Friday, June 22, 2012

Cross Stitch iPhone Case

I got an iPhone a few weeks ago and I absolutely love it. One of my favorite features is the excellent camera. It makes taking pictures of my craft projects so easy, and I can even reverse the view so that when I'm taking a picture of myself I can see myself. I had seen a post on The Purl Bee about cross stitch iPhone cases and I knew I had to have one. Not only do they look neat, cross stitch was one of my first crafts so it holds a special place in my heart.

The kits come with three different colors of thread and several patterns to follow, or you can make up your own or follow the ones on The Purl Bee. I chose one of the patterns from the booklet. Working close to the sides of the case was a bit of a pain, but the edges bend so it's not too bad. It did make my fingers sore at times but it's not an intense project. I love the way it turned out!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Some Baby Things

My dear friend Lisa had a little girl back in February, and I was only a little late in getting these baby things out to her in Colorado.

I absolutely adore this baby blanket pattern, and I'm sure I will be using it again. It works for both boys and girls, looks good with variegated yarn, and doesn't need to be blocked (usually an issue for me because I often use an acrylic-blend yarn). It's crocheted and the pattern is easily memorized after the first few rows. It's a free pattern from Bernat--you have to sign up for membership to their website but that is also free.

Pattern: From the Middle Baby Blanket by Bernat Design Studio
Yarn: Bernat Softee Baby Ombres and Prints, three skeins Tiptoe through the Tulips (pink, green, white, purple) (I bought four skeins just to be sure but didn't open the last one)
Hook size: 4.0 mm G
Modifications: Since I was using slightly lighter weight yarn than the pattern called for, I dropped from a size H hook to a size G

I had some yarn left over from the blanket so I made this matching hat:

Pattern: Swirl Hat by Mandie Harrington (another great free patten)
Yarn: Bernat Softee Baby Ombres and Prints, less than one skein Tiptoe through the Tulips (pink, green, white, purple)
Needles: US Size 3
Modifications: None--I love this pattern because it has lots of stretch for baby heads, since size and shape can vary widely!

One of my favorite uses for leftover sock yarn is baby booties, and I love making Mary Jane style booties for little girls.

Pattern: Fleegle's Seamless Saartje Booties (another free pattern)
Yarn: A small amount of leftover sock yarn from the stash (I think this is from Online Yarns)
Needles: US Size 1
Modifications: None

This baby lives in Colorado, so I figured another pair of booties would be needed. These were made with leftover yarn from the sweater I made her.

Pattern: Angora Baby Booties by Joelle Hoverson, from Last Minute Knitted Gifts (one of my favorite knitting books)
Yarn: A small amount of Cascade Yarns Cherub Collection DK in lavender (this is a great, soft acrylic yarn, but I think they might have looked slightly better in fuzzy angora yarn)
Needles: US 5
Modifications: None

   The mittens were made with leftover sock yarn from socks I made for Jack. I also figured that a baby in Colorado would need a something to keep her hands warm :)  Infant mittens are especially easy because there aren't thumbs to knit--babies don't really need to use their thumbs outside in winter.

Pattern: Infant Mittens by Kris Percival, from the Knitting To Go Deck
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock Yarn (leftover from socks for Jack) in purple, and Dale of Norway Baby Ull in cream, small amounts of each from the stash
Needles: US Sizes 1 and 2
Modifications: The directions call for US Sizes 0 and 2, but US Size 0 for the ribbing seemed a little too small to me, so I used US Size 1 instead.

I looked long and hard for a sweater. It seems like it's been awhile since I had a little girl to knit for, so I wanted something just right. It's tricky with some of the baby patterns because they have ribbons or other embellishments (choking hazard) or I don't think they're practical for dressing a baby (I try to avoid tiny necklines and pullovers without buttons at the shoulders). I finally found this great pattern in the book Vintage Baby Knits:

Not too fussy, cardigan style with just two buttons, (which I think makes dressing and undressing easier), simple but pretty.

Pattern: Louise Cardigan by Kristin Rengren, from Vintage Baby Knits
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Cherub Collection DK, 3 skeins in lavender
Needles: US Size 3
Modifications: I used a US Size 6 needle to bind off the picot edge at the neckline, which gave it plenty of stretch.

  So, dear little one, even though it is now June and you are getting bigger everyday, I hope you enjoyed your hand-knitted items (I have some photographic proof that you did). Each item was made with love and good thoughts for the exciting years ahead of you and your parents.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Shot of Spring Scarf

I saw this pattern on The Purl Bee's shop website and knew I had to have it. It's from Swans Island Yarns and uses less than one skein of their hand-dyed organic fingering weight yarn. I'm sure I've seen fingering weight scarves before, but I don't think I've ever knit one myself. It's brilliant! This one is long enough for my liking but also very lightweight. The yarn is merino wool so it is soft and warm but the lace pattern and thin weight of the yarn make it perfect for spring and fall, when it's not frigid but a good scarf is in order.

So on a recent trip to Webs with my mother-in-law and a friend, I saw that they had the yarn and the pattern and I splurged. Seeing the beautiful, slightly variegated dye job in person, I couldn't resist.

Pattern: Shot of Spring Scarf by Swans Island
Yarn: Swans Island Certified Organic Merino Fingering Weight in Spring Green, 1 skein
Needles: US Size 8
Modifications: On the bind off edge, I used a sewn bind off to make sure the edge was stretchy enough, since the pattern is a 1 x 1 rib. It's slightly more time consuming but it makes a big difference.

I've worn this scarf many times since I finished it in March. We've had such a mixture of weather this spring (as usual!), and this is perfect for just about everything. It also makes me smile to see the bright green that looks like the lush green foliage surrounding me at this point in the season, and brightens the rainy days we've had lately.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spring Stashdown

On Ravelry, the Spunky Eclectic group is having a stashdown, where you spin as much of your stash as you want to between April 1st and May 4th. I was overly optimistic as usual and decided I could spin 45.2 ounces in a month. Here is what I pulled out of the stash to spin:

  • 3.2 oz wool silk cotton mohair blend (light teal on the left)
  • 6 or 8 oz merino (?) braids in Autumn Oak colorway (top)
  • 4 oz Border Leicester in Golden

  • 4 + oz white Blue Faced Leicester (currently on the spindle)
  • 8 oz black llama and Border Leicester blend (top)
  • 8 oz Border Leicester and Romney blend (bottom)
  • Border Leicester and Lincoln blend in blue (left)
  • 4 oz BFL combed top in Saturn (right in second picture)
To be fair, I started with the natural-colored BFL on a drop spindle, so it went more slowly than I anticipated. I'm just about finished with that though, and everything else will be done on the spinning wheel. Even if I don't get everything spun up, it was good motivation to keep me spinning regularly and it's improved my spindle spinning a lot. It's also a good reminder of what a large fiber stash I have, with New Hampshire Sheep and Wool coming up in a few weeks.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spring Wardrobe: Fenimore Tam

I may have said it before, but I love the Shelter yarn from Brooklyn Tweed. It's a lofty blend that knits up beautifully at several gauges, and even though it seems light and fluffy and feels as if it would break easily, it's actually very strong. I also love that it is spun at the historic Harrisville mills, just an hour away from me.

The Fenimore Tam pattern caught my eye the last time I was at the Harrisville Designs shop.

It calls for two balls of Shelter, but I only used up one ball (there was very little left, so I recommend purchasing two balls, just in case). I was thrilled to have one ball left over, because it meant I could finish my Terra Shawl. The pattern is also from Brooklyn Tweed, and also in the Shelter yarn, except a different color. The pattern I purchased a couple of years ago had a misprint and stated that only four skeins were needed when it actually requires five. I was almost done and just had the lace edging to go, so when I purchased the yarn for Fenimore I decided to get a color that would go well with the plum color I had used for most of Terra. I was able to finish Terra with the second ball of Shelter in the color "Sweatshirt" that I had left over from Fenimore, and I think it looks great.

Pattern: Fenimore Tam by Brooklyn Tweed
Yarn: Shelter by Brooklyn Tweed, two skeins in "Sweatshirt"
Needles: US 5 and US 8
Modifications: I blocked it on a slightly smaller plate than recommended, so I might try to reblock it at some point

It's perfect for spring, not that we've had a normal spring here in New Hampshire (although more than any other season, I'm not entirely sure what "normal" is for spring here). It's been great for those blustery days that have popped up out of nowhere, and I think it will be great against the fall chill as well.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mend it Better

I am so excited to announce that I am in a book! Mend it Better by Kristin Roach came out in February, and I was thrilled to be a contributor.

I have been a long time reader of Kristin's blog, Craft Leftovers, so when she put out a call for submissions for her book I was very excited.

I originally blogged about this sweater project on my old blog here, but the short version is that I found a gorgeous cashmere sweater at a thrift store for a couple of bucks. When I got home, I realized that there were a few small holes. Luckily they were in inconspicuous places and I decided to do buttonhole stitch around the holes, so they wouldn't get any bigger. Then I sewed beads around the holes to look like flowers and stems.

There are a number of great projects and step-by-step techniques included in this book. I love that there are both specific projects and great inspiration for mending anything. As someone who shops at thrift stores a lot I think this book is indispensable.

Thanks to Kristin and the staff at Storey for including my sweater! To read more about the book, visit the Mend It Better website, and be sure to visit the Storey Publishing Facebook page as well. Storey is even offering a giveaway here and on the other sites of the blog tour--leave a comment by 8:00 pm Eastern on March 18th and you could win a free copy of Mend It Better!

Thanks to all who entered the contest! The random number generator came up with number 3, NL Clark! Congratulations!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tooth Fairy Pillow

This was one of those fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants crafting experiences that turned out really well. I made the entire project, from cutting out fabric to embroidering to stuffing and sewing it up (not to mention designing it as I went), in less than half an hour, using only materials I had in my craft room. My five-year-old cousin had his first loose tooth and clearly he need someplace to put the tooth for the Tooth Fairy to exchange it for money.

I drew a tooth shape freehand onto a piece of felt folded in half (so I would have two identical pieces), and cut it out. I also cut out a blue square for the pocket, and wrote his name on it with a disappearing marker. I chain-stitched his name with embroidery thread (this part may take you a little longer if it's a long name), then blanket-stitched three sides of the pocket to the front of the tooth. I turned the two right sides together and stitched around most of the edge, leaving an opening for stuffing. I turned it right side out, using a knitting needle to poke out the points, then stuffed it, folded the edges of the opening in, and stitched the opening closed. Quick, fun and easy, and my cousin was thrilled!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spur-of-the-Moment Cell Phone Case

This past fall I downgraded my cell phone from a smartphone to just a regular old cell phone. Partly because I was tired of paying the data fees when I didn't use enough data to make it worth it, and partly because I don't need the distraction of a smartphone. My new phone has a large touch screen, and I wanted to protect it, not to mention be able to find my phone quickly in the black hole that is my bag.

A few months later, I finally got around to making one. I briefly looked for a pattern but didn't find one, so I just played it by ear. My perfectionist tendencies almost got the better of me (when you wing it things don't usually work out perfectly), but I kept going and after about half an hour I called it good and threw it in my bag. And really, the more I see it, the more I love it. Sometimes I need to use things for a bit to realize how much I like them.

I have a bag of wool fabric scraps that I purchased at the NH Wool Arts Tour a few years ago (I've been making a braided rug with most of them). I found one wide enough to cover my phone and folded up the bottom edge, leaving enough fabric at the top for a flap, and sewed the sides together to form the base. Then I hemmed the edges and bottom of the flap.

My husband had told me that it was bad for wool to have direct contact with electronics, because of static electricity, so I knew I needed a lining. I had a packet of fabric squares from a 1930s fabric collection, so I sewed two together with the right sides facing, and hemmed the top edge. Then I carefully sewed the lining into the case by hand. It's slightly visible on the outside but not enough that it bothers me.

I picked out a button from my button jars, sewed it on, and snipped a slit large enough for the button. Even though it's wool and partially felted, I decided to blanket stitch around the opening to make it more secure. I couldn't find embroidery thread so I just used regular sewing thread. Lastly, I sewed on some felt flowers I bought a few years ago. It looks a little wonky but it does a great job, and I can always find my phone easily. Even though I got a little frustrated at times, sometimes just going for it and using what I have on hand is the best way to go.

Winter Wardrobe: Bandana Cowl

I love just about every pattern that The Purl Bee posts, but some of them just grab me and demand to be made immediately. The Bandana Cowl was one of those patterns.

The short rows are a little tricky, but not too bad.

Pattern: Bandana Cowl from The Purl Bee
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, 1 skein in Faded Quilt
Needles: Size 10 (the pattern calls for size 10.5, but they also used a bulky yarn; I'm happy with the gauge and drape I got with a size 10, but it did turn out very slightly smaller than The Purl Bee's version)
Modifications: Other than going down a little on the needle size, none

I considered this part of my winter wardrobe because I finished it in January, but I think it will work very well through spring and fall. We are still having cool mornings and evenings here in New Hampshire, and it's perfect for warding off the chill.

A close up of the short row shaping at the back:

This was a nice quick project that was easy but still kept my interest with the shaping. Though it looks slightly grey in these pictures, it's really a lovely light blue that goes with most of my wardrobe. I love Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter yarn. It is soft and lightweight, and the colors are full of subtle tweedy changes--so beautiful.