sweaters and more

Despite the lack of posts, things are still thing happening on these fronts. There is a bit of sewing, a lot of sweater making (some big, some small), and a lot of sweater pattern buying – which is ironic given the latest thing going on – word that we are spending some time in the United Arab Emirates over the next year.

On the crafting front, we made our round of handmade teacher gifts, and I’m super happy with how they turned out. We made little bird and garden angel ornaments from the book Scandinavian Stitches by Kajsa Wikman.030teachergift

On the knitting front. I made a second Alberta vest, this time for my Dad’s birthday. I also managed to squeak out a cardigan for my sister’s new baby…whom I had the pleasure of visiting right after she was born. Its nice to know I am knitting for a girl, and I did a little stash diving to find a cute yarn perfect for the little sunnyside cardi  from Tanis Fiber Arts. I also got to see Mia in the Puerperium Cardigan I made for Christmas, which was fun.

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In the past two months I’ve filled up my queue with sweaters, purchased the patterns and skeins up on skeins of yarn…and managed to finish my very first adult sized just for me sweater. I love the pattern, the color and the concept. I made a stupid judgement call on joining the yarn, and I can see the places in the sweater which bugs me. I also have never knitted with this type of yarn before…and I’m curious to see how it all holds up. They yarn itself is knitted strands – I have not idea what that is called, but it seems to easily snag on things. It worked out okay, but I am not sure I’d use that type of yarn again.

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So, here I sit with a queue full of sweaters and a closet full of wool. Rumor has it I may need a sweater or two for the air conditioning, but more likely…in addition to reorganizing our lives, my favorite pastime may need a major overhaul along with my Ravelry queue and list of favorites. Oy  vey!

So, this little upheaval in conjunction with the enjoyment of summer life in general is part of the reason I’ve been putting this blog (and some crafting) on the way back burner and I anticipate that will continue to be the case…at least until we get settled and figure out how life in the UAE works.

Baby Shower & Handmade Gifts

As I mentioned earlier, I went back to VA to help throw a baby shower for my sister who is expecting her first in June. My mom and I hosted her shower, and also both set out to do some handmade gifts for her and the baby. My mom is quite crafty as well, and while it has traditionally been on the sewing machine, she picked up her hooks and busted out a few crocheted blankets as well. I ended up making the Lotta Jansdotter’s Snuggler and Tag Blankie from the Simple Sewing for Babies. The kids and I made a little dog rattle for the baby as well. The idea came from the book Sewing School, and we then added the rattle part inspired by the rattles in the Simple Sewing for Babies. That project involved them decorating the puppy outline with crayons and then ironing the dog to set the colors. We then turned it into a little plush and added the rattle.

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We had some crafty fun at the shower too. We set up a station where guests were invited to decorate a one-sie for the baby. We had a number of freezer paper stencils available and a selection of paints, and I think they turned out super cute! There are tons of tutorials online for how to do this, and I looked at these here, here and here.

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In addition to making the lovely green and white baby blanket below, along with a diaper caddy,  burp and wash cloths, my mom also whipped up these cute little pouches with a party favor for guests.babyshower_17 babyshower_75babyshower_01

All in all it was quite the lovely little celebration, and I’ve found a new obsession for this summer…Berry Fizz, the muddled berry/soda concoction my sister in in the midst of making below.babyshower_34

A Birthday Shrug

shrug2upI was at a local yarn shop with my mother in law a few weeks ago, and she came across this lovely yarn with a pattern at the store for a circle vest. Apparently she has been appreciating the project for some time…and with a little nudging decided to go for it and give the project a try. I got inspired, and thought it might make a great gift for my sister – her birthday was coming up, and she is expecting. I had this vision of her cute belly peeking out from under the big shawl collar, and the sides of the vest flowing down around her sides. I think she should be able to wear it open and hanging, or pinned together right at the chest. At any rate, I decided to give the pattern a go and knitted up this fun circle vest for her birthday. I used four skeins of Cascade 128 and the pattern was kind of interesting. You knit the circle in the round, do a little decreasing and then hold half the stitches on waste yarn, knit up the other half and then join the two sets of live stitches. I was a little concerned when I first finished it, but after a good long soak, and a heavy block it all seemed to come together. I hope it fits. I hope she likes it. And I hope her bump looks as cute as I imagined it would.

Happy Birthday Sista!

Handmade Holiday 2012

Wow…how is it mid January already?! The holidays were a whirlwind of family, fun, the flu and some serious movie marathons as we struggled to get healthy. The little people in our house were even sick Christmas Eve, and sadly my son spent much of Christmas day with a bucket at the ready. Despite it all, it was a nice time, and this year’s crop of handmade gifts were well received. I was not quite as ambitious as last year, but still managed to pull together a nice collection.

Most of the gifts were knitted this year, but I did sew up some pot holders for my sister, and Nana and I collaborated on a reading tent for my daughter, which she is pretty excited about. The knit list included these honeycomb mitts, and each of these lovely hats from purlbee.com. I did the wide brim one for my dad and the smaller simple brim one for my father in law in the larger size mentioned in the comments. I made a cowl and slouchy hat for my niece. The slouchy hat was this pattern here, and I tried something of my own for the cowl, a big twist. As I mentioned in my last post (a long long long time ago) the design can use some work, but as a first go, overall I was pleased. I pulled together a few quick cowls (drop stitch cowl and big lace scarf (which I turned into a cowl)) together for friends – in my book nothing says happy holidays like a big ole snugly cowl. Here is a sampling of the projects.
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My sister is expecting which is super exciting and having a baby to knit for is making me giddy. I had an especially good time making this little cardigan for the little bean. It is the Puerperium Cardigan by Kelly Brooker of knit.so.quaint, and can be found on ravlery.
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So, that is the handmade holiday 2012 wrap up.  I am looking forward to more handmade gifts this year, and continuing on my journey to become a better knitter, learn more about sewing and doing it well, and pick up the always lagging photography aspect of my little mission. Hope you had a great holiday…and all the best for a crafty new year!

The Holiday Knit List

Slowly but surely I am making progress. I am hard at work on the things needing to be shipped. I was feeling a little scattered having started all the projects, and working on them simultaneously. But today I got one set done, finished a knitting project for another package and decided to focus on getting those two boxes out – even if it means interrupting the knitting to get a quick sewing project done.

The knit list includes several hats, a cowl, some mitts, a cardigan, two scarf hood pocket combo and who knows what else will crop up.

1. I tried a new self created design on the cowl…in hind sight gifts are not the right place to experiment! While it turned out well enough, I would certainly change some things the next time.

2. The downside to mitts and the such is the elation you feel at completing a project is short lived as the realization you are only half way there and need to cast on and repeat it all again quickly sets in. The upside is that the Malabrigo merino worsted is a total joy to work with – and I can’t wait to find new projects to use that wool on. Glad to have finally tried this yarn!

3. The kids wanted hood scarf combo with pockets, and while I found a pattern I am going to work from, there will need to be some modifications. Let me refer back to point 1, and the danger of experimentation on gifts and, then also mention that my son (the kids are in on the gift as they requested the project and selected their own yarn) said “mom, please do Kaya’s first since you haven’t done this before. Little stinker :). The modifications aren’t too drastic, so hopefully we will be in good shape.

…and with that, I need to get back to doing instead of writing about doing.

Hope your crafty endeavors are going well and you are enjoying this holiday season!

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Warm Wishes: Knitting for those Impacted by Sandy

Like many people, I have dear friends that were impacted when Sandy came tearing through the East Coast. In talking with one of them, I mentioned wishing there was something hands on I could do. With the cold weather approaching, power outages, and loss of homes and possessions, and she cleverly suggested knitting hats.

This I could do!

I roped another friend into joining me, and we spent the past week knitting up a storm. We put together a little care package with 6 hats, 3 scarves/cowls, 2 fingerless mitts and a couple of head wraps. We used the handmade tags found here, and included a little note. The package is in the mail, en route to my friend in New Jersey who will bring the knitted goodies to those in need.

I hope this is just the beginning. I will be making and sending more hand knit goods. Uniquities Yarn Shop, a yarn shop in my Mom’s neck of the woods got wind of our little project when my mom went in to pick up some supplies to help further our cause and they expressed interest in getting involved, and my often mentioned friend Katie her community was heavily hit as well) just put a call out to her circle of knitters to make and send knitted goodies her way for distribution.

To my friend MJ who got this whole things going…thank you for a great idea, for giving me a way to help out and let the folks in your community know we are thinking of them, and for distributing our hand-made goodies to those in need!

Grab your needles or your hooks, rummage through your stash or visit your local yarn shop, whip up a special hand-made warm accessory…and send a warm wooly hug to someone impacted by the storm.

*if you want to knit, I can get you connected to folks for distribution – just leave a comment!

August Sew Along: Swaddle Blanket

One of my first sewing projects was the flannel swaddle blanket from the Fabric-by-Fabric One Yard Wonders book. This project, and looking at the book’s FaceBook page lead me to AfricanKelli.com and her monthly sew along. So, when Kelli asked if I’d be willing to sew another blanket and share my thoughts on the process, I said heck yeah! The timing worked well, as this past weekend I saw my dear friend Katie who is expecting.

The swaddle blanket is a simple project. Three pattern pieces are cut, the swaddle ties are joined to make one large tie, and then bias tape is sewn along the outside edge of both pieces. Once that is completed, you attach the tie to the back of the blanket and you are all done. It seems to me, the key to this project is patience and precision … neatly attaching the bias tape, and making sure that you get the seam enclosed when making the large swaddle tie.

I am still new to sewing, and the swaddle blankets are the only times I’ve worked with bias tape. I turned to the Angry Chicken tutorial on applying bias tape found here and followed her steps. I’m certain there are other ways to go about getting the bias tape on there, however I’m not very patient and the thought of lots and lots of pinning is unappealing so this seemed like a good way. In the spirit of full disclosure, my bias tape application wasn’t the neatest and I have already fessed up about my lack of patience. Despite the slips in craftsmanship, Katie was really pleased with the blanket, and I look forward to seeing a chubby baby all snuggled up in there this winter.