Monday, March 31, 2014 4 comments

Knitting: A "Sampler' Shawl

Yes, I've been on a lace shawl kick! :) After I found this fantastically soft sweater at a thrift store and recently unraveled it, I had the idea of making my daughter and I matching shawls for our Easter and Mother's Day outfits.

I was inspired by a few things. First of all, my daughter has been twirling around in the other shawls I've made, begging for one of her own. Secondly, I happened to notice that this color perfectly matches last year's Easter/Mother's Day outfits that we both can still fit. (You know I'm all about thriftiness, and updating last year's outfits for a fresh look is very thrifty.) Thirdly, I wanted to use this yarn because it's so soft that I couldn't wait to work with it.

The pattern I used is designed to make a shawl that would come close to fitting Goliath's mother, if she was anywhere near his size. ;) I'm not, and my daughter is even smaller than I am. So I browsed through the projects and found a few people who had scaled back the size a bit, and I followed their lead. This still turned out a lot bigger than I expected, but not too big for me.

This is a closeup of the beginning of the shawl (section 1 is called stars and section 2 is called blossoms) ...

... the middle of the shawl (leaves) ...

... and the edge of the shawl (called owls, but you have to look at them upside-down to see the owl faces; at this angle, they look like fox faces to me).

I can't even begin to tell you how lovely this is in person. It's even nicer than it looks in pictures, and it's so dreamy soft.

This was a pretty fast knit - it took me four days.

You can view my detailed notes on my Ravelry project page.
Friday, March 28, 2014 2 comments

Knitting: Another Baby Alpaca Shawl

The next shawl I knit was from the same baby alpaca sweater, but the second color - a heathered dark grey. I love it!

I managed to knit this one without dropping any stitches. :) It's really not as difficult as it looks (I finished it in five days), and I thoroughly enjoyed the process.

Here is a closer look at the middle section of the shawl.

This is a better look at the real color of the yarn, as well as the edge details.

And in case you've never knit a lace shawl before, this is what it looks like when you're done knitting, but haven't blocked it yet. Yes, it looks like a puddle of knotted yarn. If you ever delve into lace knitting, don't have a heart attack at this point. It looks beautiful once it's blocked. Blocking is what opens up the lace, and it stays opened up unless/until it's washed again (when you have to repeat the blocking process).

You can take a peek at my detailed notes on my Ravelry project page.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 1 comments

Knitting: Baby Alpaca Shawl

I decided to finally use the baby alpaca yarn that has been sitting in my stash for a year or so. Because it's so fine (fingering weight), I chose to make a shawl.

I love Estonian lace!! The nupps (like bobbles) aren't nearly as difficult as they sound, and the end result is nothing short of stunning.

This is a close-up of the pattern in the body of the shawl.

And here is a closeup of the edging with the nupps.

I did manage to drop two stitches in the process of making this, and I didn't discover them until I was blocking the shawl. (If you look at that first picture, you can see the stitch markers holding them in place until it was dry.) Fortunately, I was able to work them back in and secure them with extra yarn.

I have enough yarn left to make another shawl just like this, but I'll probably choose a different pattern just for variety's sake.

This was a free pattern, if you're interested. I managed to knit it in six days, so it's really not as difficult as it may look. I wouldn't recommend it for a new knitter, but if you're at least an advanced beginner, I think you could manage it.

You can see all the details on my Ravelry project page.
Thursday, March 13, 2014 1 comments

Crochet: Ruffly Fabric Scarf

Here's the scarf that I crocheted from the yarn I picked up on Monday.

I was itching to do it, so I went ahead and finished it that night. It took me about an hour, and I absolutely love the end result.

So does my 8-year-old daughter, as you can tell. She wanted it for herself. I told her I would buy another hank at some point and make her one of her own. Until then, we can share this one.

This is about half of the yardage of a similar yarn put out by Red Heart. Red Heart's retails around $10, so $4 for this scarf is about right. What I especially like is that it creates a shorter scarf, so I only have to pay for the yarn that I use.

I crocheted this one because I wanted to see if it makes any difference in the thickness and "ruffliness" of the finished product. This one turned out very boa-like, which is what I was hoping for. When I do one for my daughter, I may knit hers to see if there is any difference.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 2 comments

$33 Spring Wardrobe Refresher

Those of you who knew me as a child, teenager, and even a new mom know that I was not always interested in fun and interesting clothing choices. Like a few other things, I have come into this a bit later in life than my 8-year-old daughter. (Maybe she's rubbing off on me ... That's a thought!)

A friend at church recently commented that I "always wear black". Honestly, I wasn't offended. That wasn't her intention. It was just an honest observation. Black is my color, hands down. But I stepped back to look at my wardrobe, and I realized that I have been wearing mostly black all winter, at least to church.

Over the weekend, I went through my closet in an attempt to find something that wasn't black to wear to church. (I like a good challenge now and then.) I was a little depressed to find that several of my non-black favorites no longer fit me in a flattering way, and a lot of the other clothes aren't really my style anymore. But then I realized that I have a great reason to go clothes shopping!! :)

But you know me. I didn't go to the mall. No, I hit all the local thrift stores on Monday, my personal "day off". And I did it with a plan. My plan was to specifically add two colors to my wardrobe, with spring in mind: yellow and grey. Yellow is one of my all-time favorite colors, but I only had one yellow outfit in my whole wardrobe. The only grey I had was a grey and black wool skirt I recently purchased (at Goodwill, of course).

I had a general list of "basics" that I was looking for, and I found a good portion of them.

Here's what I found at Goodwill:

$5.90 - Ann Taylor Loft cotton tie-front cardigan (I've needed this piece for several years.)
I really don't like our local Goodwill's prices because I think they're too high for clothing that has just been donated to them, but I do like that they arrange everything in color groups and they do have the best selection around here. So I grudgingly have to admit that even $6 for a quality sweater/shirt/blazer isn't bad, if it's exactly what you're looking for.

$5.90 - Mossimo grey cotton cardigan
This grey cardigan is super-cute on, and I love that the sleeves aren't full length. I keep my elbows covered, so it's nice to have a few 3/4-length pieces when the weather heats up.

And in case you're wondering why I would wear cardigans when it's hot out to begin with ... I find a lot of nice layering pieces that by themselves don't meet my standards of personal modesty. Cardigans help to fill in the gaps.

$6.00 - grey Mossimo cropped blazer, brand-new with tags
Since I'm very petite, I like to find blazers like this one that don't end at the fullest part of my hips. This one ends at my waist and is designed to be worn open - the buttons are for looks only. It might look a little odd flat, but it's a very flattering fit on me.

$8.00 - yellow leather Fossil handbag
I liked the idea of having a purse to match my new colors, so I was thrilled to find this leather purse in near-perfect condition. I swallowed hard when I saw the $8 price tag, but you really can't beat that for real leather. I talked myself into it. (And, by the way, the trim is not blue like it looks in the picture. It's white.)

What convinced me to pay $8 for this purse - "genuine leather product"
Then I went to Salvation Army, which is really not the best place to look for clothing around here. The selection is pretty bad, and the quality is even worse. But every now and then I'm surprised by a gem, so I looked.

$1.00 - genuine leather belt that fits me perfectly
I haven't worn a belt in years, but I've been seeing women wear them over longer shirts, so I thought I'd try it out and see what I think of it on me. Since I'm so petite, most of my shirts could fall into this category if I don't tuck them in. :)

This is all I found at Salvation Army, but it only took me a few minutes, and I was happy to find the belt. It was on my list.

Then I went to another local thrift shop that is run by a church's outreach program. All of their "winter" clothing (including everything with long sleeves) was 75% off.

$0.75 - yellow Cherokee cotton zippered hoodie
This will be a good casual layering piece when the weather warms up just a bit. This looks so much better on than it does at this odd angle on my bed.

$0.75 - yellow Casual Corner zippered cardigan
This is a bit more dressy (no hood), but it could probably go either way, depending on what I used it with.

$0.50 - black zip-front shirt
A button-front black shirt is a wardrobe staple, but I really dislike the look of most button-front shirts on me. So when I saw this zip-front black shirt, I decided to try it on and see if I liked it any better. I do, so now I have a "basic black shirt" that isn't a long-sleeved t-shirt.

My last stop was Michaels (the craft store). They had their ruffle yarns on sale for $3.99, and they just got a new style in, a kind that I really like and actually wear (unlike the other ruffle scarves that I just don't know what to do with).

$3.99 - a future ruffle scarf with animal-print fabric at the ends
I'll show you how this looks as a scarf once it's done. It won't take long once I get the chance to work on it.

What I got for $33
I have to add in a few more basic pieces like a yellow cami (for layering) and a grey skirt, but this is the bulk of what I needed to get the season started. My current blacks and whites will go great with these to help round things out a bit. And as I go thrifting throughout the next few months, I can keep my eye out for additional pieces to go with these.

I have to say, this is really the first time I went shopping with a specific color scheme in mind, except my usual blacks and reds. It was a lot of fun, and it helped me to concentrate on what I had come for, rather than having to look at every piece of clothing in every store that was my size.

I can't wait to get the fabric to make my grey skirt. Then I can start making outfits!!

By the way, have you seen any nice (non-neon) yellow camis for reasonable prices this season? (I prefer the ones with adjustable straps, so I can make them as high in front as I like.) I don't relish the idea of hitting every clothing store in town trying to find one.