Sunday, December 23, 2007

Skull hat - take 2

After seeing my first attempt, my sister-in-law became obsessed with having a skull hat of her very own (see the comments on this post). I didn't have the stamina to make another one, but I did find another pattern that was a somewhat simplified version and offered to make her that one instead. And believe it or not, not only did I actually follow through and make it, but I even finished it in time for Christmas! Hooray! It turned out a bit bigger than the pattern called for based on the gauge I'd gotten when making E's kitty hat, but she had told me in advance that she has a big head (as do I), so it actually worked out perfectly. Besides, I figure she can shrink it a little if she has to. As a bonus, it is really very warm and cozy since it has a double layer "headband" inside. I know she wants matching mittens, but not sure if and when I'll get to those.

Overall though, I'm pretty proud of how this hat turned out and I'm thinking about making one for myself, probably in pink and black, and maybe a matching one for E too, but with the colors reversed. Of course, I probably won't start either till after the holidays and knowing me, I'll finish them sometime this summer.

My mom saw me making this one and was creeped out by the skulls. She gave me a lecture about how it's bad for a baby to be wearing something with skulls on it. T has started referring to it as the 'death hat.'

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Odds and ends

I couldn't stand it that E didn't have a cute little hat to wear in the cold weather (especially since it's been kind of chilly here lately), so I very hastily whipped one up yesterday. I figured I'd just start with a generic design and then see how far I could get with adding things onto it. I actually got a lot further than I thought (apparently, watching Project Runway inspires me to knit very very fast). I got a hat, earflaps and one sad kitty-ear done before we had to go out this morning.

Also, since I gave it to her already, I can post the needle roll I made for my friend Meighan. It's actually much much nicer than the first one I made for myself, as it has two layers of pockets and a layer of cotton batting in the middle. And I love the fabric, which I bought special because I know she has a thing for birds. Of course, being the slightly compulsive/anal retentive person I am, I'm still not 100% happy with it (grrr to the crooked stitching), but overall, it looks pretty good. And T, being the good hubby that he is, said that crooked seams pale in comparison to the fact that it was homemade with love and is one of a kind. Awwww.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Racing to finish

I leave town in four days!! And while I'm very excited to see my family, I'm also feeling super stressed about getting all my little projects done before I go. As usual, I got way over-ambitious and bit off more than I can chew when it came to making Christmas presents this year. Argh.

I do have one major present done, which I'm actually quite proud of, but I can't post it just yet because I don't want to ruin the surprise, just in case the person happens to see this. I also have one knitting project in progress and one that I haven't even started, but at least knitting is portable, so I can try and get those done after I get to Chicago.

A couple other things I'd hoped to get done before leaving include some kind of poncho or cape for E to wear while in the Ergo, and the felted sweater cardigan. I've run into a total brick wall on that last one since I'm not sure I have enough material to cut out all the pieces. So now I'm debating whether I should cannibalize the matching longies or maybe just do the sleeves in a contrasting color? Not that I have time to do either of these things.

Also, for all my projects and obsession with knitting little hats, I realized that E does not have a warm hat to fend off the freezing midwestern temperatures. I'm actually kind of kicking myself about it right now since there's no way I can knit one before we leave. Double argh.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Selling my wares

In all the years that I've been making stuff, I've gifted or given away plenty, but I don't think that I've ever sold anything for money. Well, slap my pappy and call me Sally, I finally sold something! Even more surprising is that fact that it was my sewing, not knitting.

This past week, I made some babylegs on request for a friend who offered to pay me. And being the crazy, overboard person
that I am, I made way more than necessary. And yes, this was during the same time that I was baking up a couple hundred cookies and making birthday dinners. Apparently, this is my week of domestic diva-dom.

In any case, I just thought I'd
share, because some of the babylegs were pretty freaking cute. In the pic above, E is wearing a pair of holiday babylegs that have furry Santa tops.

More Christmas themed ones:
Stripes and dots:
And last, but not least, black with white polka dots and blue stripes:

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Only a crazy person...

...would agree to making 10 dozen cookies for a cookie exchange. And I am that crazy person. Or actually, I guess I'm one of 20 crazy people. Don't get me wrong. I love to bake, and normally this is the type of thing that I would consider super fun. But I think I forgot that it's hard to work with hot ovens and such when you have a 9-month old baby crawling around, pulling up on your pant legs and whatnot.

On the plus side, I will have 20 different half-dozens of cookies to eat. Or wait, is that the minus side?

Did I also mention that yesterday was T's birthday, so I felt compelled to bake for him too? Normally, every year I bake a German Chocolate cake since it's his favorite. But this year, I just couldn't bring myself to commit to it. The thought of dealing with beating egg whites and coconut pecan frosting....*sigh*...let's just say I wasn't up for it. So instead, I made cake balls. OK, go ahead and insert your schwedde/salty chocolate balls joke here. Got it out of your system now?

Anyways, they're basically cake and frosting mixed together, coated with chocolate. Sort of like a cross between a rum ball and a cake truffle. They are far too easy to make and far too good for me to ever make again. I should also note that one batch turned out to be like, 5 dozen of them. We kind of made ourselves sick from eating so many last night.

I know that cooking/baking technically doesn't fall into the "crafty" category, but I figure it's close enough. And hey, it's my blog, I can do whatever I want.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

half-finished stuff

I can't seem to motivate to finish anything. After my burst of Ravelry-inspired knitmania, I have more unfinished stuff than ever. But at least now it's all cataloged. I figured I may as well share, even though nothing is done.

Here's a cupcake hat that I started for E. I actually got pretty far, but the "icing" part is not really poofing out the way I want, so I may have to unravel and start again. I do like the colors though. And it's hard to see, but there's little bobbles along the bottom of the pink part.

This is a scarf that I randomly decided to start the other night when I went to a knitting thing with a bunch of other moms. I didn't bring any of my other current projects (don't ask me why), just a random assortment of yarn, including some of the pretty sale yarn I got a few weeks ago, and a few books. I've never really done any cable-knitting before, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I think it actually looks really pretty. I'm thinking about making a matching hat and gifting the set to my brother's girlfriend.

Here's a an oldie. It's about 3/4 of what is someday going to be a stuffed rhinoceros. Yes, you read that right. A couple years ago, I got a book of patterns for knitted stuffed animals and I actually made a few as baby gifts. This was also supposed to be for a friend's baby (who is now almost 2 years old), but as usual, I kind of lost steam - even though I was approaching the finish. One of these days, I'll get around to making the head.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Just when I think I'm out...

RavelryI know I said that I was taking a break from knitting....but that was before I got my Ravelry invite! OK, a little backstory: about a month ago, I heard about a site called Ravelry which is kind of like a MySpace but for knitters and crocheters. How much more up my alley could this be? Even better than that, besides the friends/networking aspect, it's got all these great tools to help you keep track of projects, patterns, yarn, even your library of knitting books. The only problem is that it's still in Beta, so you have to sign up on a waiting list to join.

Well, after waiting about 3 weeks (and impatiently hitting their "wait list checker" several times a week), I finally got my invite over the weekend. All I can say is that it is awesome. Pretty much as sweet as I thought it would be. The only terrible thing about it is that I've now found about two dozen more projects that I want to start. Oh, and the fact that by cataloging my yarn, I'm going to reveal to the world just how ridiculous my yarn stash is. Eek!

On the plus side though, it's gotten me to drag out some old projects, take pictures and actually think about maybe finally finishing them. A good example is this top that I started as a birthday gift for my mom about 4 years ago. It's been laying around half-finished but now I am determined to have it done by Christmas. Seriously. I mean it this time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

And even more babylegs...

three more pairs of babylegs
After I got the felting going last weekend, I also dusted off the sewing machine and finally got around to finishing up some more baby leg warmers that I'd started a while back. I don't know why I was being such a procrastinator. They've been sitting there, all cut and ready to rock for over a month now. I think the headache of dealing with stripes turned me off. So I forgot how much easier it is to work with solids! I stitched three pairs up in no time at all! Even the argyle ones, which lined up just the way I wanted.

skulls!It's kind of hard to tell, but the ones in the middle have rows of tiny skulls along the band at the top (see slightly crappy picture at left). They were part of the same set as the pink ones with skulls that I made earlier (see this post). The skull argyle is probably my favorite. Even though this is a bit embarrassing to admit, I actually found these at Hot Topic and totally paid too much money for them. I'm sure they thought I was a crazy person, wandering around in there with E in my ringsling, twice as old as everyone else.

So this brings the number of babylegs I've made for E up to 8-9. In my own defense, she's actually managing to wear through some of them already. She's been doing a LOT of crawling around the house, and the berber carpet in our living room is pretty hard on them. Also, once my cousin found out I was making these for E, she sent me a couple pairs of cute socks that she came across (including the very cute black and white argyles above).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A couple things I missed

I almost forgot. Two small things I recently finished/adjusted. One is this pink ribbon-y hat that I finished a while back. Since it was so short on E and I still had a lot of yarn leftover (but of course, not enough to make anything else), I decided to crochet a brim. It looks a little rough, but at least it fits E's head now. Or at least, it does when she deigns to wear it. She kept pulling it off while I was trying to take this picture.

I also finished another pair of babylegs a while back. I actually had several pairs all cut and ready to be sewn, just sitting around. I did sew one, but the stripes didn't match up, which drives me crazy (yes, I have some kind of OCD about it), so I spent a long time contemplating whether to rip them out and do them over. I decided it wasn't worth the time since you can't really see how bad it is when they're on. I have a love-hate relationship with the stripes. I love them because they are so cute! But I hate how hard it is for me to get them matched up just right. I'd say that's the number one reason why I haven't tried sewing some to sell.

Switching modes (part one)

I think that skull hat really burned me out on knitting. I've been trying very half-heartedly to start a few new projects (I really wanted to make a "cupcake" hat), but they don't seem to be going anywhere. And this is even after I just bought some gorgeous Jaeger yarn for 75% off (shh...don't tell T). Not to mention that my hands have been hurting too from working with such small needles and fine yarn. So I think I'm going to put the knitting aside for a while - so much for selling hats - and move back to sewing. Sorry Amber, looks like you won't be getting those skull mittens anytime soon.

Part of my renewed interest in sewing also comes from the fact that I've been thinking a lot lately about felting. I got a bunch of wool yarn on sale last week, and was thinking about making
this skull bag, but then I got to thinking that you know, it's a lot of work to knit something and then felt it too. I could easily skip the most time-consuming aspect (the knitting) and skip right to the felting if I found some old wool sweaters. So off to the Salvation Army store I went. And not only did I find a good number of 100% wool sweaters, but they were all 50% off, so I ended up with a five sweaters for under $15. I had to resist the urge to buy every single one I could find, but if these first few projects go well, then I'll definitely be heading back on the next 50% off day and cleaning them out. Oh, and I also found a wool sweater in T's closet that had a few holes in it and convinced him that it was time to retire it. So make that six sweaters.

The problem is, once I got all these sweaters home, I realized that I didn't really know what I was going to do with them all. I mean, how many tote bags does a girl need? Even a super crafty bag-addicted girl like myself can only use one at a time. I did some googling, and found this really cool idea from Martha Stewart. And I even found a great handknit cabled/textured sweater (pictured, right) that I could use. But now I'm kind of toying with the idea of unravelling the sweater so I can repurpose the yarn. I know, it's crazy. But it does seem like really nice yarn. And I could even dye it. Ack, what am I saying?!

I also ended up getting a couple good project ideas from a moms board that I'm on. One is to take the sleeves and make them into little wool pants for E (commonly known as "longies" in the world of cloth diapering). I love this idea! Although, it's really going to put my sewing skills to the test. I've never sewn any kind of garment before, baby or otherwise. And then someone else mentioned making a baby sweater out of the adult sweater, and then adding needle felted embellishments (also a Martha project). I actually really love this idea too. The sweaters are too cute. But it requires me to delve into a whole other hobby - needle felting. This means buying new supplies like needles, roving and foam pads. I can already see it getting out of hand. But I'm so tempted.

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

On second thought...

I guess there is something to be said for gauge after all. And my punishment for willfully ignoring it? I finally finished the skull hat, and it fits no one. It's too big for E, and too small for me.

I also have to say, this was a lot harder to make than I thought. This was my first effort at fair isle knitting , and I'm not sure how much more I'll be doing in the future. By the time I got a little more than half finished, I was really sick of working on it (not to mention my hands were hurting from working with such fine yarn) and it required a lot of will power for me to not just abandon the whole thing and start unraveling. I also don't really like how "busy" the pattern looks. I do really like the skulls though, so I may make a hat with just a ring of skulls running around it.

I think I'm going to stick with fruit hats for now. I'm actually toying with the idea of selling hats too. Although, if I'm really going to do that, I should probably start cranking them out since the holidays and cold weather will be upon us soon.

Here's a funny picture I couldn't resist posting of E wearing the hat:

ETA: I realized after posting this that technically, the hat isn't 100% finished. I still have to do a little work on the bottom edge. But you get the point.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Gauge schmage

I have to confess, despite being an avid knitter, I almost never pay attention to gauge, nor do I ever do gauge swatches. In fact, I rarely ever knit an entire pattern word for word. Maybe it's the rebel in me, or maybe it's some kind of ADD, but I just can't seem to ever stick to them. For one thing, most patterns call for a very specific kind/brand of yarn, usually of the expensive variety. And of course, I'm a total cheapskate, not to mention the fact that I already have soooo much yarn that I cannot possibly justify going out and buying any more (not that this stops me from randomly buying yarn because it's pretty). So I usually will just sub in whatever I happen to have on hand. In the early days, this was usually cheap acrylic yarn that was way thicker than what was in the original pattern, so no amount of sizing down needles was going to get me the right gauge. And as time went on, I was more willing to buy nicer yarn, but I'm still not willing to drop $10/skein, especially when a pattern calls for 4-5 skeins.

The one time that I knitted a gauge swatch, got the gauge right (or at least, what I deemed to be as close to right as I could get), and knitted the pattern exactly as written? I made baby booties that seemed to be about 3 sizes too big. And yes, this was even using the fancy expensive yarn that the book recommended. Grrr.

As time went on, I also found that most patterns were never exactly what I was looking for. And those that were, cost money (again, the cheapskate thing comes into play). Gradually, I started just looking at pictures of stuff that I liked and winging it. So far, it's worked out pretty well for me. The only real downside is that I sometimes have a hard time replicating things I've made in the past. I'm trying to be better about it now and force myself to write down what I'm doing, but I inevitably lose whatever little scrap of paper I've written it on.

I should also mention that my disdain for patterns and knitting to gauge hasn't stopped me from collecting a crapload of patterns (mostly of the free variety, of course). I've realized that when it comes to knitting, I kind of do the same thing as I do when cooking. Search the web for recipes, come up with a million variations, narrow it down to about a half dozen or so that sound good, and then make my own amalgamation of the three or four that I think will work best. So far, it seems to be working out in my favor, both in knitting and in food.

Anyways, all this rambling stems from my latest little project. I've recently become fixated on making a hat for E with skulls on it. And in all my research, I only turned up a couple patterns that seemed suitable. But the this one from Hello Yarn was too awesome to pass up. It calls for wool (again, not something that I normally have due to the expense), and has two layers so the stranding doesn't show. I ignored both of these though and decided to see if I could just make a roll brim hat out of thin mercerized cotton yarn.

Well, so far, I'm about 1/4 of the way done. This is actually my first real attempt at Fair Isle knitting, and man, is it slow going. At the rate I'm going, it'll be done sometime next month. Oh, and there is no way that it is going to fit E's head. I think it might fit my head, although I have a gigantic melon, so it's hard for me to say just yet. It makes me sad that I may have to give this one away.

I'll try to get a picture up of the what I have so far.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Post-Halloween Withdrawal

jack o'lanterns Here are both the finished products from Halloween night. Sorry the photo's a little on the blurry side, but I was too lazy to dig out my tripod. I'm really quite happy with how both pumpkins turned out, although next time, I will not wait till 9pm the night before to start carving.

We hardly had any kids come to the house for Trick or Treat the other night. I have to say, I was pretty bummed out about it because I was really looking forward to handing out candy and seeing cute kids in costumes. Not to mention that I had a mountain of candy (which of course, I'm now compelled to eat myself). At one point though, I walked out into the street and realized that most of my neighbors' houses were dark. I'm guessing that a lot of them either don't have kids or don't care to hand out candy and it probably wasn't worth it for kids to walk all the way down to our lonely little house. Oh well.

But just for giggles, here's some Halloween pictures that have nothing to do with craftiness:
<br />Baby KittyBaby Octopus

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I LOVE Halloween! Even so, I haven't carved a pumpkin in years. I think the last time may have been when I had a Halloween party in 1999. I've always admired the crazy picture-style jack-o'lanterns, so when I came across a set of tools and a pattern booklet for half off last week, I thought I'd give it a whirl. Of course, I always make the mistake of thinking that it's easier than it looks and chose a pattern that was three pumpkins out of four on the scale of difficulty. T thought I was completely crazy for even trying it. Still, for a first effort, I'm pretty proud of it. I also did a smaller one with just stars all over, but I want to tweak it a little before snapping some pix. Next year, I'm going to go all out and do like five of them.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

more hats

I finished two hats recently. One is an 'eggplant' hat that I actually started a couple years ago and recently re-discovered in my stash. I debated whether to unravel it or not, but since it was about 3/4 done, I figured it'd probably take me just as much time to unravel and re-wind back onto the skein as it would to finish it. Mostly, I just wanted to reclaim the circular needles they were on. It's the first adult-sized hats that I've made quite some time, so I thought it fitting to model it myself.

The other hat is yet another one for E using some pretty variegated pink ribbon yarn that I bought on impulse about two weeks before she was born. It actually knit up really nicely, although as usual, I made it exactly the right size for her right NOW, which means that it'll probably be too small in a matter of weeks. Oh well, I guess all the more reason to make more, right?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pumpkin mania

My little pumpkinLast weekend, T & I took E to a pumpkin patch to take some photos, even though I already had another trip planned for later in the week with our baby playgroup. Of course, it hit me while I was there that it would be super cute if E had a little pumpkin hat to wear while sitting amongst the pumpkins. So I started feverishly knitting one up before our next trip, which was only 4 days later. Not to brag, but I've gotten pretty fast when it comes to knitting up little baby hats. Of course, it would've gone a lot faster if I hadn't decided to get all fancy and put little ribs into it to simluate the ridges on a real pumpkin. I think I must have started over 3-4 times because I kept changing my mind or something kept going wrong, although right now I can't remember for the life of me what that was. It might have had something to do with the fact that I worked on it mostly after midnight (yes, I have some sleep issues of my own to work out).

In any case, I got about 3/4 of the way done with it before I realized that I did not have any brown or even dark green yarn for the stem. So Wednesday afternoon, I made a quick run to Hobby Lobby while we were already out onl
y to discover that they didn't have the right yarn in brown. Rather than make another stop at the good yarn store (the cranky baby timer was ticking down to its final seconds), I decided to just make do with some cheap 'Sugar n' Cream' yarn. Not even close to the right gauge, but at least it was the right color and right material - 100% cotton. It was a little difficult to work with because it was so much thicker, but I think it turned out pretty well.

I also had a little trouble figuring out the best way to start the decreases with the ribs, and only realized after I'd already decreased
3-4 rows that I probably should have done them before and after the purl stitches. It was way too late and I was way too tired to rip back and do it over, so again, I just made do. I wanted to make a little green leaf too to hang off the stem, but again, did not have the right yarn and also, by the time I finished everything else, including weaving in ends, it was almost 2am. I think next year's hat will be rockstar quality.

Here's a picture of the hat by itself. I also didn't get a chance to block it, so it still looks a little rough. It served its purpose though, and we got a lot of compliments on it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

leg warmer mania!

I knocked out four pairs of leg warmers last night! My friend Meighan gave me two pairs to convert for her daughter, Sofia. Those are pictured at left. And then the other two were, of course, for E. She now officially has more leg warmers than she could possibly ever need, but I couldn't resist the urge to try and have some different colors and styles to go with different outfits. I also really really wanted to find some with skulls on them. I absolutely love the ones on the left with the little pink skulls. They are too funny.

In fact, I have to confess that I bought a three-pack of socks (from Sears, of all places) just to get that specific pair pictured. I also may have ventured into Hot Topic to find some skull socks. And yes, I was definitely the only person over the age of 20. Not one of my finer moments, but hey, at least I wasn't buying the Hello Kitty bra and panties. But I digress. In any case, now that I've made SIX pairs for E and still have two or three more waiting in the wings, I suppose I'll have to lay off for a while. Although I'm still looking for red socks. Why does no one carry red knee socks? And then I'm done. No, really. Meighan has suggested that I start making them for money, but I'm not sure I'm up for it. I'm too much of a perfectionist and I'd feel bad charging money for something that wasn't absolutely professional-looking.

Oh and here's a picture of E wearing one each of the last batch. I definitely have a newfound love for argyle!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Two more...

I'm starting to get better at whipping these out. The solid ones are definitely easier (and faster) to do. The argyle ones were a little harder. I had to give up on matching up the pattern. And somehow, one ended up slightly shorter than the other. I may have to go back and try to fix that...maybe. I'm really starting to hate ripping out stitches. It takes forever and I end up covered in tiny little bits of thread.

Next up: I have one more pair of socks to do. Pink stripey ones! I may have to make another trip to the store tomorrow... Yes, I know that I'm crazy.

More babylegs

The relative success of my first pair of homemade leg warmers got me all excited to make more. So I ran back to Target over the weekend to check out their selection of knee socks. Who knew that knee socks were making such a comeback? In any case, I ended up purchasing four more pairs, although I had to restrain myself to even that many because there were so many cute styles, especially stripey ones. Have I mentioned that I'm kind of obsessed lately with stripey leggings?

Anyways, this is my second effort. These were technically Halloween socks, but E will be wearing them long after Halloween if I have anything to say about it. I did actually narrow the cuff this time, which I think looks nicer and will stay on her legs better, although it did make it more difficult to sew because of the gathering on the 'tube' part. I'm also still having trouble with keeping the stripes even, even after I ripped and re-did one of them. I realize now that I probably should have started with non-stripey socks to get my technique down. More to come...

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Sewing Project #2

For some time, I've been coveting a few different styles of baby leg warmers (Babylegs & Huggalugs). But I was also too much of a cheapskate to pay $12-$15/pair, especially when I wasn't sure how they'd fit or even if E would wear them. So I started searching around on Ebay for used ones and discovered that there were a lot of people selling what seemed to be homemade versions. At first, I was confused. They were obviously not handknit, but they were being sold as homemade. I almost bought a pair of Halloween striped legwarmers, but still balked at paying the $10.

A few days later, I was at Target and saw women's knee socks that were the exact same patterns as a lot of the ones I'd seen on Ebay, and a lightbulb went off. Of course! I could just cut off the foot and make my own. I searched around online for directions, but didn't find anything detailed enough. I figured, screw it, I'll just give it a shot and if it doesn't work, I'm only out four bucks. Here is my first effort:

Not exactly professional looking. I'll admit though, I pretty much did it the laziest and most generic way possible. I cut off the foot, just above the heel, folded it over twice, and then did a zigzag stitch around. I discovered that it's pretty freaking hard to keep your seam allowance even when you're trying to sew in a teeny tiny circle. Also, because of where I cut the leg, there was a little bit of flare which became more pronounced after I sewed it down, and they ended up being pretty wide. After trying them on E, I realized that even with her fat little thighs, there was no way they were going to stay up. I thought about just cutting them again beneath the flare, but I worried that then they'd be too short.

Then by coincidence I came across these instructions on a moms board that I'm on, which are absolutely fantastic. This method uses the discarded foot to make an actual cuff, which ends up being the bottom instead of the top. And being the anal retentive person that I am, I of course took out the trusty old seam ripper, spent waaaayyy too much time undoing my work, and tried again. The second try is pictured at left. They're still not as perfect as I'd like (not that anything ever is) as again, it was really hard to keep the seams straight. But the stripes match up for the most part, so I'm happy enough with it. Oh, I should note thought that I did take another lazy shortcut, and instead of cutting the foot and re-sewing it to make the cuff more narrow, I just left it as is. When I tried this new and improved version on E, I did notice that when she's standing, they have a tendency to slip down over her feet. But she still seems to like them.


Monday, September 17, 2007


Yesterday, I finally managed to get some time to myself and managed to finish not just one, but TWO sewing projects. These are pretty much my first attempts at sewing (not counting an ill-fated attempt to sew a dress back when I was 16 or the apron I made in 7th grade home ec). Both projects were pretty easy in the grand scheme of things, but it did take me a while to figure out how to use my sewing machine. In my own defense, my mom gave me her machine last year and I hadn't had much chance to play around with it yet.

The first project is a little blankie for E. I noticed how much she likes to play with the tags on her toys, so rather than spend money on one of the overpriced Taggie-brand blankets, I thought I'd try and make one on my own. I figured it's only two squares sewn together with a little ribbon sandwiched in between, ho hard can it be? The answer is, it actually can be pretty hard. When all is said and done though, for a first attempt, it turned out pretty well, especially considering that I took it apart two or three times because I couldn't get the tension right (that's what I get for being too lazy to test on scrap). I think I also kind of made it more difficult than it needed to be by buying the nice minky-style fabric as opposed to plain old fleece. It was very slippery and hard to keep lined up, even with pins. I also discovered that it's a lot harder than it looks to sew a perfectly straight line. I'm sure the next one I try will be better. Even though I only bought a yard of fabric, I think I have enough to make 5 or 6 little 12"x12" blankets.

The second project was a little more difficult. It's a needle roll for my double-pointed knitting needles loosely based on this pattern. Besides having a lot more pieces to deal with, this also required that I measure out what size I wanted and make a paper pattern. Not quite as much ripping this time around, although I still wish some of the seams were straighter.

Here's another picture of it, unrolled. I should also mention that I ambitiously started this after finishing the blanket Sunday evening. I became a wee bit obsessed and ended up staying up till about 2am working on it. I got most of it done last night and finished up the top flap tonight.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

old stuff

I'm in the process of transferring pictures from the old computer to the new one and found some pix of old projects, so I thought I'd share. Most of these are things that I made for other people and I'm glad that I took a picture for posterity. It helps me remember that I do actually finish projects every once in a while.

First up is one of the first fruit hats I ever made. I think I was actually originally intending it to be a strawberry, but I got too lazy to do the dots for the 'seeds' so I renamed it a tomato hat. Made with cheapo acrylic Red Heart yarn when I was still living on a student budget in Austin. I think I gave this to Paula, but I can't remember for sure.

Next is a kitty kat hat. Again, made a couple years ago with Red Heart. I made this for Madigan, who I've since lost touch with. :( This was my first attempt at doing stripes in the round and thus my first encounter with the dreaded 'jog.' You can't see it, but the stripes don't match up in the back, so there's an unsightly seam. I've since learned how to do the 'jogless jog.' I was otherwise pretty proud of this hat, especially the ears, which I not only did in two colors, but stuffed with a little poly-fil too. Hmmmm, maybe I should make a kitty hat for E....

Last but not least, one of my first attempts at baby booties. Of course, I couldn't just find an easy free pattern somewhere. I had to go to the trouble of buying a whole book of very pretty, rather complicated booties. These turned out pretty well, although I'm not certain how accurate the sizing was when all was said and done. And yes, I did actually do a gauge swatch for a change. I'm still not sure I buy into those things. These were for our friends Mike & Michele's baby, Ella. I was afraid to ask if she ever really wore them since, again, I wasn't sure about the fit and I didn't want to put them on the spot. Which also reminds me, I have two other pairs of unfinished booties from that same blasted book.

One of the projects that I really wish I had a picture of was a beautiful afghan I made as a wedding gift for some friends who are no longer together. It had dark blue, cornflower blue and celery green zigzag stripes, made with super soft yarn and big enough for a queen size bed. I'm not sure who ended up with it or if it's even still around. That's my lesson learned about not taking pictures of finished projects.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

crafty withdrawal

We were on vacation in the midwest for the last 10 days, and in my rush to make sure we'd packed all the baby-related nonsense we could possibly ever need, I totally forgot to bring something to work on. In fact, I didn't even bring a book to read, let alone a crafty project. I think I went through some major withdrawal while we were gone. But now that I'm back home, I, oddly enough, don't feel like starting anything back up again. I took out the amigurumi bunny I was working on and realized I have one ear(?) and one leg(?) and I have no idea how I made them, so making a matching pair might be problematic. I also just didn't feel like crocheting at all. I'm almost freaked out by this lack of crafting desire.

However, the disinterest in yarn-related stuff may stem from the fact that I'm newly obsessed with baggo. I played baggo (also sometimes called 'cornhole') at a barbecue this past weekend and now I'm totally hooked. For the unfamiliar, it's pretty simple really: two teams of two people each take turns tossing four beanbags onto an angled board with a hole in the middle. You get 1 point for landing it on the board and 3 for in the hole. There's a million variations, but if you're playing "Nancy Rules" like we were, you have to play with a drink in your hand, and do a little dance if you get it in the hole. You also get 2 points if it's on the rim.

I'm trying to convince T to that we should make our own boards this weekend, and I'm also debating whether I should attempt to make the beanbags myself or just buy them on ebay. I'm really tempted to make them myself since it sounds like a relatively easy little sewing project, but I'm nervous that if I do a shoddy job, they may explode all over the place. I also worry that if I start buying fabric, it may open a scary new can of worms.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Unfinished business

A couple weeks ago, I vowed that I wasn't going to start any more new projects until I had finished all the old ones. Well, that's proving to be a lot more difficult than I thought it'd be. For one thing, I've come to terms with the fact that I have a short attention span when it comes to projects, and I'm easily distracted by anything shiny and new. For another thing, I also have waaaaayyyyyy more unfinished projects than I thought. During my recent "inventory," I came across at least two different hats, a handwarmer/muff (don't ask me why I have any need for that in TX), a sleeveless top that I started as a gift for my mom three years ago, and a rhinocerous stuffed animal. And those are just the knitting projects.

So even with all that sitting around, I'm still secretly tempted to start a couple new projects, namely a baby sweater. I found a couple easy-looking patterns and I already have the yarn (of course). Then there's the ongoing amigurumi obsession. I'm currently working on what I think will turn out to be a bunny.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Amigurumi Mania

A couple weeks ago, I was IMing with Mee and she innocently sent me a link to a site with some books of amigurumi patterns. There was all sorts of cute little animals, as well as garden gnomes and flowers...and thus, a new obsession was born. So what the heck am I talking about? For those of you that don't know, amigurumi is a japanese term for cute little crochet dolls or critters, usually made in the round from the top down. I started poking around, searching on google, and I realized that this would be an excellent way to use up a lot of the cheapo yarn that I don't have any other use for. In fact, the more I surfed, the more I couldn't believe that I had never stumbled upon this before! Besides being a good way to use up all the random odds and ends of leftover yarn, amigurumi are also very quick and easy to make. Gotta love anything that's easy and FAST.

One odd thing I discovered though is that there aren't a ton of great patterns out there, at least, not free ones (yes, I am a cheapskate). There's a lot of people who are creative and talented enough to come up with their own patterns (the best of which are for sale on Etsy), but it seems like the rest are making them from a series Japanese pattern books that seem to be readily available on the west coast. Grrrr. I found the books both on Ebay and on Amazon Japan, but I'm not sure I'm ready to spend $20-$30 for a book that originally cost about $10. Actually, I probably would spend that much if I didn't know that A) it would only feed my compulsion to buy more crafty amigurumi-related stuff, and B) T would kill me.

I finally found a pattern that I thought was both easy to follow and very cute - the Amineko Cat. It turned out pretty well (see above), for a first effort, although it did end up being a lot bigger than I expected. I kinda assumed it'd be little, like beanie baby size. It's actually more like a regular stuffed animal, maybe 20 inches long. I think this is one of the first times I worked on a project nonstop from beginning to end (usually, I get bored halfway through and abandon it to start something else). I'm actually a little bit proud of myself.

With that under my belt, I decided to try my hand at making my own amigurumi without a pattern. I'd seen these very cute little birdies on another site and figured I could wing it (no pun intended...well, maybe a little intended) just by looking at the picture. didn't go so well. I won't say it looks bad. It's just...weird. For one thing, it's not quite as round and bird-like as I was aiming for; it's more bullet-shaped. The other problem is that I put the face and wings on before I put the tail on, and they're not quite lined up right, so it looks all crooked. I took one wing off to reposition it and haven't gotten around to putting it back. I'm thinking about pulling the face off too. He looks like a demented baby bald eagle.

But I've already moved on and started another critter with some super soft yarn that was leftover from a blanket I made. I'm not quite sure what it's going to be yet. Maybe a bunny? Or maybe just some sort of random made-up animal. We'll see.


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