Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Little nothings

fAnne Hanson, of knitspot fame, has patterns that she calls Little Nothings.  They are patterns for perfect small projects which usually don't require much yarn.  I decided to do my own little nothing the other day. (Though of course I don't have her design skills and used someone else's pattern.) 

Yarn: 1 oz of handspun 50/50 yak and silk (yummmmmmm) from Trading Post Fibers
Pattern: Abby from Knittyspin
Dates: spinning = one day in July 09, plying = 12/17, knitting = 12/18 - 12/20
Modifications: Lots!  First off, I didn't use a silk single.  Next, I only cast on 90 stitches.  Finally, I only knit about 4-5 inches of cowl because I ran out of yarn (I knew I would). 

This yarn is simply luxurious.  I mean, yak and silk?  What could be better?  It is light, airy, shimmery and WARM.  I did a worsted style spinning 2-ply yarn which ended up being a light fingering weight.  The singles for this yarn was spun back in July for my challenge day during Tour de Fleece.  But I never got around plying the singles and they took up one of my bobbins. 

My friend, Victoria, does a lot of work with horses which means she is outdoors most of the winter.  I thought this yarn would make a perfect pair of wristers to help her hands stay warm.  When I plied up the yarn, however, I realized that I wouldn't have much and the wristers wouldn't be very long.  I decided that a cowl, even a short one, would probably be better.  I had previously made Abby with some laceweight alpaca so the pattern popped into my mind as a possibility.  It is an extremely easy pattern to memorize so I could knit it without thinking. 

I cast on 90 stitches so the cowl would be close to the neck and knit until my yarn ran short.  In fact, it ran too short and I ran out of yarn before the bind off.  So I did what any enterprising spinner/knitter would do, spun up some more, plied it and knit the bind off.  I love drop spindles.  The additional fiber I used wasn't actually yak/silk because I didn't have any more left.  It was merino/silk instead and was much more white than the soft cream of the yak/silk.  I don't think that really mattered because there was a slight curl to the ends of the cowl.  That meant the cast on and bind off edges were both hidden. 

I was able to finish everything up on Sunday morning and quickly ran over to another friend's house to drop off the gift to Victoria.  Yay for quick gifts!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stained glass cookies

Apparently I've decided to do every other craft than holiday knitting or spinning this week.  On Sunday and Monday morning, I made stained glass cookies.

You use any sort of sugar cookie recipe, cut out a shape in the middle (we have lots of mini cookie cutters), fill in that with crushed clear candy, and cook the cookie like normal.  I used my family's sugar cookie recipe we've always used for cookie parties.  It was kind of hard to scale the recipe back for only a few dozen rather than 50!  I used crushed Jolly Rancher for the centers.

Aren't they fun?  And they are actually really easy to do.  I swear!  

Felted soap

Once again, more crafts other than knitting or spinning.  Enjoy!

On Thursday night, a friend and I had craft night at her house.  At our last knitting meeting, someone mentioned felting soap because we were felting some knitted projects in the sink at our meeting place.  Jane and I decided to felt some bars.  Jane wanted to make them for Christmas presents and I wanted to make one for a Secret Santa exchange at work.  Oh, I confess, I really just wanted to play with another craft!

It was so much fun to play with the different colors and different techniques.  Both of us did some research and had watched different youtube videos and read tutorials (can you tell both of us are reference librarians?).  I found the method that worked best for me was taking 2-3 inch pieces of fiber and putting them cross-ways all over the place.  Then I put that in a nylon hose, dipped it in warm water, mushed it between my hands, and, once it had felted well, dunked it in cold water.  The best bars of felted soap were the ones that are palm-sized or circular.  The rectangular bars worked ok but didn't seem to have their corners felt as well. 

The bar that is blue, I added a moon design on one side and a sun and cloud on the other side.  (Shut up, it really is a sun.  Not an egg with a runny yolk.)  I'm going to give this one to my secret santa recipient at work.

In other news, I made more terrariums.  Why, yes, I am obsessed.  Why do you ask? 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Terrarium love

I saw this project on the Design*Sponge blog yesterday and just knew I had to make one.  I ran out at lunch today and bought the supplies. 
Clear ornament
sheet moss
fake butterfly
mini mushroom birds (haven't made an ornament using these yet)

All you have to do is wet the moss a little, shove it in the ornament, squish the butterfly as small as it will go, and shove it in the ornament.  Are you sensing a theme here?  These fake butterflies are made from feathers and, with the moisture in the moss, their scrunched wings will smooth out in a little bit of time.  A q-tip run around the inside of the globe will get a lot of moisture out and remove the stray bits of moss. 

I'm in love with these little globes!  So cute!  There are definitely more of these in my future.  So cute! 

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

November = start lots of sweaters. . .

. . . and finish none of them.  I've failed miserably at the whole NaKniSweMo thing this month.  I ended up starting 2 different sweaters, digging 2 out of the WIP pile and finishing none of them.  I could have probably finished a couple of them if they were the only projects on which I was working but of course they weren't!  Sorry for no pictures of the various sweaters.  I've put my camera somewhere and haven't found it yet.  I give you pictures of yarn instead! 

First up is my Bohus-ish sweater that I started the last morning at SOAR.  The pattern's name is Bountiful Bohus.  I call this a Bohus-ish because it is knit using worsted weight yarn rather than fingering weight like the true Bohus sweaters.  If it were out of fingering, I probably never would finish it!  The body of the sweater is a dark brown with a reddish brown and white yoke. 

It is my first skeeked sweater so that should be fun/nerve wracking to do.  I should try to push through and finish it to the point where I cut down the middle so I can do that at knitting group.  Doesn't that seem like something you should do with morale support around you?  Right now, I've stalled out at the sleeves.  I'm doing 2 at a time so that isn't the problem.  The problem was a) I didn't like the sleeves in the pattern so I changed things and b) I needed a project during the holidays that I could just knit and not have to worry about doing increases.  So the Bohus-ish has been huddled in the corner for the last couple of weeks looking lonely. 

The next sweater I cast on was my own version of the Perfect Sweater.  Of course I had to change the pattern.  I had some DK weight yarn that has been marinating in the stash since I was in England in 2007.  I love the yarn but hadn't found the pattern for it. 

Well, I cast on for this sweater after doing a little bit of conversion for my yarn difference.  When I say conversion, I mean squinting at the pattern then my swatch and saying, "Eh, I'll just make a size or two larger."  As you can tell, it is a very scientific approach.  And it definitely won't ever come back to bite my in the butt.  Nope.  Never.  Anyway, I'm knitting the front and the back of the v-neck sweater at the same time.  Or will be knitting them together until the decreases for the front start.  I've done the decreasing for the waist and now need to start the increasing for the bust.  That means, however, that you have to pay attention.  That's a little hard to do with the bustle of the holidays and going out with friends to the bar.  So once again, I need another project that is simple. 

The third sweater graced by my knitter's ADD is the Soap Bubble Wrap(rav link) which has been lurking in my WIP basket/corner of shame for a while now.  I LOVED the sweater instantly when it was released by Knitting Daily.  I love it so much that I rushed over to KnitPicks and ordered some Cotlin in a very nice green color.  I got stalled, however, once the patterning began.  Now, those of you who have looked at the pattern will notice that starts on the 3rd row.  Yeah, that's right.  I got 3 rows into a sweater and stopped.  So I picked the project up again and took a look at why I stopped.  For some reason, I couldn't figure out the pattern and kept ending up with extra stitches and then fewer stitches.  What makes it even worse is that I made a wedding shawl for a friend in this pattern so I know how to do it.  Let's just say that the wrap is still in time out. 

The fourth and final sweater is one on which I am actually making progress.  (Of course, now that I've said that, I'll stall out!)  I started the Featherweight Cardigan(rav link) a while ago, too, and can't remember why I stopped working on it for the life of me.  It is a cardigan knit out of laceweight yarn (mmmm, malabrigo) from the top down using raglan increases.  I had finished the increases and started on the sleeves.  The pattern has you finish the body first but I wanted everything to be finished when I was done.  Does that make sense?  Well, I seem to have stopped because I was in the middle of the sleeve decreases for the second sleeve.  Again, I didn't want to keep track of rows or count so I put it down then.  Thank goodness I can read my knitting fairly well.  Anyway, I didn't want to mess with the decreases so I put the sleeve on a stitch holder and started on the body again. 

Can I just tell you how much I love this sweater?  The yarn is fabulously soft and I love the emerald green color.  It's such a nice and light sweater.  Since last Wednesday, I've knit 10 inches on the body.  The pattern calls for a 10 inch body but I didn't really want a cropped sweater.  I have plenty of yarn so I'm going to keep going.  Because the body is stockinette, I don't have to worry about paying attention to it at all in company.  And, because it is knit flat and not in the round, I've had a chance to practice my knitting backward a whole lot.  I'm to the point that I'm only a tiny bit slower knitting backwards than knitting normally.  Keep your fingers crossed that I don't stall out on this one!