Cohen has arrived!

The morning of Friday, February 24th I woke up to my water breaking at 5am.  I labored at home until 10:30am when I called the doctor and went in for a labor check.  By then I had already dilated 5cm!  We were sent to the hospital then but not before we made a stop at a local sandwich place for lunch.  We brought our sandwiches with us to eat in the room while I continued laboring.  The nurses and midwife got a kick out of me eating my deli sandwich while being in labor.  During labor I went back and forth from being on my hands and knees to roaming the halls.  Around 3pm I was 8-9cm and by 4pm I was ready to push.  Cohen was born at 4:39pm at 5lb 11oz and 17.5inches long!  He has a head full of hair which supports the wives tale that a lot of heartburn in the first trimester means baby will have lots of hair.  Cohen had a loose knot in his cord and we were extremely relieved to see it had no impact on him.  I wonder how long he had that knot as he’d been head down for practically 2 months prior to delivery.  I had a slight tear and received stitches, aside from that I’m back to my prepregnancy self with the exception of the sleep deprivation of course.

He is 2 weeks old today and about 6lbs and 18.5inches long.  He’s growing well and we’re both getting used to breast feeding.  My husband and I are enjoying ourselves and Cohen very much!  We look forward to watching him grow.

The hat is one I crocheted myself and it is ridiculously cute!  I can’t get enough of him in that hat.  The pattern can be found at Rhythm of the Home blog.

A Skein a Week

I’ve been busy knitting an afghan for a gift.  It’s called Ten Stitch Blanketby Frankie Brown; a spiraling rectangle growing from the center outward where I knit only 10 stitches (or in my case 15) at a time before joining it to the previous edge with some slip stitch magic to create a ridge.  The slip stitch ridge is a suggestion from another user.  The gift needs to be done around late summer early fall and I’ve set a lofty goal of queen size blanket.  My less lofty (and way more realistic) is couch afghan.  I started it on June 17th and it’s now big enough to cover my legs.  Knitting is soooo slooow compared to crochet.  I knit for half an hour before I punch in for work and then for about an hour during and after an episode of Doctor Who.  I’m on my 3rd skein in about as many weeks so I think I’m on a reasonable track to make a large blanket.  I hope to do some knitting on it during the Fourth of July Festivities at my in-laws.

The yarn I’m using is Red Heart Collage.  Now for a gift I would usually shy away from most things Red Heart as it can have a very scratchy acrylic feel to it, which is not very desirable.  I did a lot of researching on Ravely using all the fantastic different search methods.  Ravelry has connected so many things in each project that one can search by yarn, by project, by difficulty, by rating, etc.  I browsed all the super fantastic projects of other folks and decided that the pattern lends itself well for a variegated yarn with long stretches of color before gradually changing.  It also had to be acrylic as the giftee is not super yarn savvy so I didn’t want something with complicated washing instructions.  I had done a sample 10 Stitch as a Snuggle with Caron Paints but the variegation changed quickly and abruptly so the spiraling effect was lost.  Having tried it out I had a good feel for what I wanted to look for.  Off I was in search of which variegated yarns people had used.  I found some contenders and then looked at the yarn’s page to search the projects that had been done with it.  As I’ve said, Ravelry has it all interconnected so I could search for something specific in the projects done with that yarn.  I narrowed it down to something that was only be available in the UK.  Well, darn it.  I went to the desired yarn’s page and found in the comments section of the yarn that there is a comparable yarn called Red Heart Collage.  I wasn’t comfortable buying yarn without touching it so an online purchase wasn’t an option.  From there I searched all the local craft store websites and then immediately headed out the door to purchase some at Joann Fabrics.  I picked up 6 skeins and started that night.

I little while ago I knitted the cutest bib featuring a goat.  The pattern creator has several animal bibs and it was hard to choose which one to do.  It’s knitted in cotton.  I used some size 3 knitting needles I received from my mom that must be at least 15 inches long if not more.  It’s like knitting with oars.  I kept on poking whomever was sitting next to me when I was working on it.  The length of the needles made it a bit fiddly at times as well.  I will most likely take a rotary tool to them and cut them down to size.  I can’t fathom any reason for me to have such long knitting needles.  The other 2 pairs my mom gave me are just as long!  I knitted the bib without an actual recipient in mind.  I guess I’ll be prepared for any future babies.

While wandering around the Ravelry site I discovered something new to do with those little bits of yarn left over from a skein; magic balls.  I even joined a scrap group to see what others had done with scrap yarn.  Up til now I’ve crocheted little motifs so sew onto Snuggles.  A magic ball, as I understand it, is made up of left over segments of yarn knotted together.  I grabbed my left overs and my ball winder one afternoon and started knotting and winding.  I produced 3 cakes of scrap yarn.  My left overs are from the last couple years and 3 cakes may or may not be enough to make something neat.  I’ve seen that some people make them without using scraps but of segments of yarn cut from skeins.  The effect is nice though especially when contrasting the magic ball yarn with a solid yarn to keep the crazy from going too crazy.  Not sure what I’m doing with it yet but they are ready for when it strikes me.

On a Star Theme

Last week there was a bit of star theme in my crocheting.  I learned two new things via the wonders of YouTube.  I hesitate calling 2 things a theme but keep thinking back to middle school math where I learned I can draw a line with two points.  So here is my line with a star theme.

I have watched several crochet tutorials by Mikey (aka The Crochet Crowd) and there was one that always stuck around in the back of my mind; a crochet blanket in the shape of a star that can be any size you choose depending entirely on when you stop.  I thought this would make a fantastic Snuggle for The Snuggles Project.  The video titled “How to Crochet a Super Star Baby Afghan” was easy to follow.  I opted to start my beginning ring with a magic ring so I could cinch it really tight and not leave a gap in the middle.  I think it leaves a more finished look for this project.  The star is made up of double crochets so it grows quickly!  I used up a bunch of scrap balls of yarn and contrasted the colors with some black to make them pop.  I finished my star the same day.  It has a great shape and lies flat.  So many crochet stars end up with unpointy points and then look more like flowers than stars.  The pattern has 3 chains in the points allowing for more of a star point shape.  The pattern is also easy to memorize as was proven by the starting of 4 more star Snuggles while subbing the last week!

I haven’t Snuggled in a while and was starting to feel a bit bad about that.  I know it’s a charity and I haven’t promised anything to anyone but I still feel like it is something worth my while.  I love the opportunity it gives me.  I can learn new things, use up scraps of yarn, give my time to cats that do not have their families yet.  It’s a bit odd to think about my Snuggles and wonder where they are now.  Are people enjoying them?  Have they been used well and withstood the use?  Do the cats like them?  Have the cats who have a Snuggle in their shelter cage been adopted?  Did my Snuggle make them seem more adoptable somehow?  The last question is the one I’d really like to have an answer to, but if I never get one I’ll be fine.  As long as I can find a shelter that appreciates and uses the Snuggles I’ll continue making them.  I’ll probably schedule another delivery soon.  I’m pretty sure I have over 12 Snuggles in a bag waiting for me.  Add these 5 stars and it’ll be a nice bounty once again.

The second point in my line is the star stitch.  Back in the fall I downloaded a pattern for fingerless gloves that were made using the star stitch.  I tried following the written directions for the star stitch and got all befuddled.  Needless to say those fingerless gloves were never made.  The star stitch still haunted me.  It’s so delicate and different than other crochet stitches.  So while watching the Super Star Baby Afghan video something in the suggested videos got me thinking about looking up a tutorial on YouTube for that too.  So from the star blanket I moved onto the star stitch.  I used a very scratchy white Red Heart yarn which was terrible to work with in color and texture but the stitch still turned out beautifully.  I chained 24 just as in the tutorial and used a large hook, a J maybe.  This sample turned out the right size for a Warm Up America block.  By pure coincidence I was working on both of my charities!  The YouTube tutorial “Crochet Star Stitch” was made by Teresa from the channel The Art of Crochet and the blog The Art of Crochet by Teresa.  A couple days before I had started a Snuggle that was just going to be a mix of different stitches and I decided to practice a row of star stitch.  It worked out nicely and gave the Snuggle some interesting texture.  The Snuggle was made using Caron Simply soft, a big contrast to the Red Heart I had used the first time.  The Caron has a bit of a sheen to it which highlights the star stitch nicely.  The softness of the yarn also made the stitch itself go much faster and smoother!   All in all I was very happy with it.  I think that alternating the star stitch with a row of single or double in between might be really nice.  The star stitch is made using two rows and the wrong side is a bit different than the right side.  Some proper calculations will be necessary and of course good old counting (who does that? Not me)!

My purple sweater took a break.  I finished all the parts to it but discovered that I had cast off the armpits too early due to a miscalculation.  I’ve knitted 2 small strips that I’m sewing in.  After all the bits are seamed I’ll have to see what I can understand about making a finished collar around the neck.  I’ve had the project laying on the couch and Onyx has attempted to  knead it much to my dismay.  I kept a pillow over it if I wasn’t there, but if I’m on the couch I usually use both throw pillows which means the sweater is left exposed.  I moved it to the coffee table thinking that would work with minimal effort but she still managed to discover it.  Finally my husband was the smart one and put the whole thing into one of the storage ottomans which was what I should have done at the beginning.  Hopefully the sweater has only sustained an unnoticeable bit of pulling of fibers.  I picked it up again yesterday thinking I really should just get it finished.  Maybe tonight.

Sweating my Sweater

This evening I was knitting my purple sweater, wearing the finished sleeves to fend off the chill in the evening air, and thinking about the blog.  All week it was on the To Do List and I just never got to it.  A couple times I sat down at the computer to write but nothing came.  Spring is in the air but we still haven’t had consecutive warm days that make it seem like it’s here to stay.  The mornings and evenings can have quite a bite to them still.  So knitting my sweater doesn’t seem completely off base.  If I hurry I can wear it at least once this spring.

The sweater has given me some headaches.  The language is a bit awkward for a ‘first time’ knitter.  I got really stuck here:

When piece measures 33-34-35-36-37-38 cm [13''-13 3/8''-13¾''-14¼''-14½''-15''], cut the thread. Now continue as follows: Beg after the 15-17-20-23-26-29 st from the first MT. Work 14 sts front band – see above – and stockinette st on the next 74-82-94-106-118-130 sts. Now pick up 14 new sts behind the front band = 102-110-122-134-146-158 sts.  [ DROPS Jumper Pattern here ]

Thank goodness for Ravelry as it saved the day.  Between envisioning the knitting, rewriting the directions how I understand them, talking to folks on the forums, and looking at notes made by other people on the same pattern I finally got that part figured out.  One thing I learned is that I may want to rewrite the DROPS pattern so I don’t get lost in it all.  All the different numbers for the sizes and whatnot really, really distract me, to the point where I forget what I was reading about before the list of numbers.  I end up doing a lot of reading aloud to help myself get a grasp of it.  I even act it out a bit.  LOL.  I’ve also been using a notebook and just writing my version down for myself there.  It’s so much easier to follow!  The above section looked a bit more like this:

When piece measures 33cm cut thread.  Continue as follows:

Begin with new thread after 15th st from 1st marker.  Work 14st of front band and stockinette in next 74st.  Pick up 14 new st behind front band.  88+14=102st.  Continue back and forth on needle with 14 front band st on each side.

Now in my notebook I have each direction as a bulleted note so that it’s even faster for me to find where I am.  Sometimes paragraphs and I just don’t get along.

For the sleeves I had to either buy myself some size 11 double pointed needles(also known as DPNs) or learn how to do the magic loop for knitting(which is nothing like the magic loop for crochet!).  I decided I have 2 sets of size 11 needles, 1 with a 32″ cable so the magic loop would do for me.  I went to my favorite knitting learning site, KnittingHelp.com,  and watched the video several times for the magic loop as it was throwing me for a loop!  After knitting about 10cm of the sleeve I decided that it was too large in diameter for me so I pulled it all out.  Then I decided that now I’ve got a handle on the magic loop I should knit BOTH sleeves at the SAME time on the magic loop!  I was feeling pretty proud of myself for deciding the tackle that within 24 hours of learning the magic loop.  This time I refered to Liat’s video YouTube to see how one would do 2 things with the magic loop.  I made my notes with all the new numbers and worked it all out.  I was feeling some math love when everything worked out on paper and again when it worked out on the needles.  The sleeves have a bit of a gap where the magic loop causes tension between the 2 ‘sides’ of the circle but it’ll do.  I’m pretty sure that my sweater will be a ‘lazing-around-the-house’ thing anyway.  If I had a couple more stitches on the sleeves there may have been slightly less tention between the sides.  Doing the two at the same time worked out nicely since I could just do the same thing to each at the same point; if I increased on one I’d do it to the other too, less note taking that way.  I am quite happy and impressed with myself, which is probably why I wore them while working on the sweater back tonight.

After some diliberation I decided to pull out what I had done on the left and right of the sweater front.  I had attempted to understand when to decrease but not with the right results.  I took my new sweater-knitting-confidence and ripped it out to where I first cast off 6 stitches to make the bottom of the arm holes.  This was a bit unnerving as knitting doesn’t behave like crochet; instead of one live loop there are many stitches that can slip out at the slightest wrong move.  I put the sweater on a pillow on my lap to give it an even surface and ripped.  Since the yarn is so bulky it went fine.  Phew!  I don’t think I picked up the stitches correctly though, so one side has twisted stitches.  Oh well, like I said ‘lazy-around-the-house’ thing.  I looked at my notes, rewrote them and have reknitted both sides.  All that’s left now is knitting the back and then the neck.  I’m skipping the hood so I’m sure I’m in for some more headaches, this time of my own doing.  Then it’ll be seaming time, another new thing.

There is more to blog about; Kes’ 2nd ampuversary, my finished plarn tote, and the CT Sheep and Fiber Festival, but I’ll have to put that on this week’s To Do List.


Kes helping keep my place in my notebook.

Tessellations, Plarn, and a Field Trip

Nearly completed: a Handmade in 2011 Gift for my friend Kim!  This is a marriage of her favorite animal and the colors of her favorite ice hockey team, the New Jersey Devils.  The bag is made using tapestry crochet.  I found the pattern at my favorite pattern source Ravelry.  It’s called Escher’s Horses Tote by Jessica Santand I had seen it around a couple times and loved the tessellation.  When I made a promise to make some handmade gifts for friends this year this pattern came to mind as perfect for Kim.  I really loved making the pattern and even managed to memorize it around the 8th round.  As you can see the project isn’t quite finished, it needs some handles.  I’m not sure what to do for handles; long, short, straps, wood, bamboo?  I figure I should pose the question to the receiver and will do that shortly.  The tapestry crochet makes a nice solid fabric so the bag won’t need a liner which is good news for me since I still don’t know how to use my sewing machine acquired at a thrift store (I have a hunch it doesn’t work but should be repairable).

I took this project with me to a get together with friends.  When I pulled it out a friend’s 5 year old son came over very intrigued with what I could be doing.  He quietly inspected it without touching and then proclaimed that there is a horse on it!  And another, and another, and another, etc.  He started counting them with excitement.  Then moved to the other side of me and from this angle he was seeing it ‘upside down’ and he said, “There are more horses!” He counted even more skipping numbers in his excitement.  He loved how the horses interlocked and that there was nothing else on the bag than horses.  I loved this moment, an “ah ha” moment as he learned and figured out a bit more about what patterns can be.  A saw a small foundation on patterns and tessellations being built in his little brain right before me.  The educator in me was happy.  A couple days later my husband mentioned this moment and said that before the little boy had pointed out the horses that were ‘upside down’ he hadn’t realized that the whole thing was tessellated horses.  I had a good chuckle at that.

I’m crocheting a plarn bag in the diagonal box stitch using Stop N Shop bags.  The bags are a beige color and aren’t very interesting but when they are turned into plarn they look like dried grass or raffia.  They give a nice effect when crocheted.  I’m using my usual market bag recipe: one large rectangle to form the large sides and bottom, then two smaller side panels and two straps for handles.  I like this recipe because the bags can stand up on their own while I put my groceries in.  I’ve finished the large rectangle and started on one of the side panels.  On the side panels I decided not to do the diagonal box stitch but alternate some rows of single crochet with double crochet.  That’s about where I’m at.  This past Sunday I spent about an hour cutting and joining the plarn rounds.  Then I wound it into a cake on my ball winder.  Plarn winds nicely and it causes the flatter parts of it to become a bit softer and pliable, plus a cake is so nice to work from.  The plastic and the action of winding it causes some static electricity though.  I got a couple good shocks from the metal in the winding handle.  Yikes!

This Monday at knit group some of the ladies asked me again to show them how to make plarn and this time someone had a spare bag to do it with.  They were happy to see how it’s done and to see that it is quite easy.  If you want to learn how to make plarn there are many sources from craft blogs to YouTube videos.  A quick search on any search engine will get you started.  I used Kate E. Austin’s Art blog entry on plarn when I first tried it out.  I’m working on calculating about how many yards of plarn I get per bag when I make it.  So far I’ve noted that I cut between 18 and 20 strips per bag so all I have to do now is measure the length of one, but I just haven’t done it yet.  I’m sure I’ll have a plarn making session again soon for my market bag.  I love the idea of using plastic bags this way, plus I love having a bag made of bags.

I went to Webs for the first time in Northampton, MA this past weekend with some knitting group friends.  Webs is like yarn Mecca and it kind of felt like I was going to a Renaissance faire for the first time.  I wondered if it was apparent that it was my first visit to Webs and at any moment someone might yell, “Webs virgin!” as they call “Faire virgin!” upon your first visit to a ren faire.  I knew that I would potentially be very overwhelmed in a large yarn store and yarn warehouse so I made sure to bring information on patterns that I wanted to buy yarn for.  This helped a lot and I wasn’t too distracted(ok, maybe a little) by all the pretty colors and soft things.  I bought yarn to make the Lava Flow cowl by Dixie (teal) and a sweater from DROPS Design (purple).  This’ll be my first actual garment.  Eep!  I decided on the yarn based on a sample sweater that was on a mannequin; it was soft and squishy, perfect for a winter sweater.  It’s called Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky.  I’ve cast on earlier today and I hear it calling my name right now.

Bitten

I feel like I’ve been bitten by the creative bug but can’t decide what to do to satisfy it.  I tried some jewelry making but that wasn’t it.  I fiddled around some more and found a quick yet satisfying craft: magnets.  This is something I used to do in my early college years.  I did a lot of pen palling and trading stickers so I had a lot of pretty stickers without much of a purpose.  I stuck them onto outdated business card magnets or restaurant magnets and then cut them out.  This time I just stuck with square stickers to keep cutting easy.  They are so fun and quick to make.   One of the sets is made up of tiny magnets that really won’t hold anything up on the fridge, they are just cute to look at.  I always think they would go well with a set of Magnetic Poetry.  Of course several of the magnets turned out cat themed but that’s to be expected.  This project was perfect for satisfaction and production.  Another thing that was aided by the apparent creative bug was the creation of a style(or as I tend to think about it: rules for this particular drawing) in which I drew a card for my grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration.

It started while substituting for art at an elementary school I was doodling and came up with a new rules for a drawing.  The students were making spring drawings with flower stencils and I used the idea of the simplified shapes and combined it with my swirling doodles.  I made the lines vary in weight.  I came home and immediately grabbed my markers and went to work drawing a more thought out spring picture.  I’ve always enjoyed lines and making them with an opaque marker so this was very appealing.  I used crayon to fill in the white space between the lines.  I further worked on it by tracing the colored lines with black outlines. I applied these rules for my grandmother’s card.  I drew the number 90 in a teal marker and filled in the digits with the swirling lines, then outlined the lines.  I used crayon and colored in the digits with a color that complimented the marker lines.  I used crayons again to create a warm orange yellow background.  I totally forgot to photograph the card before sending it off.

Another way I’ve been trying to satisfy my creative bug bite is to figure out filet crochet but I’m not having much luck.  I followed a tutorial on YouTube and had acceptable results but I still cannot apply my knowledge to my own chart.  I’ve drawn out a chart of my own design and tried to do it 3 times but it seems my calculations are wrong.  I guess I’ll have to keep searching for a source that will adequately explain it to me.  I’m considering a project book for name plates but have yet to scope it out at a craft store.  Looking for a beginner’s pattern online has been more difficult than I first thought.  I desperately want to use the crochet thread and steel hooks my mom sent me in the box of goodies mentioned in the last post.

Farewell Winter, Hello Spring

All of February and most of March has flown by.  I spent about 10 days of February on the couch with what turned out to be a sinus infection.  Those 10 days were then followed by another 5 or so where I still didn’t feel right.  I’m happy to say that it’s all behind me now and practically forgotten.  Time does great things like that.  Something time does that I don’t like as much, is whiz by in a blink.  The last 4 or more weekends my blog has been on my To Do list, but as we can all see it didn’t get done and crossed off.  I’ve been busy crocheting and knitting though!

The Monday before my sinus infection I went to the weekly knitting group with knitting in hand.  I didn’t realize that this was the first time I’ve actually knit at the group until several members pointed it out.  Guess I’ve always crocheted.  My friends Luigi and the Goomba took up many Monday nights.  The project I started that night was a cowl for my sister called the Braidy Cowl.  I found the pattern at Ravelry as usual.  I used cobalt blue Lion Brand Microspun yarn which was so snuggly soft!  The pattern included 16 stitch cables which were a lot of work.  Slipping 8 stitches back onto the needles after knitting the other 8 was always a fight.  Then knitting the first few of the 8 was even more of a fight.  The cowl came out fabulously though, so all worth the fight.  If you’re a knitter who hasn’t tried cabling I suggest trying it out on my favorite project: Warm Up America.  There are instructions for a block with cables about 3/4 of the way down the pageKnittingHelp.com has wonderful videos to help get a visual example of how to do many things, including cabling.  Here’s a link to the page with videos on cables.  My sister has yet to receive her snuggly cowl.  Hopefully she’ll send me a picture of her wearing it and I can post it here.

I finished a scarf for myself in January or February.  It was another pattern found on Ravelry called the Drop Stitch Scarf.  I used yarn that I bought at Stitches East in November 2010.  It was a nice variegated yarn running  red to deep purple to a nearly black purple.  What drew me to the yarn initially was the squishiness and it kept that quality when it was knit which made me very happy.  I have a nice close up of the pattern with some slight reflecting from the floor.  Enjoy!

Something new I tried in January/February is tapestry crochet.  This is crochet with several colors running at once working the current color around the carried colors.  My test pattern was a cat tote bag which I kept simple by using only 2 colors: black and white.  I found the pattern initially at Ravelry and then browsed the site of the pattern creator Carol Ventura at Tapestry Crochet.  She also has a blog to tickle your crochet senses even more and to see how Carol uses tapestry crochet as art.  The tote bag calls for cotton but I opted for Red Heart acrylic so that I could learn and understand what is involved a bit easier, plus it was in my stash.  The instructions for starting the bag were a bit confusing at first but I had Lindsey from Poetry In Yarn next to me at the knitting group that night and she helped clarify it for me.  From my slow start I quickly got the hang of switching colors and quickly felt like an old pro.  The hardest part on the cat pattern was keeping the tail looking like 1 solid color.  If I didn’t switch colors well and keep it tight the second color could be seen easily.  I really enjoyed the pattern and made it into a small project bag.  I’ve used it for my current project to take it to Monday night knitting ever since.  When I first ventured into the world of tapestry crochet I joined the Tapestry Crochet Group at Ravelry.  Carol runs the group and is very involved.  She responded quickly to any questions I posted which was great.

Somewhere in my tapestry crochet travels I found a sample of the special grid for planning your tapestry crochet image.  I created my own sitting cat pattern and then worked it using 2 colors of cotton.  I used cotton to get an idea of how tapestry crochet would look in that material.  It turned into a little bag with one cat on each side.  I can almost put my hand in it.  I’ll have to figure out how to add a zipper and use it as a little change bag or something like that.  It was a lot of fun to design and then execute.  My husband also seemed to enjoy the process.  Using the slanted grid was a bit more awkward than I thought it would be.  After creating your image on the slanted grid it’s best to transfer it to a standard grid so that you don’t get lost in the slanted squares.  At the moment I can’t seem to find the page of the sample grid, ugh.

A surprise package arrived at my door this past Wednesday.  In it was 3 skeins of blue cotton, 3 balls of blue crochet thread, 4 partial skeins of fuzzy acrylics, a cylinder containing 6 crochet hooks, and a drop spindle kit.  All these things belonged to my mom when she was into crochet in the 70s.  She dug up her box of crochet goodies and sent them along to me.  She was subscribed to a crochet club in the Netherlands and still has binders full of projects that she received in the mail.  I’ve been crocheting using the blue thread and the size 1 hook.  I’ve always wanted to try it so this package was a welcome surprise!  I have no idea how to use a drop spindle so I’ll show it off to the knitting group tomorrow where I know there are several spinners.  The kit even came with undyed wool to start off with!

Little Projects

I’ve been keeping myself busy with little projects here and there.  Most recently I tried my hand at knitting baby hats.  I wanted to learn how to knit a flat hat and how to decrease, I figured a baby hat would be a great first start.  I searched for a basic hat pattern on Ravelry.com and found a good one: garter stitch brim and stockinette for the rest.  Then to add to my learning experience I decided to try out some different ways to cast on since until now I had only used the long tail cast on.  I used the fantastic site KnittingHelp.comwhere Amy explains and demonstrates basic knitting things for English and Continental style knitting with videos.  Another reason I wanted to try this was that I got myself some new bamboo straight needles.

My first try was the white hat using Red Heart Super Saver.  What an awful experience!  Red Heart did not want to move on the bamboo and each stitch was a chore.  For this hat I used the cable cast on.  This ended up rather loose.  I tried the same cast on for next hat, the blue one to the right of the white hat.  Still not happy with it.  I switched to Caron Simply soft for the blue hats, which slides much nicer on the bamboo needles.  The hat has a different shape as I was trying to make it smaller for a preemie size for the Caps For Good cause. The pattern calls for 52 stitches and I reduced it to 45 stitches for the white one.  The second blue one was 42 stitches and then the other 3 (2 complete, one on the needles) were 40 stitches cast on.  On my third hat (2nd row on the left) I realized I was doing something wrong; either knitting or purling incorrectly which was making things difficult.  I went back to KnittingHelp.com and checked out the videos on Continental knitting and then Continental purling.  I thought I might be knitting incorrectly as that was difficult but then I realized that I was knitting into a row that was purled so the purling was incorrect.  I was twisting my stitches.  I finished the rest of the hat knitting and purling correctly.  It took only a couple rows of purling correctly for my hands to develop the muscle memory. For the third, fourth and fifth hats I used the knitting on cast on method.

The fourth hat I messed around with adding some rows of garter stitch into the stockinette stitch.  This was okay until I went for a second round of it while starting to decrease.  Some of my decreases ended up backwards; purled or knit when it should have been the other.  More learning!  The hat that is on the needles I did a garter stitch brim and then a 2×2 rib.  As you can see in the photo I was low on yarn so I also learned how to change colors which turned out to be ridiculously easy!  I’ll get a picture of the other 2 hats I made at a later time.  So the baby hat project taught me how to cast on 2 different ways, how to decrease (k2tog, ssk), how to purl correctly and how to seam the hat together(didn’t talk about this).  Not bad.

A photo from me and a thought from my neighbor; “Under this lies summer.”

Hello 2011!

It has been too long since my last post.  I just browsed through my photos to get an idea of what to write and where to start.  I suppose most logically speaking I’ll start at Christmas since the gift giving involved my crochet work.

My nephew loved the Liugi/Goomba pillow.  He sleeps with it every night.  Apparently he tried to use it as a regular pillow but since it’s so big he ends up just sitting up when he tries to lay down.  I’m not sure how it’s all been figured out now, I’m just happy to know that he is enjoying it as much as I’d like.  He also liked the 1Up Mushroom very much.  I have a great video of his stunned face as he squeezed it the first time.  I’ll have to see about posting it after asking my SIL (sister-in-law) if that’s ok.  I have video of myself talking about the mushroom so at the very least that should make its way on here.  I visited sometime before Christmas and got some pictures of the Mario blanket, last year’s present, to show how it is faring.  It is well loved as they say.  My nephew sleeps with it every night as well.  If I were to make the Mario blanket again I would do it differently for sure.  For my niece I whipped up a crochet scarf using yarn she dyed before it made its way to me.  I crocheted alternating rows of single and double holding two strands at a time.  I initially wanted to just do double crochet all the way so it would go faster but I wanted to put a wee bit more effort and thought into it.  The yarn was a mess when I received it, ends everywhere!  I spent 2 days untangling it into many small balls of yarn.  I used a bunch of the balls of yarn for the scarf and love how the variegated colors moved about.  Photos!

 

 

 

 

 

Other creative endeavors recently include a set of 8 wine glass charms for my MIL (mother-in-law).  For the last 5 years we’ve always had to clarify which margarita glass was whose.  I finally sat down and figured out how to make some wine glass charms using small bracelet size memory wire.  They were fun and quick to make which made it nice to make a set of 8.  Originally I was considering a set of 4 or 6 maybe but that changed quickly.  It’s a fun way to highlight a pretty bead as a pendant for the ring and then embellish using seed beads.  I used a crimp bead to try and keep the beads from flying off the wire.  Some crimp beads stayed put while others still managed to slide around.  They shouldn’t go anywhere though, and if they do I’m more than glad to make or repair something.  We used them Christmas Day for dinner.  Another item made for my MIL is a necklace and earring set using Swarovski crystals and glass beads.  It was for my BIL’s wedding on January first.  This was nice to do as I hadn’t made any jewelry in a while.   Photos!  I’m including a photo of the ‘wrapping paper’ for my nephew’s pillow.  I took a black garbage bag and used a silver Sharpie to draw snowflakes all over it.  That was a blast in itself!

Back to yarn.  I’ve crocheted 2 Snuggles using a diagonal box stitch.  This stitch is my new favorite.  It looks great and works up quite quickly!  For January one of the Snuggle themes suggested in the Ravelry Snuggles Project group is scraps.  I had a great time using 19 different scrap balls of yarn for a diagonal box stitch Snuggle.  Another project was a crochet cloche (hat) to go with my new red winter coat.  I wanted to make a felted hat and found a great pattern on good old Ravelry called Beacon Street Cloche.  I used Patons Classic Wool from my stash.  After photographing me wearing the large hat I washed it twice in the washing machine with some jeans so it would felt up.  The hat turned out quite nicely and has gotten me quite a few compliments.  It is also fabulously warm, which is great right now in Connecticut.  Yarn photos!

 

 

 

 

As I just mentioned I am in Connecticut so now I’ll share some photos of our snow.  We had about 8 inches on January 7th (1st photo), then 18 more on January 12th (2nd photo, table was cleared before new snow came) and right now it’s rain on top of 2 more inches of snow.  Yesterday we knocked some 3 foot ice sickles off the front of our house and then I ended up playing with them in the front yard arranging them in the snow.  I took photos with my new Canon PowerShot, tripod and night time exposures using a flashlight.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

All the photos are thumbnails in this post so click them for the full effect!

Pillow talk

The Luigi & Goomba pillow had its last few stitches this evening.  After some size checking I bought a 27 inch pillow and couldn’t wait to get to stuffing it into the pillow case.  I briefly thought about blocking the panels but I don’t think it would have done much since it is acrylic yarn.  I started crocheting the panels together yesterday after trimming the tree.  I triple checked that I had them the same direction because I could totally see myself getting half way around and then realizing they were facing the wrong way.  I sewed them inside out so that the seam would be on the inside for the most part.  For the last side I also made sure to remind myself not to just crochet the whole thing closed without stuffing the pillow in, another big possibility.  I crocheted a quarter of the way from each corner and then my husband and I stuffed the pillow in.  It was a 2 person job for sure!  After that I squished it around a bit before sewing the rest of the seam with a tapestry needle and more black yarn.  The pillow is very inviting for sitting or leaning on.  I ended up skipping the sound device in the corners just because I was too excited about finishing and I didn’t have a good source for purchasing them yet either.  Maybe the 1Up mushroom will have one.

In the meantime I don’t have anything for my niece and there are only 12 days left before Christmas.  Eeep!