Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Kid's Corner, Baby Gifts and Ugly Knitting

What do these three things have in common? Not much, except that I have completed all three recently.

Let's start with the kid's corner, my daughter's writing corner to be precise.

A few weeks ago, I made a fabric covered memory board for my toddler's room. I wanted to make one for Emma so that she'd have a place to put pictures of her friends and family and maybe a few Emma-made artwork pieces. The plan was to hang it on the wall low enough for her to put pictures on and pull them off too. The project was simple, quick and took inexpensive materials to make: 1 yard of fabric, 2 spools of rick-rack ribbon, 1 yard of felt, pushpins, one cork board, a hot glue gun and a staple gun.

I still intend to hang it up on the wall, but have not gotten around to doing that yet. So for now it is resting on her little table (which used to be my table and before that my aunt's table). This has turned into a writing corner for her (or should I say scribbling?). Above the memory board hangs a few of the surviving butterfly decorations from her birthday party.

Now let's talk baby gifts.

It seems like everyone and their sister is pregnant these days. It must be my age, or perhaps something is in the water. When I was pregnant with my son, I knew (good friends and family members too) a whopping TEN women who were pregnant! Now I think I'm down to five or six (all different from the previous ten). I'm sure you know what this means for me... lots of handmade baby gifts.

Yesterday, I sewed a few burp cloths using this tutorial. I selected two cheerful prints in red and orange for my friend who is having a boy in July. I also made two for my friend expecting a girl in August (purple and pink prints for her). I didn't get a chance to photograph the boy ones, but here are the girl ones.

You may recall how I recently made the ABC fabric magnets from the Purl Bee for my kids. Well, this morning I made another set using the same fabric prints and (this time!) sticker-backed magnet sheets. Man, these were so much faster to make than the last round. What a difference it makes to have the sticker-backed sheets. These are going to my friend expecting the baby girl in August.

Now on to the ugly knitting.

Why? Why would I ever dream of knitting anything so ugly or so painful to create? Oh, yes my friends, there is one very good reason to do this. Yarn bombing. Huzzah!

So this was my task: to make a cozy for a little tree. Essentially, it is a scarf. A really, really, REALLY ugly scarf. This item is made up of old stash yarn (a little Encore, Swish DK and Wool-Ease) and really old novelty yarn (mystery sparkly pink yarn and eyelash yarn). Yes, you see eyelash yarn in there.

I swear I have never purchased eyelash yarn in my life. This was given to me during a yarn crawl. I vow to never EVER buy eyelash yarn or knit with it again. It was such a painful experience (painful to my knitting psyche) and irritating to make (I have never dropped so many stitches or accidentally knit into the wrong loop in my life).

It is done. Thank heaven for that. Now, back to happy knitting...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sweater # 5

Last week, I finished sweater #5 of my 12 in 2012 project.

Acacia is a cute little tank pattern by Georgie Hallam with a great size range from 12 months to 10 years. When knit in the recommended DK cotton yarn, it makes a fun summer top. However, if this were knit in a wool or wool blend I bet it would look adorable over a short sleeve or long sleeve tee for those cooler months. The pattern is organized nicely with color coded sizing, clear directions, and offers two options for the body design and bind off.

I used stash yarn, Knit Pick's Comfy Worsted in the Serrano colorway, to make Emma's sweater. Great little stash-buster! I used up my entire supply of this yarn, a little less than 3 skeins. Comfy is a surprisingly soft and smooth yarn that knits up easily and (bonus!) is machine-washable, too.  I definitely recommend it for children's clothing and toys.

Originally, I planned to add a gingham print ribbon for the bow, but then I came across this cute red and white polka dot ribbon. Alas, when I arrived home with the ribbons, I discovered the back side of the polka dot ribbon was plain red. It just didn't look right with an already plain red sweater. So the reversible gingham worked out instead.

The designer suggests to knit the size sweater with the closest chest measurements to the recipient's chest measurements because it is meant to be fitted. So with this in mind, I chose to knit the size 3. However, I used a slightly larger weight yarn (Comfy is supposed to be worsted, but it is more like a cross between a light worsted or a heavy DK if you can imagine that) expecting my garment to end up like a size 4, which it did. Kids grow incredibly fast, so the larger size will allow for a longer life of the sweater.

And as expected, it is a little big on Emma.

Because of the bright red color, I plan to make her wear it on July 4th, but otherwise, I think this cutie will be put away for next summer.

I do think she has another one in her future, maybe knit in Springvale DK in the Passion Punch colorway?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Too many projects


Four is way too many projects to knit simultaneously. In fact, it's about three too many projects. I don't know about you, but I usually don't have more than one or two projects on my needles at the same time. I consider myself to be pretty good at multitasking. I can handle smaller multitasking tricks like typing and talking on the phone, and even bigger tasks such as making dinner, while holding an infant, while singing ABC's with a toddler, while mentally creating a to-do list for the next day. However, for some strange reason, I cannot handle having more than two projects at the same time. So you can imagine how off it feels to have four going at once.

And here are my four...

As I said before, too many projects.

I'm trying to power through the Acacia to keep up with my 12 in 2012 plan. I really wanted to finish Miriam by the end of the month. I'll be cutting it pretty darn close and honestly, it's more likely to be finished mid-June.

Ah, well. I'll keep at it.

So what is your number? How many projects do you have on your needles now?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

ABC Fabric Magnets

The Purl Bee has to be one of the best crafting blogs in Blogger Universe. The creators behind each new post blow me away with their creativity, originality and refreshing use of color. I have enjoyed making several projects from the Purl Bee blog, including...

Strawberry Pillows

New Years Garland

Bandana Cowl

There are at least a dozen sewing and knitting patterns (shared on their blog) bookmarked for my to-make list. Today, I finally got around to one of them: ABC Fabric Magnets.

I was unable to find sticker-backed magnet sheets, so I simply used Elmer's School Glue to adhere the fabric to the magnet squares. It lengthened the project time a little, but was quite simple and turned out just fine.

The fabric pieces I chose to use for this project vary in quality and color. It includes some prints from Amy Butler, Michael Miller, Mary Englebreit, Joel Dewberry, 1930's reproductions and inexpensive fat quarters from Joann's Fabric Store.

So save your scraps, crafters! This little project is perfect for using up all of those left-over little bits of fabric from other sewing projects.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Gum Drop Pillow

Miraculously (and I cannot stress that word enough), I managed to complete this project in one afternoon. You've got to remember that I have an infant and a toddler around me 24/7, making any crafting challenging.

Years ago, I made Amy Butler's Lotus Brick Path Quilt (a perfect quilt for beginners) using a variety of fabrics from her Faded China Lotus line. I love this quilt. It was the perfect project for my first quilt.

Our super chunky cat, Sasha, liked it, too.

It's been five years (I think) since I made that quilt and I still enjoy how the fresh colors and cheerful prints brighten up my living room. This quilt takes up residence on my couch during the spring and summer months. The other day it struck me that my room needed a little something. After perusing through my sewing books and sewing websites, I decided to order and make another Amy Butler pattern, the Gum Drop Pillow, using some of the fabrics in my quilt.

Amy Butler's Gum Drop Pillow pattern is super cute. I really enjoyed sewing up this simple and sweet project. I am not an experienced sewer - most of my projects have been rectangular- so I appreciated all of the helpful images and clearly written instructions provided in the pattern packet. 

Happily, I am able to report that I only experienced one "oops" moment. Instead of sewing an edge stitch on the top panel octagon, I sewed a top stitch. I do know the difference, I just wasn't paying attention. It happens. No biggie.

I will say that the pillow is bigger than I imagined when I first ordered the pattern. It's not a problem for my daughter though. She is infatuated with this ottoman/pillow. Since finishing the project on Sunday afternoon, I have seen her laying on it, reading on it, curled up in a ball on it, rolling onto and off of it, jumping on it (I nipped that in the bud quickly) and pushing it around the room like a big hoop and stick. 

I have a feeling that it's going to get a lot of use (or should I say abuse?) in our home.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

An itch to sew

Maybe it's because I have so many big knitting projects on my needles, but I am in the mood for some crafting instant gratification. Something bit me this week giving me an itch to sew. This usually happens twice a year: once in the dead of winter and again when the weather is warm.

In order to satisfy my need, I paged through my two sewing books, One Yarn Wonders and In Stitches, rummaged through my fabric stash and spent way too much time looking at fabric and pattern websites. Eventually, I settled on a couple of projects and made a purchase.

A few days later, lookie what my favorite mailman brought me!

I'm a big fan of Amy Butler's fabric and pattern designs. The fabric prints in particular have a vintage feel yet bring a fresh light to any project or room. All the fabrics I ordered are from her Lotus line (from the top left Lime Full Moon Polka Dot, Coral Star Paisley, Slate Full Moon Polka Dot, Sky Wallflower).

And here is what I plan to make with each set...

Gum Drop Pillow (more like an ottoman)

I cannot wait to share my finished projects with you. Stay tuned...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

To give and to get

Last night, several members of my local knitting group (Akron Stitch 'n Bitch) participated in a new swap. This group is terrific at organizing different themed swaps throughout the year: scarf swaps, birthday swaps, amigurumi swaps and now the ABC swap can be added the list.

ABC stands for accessories, books and color.  Participants filled out a questionnaire based on our likes/ dislikes on our favorite craft, color, hobbies, books we really want to read (craft or non-craft) and any other information we want to supply. Then, as in typical swap fashion, the organizer assigned us each a swap-pee along with that individual's completed questionnaire. This made the swap personal, which in turn made the experience a million times more fun. In addition to all of the fun swapping and ridiculous quantities of laughter, we each brought a snack with a chosen color. How neat is that?

So, here is what I put together for my friend, Kristy:

She received One Skein Wonders, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's All Wound Up, 2 skeins of Quince & Co.'s Lark yarn in Frank's Plum and Crocus colorways and a pair of fingerless mitts/wrist warmers in Three Irish Girls' Galenas Merino in the Narcissa colorway.

And here is what I received from my friend, Amy.

Can you say, "JACKPOT!" I was down-right spoiled as a recipient. My goody bag included:

This wonderfully soft and drapey cowl was made with Malabrigo Arroyo in a deep navy-black color.

chocolate truffles (my favorite food)
a beautiful cowl made by Amy (she knows I have a love for cowls)

the world's tiniest scissors (seriously- so incredibly tiny)
Lantern Moon star stitch markers (way cool)
a sweet coin butterfly coin purse (although I plan to put my knitting scissors and stitch markers in it)

a "very-Meg" mug (all the way from her honeymoon trip to Mexico) in my favorite color, blue

Hannah Fettig's Closely Knit knitting book (a book I keep taking out of the library)
Gil McNeil's Knit One, Pearl One ( I recommend this chic-knit-lit series big time)

All I can say is... sign me up for the next swap!