Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Itty Bitty Easter Swap = Fantastic!

I'm still feeling very "gushy" from yesterday.  I have been waiting (patiently) for my package of goodies to arrive.  This swap centered around an Easter theme.  Knit an item (either toy or hat) from Susan's collection of patterns that represented Easter.  As I previously posted, I chose to knit Rabbit and sent yarn for the Bunny Tail hat.  I've been watching the forum thread and seeing all these absolutly lovely and thoughtful gifts everyone was getting - only further heightening my anticipation of opening my own swap package!

While sitting at home on the computer (reading Itty Bitty forum threads, actually) the doorbell rang.  We don't get many people at our door, and those people who do frequent the house don't usually ring the doorbell.  So I assumed it was the mail carrier - making the then obvious jump to conclusion my package had arrived!!

I hurried upstairs to get the mail, signing for the package, and rushing to the counter to inspect everything it held inside.  Two things to note at this point: 1) I always want pictures of everything so I was torn between making sure I'd photographed the package from beginning to end and just ripping open everything without hesitation! 2) My mind was flitting from thought to though trying to decide whether to go make a hurried post about receiving my package and thanking my dear swap partner (thank you again, melissabear!), and...ripping open this package!  I ended up posting, then carefully opening and documenting the package. :)

What a treat inside!  M included so many goodies! 
First off, she knit a Dotted Chicken and included the lovely Berraco Vintage yarn to make him a friend if I wanted. 
Second, she included incredibly soft RY Cashsoft DK yarn in gray with soft blue ribbon for the Bunny Tail hat (sure to make a cute, boyish Bunny Tail!). 
She even included 2 hanks of blue-toned wool.  I don't know what I'll use it for yet, but I know I'll find something!
Other goodies included mini dessert erasers,
candy gum eggs (these were a favorite of mine when I was little! So thoughtful that she remembered!),
growing beans and a growing chick for X,
a book for X, gobs of chocolate, neat mechanical pencils, a notepad, a fun "Happy Easter" decoration, as well as a fun little tissue holder (which I believe M made herself). 
So between gobs of chocolate and gobs of yarn, I should be set for awhile!  This was an incredible package and I loved opening it and exploring everything she had included.  I hope to get the Bunny Tail hat finished in time for Easter.  So stay tuned because I've got a lot of knitting ahead of me!!

Look at all that yarn!
If you'd like to read more about this swap, check out M's blog HERE.

Flower Power

This is just a drive-by posting about the latest pacifier clip I knit. It was super simple, super quick and super cute (enough supers for you?). I cast on the petals one night and had finished the making up the next. It only took so long because I couldn't give it my undivided attention, and instead had to settle for short stints of time.  
I have been waiting to knit this clip for awhile. Flowers aren't very "boy" and X doesn't need a clip anyway since we want him to be binky free sooner rather than later. This is for a friend's little girl. I liked the look in the book so I tried to achieve the same colors and contrast.  I am happy with the pink petals, contrasted by the yellow trim.  Simple and feminine. 
I had limited options for my greens.  They were either all too dark or just didn't quite mesh with the pink and yellow.  I settled on this somewhat shimmery mint green.  I was doubting my choice while I knit it, but now that it's all knit together, I think it creates a fresh, spring look.  A good color for a baby.

These leaves seemed tiny while knitting and were a little difficult to attach to the stem, just because they felt a bit fiddly.  My fingers aren't very coordinated so they flopped around a bit until I could really fasten them down properly.
Because of the bob in the middle of the flower, when laying face down, it still tilts a little.  Not a problem, but I hope the flower isn't too heavy when in use. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mini-size Me

My husband and I like to play role-playing games.  One such game is Dungeons and Dragons (read more about it HERE or HERE).  I started playing with my husband and some of his friends back when I was in undergrad.  We'd meet at our friend's house on Tuesday nights.  We'd chat for a bit, then get down to business and start working through our missions.  (Coincidentally, this is also when I became more intrigued by knitting - our friend's wife knits - and I'd always watch her knit whatever project was on her needles while we played.) 

And of course, what better way to visualize what we're doing than by using miniature figurines that represent our characters. :)  So for the last 5-6 years, we've used little plastic figurines.  Each person playing would have one figurine to represent themselves, while the Dungeon Master (DM) would have several to represent the "monsters" we encountered.  (Are you all still with me here?  If you'd asked me 10 years ago if I thought I'd be doing this sort of thing, I would have thought you were crazy!) 

About a month ago, Hubby came across some sterling silver figurines online (check them out at Dark Sword Miniatures).  So after looking into it further, we each ordered one.  What was so great about this was we could find something that BETTER reflected our characters - we didn't have to settle for whichever plastic figure we could find in the box. 

Better yet, they came unpainted.  Although some may find it tedious, we rather enjoyed picking the paints and painting our own masterpieces. :)  The final product is what we feel to be a fair representation of their personality and character.  (Yes, we know - you're all jealous!) :)

I play an elf druid - Sayuri.  She's cool. :) I loved getting to paint her hair red, and her cloak green...so earthy...just like a druid should be!

Hubby plays a dwarf fighter - Torvent.  Although dwarfs aren't my favorite, he's pretty cool, too. 

Mostly, it was just fun to create these two characters ourselves.  Who knows, maybe we've started a trend and others in our group will follow suit! :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Being Selfish

I've knit roughly 20 projects or so, all with an intended purpose and recipient in mind.  As stated in a previous post, I loved doing it - I enjoy giving handmade gifts (I prefer the term handmade as opposed to homemade.  Homemade makes it sound like shoddy workmanship to me).  Some people may prefer a gift card or something bought from a store, but if that's the case, they just don't get something I've made.

It seems that even though I find patterns I like for myself, I never truly get down to knitting the pattern.  I always find something else I want to make for a friend or family member (i.e. my son!).  Again, I love doing this - but I'm beginning to realize that I need to be a bit more selfish in my projects and knitting time.  So I've made a new rule (we'll see how well I follow it!).

Guidelines are as follows - and they're pretty simple:
1. I must have a project on my needles for myself at all times.  When one "me" project is finished, I must find and start another.  I may also be flexible with this rule and instead say - one craft project for myself must always be going (for example: sewing a needle case for myself).
2. The project can be large or small - Size doesn't matter!  It does not matter how difficult or large my other projects are - just as long as I'm doing something for me.
3. When choosing a project for myself, try to find something that challenges my skills.

Easy enough, right?  So to start with, I cast on Traveling Woman while in Colorado.  I was hesitant at first because I've never knit a shawl.  I had trouble conceptualizing how the stitches would read. So I just stopped thinking and started knitting.  I'm about 2/3 through the set-up rows which are mainly stockinette stitch.  I would imagine this is the easiest part of the pattern.  I'm looking forward to the actual lace knitting.  Check back again for updates and I would imagine this is something I'll work on intermittently between other projects. :)

Paper Bags

Back in January I  knit 2 Paper Bag hats - one pink and white, the other blue and cream.  These were knit for a set of twins.  After talking with my friend, I discovered that the twins' older sister liked the hats so much that they had to be hidden!  I loved hearing that!  It's nice to know these items were appreciated, not only by the kids' parents, but also by the kids themselves!

I didn't want Big Sister to feel left out, so after finding out what her favorite colors were, I set out on the task to knit a matching hat for her.  I'm very pleased with how this hat turned out.  Unfortunately, I was in a hurry to get the hat in the mail and sent off before we left for Colorado to see my sister.  I hate sending things off or gifting things without first taking pictures to document what I've created.  The light in my kitchen was fading and so the picture quality is poorer than I would have liked.  The pictures do not do the colors justice, in my opinion.

I knit this hat using KnitPicks Swish DK in Petal and KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in Tulip.  Petal is the lighter pink while Tulip is the darker pink.  In these pictures, Tulip almost appears to be a purple of some kind.  In person, Tulip is a very brilliant, vibrant color - perfect for a little girl!  When I was ordering yarn I was afraid of picking 2 colors that wouldn't mesh well together, but once I got the project started, my fears were relieved.

I hope Big Sister enjoys her new hat!

Chocolate Bunny & Rabbit

Chocolate Bunny has been, perhaps, my favorite knit item to date. 

It's certainly not the most difficult, and some might not see the charm I find in this knit, but I found it irresistible and just had to make it for the Easter Swap.  I found this pattern after doing a search on Ravelry for Easter related knits.  This one jumped out at me.  I wasn't sure how hard the pattern was going to be.  I've gotten used to reading patterns written by Susan B. Anderson, who writes wonderfully clear instructions to all her knittables.  This pattern caused some confusion for me at first, but I eventually figured it out.

Back side

And once the knitting was finished, I decided to embellish and embroider him to make this chocolate bunny as realistic as possible, hence the blue & yellow eyes and yellow ribbon on the neck.  I was so very tempted to keep this little guy for myself.  I used KnitPicks yarn - colorway Truffle - how fitting for milk chocolaty goodness.
Embroidered eyes & Ribbon

My other knit project, and the project I originally intended on knitting for the swap was Rabbit, a free pattern on Spud & Chloe

Rabbit is intriguing because I'd never knit ears like this before, as well learning this furry fella held a few secrets that were fun.  Can you tell?  He's got a tennis ball in his tummy!

I love his expression!
I usually choose to knit in the round using magic loop, so I proceeded to do so for this project. After the tennis ball was placed in the body, I found it very difficult to knit around the ball and maintain even stitches and tension.  If I were to go back and do this project again, I would most certainly use dpns instead!

Back view - see his cute bushy tail!
Another secret this furbunny holds is that his ears can be manipulated to give him different expressions.  He's kind of quirky in that way...love it!

I can't remember if I wrote about the swap in an earlier post so I may be repeating myself at this point.  I'm a member of the Itty Bitty Knits group on Ravelry. Consistently, there are swaps held for members of the group to knit handmade goodies for others in the group, as well as send along something for another project.  Any goodies you'd like to include in the swap are the decision of the sender, but definitely appreciated and loved by the recipient.

Our current swap is the Easter swap.  For your secret swap partner you may choose to make any of Susan B. Anderson's Easter themed patterns - be it toy or hat.  In my case, I chose to knit a toy and send the yarn and other necessary materials for a  hat (Bunny Tail).  And since it's Easter, there are so many yummy Easter goodies, it makes the swap so much more fun to include these items.  For me, this meant chocolate eggs, Cadbury Eggs, marshmallow Peeps, Easter type games, mini chocolate bunnies, etc.  I also sent a pattern for Chick & Egg (an Alan Dart pattern).  I even made the swap wrapping Easter themed - wrapping all goodies in Easter treat bags and stuffing the box with Easter grass to provide a little extra protection for the more delicate objects.

I also included an egg cozy - Cadbury Chick.  A quick knit that's meant to cover a Cadbury Egg (works for either large or small eggs).  These would make for fun Easter baskets treats.

Last week over break I got my package in the mail to my swap partner on Tuesday and she received it on Wednesday! :) I can't wait for the next swap!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bear with me here....

I have several projects that are worth mentioning, so instead of writing one REALLY long post, I'm breaking it up into 2-3 different posts, but still posting them all at the same time (theoretically....if I can stay focused long enough anyway!)

Two projects relate to the Itty Bitty Easter Swap I am participating in on Ravelry. I wanted to post about these projects earlier, but didn't want to spoil the surprise if by chance my swap partner was reading the blog!  These two projects are Chocolate Bunny and Rabbit.

The third project is another Paper Bag hat I finished for a friend so her oldest daughter would have her own hat to match her younger siblings.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Now what?

There are so many projects I want to work on.  I keep realizing all the things I want to do for myself, but can't resist making things for other people as well.  For instance - who can resist making cute little hats and toys for babies?  There are so many new babies around right now and the items knit up so quickly.  

That's not even including all the things I've found and want to knit for X!  Hats, toys, sweaters, the list goes on.  So my personal projects get put on the back burner.  I suppose it's just a matter of priorities.  I am determined, though, to start a project for myself very soon.  I have the yarn all picked out, I know which pattern I'm using, I'm just waiting to cast on. 

Maybe it would help if I just cast on and knit a few rows to get me started.  I have several things in mind, but I've decided to start with a lace scarf/shawl.  The scarf is called Traveling Woman.  It is inspired two things: 1) the song, "Travelling Woman" by Bat for Lashes and 2) the character Angela Montenegro from the tv series Bones.  I love Angela's character - she's an artistic, romantic, believer in love.  Not to mention I think the scarf is pretty.  I know a lot of beginning lace knitters have tried this scarf and found it to be manageable, so I'm crossing my fingers I won't have too much trouble. The other shawl I think is beautiful is Haruni. For someone like me, this shawl would probably be considered moderately difficult.  I wouldn't mind trying this one first, but it seems overwhelming as my first lace project.

Other things on the menu:
Sewing!  I need to get more of this done.  I haven't gotten my hands dirty on any sewing projects for a while because they're so much more involved.  Sewing projects: needle case, knitting tote, patch blankets, fix vest. 

Maybe with spring break next week I'll have a little extra time to start some of this.  I think Traveling Woman will be started in time to take it with me on the way to Colorado.  Then I can work on it intermittantly througout the drive.  Of course, there are other, smaller projects I'd like to finish up and get out of the way as well.  I hate to have too many projects going at once, but in a way, it's a lot easier to focus on finishing something if I know it's already started.

Monday, March 8, 2010


My yarn that is.

It really hinders progress.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Easter Swap

It deserves it's own post. 

It's time for the next Itty Bitty Swap.  The last one was a lot of fun w/ turtle hats and toy kits.  This time around, it's reversed a little bit, and there is a specific theme.  Since it's so close, we chose to do an Easter swap.  In short, everything Easter related (in some fashion).  Swappers get to choose 1 toy to knit and 1 hat kit to send, or vice versa.  The hat & the toy must be from the Itty Bitty Collection. Must include Easter goodies of different sorts.  Doesn't have to be extravagent. 

There are several toys to choose from, and 2 hats.  The hats include Bunny Tail or Little Chick.  The toys include Chubby Bunny, Rabbit, Dotty Chickens, Bunny, or Egg to Bluebird and a Nest Too.  I have decided to knit a toy and send a hat kit since I made the hat last time.  And toys are so much fun!

I've gathered my Easter goodies - complete with different chocolate items, a game, and some other neat items.  I also found an Easter themed free pattern that although I'm not sending a kit for, is still within the realm of the swap.  The Cadbury Chick is included in the swap - now I need to get the Cadbury Egg! :)  The Chick is not an Itty Bitty knit, but when I found the pattern, I knew I wanted to include it. 

Not a great picture, but you get the idea

The packaging this time is a little trickier than the last swap since there are potential meltables being mailed.  And even though the weather is cool across the board in -most- places, I would have for an unusually warm day to spoil the package and for someone to recieve a chocolate chick instead of a crisp, white one!  My solution?  Treat bags.  I originally wanted the wrapping you see on those huge Easter baskets with the stuffed bunny and sweet treats inside.  But the only ones I found were HUGE and only 1 per package.  Ripoff. So instead, I'm using Easter treat baggies.  I think I can still wrap them up the way I want.  And it will make for a fun way to present the yarn, treats & toy.  I'm hoping to include a small Easter basket as well - we'll see how big a box I get. 

I'm anxious to recieve my swap package as well.  The anticipation of waiting for your mail - knowing that the ladies of mailed out packages, then ripping (okay, gently opening) said package to find out whether Xander will have a brand new hat or a brand new toy and seeing what sort of things my swap partner thought to include!

This project will keep me busy for the next week or two.  I also have a couple hats and another binky clip I want to get done.  Somewhere in there are a couple projects for myself - like the Sinful Ribbed Scarf that's partially knit.  Eventually I'll get to them. :)

Couple birdies feeling left out

I realized today while updating the website, that there are a few projects I neglected to mention and post pictures of. 

I don't have pictures on my current computer to post, but wanted to add a blurb about the projects.  First off, I knit up and completed Egg to Bluebird and a Nest from Itty Bitty Toys.  This project was part of the Painted Turtle hat swap on Ravelry.  I previously posted about the package I  sent and the one I recieved.  I quickly took up the yarn and some needles to cast on and finished this toy in a couple days (cast on a couple days before the Olympics and finished while watching opening ceremonies). 

X LOVES playing with the egg/bluebird.  This is another reversible toy.  Around Christmas time I knit Sisters for my Sister.  The egg can be flipped to a bird (of any color of course).  And the nest is just a bonus to the pattern! :)  X has fun taking the egg/bluebird out and putting it back into the nest.  He also finds the nest to be a great place to store his binka while he's not using it.  It is so much fun to watch him enjoy this toy! 

I had a bit of trouble centering the head on the body of the bird.  Every time I would sew it on, it was off-center or crooked.  Never wanting to "settle" on a finished project, I took the head off at least 3 times before I was happy.  It's good now. :)   If I make this toy again, I will probably make the opening at the bottom (to flip the toy) a bit larger so it's easier to flip back and forth.  I may have measured a bit small this time and so it requires a bit of work before you reveal the other side.  Overall, though, a HUGE success!

Second, I completed a little tidbit for the next swap I'm doing.  (This topic really requires it's own post)  After laboring through a few pages of patterns, I found a pattern for what amounts to an egg cozy.  Except this one is fun when you consider that Easter is just around the corner.  This chick is meant to hold a large Cadbury Egg.   With a cute little ribbon tied around the neck of the chick.  I posted this on Ravelry just as a teaser for my swap partner.  This little guy knit up in a matter of hours. 

The pattern was a bit unclear, and because X was up from his nap, it took longer than I had hoped to get it done, but I did finish before bed.  The pattern for this knit used more "plain language" and less knitting terms.  This got to be confusing because I kept making mistakes about my place in the project.  Also, there was minimal crocheting, but instead of saying "double crochet in __ stitch" it would say "chain 2, put hook through knit stitch, pull loop through stitches, then pull loop through last stitch." Or something like that.  Very confusing on that part.   And although I originally cast on using magic loop, I had to switch to dpns to finish because of the shaping of the body.  I couldn't figure out how to make this happen correctly using magic loop. 

Anywho, just wanted to give them their 15 seconds of fame. :) Both fun, both projects I would knit again.


Oh yeah!  One other project I failed to mention way back when....

Another Christmas present, I knit up a blue & white holiday ornament for my MIL. The ornament turned out much larger than I was expecting it to be, but it was different, and at the time, a challenge for me.  I did forget to take pictures of this, though, so you'll just have to take my word for it that it turned out well. :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Several pictures of the completed vest:

Finish Line

I officially crossed the Ravelympics finish line last night! :)  I successfully completed X's Owl Baby Vest.  I have yet to take any decent pictures, so none to post -quite- yet, but soon!  And hopefully a couple of him in it!

As I mentioned before, this vest was a challenge for me.  Clothing seems like such a daunting thing to knit.  You have to worry about gauge, yarn weight, drape, size, blocking, seaming, edging....lots of things.  And it feels much scarier thinking you could put a lot of hard work into a project, finish it up, only to have it not fit or for it to look funny.  How disappointing.  Especially if you're REALLY excited about the pattern. :\  Soooo.....baby knits were the place to start. 

I learned several things that I can take with me into my next clothing experience.  I made mistakes that work out alright on X's clothing, but may mean disaster if it were for me. So next time, I've got a few things to keep in mind.  Although I don't think I'll be expanding and knitting sweaters for myself just yet, there is hope that maybe...someday....

I am proud that I completed this vest though.  I really like the colors I chose - Lake and Moonlight from Spud & Chloe.  It should nicely enhance X's blue eyes.

And although it was a race to finish this garment, it was still a great piece for a beginner.  I didn't have a lot of time to dedicate to just knitting - the majority of the garment was knit in 3-4 days.  

There's not a whole lot more about this other than I'm anxious to get some great pictures taken and to get them posted.  Pictures are my favorite part.  And I figure anyone reading probably enjoys them more than just listening to me babble on about this that and the other thing!