Tuesday, April 30, 2013 1 comments

Kitchen/Cleaning Sponge Alternative

It's been awhile since I posted anything. I've been busy off-line, though, and the problem has mainly been a lack of motivation to write up projects that I finished awhile ago. So today I'm going to show you what I did yesterday and am working on today.

In the past few months, I made a bunch of dishcloths for our church's Mother's Day gifts. I decided I wanted to make some scrubbies to go with them.

I have been reading into this, and apparently acrylic yarn is scratchy enough to compete with nylon netting for a scrubbie. I've tried it in my own kitchen with surprisingly good results. Another older friend of mine agreed to test it out for me, too, and reported that the acrylic scrubbie worked as well as the nylon one I had made for her last year that she loved so much.

What does that mean? No more killing my fingers working with nylon netting or tulle!

So I went searching for just the right pattern. I saw (and tried) a crochet pattern for a sponge alternative, but it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. So I decided to take the concept and make my own knit pattern. Here are two variations I came up with:

The Ribbed Sponge (left)


US 8 knitting needles, set of double-pointed or 40" circular (I magic-looped these.)
worsted weight acrylic yarn (or cotton, if you prefer), approx. 10 grams


5 sts/inch, 7 rnds/inch in stockinette


Using Judy's Magic Cast-On, cast on 18 sts onto each needle (for a total of 36 sts).

Knit for 7 rounds.

Pattern Rounds:
Rnd 1: Purl.
Rnds 2-3: Knit.

Work pattern rounds a total of 5 times.

Purl 1 round.

Knit 7 rounds.

Graft with kitchener stitch or a 3-needle bind-off.

 The Waffle Sponge (right)


US 8 knitting needles, set of double-pointed or 40" circular (I magic-looped these.)
worsted weight acrylic yarn (or cotton, if you prefer), approx. 10 grams


5 sts/inch, 7 rnds/inch in stockinette


Using Judy's Magic Cast-On, cast on 16 sts onto each needle (for a total of 32 sts).

Knit for 5 rounds.

Pattern Rounds:

Rnd 1: Purl
Rnds 2-4: (k2, p2) around

Repeat pattern rounds a total of 4 times.

Purl 1 round.

Knit 5 rounds.

I did a 3-needle bind-off on this one, but you could also graft it with the kitchener stitch.

Both of these turn out around 3x4", so they fit comfortably in my hand. 

You could come up with an endless number of variations on this just by changing the pattern stitch in the middle. If I play around with any more, I'll be sure to share my results.

Friday, April 12, 2013 1 comments

Simple Splash of Color Hat

This was a knit-along project a month or so ago, and I really like how it turned out. I used yarn from my $5 thrift store haul, so I don't know the manufacturer. It's wonderfully soft, though, so I wish I knew who made it!

This is going into my charity hat box, which now has a destination next winter: an Indian missionary society that some of my high school and college friends are missionaries with. I recently spoke with the people in the home office, and they were delighted with the thought of having warm things to give the children at Christmas. (Interestingly enough, they said that acrylic would be fine.)

This is a free pattern that was pretty fast and fun: A Simple Splash of Color.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 2 comments

Triple T Socks for Operation Christmas Child

I got this fun sock yarn (Yarn Bee Walk Away in the Tango colorway) at Hobby Lobby awhile back and decided to make some fun, bright socks for the Operation Christmas Child boxes.

I used a free pattern: Triple T Socks by Kristi Schueler, and I really like how they came out. They are constructed toe-up. The pattern has instructions for all sizes, and it has a few design options. I chose to do this pair in the 3x1 rib style and child size 13. I was able to get both socks from one 50-gram ball of yarn.

This is also the first time I tried a Turkish cast-on (which I think I like) and the sewn bind-off (which I know I like). This was the easiest set of instructions I’ve found yet for the sewn bind-off.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013 1 comments

No-Fuss Shade-Loving Shawl

A friend of mine (a fellow pastor's wife) recently went through a second cancer surgery. I made this shawl as a prayer shawl and mailed it just in time to arrive the day before her surgery.

The colors are more true-to-life in the next two pictures, but here you can get an overall idea of what it looks like.

I'm wearing it in these pictures, but you get the idea. I chose coordinating colors from the thrift store haul my husband found awhile back ($5 for three large garbage bags full of yarn).

Burnt orange isn't my usual color to work with, but I discovered that it was quite pretty when I chose a monochromatic color scheme.

This shawl was super-easy and super-fast. I nearly finished it in one day. You can find the pattern for free on Ravelry: No-Fuss Shade-Loving Shawl by Susan Ashcroft.
Friday, April 5, 2013 2 comments

Doll Clothes Gift

My daughter and one of her friends have baby dolls that can fit baby-sized clothing, so I made her friend this set of doll clothes for Christmas. They are all free patterns. This dress is called Strimma and was originally designed for a real baby.

Since it looked like it was falling off the shoulders of the younger models, I added 1” of ribbing at the top to make it fit tighter around the neck. It changed the look of the neckline, but I’d rather do that than frustrate the girl who puts this on her doll and has to keep pulling the sleeves back up to the shoulders.

I did the skirt hem as the pattern states, but it rolled like crazy (as I suspected). Two rows of purling just isn’t enough. I re-joined the yarn and worked 5 rows of garter stitch before binding off.

This jacket/cardigan is called Baby Sophisticate, and I made it in the 0-3 months size with no changes. It was easy and fast!

Finally, I made a hat and mittens set in the smallest size of this pattern. I worked these in the round by simply eliminating one cast-on stitch and joining them. It’s much easier for me that way.

I think she liked them quite a bit, since I've seen them on her dolls. They were pretty fun to make, too!
Wednesday, April 3, 2013 1 comments

Knitting: Filmstrip Hat

I knit this hat for my brother-in-law who is really good at photography. It's double-knit, which means it's reversible:

It's also twice as warm, since it's a double layer of knit fabric.

Pretty neat, huh? Well, it's also a bit tricky at first, but Portuguese-style knitting makes this much, much easier. I can't even begin to explain in words how I wrap the yarns around my neck to make it easier, but you'll have to trust me on this one. It's pretty fun!

I used Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn, and I can't recommend it highly enough for an acrylic. It's super-soft and a joy to work with. The added bonus is that I fully support what the company stands for! (That doesn't happen very often.) :)

This is a free pattern called 35 mm Hat.
Monday, April 1, 2013 5 comments

Easter Outfits 2013

No, I didn't make my husband's suit (I wish I had that kind of patience!), but this is my favorite picture from yesterday that shows off my daughter's dress well. (I'll probably be enlarging this picture.) This is one of the first outfits that has actually turned out as gorgeous as I envisioned when I was planning it. I'm super-excited about it, especially since I made myself a matching one!

I am not photogenic. Not by a long shot. But I wanted to show you how our dresses matched. We both love them, so it's a win-win all around. I didn't take this picture, and the flash did funny things to the colors. My sweater does match my dress (at least in the daylight where I tested it). I actually knit the sweater before I made the dresses. My daughter already had a pink sweater that would work, so I didn't have to knit hers.

The idea for these dresses was born when I saw a similar ruffle and flower treatment done to a skirt in an online tutorial (here at Little Birdie Secrets). I simply used jumpers/sleeveless dresses as the base.

My own jumper is a fast and easy "2 Hour" kind of pattern (Simplicity #9830, if it's still available). It's as easy as they make it sound. Really.

I sort of made up my daughter's by using a bodice pattern from another dress I knew fit her and then changing the waistline and adding an A-line skirt that would fit it. I completely lined the bodice of hers, since it makes it really easy instead of fiddling with facings on small bodices.

I learned to use the ruffler attachment for my sewing machine! This Youtube video was fantastic. I bought my ruffler attachment at Hancock Fabrics at least a year ago, tried it, and couldn't figure it out to save my life. So I put it aside until I wanted to do these dresses and knew there was no way I was going to do all this ruffling the traditional way. I figured it out enough to get four strips ruffled, and that will have to do for now.

When I have more patience, I'll have to play around on my machine and figure out what was causing the rat's nest of thread on the back as I got to the end of the fourth strip. (Here's a great list of easy things to check when your sewing machine plays that trick on you, courtesy of About.com. Hint: It's not always the bobbin tension.)

You know I didn't go out and spend a fortune on this fabric, right? It was two sheets that have been sitting here for about two years, begging to be made into something really special. I finally figured out what would showcase them best! I'm especially thrilled to have a total materials cost of $6 for both dresses. That's how much the sheets cost at the thrift store where I got them, and I actually have over half of the striped one left. It has a gorgeous border on it that is waiting for just the right project to come along, too.