knitting disaster

knittingdisaster1_61213

I successfully taught myself to crochet about 3.5 years ago and I’ve always wanted to learn to knit, too, but it has not come as easily.  I tried several times to teach myself, and although I can now cast on, cast off, knit and purl, somehow, actually creating something useable or wearable is still beyond me.  I think there are two problems: 1) I don’t enjoy the physical movement of it (I guess I should try continental, since I like crocheting) and 2) I don’t know how to fix problems.  With crochet, it’s so easy to go back and fix things, but with knitting, it feels completely daunting, and I end up ripping out more stitches than I actually create.

Last year, I was starting to feel really guilty that I made so many crocheted things for A, but J is just getting a bit big to be able to pull off crocheted items without looking too “girly”.  He really wanted me to make him a vest, so I committed myself to knitting him a vest.  The only thing I’d successfully completed prior to that was a few small squares and a hat, but I really didn’t enjoy knitting and didn’t want to prolong the agony by making a scarf for more practice.  I was hoping that as I went along with the vest, I’d get better and faster and start to enjoy it more.  Well, that didn’t happen.  Also, between the time I started the vest in February and finished it in June (a super practical time to finish up a wool vest), surprise surprise, J grew, and the vest ended up being too short.  Of course, I had already bound off and I had NO idea what to do, so I crocheted a few rows at the bottom to lengthen it, which looks totally ridiculous.  I also had various missed stitches, or places where I had to take everything off the needles and then I must have put them back on backwards or something.  Anyway, the vest was a disaster.  J, however, was thrilled.  I made his doll Alexander a matching vest (crocheted), and told J he could wear the vest around the house ONLY.  Definitely not out in public.  I decided it was ok for me to be just a crocheter and not a knitter.  This is totally embarrassing to be posting, but here’s the disastrous vest (J also had some sort of horrible rash going on around his mouth):

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Fast forward six or seven months:  J wore the vest around the house regularly and also underneath his coat for playing in the snow.  Somehow, it ended up going through the washing machine and dryer and ended up like this:

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I can’t say I was at all disappointed!  It sat around for awhile and then last week, I decided to make something useful out of that beautiful felt, and stitched together a quick little bag for A.  Although it’s pretty ironic that something I made for J to compensate for so many handmade things for A turned into another thing for her.  Oh, well.  Any suggestions for a “boyish” crocheted vest pattern in size 6 or 7 would be very welcome…

knittingdisaster1_61213J and I just finished up These Happy Golden Years last night, which was very bittersweet.  We’ve been reading the Little House books for over a year, and I think we’re both sad to see them come to an end (I purposefully decided not to read him The First Four Years – I just think it’s really sad, and it feels very out of synch with the positive style of the other books, I’m assuming because it was a rough draft that Laura never finished).  I’m not sure what we’ll read next.  We had started Heidi awhile ago, but J lost interest after Heidi moved to the city.  Any suggestions on what we should read next would be welcome.  He likes adventure but not things that are scary.  I’d also prefer that it be a relatively high reading level, because I notice that otherwise he tries to read along and ends up getting completely distracted from the story (does that make sense?  Maybe that is totally the wrong thing for me to be doing).

Joining the Yarn Along with Ginny.

colorful doily blanket

rainbow doily 1

In an apparent effort to avoid finishing the rainbow blanket, I got swept up in starting a new blanket project.  I had seen a very pretty rainbow version of this pattern, called Anya, somewhere online, although I can’t find it now that I’m looking for it again.  Anyway, I decided to use the leftover yarn from A’s granny stripe blanket and the yarn that I was supposed to be using for J’s rainbow blanket to start on this new, highly impractical circular blanket with holes in it.  It’s so pretty, though!  And it’s really, really, really fun when compared to crocheting endless granny stripes.  I did not make it all the way through the pattern before J saw it and claimed it, which I guess is only fair, considering I used up all the yarn for his blanket.  It’s about three feet across right now.  I’m not sure if I’ll keep going or not – it’s more pretty to look at than practical as a blanket.  I do think it would make a really nice rug if crocheted with thicker yarn.

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rainbowdoily3_6413

My dad got J the first four Boxcar Children books and he’s been reading them to my husband before bed.  Somehow, I never read these when I was little, so I decided to read them before J read them.  They are so fun, and I think J really likes the stories and how adventurous the kids are.  They’re perfect for his reading level, which I think is somewhere around 2nd or 3rd grade.  I think we’ll have to have a little conversation about radioactive materials when we get to book 4, though – the kids find a uranium deposit and discover that the fireplace in their aunt’s house is made out of uranium.  No one seems to even realize that it’s not the safest stuff to be playing with.  I guess that’s how things were back in the 50’s!

Joining the Yarn Along.

embroidered felt headbands

embroidered headbands

A has wanting to do her own hair lately, which means barrettes, pig tails and pony tails are out, because she can’t do them by herself.  She’s been wearing a lot of cotton kerchiefs (which our neighbor sews and are very cute), and the crochet kerchief and headband I made for her, but I decided to make some “fancier” headbands with felt.  Since her favorite color is pink and her favorite things are flowers, pink flowers seemed like a logical choice.  Pink flowers are second only to rainbows in A’s book, so that was an obvious number two.

I used wool blend felt, a rectangle about 13″x1.25″ and I rounded the corners.  For the flower headband, I cut out a bunch of little flower shapes using embroidery scissors and then stitched them on using three strands of cotton embroidery floss.  I also just freehanded a viney shape with running stitch down the length of the headband.  For the rainbow one, I also used three strands of embroidery floss and did a running stitch around in long ovals.  I started with orange and kept going until I got to purple.  Then I added a backing strip of felt and stitched the two layers together using red floss.  For the pink flower one, after I stitched all the flowers on, I stitched the backing felt on with green thread.  At each end, I sewed in about a 6.5″ inch length of 1/2″ elastic.  These headbands fit both A and I thanks to the elastic.  I was worried they would be hot and/or itchy, but A has worn them for whole days without complaining at all, so they must be ok.

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african flower pincushions

african flower pincushion

When I was cleaning out my abandoned projects pile a couple of weeks ago, I came across an in-progress African Flower cushion cover I had forgotten all about.  Maybe someday I’ll finish it up, but when I saw this pattern, it seemed like a fun way to enjoy some African Flowers in the meantime.

These were quick to crochet.  I used dk weight cotton yarn.  I think they would be nicer in wool, but I had specific colors in mind and I didn’t have all of them on hand in wool.  I stuffed the pincushions with wool, but I didn’t like the stuffing poking through the holes in the flower, so I cut a circle out of wool felt to put under the stuffing, and that worked perfectly.  I think these would make lovely little gifts!

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needle books

needle book

I am CONSTANTLY losing my needles (maybe my marbles, too), so I decided to make a needle book to go along with my new notebook cover.  I did a search for needle books on pinterest and found these gorgeous books.  Aren’t they beautiful?  Mine is inspired by those ones, but obviously  not nearly as fancy.   I embroidered an outside piece of felt and sewed on a tie and button, and then blanket stitched the outside to another piece of felt.  Finally, I sewed two additional sheets of felt to the middle to make the book.

One thing I haven’t quite figured out is how to make the stitching down the middle look neat.  I think that’s why the ones I linked to have a ribbon going down the spine (plus, it looks very cute).  I made two books, one with a running stitch going down the middle from the inside, which looks nice on the inside but not on the outside, and one with a backstitch going down the middle from the outside, which looks very nice from the outside, but not on the inside.  I then tried covering my neat-on-the-inside one with some bias tape on the outside to make a spine, but I should have done that first, rather than last, and it just made kind of a mess, so I pulled it out, and in the process messed up my blanket stitch.  I think I have a “plan” now, though, so I may have to make a third one.  Either way, now I can find my needles!

inside needle book

needle books

hanging out with their big sister, the notebook

Next up, I have big plans for a crochet hook case.  I’m getting way too organized!

notebook cover

felt notebook cover

I have a boring little notebook that I have with me most of the time (at my desk or in my bag).  I’ve been using it for a long time and I’m nearing the end of the pages, so I decided I wanted to spruce things up a little for my next notebook.  I had bought my kids a couple of the small blank Moleskin notebooks awhile ago and I like the small size of them, so I decided to make a cover that would fit them.  Then I can just swap a new one in when I run out of pages, and it’s a nice small size to fit in my bag.

I used some merino wool-blend felt I ordered from the KindallKrafts store on Etsy.  I have tried wool and wool-blend felt from a number of sources over the years and I’m really happy with the quality of this felt for the price.  It has a really nice weight and feel to it.

Here’s how I made it:

  1. Using the Tiffany Blue color felt, I cut a piece 12″ x 5.5″, to cover the Moleskin notebook (note that the dimensions of the notebook I linked to above were listed slightly larger than what my notebook measures).  If you want to cover a different kind of notebook, I’d recommend a formula something like the following:
    (width of notebook x 2)+ (width of spine) + (4.5″ for flaps)  X  (height of the notebook+1/4″)
  2. I folded the felt in half and marked the middle with a pin.  The I folded the felt around the notebook and marked the fold for the flaps.  I removed the notebook from the felt.
  3. I cut out my “embellishments” from felt – in my case, two flower shapes, two round circles and two leaves.  I played around with them until I was happy with the layout and then made a little mark with a water soluble marker to mark where I wanted to place the leaves and flowers.
  4. I embroidered the stems of the flowers using embroidery floss and going up until where I had the marks for the flowers.  Next, I sewed the flowers on, using french knots.  Finally, I sewed the leaves on, just using a straight stitch for the vein of the leaves.
  5. Next, I folded over the flaps and secured them with a pin.  I blanket stitched around the edge using contrasting thread.
  6. That’s it!  A cute notebook cover and I can easily swap in and out notebooks when I need a new one.  I think I may also add a flap along the side to hold a pen.

felt notebook cover - inside

felt notebook cover

baby bonnet

crochet newborn bonnet doll bonnet  newborn and baby bonnets

A friend of mine recently had a baby girl and I have been wanting to crochet something for her, so when I saw a pattern posted on the Tangled Happy website last week for a crochet baby bonnet, it seemed like the perfect present.   I made the “newborn” size, using an E hook and dk weight mercerized cotton yarn.  However, the bonnet turned out SO small, it seemed like it was a better fit for A’s doll, Cara!  I had some worsted weight organic cotton yarn, so I tried again using a G hook.  It’s amazing how the same pattern looks so much different using different yarn and a different size hook.  I really like the look of the bonnet in the mercerized cotton better – I think it makes the stitches stand out, but the organic cotton one is very nice and cozy.  This was a quick, fun project, so if you’re in need of a baby bonnet, or a doll bonnet, I’d definitely recommend it!

I’ve been enjoying re-reading some of the articles in the most recent issue of Taproot.  So inspiring!

Joining in the Yarn Along with Ginny today.

yarn along 4/10

sleeping bunnies

Max and Maggie wearing pajamas

Sleeping Bunnies

A decided Max and Maggie were going to go to bed this morning, so I got to get a picture of them wearing their nightgown and pajamas (Maggie apparently also likes to wear necklaces to bed; the bunnies are borrowing doll Cara’s ripple blanket that  I made awhile ago).  For the nightgown, I just did as Alicia did and made a longer version of the dress, using some quilting cotton. Of course, Maggie needed another cape and a pair of pink “slipper boots” to match.  When I first told J and A I was making them bunnies (they got a preview because I let A pick out the fabric for the kit), J requested an “all red” bunny, which I could not bring myself to make, so Max got an all red outfit instead, which was fine with J.

Since J and A love to pretend that their animals and dolls are going camping or going on trips, I also gave Max and Maggie little suitcases (found at the craft store and covered with scrapbook paper) to store their change of clothes in while they’re traveling.

 Bunny Suitcases Bunny Suitcases inside

Joining Nicole at Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft On today.

crochet collar

crocheted collar 2

I made A a crocheted collar, using this pattern, although I modified it slightly.  I’ve been wanting to make one of these ever since I saw several pictures of them on Pinterest months ago, but I just finally got around to it.  It was a quick and very satisfying project, and A loves it  (it looks quite fabulous over her pj’s – I can’t wait to see it on an actual dress!)  I used Paton’s Grace yarn in Blush from my stash – I’d say it only used a quarter to a third of a skein.  I don’t think I could pull off wearing one of these myself, but they’re so pretty, and perfect for a little girl, I think!

looking lovely over the elephant pj's!

looking lovely over the elephant pj’s!

J and I started These Happy Golden Years.   It’s hard to believe Laura endured that first difficult teaching job when she was only 15! J is very excited that Laura and Almanzo will finally be getting married in this book.  Yarning along with Ginny today.

collar and little house

maggie bunny’s brother max

Max Bunny 2

I finished Maggie Bunny’s brother, Max, using Alicia Paulson’s wonderful pattern here,  and my own materials.  I ordered the felt for Max’s body from this store on Etsy, which I’m pretty sure is the same brand included in Alicia’s kit (if not, it’s of very similar quality).  Max is a heathered gray.   For the shirt, I used the same pattern as for Maggie’s dress, but I made the length and sleeves shorter and omitted the elastic around the sleeves.  The shirt is natural linen with a muslin pocket I embroidered with a carrot.  I modified a doll pants pattern for Max and added some orange polka-dot cuffs.  I still need to embroider his nose!  I forgot about it until I looked at these pictures.

I also made a nightgown for Maggie and some pajamas for Max (as well as “slipper boots”), but I finished those late Saturday night and J and A are not cooperative about putting on their pajamas (it’s not night time), so I’ll have to sneak some pictures when I have a chance.  These bunnies were so fun to make!  I hope J and A really enjoy playing with them. Max is currently strapped to a remote control car, so I think he is a hit with J.

Max Bunny

Max and Maggie Bunnies