Sunday, December 29, 2013

a brioche knit infinity scarf

My sister asked for two infinity scarves for Christmas this year.  She swears that it gets chilly in Mexico.  I don't believe her.  Nevertheless, it's what she wanted.  She will be moving stateside this year, so maybe she can use them by next winter if, in fact, she isn't telling me the truth.

Here is the first one.  I used this pattern, free of course on Ravelry.  I love how it turned out!  Despite the worsted weight yarn, the brioche stitch makes the scarf light and airy while giving the look of reversible ribbing.

The brioche stitch pattern was actually very simple to memorize.  The part I could not figure out was how to graft the two ends together to make a seamless inifinity scarf.  After searching the web for a while and reading how no one else can really figure it out either, I connected the two ends with simple seam.  It's definitely not the prettiest seam I've ever done, but I will just tell her to keep the seam in the back.

The scarf is a total of 52 inches long but since it's circular, it reaches my waist at 26 inches.

See my ravelry notes.

yarn name: Lion Brand Heartland
yarn type: 100% premium acrylic
colorway: redwood (red)
yardage: ~375 yards
needle size: US 11 (8.0mm)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

{my} new blue slippers

I just love this pattern!  I used it to make these green slippers a while ago, but they turned out a little small.  I gave the green ones to my mom.  Since it has been a lot cooler around here lately and the hub keeps the house at a chilly 68, I decided to modify the pattern to make a new pair that fit my size 9 feet.

I held two strands together to knit the bottom, the light blue and a neutral cream color.  For the top of the slippers, I used only a single strand of the blue.  After I made my modifications to the bottom to create a bigger sole, I realized that I overcompensated and they were a little too big.  So I slimmed them down just slightly by using only one strand of yarn for the top of the slipper.

I decided to use a ribbed cuff instead of a garter stitch cuff.  I thought this might slim down the slipper a little, too, and ensure the slipper would not slide off my ankle.  The unknown acrylic yarn that I used for the cuff didn't exactly react to the ribbing as I would have liked but oh well.  I just wear a pair of red slipper socks with them to help them fit better and keep my feet super toasty warm.

I love these colors together.

You can find all of my modifications here on Ravelry.

I think the cream colored yarn is an acrylic blend (mostly acrylic) but I don't know the details.  Here are the details for the blue yarn.

yarn name: Paton's Classic Wool
yarn type: 100% wool
colorway: seafoam (blue)
yardage: ~200 yards
needle size: US 9 (5.5mm) for sole, US 8 (5.0mm) for top

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

a saddle-shoulder sweater {for my boy}

Here is my latest sweater.  I got this yarn on clearance for $2 a skein.  I bought all 6 skeins left in the basket with a project in mind for me.  But 6 skeins of DK yarn isn't enough for a sweater to fit me, so I decided to knit something for Logan.

I tried to knit him this cardigan earlier this year, but I forgot to add in some ease.  The cardigan was just too small and I didn't need him looking like a beer-bellied 7-year-old about to pop the buttons off his handknit sweater.  But the best thing about trying out your own pattern for the older boy is that if it's too small, it can be handed down to the younger boy.  So that one was given to lucky mr. Trent.

This one turned out much better because I had the smart idea to measure one of his long-sleeve t-shirts that fits him well.  So I used those measurements and this Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern to make a boring, latte-colored sweater for my 7-year-old.

Even he said in the midst of knitting that the color was boring and asked if I could add another color.  Not only did I not have any other DK weight yarn in any other color, but I was afraid to add too much to this.  This sweater just had to turn out well.  And while it is boring, even after knitting it all up, it did turn out wonderfully and it fits him almost perfectly.  It's a tad bit bigger than he is, but I think it's true to a boys 8 and should fit him for the next year or so barring any unplanned growth spurts.

The most interesting detail about this sweater is the sleeves.  This sweater is worked from the bottom up and some clever and well-timed decreases give way to a fun saddle shoulder.  Although I'm sure this type of shoulder can be feminine as well, I think the saddle shoudler is a subtle way to liven up a man's sweater without actually livening it up.  Men don't typically like cables and lacework or even stripes for that matter, so incorporating something interesting into the shoulders of a plain men's sweater makes me happy enough to keep making them for all my boys.

yarn name: Paton's Classic Wool Superwash
yarn type: 100% woolcolorway: latte
yardage: ~325 yards

needle size: US 5 (3.75mm) circular

Friday, October 18, 2013

introducing . . . TimmyBear

A few weeks ago, I received my TimmyBear from an organization called Molly Bears.  Molly Bears provides weighted bears, free of charge, to families who have lost babies at any time during pregnancy or up to one year old.  We lost our precious Timmy when I was 38 weeks pregnant.  The waiting list is long and it can take 12-18 months for a family to receive their baby bear.

I received mine on Timmy's due date the year after we lost him.

Teddy bears are usually soft and squishy, but not TimmyBear.  TimmyBear weighs 6 lbs, 10 oz.  He is heavy for a stuffed bear and that's exactly the point.  Timmy weighed the same amount when he was born.  I remember holding him.  I remember all the emotions of that terrible day incredibly well.  It was not a good day, but I have never regretted holding him in my arms and spending time with his flesh.

I can no longer hold my baby.  I had to say goodbye to his body on that same day.  I have a picture of Timmy that the nurses took while they were dressing him for us.  I can see his head and his shoulders.  There is something about this picture that makes me want to scoop him up, right off the page, and squeeze him tighter than I have every squeezed anyone.  But I can't.  It's just a picture.

But you know what I did as soon I took TimmyBear out of his box?  I squeezed him tighter than I have ever squeezed anyone.  I squeezed him and squeezed him, and I let go a little.  I let go of some of the anger that I have been carrying around with me.  I let go of the tight grip that I have had around my emotions, always trying to figure out how I agoing to feel before I actually feel it.  I let go a little.  And I smiled.  I smiled the entire next day as I sat at work and thought about TimmyBear.  I thought about how I could finally place these hugs somewhere that I have been saving for Timmy when I meet him.  I still have plenty for him and I may never let go once I meet him, but just as love never runs out, neither do my hugs.  I can hold TimmyBear when I'm feeling sad.  I can hug TimmyBear when I want to send one to Timmy.  We can finally take that family photo I've been putting off because something is missing.  Don't get me wrong, there is still a noticable hole in my family and I wish above all other wishes that there was something I could do to change that.  But now I have a representative for Timmy, nowhere near the real thing but the best we can do for now.

Molly Bears is a wonderful organization dedicated to bringing a little comfort to families who have lost a precious baby.  I encourage you to spread the word for Molly Bears.  All bears are sent to families free of charge, so the more awareness we can create, the more families they can help.

TimmyBear came with his bowtie and the star and bottlecap on his feet.  I dressed him in this sweater that I knitted for Timmy.  What a handsome bear!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

quilted sewing machine mats

For a while now, my sewing machine and serger have been resting on flattened cereal boxes so they won't leave marks on my sewing table.  I finally decided it was time to bust out my scrap collection and make some vibrant sewing machine mats.

I used the quilt-as-you-go method for these mats.  This method turns out results faster than any other type of quilting because you do the quilting as you piece together the top.  When I originally learned this technique, I used this tutorial from Diary of a Quilter.  I also use the quilt-as-you-go method to make this changing pad.

This one is made of long scraps from past projects. It's always fun to remember the projects that were made from each of the scraps.

This one is my favorite.  I've been saving up selvages since I started sewing 4 or 5 years ago.  I was saving up for a selvage quilt but I decided that I didn't want these hanging around for another 20 years while I save up my edges.  So a sewing mat will have to do.

Each of these mats measures approximately 16 inches x 10.5 inches, a perfect size to fit under my machines without getting in the way.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

my bright red burdock cardigan

I have a few other projects that I planned on posting before this cardigan, but I just couldn't wait. I am so excited about how this turned out. 

The original pattern, the Burdock Cardigan from November Knits, had the star lace pattern on the sleeves, but since I'm not really a lace kinda person to begin with, I thought it was just too much. So I went with regular old stockinette sleeves and I'm so happy that I did.  They look just right.

This was my first time knitting a bottom-up cardigan. I'm not sure how I feel about it. All of the easy stuff comes first like the body and the sleeves, and then the shaping comes at the end. By the time I'm into the shaping, I just want to be done with the darn thing. But I will give another bottom-up pattern a go and see if I can convince myself to enjoy the process. Afterall, I did tell my mom when I started knitting that it was fun but I would never be serious enough about knitting to make anything like a sweater. Now it seems like that's all I will do.

I like this pattern, but it took me a while to understand the lace pattern well enough to not have to count my stitches and look at the pattern all the time. I like the look of the cuffs; hemmed cuffs have their place and tend to make a classier garment. I still prefer the look of regular old knit 2 purl 2 rib, but that's a sportier look and not right for this cardigan.

I love it and I want to wear it all the time. Just look how happy I am...

To all you knitters: click here to see the Ravelry page with my notes.
yarn name: Cascade 220 Quatro
yarn type: 100% woolcolorway: red
yardage: ~990 yards

needle size: US 7 (4.5mm) circular

Sunday, June 16, 2013

iced, iced cardi

I was actually on a pretty good sewing streak there for a while.  I sewed four skirts and finished a quilt top.  Honest I did.  But this is the first project that I feel like posting.  So here it is, my new brown cardigan.
I really did need a brown cardigan.  I used the Iced cardigan pattern available for free on Ravelry and modified it a bit for a closer fit.  I used size 10 needles for a tighter gauge of 13 stitches per 4 inches and I knit the smallest size.  My cardigan doesn't really close in the front because it's a little too small, but I like it this way.  Since it's summertime and I decided to make a cardigan from bulky yarn, I don't see a need to close it anytime soon.

I love the three-quarter length sleeves.  Since you get to make design decisions during the knitting process when using the top-down method, I thought about knitting full length sleeves.  I had plenty of yarn and I love being able to wrap my hands into the sleeves for extra warmth.  But I'm very happy with my decision.  These are tight fitting sleeves and the only think I needed to make sure they didn't roll was to add a purl row before the final knit row.

This cardigan is a definite keeper as you can tell from the {creepy} photo above.  I've had some bad luck lately with my cardigans; the sleeves are too big or they don't hang right.  But this one finally busted me out of that slump.  This one will get a lot of good use!

yarn name: Ella Rae Country Tweed
yarn type: 50% wool, 42% acrylic, 4% alpaca, 4% other

colorway: brown/gray 02
yardage: ~574 yards

needle size: US 10 (6.0mm) circular and double-pointed

Thursday, April 4, 2013

a tweedy camille knit cardigan

This is the least photogenic sweater I have ever worn.  I don't know what the problem is.  I had two separate photo shoots, both by semi-willing family members, and I came out with nothing usable.  That doesn't usually happen.  I always have something I can use.

But it took some hurried self-shots while loading up the car for a soccer game to get this one I could use.  Huh.  Maybe it's the sweater itself.

I used the Camille Cardigan pattern from Knitscene magazine's Winter 2012 edition.  Funny how mine doesn't look at all like the model in the magazine.  I was able to match the pattern's gauge, but I chose to wet block the cardigan after I finished it.  I think it grew 2 sizes.  Oops.  The difference could also be my darn lack of bosom, but I will go with my choice of yarn instead.

I really like this yarn.  I love the blue and gray together and the tweed bits spun into the yarn.  The cardigan looks so cozy if not as modern and form fitting as it was supposed to be.  And it's definitely warm.

yarn name: Ella Rae Country Tweed
yarn type: 50% wool, 42% acrylic, 4% alpaca, 4% other
colorway:  05, navy and gray
yardage: ~600 yards
needle size: US 11 (8.0mm) circular and double-pointed

Thursday, March 7, 2013

a memory pillow

It has been 6 months . . .

I'm not sure what else to say.  Some of these months have been the worst of my life.  But I have prayed for strength nearly every day. 

Father, please provide me the strength to get through today and the courage to love others.

He has delivered.  I still struggle through some days and I get angry with myself sometimes.  I don't do well in a cloud of depair.  I am a happy person and I avoid situations that make me feel otherwise.  But some days the weight of the sadness hits me so hard.  I try to cry out the emotion, but it doesn't work.  Sometimes it lingers for an extra day or two . . . and then it's gone for a while.

I struggle more with the 'courage to love others' part.  People can be insensitive even when they have the best intentions.  We all get wrapped up in ourselves sometimes and we forget or don't consider how our actions or words will affect another.  I have little patience for people at these times, but He is helping me work on it.

I cried when I finished this pillow.  It's just hard knowing what the pillow represents: the memory of precious love lost to me, not forever, but for now.  But the pillow makes me smile whenever I see it.  The colors are fun and vibrant.  And, of course, I love to see his name.  Through this lens, this world is a much better place.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

fingerless mitts {knit & crochet}

My dad requested some fingerless mitts for Christmas, but I didn't quite get around to them. So I made some for him for his birthday.

He wanted some mitts to keep his hands warm since the circulation in his arms isn't as good as it used to be.  The hub (not) so willingly modeled these for me since they were too big for my hands.

I crocheted the hand and arms and held the yarn double to speed up the project.  Then I picked up stitches to knit a band for the fingers and the thumb.  I even added a little stockinette to the arm end of the mitts.  The stockinette rolls nicely and gives the mitts a professional finish.
I used a J hook to crochet and chained 23 for the start of the mitts near the fingers. This number created a large mitt perfect for my dad but much too big for me.  If I was going to make these for lady hands, I would probably only chain 19 which I would consider medium.
These fingerless mitts were very quick to whip up.  The first one took about 3 hours because I had to make all the design decisions.  The second didn't even take that long.  Two evenings and done!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

boys preppy cardigan

What do you think of Trent's new cardigan?

I completely improvised this design using simple raglan sleeves and v-neck shaping down to the belly.  The main color is a natural cream.  I added thin orange and light blue (which you can't really see in the photos but they are directly under the orange) stripes to give it a moden look.  The hub says he looks like a frat boy . . . mission accomplished!

Given that this was my first knitted sweater without a pattern, I did make some miscalculations.  For instance, this was supposed to fit Logan, my almost 7-year-old.  The arms are long enough for size 7 but the body was a little too snug for my liking.  And it surely wasn't easy to convince Logan to give it up to his little brother.  Trent claims to love it, yet he won't wear it in public.

This cardigan was worked from the top down in one-piece.  I even added faux side seams just for fun.  The seams are made of one purl stitch down the stockinette sides and it gives the cardigan a more professional look.  I've read that seams help keep a sweater from twisting  and give you some nice fold lines.  I never have a problem with my sweaters twisting and I don't care about fold lines, but I wanted to try it anyway.  They were easy to add and, at the very least, the cardigan looks like it could have been purchased at Old Navy or The Gap.

Even if I'm kidding myself about looking professionally made, this will be one of my favorites for a long time.  I love the unexpected orange edging along the neck and body ribbing.

This was a fairly quick knit for me.  It took about 3 weeks.

yarn name: Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool (main), Patons Classic Wool (stripes)
yarn type: 100% wool
colorway: Natural (main), Orange & Light Blue (stripes)
yardage: ~450 yards worsted (main), ~75 yards worsted each (stripes)

needle size: US 7 (5.0mm) circular and double-pointed

Friday, February 1, 2013

my driftwood sweater {a difficult lesson in gauge}

During a major yarn sale at JoAnn just before Christmas, I bought at least 10 skeins of Wool-Ease yarn.  I earmarked 6 skeins for a new sweater for me since my first one came out so well.  I had the Driftwood pattern in mind for my new sweater.  This is free pattern on Ravelry.

The pattern is wonderfully written and this was my first time using the contiguous sleeve method; this is a top-down sweater that looks like it has set-in sleeves but is actually worked seamlessly.  Sounds genious to me.  I just couldn't picture how the method actually worked, but I trusted the instructions and now it all makes sense.

I didn't make a gauge swatch or really even check my gauge until I was about to separate the sleeves from the body.  Big mistake.  Just like all the books try to tell me.  I got a little too cocky and thought I knew exactly what I was doing, but my gauge was way bigger than the pattern, and, of course, so was the top of my sweater.  I made some adjustments to the pattern at this point to try to keep it wearable, but things still turned out a little too large.

After I was done with the body, I tried on the sweater and it measured at least an extra 4 inches than I really needed.  So before I knitted the sleeves, I seamed up about 2 inches on each side of the body with a crochet hook.  This took the body in quite a bit but still kept the body proportional to the yoke.  I then moved onto the sleeves and picked up only the underarm stitches in the body that were appropriate for the new sizing.

And now that the sweater is blocked, I actually like it.  It's not my new true love, but it will find its place in my wardrobe.  A valuable lesson in gauge learned the hard way.

Friday, January 25, 2013

oversized chocolate-dipped cookies


Trent and I made these cookies today. We used this recipe for the cookies, but we used a large scooper and baked them for about 15 minutes.  When they cooled, we dipped the cookies in melted chocolated and sprinkled them with crushed oreos, chopped reeses pieces, and red jimmies.  A super fun alternative to the traditional birthday cake.

I usually don't post about food, but today is an exceptional day.  Today is the hub's 36th birthday.  This is his first birthday celebration since we lost Timmy.  I went through my first last November.  Leading up to my birthday, I felt like my brain was at odds with my heart.  My heart didn't want to feel happy . . . happiness just didn't seem right.  But my brain told me not to be the martyr.  Outwardly, I accepted birthday wishes from my family, but inwardly, all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed where I could dream about us all being together.

I didn't tell anyone that it was my birthday.  I had moved to a new department at work several months prior and no one would have known.  I had a support group meeting that evening and I chose not to share my secret there either.  So my birthday came and went with a comfortably quiet celebration with my husband and kids.

I have noticed subtle changes in myself over the last few months.  I now understand the true meaning of a birthday.  To celebrate a birthday is to be thankful for the chance at life.  I am thankful that my husband got the chance at life.  He is strong and supportive with a helpful heart.  He is an awesome father.  We share a love of movies, baseball, and long walks.  Today I celebrate his presence in my life and in this world.  Happy birthday, Tim.

Celebrate life with your loved ones and be sure they understand just how thankful you are to have them here with you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

a{nother} new hobby

As if I need another one . . .

I wanted to try to my hand at spinning yarn, so my mother-in-law gave me a drop spindle and spinning supplies for Christmas.  So in my spare time, I've been working on creating my own yarn.  I spun two singles out of two 1/4 ounce Corridale rovings: toffee and chestnut.  Then I plied them together to even them out a little and see what would happen.  I ended up with a fall-ish thick and thin that was more fun to make than I expected.

I'm not sure what I will do with this one since I only have maybe 5 yards, but I am interested to see how it knits up.

Friday, January 18, 2013

my own capelet design

I knitted this capelet for my sister, Amanda, for Christmas.  She didn't request anything handmade from me (in fact, she may not even like handmade things) but I had this idea and I wanted to go for it.  She lives in Arizona where it's above 50 in the middle of winter, so I wanted to make her something light that she could wear around without making her sweat.  This little capelet was my answer.

I used bulky weight yarn and size 10 needles so I could complete the project in the week that I had left before Christmas.  I knew that I wanted a capelet knit in the round without any type of closure, simply slipped over the head to rest on the top of the shoulders. 

Since the top half would be so plain, I wanted to use something more substantial for the bottom half.  I thought about using a lace pattern but with the alpaca yarn, I knew the lace would blend too much.  And then I found the saxon braid.  This intricate cable certainly holds its own and becomes the focus of any project. 

And believe it or not, it's a pretty simple design to follow.  This was my first experience reading a chart and although I messed up a couple of times, I don't think that anyone unfamiliar with knitting cables would be able to tell.

I think it's a perfect length for a capelet and I hope it serves her well in the warm climate of Az.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

knitting a blanket for christmas {that's crazy}

My lovely sister, Laura, who has always supported by love of fiber and diy crafting requested a knitted blanket as my Christmas present to her.  This was back in November.  I informed her that there was no way that I would be able to finish the blanket before Christmas, not only because it would take to knit a blanket but also because I had so many other projects on my Christmas list.  She graciously offered to wait longer as long as I agreed to knit one for her.

My sister currently lives and works in Mexico.  While she is gaining valuable business and life experience abroad, I know she misses us loved ones here in the States.  So I decided to give the blanket an admirable effort to be finished by Christmas.  And with the help of super bulky yarn and size 15 needles, I came through with time to spare.

Laura's only specification was that the blanket be gray or navy.  These are her signature colors.  And other than that, I had free creative reign.  So, naturally, I chose a gold color.  See, I don't take orders very well.  I need complete creative reign apparently and I thought that gray or navy would be too boring for such a large project.  You can buy gray or navy knitted afghans just about anywhere, and I wanted to use a color that was a little harder to come by.

I chose the Winter Lace Afghan pattern from Lion Brand available for free on Ravelry.  I chose the pattern before the yarn and I really thought that the gold (it looks like butterscotch) would be a great fit for the beautiful lace pattern.  I increased the size of the borders because I like thick borders on my quilts and I assumed the theory would transfer to knitwear, too.  I love the result.

I had to stop the lace pattern after 6 repeats instead of 7 like the pattern calls for, but the blanket still measures a healthy 45 inches by 55 inches . . . perfect for throw.  And since I used super bulky weight yarn, the blanket is heavy, but it's intensely warm.

At Christmas time with my family, I heard her planning her next blanket request.  As long as it can wait until her birthday in April, I'm down with another.  And there's always next Christmas.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

striped knit christmas stockings

So the hub said to the boys one day, "I think mommy should knit us some Christmas stockings."  If I wasn't so excited that he (pretty much) requested something from me, the more logical part of me would have told him that he was crazy if he thought it would happen before this Christmas.  But few challenges have passed me by without some sort of effort.

The Challenge
  • knit 5 Christmas stockings before Christmas, preferrably at least a week before Christmas day
  • all five must be similar to show uniformity but not exactly the same
  • they must be oversized (this is one of the hub's problems with our current stockings)
  • the pattern must be simple enough to work without too much thought
  • they must be knit in the round (I refuse to knit flat when I don't have to)
Believe it or not, Ravelry doesn't have that many stocking patterns that do not include fair isle.  Don't get me wrong.  I would love to make 5 stockings using fair isle but that doesn't really fit any of my specs.  So I had to improvise.  And because I've never made a sock before, I really had to work at the toe and the heel to get them right.

These are the three that I managed to finish before Christmas, one for each of my three boys.  The blue is for Logan, the green for Trent, and I chose purple for Timmy's stocking.  For all the stockings I used stash yarn.  Timmy's stocking is purple (which I've chosen as his signature color because it would never be claimed by any other boys in my house) and I used leftover yarn from my Comfort Buttony that I knitted for myself; that was a special way for me to tie the two of us together.

 These stockings definitely fit the bill.  I used the same pattern for each but, depending on the yarn, the sizes are a little different.  Trent's stocking is the smallest at 16 inches around and 20 inches long while Timmy's stocking measures about the same 16 inches in circumference but a whopping 24 inches long.  That's more than half the length of my 6-year-old!  So these are definitely big enough for Santa to fit all the Christmas goodies!

Merry Christmas to my three darlings.