Monday, December 31, 2012 2 comments

Christmas Gifts Preview: Day Eight

This gift is for a teen-aged niece. I thought of her when I saw the "Forever Sunshine" B&BW products, especially since yellow is her favorite color.

I made a Gaptastic Cowl using some Lion Brand Homespun yarn. This is what it looks like at full length:

And this is what it looks like doubled-up:

To match those, I made some Peppermint Patties fingerless mittens:

My total cost for this gift was around $7 to fill a large gift box.
Friday, December 28, 2012 1 comments

Christmas Gifts Preview: Day Seven

This gift was a little hard to photograph because of the shrink wrap, but I really like how it turned out. I had this box leftover from a few years ago and decided to use it as the base for this gift.

Also included are several color-coordinated Bath & Body Works items, a spatula, recipe cards, heart-shaped measuring spoons, hand sanitizer, magnetic paper pad, and two handmade dishcloths.

To keep everything together and to keep them from falling out, I bought shrink wrap plastic from the dollar store. (It didn't work as well this time as the last time, but oh well.)

My total cost for this gift: around $8.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012 1 comments

Christmas Gifts Preview: Day Six

I know Christmas is officially over for this year, but I'm going to continue sharing this year's Christmas gifts. I hope it will give you inspiration for birthdays and Christmases to come!

This collection gift was for my sister-in-law who was like a second mother to my husband. (They have a large family.) She's a fantastic lady, so I was thrilled to be able to fill this box with a mixture of storebought pretties and handmade-from-the-heart gifts.

There are several vintage sheet napkins, a homemade scrubbie, a hand-knit butterfly hat, and a vintage sheet apron to go with the storebought goodies.

Total cost for this gift: around $6 to fill a large gift box.
Monday, December 24, 2012 1 comments

Christmas Gifts Preview: Day Five

As soon as I saw the Paris Amour fragrance at Bath & Body Works, I thought of this niece. So I was thrilled to find out that this apron and ruffle scarf match it perfectly!

I thought I had posted this apron on my blog before, but I can't seem to find it. Sorry, because the gift has already been given!

Cost for this gift: around $8 to fill a large gift box
Friday, December 21, 2012 1 comments

Christmas Gifts Preview: Day Four

I had a lot of fun pairing up items from my gift stash this year! Since neither my husband nor I could remember if this niece's favorite color is blue or green, I decided to do both and make sure I got it right. :)

The apron (made from vintage sheets) is mostly blue, as is the hand sanitizer and holder. The Bath & Body Works Cucumber Melon body wash is green. The ruffle scarf pulled both of the colors together nicely. My cost for this gift was around $7, and it fills a large gift box.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 1 comments

Christmas Gifts Preview: Day Three

Whenever Bath & Body Works has their semi-annual sales, I like to use those $10/$40 coupons and stock up on lady and teen girl gifts for the year. Who doesn't like Bath & Body Works products? (Probably a few people, but none of them are on my gift list.)

As I was going through my gift stash, I noticed that this purple ruffle scarf perfectly matched the packaging on the "Be Enchanted" lotion. It was a perfect pairing, and I paid around $6 for the whole gift, not including my time. I consider that a fantastic price for a gift this nice.
Monday, December 17, 2012 1 comments

Christmas Gift Preview: Day Two

My husband's family does a random gift exchange every year, and we're supposed to keep the cost between $3-5. Unless you've been living under a rock for the last ten years, you'll understand how challenging it can be to get something that isn't tacky or useless in that price range. Somehow we all manage to find nice things, though, because there are always nice gifts in the exchange. Last year was the year of fleece throws. :)

At any rate, this gift illustrates the principle that "presentation is everything." I picked up the spatulas, candles, soap dispenser and recipe box (the container) for around $0.10-0.25 each when dollar items went on clearance, mostly at Michaels. I crocheted the two dishcloths with brand-new yarn I picked up at Goodwill for a fantastic price. (Remember this box?)
Saturday, December 15, 2012 1 comments

Christmas Gifts Preview: Day One

If you need some inexpensive gift or packaging ideas for Christmas this year, I hope my next few posts will help you out! I also hope that none of my husband's family members read my blog ... :)

We picked up this little purse at a thrift store since it was bag day (everything you can fit in a bag for $2) and "A" is the first letter of our 11-year-old niece's first name. Since it was used, I didn't want it to be the gift. But it made a great gift bag for the rest of the gift - a ruffle scarf, two hand sanitizers, and a sanitizer holder.
Thursday, December 13, 2012 1 comments

Dollar Tree find!

While I was picking up the last few gift-wrapping supplies at Dollar Tree on Monday, I ran across these Hot Wheels customizable license plates:

I suspected $1 was a fantastic price for these, so I snatched up enough for all the boys on my list who get birthday and/or Christmas gifts. I was right, since I looked them up on Amazon and saw that they are going for $4.99 and up.

You get two license plates in each package, as well as a sheet of reusable letters and numbers. This would be perfect for kids with unique names or spellings who never seem to find their names on the pre-printed license plates they sell.

I'm giving my kids a set as a Christmas countdown gift, so I'll let you know if we have any difficulty with the letters.

I can't guarantee that your store will have them, but it's worth a look the next time you're in the store!

P.S. Now that my kids have opened them, I noticed that they're plastic. It's not a dealbreaker with me (nor is it a surprise), but I realized that some of you may be expecting metal. Also, they are stamped on the back of the plate with the Dollar Tree information, so they may end up being a regular item, at least for awhile. Who knows? My kids loved them and customized their own within ten minutes.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 1 comments

More Ruffle Scarves

I made a few more ruffle scarves, but I made these for personal gifts this time. (If you like these colors and want them from my Etsy shop, drop me a line and I can do a custom order for you.)

This pink one was for my daughter's birthday. She loved it!

This purple one was for the Christmas gift stash.

If you can knit basic stitches and need a pretty quick gift, these ruffle scarves are a great option for last-minute gift-giving this year!

(Or you can purchase them from my Etsy shop to help my friend's family with the costs associated with her daughter's cancer treatments and burial expenses.)
Saturday, December 8, 2012 0 comments

Remember November Socks Test Knit

I recently test-knit another sock pattern for a friend on Ravelry. If you're looking for a good introduction to sock-knitting, this would be a good one. There's no scary "turning the heel" to worry about - it's an after-thought heel that uses basic stitches.

 It's also highly adaptable to whatever your foot size or preferred sock size. I have a smallish foot, but I was able to adjust it very easily to fit my feet. I also prefer anklets (unless it's winter), so that's what I made. It was really quite easy and straightforward.

Another nice thing is that they're toe-up, which means you're not going to run out of yarn unexpectedly. I think that's my favorite aspect of toe-up socks!

If you're interested in trying them, the pattern is called Remember November Socks. It's a very low-priced pattern, and I'm pretty sure pattern sales go to her son's college bill.
Thursday, December 6, 2012 1 comments

Pink Princess Shawl

When my daughter saw a red shawl I had knitted for myself (no pictures yet - give me some time for my foot to heal), she told me that she wants a shawl, but hers has to be pink.

Since 7-year-old girls (especially mine) are prone to accidental spills and such, I made hers out of acrylic (mine was a wool/llama blend). And since I happen to have a ton of worsted-weight pink acrylic on hand, that’s what I used.

I worked from the cast on the whole way to the edging in one day. (I knit most of the day since it was a day off.) I was surprised to find that it used almost all of my pink yarn. Yay for stashbusting! I needed to buy some white yarn to finish the project, so it sat for a few days until I could get out to buy some white yarn for the edging.

I think I'll be giving her this for Christmas. If you're interested in knitting a cute child-sized shawl, this pattern is called Princess by Angela Tong, and it's a free one.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012 0 comments

Operation Christmas Child ... 2013

I'm not sure if I mentioned it here or not, but this was our first year to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. My kids both set aside money (on their own) for "poor children". Since you and I both know that there are very few truly poor children that my kids could afford to buy gifts for, I remembered the idea of packing a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.

It was a huge success! Since we didn't have an opportunity to save up for awhile, we only did two shoeboxes this year, one for each child. I used money from my Etsy shop to "sponsor" the boxes (the donation that Samaritan's Purse asks for to help cover the shipping costs). Next year we plan to send as many as possible, so we're going to save up throughout the year to cover the cost per box.

At any rate, we had some things on hand that were perfect for the shoeboxes - school supplies from the back-to-school sales, small gifts I have picked up on clearance for our gift stash, etc. After we filled as much as we could with what we had, I took the kids out shopping with their money to fill the boxes the rest of the way. It was a great lesson in economy and stretching your money, let me tell you! :)

It was such a good experience that I decided to start collecting things for next year's boxes as soon as we were done with this year's. With that in mind, let me share two pictures of what I just found this past week for next year's boxes.

The cost of even $1 items can really add up over several boxes, so I was thrilled to find several boxes of former Target Dollar Spot items (still brand-new in their packaging) at a Goodwill at a very reasonable price of 10/$1!

I'm not sure how much you'll be able to make out from the picture, so here's a little rundown of the 50* items I got for $5: bouncy balls (around 4"), jump rope, journals, train whistle, wooden airplane, hair accessories, and socks. These are all on the list of recommended items, so I was absolutely thrilled to get them.  These balls aren't tiny. They're the size of a child's hand, and boy, can they bounce!

Mini Etch a Sketches are also on the lists for almost every age group, but they can be a bit pricey for their size. I was thrilled to find a basket full of them at a surplus store for $1.40 each. I passed up several because they were falling out of their original packaging. The packaging on these is a little bent-up, but I checked them all to make sure they were in good working order. It's a great price for a brand-new mini Etch a Sketch!

I'll try to remember to keep you updated as I find good deals throughout the year for these boxes.

*No, I doubt we'll be sending 50 boxes next year, unless I can find a church or organization to sponsor shipping the boxes. But at $0.10 per toy, I can hang on to these toys for a few years. Toys like this don't go bad with age.
Saturday, November 24, 2012 1 comments

Eagle Pictures from Our Backyard

Do you love eagles? My husband certainly does! We were all thrilled to see a bald eagle fly into our backyard yesterday to feast on the Thanksgiving turkey carcass along with the turkey buzzards. I thought I'd share some pictures.

 Coming in for a landing - He sat further back in the field for a little while, probably trying to make sure everything was safe.

Looking right at us - We tried to be very still so we wouldn't disturb him. They have terrific eyesight, and I suspect he would have seen our motion through the window.

Defending his rights to this portion of the turkey carcass - apparently the buzzards were getting too close for his liking

I wish we could have heard him!

He's coming closer ...

We've had a variety of animals eating at our "slop pile" in the past (skunks, neighborhood dogs, foxes), but an eagle is more than we could have hoped for! 
Look at that - he's standing right in our yard! For those of you familiar with our backyard, this is amazing!

We must have watched him for at least 15 minutes.

See the turkey bone in his mouth?

Something spooked him, and he flew off suddenly. It was amazing to watch.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures!
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 3 comments

The best-laid plans ...

... are often interrupted. I have lots of knitting projects to share, but I managed to break my toe last Saturday. That has complicated a few things, and it's not so easy to get around and take pictures at the angle I usually take them (i.e. on the floor).

I'm getting around quite well, though, so I expect to have pictures taken before too long. But don't worry about me if I'm missing for a few days. I'm not sick or dying! :)

On another note, I have most of my Christmas gifts assembled and/or wrapped. (That's what I was doing when I cracked my toe off the caster on my computer chair.) We collect gifts throughout the year as we find good deals, and I tend to make things throughout the year, too. It feels really good to have this much done already!

I'll try to get pictures of some of those gifts to share, too, in case anyone needs some inspiration. I've done a lot of collection-style gifts this year. I'd call them basket-style, but I'm not using baskets. Basically, I've collected a few gifts in a certain theme and/or color, and I tried to package them attractively.

I'm trying to be more organized this Christmas. In addition to the gifts mostly wrapped, I made a list of all the Christmas treats I want to bake this year. Then I collected my recipes and wrote down all the extra ingredients I'll need to make them. I expected a huge list (my baking list is pretty long), but I have a lot of it on hand already as pantry staples. I'll buy the rest of the ingredients over the next few weeks with leftover grocery money.

You may be wondering how on earth we do all of this and still homeschool. Well, for the last few years, I've planned the entire month of December to be a break from schoolwork. Between visiting out-of-state relatives, all the extra activities that December brings, and actually celebrating Christmas, there aren't many days left to do schoolwork. Besides, Christmas is my favorite time of year, and I want to enjoy it! We make up for this by starting earlier in the year and taking fewer days for holidays like Thanksgiving. Although we don't have to count days for homeschooling in my state, we do end up doing the same number of days as anyone else since our curriculum runs for the same number of weeks.

Well, that's about it for now. I'd love to know how your Christmas preparations are coming!

P.S. In case you think we've skipped Thanksgiving this year, we haven't. We're doing a full traditional meal and including a lonely woman from our congregation in our festivities. I have everything purchased and ready to go, so I'm looking ahead to planning the next major holiday ... but we will take time to be thankful this Thursday!
Wednesday, November 14, 2012 1 comments

La Newborn Layette Set

I just realized that, although my daughter got this doll for her birthday last month, I never shared the clothes I made for it.

We got her the 14” La Newborn doll (Wal-Mart/Berenguer/La Baby) from Wal-Mart. There's a story behind this doll. You see, I had seen a little girl carrying one around in Wal-Mart while I was shopping by myself one day. I wanted so badly to ask her where she got the doll, but I don't like strangers talking to my kids, so I wouldn't do it to someone else's. A week or so later, I walked through the toy department looking for something else and found this doll. I was so excited!

I can't say enough good things about this doll. She is so realistically newborn that I would want to buy one even if I didn't have a daughter! If I end up senile as an old woman, I hope my daughter still has this doll so I can have an excuse to carry it around with me everywhere. :)

The only downside to the doll is that she's a bit hard to dress. She's all  curled up, just like a real newborn. I did find the trick, though - you have to rotate one of her arms behind her head to get this sweater on. I would never, ever do that with a real baby, but you do what you have to with dolls, right?

I used a gorgeous free pattern from a very talented lady: Premature Baby Cardigan, Hat and Bootees Set by Claire Topping. If you knit and have a daughter with dolls, you owe it to yourself to visit her site: Baby & Doll Handknit Designs. You'll want to make everything on the site. You've been warned!

I made this in the 3-5 lb size. I hate seaming, so I made the sweater and hat seamless. It took a bit of thought, charting, and rewriting instructions, but it was totally worth it.
Monday, November 12, 2012 1 comments

Charybdis Socks for Me: After-Thought Heels

I recently had the opportunity to try out a great sock pattern with after-thought heels. It's called Charybdis Socks, and it's very reasonably-priced. (ETA: The sales from her patterns are helping to pay off college debt for her son.)

Since I had never done these kind of heels before, I was anxious to try them. These socks are very comfortable! They would be perfect first-time socks, too, since there is no wrap-and-turn or anything else that’s exclusive to knitting socks.

I only wear anklets, so I modified the pattern accordingly:
  • 1-1/2” top ribbing
  • Knit 4 rows before “dividing” for the heel.
  • Continue in pattern until it measures 6” from the heel (the sts that will be the heel), then begin decreasing for the toes. (I wear a US size 6-1/2 to 7 shoe, depending on the manufacturer.)

I got to the end of the first sock and was within a few yards of the same color that I started the first one with, so I decided to go back to do the heels when both main sock pieces were finished. I’ve never been able to make completely matching socks with self-striping yarn before. The bonus: I only needed one 50-gram ball of sock yarn for these. Yeah!!

The heels don’t match exactly, but nobody sees those when they’re on. If that bothers you, you can always make the heels in another contrasting/coordinating solid color.
Friday, November 9, 2012 1 comments

Camo Socks for the Bitty Twins

I had just a little bit of this camo yarn left for my daughter's dolls and decided to make them some socks.

I used a free preemie pattern (Chandler's Preemie Socks) and tweaked it a bit.

I did the 10 rows of ribbing, but I didn’t need a fold-over cuff, so I went straight to the heel. It’s a good thing, too, because I wouldn’t have had nearly enough yarn otherwise.

I would have used the heel suggested in the pattern in order to try something different, but I just don’t “get it”. (I frogged the first sock at least three times.) I did my tried-and-true regular heel flap and got no holes (as usual), so I didn’t see the point in making it confusing to avoid holes I didn’t get anyway.

I started decreasing for the toe on row 13 (assuming you don’t start re-counting rows until after all the decreases are finished on the gusset).
 They are really cute, and I achieved my objective of using up the yarn. There were about 8” of yarn left, and I gave myself permission to throw it away. :)
Wednesday, November 7, 2012 1 comments

Christmas Socks for My Son

My son has watched me knit socks for charity and myself quite a bit lately and finally asked for his own pair. Who can resist an almost-9-year-old boy that asks for handknit socks?? I decided to make him a pair for his stocking at Christmas.

He doesn’t like the traditional store-bought white socks because he says they aren’t tight enough around his legs, so I made these in 2x2 ribbing to ensure that they hug his leg well.

He specifically requested red and blue socks, but this was the closest I could find locally. In the store, the grey looked almost bluish, but it doesn’t so much now that the socks are finished.

I didn't follow a particular pattern, just basic sock construction for his size leg and foot. In case this helps anyone else, here are the specifics ...

This sock was designed with:
  • 5" cuff/leg 
  • 7" foot circumference at the widest point,
  • 7" long foot
I used Patons Kroy Socks Ragg Shades yarn (4-ply, colorway #55048) with size 3 double-pointed needles, working top-cuff-down.

CO 48 sts.

K2P2 ribbing for 5”.

Make heel. (I used Fleegle’s heel for the first time.)

Continue ribbing on sock top, stockinette on bottom until sock measures 6” from the back of the heel.

Decrease for toes (decrease 1 row, knit the next for 10 rows total, then decrease each row for 4 more rows).

Graft ends using kitchener stitch.
Monday, November 5, 2012 2 comments

Pink & Black Ruffled Fingerless Gloves

I found the prettiest fingerless gloves on Ravelry, and the pattern is free! It's called Belle Ruffle Gloves.

I love this color combination, and I plan to make them as gifts in a few other color combinations, too.

See? It fits my hand/arm perfectly! I finished one in about an hour, so it's not nearly as difficult as it looks.
Friday, November 2, 2012 1 comments

Brown Bitty Pants

These pants were an experiment, which (hopefully) explains the strange color. I wanted to try out a pattern designed as leggings for AG dolls, but I didn't want them to be "skinny jeans".

I used the free pattern Chinese Woollies and made the following modifications:

  • I didn’t do any of the leg decreases after the gusset.
  • I knit the legs to 5” (inner leg measurement), then did a purl row and 6 more stockinette rows to be hand-sewn down afterward. This creates a more traditional-looking pants hem, instead of it hugging the ankle with ribbing.
I like the fit, so I'll probably be making more in the future.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 2 comments

Bitty Camo Romper

I made another Baby Doll Romper (paid pattern), this time with the camo yarn.

I figured out why my last one was gaping at the neck and only had one buttonhole: In the pattern, I skipped the entire section labeled “Small size only” and went directly to “Large size only”. Unfortunately, that meant I completely missed the first buttonhole because I thought everything under the “Small size only” section was indeed only for the small size. It’s not. I’m going to highlight it on my pattern so I don’t make the same mistake again.

I really love how these rompers come out, though. They're a perfect fit, and so cute!
Monday, October 29, 2012 1 comments

Bitty Camo Pants

Since I had a lot of extra camo yarn, I tried out a new pattern for doll pants (appropriately called Dolly Pants).

This pattern is great, but a bit vague. If you’ve knit a pair of doll pants before, it’s a piece of cake. If you haven’t, it might be a little frustrating in places.

Since I did knit a few pair before, this was simple, fast and very cute. I’ll probably be doing more of them!
Friday, October 26, 2012 1 comments

Bitty Camo Hoodie

I made another hoodie for the Bitty Twins, this time especially for the boys. I found this camo yarn (Baby Bee) in Hobby Lobby when I was looking for something else, and I knew I had to make something with it.

This is the same pattern as the last one, Doll Hoodie Sweater by Pamala Feldpausch (a paid pattern).

There was plenty of yarn left, so look for some more camo projects!
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 0 comments

Lee Middleton Doll Bib

Here's another Christmas gift for my daughter - a cute bib for her Lee Middleton doll.

This was super-fast and easy, took a little less than 50 yards of yarn, and it's a free pattern to boot! You can find it on Ravelry as simply Girly Bib.
Monday, October 22, 2012 1 comments

Lee Middleton Doll Sweater

I've been working on some doll clothes for this Lee Middleton vinyl doll that my daughter absolutely loves. The great thing about this doll is that she can fit newborn clothing. It makes it so much easier to (a) find regular clothes for her and (b) knit for her.

This sweater is a free pattern called Breakfast at Tiffany's and is available at Ravelry.

It was a quick knit, and I love the sweater. The only modification I made was to end the sweater at 6" (including ribbing), since I didn't want it to go to her knees.

Another Christmas gift checked off the list ... :)