Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Year of Using What I Have

          I am very blessed, in many ways. I am lucky to have wonderful friends and family, and I am rich in beautiful yarn, fiber, kits, and craft supplies. I’ve been collecting craft supplies since I was a kid, and really got into it in high school and college. Between thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets, the time I spent working at a yarn shop, and gifts from friends and family (including inheriting things from the crafty women in my life), I have more than enough to keep me busy for a good long while. 

         I recently moved and was reacquainted with a large portion of my craft supplies, not to mention other belongings. I feel a bit overwhelmed, as I’m still unpacking. And really, the same thing could be said of many aspects of my life--beauty products, books, clothes, everything. The past few years I’ve been reading a lot about minimalism and decluttering. I’ve pared down my wardrobe quite a bit and I've even cleared out a large number of books (the thought used to make me shudder). I’m usually pretty intentional about what I bring into my home and life, but it has added up over the years. So I’ve decided that this year will be the Year of Using What I Have. I will do my best to use up the hand lotion, makeup, nail polish, yarn, fabric, fiber, craft supplies, books, magazines, clothes, shoes, kitchen tools and even food that I already have, before I buy more. It’s not that I can’t buy any yarn or anything until I’ve used up what I have, but I have to be mindful about it. I just have so much of everything, and I would like to use all of it.
       So, I pledge to do my best to use up and clear out my things. I also pledge to use my belongings; if there are things I don't use, for whatever reason, I will evaluate why they are in my life. The smell of that hand lotion isn't as nice as I thought it was? Time to give it to someone who likes the scent. Those shoes that pinch, the dress that rides up? Gone. The yarn that I don't love anymore but my friend would adore it? Gifted. Paring down will give me more time and space for the things I do love. Also, I was recently thinking about my creative habits as a kid. Some of my best creations came from figuring out the best way to use what I had on hand. While I do want to have the leeway to purchase new tools or materials when needed, there is something to be said for challenging myself to use what I have. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hummingbird Socks

   As mentioned in my previous post, I spun the yarn and knit a pair of socks for my grandmother's birthday.

Fiber: Sweet Georgia Superwash BFL on Hummingbird, 4 ounces. I divided the fiber in half lengthwise and spun each half, then chain-plied each single to keep the colors together as much as possible. 

I ended up with about 315 yards total, which was enough for a pair of socks, but I should have been more careful while  spinning. My second skein didn't have quite enough yarn to complete the sock, so I had to rip back the first one. 

Pattern: On Hold Socks by Wendy D. Johnson, from the book Socks From the Toe Up
Yarn: 3 ply BFL handspun in Hummingbird, approximately 315 yards, heavy fingering weight
Needles: US Size 1 circular needles

 I'm happy to report my grandmother loved them!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hello Again

Over a year and a half ago! Hello, to any readers who are left. The days are long, but the years are short, and oh what changes they have brought. My life looks very different these days. I am still making things and I look forward to sharing them with you, including the backlog. So let’s start fresh, shall we? 

Here is a smattering of things I've made in the last few months:

S'mores birthday cake for my brother (recipe from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook)

Eden Prairie Shawl, for my mom for Christmas
Pattern: Eden Prairie
Yarn: madelinetosh merino light, one skein each onyx, oak, sequoia, and winter wheat
Needles: US size 5 circular needles

This pattern is inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's designs. My mom and I love his work, so when I saw this pattern I knew I had to make it for her. The construction is very interesting but also easy. 

   I made these gloves with conductive thread fingertips for my boyfriend for Christmas.

Pattern: Ginger and Wasabi gloves (Knitty pattern); sewed conductive thread to index fingertips and right thumb
Yarn: Shibui Knits Cima in charcoal, 1 skein (I came very close to running out); Zauberball Crazy in blue/green/black, 1 skein (probably about half a skein, as I used the other half to make my brother a hat)
Needles: US size 1.5 

   Today is my grandmother's birthday. I come from a family with a lot of crafty women, and my grandmother is one of them. When I was eight or so she taught me how to crochet, but I could only remember how to chain. So the next time I saw her I handed her a big pile of chained stitches. She taught me how to knit the summer before I went off to college, and knitting helped me get through homesickness and the stress of classes and work. So I am working on a very special present for her, which I hope to have finished soon and will share here when it's done. 


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.