Saturday, June 30, 2012

More cotton knitting

I don't know what came over me: Right around the same time I was working  on the bath mitt teacher gifts, I cast on for Absorba, the Great BathMat, from Mason-Dixon Knitting.

Maybe it's summer that makes me want to knit with cotton. Or maybe it was the cleaning I've been doing in my craft room that made me want to knit up some of the cotton I've got in my stash. I used Cotton-Ease in Stone color, double stranded. I enjoyed learning how to do the log-cabin style (also used in the Mason-Dixon baby blanket).
*Doesn't it look nice against our vintage tile? Too bad we have an unfixable crack, so this tile will have to go eventually.
At least this pattern didn't have bobbles and was knit on huge needles (size 15s) so didn't hurt my hands as much as the bath mitts did. And it definitely got me ready to knit with some wool--even if it did top 100 degrees this week!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Knitted teacher gifts

The good news is that our kids got into the public preschool--not our neighborhood school, but one just one neighborhood over. This means they will both go to a half-day of preschool everyday AT THE SAME TIME. It will really make it easier for both my husband and me to get work done.
The bad news is that they will be leaving the coop preschool, which has been so great for them. Their teacher was such a model of patience, especially with Sam. We are so grateful that this was the first introduction to school for both of them. Although we contributed to a larger group gift for the teachers, I wanted to make something personal for the teachers and for the woman who works in the church office and has been so sweet to both of our kids.

I decided to knit this bath mitt (Mira's Bath Mitt, free pattern here, from Give It a Purl), which I have made before. I like the bobbles on it (for scrubbing) but they are a pain to knit, especially with cotton (because of the lack of stretch and "give" when knitting into the front and back so many times). I had one already knit up (the orange one) and made these two off-white ones with some Cottontots in my stash. The first one seemed a bit thin, so I used a double strand on the second one--which was even harder to knit with.
I paired each bath mitt with a fancy soap (actually made by low-income women here in Chicago). Then the kids stamped thank you cards and I wrote their messages on them. I didn't finish them in time for the last day of school, but delivered them during the church's Vacation Bible School, which the kids love. Here's a cute picture of Sam at VBS:

And a cute photo of Sophie to go with it. I think this is from a nature center hike with Daddy:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cutest knit rattle ever

I needed to make a quick baby gift for a co-worker and found this adorable pattern for a toadstool rattle. Is this adorable, or what? The free pattern is here at Purl Bee. I actually knit this over Spring Break in Arizona, but am just getting around to posting it here.  There's a cat toy inside for the rattle, and I used washable yarn and stuffed it with plastic bags.

This angle shows the underside of the cap a bit. I used satin stitch for the spots rather than duplicate stitch. The pattern shows the rattle in a bunch of colors, but I like this traditional red and white. I think I'd make this again. In fact, it'd be nice to have on hand for baby gifts.

In other up-to-date news, I made dolmades about two months ago and hand rolled the grape leaves stuffed with ground beef, rice, raisins and nuts. Yum.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My first wardrobe refashion

This is a LONG time UFO (UnFinished Object) that I finally finished. I don't know why I waited so long.

I've been wanted to do some "wardrobe refashion" for a some time, after having read a number of blogs devoted to the practice of reworking old clothes to make them new and funky. And cardigan sweaters are one of the easiest things to refashion.

So I had this great idea to sew some buttons on a cardigan sweater, and decided to go with all white/clear ones on this yellow wool cardigan, which is actually part of a twin set. I used ecru/off-white embroidery floss to sew them on and arranged them in a swath across each front shoulder.

Not only does this gussy up an otherwise boring sweater, but it uses up a craft supply that I'm sure most button-collectors have a ton of--the plain white/clear ones. It's a perfect example of how a bunch of something looks cooler than just one of them.

I did use some cool ones: all different sizes, shapes, some with decorative etching. I got to wear this a few times before it got warm, usually with a white T-shirt and jeans. It will, however, require hand washing, so I need to be careful not to wear it around messy kids!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spiritual Knitter in Arizona

Very belated photos from our Spring Break trip to visit my parents in Arizona in March:

Heidi and Dad at Brewers' Spring Training opener. Yes, I am knitting a sock.

Every good spring/summer vacation should start with a mani-pedi (compliments of my mom). I went for green, and when the lady asked me if I wanted a flower,  I asked for a shamrock and got this instead, which I thought was pretty cool! (Slight language barrier, as she was Vietnamese.)

Grandma and Sophie in the pool. We spent every afternoon in the swimming pool. The kids loved it.

Sam in the pool. He loved swimming on  his own (with life jacket, of course).

The two Eds reading by the pool. The similarities are uncanny--note hats and shoes!

Ed and I hiked Camelback, but an easier climb than last time two years ago. This took only an hour, which was tough enough for out-of-shape me.

Ed at the top (of the middle of the humps) of Camelback.

Gifts from Auntie Sue and Uncle John: T-shirt and bee costume. The kids held hands a lot while we were down there.

Hike on our last day there.  Wish I had a photo of our visit with the Misiewiczs. Looks like we didn't take any. Still, a very nice and pretty relaxing trip, considering we had two toddlers with us. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Felt flowers

Over Christmas break, I finally took the time to wrap a skein of red yarn around a thifted (30 cents, I think) straw wreath to make of those cool wreaths that have been all over blogland. I hung it in the kitchen, but hadn't gotten around to adorning it yet. In January I finally made some felt flowers that gave it the finished touch.

This website, Fabric Bows and More, has tons of links to tutorials, including this one that I used for the teal and red flowers. I used Betz White's tutorial for the pink rosette.
I separated out all my super-cute teal, red and pink buttons, but only used one. I'll have to think of some other project for the rest of them.
Then I made made another red flower, added a pin back and, ta-da!, a cool corsage.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Vite cowl

Another example of unselfish knitting in January--this a very belated gift for someone at worked who served as a teaching mentor for me the past year. I wanted to knit her a scarf and decided on the Vite cowl (free pattern on Ravelry).

Wouldn't you know I can't remember what I knit this with now, and I think I put the yarn wrapper in with the gift for washing instructions. I do know I decided to spring for something nicer than Wool-Ease Thick & Quick so I went to the closest LYS, Knit 1 on Lincoln Avenue, where I proceeded to be very indecisive. Which is why I can't remember which yarn I eventually decided on, except that I remember this sweatshirt grey might be good because my teaching mentor teaches physical education majors. I do know I passed on a super soft alpaca, which in retrospect would have been very nice.
**I found the yarn label: It's Brown Sheep Burly Spun in Grey Heather.

My big alternation is that I knit this as a scarf, not a cowl, which turned out fine. It looks a lot better after blocking--and it took a long time to dry. I would knit one for myself (in that alpaca), but after this winter I don't know if I'll be needing any bulky scarves. Still, this is a quick knit and a nice gift.
And I think the recipient liked it!
**Vite means grapevine in Italian.

Friday, March 09, 2012

I knit for bears

We interrupt Selfish Knitting Month (or my two month's late report of it) to bring you some unselfish knitting.

My son asked me to knit a sweater for his teddy bear--which is actually my teddy bear from when I was about 1 year old. I called him "Boo Bear" since I couldn't say "blue," and, as you can see, he's had quite a bit of fixing up already. I got him out to show to the kids and Sam started carrying him around. I figured a sweater might protect him a bit. After all, he's already 45-plus years old.
I used the free Teddy Bear Rollneck Sweater pattern (Ravelry link here) and some blue superwash wool from my stash. The pattern assumes you know how to knit a top-down raglan sweater ("move sleeve sts from scrap yarn to needles and begin working in stockinette stitch"--it took me awhile to figure out which stitches it meant). I chose to just have the rollneck and did K1P1 ribbing at the sleeves and bottom. For next time: Bears have very short arms.

Then Sophie asked me to knit a green sweater for her bear (which I had knit for her last year). I just used smaller needles and slightly thinner wool/acrylic from my stash. Maybe this was a little selfish after all, since it makes me so happy to see them playing with handknit toys!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Feeling blue

More from "Selfish Knitting Month" aka January (yes, I know it's practically March!)

After wearing the same black winter coat for approximately 10 years, I finally found a new one: this Nine West wool coat in an awesome periwinkle blue. The best news: I got it at a thrift store for $5! I did have to shorten the sleeves a bit (nothing too complicated, just folded them up and hemstitched without worrying about the lining.)
Next, I realized I would need some new accessories, and I started to panic that it might be hard to find ones to match this particular blue.
(Cute pink polka-dotted toes belong to Sophie in photo above).

Imagine my surprise when I found perfectly matching yarn (and these were just the ones I bought. There were even more that would have worked.) This must be THE color of the season. For the record, these are Bamboo Ewe Stitch Nation yarn from Red Heart in Periwinkle and Bamboo Spun, which I think is a store brand from Hobby Lobby, in Denim.

First I used the Bamboo Spun to knit a scarf with two other yarns I had received from either my Mom or my Aunt Pat (or maybe from Aunt Pat via Mom). One was Berroco Lavish in Donatella, which has pastels intertwined with cream and gold, plus a third yarn whose label I have lost but which was a sparkly goldish green that matched the Donatella. I just did garter stitch with all three yarns and tapered the ends of the scarf. Unfortunately, I think the scarf is too thick. Maybe it's just this mild winter that is making me consider frogging it. When I wrap it around my neck, it feels too bulky.
The third piece is a hat I've always wanted to knit: this flapper hat by Sarah with an H. I used this tutorial from the Purl Bee for the provisional cast on (crochet #2) and this tutorial from Purlwise for the picot edge. I took the stitches off 5 or 10 at at time. I really like how the pico edge turned out, and it was cool to learn something new. However, I think I probably should have made it a bit longer. I'll have to show a photo of me modeling it.
My plan was to add a flower out of the Lavish and Bamboo, but since I've been reconsidering the scarf, I've held off on that. Meanwhile, I started some mittens in the Bamboo Ewe. I've started thinking this blue would look pretty with chocolate brown, and maybe should do a striped or other patterned scarf, mittens and hat with the Bamboo Ewe, which unfortunately doesn't come in chocolate brown.
Plus, the winter continues to be so warm that I'm hardly ever wearing a scarf and hat. :(

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Selfish knitting month

February is half over, so of course I'm just getting to my January posts. I have a good excuse: Our already broken-down camera (literally held together with tape) has gone missing. I do hope we find it because there were some family photos on it. The good news is that we got a new camera, and it's a definite improvement (though you couldn't tell from this photo. Sorry.)

A knitting blogger (I forget which one) called January "Selfish Knitting Month," in reference, I assume, to the desire to knit for oneself after all that holiday knitting. That's exactly the bug that bit me! I've got a few projects for myself from January to show. First up is this Burberry Inspired Cowl Neck Scarf (Ravelry link), which I wear all the time. (I'm wearing it right now actually!)
I used to think cowls were silly, but then the weather got a bit colder in December (well, cold for this crazy warm winter, anyway) and I thought it would help keep me cozy. I knit it from some Lion's Superwash Cashmere in the Green Tea color. I think it took two skeins for four pattern repeats. The "folds" are made with cabling, and while I thought it was going to be wonky at first, by the time I finished it, it was cool. This also required a provisional cast-on. I used the directions from Knitty, but as you'll see in my next post, my next "selfish" project also required provisional cast-on and I used another, better method.
** Would you look at those wrinkles? You'd think I'm 70! I need to use moisturizer more regularly!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I've been knitting...

...but our camera is missing, so I don't have any photos. So here's something I made a couple months ago.

This is a baby sweater I knit for a co-worker whose wife had their first in early November. They knew it was a girl, so I could go all pink. I used a "charity baby sweater" pattern written by my mom, which is a nice basic top-down design using the self-jacquarding Bernat Baby Jacquard yarn. I used one skein of the "Spearmint Candy" colorway, which I think I got on clearance at Michael's for $3.
Unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention enough to notice the pink stripe issue, on the front. It was glaringly obvious to me when I finished it, but when I asked my husband if he noticed anything wrong with the sweater, he looked at it for about three minutes, then finally said, "Is one sleeve longer?" I considered covering the area with a knit flower or something, but then just decided to let go of perfection.

Look at that sweet button. Sometimes it's the little details that make a project.
Here's what I've been knitting in this new year (photos to come):
* The "Burberry-Inspired Cowl Neck Scarf"--for me! (Ravelry link)
* A scarf and hat to match my new (thrifted) coat--again for me!
* And, believe it or not, I've started to knit a nativity set.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The dreaded between-Christmas-and-New-Year's birthday

Our daughter's birthday is December 29. (And unlike parents who give birth, we did not rejoice because she was born just in time to be a tax deduction. It doesn't work that way for adoption.) For her first birthday with us, we had a nice family party at my parents' house. But this year I wanted to have a "real" birthday party for her. And my friend Kristin, who also has a December birthday, pretty much badgered me into it!

When asked what she wanted for her birthday, she said, "Cupcakes and balloons." Later, she got more specific: chocolate cupcakes and a snowman cake. Now, I'm not into shaped cakes, but I figured I could do a snowman. Two 9-inch round cake pans, a few chocolate stars (left over from the Peanut Blossoms), a real carrot for a nose and the cupcakes arranged like a hat. Voila!
About 30 family and friends came for a fun afternoon party with fun, pizza and presents. I can't find my camera right now, so here's a photo taken by our neighbor (the mom of the cute baby Sophie is holding.) She's wearing her felt birthday crown I made last year and an adorable dress with an machine embroidered snowman, made by my Aunt Pat. What a cutie!

I'm so excited to have a girl who is 3! She is a happy kid and a very focused, hard worker. She loves having stories read to her, crafts and playing outside. She especially loves her Daddy--and the Hello Kitty purse and accessories we gave her. Happy birthday, sweet Sophie!

Sunday, January 08, 2012


I just finished a pair of mittens for my 5-year-old niece Elena, who lives in Kentucky. When we were visiting over Thanksgiving, I was knitting some mittens for Sam and Sophie, and she was mesmerized. She was very vocal about what color mittens I should knit her: pink, purple and light blue. (Of course her mom avoided gendered pink clothes for her as a baby, so now she's into anything princess. Go figure.)
I used a pattern created by my mom, which works for kids, men and women. For Elena's, I used size 3 and 5 needles, cast on 36 stitches, knit 2 inches of ribbing (about 18 rows), another 1.5 inches to base of thumb, then 2.5 more inches before top decreases. Thumbs are 2.5 inches. I added about 30 inches of I-cord to string through her coat, so she doesn't lose them. I used wool from my stash.

These are ones I made Sophie, out of some stash cashmere to match a new yellow jacket. For them, I also used size 3 and 5, cast on 28, 1.5 inches of ribbing, another 1 inch to base of thumb, 2 more inches before decreasing, and 1.5 inches for thumb. Also, about 28 inches of I-cord.

And these are Sam's, also of stash cashmere. They're so soft (and already a bit worn). Same measurements as Sophie's. I learned how to do jogless stripes with this project, using these instructions here.

My mom says every kid should have hand-knit mittens, and she knit Sam and Sophie their first pair. I was happy to be able to knit something useful for my kids.

Friday, January 06, 2012

On the 12th day of Christmas

Some final holiday pictures, as the Christmas ends today with Epiphany.

The moon last night, with Christmas tree and lights.

Sophie works on her gingerbread house. (Got the kits at Aldi this year for $3.99 each!)

I'm so glad our kids love cooking and crafting. Tonight they both asked for their Mama-made pajamas, but they were in the wash. Warms my heart.

The gingerbread house making has become an annual tradition with our friends Lincoln and his parents.

Some of my new-to-me, but vintage, Santa face mug collection in my new kitchen (and some Santa's Butt beer that Ed got in his stocking). More photos to come of what was my most creative project of 2011.
OK, now the tree and decorations can come down. Happy Epiphany.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Thrifty New Year's

I'm not good at taking photos, but here's a partial list of the treasures I found today at half-price day at Unique Thrift on Howard:
* Tons of crepe paper--maybe 15 rolls, half of it says "Happy Birthday." Perfect since I used the last roll for Sophie's party last week.($2)
* A Happy Birthday honeycomb decoration. (50 cents). Not vintage.
* A bunch of party hats, new, with "Babe the pig" on them. ($1)

* A blue plaid thermos to replace the one I broke this week while ice skating. Don't know if this is vintage or not. ($2)
* About 4+ yards of a cute floral flannel. Perfect for PJs or corn bags.($1)
* Cute purple wool cardigan ($2) and plaid wool kilt ($2) for me. Also an Anne Klein petite coat that fits perfectly. ($5)
* Gymboree shirt for Sophie ($1)
* Gorgeous photography cards from Papyrus ($1.75)
* Outburst Jr. Like new. ($1)
* Dragon-themed Chinese New Year decs (and craft)--and next year is the Year of the Dragon! ($1.50)
* A brand-new black leather (?) Kate Spaid bag, which I'm about 99% sure is a knock off but still cute. ($5)

* A cloth napkin of cute yellow fabric with roosters on it. For an apron, maybe? (50 cents)
* A bag that included Valentine's Day party picks and doilies (75 cents) and some plastic rain hats that will be tossed.
* 2 bedskirts. I need one for the guest room now that the mattress is no longer on the floor! Had to buy 2, because I wasn't sure of the size. One fits! ($4 for both)
* And a Rubbermaid tote to put it all in! ($2.50)
A successful hour of shopping!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Christmas crafting

I know some people took down their tree the day after Christmas (some even on Christmas Day) and are now busy with New Year's cleaning and purging. I suppose I might be, too, if I had to go back to work tomorrow. Actually, I do have to go back to work tomorrow, since I have a syllabus to rework and a class to prepare, but I can do that from the comfort (and distraction) of my own home.
So we keep our Christmas decorations up until Epiphany (if not longer), which is nice, since we tend to get a late start. We bought our tree around Dec. 15th and didn't get ornaments on it until Christmas Eve. Which is all a long way of saying that it's OK for me to still be discussing Christmas on this blog, while many craft bloggers are already planning their Valentine's Day decorations.
So here's what I made this Christmas (besides the aforementioned pajamas):

1.  15 microwavable corn bags (plus 4 that my sister gave away). This is a great gift, easy to make and rather inexpensive. I read this site and learned a lot before making my own. The hardest part is finding the corn. After searching for it at Wal-Mart and other sports/hunting stores, with no luck, my Mom finally found some at the local feed mill near her in Wisconsin. I'm on my third giant bag.
I got flannel during a sale at Joann's and tried to get really cute prints that  could be matched in pairs, for both sides of the bag. Then I cut it in (rough) rectangles, stitched around, leaving a hole, filled with corn and handsewed shut. The hardest part is sorting the corn. Although the corn my mom got was very clean, it still had broken pieces in it, which apparently can lead to possible problems (ie, fire) when microwaving. It took about a hour to hand sort enough corn for each bag. Luckily, Ed and I were doing a "Downton Abbey" marathon in the weeks leading up to Christmas, so I could sort and watch TV at the same time.

2. Little felt bags for my godchildren's Barnes & Noble giftcards (this, after searching for local bookstores in their towns that offered gift certificates I could buy online. I gave up my attempt at trying to patronize smaller stores after not finding anything in the whole state of Maine. Sigh.)

3.  Toffee: Once again, I gave away toffee to a bunch of people on my Christmas list, as well as to some coworkers and neighbors. I think I did 15 batches this year.
4. Christmas cookies: My sister, niece, mom and I made some 1,500 cookies during our annual "Schlumpf Women Cookie-Baking Weekend" the first weekend in December. In addition, the kids and I made a batch of thumbprints with leftover dough from CBW and Peanut Blossoms with chocolate stars (not Hershey's kisses. I am a purist.). I ran out of sugar cut-outs this year (Sophie's favorite), Spritz trees (Sam's favorite) and my mom's chocolate-dipped Ritz crackers, which taste just like Thin Mints (my favorites). Many Christmas cookies also were shared with some neighbors and brought to parties.

5. Felted mittens: My only knitted gift this year was one I planned ahead for and knit over the summer. It was a pair of super-warm felted mittens in bright pink for the kids' preschool teacher. She has Sam three mornings a week and Sophie the other two mornings, so she deserved them!