Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Gifting is what I do best

Two hats and one set of arm warmers.  In all the time that I have been knitting, that is all I have knit for myself (and managed to keep). 

Besides these three items I've knitted plenty of other projects - 64 according to my Ravelry profile - for other people. That number does not include the miles of garter stitch scarfs I made when I was first learning to knit, or a few other stray projects that never made their way to Ravelry glory. 

In the past few weeks I've managed to whip up four hats, two scarves, and one dishcloth.

For my sister, one of those Ruffle scarves made with novelty yarn. This was slow going at first, but once I got into the groove I was done before I knew what was going it. It turned out pretty well - unfortunately I forgot to pack it, so it will have to go in the mail as her birthday present in the spring.

For my mom, a famous Ballband dishcloth. I don't know why I have so much of this funky Sugar and Cream yarn. It looked so cool in the store. But I knew my mom would love it, even with my forgotten slipped stitches. I paired it with a bar of fancy soap from TJ MAXX (shh, don't tell) and wrapped it in a pretty ribbon. She loved it! 

The hats are for various folks, a red one for DH's grandmother's 80th birthday (a most auspicious day), a blue one that DH has been asking me for, a cabled hat for my niece  and a no-pattern stockinette beanie for my nephew.

And the other scarf. I wanted to make something pretty for my mom, as it seems I am always giving her practical things. This pattern was inspired by my love for Miss Marple (which started during my early teen year infatuation with British murder mysteries).

But this is what it wound up looking like:

I don't know, those decreases got to me, and by the time I noticed the was too late. My mom loved it anyway.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Baby Fun

My coworker is expecting in January and her baby shower is coming up. I saw that she had some baby mittens on her registry so I decided to knit her some. I improvised the pattern today while attending a conference for work. I had both mittens done by lunch. She is having a boy so I used some pretty variegated blue yarn that I have had in my stash for a while. I didn't have any dpn's with me so they are knit flat and seamed. I had both mittens done well before lunch.

Here is the recipe.

I used worsted weight yarn and size 7 needles

CO 20 st
rows 1-6: knit in a k2 p2 rib
rows 7-17: knit in stockinette

Begin decrease

row 18: *P2, P2tog* to end of row(15 sts)
row 19: knit
row 20: purl
row 21: *k1, k2tog* to end of row (10 sts)
row 22: p2tog to end of row (5 ts)

bind off remaining 5 sts, leaving a tail long enough to seam, and seam up side

I also made a baby hat. Unfortunately I had to use a different yarn so it doesn't match, but at least I got to practice magic loop. I'm not sure how I feel about it, but it is done.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Yarn Season

It's that time of year again! Time for pumpkin treats and crackling leaves and, of course, yarn! I tried to knit over the summer, I really did. I picked up my needles more than once with the full intention of getting by holiday gifts done oh so early..but did I finish anything? No. Instead I distracted myself with sewing and stenciling, reading, and not doing a whole lot else. Of course, it is possible to knit in the summer. But it just ins't the same as cozying up with a hot cup of something and playing in all that soft wool.

This weekend includes two awesome knitting-related events. The first is the three-day long NYC Yarn Crawl. LYS's all around the city participate with giveaways and events from Saturday-Monday, and the Yarn Crawl sponsors a scavenger hunt that you play by visiting as many shops as possible.

The only shop I visited was the lovely Purl Soho. They had a raffle going on and I won this awesome Stockinette Snake Kit that was featured over the summer on the The Purl Bee. I can't wait to knit up an adorable snake friend!

The other event was the first annual Kings County Fiber Festival, which took place at the Old Stone House in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The festival included finger knitting demos for kids, lots of local yarn, and a spinning demo. My friend and I learned to needle felt from a lovely lady with Decadent Fibers. We each bought a pumpkin kit and spent the rest of the afternoon felting away! The roving was soft and super easy to work with, and the needles that came with it were heavy duty. I give five stars to Decadent Fibers for their high-quality kits, which I think are offered at a reasonable price.

Monday, September 17, 2012

No-Sew Stenciled Bags

This weekend a friend and I finally broke out my stencils. I bought both Ed Roth's book Stencil.1 and Stencil Me In by  Marthe Le Van a while back but hadn't done any projects with them yet. When I got home I was inspired to do more. I bought these canvas drawstring bags a long time ago thinking I would decorate them and use them to hold knitted items that I gave to people as gifts. My idea was to use them as shopping bags when buying bulk foods, but they have potential for so much more.

Here is the end result. Scroll down for the step by step.

These bags are tiny drawstring backpacks for kids. I think I bought ten of them at Michaels and they cost about a dollar each, or less. To make bags similar to the ones above, you will need

-canvas drawstring bags (available at Michael's in the kids' crafts aisle)
-stencils, which you can purchase or make yourself
-fabric paint (I recommend the pump spray kind, not the trigger kind)
-cardboard or a lot of scarp paper
-masking or painters tape
-paper towels for clean-up

Total cost: About $10.00 for a four pack of paints and four bags with a 40% off single item coupon from Michaels.

To make the bags into regular drawstring bags I cut the strings where they were sewn to the bags on the bottom. Be careful not to cut a hole in the bag when you do this! Tie big knots in the ends of the string or put large beads on them so they stay put and don't fall out of the bag.

When you do this you will have two strings. You can pull one out and put it aside to use for another project, or go ahead and leave both in. I chose to go with only one string. 

If you want, you can end here and have yourself a perfectly find drawstring bag. But what fun is that? 

Iron your bags so your stencil will lay flat. If you have a pet, you may want to go over them with a lint brush or tape first to remove any pet hair that may have accumulated. 

After the bag is ironed, place a piece of cardboard or a stack of paper inside of it to keep the paint from bleeding through. 

Position your stencil where you want it and tape it in place. I used a lot of tape on the sides so I wouldn't have to cover it with paper. 

Mask out any areas you don't want paint to get on with tape and extra paper or cardboard. You can use your finger to hold down areas that might be lifting. Yes, you will get paint on your finger. It washes off. 

I don't have any pictures of myself actually painting the stencil because I only have two hands. All of the stencils I used for this project are from the Stencil.1 book. If you need more instructions, or want to see more ideas for stencil projects, check out Ed's website

Sunday, July 8, 2012


This has been a weekend full of sewing.

First off, the quilt is finished! It is a little puckered and kinda funky - but it held together through the wash and is ready to present!

I can't believe I actually made a quilt. Awesome!

Secondly, I decided I had the quilting bug and made this little sewing machine mat with a matching pincushion.

The pincushion was inspired by this tutorial over at I Can Find the Time. The mat I sort of improvised after looking at a bunch of other tutorials online. It has pockets in the front for my commonly used tools. The fabric has little crafty things on it like pincushions and scissors and I made the measuring tape trim with some fabric that I bought for another project.

Also, my awesome mother in law, who works making sample garments in the fashion district, came over yesterday to help me with a dress pattern. Now that I am almost finished I can tell dress is going to be too small, but it will be a good gift for someone. At any rate, she scoffed (yes, scoffed!) at my Ginghers! She said "I will have to give you some good fabric scissors." These are Ginghers! I thought. The best of the best! And you dare scoff? But I only said "okay, thanks." So I went over to her place today and look what she gave me.

Kai scissors. I beleive these are the S-100's. While I was there she split some fabric with me and I used these to cut it. They are amazing. Probably weigh less than half what the Ginghers do and razor sharp. And they aren't new, either. The paint has come off the handle where the little notch knocks against it. I love them!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Morse Ambassador Vintage Sewing Machine

My new best friend. 

She is a mid-century Morse "Ambassador" Zig Zag sewing machine in two-tone pink. A grad school friend gave her to me. 

I don't know anything about vintage machines except that metal machines will last a really long time and generally need less repairs, and that they are beautiful. I am trying desperately to find out more about her and hoping to get some opinions on how much to pay to get her cleaned and fixed up.  I would love to have her as my "back up" machine and to get rid of the Wal-Mart Brother that I started on. 

Is this the model number? It says "802" This is the bottom of the machine. 

Or is this the model number? It says "J-A19. M. NA 12777 (the last part is probably the serial number). This is stamped on the side of the machine under the deck on the front left. 

Or is this? "J-C4" is stamped under the machine in the front. 

The internet is not helping me. I'm finding a lot of similar machines, but not this one... 

Back view. The metal plate reads "FOR COTTON SIZE OF SILK OR LINEN NEEDLE
then under that
100 to 150 cotton
30 silk (9)
80 to 100 cotton
24 to 80 silk (11)
50 to 80 cotton
20 silk (14)

Motor showing Morse badge
The badge reads "Morse Sewing Machine Motor. 1/8 H.P. 12 AMP AC DC 15 VOLTS

The red button has a "R" on it for reversing. 

All of the other Morse machines I can find pictures of online have three buttons for Drop Feed options. This machine also has three settings - S for Silk, N for Normal, and E for Embroidery - but only the two buttons. 

Besides a good cleaning and tension adjustment, she also needs some wiring work.

This is the disgusting case. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bad Brother

I think my Brother is dying.

I have a model Ls-2125i that my mom bought for me as a X-mas present a while back. I've only used it for a few projects, but it keeps doing this thing where multiple bobbin threads are coming out.  I took a picture but it seems to have been deleted from the camera and I don't really feel like threading the machine again just to show how messed up it is.

I have no idea what is causing this. I've re-threaded the machine and bobbin, even cleaned the machine. Well, today was the worst of it. It wasn't just the thread issue. The tension is way off!

I am currently taking a machine piecing class at the lovely Purl Soho in hopes of completing a baby quilt for a coworker. This is what is happening to my blocks.

After sewing, ripping, and testing again and again, all I can say is, I think it is time for a new machine.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bobbin in my pocket

I love sewing. I totally forgot how much I loved it, mostly because I never practice. I recently purchased a Groupon for a place that offers a lot of different classes thinking I would take line drawing. Well, line drawing didn't work with my schedule so I opted for intro to sewing class, which perked my thready senses. The class actually wasn't that great, but it reminded me that I do have a lot of beginner sewing skills and that I want to build on them. So I made this.

Sewing Machine Cover

It is inspired by the one in Diana Rupp's book, Sew Everything Workshop. If you are learning to sew, I cannot recommend this book enough! It includes ten awesome patterns and even more projects are included in the book (like the sewing machine cover). It is easy to read, the instructions are well written, and it is entertaining! Maybe I will actually do a full review a little later.

I think I want to get into quilting.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Seattle fun

I'm back from my West Coast vaca!

I'm sorry this post has no pics! I did take some, but my memory card is messed up and they won't download :(

Since everyone around me was sick for most of my time away, I passed the time checking out the LYS's and eating a lot of pastries. I am excited to report that not only did I make off with a TON of loot, I also took a drop spindle class at the lovely Weaving Works.

The first shop I hit was Acorn Street Shop. Although I didn't actually purchase anything, I enjoyed eyeing the sparkly stuff by the counter.

Then I headed over to the Weaving Works. This is hands-down my favorite yarn store EVER. Not only was the selection amazing and the prices not too crazy, the staff was super friendly. The shop has a very welcoming vibe and everywhere you turn there are beautiful yarns, notions, and other fun things to fondle. I purchased a big bag of loot AND scheduled a drop spindle lesson for the following Wednesday.

Another shop I hit was Seattle Yarn. I am sad to report that this was one of the worst shops I've ever been to. It was really difficult to figure out how the yarn was organized. They seemed to have a lot of notions, so I decided to look for a flower loom. I was explaining to my friend what one looked like so she could help me look when I said "maybe I should just ask a staff person." One of the people working overheard me and said "yeah, maybe you should ask a staff person" in a very nasty way. The other person, who was standing behind the counter, ignored us the entire time.

I finished off my yarn tour with a chance encounter at So Much Yarn. The husband and I were hanging out around Pike Place Market when I saw a small sandwich board that proclaimed "yarn sale this way!"  I felt like I was in a Loony Tunes cartoon as I followed the strategically placed signs around the corner, down the street, through a gate, up some stair, and down a hallway.  Despite obviously being super busy re-pricing and making room for new items, the staff checked on me repeatedly without being too pushy. The shop was having a major clearance sale and I loaded up.  

Well, that is my yarn-y Seattle adventure in a nutshell. What experiences have you had yarn shopping in an unfamiliar place? 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Baby Blanket Bonanza

The agency I work for has a project that specializing in educational advocacy for our clients. The project assists children in foster care, who are often placed in the wrong educational setting, face problems due to multiple school transfers, or may be dealing with suspensions and expulsions, in addition to many other educational needs. I received an email recently asking for donations to the project's annual fundraiser; a silent auction and gala. It didn't take me long to decide to knit something for the auction (donors get free admission to the event!), but it did take me a while to decide what to make. The event is in April - not exactly knitwear season.

After some discussion with a coworker who is part of the even organizing committee, I decided to knit up some baby items. I've started with the largest project first - a dishcloth baby blanket.

I am really satisfied with how the blanket is turning out so far. The yarn is a little annoying, but I love the colors and it is 75% acrylic so it will be very easy to care for. (It is Martha Stewart Extra Soft Wool Blend for those of you who want to know).  I like this project a lot. Much more than the Pinwheel baby blanket I started almost two months ago, which has completely lost its appeal.

I have to finish both of these projects soon, though. The auction is in two weeks, and the baby the Pinwheel blanket is for is due next month!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The bead adventure

I have been thinking about making stitch markers to give as gifs and sell on Etsy for a while. I have very little beading experience so of course I turned to the internet for help. There are several good stitch marker tutorials, but I was still feeling a little lost, especially when it came to the wire wrapping. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I was walking with a friend in Chelsea when we stopped into a little bead store called Beads of Paradise. The shop has lots of beads, of course, as well as keychains, wallets, figurines, and wall hangings from around the world. I am not sure exactly how they acquire these products - if they are made in sweatshops or purchased at a fair price from artisans - but it is a colorful collection of weird and wonderful stuff at any rate. Long story short, as we were browsing I spotted a little sign that read "Jewelry Class Sunday at 1:00 p.m." After a little research, I discovered that the class was the "Findings Crash Course" where students learn pearl knotting and some basic wire wrapping, and everyone takes home a bracelet, necklace, and pair of earrings, as well as some beading tools and a little carrying case. Of course I signed up right away! And here are the results:

My necklace and bracelet. I started with a pattern on the necklace, but it was taking too long so the second half is kind of random. 

Earrings! These are my favorite! If it looks like one is longer than the other, that's because it is. But I love them anyway. 

Now, you might think that after this class I would immediately run home and start my own little stitch marker production company. But that was not the first thing I did. No, the first thing I did was buy more beads.

So then I must have gone home and made stitch markers, right? Wrong. I decided I would try some simple crochet jewelry.

What about the stitch markers? I finally did make some. They didn't turn out beautiful like the ones in the tutorials, but they turned out. Unfortunately, I didn't think about getting a pic of them until it was too late. They were a present for a fellow social work knitter.