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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Felting Fun

I fell in love with the bag pattern in "Last Minute Knitted Gifts." Because I prefer bigger needles and thicker yarn, I decided to make the bag bigger but use felting wool so that I could felt it, and therefore, shrink it.

The pattern was fairly simple. You start at the top a bit wider than the rest of the body of the bag. You decrease and add yarn overs to get the eyelet row.

The bag also required the "three needle bind off" which was easier than the kitchner stitch. The seam is a little more obvious but very neat.

I've been wanting to try felting for a few months. So after the bag was done, I put it in the wash here at my apartment complex. The points I remembered learning in my class was that the water should be hot, there should be a little bit of detergent and things with it in the wash to add friction. Two washes later on "hot" and while the fibers were fuzzy, they weren't FELTED. This past weekend, I took a load of laundry to my mom's house and used her machine to give it one more try.

Presto! I had felt! The bag indeed shrunk, so much so that the row of holes barely showed. The holes are supposed to be for a drawstring but felt is not an ideal material for a drawstring bag. So I threaded a ribbon through the holes just for decoration and added Icord handles. Viola!

It might not seem like much of an accomplishment but it really made me feel like I'd conquered something in the crafting world...expanding my abilities and stretching my patience a little has gone a long way in making me more confident as a knitter and a crafter, in general.

What project do you have going that is challenging you?

Coming Out of the Crafter's Closet--Lesson 1.1

One quarter of 7th grade home ec was almost enough to drive me away from sewing machines and other household skills for good. My class had the boys that probably ended up at the alternative school, as they were determined to make all kinds of trouble. One day, they stole all of the sewing needles from the machines so the classes after us had nothing to work with when they were trying to sew up their school bag projects. Lovely. So, well, junior high...

My grandma introduced me to the sewing machine but other than actually SEWING on it, I was...well...intimidated by the machine. Threading the machine, threading through the bobbin, it was just too much for my confidence and I never spent much time trying to conquer my fear of the sewing machine even though deep down, I really did want to be able to sew.

When my aunt Jil passed, I adopted/inherited her machine. It lived in the closet for over three years...sad and lonely while I embraced all of my other crafts.

A good friend and fellow crafter over at "hidden in the hem" sews beautifully. She generously offered to teach me. I saw a tote bag on her blog that she made and it didn't seem too difficult. Finally, last weekend, I got the sewing machine out of the closet, found the foot pedal/cord and the bobbin case and headed to her house for Sewing Lesson #1.

I picked lightweight fabrics, a little too lightweight for the strength the bags will need to hold all of the books my nieces check out from the library. We added an inner lining, which made keep the edges straight a little more difficult but gave it a really nice touch.

I bought fabric for four bags, one for each niece and picked patterns that I thought matched their personality. M has a serger, which she used to help strengthen side seams. We used "French seams" on the bottom, for the same purpose.

The night wasn't without it's newbie flaws. I cut one bag out incorrectly, which M said she'll figure out how to fix. Looks like G will just have a slightly smaller bag, lol. I got about halfway through I's bag, considering I had to rip out three seams, that wasn't too bad. M of course, finished A's bag. It's so incredibly beautiful! I can't wait for Easter to give the girls their 'Easter bags'!

I have some on finishing I's bag and to start on E's...instead of being intimidated, I'm excited. And of course, it helps to know M is just a quick drive away if I completely mess things up! I might not have finished my bag but I still have that pride in learning and making something new and different. Perhaps you'll see some more sewing projects on here soon!

In the meantime, happy crafting!

Eyes Only

A post or two ago, I mentioned pattern books...I thought I would share them. A fair warning, I'm going to tease you by mentioning what I made but not show you until future posts!

Until recently, I've been mostly using patterns I found online. The great part is that they were free. The bummer is when they don't make any kind of sense or there are errors. My mom got me Last Minute Knitted Gifts and we both fell in love with the bunny pattern. I also LOVED the bag on the cover and decided it was a "must make." The day after New Year's, my mom and I hit the craft store sales. There I found Spud and Chloe at the Farm (darling farm animal patterns, mostly done in the round) and Baby Beanies. The hats in there are super cute. I've already made a few.

I thought I was done with my purchasing spree but I was at my local LYS (YfY) and I saw 60
Quick Knits for Baby. There was THE CUTEST pea pod sweater I'd ever seen. Plus lots of other great hats, mittens, clothes, jackets, socks, name it, it's probably in there. And finally, after making a few of the stuffed animals from the Spud and Chloe book, I decided that making stuffed animals might be one of my "things" despite an early resistance to try them. I saw "Knitted Toy Tals...some of the cutest stuffed creation patterns I'd see yet. I simply CANNOT wait to make the Frog Prince and the Owl and The Pussy Cat. Sigh. I'm in pattern HEAVEN! (These stuffed animals are made flat and sewn up the back.)

I can't wait to start sharing the projects I've made from these books! I hope you'll like them, too. So, my dear readers, what are your favorite pattern books and why?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cuties for Cousins

I grew up in what was once a small community in San Diego. You knew your neighbors. Moms volunteered for the PTA and Girl Scouts. Dads commuted to work. Eventually, our community experienced a huge population explosion after the main road was connected to one of the freeways. But many of the families that my parents met in the early years remained. (Who could blame them with $40,000 mortgages instead of $250,000?!) Thanks to the internet, the kids I knew from elementary school are still connected and stay in touch through media network sites like FaceBook and LinkedIn. We laugh and joke about the good old days, though I don't think any of us want to surrender our smart phones and fuel efficient cars.

Just down the street and around the corner, there was a family with two girls. We walked to school together, sang in the talent show together, even did Scouts together. Now both of the sisters are pregnant together (with baby 4 and baby 2 respectively) and I couldn't wait to knit up a few cute items to send to the cousins in Texas and Northern California.

The California baby's gender is still unknown. So I used a pattern my mom had found for me that called for thick yarn and big needles (my favorite!)..."Baby Diamonds Hat & Blankie" from Creative Knitting's January 2005 issue.

The hat was especially quick to knit up and the blanket did not take long either. Just used knits and purls to create the diamond pattern. The hat, however, was definitely not a newborn size. Good thing it fits baby #2's big brother (who makes the cutest model ever!).

The Texas baby is a girl which gave me a chance to pull out my pinkish yarn.

(The purple hat is for another friend who is pregnant. I can't believe how many of my friends are popping out babies!) The top of the pink hat is completed with an I-cord flower and a button. A simple touch but I think it goes a long way. The hat pattern is from "One Skein Wonders" and the bootie pattern is the same that I posted before.

I got so excited by knitting the baby hats that I actually went and bought two new pattern books. Since I usually just find my patterns online, that was an investment but with all of the babies that are due this year, I'm definitely putting them to good use!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Brain Eating Monster Hat and Sister Bonnet

I love Pinterest! Such a great tool for both saving and for finding cool ideas. It was through Pinterest I first saw the Brain Eating Monster Hat and fell in love with him. I just had to try it! There aren't many boyish patterns that are cute without being too frilly and I thought that just maybe, my friend and fellow crafter's son (D Man) might like to wear him.

I even managed to follow the directions for the ear flaps, which are just too cute, if you ask me. I didn't make the pattern, so I can brag on it ;0) The BEM hat wasn't my only hat project of the week. My mom gave me an awesome pattern book for Christmas "Last Minute Gifts." The projects are all supposed to be created in a day or less (though when it comes to the Bunny, which I will blog about later, it definitely took more than a day!). I found this darling bonnet and had to use the alpaca yarn I'd picked up at Hobby Lobby. I even learned how to knit an I-cord into an edge. It looks a little big but I hope it fits D Man's sister, Baby Girl.

Unfortunately, Phat Cat is rather attracted to Alpaca yarn :0( I had to sew up a tear in the bonnet which he chewed for no reason at all that I can determine. He does have strange fetishes but let me tell you, that escapade ended in a cat time out. YES, I put my cat into time out! LOL Well, he had to go into the bathroom while I calmed down. ;0)

The bonnet also required some seaming and while it's not perfect, I'm proud of my attempts.

As my skill level grows, I am more and more willing to try new patterns and techniques. I can't wait to show you what else I've been up to. In the meantime, what have YOU been knitting?

The Batchelorette

With all of my friends getting married and having babies, it was time to whip up a  little something fun for a batchelorette gag gift. My trusty "condom amulet" website had a pattern for a man thong and with a little color work, I make something just for fun.

My mind has been spinning as to how to improve the design and what other color work would be fun to put in as the design.

I'd like to preface this entry as "this ain't your grandma's knitting" but the truth is that the condom amulet website promotes safe sex amongst senior I love the crafty world and all of the creative energy out there in the world...young, old and all the in between!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Baby Baby Baby Ooooh

I found a simple pattern for baby booties online at I'd already used a baby blanket pattern from their site and the directions for the booties seemed straightforward enough so I gave them a try.

You add increases...can you see the pucker between my space markers? That creates the heel.

Then you continue and finish up at the toe.

There are two seams to sew up. Ideally, I'd like to start using the pattern that my grandma has always knit where you use the kitchner stitch to close so there aren't any seams but in a pinch, this pattern works out just great.

Using baby sport weight self-striping yarn, I whipped up a pair to go with a hat I'd made for a friend's baby shower. (More on baby hats to come!) The pattern does not give an eyelet row but using my darning needle, I threaded some ribbon and weaved it in and out and tied a bow at the front. Viola! Baby bootie and hat bliss ;0)

Size Matters

Here's just a simple reminder about how the size of your needles and weight of your yarn can affect the size of your project.

This is the same pattern. The littlest stocking used size 5 needles and sport weight yarn. The middle stocking used size 8 needles and worsted weight yarn. The largest stocking used size 10.5 needles and bulky/chunky yarn.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Finally Back Into the Swing of Things

Between Thanksgiving and New Years, life was a blur of holiday, family and craft plans. Sorry for my absence and sorry for not finishing my thankful posts. I made gorgeous blankets for A & G and when I didn't have time to finish E's gift, I gave her a gift card to B&N. She was in book lovers heaven! The littlest got her own little art kit, she's artistic even at 15 months!

The end of 2011 brought the end of my relationship and retail therapy has ensued! I have lots of new yarns and new pattern books. I can wait to share them with you! Phat cat and the Princess have loved this year's Christmas tree and of course, the ornaments. Sigh...

I will be posting regularly again and more importantly, putting up pics. Let me know what you are up to, as well! Happy crafting!