Friday, June 29, 2012

Cold Feet

A friend of mine on Ravelry asked our group if we would help her.  This is what she wrote:

            “I belong to a Blue Star Mothers group (military mom’s support group) and we have the honor of co-sponsoring an Operation Shower baby shower in early July.  The goal is to show support for military moms-to-be or new mothers by showering them with gifts.  Especially since many of these moms are going through their pregnancy without the support of their husbands due to deployment or job assignment.  The event is rather a big deal with many big name sponsors involved, such as the PGA.  We are all excited and consider ourselves lucky that we can be involved and show our support to these new moms.  After all, our group is mom centered."

Pat asked for baby booties and socks in red, white and blue or any combination thereof to be gifted to 35-40 mothers.  As always, our group responded with a resounding YES! 
Here is a photo of all the completed booties lined up with one another.   They are all so stinkin’ cute!
(Photo by Pat (aka Plynn))
I made two pairs of baby socks using a favorite pattern of mine, Baby Mitten Socks.  Before Lovebug was born, I had knit her a pair of these with some leftover fingering weight yarn, with the hopes of her wearing them as a newborn.  They were one of the only pairs of socks I could keep on her tiny feet! 
I knit one pair of socks with Tanis Fiber Arts in Peacock as per the pattern. They’re tiny, but should fit newborns or smaller babies. 

But, after knitting this pair, I realized the Peacock color was more teal than blue, so I knew I needed another pair.  Pat still kindly accepted the first pair, and reassured me they were “blue enough.” :)

The second pair I made using Knit Picks Simply Cotton Sport in Wave Heather and Prussian Heather.  The heals and toes are contrasting to the rest of the sock.  Because this was sport weight yarn, the socks are larger, perhaps 6-12 month size?  It’s better to be too big than too small, right?  Again, I followed the pattern as directed, just with a heavier weight yarn.

I’m still new to knitting socks, even baby socks and don’t completely understand the construction.  I know there is a cuff and leg, a heel, the foot and the toe, but there are so many different ways to work the heel, you can do toe-up, top-down, two-at-a-time, etc. etc.  It’s a bit overwhelming and I get nervous with the idea of changing the cast on number because I don’t yet know how to accurately divide for the heel (which is the most complicated part of the sock). 
These socks were a snap to knit up and only took me a few hours.  And I was happy to be able to contribute something to Operation Shower.  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fairy Tales

Tying up loose ends, I feel a bit out of it having not yet posted about the Fairy Tale swap I participated in.

I branched out a little bit at the suggestion of my friend, Lyndsey, to try swapping in another group titled "Odd Ducks Swaps of Ravelry."  This group is dedicated to hosting swaps of all kinds, that don't really fit into any other category.  There are strict rules about participation and guidelines for your swap package, but it's all intended to be good fun.

Since I really enjoy fairy tales, especially those of the modern variety, I chose to take part in this swap (there were a ton of other options, but seeing as how I could only do one, this is what I chose).  To put it simply, everything we put in this package had to related to fairy tales in some way, based on the interests, likes and dislikes of your swap partner.  It didn't have to be Disney princesses or, strictly based on any one fairy tale, but you had to be smart and try and make it fun.  There was a $ minimum you were expected to spend, which guarantees everyone gets a nice package, but doesn't require you to spend a lot of money if you don't have it.  Participation without breaking the bank. :)

My swap partner had mentioned that she, like me, enjoyed the fairy tale of Red Riding Hood.  She had mentioned a couple others, but this is what I chose to focus on.  Since I enjoy these stories as well, I felt I could put the best package together if it were something that I would like receiving.

I knit two items, both of which were enjoyable, but one of which I wish I could have kept for myself!  I really wanted to knit a shawl.  Although Red Riding Hood is known for her red cape, I didn't think that very practical.  Little girls are cute in capes, and capelets can be pretty, but I have a hard time seeing the functionality of one if you're a busy mom, on the go and not just stopping for  photo shoot.

I chose the Be.Leaf pattern by Kitman Figueroa.  My hopes were to knit a shawl reminiscent of the forest through which Red would travel to get to Grandma's house.  A really neat color for this would have been green, with splashes of red and brown here and there, as though catching a glimpse of the forest floor and Red's cape, but I wasn't sure if she would like that.  I also thought of a gradient yarn that would start with brown at the top and transition into one or two shades of green (i.e., tree trunk up to the leaves).  But, again, I wasn't sure if that was her cup of tea so I stuck with simple.
I knit the shawl with Knit Picks Gloss Fingering in the colorway Kenai, which is a lovely dark teal color.  While the yarn was a bit rough on my fingers while knitting, it was lovely and soft after blocking and had a fantastic drape when finished.

I blocked the majority of the shawl with pins, but left the ruffle without wires or pins so the integrity of the ruffle wouldn't be disturbed.  It meant that because the pattern ends in stockinette and is bound off in pattern it would curl a bit, but I thought that the curling would fit within the ruffle just fine.  In the future, if I knit this again, I might choose a different edging/bind off to create the edge from rolling.
I really wanted to keep this for myself....
(The color is most accurate in this picture.)
The second knit was Mary Margaret's Lace Tam by Mary Craver.  Now, this isn't Red Riding Hood, but instead is a pattern someone designed to recreate the tam Mary Margaret wears in the tv show Once Upon A Time. You can't see it here on my styrofoam head, but it's a very pretty lace pattern, and when on your head, opens up a bit.  My dummy-head just wasn't big enough... (my swappee was the one to point out the hat in our discussion thread so I thought she'd enjoy this).

The directions for blocking this called for pulling the tam over an inflated balloon.  I'd never blocked that way before.  In the future, though, I may try a dinner plate instead.  This was knit with Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label in Tidal.  It's beautiful! :)

I also included Red Riding Hood stitch markers shaped like books,

sheepy soap (to wash up with after the long trek through the woods),
a Red Riding Hood bag to hold her goodies for Grandma,
Kit Kat bars to stave off hunger on her journey, or to distract the big bad wolf,
and a skein of Shelter in Long Johns because I just had to include something Red for Red's cape. :)
Overall, my experience was pleasant.  I got a lovely package from my swapper included the movie Red Riding Hood (the most recent version starring Amanda Seyfried), a huge chocolate bar, a handmade necklace (like that worn by Danielle in Ever After: A Cinderella Story (she wears it on her head...)), and a white shawl reminiscent of fairy wings (again, to be like the wings Danielle wears to the costume ball in Ever After).  My partner also crocheted a little pouch/bag that is lined with tulle and can be either a bag, or a decorative head piece.

Although it was a bit uncomfortable swapping in a new group (I'm so used to the Itty Bitties), I would swap with them again, and feel better after having the first swap under my belt.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hedgehogs and Hippos

A long while back I shared with you the package I received from Pam in the H is for Hippos and Hedgehogs swap.  I was so happy with my package and the thought that Pam put into all of it.  And boy, did my stash grow!!

It's about time I share with you what went into the package that I sent.  My swappee was Kendra (kendraja) and I was so excited to get started on her package!  Mostly, I was excited that she would love to receive the Hedgehog to Squirrel toy by Susan B. Anderson.  It's part of her Woodland Creatures collection and I've been wanting to knit it for awhile.  This was just the motivation I needed.  Those reversible toys are so stinkin' cute!! (And if you don't remember, everything we included in the box had to be described with an "H.")

I'm going to get right into it because I've got a bit to share.  Starting with the knitted goodies, as I said, I knit the Hedgehog to Squirrel Reversible toy by Susan Anderson.

My favorite part of this toy is two-fold.  1) The "ridges" on the hedgehog - they're such a creative construction, I really enjoyed that part of the knitting and it adds such dimension to the toy; 2) the squirrel's bushy tail.  Now, Susan always indicates the size of pom-poms to use in her toys, but I don't really listen.  I use my Pom Tree or pom-pom makers and make the fluffiest, biggest pom-pom I can stand, and then trim and trim and trim until I feel it's just right.  (I sort of have to start out larger because I have this thing with making the pom-poms look even and appropriately fluffed...)  So the squirrel tail is very bushy...hopefully Kendra likes it as much as I did!!

The poor hedgehog has a secret, and I won't share what it is, but I'm sure you can spot it.  He feels a bit unique...and hopes that no one thinks badly of him for it. ;)   Mr. Hedgehog was knit with Cascade 220 in Dark Brown and Winter White, while Mr. Squirrel is knit with Cascade 220 Winter White and Spud & Chloe Sweater in Beluga.  I have to mention again how amazingly soft and wonderful S&C is to knit with.  I love it!
(Shhh....don't tell!)
The second knit was a washcloth, designed by our very own bee30, Ber.  She was looking for hedgehog cloths and couldn't find any so she designed not one, but three different designs!  I wanted to knit all three but ran out of time.  So this cloth is Hedgehog Washcloth #3 and I love it so much!  Ber - you did an amazing job designing these cloths!
The last knit item is another dishcloth, which I'm calling the Hungry Hippo Cloth by Elaine Fitzpatrick.  Super simple, super quick - I had this one done in no time!
Normally, I like to do dishcloths in fun colors, but I had natural Lion Brand Lion Cotton Solid on hand so that's what I used.

Handmade stitch markers for Kendra's knitting, in the form of dice and Holey markers.  These markers were sort of a pain to make, but it was a process of trial and error and I finally figured out how to make it work.  If you look closely at the picture, you will see that there is a tiny ball inside the larger white ball, and the purpose of the holes is to see the tiny ball inside.  If you'd like to know more about this process, let me know and I'll explain more in-depth.  (I've got a set for myself that I need to finish sanding and coating.
There was a hedgehog switch plate/light switch cover.  I found this idea on Pinterest.  It's super simple and would be a fun craft to do with your older kids.  I'd link it, but I never repinned the idea myself.  Again, ask if you're interested in more details. :)
Because we needed "h" words, and I live in "America's Hometown," I knew I needed to include some hometown swag.  I don't usually do things from my town, but rather just something from Iowa.  But this was a perfect opportunity.  There were "America's Hometown" magnets, Hart Parr postcards (Oliver/Hart Parr tractors were made in my town before the bigger companies took over), Oliver/Hart Parr pin, and a Hometown Holiday ornament.

A hooter gauge (needle gauge), a heart-shaped yarn cutter pendant
Haribo gummies, a huge Hershey's Kiss, and a huge lollipop
stickers of all kinds (horses, Hello Kitty, happy faces and hearts), a hardback Dr. Seuss book and Weekend Hats
Handmade sheep soap made locally, handy pencils, fun erasers for the heck of it, a Knit Happy tape measure

and finally, about 650 yards of 50/50 silk, merino blend in fingering weight that I hand dyed and named "Victorian Rose."
The "H" twist to this swap made it both fun and challenging.  There are things I did choose to leave out of the package because they didn't quite fit, and I thought would perhaps work better in another swap at another time.

I've since taken a bit of a break from swapping as I wanted to knit more things for myself when I wanted to knit them, instead of fitting them in around knitting that had a deadline.  I've found that to be very relaxing!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fun Things Soon

In case you all wondered, I am here and I am knitting away.  There are a lot of fun things to share yet that I just need to sit down and write about.  Hats and shawls and socks and toys, the list goes on and on.

Today is probably not the day you'll hear about any of it, though.  I'm hoping tonight I can get a few posts written to share with you over the next couple weeks.

Knitting is light this summer with other obligations on my plate, but I like to have something going at all times. :)

Hope you are all enjoying your summer!