too, with plenty of treats and knitting!

 

Crafty Countdown to Christmas

With just 11 days until Christmas (is that right?!), we are in full holiday mode.  There has been decorating and tree trimming, a couple of shopping excursions, and some crafts made.  Naturally there is a lot more I’d like to create and make before the big day, but I’m taking care to not let my expectations run away from me.  I want to enjoy this time, not try to cram so much into the days that by the time Christmas arrives I am a harried wreck.

A few of the things on my crafty holiday wish list:

I’d like to make and decorate sugar cookies.  There are still a couple of knitted gifts on the needles, and I think of new projects on a near-daily basis.  I saw this tutorial on making vintage paper medallions and can’t get it out of my head.  Then there’s a slew of sweet felt decorations (garland, wreaths, ornaments) I’d like to try.

Then there’s all the domestic stuff that also needs attention.  We’re hosting Christmas this year, so naturally I need to think about meals and making beds and all of the other details having house guests entails.  Something will inevitably slip through the cracks, and I accept this.  But I’m still going to try to get as many fun and tasty projects accomplished as I can in the next 11 days (while remaining peaceful and never breaking a sweat–wink wink).  How about you?

Deck the Halls

I’ve been crafting away for the holidays, whipping up small gifts for some very special people on my Christmas list.  Along the way, I came up with a simple beaded ornament pattern that I have decided to share with all of you.

This is a simple pattern designed to highlight little bits of leftover sock yarn.  They knit up fast and provide a great opportunity to play with color combinations.  This would be a great first beading project, too.  All you need is some beautiful leftover sock yarn, 100 size 6 seed beads, and a new or repurposed ball ornament.

A special thanks to my test knitters Jill, Betsy, Helena, and Crystal for being so fast and merry!

Click here to download the pattern: Beaded Ornament and don’t forget to link your projects to the Ravelry page!

Happy holidays, and happy knitting to everyone.

Thankful.

This has been a wonderful year.  Not only has it brought our family the most wonderful, sweet, funny gift of Peaceful Baby, but we have also been blessed with the opportunity to live closer to our extended families.  This means that for the holidays this year, Sweetie and I didn’t have to choose between either of our families.  We get to spend time with everyone for the first time in years!

I am feeling thankful for a lot these days, including all of you!

Here’s hoping you have a wonderful day and weekend!

 

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?

On My Mind

So, I’m sitting here on the sofa, trying to enjoy some quiet knitting time while little PB is napping, and I can’t turn off the chatter in my brain.  Does this ever happen to you?  Sure it does.  We all have our ways of coping, and for me a standby way to shut down the chatter is to write a rant or make a list.  So here it goes.

The Rant

It’s almost Halloween and I don’t have a costume for PB.  It’s her first Halloween, and not one she’ll remember, and so I haven’t felt like worrying about it much.  I’ve gone to the shops and checked out a few options; there were even the daydreams back in August of what I might knit or craft for her.  But the truth is (and here I risk sounding like a Bad Mother) I just don’t care if she has a costume or not.

It turns out other people seem to care, as I get asked nearly every day what she’s going to be for Halloween. I feel this outside pressure to have a 1st Halloween Moment documented in photos, and the thought of not doing so makes me feel guilty.  I don’t know about other mothers, but I don’t need any encouragement in that department!

I bought this outfit thinking it was cute and could be worn for a couple of festive occasions leading up to and including Halloween.

Enjoying the jack-o-lanterns at our pumpkin-carving party

In the end, the maternal guilt got the better of me and I hustled off to Target to buy a costume.  And I still feel bad for not making her one.  Sigh.

The List

  • I haven’t touched my Mystery socks in a week.  I knew this was likely to happen, which is precisely why I decided to knit both socks at the same time.
  • Instead, I’ve been casting on and planning new projects like a mad woman.  Some are gifty surprises, and others are for me.  I bought yarn for the Climbing Vines Pullover, and am actually considering knitting it in pieces as written. I know.
  • A dear friend sent me a Rhinebeck Ravelry party goody bag this week, and it was a welcome surprise on a day I was feeling particularly alone in our new town.  It was full of little treats, including some dandy coupons that led me down the rabbit hole of online yarn shopping and project-planning.
  • I am thinking about holiday knitting.  Nothing grand, but a few little ornaments as gifts.  Check out these wee snowmen from Mochimochiland; I might make a million of them, they’re so cute!  Do you have any holiday knitting plans?

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and, if it’s your thing, a festive Halloween!