subway tile quilt

Remember my previous contemplation of a Christmas quilt project? While I may have been quiet about the project here on the blog, it has been something I've been thinking about a lot the past few months since that post. My search for the perfect pattern took me a lot longer than I anticipated. I kept finding myself drawn to adorable scrappy star patterns ... but when I took a long, hard look at the fabrics I wanted to feature, I realized I wouldn't be happy chopping these prints up into tiny pieces. They are just too large of prints for complicated, scrappy patterns (at least for me!). So once I embraced that this quilt would be more simple than scrappy, things started flowing again. It wasn't until I had layed out my fabric on the floor in the above photo that it hit me--a subway tile pattern!

Here's my progress on the top so far. Large subway tile-esque panels, separated by strips of hot pink. It's a very pink and lime green Christmas quilt--perfect for a little girl! I'm not stressing about getting it done in time for Christmas eve this year .... I could surprise myself and have a big spurt of quilting energy this weekend and finish it ... or not! We'll see!

another fabulous feza scarf

Continuing the charity knitting update ... in addition to toys, I challenged myself to knitting as many scarves as possible from my stash. This one is a fabulous feza scarf! I had forgotten how much I enjoy the joys of knitting a scarf length-wise, in garter stitch. If you are looking for a last-minute knitted gift now that we are practically in the 11th hour, this pattern could easily be adapted for other yarns. Unfortunately, I don't have photographic evidence of the five other scarves I finished.
And that catches me up on my charity knitting from November! I hadn't done this much charity knitting in one stretch, ever. I've always enjoyed charity knitting, but this time the extra challenge of only knitting from my stash yarn seemed to amplify the gratification. I felt doubly good while knitting--good about knitting something nice for someone who really deserves it, and good about getting some old yarn finally out of my growing-out-of-control stash! 

multiple maddox

More charity knitting! This is my second Rebecca Danger toy pattern, Maddox. I'm becoming a big fan of Rebecca's work! Such well written patterns! This was another speedy knit, as far as toys go. My only tweak to the pattern was ignoring the instructions to turn the body inside out to do a three-needle bind off to close the top of the head. Instead, I used my favorite grafting instructions, an alternative to kitchener stitch that I learned in a Knitting Daily column back when Sandi Wiseheart was the editor (here's a link to the column with details of the method). I love, love, love this grafting technique. For whatever reason, kitchener stitch looks awful when I attempt it--but this method turns out perfect everytime!
Yarn: Red Heart (one skein completed three monster bodies and two arms--I had to dip into another skein to make the four remaining arms)
Needles: Size 6 dpn's

I love, love, love the end result! I will definitely be making more of these--they may become my go-to baby shower/big sister/big brother baby gift! What finished objects do you have to show off today? Don't forget to check out the others at Tami's Amis!

owls two ways

One of the many charity projects I knit up in November were some toys for the children of women seeking shelter at our local domestic violence shelter. I wanted a quick knit, something fast and easy, but cute and huggable. The "owls two ways" pattern fit the bill perfectly! I did, however, upsize it significantly. The pattern is essentially knitting a bag/purse in the round, from the base up--except when you sew the top shut, you create a cute owl shape. The pattern knit as written creates tiny, miniature owls. So I uppped the initial cast on to approximately 20 stitches or so to create a more adequate toy size.

Pattern: Owls Two Ways
Yarn: Lion Brand Homespun (one owl used only a third of the skein, I estimate you could squeeze three owls from one skein)
Needles: Size 9 dpn's

I ended up making the owls two different ways. The blue-winged owl used black safety eyes and fabric glue to attach the nose and wings. The purple owl used more rustic wooden button eyes and the wings are embroidered onto the owl. I love the white felt/safety eyes, but feel like the blue-winged owl could use some embroidered details. So if I make another owl, I'll end up combining these two different approaches!


christmas countdown

I was about to start this post with a comment about how November disappeared on me, but frankly so is December! (under two weeks until Christmas?!?! gulp!) November ended up turning into my own personal charity knit-a-thon, which I'll be posting about next. What have I been up to this month? Getting the Christmas book advent calendar started again (my favorite new-to-me Christmas tradition!) ...

.... decking the halls ...

... and hanging the stockings with care! Aren't these great? My grandma knit these for my two kiddos ... they crack me up because they are sooo long. Much more generous in size than the ones she knit for us growing up! Santa has his work cut out for him filling them up, that's for sure!

giving thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We're headed over the river and through the woods ... (I couldn't resist!) There's been a lot of behind the scenes charity knitting going on here that I'll be posting about tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy your loved ones and all that you're grateful for!

staying warm

Nearly a week away from Thanksgiving, and we're only now getting our first freeze here in Mississippi. Finally it feels like fall! I'm celebrating with some cocoa and casting off on a super speedy scarf. Size 13 needles, super bulky Lion Brand Hometown USA--what's not to love?

I cast on 12 stitches, and proceeded with seed stitch from there. Used two skeins (162 yards). Final dimensions: 6.25" wide and 67.5" long.

so simple sewn coaster tutorial

All this quilt business got me itching to whip-up one of my favorite instant-gratification sewing projects--coasters! Here's my recipe for making easy, attractive coasters ... they make a great hostess gift!

Step #1: Cut three 4.5-inch squares for each coaster (one square of batting, and two squares of  fabric). I prefer cotton batting for this project, and like to mix things up with more than one fabric.
Step #2: Layer your two fabrics so that the right sides face each other (see above). Then layer your batting on top of that (see below).
Step #3: Sew around the perimeter using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. 

Step #3, continued: Be sure to leave an approximately 1.5 inch long gap in the middle of one of the four sides (in order to pull things right-side out). See below.

Step #4: Turn coaster right side out. Use a pencil or other pointed tip to push your corners out and square things up. Gently tuck the raw edges in around your gap (see below).

Step #5: Top-stitch approximately 1/8 of an inch from the edge around the perimeter of the coaster (this closes and secures the gap). Using your first top-stitching as a guide, stitch another interior square of top-stitching approximately 1/8 of an inch from the first line. Repeat an additional two times, or as desired.

Step #6: Enjoy your new coasters!

Finished Object Friday: Bubby

This month, our knitting guild has taken on the goal of knitting children's hats, scarves, mittens, and toys for a local domestic abuse shelter. I really like the idea of making toys, so I've been using this as opportunity to finally try some of the many bear patterns I have hanging out in my Ravelry queue. Here's the first: a Knitty freebie, "Bubby." Bubby is adorable ... but tiny! As in, Beanie Baby tiny. The construction is fun and fast--almost entirely seamless, which I enjoy. A little fiddly though, given how small the arms/legs are and the fact that you're using DPNs (it's pretty much like making mitten fingers).

Pattern: Bubby (my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease (colorway: Blue Mist), used a tiny amount ... under 40 yards?
Needles: Size 3 DPNs
Notes: Using size 3 needles created the perfect density of fabric! You can't see any stuffing at all ... I would make this again, for a baby--it's very grab-able for a baby, with the long limbs. Not so sure it's big enough for our charity project, but my daughter has claimed it for herself anyway!

my book problem: reviving the craft book challenge

That picture? That's 50 knitting and crochet books ... 50 books that I have yet to make a single project from (funny, they don't look as numerous in two orderly stacks as they do on my shelves!). Sadly, I have only made projects out of a whopping seven books from my entire collection (see below) ... And this is excluding all my sewing, quilting, beading and general crafting books! I've been re-organizing my shelves in our "library" which has forced me to come to terms with this problem ... I have a bad habit of going straight to Ravelry's pattern search when I am contemplating a new project. I then fall in love with a new pattern, purchase it, and cast on ... and never crack open a single book I already own. Remember my crafting resolutions? Yup, one of them was to make more projects out of my crafting book library. I've actually done a little better this year than most. So far I've made five projects, but clearly I've got a long way to go!

Is this a problem for you, too?

I've decided to revive the craft book challenge for myself. This was a fantastic idea of Liesl's that she passed on to Michelle McCoy, but has seemingly died.

Anyone else want to join in?

terence the tap-dancing t-rex

The last time you saw Terence, I was vowing to finish him and the many hearts blanket by the end of September ... so much for that! I love, love, love this pattern and will be making many more Rebecca Danger patterns in the future. Great construction techniques that minimize seamimg! However, I learned the hard way that her yarn estimates are completely accurate ... I was hoping to squeak by with one skein of Cascade 220 ... nope! So the left foot is slightly darker, but a close match. We'll just have to call him "Lefty" I guess!
Pattern: Terence the Tap-Dancing T-Rex by Rebecca Danger (my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: One skein Cascade 220 (turquoise), 25 yards or so of mystery turq. wool, tiny amounts of Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Carrot and Orange colorways.
Needles: Size 5
Notes: Next time I'd go down a needle size ... Terence turned out just fine, but you can still see a bit of the stuffing. Slighter denser fabric would make for even better results.
What are you working on? Be sure to check out the other WIPs at TamisAmis and YarnAlong! Happy Halloween!

quilt contemplations, part two

Now that I've got plenty of Christmas fabric in my stash, my dilemma is which pattern to choose. For some crazy reason, I feel an urge to break out of my typical comfort zone (squares and rectangles) and try a pattern that uses ... triangles! Of course, my plan is to use a cheater short-cut method like the one found in this book, "Scrap-Basket Sensations" (basically I'll still be sewing with rectangles and squares ... you just sew diagonally across a square to create a triangle at the end of rectangular strip). If I'd only had this book when I made my last quilt using a jelly roll! As you can see, there are many patterns that have caught my eye ...

How in the world will I ever choose?!?! 

quilt contemplation

Remember when I mentioned my crazy urge to make my daughter a special Christmas quilt? I'm envisioning a new Christmas tradition around here ... Christmas quilts for everyone's beds that only come out once the Christmas tree goes up the day after Thanksgiving ... Of course, I have no delusions/expectations of making all these quilts this year! But starting my daughter's has been occupying my brain lately. First step? Stash enhancement!

Next step is picking a pattern ... but for now I'll just admire all the cheerful goodness!
***These photos were all taken with my iPhone, I apologize for the lower quality!

color by kristin: many hearts blanket (modern version)

28 skeins of Knit Picks Swish worsted (that's 3,080 yards, but who's counting ... ) and way too many ends to count later ... the many hearts blanket is DONE! I am sooo happy to have this beast of a blanket finished! It's actually weather appropriate too, considering that next week we'll finally dip into the 60s during the day and 40s at night (that's cold after the 80s we're experiencing now! ahh... fall in the south!). 
all my pretty floats
I learned so much on this project! This was my first serious attempt at intarsia and fair isle. The original pattern called for intarsia to create the hearts, but I quickly discovered my distaste for it. Too many balls to manage with this pattern, and too many ends. So I switched to fair isle and never regretted that choice. In fact, I think stranded knitting is ideal for a blanket since it creates a double-layer of fiber that adds additional warmth. I also learned how to properly tack down the floats in order to ensure the hearts lay flat on this project. 
Pattern: Many Hearts Baby Blanket by Kristin Nicholas (published in the book, Color by Kristin)
Needles: size 8 Addi Clicks
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted (8.5 skeins of Carrot, 8.5 skeins of Lotus, 6 skeins of Gulfstream, 5 skeins of Parrot--3080 yards total)
Dimensions: 44 inches wide and 72 inches long
Modifications: Tons ... if you take a look of the pattern picture in my first post about this project  you'll notice that my finished project is a much simpler, more contemporary version of Kristin Nicholas's pattern. I omitted all the embellishment needlepoint, for starters (I love how it looks, but the thought of that much handwork on a twin-size blanket was just too daunting. I also was skeptical of how well it would hold up to the wear and tear an active toddler would inflict). I upsized the pattern to twin size by making more hearts than originally called for. At first I planned to match the stripe pattern of the original pattern, but then changed course to create four-heart "blocks" instead. I am so glad I ended up adding a second stripe around the perimeter of each block--it ended up adding another inch in width around each side, and just made each block feel more "complete." If I would change anything about this project, it would be to find a way to add more width to the final dimensions. As is, it covers the top of a twin bed well but there isn't much overhang on the sides. I'm happy with it, but it would be nice if there was an additional four to six inches or so in width.  
What are you working on? Be sure to check out the other WIPs at TamisAmis and YarnAlong!

thrifting treasures

I have had mixed success when it comes to the thrift shop options in my town. I don't know if I'm just not going frequently enough, but every time it seems like the offerings are pretty lackluster. So when I found this cross-stitch kit for only $1.50 I was over the moon! I'm pretty excited about the book, too. Bargello needlepoint patterns from the 70s!

disappearing act

I woke up this morning to realize that October has completely disappeared on me. It's been a whirlwind of Saturday day trips (Shiloh, my first Civil War battleground!), pumpkin patches, and Halloween decorating.

I didn't realize how much crafting got done during our more typical Saturdays filled with non-stop football viewing! I'll be posting an update on the projects that have been percolating behind the scenes soon--I have a crazy itch to make my daughter a special Christmas quilt, which has inspired a rash of fabric purchases, and the many hearts blanket is sooo close to completion!


It's October, and that means Socktoberfest! I'm knitting up some String Theory Colorworks self-striping yarn in the "galactic ghoul" colorway. They'll be my candy corn socks! Nothing fancy, just twisted rib cuffs and plain stockinette.

the knitting mouse

Back in August, my Grandma sent me this adorable needlepoint. A knitting mouse! How awesome is that? I knew I needed to do something special with it. It sat for weeks, until I finally found the time this week to attach a pillow backing to it. It makes me smile everytime I glance at it!

hearts on my sleeve

Today I'm staring at my pile of heart blocks and assessing my progress. Five blocks have borders, one block needs a pink border, and I have two more blocks to create. I'm debating adding a second, skinnier garter stitch border to each block as well. Slow but steady progress!

snake socksss

Another new project? After vowing to finish three projects this month? I know ... but after finishing one, a baby blanket for an expecting friend, I saw these adorable snake socks in Sue Whiting's book, Cute Knits for Baby Feet. I couldn't resist making these as a "big brother" present! And yes, these were fast--you could make these in a single day if you have the luxury of knitting without the frequent interruptions of little ones! :-D

Pattern: Snake Socksss by Sue Whiting (size 3/4)
Needles: Size 3 and size 6 straight needles
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool, approx. 1/3 of each skein (this pattern would be an excellent stashbuster!)
Modifications: I omitted about seven rows of the stripe repeat on the leg portion of the sock. It just seemed long enough already! I don't regret that decision--they are almost knee socks even with my modification! 

Obviously, I went with non-traditional snake colors by throwing in the navy blue into the mix. I wanted to use stash yarn, and discovered a surprising lack of range in different greens in my stash. Even so, I love the end results! I've always enjoyed the way striping looks in reverse stockinette, so I appreciated that this pattern purposely utilizes that approach. These socks are actually knit flat and seamed--normally I would have avoided that and knit these in the round, but by knitting flat you can avoid jogs and it was easier to have cleaner color joins.

The verdict? Fun and adorable! My model liked them so much, I just might have to make another pair for her!

big needle knit afghans: lace block baby blanket

Drum roll please ... the lace blocks baby blanket is done! (if you could only see the happy dance I'm doing right now!) I mentioned this in previous posts on this project, but this pattern knits up fast. Seriously fast. I really enjoyed this project, and I predict this pattern will become my new go-to-pattern when I need a quick knit baby gift. This is one of my favorite types of patterns--super easy, but with deceptively complicated looking results. Each row is a simple repeat that combines garter stitch blocks with yarnovers and K2tog's or SSK's. That's it! The leaning nature of the decreases is what makes the garter stitch blocks have alternating directions. I also love how you end up with a gentle zig zag edge.

To recap, here are the details:

Pattern: Lace Blocks Baby Blanket by Diane Zangl (published in the book "Big-Needle Knit Afghans")
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft Eco (249 yards per skein, I used four skeins)
Needles: size 10 Addi Turbo's
Finished dimensions: 49 inches long by 35 inches wide
Modifications: I skipped the crochet border, and didn't block.

Now I need to keep this momentum going and finish the other two projects on my must-finish-this-month list! What are you working on? Be sure to check out the other WIPs at TamisAmis and YarnAlong!

sew cute

Last month, I dusted off my sewing machine to make these pillows for my sister and totally fell in love with this color combo ... so much in love, that I managed to scrap together a tote bag out of the leftover material! 
I love how cheerful it is! Have a great weekend!

2021 year in review

  Who would have thought that the second year of a pandemic would be worst than the first, in terms of crafting mojo? Not I. But this chart ...