Friday, December 26, 2014 1 comments

Knitting: Scopes Beret

I've been on a beret kick lately, mostly because I like the style and wish I could find one that looks good on me.

This particular one fit well since I went down a needle size from the pattern recommendation, but it still doesn't flatter me at all.

It will keep someone warm, though, so I donated it to charity.

If you're interested in this pattern, it's another freebie on Ravelry: Scopes by Keladry B.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014 0 comments

Knitting: Nine Dwindling Cables beret

Here's a hat I made for charity. It's a free pattern called Nine Dwindling Cables by Yarn Owl. As you can see, it's great for people with "big hair" or those of us who wear our hair up. Something about this design is particularly flattering, but I can't put my finger on what it is.

I love how it looks from the top, too. I just adore cables!

This is the only problem I had with it - it's way too big for my small head, even with all of my hair tucked underneath. My family had a blast poking fun at my "turban" when I tried it on. I guess it's pretty obvious that I'm not a slouchy hat person.

I love this design so much, though, that I'm trying to figure out a way to scale it back so it doesn't overwhelm my small features. I pulled back a bunch of the fullness (and turned it to black and white) to get this effect, which I really, really like:

If you'd like to read my extensive knitting notes on this, you can view my project page using this link.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014 1 comments

Knitting: Julian Vest

I recently knit this vest for charity from a free pattern found on Ravelry: the Julian Vest by Raya Budrevich. It was easy, fast, and turned out cute. I made it in the 6 months size.
Saturday, December 20, 2014 1 comments

A sweater for Max

Since I introduced you to our toy poodle, I figured I'd share a sweater that I knit for him before he arrived. But before I do that, I realize that some people think sweaters on dogs are cruel and just for the owner's amusement. Not so. When you have a 6-1/2-pound dog whose hair needs to be kept somewhat short so that it doesn't mat, a sweater is a necessity in the winter. It would be cruel not to bundle him up for walks.

Of course, some dog sweaters are ridiculously cute - like this one. I combined two patterns to make this dog sweater, and they're both free on Ravelry. The main sweater is the Hoodie Dog Coat pattern. I made it in the small size and it's a little bit loose on him. Then I added the heart and bone design from The Boyfriend Dog Sweater. I added it in duplicate stitch afterward instead of knitting it in as I went.

Here's a better view of the back of it (and the heart and bone design).

This is the view from the bottom of the sweater. It has "sleeves" to keep his front legs warm, too.

I have a few more dog sweaters to share whenever I can get pictures of him in them. (They're cuter when he's wearing them!)
Friday, December 19, 2014 1 comments

A bed for our new toy poodle

We recently adopted a full-grown toy poodle from my sister. His name is Max, and he weighs in at 6-1/2 pounds. He's a little doll baby, let me tell you!

Before his arrival, I was trying to decide on a dog bed for him. Since it will be in our main living space, I wanted it to be cute. I browsed through some ideas on Pinterest and came across a picture of two puppies sleeping in small bunkbeds. I don't think that's very realistic (or safe), but it did give me an idea. I had a set of doll bunkbeds we had purchased for my daughter's dolls. They were very nice, but a little bigger than we had space for in her room. I checked, and the top bunk was the perfect size for a cute dog bed.

I just removed the slats from the bottom and inserted my own "mattress" - two old bed pillows placed inside a homemade fleece-blanket-pillowcase. There was a small gap between the bed frame and the mattress, so I just used some more fleece and made a cute pillow (like a real pillow you would lay your head on). There was even more of the fleece leftover, so I made it into a blanket for him to mess up to his heart's content.

This is a picture of him a few hours after we brought him home. No one had to tell him what it was or who it was for - he just knew.

Does he sleep in this all night? Well, no. He was used to being with at least one other dog all night, so it didn't work to keep him by himself at night. He wanted companionship. So he sleeps in my son's room at night. But he does nap on this bed a lot during the day.
Thursday, December 18, 2014 2 comments

The last of my doll sewing for Christmas is done!

Kit and Samantha are modeling the doll dresses I finished for a friend of mine who is giving gift sets to several girls for Christmas.

I made it through ten of these dresses, but I seriously doubt I'll be making any more of them.

I really appreciate it when people take the time to write up and share patterns for free. Really, I do. I know how much work goes into it. But I thought I should caution anyone who has thought of using this particular pattern about a few things:

  1. The dresses are difficult to get on and off the dolls. I was afraid I was going to end up pulling the arms off the dolls in the process of getting them on and off. Granted, my Kit and Samantha aren't brand-new dolls, but I'm a lot more careful with them than most girls I know.
  2. The actual sewing is a pain in the neck, especially when you're adding the ribbon at the waist. It would have been a lot easier (and make a lot more sense) to run a gathering stitch through the front bodice instead of just trying to gather it via the pinning method. There's a lot of fabric to gather into a tiny space. And since it's all sewn together at that point, it makes it quite interesting to sew it without sewing the front and back together where they're not supposed to be.
Since I was making ten of them, I went the easy route and used lace trim on the bottom hem and pre-made ribbon at the waist.

Then I knit them coats and hats. I was pretty happy with how these turned out. It's a great use for that fun fur!

For the coats, I used this pattern, available on Ravelry for a small fee. The pink hat was made according to the same pattern, but it isn't the best fit in the world. As a result, I used a different pattern for the rest of the hats: Newsboy Cap for American Girl/Boy Dolls by Debonair Designs. It's free, and I really like it.

Now I'm all caught up with the projects I promised other people for Christmas. I'll try to show you a few more of the projects I've been working on in the next few days.
Saturday, December 13, 2014 1 comments

Sewing some Christmas gifts

I'm working on sewing some Christmas gifts for friends. This dress is going to a good friend's granddaughter who has a Kaya doll and wants another dress so she can actually change clothes. (Kaya's wardrobe isn't very extensive, but kids DO like to change these dolls' clothes every now and then.)

I used Simplicity #4786 for the dress portion and used a dark suede-like fabric. If you ever sew this pattern for an American Girl doll, you'll want to widen the bottom of the sleeves a bit. It's a very tight squeeze to get this around her open hands. It can be done, but I'll be changing it the next time I make it.

This dress is very simple. I jazzed it up a bit with the beaded turquoise trim. I have no idea if it's authentic for Kaya's particular tribe, but this little girl isn't going to care, as long as it looks like something an American Indian would wear. I always think of turquoise and silver in relation to American Indians.

This trim is a bit interesting to work with. I hand-stitched it between each and every bead, but it was worth the trouble. I like how it turned out.

And this is what the rest of my work table looks like. I have ten more dresses to sew for another friend - all for 18" dolls. They should go pretty quickly.
Saturday, November 22, 2014 1 comments

Knitting: Twin Leaf Baby Blanket, Day Two

On the second day of knitting this blanket, I finished 14 of the 38 repeats. This is such a beautiful pattern and quite fun to knit, too. I may end up making at least one more of these.
Friday, November 21, 2014 1 comments

Knitting: Twin Leaf Blanket

Every now and then I get the urge to knit a blanket. I have all the blankets I need at my house (most people I know do), so I knit a baby blanket for charity.

When I came across the Twin Leaf Baby Blanket pattern, it was too beautiful not to knit. So I started it yesterday and made this much progress over the course of about half the day:

Yes, I know this is larger than my margins, but it's much easier to see the stitch detail at this size, so I'm keeping it large. :)

It's knit with sportweight yarn on size 4 needles, so it's not going to be super-fast to knit. But that's okay. With something this beautiful, I enjoy watching it take shape as I knit. I'm more of a process knitter anyway - I enjoy the process of knitting even more than the finished product (usually).

It's a beautiful pattern, and it's free - when you sign up for a newsletter. If you're interested, you can find out more at its Ravelry page here.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014 0 comments

Knitting: Brambles Beret

I finished the sweater I was designing, but I need to sew the buttons on before I can model it for the blog. So I thought I'd show you a beret I knit for charity in the meantime.

This is a free pattern called Brambles Beret by Amanda Muscha. It's very pretty! It may look difficult, but it really isn't.

I knit this in the small size without any extra repeats, and it’s a perfect fit for my 9-year-old daughter. If I were to make it for myself (or another small adult who wears their hair up), I’d try it with an extra repeat (as suggested on the pattern page when using acrylics).
Monday, October 27, 2014 1 comments

Designing My Sweater: Days 4 and 5

Reducing the sleeve stitches was exactly what this sweater needed. I was able to complete the entire sleeve with the same amount of yarn that I had previously used for just the sleeve cap and one inch of the sleeve.

I only have to finish the last sleeve cuff and then add buttons. I still have to go through my buttons to see if I have some or if I need to buy some.

My notes on the sleeves:

I wanted to transition the sleeves down to 9” circumference, so I needed to decrease to 44 stitches over 7” in length. (This works out to 42 rows.) So I decreased 2 stitches every 7th row, 6 times. I worked an additional 7 rows, and that put it right at my elbow so that I could start ribbing.
Because I like nice, tight ribbing, I switched to 2’s and decreased an additional 4 sts (every 10th st) on the first row of ribbing. I worked 2" of ribbing before binding off with a stretchy bind-off.
Saturday, October 25, 2014 1 comments

Designing My Sweater: Day 3

You probably can't tell from the picture, but this sleeve is enormous.

I didn't make as much progress today, simply because I ripped the sleeve out at least five times trying to get it "just right".

Two things went wonderfully right, though:

1. The button band turned out perfectly.
2. The two skeins are not as different as they appeared in the lighting I saw them in earlier, so the sleeves will look just fine knit from the second skein.

My notes on the button band:

I picked up 262 stitches (3 for every 4 rows around) with smaller needles. This gave me 44 stitches before the v-neck on each side, and I placed markers to separate these. I'll be working buttonholes onto these stitches and increases directly after them on even rows.

To account for the v-neck, I increased one stitch after the first stitch marker and one stitch before the second stitch marker on every even row. Row 2 is a "make 1 knit", Row 4 is a "make 1 purl", Row 6 is a "make 1 knit" (right beside the previous "make 1 knit"), Row 8 is a "make 1 purl" (right beside the previous "make 1 purl").

I worked the buttonholes on Row 5. I wanted 4 buttonholes, and I worked a bind-off buttonhole over 4 stitches so that I can use the BIG buttons that I want. Each end buttonhole is 2 stitches away from each end (I'll increase to 4 stitches on the bottom if I do this again), so that meant I had 8 stitches between each buttonhole.

I bound off the button bands (regular, non-stretchy) on Row 10 without increasing any at the bottom of the “v”.

My notes on the sleeves:

Originally, I picked up 3 sts for every 4 rows around the armhole and got 84 sts. I tried several methods to make that work (and ripped them all out after the sleeve cap was finished), but that was entirely too many stitches.

So I'm going to go back and pick up every other stitch. That should work a lot better. 
Friday, October 24, 2014 1 comments

Designing My Sweater: Day 2

It's looking good so far!

I got a lot done today. I tend to have a one-track mind when I'm working on something I've never done before. I think it's because I don't want to forget what I'm doing and how to do it. At any rate, I'm ready to knit on the button bands next. I might have done the sleeves next, but I realized a little late that my two balls of this yarn are different dye lots. I really have to use the same yarn for the button bands, since they're so visible and right smack in the middle of the sweater.

These skeins were given to me and in the same bag, so I assumed they were the same dye lot. This one had no ball band, but it's obviously a different dye lot than my other skein. Now I wish I had started with the full skein! Oh well, I'm hoping it won't be so obvious if I have to work the sleeves in the second skein.

Here are my design notes from today:

I switched to the larger needles (size 4) and increased 6 stitches on each front section and 12 stitches on the back section by increasing every 6 stitches, working in stockinette stitch.

I began the v-neck shaping when the sweater measured 7” from cast-on. I’m decreasing 28 stitches (on each front) over 70 rows, so that equals out to 4 stitches (on each front) every 10 rows. [NOTE that this figure does not take armhole shaping into account, so it didn't work like I thought it would. I actually quit decreasing at Row 60 and probably should have quit a little sooner or, better yet, spaced the decreases out a bit more.]

I split for the armholes at 10” from the cast-on edge. When I joined the yarn to the back and other front, I was ready for a wrong-side row (row 21 of v-neck decreases).

Since I’m working this seamlessly, I only bound off 4 stitches for the armhole and then decreased at the armhole edge 8 times (continuing the v-neck shaping at the same time) before armhole shaping was complete.

I quit the v-neck shaping at Row 60 and just knit straight stockinette stitch until Row 70. There were 11 stitchess left, and I “graded” the shoulder with short rows (using w&t): leaving off 3 sts on the first row and 2 on the next rows until I had 2 sts left. Then I purled back through all of the sts one last time, picking up the wraps as I went. I put these live sts on waste yarn to graft later.

I repeated this for the second front, reversing the shaping.

I did decreases on the back section as the pattern states. I did a total of 8 paired decreases for the armholes after the initial bind-offs. At Row 70, I started shaping the shoulders (and quite knitting the center stitches) and then grafted them to the matching fronts.
Thursday, October 23, 2014 1 comments

Knitting a Sweater for Me: Making It Up As I Go Along

One of the reasons I wanted to learn to knit was to be able to make more clothing for myself. I could already sew pretty much anything I wanted, so learning to knit was like completing my skill set for clothing.

I've been knitting for a few years now and consider myself an accomplished knitter. I can knit just about anything I put my mind to, even if I don't particularly enjoy some things (like seaming). So the next step is to see if I can create a sweater that I want but can't find commercially (or in knitting patterns).

This sweater is my inspiration piece, although my version will be different in several ways:

I love the fit of this sweater. It fits me perfectly in size, shape, and proportions (which is always difficult to find when you're as petite as I am). I've searched online for this sweater in white, but to no avail. So I'm taking my favorite elements from it and creating my own.

It's helpful to have a guide of some sort, so I searched Ravelry for sweaters that looked remotely like what I had in mind. I came up with the Ione Cropped Cardigan by Spotlight Australia (a free pattern). I used it for the initial cast-on numbers and will use it for the armhole shaping and the number of sleeve stitches when I get to that point. Other than that, I'm changing the rest (including using a different yarn weight).

One thing that was very important to me was to use a finer yarn than I usually use for sweaters. Worsted-weight yarns knit up quickly, so they're my go-to yarn for sweaters. But I'm small and petite, and sometimes I get "swallowed alive" by the thickness of worsted-weight sweaters. I'm using Bernat Baby Sport for this sweater because I have it on hand (given to me). The Ravelry yarn page says it's DK-weight, but mine is squarely in the sport-weight category. Maybe this is an older batch.

On my first day of knitting, I accomplished all 6" of the bottom ribbing:

Ribbing and stockinette stitch aren't the most exciting things to knit, but I really love the simple look of them. So I listened to a Knit Picks podcast and part of an audio book I downloaded from my local library while I was knitting this.

Before I start the stockinette section, I'm going to put in a lifeline in case I make a mistake in the shaping sections and need to rip back. Lifelines are a knitter's best friend when you're making up a pattern as you go along.

I'll try my best to share my progress as I go along.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 1 comments

Knitting: Diamond Beret for Charity, Take Two

I used smaller needles this time (6 and 8 instead of 7 and 9), since it turned out large enough for Goliath the last time. :)

It's a very quick knit. I was able to finish it in just a few hours.

Now that it’s finished, I can’t see much difference between the two. (This one is resting on top of the last one I made that was huge.) The ribbing is a tiny bit tighter to my head, but it’s still way too big to keep me warm, or even to stay on my head. I’ll try another pattern for me.
Monday, October 20, 2014 1 comments

Knitting: Diamond Beret for Charity

I made this for charity first to see if I liked how it looked on me.

 It was easy as can be, but it turned out HUGE. I’ll try it again on smaller needles and yarn.

The note on the pattern indicated that I would need to slip a stitch from the next round on the decrease rows, but I had enough stitches that I didn’t need to.

Instead of finishing off at 14 sts, I did what someone else recommended - I knit one row, then did skp on the next row before finishing off by pulling the yarn tail through the stitches.

If you'd like to try this free pattern, you can find a link to it on Ravelry: Diamond Cap by Meg Myers.
Thursday, October 9, 2014 0 comments

Knitting: Black Peasant Cap for me ... I think!

I recently tried to make myself a warm winter hat. I had made this pattern for my mother-in-law last year and loved how it looked on me then. But now that I've made it for myself, I'm not so sure about it. I look ridiculous in beanies, and I'm not so sure I like how I look in this hat, either.

Please excuse the splotches on the mirror. This is the kids' bathroom, and they have a nasty habit of flinging their hands dry before they reach for a towel. I usually see it before taking pictures, but I didn't this time.

It's a very nice hat and wonderfully designed. In theory, I love it. In practice, I think it's my face that I don't love. Unfortunately, there's no knitting trick to cure that. :)

I made my mother-in-law's in white, so I did think about going with white for this hat. But I wanted a natural fiber for warmth, and truly white wool is hard to come by. I used Hobby Lobby's I Love This Wool for this hat, and I loved working with it. It's nice and soft, although it's not machine-washable. It's not like you wash winter hats every week anyway, so that won't be a hardship.

Did I ever mention that I have naturally curly hair that I've decided to quit fighting? All my life I've been combing the curls out of my hair and then wondering why my hair was so frizzy. I didn't realize I had naturally curly hair because I thought "natural" curls wouldn't do that. Fortunately, a friend recently directed me to the book The Curly Girl Handbook where I learned what I've been doing wrong and how to correct it. As a result, my hairstyle and haircare routine has changed.

Why did I mention all of that? Well, I finally decided that I'm tired of freezing all winter without a hat, but I don't want my hair rubbing against wool (or even acrylic) and frizzing when I wear one. So I got the idea to wear my satin sleep cap (to keep my hair from frizzing while I sleep) underneath a wool winter hat. I have it on in the photos, and you can't tell. Yay!!

If you're interested in the pattern I used, it's a free Ravelry download: DIY Peasant Cap by Melody Parker.

If you have any other non-beanie hat suggestions for me (especially handknits that I can make), I'd love to hear them!
Friday, October 3, 2014 0 comments

Knitting: Child's Striped Raglan Sweater

I chose a bright orange and dark blue for my next child's charity sweater. I enjoy top-down raglans, so I decided to make this one a bit more interesting by adding stripes. Each stripe is 6 rows long.

Today (yesterday when you read this) was a busy day with a good bit of traveling and visiting involved, so I had quite a bit of time to knit on this sweater. I'll do one more orange stripe and then switch to ribbing on the dark blue to finish off the body.
Thursday, October 2, 2014 1 comments

Knitting: $5 in Paris, Version 3 Complete

I finished the purple version of "$5 in Paris". I like it!

I think I'm going to go back to a few child-sized sweaters for now, though, so I don't over-run my sweater drawer with this one sweater pattern. It's hard not to overdo a pattern that is so perfect!
Wednesday, October 1, 2014 1 comments

Knitting: Purple "$5 in Paris" Sweater for Me

This is how far I've gotten since Monday on the third sweater from this pattern.

I'm working the sleeves at the same time because I'm running close on my main yarn color and don't want to have to buy seven more ounces of yarn if I only need a few yards. If I don't have enough to finish to the same sleeve length as my previous versions, I'll just end with ribbing in my contrast color. It will still be long enough for me and still be 3/4-length sleeves.

Did I mention that this sweater really doesn't look like much until you put it on? Really, it doesn't. The first time I knit it, I looked at it on the table and thought, "Mine isn't going to look as good on as the rest of the projects I've seen." Then I put it on and it really DID look as good as the other projects.

One thing I'm doing differently this time is weaving in the ends as I go. For each stripe, you cut the yarn. That's a lot of ends to weave in when you're done, and I prefer to do that work as I go along. For some reason, it's not nearly as annoying when you're only doing one or two ends at a time. It's downright tedious when you're doing 54 ends at a time.
Monday, September 29, 2014 1 comments

Knitting: $5 in Paris Sweater for ME!

I spent the weekend knitting myself a sweater. I don't know about you, but I love sweater weather. Unfortunately, most of my storebought sweaters make me look like I gained 20 pounds, all in places I'd rather not gain. So I was happy to find a free pattern for a striped sweater in a flattering fit. It's called $5 in Paris.

This is my second sweater in this pattern, and I already have a third one waiting for me to start today.

I made some significant tweaks to the pattern, so you may want to check out my project page if you want to make one for yourself. I changed the neckline to more of a traditional jewel neckline, rather than the boatneck, almost-off-the-shoulder neckline that is written into the pattern. I also made the sleeves longer by working as many stripes on the sleeves as I worked on the body of the sweater. This came out to 3/4-length sleeves on me.

For this sweater, I used the "I Love This Yarn" from Hobby Lobby in the worsted weight. It's yellow and navy blue. I'm always happy to support Hobby Lobby, and I truly do love the yarn or I wouldn't work with it.

As for the Sherwood Sweater I'm working on, I got a little distracted with these sweaters. I'm 3/4 of the way finished with the second sleeve, so it won't take me long to finish when I get these sweaters "out of my system". :)
Friday, September 26, 2014 1 comments

Trying something new with our homemade AG doll rooms

Recently I saw a picture of a dollhouse on another blog made out of mostly trifold project boards. She added a wooden board to the top (that didn't go the whole way out) and then layered cardboard flooring over that. I didn't think foam board or cardboard could hold that much weight, but it never hurts to try, right?

So I set up the two foam board rooms that I've already made - the cabin and the schoolroom. Then I layered two doubled-up foamcore project boards on top (just because I had them on hand and was experimenting). So far, so good. Ideally, you would keep the heaviest furniture on the floor. But if you keep the heavier furniture upstairs to the outer perimeter, it looks like it should work. I'm going to leave it up for a few days of play and see how it goes.

And yes, this is set up in our living room. Sorry about the distracting background!
Thursday, September 25, 2014 1 comments

My version of a doll's snack cart

This is a project I made last Christmas for my daughter and just haven't shared here yet. I was originally inspired by kkcollect (you can find her on Youtube), but you can see that mine went a slightly different direction once I got going. I appreciated her inspiration, but I like mine better. :)

Kit and Samantha are showing off my homemade, very affordable snack cart.

Here's a better view of the canopy that I made from a gift bag, coat hangers, and a few scraps of PVC pipe. The base of the cart is made from a photo storage box.

It has a mini fridge/freezer, microwave and cash drawer just like AG's version. As you can see, they all stay closed quite nicely. To fill in the space that the boxes weren't occupying, I used a piece of foam board with pieces cut out for the boxes to slide into. I glued everything into place so it wouldn't come apart.

Notice the sink? It's a mini plastic bowl from Dollar Tree with a coat-hanger-end faucet and bead knobs.

The mini fridge/freezer and microwave are made from boxes I got in a set at Dollar Tree. I just covered them with white paper (for the fridge/freezer) and a printed microwave panel (for the microwave).

The cash drawer is made from a large box of matches, also purchased at Dollar Tree. I added a bead as a pull handle and printed doll money (dollars and quarters) to go inside.

Here you can see the food accessories that go with it: juice containers (erasers from Target Dollar Spot), lip gloss soda cans (from Wal-Mart's after-Christmas clearance), water bottles (from Ebay - blogged about these previously), juice bottles (homemade from breath freshener at Dollar Tree), hot dogs/French fries/hamburgers/sandwiches (all erasers from Target's birthday party favor section), homemade fountain-style water and cola drinks. Not pictured: ice cream cones and popsicles (both erasers, both stored in the mini fridge/freezer).

And here's what it looks like from the customer's side.