Wednesday, February 29, 2012 1 comments

Knitting: Garden View Shawlette

Believe it or not, I have been knitting a few things that weren't for charity, and this shawlette is one of the projects I recently finished. I made it for my mother, who tends to get cold sitting in church during the winter months.

It was my first shawl project, and I did run out of steam about 3/4 of the way through it. I suspected that I would. But I made myself pick it back up and finish it, and I'm really glad I did. It turned out beautifully.

Since most of my family isn't big on handwashing delicate items (I'm not either), I made this from acrylic.

As you can see, I laid it out on my ironing board and used a steam iron to block it. You've never heard of blocking acrylic before? Don't worry, I hadn't either. I found out about it on Ravelry and was pointed to this excellent article about it from Bead Knitter. This blocking method helped me to get it stretched to the correct dimensions - and stay there.

Here's a closeup of the leaf-pattern edging that makes this shawlette so pretty.

If you're interested in making one, it's a free pattern on Ravelry called Garden View Shawlette. It's really easy, and it's a great first shawl project.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012 1 comments

Knitting: Ribbed "Waffle" Socks for Lesotho

I have lovingly dubbed this yarn my "skunk yarn," since the color combination reminds me of a skunk. I'm really, really hoping there are no skunks in Lesotho so these dear children don't make the same association. :)

At any rate, I made these using the same pattern as my previous pairs of Waffle Socks for Lesotho. They're fun and fast, and the pattern is easy to memorize.

Then I decided to try a variation suggested in the pattern - doing ribbing instead of the waffle stitch pattern. You might not be able to tell much difference because of the yarn I used, but you would be able to tell if they were right next to each other.

I do like the ribbed cuff for several reasons. For starters, it's a lot stretchier so it will fit a lot more feet that way. Secondly, it's even more mindless than the waffle stitch, if you can imagine that. :)

I think that's it for the socks for Lesotho, at least for this shipment. I'll probably be making more in the future.
Friday, February 24, 2012 0 comments

Knitting: Hat #5 for Lesotho

This Waffle Hat was fun to make, although I goofed and didn't realize there was a separate section for the child's version until I was already 3/4 of the way through the hat.

As a result, you can see that it's a little bit long. No worries, though. The wearer can always roll up the bottom just a bit and keep his/her ears extra-warm.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 1 comments

Knitting: Hat #4 for Lesotho

I thought I had shared all the hats I knitted for Lesotho, but I came across a few pictures on my camera and realized I had forgotten to share a few.

This one probably doesn't look very interesting, but it's super-warm and super-soft. It's a lot like the Rib-a-Roni hat, but this one uses bulky yarn. It's really fast and easy to make, and it's a great introduction to ribbing. If you've never done it before, you'll be an expert by the time you're done with the hat. :)

Want to make one? It's a free pattern called Pro Bono on Ravelry.
Monday, February 20, 2012 3 comments

Knitting: Warm Socks for Me!

I used to think that I was slightly allergic to wool because I itched so much when I came in contact with it. However, after handling non-scratchy wools, I have discovered that it's just the scratchy wool that I can't stand. What a relief! I have the coldest feet in the world (just ask my husband), and I needed something to warm them a bit. When I found a sock pattern called "Foot Ovens," I figured I had stumbled onto the perfect solution.

I was right, too! This was the perfect pattern for me, especially since I can't stand a sock that goes any higher than my ankle.

If you look closely at the heel, you can see that I didn't get my wraps and turns closed as well as I should have, but this was my first sock that utilizes a wrap-and-turn heel. The second one has no visible "holes" at the heel.

One other thing I learned from my first toe-up sock: Use a super-stretchy bind-off for the top. I didn't for my first one, and I can just barely get it on and off. I used this bind-off on the second one, and it slides on and off perfectly.

I figured that I could make myself a pair of socks with this yummy yarn and not feel guilty, since I already made a hat and two pair of socks for the children of Lesotho. Now I know just how comfy those items are going to be!

One last note: I tend to wear socks around the house instead of slippers, so I painted puffy paint circles onto the bottom of each sock as a non-slip measure. It works great, but don't try it on socks you're going to wear with shoes. I tried them with my boots once, and they didn't want to come out of the boots. :)
Friday, February 17, 2012 1 comments

Knitting: Socks #2 for Lesotho

This was my second pair of socks ever, and I fell in love with this pattern. In fact, after making two identical pairs of these, I about have the pattern memorized. They're that easy. I can finish a pair of these in one day's worth of free time, if I don't have tons of distractions.

I also dearly love this wool yarn. Since it came from an unraveled thrift store sweater (which was handknit by an invidual), I have no idea the exact fiber percentages in this yarn. But according to the bleach test, this is indeed animal fiber. It's the softest, squishiest animal fiber I've felt yet (well, the baby alpaca ranks up there, too), and I loved working with it. I suspect the Lesotho children are going to love these socks!

These also have a reinforced heel, to ensure they can get lots of wear.

I've perfected the Kitchener stitch, thanks to these socks. At first, I had to watch a Youtube video or refer to a knitting book for directions on doing Kitchener, but after doing it four times (once for each sock), I remember exactly how it's done. A lot of people are scared of that stitch, but it's really no big deal once you've tried it. You just have to wrap your mind around what it is that you're doing, and then it's a simple repeated process.

I love, love, love this waffle stitch pattern for socks! You don't have to do the "knit 2, purl 2" thing for every row of the whole sock, but you do get a snug fit.

If you're interested in trying these, you can find the Waffle Socks 32 pattern on Ravelry. I highly recommend it!
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 1 comments

Knitting: Socks #1 for Lesotho

I had enough washable wool yarn leftover from my sweater for India to make a pair of two-color socks. I still have a nice amount of the lighter pink, so I'm debating making another pair.

See the reinforced heel? That's one of my favorite things about this pattern. Kids can be rough on socks, especially when they get used a lot. This heel should help to minimize holes.

I was also very pleased with how the toes turned out. In retrospect, I probably should have used the dark pink at the toe decreases, too, but I didn't think of it at the time.

Since this was my first-ever pair of socks, I opted for a ribbed cuff (to keep them from falling) and stockinette stitch on the rest of the leg.

Although these socks look very long and skinny, I compared them to my son's feet, and they would fit. This is a really easy pattern to introduce you to sock knitting, so check out the Cozy Toes pattern and knit some for charity, if you're so inclined.
Monday, February 13, 2012 1 comments

Knitting: Hat #3 for Lesotho

Here's another hat for Lesotho, this time using a pattern I've made before and loved - the Rib-A-Roni hat.

I made this in the dark blue/black worsted wool again. I still have no idea if this yarn is black or dark blue because it looks different in different lighting. In natural daylight, it looks like it could be blue, so that's probably what it is. But it will certainly keep you busy guessing!

I like the decreasing on this hat. It doesn't get pointy, messy or difficult.

Next up: some socks for Lesotho
Friday, February 10, 2012 0 comments

Knitting: Hat #2 for Lesotho

Here's another hat for Lesotho (see my previous post for more information about that). As you can tell, this one is a bit bigger than the last one. I figured they will have all kinds of head sizes, so they will need a few different sizes of hats.

This pattern is called Seaman's Cap and is available as a free download.

One very nice feature of this hat is the extra-long "brim" that's designed to be folded up for a double thickness, thus creating a very warm barrier around the ears.

I used the same black worsted-weight wool on this hat as the previous hat.

Stay tuned for more!
Wednesday, February 8, 2012 1 comments

Knitting: Hat #1 for Lesotho

A few weeks after I saw the appeal for children's sweaters, I saw that another organization was hosting a hat and sock drive for the poor children in the mountains of Lesotho. I have several college friends who are missionaries in South Africa, so this really caught my attention.

These children spend long hours in the freezing cold tending their family's animals, and they have almost nothing. How could I not help out?

This is the first of the hats, modeled by my 8-year-old son (please excuse the cheesy smile). This one really fits well, and I like it. It couldn't be any easier, either! You can find it free for downloading on the Coats & Clark website here. I made two of them using this pattern.

Because of the climate, these needed to be made from wool or other animal fibers. And since they don't own washing machines, the wool didn't have to be machine-washable. I decided this was a great use for the wool yarn I've harvested from thrift store sweater unraveling.

Stay tuned for a few more hats and such!
Monday, February 6, 2012 3 comments

Knitting: Sweaters for Charity

I've been enjoying knitting so much lately, but I can only use so many knitted items for me and my family. When I heard about an organization that takes children off the streets of India, feeds them, clothes them, and gives them an education, I wanted to help out with their call for children's sweaters. They recommended the Knit for Kids sweater pattern in sizes 2 or 4.

If you've never made one of these, you wouldn't believe how incredibly small these kids are - and to be living on the streets! When I finished the first pink sweater, I showed it to my own children, holding it up to my small-built 6-year-old daughter. It was too small even for her, and they were shocked that children this small were living on the streets of India.

I was able to make this first pink sweater with machine-washable wool I had picked up on a recent thrift store trip, but it was all the wool I had in my stash at that point. However, the coordinator assured us that acrylic sweaters would be just as appreciated, so I got to work on a second sweater.

I had been given these coordinating Red Heart Super Saver yarns a few months ago, and there was just enough yardage to make a sweater. Several people have mentioned that this yarn softens up nicely in the wash, so I was happy to be able to use it for a good cause.

I also managed to make one more sweater before their February 2nd deadline, but I forgot to take pictures of it before the shipping box was sealed. It was a brown sweater, using a tweed yarn for the bottom and solid brown for the top.

They have an ongoing need for these sweaters, so I'm hoping to be able to make some more in the months ahead and ship them out three or so at a time. That way, they'll have some ready for the next trip they make.
Friday, February 3, 2012 2 comments

Butterflies & Doilies Cards

Here are some more of those pre-decorated "inchie" images that I didn't know what to do with before. I also managed to use up some hoarded paper and more of that huge stack of doilies.

Since the doilies are slightly bigger than 4-1/4", I had to think of ways to trim them to fit on my cards. This was a great idea I had seen on other people's cards. I just trimmed three scallop sections from one side, and it fit perfectly.

This is the last of my cards from our cardmaking day. I hope you've enjoyed the peek as much as I enjoyed making and showcasing them.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012 1 comments

Angel Cards

When I was going through some boxes from my parents' house the other day, I ran across these angel images I had cut from magazine ads years ago. I was inclined to throw away anything that didn't have sentimental value, but I decided to hang onto these since I knew they would make some cute cards.

One of my favorite things about these cards is that I was also able to use up paper scraps from the other cards I had made that same day. One of my unwritten craft "resolutions" is to not have paper scraps. I challenge myself to use up every bit of usable paper before the end of the day. If there are only 1" scraps left at the end of the day (and I can't think of a good card use for them), I'm throwing them away.

I know that sounds crazy for someone as "thrifty" as I am, but there comes a point when you have to decide to throw away something so you can hang onto things that (a) really matter and/or (b) are actually worth something. I've officially gotten to that point. :) I won't be throwing away 1/4 sheets of paper, but I'm feeling very good about tossing those 1" scraps that I always felt guilty about before.

As you can see, the card design is very simple. With images this detailed and pretty, you don't need much.

I was thrilled to discover that they matched very nicely with the scraps from my teacup cards.

See? I still didn't throw away smallish scraps, since I actually thought of a use for them before the end of the day. I'm considering this card to be a work in progress, since I'd like to add a little more to it (other than the obvious sentiment) before I give it as a card. I'll try to remember to keep you posted when I add to it.