Flying into fall like…

There are no affiliate links in this blog post. I simply add links so you can go to the sites where I got information, patterns or tutorials.

This is a photo of myself and a friend on a raft being towed by a boat on a lake. We are airborne above the water while looking frightened.

I was literally flying last week. Flying in a plane, then flying on a raft across a small lake in Michigan! I didn’t expect the latter type of flying but it was thrilling for sure! I don’t often experience a lot of thrills in my life, so it was a welcome experience.

I keep telling myself I have to get better at more consistent blogging. If I could be as consistent about blogging as I am about crafting, I’d be set! Today I’m going to share a few things I’ve made and also what I have plans to work on. As usual, I do have quite a few projects going at once, but I’ve also managed to complete quite a few things, one of which is a large project, one that I didn’t know if I would finish.

This is a photo showing part of me wearing a cardigan sweater I have knitted.
The Ribosome cardigan by Carol Feller at http://www.stolenstitches.com

This Ribosome cardigan caught my eye because of the cables that seem to be floating atop a striped garter stitch pattern. And the yoke cables are traveling horizontally while the body of the cardigan have them traveling vertically. I just loved it and knew it would be the most complex project I’ve ever attempted. When I attended the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in the fall of 2019, I purchased the yarn for it from Artisan Yarns. The yarn is a scrumptious baby alpaca from Hampden Hills Alpacas. The color brown is called Macho and the white is undyed natural white. The yoke is shaped using German short rows. The pattern is well-written and accomodates 7 difference sizes. I knit mine with a 48″ bust circumference. I love the way it turned out and it’s very warm. I’m looking forward to wearing it for some better photos this fall!

This is a photo of two knitted socks on blocking forms.
Simplicity Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes

I also managed to knit a pair of socks for myself this summer. I had purchased the yarn by Hedgehog Fibers over a year ago. This pattern, called Simplicity, is from the book Toe Up 2-at-a-time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. You can find the pattern in this book, and you can find the Ravelry link to the pattern here.

This is a photo of a glass head and neck displaying a Tunisian crochet cowl I made.
Tunisian Tubular Cowl by Beatrix Snyman

I also made two cowls for the Broadway Youth Center in Chicago. My dear friend, Sacha, has organized a drive to have knitters and crocheters make an infinity scarf or a cowl that will be given to LGBTQ+ youth in the area to keep them warm this winter. She has even procured beautiful superwash yarns that you can use to knit or crochet with. The first one, shown above, is Tunisian crochet. This is crocheted in the round with a double-ended Tunisian crochet hook. If you’d like to try the pattern, you can find it here.

This is a photo of a glass head displaying a knit neck warmer I made.
Phoenix Neck Warmer by Drops Design

The second one is the Phoenix Neck Warmer by Drops Design. Both of these were quite fast to work up. If you want to make a cowl or infinity scarf for this group, you still have time! Here is some information I found on Facebook to help you.

Happy Pride! We are looking for knitters and crocheters to gift 100 infinity scarves or cowls this holiday season to the LGBTQ+ youth at Broadway Youth Center, a program of Howard Brown in Chicago. All styles and yarn weights are welcome, but please use washable (super wash) yarns. Think: warm, cozy & comforting. We’re looking for a range of styles and colors — things that pop and more muted pieces. Feel free to include rainbow color and motifs. Drop off dates are week of Nov 28 at Knit 1 in Chicago (3856 N, Lincolnwood Ave) and Wool & Co. in S. Elgin, IL (1687 N. Lancaster Rd, South Elgin, IL)

This is a photo of a crocheted doily I made.
Capri Table Center doily from Magic Crochet, 1982

Look at this next little beauty. It’s a little crochet doily I made while helping my friend work out a crochet pattern drawn in diagram form. I really love the diagrams for crochet. This little one I made is called Capri table center from a 1982 edition of Magic Crochet. I used No. 20 Omega crochet thread and a 1.25mm steel crochet hook. It took a lot of pins to block it, but look at the result. I immediately put it in my hutch cabinet for safe keeping and display.

Next up is my Bohemian style fairy light chandelier crocheted using kitchen cotton, two embroidery hoops and the Solomon’s knot stitch. This was made for my tent! I’m going camping/glamping this month and really wanted to create some ambience for my little abode. I made this up as I went along, so sorry, but there’s no pattern. I added fringe at the bottom, and it was just what it needed. The lights are battery-operated so no need for electricity.

This is a photo of a Bohemian style chandelier I crocheted with off-white cotton yarn.
My Bohemian chandelier for “glamping”

And lastly, for completed projects, here are some Rustic Crochet Pumpkins I literally just made a day ago. I am making some fall decor for the group home where I volunteer. The home has two lovely stone fireplaces and mantels that would look so nice decorated for the fall season.

This is a photo of two crocheted pumpkins I made.
These pumpkins are crocheted but look knitted!

I found this pattern via Pinterest, which led me to Yarn + Chai, where a talented woman is designing and providing not only well-written patterns, but in some cases, very helpful video tutorials. Her name is Rebecca Langford and I will definitely be looking more into her site to see what else I “need” to make. I just love how these turned out. The larger brown pumpkin was more challenging because my yarn needle is considerably smaller than the height of the pumpkin so it was difficult to get it through the piece the several times required to shape the pumpkin. I believe a doll making needle will solve that problem. The larger pumpkin was crocheted with a bulky acrylic yarn by Knit Picks and the smaller one was made with a DK weight discontinued yarn by Mary Maxim. Don’t you love the cinnamon stick for the stem?

What’s coming up

I have recently gotten back to work on a Halloween cross stitch design I began last fall. I’m nearly finished and have run out of the Weeks Dye Works color Onyx. So I have to make a run to my local needlework store this week. I am also close to finishing Three Witches by Barbara Ana Design. I admit, I hadn’t worked on any needlework for months. For a while I was bit by the English paper piecing bug, then I went back to knitting and crocheting. But between these two designs and Feast of Friendship, which is to me a Thanksgiving design, I have plenty to complete for the season, and it’s all doable. All three of these were shown in this blog post.

Lastly, I am also very close to finishing this amazing crochet blanket called Mystical Lanterns by Janie Crow. I am so in love with this project. Here is a progress photo. I am using Cotlin yarn by Knit Picks. This is a DK weight yarn in cotton and linen. There are two or three colors of yarn in my blanket that are StyleCraft yarns I got on eBay. I only had one of each color but I’ve managed to include them in the overall project.

This is a photo of a crochet blanket in many bright colors that is nearly finished.
Almost finished!!

Well, I must sign off for now and get back to crafting. It’s a beautiful Labor Day Monday and I really want to set up my hammock between two trees and listen to the birds and the crazy squirrels running overhead. Thank you so much for stopping by! Happy crafting to you!

Jenny

Hats off to 2021!

Gee, sorry it’s been so long since I posted on my blog! I have been tremendously busy creating things, from knit items, crocheted items, things with felt, and some cross stitch. Minnesota winters can be long and sometimes brutally cold, so what better thing to do than sit by the fireplace and stitch? I have enjoyed that so much, but honestly, I’m ready for spring. We had quite a number of days of below-freezing temperatures and while I don’t really have to go out in it, there are a few things each week I have to drive for. Let me just say: thank you for heated seats in my car. And a heated steering wheel. When it’s -10° out, you need to warm up that backside in a hurry.

I want to wish everyone a belated Happy New Year. I know we are all hoping that this year will be better for everyone in terms of Covid-related things. It will be so nice to sit and knit or crochet with people in person again. Currently, I have an online group which meets Sunday nights.

I have been working hard to increase the number of knit and crochet items in my Etsy shop. I do tend to make a lot of hats, hence the title of my post. Here is a montage of hats that I’ve made and some are for sale. Some are already sold.

This is a montage of photos of hats I have made.
Here is just a sampling of hats I’ve made!

I learned to do something new recently, and that is to sew linings for some of the hats. I always wanted to do this, but I was nervous and didn’t know where to begin. Then I realized that the book I have which contains the chicken hat, the panda, and the pig (there are several others too!) has instructions and templates for sewn linings. So I purchased some fleece and it was so much easier than I thought it would be. I have lined all the animal hats with warm fleece. Below is a photo of what the lining looks like.

This is a photo of a knit hat with a sewn in fleece lining.
Doesn’t this look warm and toasty? Perfect for this crazy winter weather.

This rabbit hat really took some time and effort but I am so pleased with how it turned out. For the pink inside the ears and the nose, I didn’t have a suitable pink in chunky form, so I used a worsted weight pale pink yarn held with a fine weight dusty rose color. I absolutely love the effect.

This is a photo of a rabbit hat.
I love how this hat turned out!

In terms of other crafts, I have made some things for the lovely ladies at the nursing home where I used to volunteer in person. It has been an entire year since I’ve been inside their home! I learned that some of the ladies I spent time with have passed on, and it saddens me, naturally, but even more so since many of their families were not able to spend time in person due to Covid. I try to make things to add some color and cheer to their surroundings. Since Covid changed all our lives, these ladies do not get to go on the outings they enjoy, like trips to our arboretum or the apple orchard.

This is a photo of a felt bouquet of flowers.
A pretty felt arrangement for the dining room table at the nursing home.
This is a photo of Valentine hearts with lady's names on them.
I look forward to meeting the newest residents!

For the felt bouquet, I used my Sizzix Big Shot die cutting machine with a die containing all the flowers. This was the first time I attempted to cut felt and it was a bit trial and error. I also didn’t assemble some of the flowers, especially the daisies, with the utmost precision. It was tricky and I was tired of burning myself with the hot glue gun. Sometimes, I used a needle and thread just to avoid the hot glue! I freehand cut green leaves to fill in. The pretty tin is from the dollar store in town, and I also grabbed some floral foam from there too and hot glued it in the bottom of the tin. I used green paper straws to attach the blooms. To make it easier to insert the straws into the foam, I simply cut the bottom of each straw on the diagonal to make it pointy.

For the Valentine hearts with the ladies’ names, I used the Sizzix with an alphabet die I purchased off someone on eBay, and I had another die with the flat floral shapes. I also dug through my assortment of buttons to add to the blooms. I cut all the leaves with scissors. For the fabric ruffle, I didn’t have any fabric that would look good, so I used the white muslin I had been using for face masks. What I did was I used a marker designed for making dots, and just stamped the fabric. Then I literally tore it into strips and gathered it while I glued it to the front of a piece of poster board cut in the same size and shape as the felt hearts. Then I glued the felt hearts over the top of the poster board so the ruffles raw edge is hidden inside, like a sandwich. I love the way these turned out. Plus, there’s something so satisfying about tearing fabric.

Well, this is all for now. I have so much more to show and talk about but I’ll wait a few days then do another post. I’m in my basement craft room and even though we are having a “heat wave” of 27 degrees right now (ha!) I am freezing.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

UFOs and PhDs (Unfinished Objects and Projects Half Done)

(I get no revenue from any links. I simply add links if you need to see a pattern or product or video I have used.)

I was talking with some online knitting/crochet friends via Hangouts the other day and we were talking about quilts. We somehow got on the subject of string quilts and I mentioned that I was saving all my fabric scraps from making face masks and will eventually incorporate them into a quilt project of some sort. This of course led me back to Pinterest, my favorite site, to look at all the beautiful string quilt projects out there.

This happened before, and that perusing became quite productive, as I did actually make a string quilt top, which is still in my storage room in a container. Hmmm…that’s not where I intended for it to land, and how many years ago was this?? So I got to thinking about all the neat projects I have started–and not finished. And I decided it’s time to finish up, or give it up, if I’m not feeling it.

I started with a basket I keep right at my feet in my craft room. It contained two table runner projects, one pieced and quilted with some homespun fabrics, one put together with just three fabrics, and quilted in a basic diamond design, a pair of knitted socks in need of repair, and a small punch needle of a fish that needed its final finishing.

The first of these I tackled were the homespun quilt, which was either going to be a table runner or a wall hanging. It was literally so long ago that I cannot possibly remember! I was inspired by a quilt book called Fast, Fun & Fabulous Quilts published by Rodale Press. The quilt was called Stars and Scraps Forever by Judith Hughes Marte.

Collage photo showing details of the "before" version of the homespun quilt and progress photos of the new binding.

I was in a hurry apparently, when I attempted to bind this quilt I made, because I believe I used prepackaged red bias binding and either didn’t take the time to learn how to properly attach quilt binding, or I just didn’t care. (Sometimes I get in that mode of not caring too much–I almost always regret it.)

So I had to remove the terrible red binding, then I found some black fabric in my stash, but it didn’t feel like 100% cotton, more like a stiff cotton blend. I made single fold binding and attached it like a pro, thanks to this wonderful YouTube video by Fons & Porter. Then came time to sit and hand sew the binding to the back of the quilt. Since it’s not a large piece, it didn’t really take too long. I did have some difficulty with pulling my thread through the new binding fabric, so I conditioned my thread with Thread Heaven. It’s a great product to have around.

And here is the finished quilt!

Photo of finished homespun star quilt

Next, I had to repair my hand knitted socks. These socks, called Tuscany, are by designer and sock earth angel Melissa Morgan-Oakes, who is a best selling author. I purchased her book Toe Up Two At a Time Socks after borrowing a copy from my library and realizing I needed it in my own personal library for ever. I have made a few pair from this wonderful, fully instructional book. I highly recommend this book if you wish to knit socks two at a time, with all the information you need for sizing, fiber choice, etc. There are several wonderful sock patterns in just one book. (I do not receive any commission whatsoever for providing links.) All I had to do was better reinforce the toe. I don’t know what yarn this was but I wasn’t thrilled with it. The stitch pattern does look really nice, but I felt that the yarn might not hold up to my needs around heels and toes. Now that I can wear them instead of staring at them in disrepair, we shall see how they hold up!

Photo of hand knit socks, pattern called Tuscany
This is a collage of three photos of me wearing the hand knit Tuscany socks.

Next I wanted to “final finish” my little punch needle of a fish. I probably started this project about 3 or 4 years ago, then finished the punching while living here in Minnesota. Then I didn’t fully finish the project, but rather stuck it in that basket under my desk. This little design came from a pack of 9 iron-on transfer designs in American Folk Art style by DMC. I had completed one other one from this collection and framed it in a shadow box for a dear friend. So I found a little $3 frame months ago that I thought would be a good piece for displaying finished needlework of some sort. I unwrapped it, but soon realized it was not going to work, as my punch needle piece is really a rectangle, while the frame is definitely square. I tried to make it work, with ribbon, etc, but I just wasn’t feeling it. So I proceeded to attach the punch needle work to a small piece of sticky board, and silly me, when I went to reposition the work on the sticky board, some threads stuck to the sticky board and came right out of the work! Arggh!! A short string of profanity followed. Then I had to dig out the Russian punch needle, the hoop and embroidery floss and fix what had come out. Luckily this great little design is very forgiving in that there are so many lovely blues and greens and even tans and grays in the water portion that you don’t need to be precise with color placement. I had it fixed in no time, then instead of repeating my mistake again, I went to the window to help me line up the needlework on the sticky board, and then simply folded the extra monks cloth fabric to the back, added a few magnets and boom–I now have a fishy magnet.

Collage of four photos of the fish punch needle
Photo of the finished fishy punch needle magnet

Lastly, I had another table runner project to finish. Again, I cannot remember when I made this, but it never had a binding, so I did purchase the green fabric before the quarantine and lock down went into effect, so I simply made single fold binding out of 2 1/4″ strips of the fabric. I did not cut bias binding, but rather, cut on the grain, because I knew I would not have any curvy parts to bind. Again, I used the Fons & Porter video mentioned above to attach the binding with such a great finish. It’s a bit fiddly to finish it off but it works like a charm.

Collage of photos of my quilted table runner project getting a nice binding.

I realize my green thread doesn’t match well but you don’t even see it! I love the wonder clips by Clover for holding the binding in place just a few inches away from my hand sewing. I also use the clips when I’m sewing face masks with fabric ties. They are great! I can highly recommend.

I just have to show off this funny photo of the finished piece in my living room with our youngest cat, Dewey, hanging out on his banana. 😉

Photo of the finished diamond quilted table runner with my cat Dewey in the background.

Thanks for stopping by! I feel pretty good about getting these projects completed. Now I will have to dig out the larger quilt projects I have in my storage area that need finishing and decide how to proceed. I hope you have a wonderful day! — Jenny

New Adventures in Minnesota!

(This beginning was written pre-pandemic, and I must say, it’s a bit ominous!)

I have been extremely ambitious in my crafting, and not too monogamous, which can cause some issues. I can’t even recall everything that I’ve made in the past year or year and a half! It’s been a lot, and there’s more to do. It may sound morbid, but sometimes I get anxious thinking about how much more I want to knit, crochet or stitch before I die!

Collage of photos of our new life in Minnesota

Okay, so here’s another beginning. I am not sick with coronavirus, and if I die tomorrow from some thing, I think I will have knit, crocheted and stitched about enough stuff. But there’s no reason to stop now. 😉

So yeah, we moved to Minnesota from Illinois in August 2018. We knew we would be moving for an entire year prior to physically moving, and we chose to do it this way so our oldest son could finish high school in Illinois. Then we had our last summer in IL, moved our son into college in another state, then moved here. Pretty seamless actually, but then it wasn’t. I won’t get into all that here because it’s still a bit painful. Maybe I’ll get into it some other post.

Anyway, I really want to get back to blogging about things I make. Currently, right now, today, I am fulfilling a commitment for 50 masks to be distributed to health care workers. I have until tomorrow to get them finished. I have already made about 100 masks, for family, friends, and the Alzheimer’s/Dementia care organization I used to volunteer at. So I have the process down, and this is a link to the wonderful YouTube video I found that taught me how. I purposely searched for a how-to for a mask that does not involve elastic, because as strange as it is, elastic is hard to come by right now, since so many folks are using it for masks. I am very accustomed to making the masks with fabric ties, so that’s the way I’ll keep making them.

Photo of masks I've sewn with fabric ties

I started up by using fabric I had in my stash, which is 90% quilting cottons, which is perfect. I did end up purchasing more fabric by shopping online and also physically going to Joann Fabrics with my mask on and practicing social distancing. I also have a lovely long-time great friend who happens to be a wonderful designer of things including quilting cottons, and she was kind enough to send me 3 full bolts of fabric. I won’t run out for a while now.

I have also made some felt flower bouquets for the nursing home, my elderly aunt, and a friend recovering from a hip fracture and subsequent surgery. I had some felt in my stash but not quite enough so I ordered some from Amazon, as well as green straws for the stems. Here are some pics. If you’re interested in learning how to make felt flowers, there are plenty of resources on Pinterest. Here is a link to my Crafts board if you want to see some good ones.

Felt Flower Bouquet

I have also knit and crochet so many things, and completed some cross stitch and needlework as well. I came across new YouTube channels to inspire me like Priscilla and Chelsea, the Real Housewives of Cross Stitch, Grocery Girls Knit, and The Crochet Circle Podcast. There are even more, which I will list at the end of this post.

One of my biggest problems is that I have too many hobbies. I do love to knit. And I love to crochet. And I really enjoy cross stitch and needlework. I just love all the textile things, and since I’m fortunate enough to not have to work outside the home, I don’t need to focus all my time and energy on one particular craft. I am so very lucky, this I know.

Eventually, I would love to own a camper, and I mean it will have to look vintage, if not be vintage. I know that I don’t have the knowledge, skill nor strength to refurbish a vintage camper (like a 60’s Shasta, for example) and some manufacturers are producing modern travel trailers with a vintage look and feel. I actually used to work in the manufactured housing/recreational vehicle industry and I know that many interiors from the 80’s on up are not my style, at all.

So, when I make certain things like blankets, or I’m spending hours on Pinterest, I am often looking at things from the standpoint of, will this look nice in my future camper? The blankets I’m working on as of late are potential candidates. Behold, the matelassé style crocheted blanket. Patterns are by the talented Priscilla Hewitt, and you can peruse and purchase there. I purchased the collection of matelassé crocheted blankets and throws from her after purchasing a design for a baby blanket I made for a friend. I loved the way it turned out. It’s one color, but full of beautiful texture that is undeniably gorgeous.

Crocheted baby blanket

Ok this is enough for now. Here are some photo montages of things I’ve made. I hope you are all doing well, and thanks for stopping by!

Photo collage of a baby sweater, hat and booties I knit
Photo collage of socks I've knit or crocheted

Here are some additional YouTube channels I love to watch! Enjoy!!

Arne & Carlos
Brenda and the Serial Starter
Cathy Haberman
Farm Girl
Teresa Kogut’s Creative Whims
VeryPink Knits

Back to it!

How does the time fly by so fast and I haven’t written a blog post? I guess it doesn’t matter because here I am now, attempting to write a post!

Spring has finally arrived in the midwest after a few stray snowfalls that sent most everyone into a depressive rant. Back in February, my husband and I took a work trip (HIS work) to Newport Beach, California. It was so nice to get away but because we have no family here in Illinois, and no family members from Michigan could come to stay with our boys, it was a bit worrisome for me to leave them with friends and neighbors. While my older son was fast approaching 18 years old, he can’t seem to get up on his own for school, so there was no way I could leave him in charge of himself and his 12 year old brother.

It all worked out though, and husband and I had a really awesome time in California even though it was a little bit chilly. It was sunny and seeing palm trees and green grass instead of the brownish-gray frozen midwest was quite nice. Plus, the resort we stayed at (Pelican Hill) was amazingly beautiful.

While we were there, we went kayaking, we went on an Art Walk in beautiful Laguna Beach, we did a super fun cooking class at Manassero Farms in Irvine, and we dined with colleagues at lovely restaurants as well as danced and had a great time at the Lyon Air Museum in Santa Ana.

In terms of MAKING STUFF,  I have been very busy making things because that is what I do. I love to make things, as I may have mentioned before. 😉 I also attended Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago for the first time and took a class on Japanese Knitted Fingerless Mitts.Collage 1

So as you can see from these collages, there are a lot of things that have been crafted since my last (so long ago) blog post. 

Then my younger son gave me absolutely NO time to come up with a costume and items for him for Patriot’s Day at school. I crafted him a tricorn hat thanks to a wonderful template and instructions I found at Pizza By The Slice!

The muskets were made with thick foam core board that I layered and glued three thick and then cut out with a reciprocating saw. Then my son and I did some carving and sanding and painting and adding paper bits as well as some hardware to get them looking realistic. It was a ton of work but they “sold” fast in the colonial market. Too bad he didn’t think to keep one! Oh well.

These photos aren’t everything but I would say they represent the majority of what I’ve been up to. More to come!

Thanks for stopping by!

Jenny

It’s been TOO long!!

Oh, blog, I’m so sorry I had to neglect you for a while. I did think about you quite a bit, though. But now I’m back, and I have a few fun things to show!

I finally finished the baby sweater I wrote about in this post. I am not in love with this project, but I bet I would be if I would have knit it with an appropriate cotton yarn. I ended up using acrylic. I am not sure what I will do with this sweater. It seems so weird to have one baby sweater for sale on my Etsy site. I keep thinking someone in my huge family should be having a baby soon…

baby sweater

baby sweater shoulder

I also got caught up in a Sue Pinner project because I let myself look at her blog and that was a mistake! 🙂

Sue Pinner is a wonderful designer in the UK who blogs about all her projects and provides patterns and step-by-step photos and instructions. And her work is always so amazing to me. I just happen to have a container full of colorful balls of yarn just begging to be incorporated into something colorful and amazing.

balls of yarn

The dilemma was that we were getting ready to go to Germany to see my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and I knew that all those hours on the airplane would have to be spent crocheting or knitting. I knew it would be a difficult project to manage in cramped quarters, but I started packing colorful balls of yarn in my carry-on, which happened to be a knitting bag, and I printed out Sue’s instructions, and packed my worthless little snippers for cutting yarn (toe nail clippers would’ve been more effective) and stuffed all this cargo I thought I would need on the plane, including my super ugly frog slippers. I had yarn balls, another crochet project in a gallon zipper lock bag, a book for book club, a Sudoku book, a neck pillow, and I honestly cannot remember what else. All I know is, I was very excited to continue working on this Sue Pinner design and nothing was going to stop me.

Except..

Look at the size of this plane! I was geeked beyond help when I saw this beauty up close at O’Hare International Airport the day of our flight. I mean, I knew we were flying across the pond on a 747, but to see it right there at the gate, I was giddy. (This particular photo was taken once we landed in Frankfurt.)

Boeing 747

It had always been my dream to fly on a jumbo and here I was, yarn bag in hand, ready to go and crochet at 38,000 feet!!!

Except…

We had seats in Economy Plus, and I don’t know if it was the age of the plane or what, but I was sitting next to my two sons (husband was across the aisle) and it was cramped! I tried working on my colorful project, and it was darn near impossible to juggle these yarn balls that were all swimming in the bottom of my overstuffed carry-on yarn bag, and then…THEN…

I somehow dropped and LOST my crochet hook before we even got over the Atlantic. I looked around, I felt around, I annoyed my boys making them lift up their feet and legs. No luck. It never turned up. A Lufthansa 747 was left with an aluminum crochet hook, and I bet someone found it straight away when that plane emptied out. But for the life of me, I could not locate it.

So I worked on the project in Germany at my in-laws’ house after buying a new crochet hook at a lovely yarn store (more on that below). Here is what I have so far:

cushion cover

At first, I entertained the idea of making several of these blocks and making a beautiful blanket. But for now, I am thinking square cushion cover, with just Granny crochet on the opposite side. This square is about 16″.

cushion cover 2

Another dangerous thing I was looking at online was a link from Sue Pinner’s blog to a UK yarn company that sells yarn packs with all the colors Sue uses. SO TEMPTING. I am still trying to talk myself out of this one.

Lastly, I want to show you what I purchased from two different yarn stores in Germany. There is a little store in the town where my in-laws live and also a larger store in the city where my brother-in-law works. Of course, I had to visit them both.

I bought this yarn, called Bobbel Cotton, at the smaller store, where the owner, Annette, speaks only Deutsch. My husband had actually visited her a day or two before I went, and he reported back that she does not speak English but they instead exchanged “violent hand gestures” and he thought they did okay communicating. This made me laugh, because even in English, I’m not sure what my husband and the owner of a yarn store would talk about, other than him complaining that his wife doesn’t need any more yarn…

But it turns out that I do need more yarn.

Here is the Bobbel Cotton. Annette gladly gave me several patterns I could make with this. Now I just have to decide which.

bobbel cotton

It is soft and this particular colorway has a glitter strand incorporated into it.

And I purchased this sock yarn to knit my sister-in-law some ankle socks.

yarns from Germany

And also shown in this photo are two baby yarns I purchased at the other store, where the woman there did speak a little English. I wish you could feel how incredibly soft the variegated baby yarn is.

I am currently working on a crocheted stole for a woman who will turn 90 years old soon! Isn’t that incredible? I am enjoying this project and it’s a great one for watching TV and crocheting, since I’ve memorized the pattern.

stole

So this is what I’ve been busy with lately! And the kids started school about a week after we returned from our trip and now life is happily busy and more regimented now.

Thanks for stopping by!

Crafting vintage items

I just LOVE the look of vintage things. They remind me of a simpler time my parents and grandparents would talk about with longing in their eyes.

Okay, that sounds super sappy and instead of the Norman Rockwell painting it evokes, they really just started every sentence with, “In my day, we didn’t have no damn (fill in the blank) to worry about!” and they were clearly annoyed with whatever new piece of “technology” we so proudly held up in their faces.

Anyhow, I am lucky to be the owner of a few vintage craft items, like some very old crochet thread in original Coats & Clark’s boxes (although I cannot find them right now!), and the substantial pinking shears below. I wish I had the old sewing machine table my mom once used. It was the kind where you opened the wood lid, which was hinged at the side and up popped the bluish-green sewing machine! I used to drive my little Matchbox cars around it, before I developed my interest in crafting. This was an electric sewing machine, not the really old-fashioned treadle machine. That would be even more cool to have around.

pinking shears

As for the Coats & Clark’s threads, I used them to crochet this tiny little afghan and pillows for my dollhouse when I was young. I am even amazed today I was able to crochet so neatly when I was young, but my mom did sew all the motifs together to construct the afghan. It looked absolutely adorable and authentic in my dollhouse on a sweet miniature bed. These pieces must be about 35 to 40 years old (yikes!).

mini crocheted blanket and pillows

close up mini crocheted blanket and pillows

Every once in a while, I get the urge to make something that is vintage. There are plenty of patterns out there for vintage-looking knits, crocheted items, clothing to sew, and wood things to make and distress, but what I’m actually referring to is working from an old pattern, like from one of these vintage booklets.

vintage crochet booklets

These booklets are just a few examples of what were given to me by a friend who got them from her grandmother, I believe. I wasn’t sure if I would ever make anything from them, but so far, I have completed two crocheted doilies, and I am in the process of knitting a baby sweater from a 1986 magazine.

This particular doily was not difficult to crochet, but it did take some time, and I DID have to wear my cheater glasses. I love the way it turned out and it lives happily in my family room under a small lamp. Whenever I get the urge to make another one, I have about a hundred patterns to choose from!

doily close up

The current “vintage” item on my needles is this baby sweater. It’s only from 1986, so not terribly old.

sweater patt photo

It is being knit in acrylic baby yarn, instead of cotton as suggested, because like so many times, I want to knit something NOW and not WAIT UNTIL I HAVE THE RIGHT YARN. I was leafing through the magazine and saw this and wanted to start it right away!! It’s a curse.

It’s an interesting pattern, in that you knit it from the bottom up, adding a row of blue every after 14 rows of white, but the vertical blue lines are added later, with chain stitch completed with a darning needle. To assist you in doing the chain stitches and getting their alignment perfect, you knit a pattern of purl stitches every row, every ten stitches, so when you do your chain stitching later, the blue yarn lays nice and flat and makes perfectly straight vertical lines. Very clever!

front and back

I have recently completed the front and back, shown above, and am knitting the sleeves, both at the same time.That is something I like to do whenever I can because you really do get two identical things. You just have to work from two separate balls of yarn.

stranded yarn

I thought it would be more efficient to carry the white strand as I knit the one blue row, instead of cutting and reattaching the yarn, but I wasn’t happy with that stranding on the wrong side of the work. I thought maybe little fingers would get caught in the stranding and really snag the sweater. So I cut the stranded white yarn in the middle of the body of the sweater, pulled it out of its blue stitches holding it in place, then wove the ends in. There is a fair amount of weaving in on this pattern, but I don’t mind it. I know some knitters really hate this part.

cutting the strand

all that weaving

One more note on vintage things…I have wanted for some time to have a vintage camper. The problem is, we aren’t campers. But I realize that many people have vintage campers they keep on their property and it becomes a wonderful little getaway in their back yard! That’s what I want, but I would also LOVE to go camping, too. My husband feels that camping for him, however, involves a Holiday Inn Express. It’s still a dream of mine, and I love looking at Pinterest at all the vintage campers and trailers out there. I like to imagine myself hanging out in a cozy camper with a cup of coffee and a vintage project on the needles…

Maybe some day….

Thanks for stopping by!

Jenny

 

I’ve got the BLUES!

old blue car

Blue is NOT my favorite color, but when it comes to a baby blanket, and the baby is going to be a boy, then I do like it quite a lot.

finished ABC blanket

My nephew and his wife are expecting a baby boy this September so I thought I would make them a blanket. Blankets are fairly easy, depending on the pattern, but they can also be boring to knit or crochet, depending on the pattern. When I have a larger thing to make, I have to try and find a balance between “not too terribly involved” and “not so boring I won’t work on it.”

I found what I was looking for on Knitpicks‘ website. But I didn’t start on their website. I started at my favorite yarny place: Ravelry. If you’re a knitter and/or crocheter, you might have a profile on Ravelry. I do, but I haven’t been very good about keeping it updated. With the start of this blog, I do hope I have an easier time keeping my Ravelry site up to date.

I searched for baby blankets on Ravelry and got about a bazillion results. Somehow, I sifted through all the stuff and came across this lovely pattern from Knitpicks. It’s called the ABC Baby Blanket by Jenny Williams and it’s simply knit and purl stitches. It is also a charted pattern. If you’re new to knitting or crochet, you may not know what a charted pattern is. For some people, it can seem confusing or overwhelming. I, myself, am a visual person, and I find I like knitted charts just fine. I am not very skilled on reading some crochet charts, however. Below, you will see a sample of a crochet chart and a knitting chart. Like a map, you need a “key” to understand what the symbols mean.

charts

This blanket kept my interest because in between 24 rows of plain old garter stitch, I had to read the charts so my blanket would have lovely graphical images of a duck, a star, a sailboat, etc. The garter stitch is what went between the nine graphical blocks. The images were knitted in reverse garter stitch on a field of stockinette stitch. If you would like to learn any of these stitches, click here to be redirected to the Knitpicks’ tutorials pages.

I used Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn in Medium Blue to complete my blanket. It’s a decent acrylic yarn to use. It’s soft and easy to work with. I have had babies, and I wouldn’t want to worry about a baby blanket knit in some expensive wool or cotton, and kitchen cotton is not my favorite thing to work with (plus it doesn’t feel very nice for a blanket.) I used almost three skeins of yarn.

As for needles, I used a size 7 circular needle, because you need a circ to get all those stitches of the blanket on. I started out with a circ I had in my “collection” but it wasn’t quite long enough, so I had to go shopping. Oh darn…

My good friend (who does not knit or crochet but is an artist) and I went to visit this very cool place in a nearby town called Fine Line Creative Arts Center. I had been there for the first time in May when I was helping to chaperone a large group of high school art students who were spending the day there doing all sorts of wonderfully creative things. I learned on that particular visit that this incredible place has a shop! And they have yarn, and other fibers for weaving and such. And they have needles! I bought these 40″ wooden needles and I absolutely LOVED knitting with them. And you can see in the photo they cost $9.50, which I felt was a fair price. They sure were comfortable to knit with.

Driftwood needles

I also tried something new in this Beginner level pattern. I tried to do a Russian join, which is a way to add a new skein of yarn when you run out of the current skein. I knew a little about this type of join, but didn’t know how to do it, so I consulted Youtube. Since I don’t remember the particular video I used, I cannot share that with you here, but I can share this link to Knitpicks where they have a nice non-video tutorial on the Russian join.

I thought I did an okay job with my first Russian join, but I was nervous about it coming unraveled, because the yarn is acrylic, and I figured a wool would perform better. But I did it, then I kept worrying about it. What if I didn’t do the join in a long enough piece of yarn? What if the blanket starts falling apart on its new owners? So I picked at it until it came undone, and let me tell you, it came undone awfully easily. Boo.

Here is what I had left when I picked it apart. Looking at this now, it’s clear I didn’t do the join long enough.

unraveled join

And here is what the blanket looked like when I wove in those ends with a yarn needle.

woven in ends

So, next time I do a Russian join, I’m going to do it better. I need to have confidence that the knitted piece will not come unraveled. Or else I won’t be able to sleep at night! And I love to sleep.

As I write this post, the blanket is nicely packaged in tissue paper secured with a pretty blue ribbon and in a box, en route to its new owners, my nephew and his wife. I do hope they love it, and I hope their new son will use it for a long time.

Thanks for stopping by!

Jenny

P.S. I am in no way affiliated with Knitpicks, and I do not receive anything if someone clicks on the links to their site that I provided. I just shop on their site sometimes, and get free patterns and such.