With a little toddler running around this Christmas, I had grand plans of going handmade for the Christmas ornaments this year (they wouldn't break if she pulled them off the tree, no little parts to choke on ... all that good stuff). My mind went immediately to these adorable mini-stocking ornaments I'd seen on Ravelry, and there were plans for some needlework reindeer and santas stitched into ornaments with some cute Christmas fabric borders. As you can see from the picture above, my dream didn't quite materialize as I'd envisioned! I made around 9 different mini-stockings and then realized that, one, I was running out of time, and two, a tree comprised almost entirely of mini-stockings would look a little odd! So instead, I purchased cheap-o (but still pretty!) ornaments at Wal-Mart (that shouldn't shatter, and that I wouldn't be devastated if they were broken) and we strategically positioned them out of little one's reach. Which means that the lower half of the tree is bare. :-D But that's okay. I'd rather have that than to deal with constantly monitoring the little one!
While I did churn out quite of few of these mini-stockings, I can't say that I'm sick of them. They're such instant gratification projects! For links and my commentary on the patterns I used, see my post over at the Golden Triangle Knitting Guild blog. Be warned: they are addictive!
These guys have all the elements of real socks, minus the kitchener at the toe!
Mini fair isle? Soooo adorable.
Now that all my presents are knit and packaged and have long reached their destinations, I've been indulging in a little knitting for me. I just stumbled across this amazing indie sock yarn dyer, String Theory Colorworks. Her stuff is so neat! And apparently, these wide stripes you see below are actually a rare thing to find in sock yarn world. I had no clue. All I can say is, I'm in love! It doesn't hurt that her yarn base has a tiny amount of cashmere in it. Yum.
Oooo. Pretty colors. Yup, that's what suckered me into buying the Feza "Polo" yarn. That and it is sooooo soft. Double threat. If you're like me, and can't resist this yarn in your local yarn shop, here's a quick and easy pattern that puts it to good use. And best of all, you only need two skeins! ***This is a pattern for a length-wise garter stitch scarf, which I make no claims of being the originator of this idea. But if you're in love with this yarn like I was, I thought other people might find this pattern useful.
Fabulous Feza Scarf Formula
Yarn: 2 skeins of Feza Polo (yarn content: 55% acrylic, 30% mohair, 15% polyamid)
Needles: Size 11
CO 183 stitches
Cut your yarn, leaving a 5 inch or so tail at the end of your cast-on. Re-attach your yarn to your work by tying it to your last stitch (again, leaving a 5 inch tail) and then knit across the stitches for your first row. Repeat this procedure at the beginning and end of each row to create your "tassle."
Continue to knit garter stitch for a total of 28 rows.
Cast off on your 29th row (you should have 14 garter stitch ridges on each side).
Weave in ends, and secure your tassles. You'll notice that the tassles are naturally paired. To secure your tassles, tie each pair in a double knot. If you end up with an uneven number of tassles, tie three together by holding two in one hand. Trim tassles as desired. Wear your fuzzy, soft warm scarf with pride!
My finished scarves were approximately five inches in width. You can easily get a width of six inches if you use a full two skeins. I failed to measure their length before gifting them all, but it was generous enough to wear double-wrapped with plenty of scarf leftover to artfully wrap.
NOTE: I know it would be easier to create the tassles by continuously knitting and then attaching the tassles at the end of the project, but this yarn has gradual color changes, and I wanted the tassles to match these shifts in color. Feel free to create your tassles in whatever manner you prefer (or have none if that suits you best!).
I found that with this formula, each color change happened every three rows or so in this yarn.
When this arrived in my mailbox, I just had to make it. Such a simple, but awesome design. So I set out to gather my supplies, and just barely scrounged up enough candy corn. By the time I hit the Halloween candy aisle, the majority of what was left was called "harvest corn" and instead of being white, orange, and yellow, it was white, orange and brown. Not nearly as aesthetically pleasing! Someone told me the brown was supposed be chocolate flavor? Dunno. All in all, it only took me about two hours to hot-glue-gun each candy corn to the wreath form (first you cover the wreath form with black duct tape to create your "background").
I loved the finished wreath! But, yes, I am speaking in the past tense. A couple of problems with candy corn ... first, it's sugar, which meant that it softened up from the heat of the glue gun and from being exposed to the elements outside. I only had one candy corn actually detach itself and fall off the wreath, but you could feel them kind of disintegrating when I took the wreath down after Halloween. So ultimately this one ended up in the trash. (I also had visions of the bugs having a field day eating this in the attic/garage ... no need to give them any more reason to be attracted to my house!) If I make another one next year, I might try spraying it with some sort of sealer or gloss spray. We'll see.
After reviewing this year's posts (and my embarrassing lack of activity), I just realized that I never posted the king-sized quilt that grew from the quilting bug that was inspired by my baby quilt successes!
Looking back, I was clearly under the influence of extreme pregnancy nesting when I started this quilt. Who starts a king-sized quilt when they are in their third trimester? A crazy pregnant lady, that's who! Despite the obstacles posed by my massively distended belly, I managed to do all my cutting and pieced together the top of the quilt. It actually looked like I might finish the quilt pre-baby arrival until I hit a snag basting the backing to the top + quilt batting to create the "sandwhich." To be economical, I usually use a flat sheet as my backing. Before attaching the binding, I use a loose basting stitch on all four sides of the quilt to make a nice, clean edge for attaching my binding. Well, somehow I managed to not square things up properly (it would have helped if I had properly basted the entire quilt, like you're supposed to ... but all that time on my hands and knees, with 8-month pregancy belly? yeah, right! that wasn't going to happen) and it got all wonky, and I decided not to deal with it. So this massive, so close to being finished, quilt got shoved in the closet and didn't re-emerge until last summer and the then baby-to-come was almost one!
I'm glad I got as far as I did on finishing the quilt though, because it really drove me to finish it last summer. If I hadn't finished the top, I know it would have languished much longer in unfinished-project-limbo. I love the finished quilt! But once I finished the quilt, I realized I had created a new project: pillow sham covers. The old pillow sham covers now just didn't quite fit with the new, cheerful quilt (see below).
The first decision I had to make was color and pattern. Should I make another patchwork design, but using a different pattern? What color? After much debate, I decided I wanted to avoid blues and greens, since I figured it would make the pillows basically blend in with the quilt--and I wanted them to complement the quilt, but stand on their own. Secondly, I opted to stay away from a patchwork pattern--partly for ease (wanting to keep things simple so the project actually got finished!) and to not distract from the pattern in the quilt. In the end, I went for my first mono-chromatic patchwork piece in shades of yellow. I purposefully staggered the seams so I could be lazy and not worry about cutting everything perfectly and matching everything perfectly.
I'm really happy with the end result! I love it so much, it had me dreaming of mono-chromatic future quilts ... e.g. shades of red and green for a winter "Christmas" quilt I could pull out for the holidays, etc. But the awkward fumbling of dealing with such a massive amount of fabric to create a king-sized quilt has staved off the quilting bug for now. That and actively avoiding the awesome quilting books that are slowly but surely joining my library ... we'll see how long I can last out!
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