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!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

A new Christmas tradition

I started a new Christmas tradition this year--making new pajamas for the kids that they got on Christmas Eve.Sam helped me pick out the flannel at the Joann's down in Lexington over Thanksgiving. (They were having a sale for like $2/yard.) He picked out this rocket ship print for himself.

I chose this monkey and "sign peace" (as she says) print for Sophie. I used this tutorial to make the pajama bottoms, using a pair that currently fits as a model. (Same size for both kids, as they're only about 2-3 pounds apart right now.)

I then used freezer paper and blanket stitch to attach a circle of the flannel fabric to a purchased red T-shirt for each of them.

The final piece of the package--and the one they loved the most--was a mini "corn bag" (or "corn pillow," as the kids call them). They're those microwaveable fabric bags full of field corn (not the popping kind) that keep your toes warm all night. More about corn bags in a future post.

Here they are wearing them on Christmas morning. When they ran into their bedroom after bath on Christmas Eve, they were so excited to see the new PJs and corn bags. Sam remembered the fabric and asked if I knit them. When I said I sewed them, Sophie said, "Thank you so much, Mommy, I love them!" Totally worth it.