Wednesday, May 25, 2011

WIP Wednesday 5/25

I’m starting to feel a bit more accomplished in all my crafty endeavors lately.  My swap package is mailed and received, all mandatory knitting is complete, I’ve received my swap package…I feel like I’m starting with an almost clean slate. 

I do have a couple Etsy orders still lingering.  I’m currently working on one, and the other customer hasn’t sent me her fabric yet – so that one’s on hold. 

It feels really good to sit and knit what I want instead of being tied down to something else.  I’m not counting the knits for this weekend as mandatory because they don’t have to be gifted.  If I don’t get them done, I’ll keep trucking along on them and keep them for myself.  J 

I’m sure you remember me talking last week about my friend’s sister who has a graduation party on Friday.  I had planned to knit her something.  Then, I changed course.  I have never knit anything for my friend. I’ve knit her youngest daughter a hat and flower pacifier clip, but that was well over a year ago now.  I felt sorta funny gifting something to my friend’s sister when I had never made anything for her.  (Is this silly reasoning?  I don’t think she would mind or even think about it, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it.)  You heard me go back and forth a bit on whether to knit a simple shawlette or some fingerless mitts.  This sort of solved that problem.

For my friend, I’m knitting the Simple Things Shawlette.  Her birthday was in late April, so it will be a belated birthday gift.  I know she’s not expecting it.  I don’t know if she wears scarves and shawlette type things, but this gives her an option. 

I’m REALLY enjoying this knit.  I spend all my free time working on it and because it’s stockinette, I can watch Squishy and work on it at the same time.  Lately, a lot of what I’ve worked on has required too much attention to have out while the little man is up.   I was going to take a picture for you this morning, but it’s pouring outside today (or it was this morning), so you’ll just have to make do without today. 

I’m positive this will be an FO tonight (sans blocking) because I can’t stop working on it. 

For my friend’s sister, I’ll be making fingerless mitts, but I haven’t yet settled on a pattern.  None have felt right to me.  So stay tuned for my decision! 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Favorites 5/20: Books

Books.  Yes, I said book.  I love them.  Reading, collecting, sharing, staring at them on my shelf.  I love my Nook and it’s so terribly convenient, but I don’t think I can ever give up having the actual item surrounding me.  So I’ve chosen a few to share with you.  Patterns, stories and pictures.  Happy reading!

By Hadley Fierlinger
I mentioned this book last week.  This is one of my favorite books from my small knitting literature collection because whenever I need motivation or inspiration, I find it here.  It doesn’t mean I knit something from it right away (although soon I will!), but I find the patterns so simple and elegant.  Complicated patterns can be wonderful and certainly have their time and place, but I constantly find myself drawn to those things that are minimal and understated.  Vintage seems to be a good place to start.  Favorite patterns?  I’m glad you asked.  They are: Hooded Capelet, Wavy Cashmere Blanket, Modern Baby Bonnet, Angora Bolero, Vintage Pixie Cap, Double-Breasted Car Coat and Petite Beret.

Moving out of knitting and into sewing, I must share a favorite here as well.  I love bags and cases and anything that deals with organization, not to mention little home decor items.  I have three of Amy Butler’s books and I love them all (Little Stitches for Little Ones, Style Stitches & In Stitches).  In Stitches encompasses all those thing I love about organization, as well as the opportunity to make them for myself.  Amy’s patterns range in difficulty and I haven’t yet tackled complex patterns, but it’s an option.  I also must recommend “Sew What Bags.”  It’s a wonderful addition to any sewer’s library, especially for beginners.   Favorite patterns?   They are: Floor Cushions, Giftable Recipe Card Bags, Square Pot Holder, Bedside Organizer, Document Duvet, Fashion Checkbook Clutch and Patchwork Handbag. 

By Robin McKinley
This is my comfort book.  Sometimes, we just need a good read and to mellow out.  I’ve had this book (as well as The Hero and the Crown) since high school, I think.  That was at least 10 years ago, but I don’t remember –exactly- when these came into my possession (only that they were from my mom), so perhaps longer.  I read it every year.  Perhaps twice if I feel like it.  A heroine, lots of horses, a bit of magic and I’m hooked.  Here is the synopsis from the book:

When Harry Crewe's father dies, she leaves her Homeland to travel east, to Istan, the last outpost of the Homelander empire, where her elder brother is stationed.
Harry is drawn to the bleak landscape of the northeast frontier, so unlike the green hills of her Homeland. The desert she stares across was once a part of the great kingdom of Damar, before the Homelanders came from over the seas. Harry wishes she might cross the sands and climb the dark mountains where no Homelander has ever set foot, where the last of the old Damarians, the Free Hillfolk, still live. She hears stories that the Free Hillfolk possess strange powers — that they work magic — that it is because of this that they remain free of the Homelander sway.
When the king of the Free Hillfolk comes to Istan to ask that the Homelanders and the Hillfolk set their enmity aside to fight a common foe, the Homelanders are reluctant to trust his word, and even more reluctant to believe his tales of the Northerners: that they are demonkind, not human.
Harry's destiny lies in the far mountains that she once wished to climb, and she will ride to the battle with the North in the Hill-king's army, bearing the Blue Sword, Gonturan, the chiefest treasure of the Hill-king's house and the subject of many legends of magic and mystery.

I encourage you all to give it a chance.  Yes, it’s a young adult novel, but I love it just the same.  And for any young girl in your life, it’s a great story for overcoming challenges, learning new things and falling in love.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Check out the giveaway...

On Susan Anderson's blog today!

You've all read how much I love this book and now you have the opportunity to win your own copy and some Soak, which I hear is wonderful! I just had to share this since I love this book so much myself. :)

You can find the giveaway HERE.

Have a wonderful Thursday!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

WIP Wednesday 5/18

I’ve been busy the last few days and over the weekend.  I wrapped up my swap package, I gifted the cloche to my friend, I finished a needle case, and the shower goodies are almost complete!  Productivity is up!

So where does that leave me?  I have a few more gifts I need to complete.  One must be finished by May 27.  My best friend’s sister is graduating and I decided a hand-knit gift was the way to go.  I’m still browsing patterns for the perfect item.  I’m thinking fingerless mitts and a hat.  But I’m not settled yet.  Perhaps a very simple triangular scarf or simple shawl.  My friend also had a birthday in April, and something simple would be nice to gift her.

The other knit needs to be done by the end of the summer at the very latest, but I’d like to be ahead of the game on that one.  I don’t have any details for you on that knit because I haven’t decided what it’s going to be yet.  I’ve seen a lot of patterns I like and thought I had it figured out, but decided it wasn’t quite right.  So I’m on the hunt again.

These items will be quick(ish), I believe.  I think after that will be selfish knitting.  Cast on for whatever I want, whenever I want with no deadline is extremely appealing.  My UFO pile has diminished since the new year started and as long as all UFOs that came with me into the new year are gone before the next rolls around, I’ll consider that a success.  So I’m not too concerned with that at the moment.  What’s funny is that I talk as though others put these obligations on me, but I do it all to myself.  I love knitting for others, but need to remember to take time for myself and my family now and then. 

I’m really feeling like a triangular scarf/shawl is what I need to do (perhaps not if I make one as a graduation gift).  But I don’t feel right casting on for a new one when the Traveling Woman is is still on the needles!  I love the yarn and the pattern.  So this may be next on the list.  As well as a new toy for Squishy.  Not sure which one yet.  Perhaps I’ll design one… :)

So this wasn’t very WIPish – more like Up & Coming.  That’s okay.  Maybe I’ll trade off now and again so you can see what else sloshes around in my head! :) 

What are you itching to cast on next? Any obligatory projects that must be finished first?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Ruffled Cloche

When I received “60 Quick Baby Knits” for my birthday, I knew what I wanted to knit almost immediately.  As I’ve said, there are a ton of great projects in this book.  One that caught my eye was the Ruffled Cloche.

What a sweet, pretty hat for a little girl.  Too bad I didn’t have anyone to knit it for. And for the time being, not having an intended recipient or reason to knit this adorable little thing meant I would only be admiring it from the pages of my book.

Awhile later, when tryin to decide what to knit for a friend’s little girl, I happened across the pattern again.  :)  So I dug around in my stash for some girl-ish colors so I could get to work….  Problem….

….I have a little boy, so many of my choices were greens and blue, with occasional reds and purples squeaking through.  No girly colors, it seemed, that were both right in color and in weight. 
….also, I love blues…so of course it would overwhelm my stash!  Not really being a fan of pinks and yellows and oranges, I had to be creative. 

I chose to knit the majority of the hat, including the ruffle, in Winter White from Cascade 220 Superwash.  Then I found a beautiful fuchsia/purple color in Sangria, Knit Picks Andean Silk.  Okay, we’re on a roll, right?  Not exactly.  Eventually I decided upon some Berroco Vintage in Dark Denim that seemed to do the trick.  The fuchsia and white kept it feminine, while the blue gave it that “oomph.”
After I was 90% complete, I started doubting my color choices.  They seemed off.  Maybe the “oomph” was actually an “oops!” 

But once I attached the bow and carried the hat around the house with me, the happier I became.  I like the colors and by the time this little girl is old enough to wear the hat, she’ll have grown into the colors a bit.  I hope her mommy likes it just as much as I do! :)
My only real complaint about this pattern is the sizing.  Stitch counts were only give for 6-12 month hats.  After making the hat once, I think I could modify it for other sizes, but that bummed me out.  And although my gauge was good, the hat seems much larger than 6-12 months.  But overall, big is better than too small!
(Please pardon my hat stand!  I really need to find something baby-size for these little hats!)
My biggest success here is the colorwork.  Maybe some of you have figured it out by now, but I didn’t realize what it was until I started knitting.  This is my first time with intarsia and I think it went fairly well.  It’s hard to see because the  color change happens behind the bow (sewn on afterwards), but I didn’t think there were any noticeable gaps or holes in the knitting.  This has given me more confidence in my skills. Now maybe I can try my hand at fair isle! :)

Overall, I would recommend this pattern.  It’s a fun hat for a little girl and has enough challenges to make you feel like you’ve learned something in the end.  :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

The End of Another Weekend

I was certainly sad last night when I realized that the following day was Monday.  Although busy, we had an enjoyable weekend.  We saw a lot of family this weekend and even got some time outside.  The weather couldn’t make up its mind, so we saw both rain and sunshine, but we had a beautiful, sunny day yesterday to celebrate my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary. :) 

Squishy enjoyed seeing cousins and playing with fellow little ones, not to mention having free reign (mostly) to play outside on the farm.  He loves it outside.  By the time we got home, we had one very exhausted little boy on our hands!

And do you see these curls?  EVERYONE comments on the curls...
I didn’t get much crafting done.  Since I drove to the farm and back on Sunday, there was no “car knitting” time.  I finished up the cloche on Friday and worked on the frog clip on Saturday.  My goal is to have a completed frog clip by Wednesday.  This project has lingered too long!  I thought it would be done mid-April and here it is the 3rd week in May!!  Once it’s finished I can get everything shipped off to Sis.

On a side note, I visited a somewhat local yarn shop this weekend, Crazy Girl Yarn Shop.  I had gift certificates from my dad and since we would be driving right by it, I found it necessary to stop.  Once inside, I found a beautiful shop, stocked with lovely, colorful yarns such as Lorna’s Laces, Debbie Bliss, Malabrigo, Ella Rae, Noro, Manos, Cascade and many, many more.  This was a treat for me since my LYS leaves a bit to be desired!  This will become my shop of choice in the future, especially when they carry so many of the brands I enjoy knitting with.  While I was there I just happened to pick up some yarn, as well as some goodies for my swap partner in the Cupcake Swap on Ravelry.  Tonight I will be finishing up last-minute swap details and hopefully sending the package on it’s way very soon. :) 

Hopefully, with small goals and a lot of time on my hands this week, I can make some progress!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

WIP Wednesday 5/11: Bye Bye Bye

(grr....blogger erased all my pictures from my post on Wednesday.  How frustrating!  Maybe I'll fix it later - otherwise check out pics on the side of my blog for corresponding WIPs.)

Wow, does that take you back or what? Maybe not for some of you but the title seemed appropriate. :)
I had my blog posts all written out for the beginning of the week…and then never had a chance to post them. So I’m going to mash two posts together – what was meant to be yesterday’s post, and WIP Wednesday.

So getting down to business, aside from an incident with Squishy yesterday morning, my morning sickness seems to have gone to the wayside completely. I’ve discovered that my gag reflex is still super duper sensitive compared to usual, but none of the crummy nausea at night that had me glued to the couch doing nothing. I still get really tired, but I don’t feel quite as useless anymore, which is a terrific feeling!

This weekend I finished up the last of the knits for the cupcake swap. All I had left was the cherry on the pincushion. Silly, really, that it took me so long to finish. This may be my last swap for awhile. I have a lot of things I want to get done and with not feeling well this last round, taking on a swap may have been stretching myself a bit far. I know I can’t keep my fingers out of them forever, but taking a break right now might be the best timing while I work to feel more like myself.

I cast on a new project this weekend. It’s the Ruffled Cloche from 60 Quick Baby Knits. I got this book as a gift from a friend and I love it. There are so many cute projects, cover-to-cover. Everything from baby booties to hats and blankets and sweaters and even a sheep pillow. I would say this book holds something for everyone. It’s time’s like these I think a video podcast is necessary because I can’t show you all the photos without a lot of effort. So that’s my two cents about the book! :)

The cloche is for a friend, well, for her baby. There’s just a tiny bit left to complete, and when I originally wrote yesterday’s post, I wasn’t sure it would still be a WIP today. I just need to finish up the bow, attach it to the hat and block. Squishy took it for a test-drive last night. It fits his head, but it had to stretch. I hope it’s not insanely huge! (My gauge was good, for once I checked!) He seems to think all hats knit are his. I had to make a trade to get it back. He got a snack, I got a hat. J So that should finish up very soon. The hat is made from Cascade 220 Superwash in Winter White, Berroco Vintage in Dark Denim and Knit Picks Andean Silk in Sangria. I’m waffling on how I feel about the colors. I like the blue and purple/fuschia together, but it seems a bit stark against the white. But I find it impossible to knit pastely baby knits. I think babies need some oomph in their wardrobe so this is it. Knit in size 6-12 months. Because that’s the only size given in the pattern. :(

I’ve mentioned that I’m knitting some things for my sister’s friend. I actually cast-on for the frog paci clip last week…and finished…the head and a couple limbs. Yep, that’s all. Did you know that even small parts can take forever to knit?! I know, I’m making excuses, but really…those little arms and legs and hands and feet take me forever and when I only knit for 15 minutes at a time….you get the idea…

My other WIP is a dpn case for a Ravelry friend of mine. I’ve been meaning to finish this design for a long time and her order has finally kicked me into gear. If all goes according to plan, this case should work for both dpns and crochet hooks. Hooray!

Okay, the post is getting long. Sorry about that. That’s what happens when I mash things together. Just a couple more things and I’m done.

The other book I really want to knit from is Vintage Knits for Modern Babies. So many beautiful projects that are right up my alley. There’s a capelet at the end of the book that melts my heart. I may not wear them, but a little girl certainly would look sweet in it. J

In other news, Mr. Man called some bug people yesterday to see about spraying our house. The woman said it sounds like we have carpenter ants…YUCK! So in some way or another, we’ll be getting the house sprayed. I really don’t like bugs, especially when they’re in my house!

So, what’s on YOUR plate this week?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

WIP Wednesday 5/4 (A Day Late)

I’m trying to decide if this week has gone quickly or slowly.  Right now, it’s feeling very slow.  I am going to admit right away that I have been terribly unmotivated since I shared my WIPs last week. 

I finished the Cupcake Hat, started the pincushion and….yep, that’s as far as I got.  In fact, the Cupcake Pincushion is nearly complete.  All that’s left is the cherry on top.  And it’s been sitting like that since Saturday I believe.  :/  Who knew that something so simple could hold me up?  And it’s not because I think it will be hard or that I can’t do it.  I’ve just been unmotivated (which is another way of saying LAZY, I think). 

I still need to knit the froggy clip for my sister’s friend.  I thought I would have it done by the end of the week last week and I haven’t even started.  Good thing the baby won’t arrive for a while. 

And then there are a few obligatory projects I need to get started that are small and require very little thought and absolutely no new yarn or needles and yet here I sit, just vaguely remembering they exist.  So I’m feeling behind.  I am behind. 

As far as sewing goes, I’m plugging away on Etsy orders.  I’ve almost got them all complete, just a handful more and then I’m backing off from custom orders for awhile.  I will still sew cases and list them in my shop but they will be purely, premade cases that are ready to ship.  Less obligations to keep track of that way.  And it gives me more time for personal sewing. 

The good news in all of this is that Friday marks Week 13, which means I’ll be entering the second trimester for my pregnancy.  I can feel where my uterus has grown and stretched, and I must say that it’s nice to finally have some concrete confirmation that yes, I am still pregnant.  It’s hard the first few weeks when you can’t feel any changes other than strange food aversion, cravings and nausea!  I imagine the bump will make it’s appearance sooner than with Squishy, but we shall see.  I need to do some clothes shopping soon because clothes are starting to get uncomfortable or not fitting quite right. 

So, that’s a glimpse into my week – what’s happening in yours?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sewing Swap

With all the swap posts I've had lately, I thought I'd space them out a little bit and wait awhile before I posted the final swap package I have to share with you.

Like the last swap post, this is a package I put together for my partner.  My partner was Becky (gathersnomoss).  I've been the recipient of Becky's generosity, so I wanted to make sure she loved her package just as much.
First of all, I had a really hard time deciding what kind of fabric to send Becky.  She had given me a list of her favorite Moda designers, but I was having trouble finding fabric I liked, and that I thought she would like.  I finally ended up finding some Moda charm packs.  I first found the fabrics on and another fabric store online, but they were either backordered, or out of stock of the prints that I was really drawn to.  Etsy to the rescue!! I found someone who was selling the charm packs and had one of each of the packs I was wanting to purchase.  What a lucky find!

Becky had said she like American Jane, Sandy Gervais, Me & My Sister and Fig Tree.  I found Giddy by Sandy Gervais, Punctuation by American Jane, and threw in Origins by basicgrey (I really love the basicgrey fabrics).  I think she enjoyed these! :)
The fabric was actually the last part of the package I purchased.  In the meantime, I collected other goodies and sewed a couple items.

The first sewn item was for Becky herself.  The pattern is called Sew Convenient from Pretty Little Presents and is a needle/pin/thread holder for the on-the-go sewer.  The holder folds up sort of like the old-school fortune tellers we made as kids in grade school.  The pattern called for a velcro closure, but I did a button instead because I thought it would hold better.

The inside has a piece of felt that's sewn down where you can place your needles and pins to keep them safe and secure.  There's enough room once the holder is closed to still be able to fit some embroidery floss tucked into the middle.  I imagine this as a great carrier when doing something like hand-sewing the binding on a quilt.  You have a few necessary tools at your side while working on your project. :)

The second sewn item was a ladybug rattle.  The pattern is from Little Stitches for Little Ones by Amy Butler.  I wanted to do a butterfly as well, but ran out of time.  I used pink and white fabric, with an accenting pink flannel fabric.  I thought the flannel is neat because as the baby gets older, she can feel the difference in textures.  (I forgot to mention that Becky is expecting a little girl, which is why I made a pink ladybug rattle...) :)

The toy could easily just be stuffed with fiberfil with the rattle left out, but I had a bell on hand, so I thought I should use it. :) I hope she enjoys playing with it!

I didn't have much other stuff by way of notions, although I did include a roll-up tape measure.  I always need more of these and am always looking for one.  There was also an Iowa magnet, because I like to include something from my state in each swap.
Not to leave anyone out, I included a "Guess Who?" Elmo book for Becky's son.  She had mentioned that he loves Elmo (as does Squishy).  I was in Target and found the book.  Squishy was so excited.  He wouldn't let go of the book, so I bought two. One for Squishy, one for Becky's little man. :)
And finally, no package is complete without a few sweets.  Becky had mentioned enjoying the caramel Cadbury eggs, so I included some of them, as well as chocolate peeps and chocolate Easter eggs.
This swap was a nice change from the knitting swaps.  Because there was a dollar limit, the majority of the package was put together rather quickly.  There was a lot more I could have included, but I really tried to stick to that limit since I knew others felt it was important for everyone to have the same swap experience. :)

Sewing the projects and picking the fabrics were my favorite parts.  I've been doing so much sewing for my Etsy shop that I haven't had much time to sit and explore new patterns or personal sewing.  I sewed all weekend long and felt so refreshed by doing something new.  It's encouraged me to pick a couple new projects I'd like to complete over the next month.

Becky, I had a wonderful time putting this together for you and I hope you enjoy it all! :)