Friday, June 25, 2010

Gerald the Giraffe

Have any of you felt so inspired by someone else's creativity, you felt you just had to try it for yourself?  That's the way I felt when I saw Susan B. Anderson's book Itty Bitty Toys.  For those of you who've read my blog in the past, you know that Susan designs knitting patterns - hats, children's clothing, toys, and accessories.  On the cover of this wonderful book of toys was a beautiful giraffe peeking it's head over an armchair.  In that same moment I knew I had to have this book.  The funny part?  I didn't yet know how to knit!! 

Ever since I brought Itty Bitty Toys home from the bookstore I've been planning to knit that giraffe.  At the end of May I finally sat down and got started.  And I'm here today to tell you that I am in LOVE with this guy.  (Should hubby be jealous??) 
First of all, a few details.  Gerald is knit with Spud & Chloe Sweater yarn in Splash and Lake.  Splash was used for the body and all the main parts.  Lake was used for all the embellishments and details like the mane, spots, hooves, and heart.  There were a lot of smaller pieces required for this project and sometimes I felt as though I was moving nowhere fast.  But by focusing on how great the finished object would be, I was able to get through the smaller bits. Gerald's head and face are probably my favorite part, including his mane - those dark blue pom-poms are so fun and soft!
As for Gerald himself, well, there's a lot I could say!  Like how he's the perfect size for snuggling...and I should know since I snuggled my fair share of stuffed animals as a child.  His head fits perfectly under your arm or if you prefer, an arm around his belly holding him tight while his legs dangle from side to side. :)  He'll be your tag-a-long friend whever you go.  I can just picture X lugging him aroun by the arm or hugging him around the neck. 
He may seem flopsy or gangly but don't let that fool you - this giraffe is surprisingly flexible with lovely long legs and a graceful neck.  And cute, Shrek-like ears to hear all the fun and joy that surrounds him!
He loves nothing better than to lay beside you in the grass on a warm summer's day or to be cradled in tight while reading a story.  And the happiness he emits is contagious, it's so hard to put him down!  He's not even mine and I can't stop carrying him around. 
I encourage all you knitters out there to pick up and knit this handsome Giraffe.  He is well worth the time and effort it takes to complete him!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Almost finished!

I haven't talked as much about my knitting lately since I started the 30 Days of Sewing.  But I have been knitting!  I've finished most of the pieces for the Giraffe from Itty Bitty Toys.  I think he's going to be a great knit item!  I've got the body and head knit and sewn together.  All 4 legs are complete, they just need their polypellets and fiberfill and then they can be attached to the body.  I've finished 1 outer ear pieces.  What I have left: 1 outer ear, 2 inner ears, 2 horns, 1 tail, the mane, and 11 spots.  Oh, and embroidering the face.  I know this still sounds like a lot, but they're all little pieces, and should come together pretty quickly. 

The other knitting related work I've been doing is winding yarn.  I finally got a ball winder.  I need to make a yarn swift (like the one Melissa's husband made), I just haven't yet.  I got a box of yarn in the mail on Friday full of yarn for some surprise gifts. I love the colors - I'm so happy with my choices!  Anyway - I've been busy winding all the yarn into center-pull balls.  After that yarn is wound, I plan to dive into my stash and wind all that yarn too.  Who doesn't love a little bit of order and organization in their life?  lol - even if it is in the form of yarn balls. :)

My 30 Days of Sewing is going well.  There's been some great convesation on the Ravelry group, especially concerning some online fabric stores.  I've completed my needle case and started some polypellet pouches for the giraffe hooves.  I've got several other projects I plan on working on in the future, so hopefully this creates a good habit I'll stick with.

In other news, check back in the next week or two - I'll be hosting a giveaway.  I'm saving details until later when I know exactly what I'm giving know that it will be happening soon. :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Look - It's My KnitBook!

I finished my needle case yesterday! :)  I'm pretty excited about this.  Now I can actually put all my needles, cables and notions in it and put away the less-than-attractive case my needles came in.  I took lots of pictures - just to warn you.  I'll try to be selective, but sometimes I just can't help myself. And since it's my blog, I won't apologize.  :)
I'm calling my case my KnitBook, mainly because it's comprised of 6 pages.  Each page has at least one type of pocket attached to it.  I made my book by sewing 3 longer pages and then attaching them at the middle.  Then, when I'm looking for my needles, I can flip through the pages like I'm flipping through a book. :)
Page 1 is the cover and a large notions pocket (still my favorite part of the entire case!!) and page 2 consists of 10 pockets of varying sizes to hold my KnitPicks Harmony & Nickel-plated Interchangeables. The notions pocket can hold a variety of items and still not get too bulky for the case.
 Page 3 has 6 pockets, also for KnitPicks Options needles.
Page 4 has 8 pockets for varying sizes of DPNs.  Or straight needles if I ever buy any...  These pockets can hold needles up to 9 inches in length.
Page 5 would be 6 pockets for DPNs or straight needles.  Obviously, I don't have enough needles at this point to fill the entire case.  I'll get there at some point.  :)
The final page, page 6, holds my cables and circular needles.  I only have a couple circs, and if I get more they will be in smaller sizes since I have my KP Options needles.  But these pockets are great for my cables - just deep enough to easily hold them, and yet I can pull one out when needed without losing it in the pocket.
The only part of this case that really gave me any trouble is attaching the pages to one another.  Because of all the interfacing and lining, the seams were thick.  My original plan was to sew a secure line down the center of the pages, attaching them to one another.  I tried this, several times.  I ripped out abot 4 seams.  I had shown my mom the case at one point, while I had everything sewn up.  She helped me problem solve until we had an idea of what might work.
Instead of using the regular pressure foot, I used my zipper foot and sewed a line down each side of the middle seams, where the fabric was the thickest. This worked a lot better!  Thanks, Mom! :) (A tip she gave me for future projects, cut the interfacing just a bit smaller than your fabric - when your seams are sewn, no interfacing will be sewn into the seam allowance - eliminating some of the bulk!)
Anywho - I'm happy with how it turned out.  It's filled with my needles, and now I can move on to my next project! :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Feeling Accomplished

Although I didn't write a best-selling novel or win a Grammy or anything like that, I'm feeling pretty accomplished today.  As I'm finding to be a theme, I'm spending more than just 30 minutes on my 30 minutes for 30 days sewing challenge.  And it's mostly because I can't wait to see something finished.  I have the time available, it's a good way to use it.  I'm sure that when other projects come up, I might feel more or less inclined to stick to a 30-minute schedule.  Not today.

I finished one portion of my needle case.  And I jumped a big hurdle for me...I learned how to install a zipper!  I even created a lined pocket w/ a zipper.  Now, I don't know about most of you, but I had no idea how I was going to do this.  Most of the tutorials and YouTube videos I watched didn't deal with lining what you're sewing, which was of no help to me.  But I finally did find one that helped me in just the right way at Skip To My Lou.
Now, remember when looking at these photos that this is not a complete case.  You may be wondering...well where do the needles go?  I'm not going to share that part just yet.  Maybe in the next couple of days or so. 

What you see is the front of the case, (and in one picture, the back as well)
the zipper & notions pocket on the left
and the 4 smaller, open pockets on the right for interchangeable cables and circular needles.
I'm pretty proud of the zipper, if you can't tell from the number of pictures of this pocket.  I love that it's lined, I love that it zips and it's not a buttoned or snapped flap holding things in.  Now, I don't even need to have my yarn needles in their own little case to make sure they don't get lost. :)  Fantastic!
Here you can see that this pocket fits a number of things.  I've got a ruler, scissors, needle gauge, cable needles, yarn needles, stitch markers, a pencil, a notepad, even a pom-pom maker packed away nicely.  And that's the point of this case.  To hold anything I want it to.
After I lined all the pockets, sewed the pieces together and turned it right side out, I stitched the turning hole shut and then did a topstitch around the perimeter of the case.  And then I stitched down the middle of the case so that it would more easily fold in half.
Right now the fabrics look a little helter skelter next to one another, but when all is said and done, it will make more sense.

Monday, June 14, 2010

30 Day Sewing Challenge

I debated for a long while about whether or not I was going to participate in this 30 Day Sewing ChallengeJanelle, from Pretty Little Knit Stitches decided that to increase her skill in sewing, she would dedicate herself to sewing for 30 minutes a day for 30 days.  She thought that perhaps by doing this, she would become more comfortable, skilled and confidant in her sewing.  As word spread, several people started thinking they would try it too.  A group was created on Ravelry (found HERE), and now, this is where you find me!

The idea (at least on Ravelry) has morphed a little bit from the original format.  Since the group on Ravelry is open to anyone and everyone, not all people interested in sewing can commit to 30 minutes for 30 days.  Or, like me, were unable to jump in when the whole thing got started about a week ago.  A lot of people have joined in hoping they will be able to complete a few WIPs (work in process), even if they don't participate for 30 days.  That's sort of why I decided to start. 

I've mentioned in several posts now how I want to sew myself a needle case to be all-encompassing.  I want one for my KnitPicks, for my DPNS, for circs or interchangeables.  I want it to hold my notions and be wrapped up in a pretty little case.  Enter Sewing Project Number 1, stage right.  I even posted a little while ago as to how I'd started cutting, but after comparing my fabrics I found the green to be...well...let's just say he didn't play nice with the rest of them.  And before any name-calling could start, I sent him to live with the other fabrics I'm saving for a later date.

So now, as I start this 30 Days of Sewing, I hope to complete my needle case in a reasonable amount of time.  Yesterday I spent 30 minutes, today I spent an hour...I just couldn't put it down after 30 minutes. :)  Hopefully, about once a week I'll post about what I'm working on.  I've got lots of ideas.  And it will be nice to be working on a hobby other than knitting (which can sort of consume my time). 

After my needle case, there may potentially be curtains, or a quilt.  We'll see.  Wish me luck!  I hope I can stick to my guns and set aside 30 minutes for 30 days.  :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

A New Hat

I have finally finished the Vertical Stripes hat, two months after casting on. As I expected, I like it - once finished.  But I will not likely knit this again. 

First off, Darth was kind enough to to lend me his helmet to model this hat.  It turned out a bit too small for X's head. 
I started off both keeping track of the number of rows knit, but also the number of inches each panel measured.  This didn't work as well as I hoped because my panels still ended up different lengths.  I couldn't get a good measurement of each one without stretching them out unproportionately.  So after 4 panels of varying lengths, I ended up just keeping track of only the row count.
Each panel is connected up to row 50, after which I knit each panel for another 20 rows separately.  For a total of 70 rows.

I used two of each of the following stitch patterns for a total of 10 panels: seed, garter, twisted, basketweave and cable.  My favorite panels are the cable and the twisted stitches. 
Cable Stitch
Twisted Stitch
I joined the last panel to the first panel differently than what I read the directions to say.  In the pattern, it says to pick up a stitch before the first stitch on the right side of the panel and a stitch after the last stitch on the left side of the panel  only on the right side of the work, not picking up any stitches on the wrong side of the work (essentially picking up one stitch on the outside of each panel to join the corresponding adjacent panels).  I found this left my left side join looking sloppy, so instead I picked up a stitch before every first stitch on the right (vs. left) side of the panel every time I turned my work.  The joins were then consistent with the rest of the hat.  Clear as mud?  That's what I thought. :)

This hat was a challenge for me to finish because I always found things I'd rather work on.  Since the hat is too small, X won't be wearing this one.  I'll put it away and save it for later.

On another note, I have now finished the head to the Giraffe.  So now I have 2 pears, one large and one small.  And I cast on for the first leg today.  This pattern is going quickly.  Tnight I'm hoping to either finish at least one leg or perhaps work on my needle case. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Drip Drip Drop

Today is one of those days I remember why I named my blog Drip Drip Drop.  I loved Bambi as a little girl and always loved the opening song when Bambi is born, "April Showers."  I know it's June, not April, but it's been raining off and on for several days now.  These are the rainy days I enjoy, though.  It's warm outside, and even when you get caught in the rain (like X & I did on our walk on Monday!!), it's not uncomfortable. 

Today, I chose to go outside to take a few pictures of X's Vertical Stripes hat, even though it was raining (we have a covered stoop) and while I was outside, I couldn't help but take pictures of a few flowers around our house.

The most beautiful to me are the Day Lilies that grow in several places in front.  A section by the steps, some in the middle, and some on the side by our Burning Bush. 
There are also some neat vibrant purple flowers (don't know the name) that we didn't realize we had. 
They were covered by some over grown Spirea (? I think that's what it's called?).  J cut the Spirea back to reveal these pretty flowers and several other little plants.  It looks so much better now.