Cuddle With the Color of the Ocean

Oh, the virtues of a brandy new bag of yarn, delivered effortlessly to your door in winter!

AAhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Plymouth Encore Light Blue Grey, welcome to the family!  You will become an afghan for my tired, cold Mommy bones and I will snuggle under you at the end of countless frigid days to come.

What do you think of the color, mateys?

I am in LOVE with blues and reds, which is no surprise, since these are the colors which create purple. 

Purple was my muse growing up.  I’ve since expanded my affections further into the rainbow…  But these have a special place in my heart. 

I can hardly wait to feel this project take shape in my fingers as I cuddle with the color of the ocean.

(p.s. Two Tuesdays from now I will post my February Centerpiece!  Working on yours yet?  Get on it!  Go out in your backyard and find something for your table!  Creativity is tested in winter, and you can do it.  Email me a picture or two and I’ll post yours alongside mine.  GO!)

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Needles Gone Wild

Sunday morning I woke from a dream in which I was rescuing swimmers from sharp-toothed alligators.  No murky waters can stop ME!  Beware, dangerous creatures of the deep.

My life isn’t really THAT exciting.  I’ve only skinny dipped once.  Squirting Ready Whip directly into my mouth feels sinful and awesome.  And I’ve never rescued anyone from any dangerous animal, that I can remember.  Does squashing ants count?

I remember once, long ago, thinking, “Knitting is for wimps and little old ladies.”

I also remember thinking, “I’ll never like cooking.  And gardening’s right up there too.”

Ah, well…  I had some growing up to do.  I still do.  But now I at least give things a try before poo-pooing them.  Usually.  I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to be Crocodile Dundee…but I am a knitter.

Funny.  I keep discovering things I once poo-pooed that are ENORMOUSLY fun!  There is a wide window for creativity with knitting, as I’m finding with a star pattern right now.

I made a Knit Star for my son Quinn to chew.  It’s a little more like a pillow than the Christmas ornament it was meant to be originally.  Heh heh.  Darn yarn weight…

I enjoyed working the pattern so much, I’m doing it again and making it into a wall hanging.  Each picture in this post is part of the process.  When I have a few free minutes, I sit with two double point needles, a pair of scissors and a crochet hook, and work a very light, thin yarn. 

One by one, star points come off my needles.  I’ve made so many now that I can start stitching them together into a radial design – sort of an expanding, exploding star.  I’ll update you as I go. 

My goal is to fill our home with beautiful handmade things that show my love for our family, and my absolute ADDICTION to creativity.

Just for the record, if I had to, I’d wrestle an alligator for anyone in my family.  I bet you would for yours, too.  And we’d give ’em a good poke in the eye with a needle, too.

Mick Dundee and the Pin Cushion.  Check your local movie theater listings.

Cozy Ears

Today I’ll share a link for my fellow knitters and a slew of ridiculously cute pictures for those who enjoy such things.  If you’re not into yarn, color, design, babies, or coziness, I’ll have some kitchen yummies for you tomorrow.  🙂

Quinn needed a hat.  His head is large, together with the rest of him, and he’s wearing clothes that his brother (15 months older than he) has just barely outgrown.  Yikes.

All sorts of leftover yarn lurks in my cubbies, and I chose two blues for this project.

This was a very simple pattern to follow, whipped out in two nights.  If I could stay awake longer, it could be a one-nighter.  I’ll include the link at the end of this post. 

The hat looked ADORABLE on him.  I’m prejudiced.  But you have to admit this is one cute chunker:

He’s a scrappy little fella and hardly ever stays still.  That, combined with his large noggin, makes it tough to keep his ears warm.  So I improvised. 

Tools:

See the ear flaps?  They’re simple triangles.  Here’s how it works:

Cast on 3, knit 3, and follow this sequence until they’re the size you desire:

P1, Increase 1 (make one by purling the front and the back of the same stitch), P to end of row (*If you’re new to making increases, look it up on YouTube – great tutorials*)

K1, Increase 1 (make one by knitting the front and the back of the same stitch), K to end of row

When you’ve created a triangle that’s large enough to cover your snuggle-bunny’s ears, continue to knit one row, purl one row a couple times without increasing.  This will give you room for sewing it on to the inside of the hat – just a little extra to play with.

Finished!

I may create an i-cord on each ear flap so it will stay in place even better.  But in the meantime, I think he’s pretty happy…

…and pretty cozy. 

If you’re looking for a cute, warm toddler hat, check out this link – and have a GREAT day!

http://knittingatlunch.blogspot.com/2011/09/basic-toddler-hat.html

A Star To Chew

When we brought home a new ornament for Quinn’s first Christmas, I noticed something:

He’d rather chew it than watch it dangle somewhere above his head.  Surprise.

The store-bought, knit star had 3 glued-on wooden buttons.  Gorgeous touch.  Nice choking hazard.  Plan B.

I decided to knit a star for my little reindeer (here he is…)

…Dasher, Dancer, Prancer…and Cuteypie.

Anyway, I decided to knit a star for Cuteypie the Reindeer to chew to his heart’s content.  I found a very easy online pattern.  Here’s the link:

http://dutch-blue.blogspot.com/2008/02/knitted-star_07.html

If you’re a knitter, eat your heart out!  You can make this pattern any way you want, using any yarn weight and needle gauge to produce your desired size.  I made Quinn’s with left over worsted weight in three shades of blue:

The star tips and center are made with a mock bullion stitch, borrowed from crochet.  The stuffing is an old sweater, cut into small pieces.  If I make another one for a baby, I’ll use a lighter weight yarn.  But this one came out so beautiful, I have no regrets.

This, by the way, was made during our hurricane-inspired night-time reading sessions.  Yesterday’s post will tell you all about that if you missed it.

What could be better than a handmade gift?  But there’s no reason for putting away your crafting things just because Christmas is over…

The whole winter stretches out ahead of us, beckoning with hot chocolate fingers: make something new

I’ve already started making individual star pieces with fingering weight yarn, lace-like and delicate.  These will become a wall hanging for our bare, echo-ey dining room.  Something to warm it up and give it that homey, artsy touch I love so much.  I’m just making a bucket-full of them and seeing what comes out.

Do you have any interesting winter projects going on or coming up?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments! 

Have a wonderful, warm day.  🙂

Skein of Wonders

I promise I’ll get off the string of knitting posts eventually.  Get it?  String?!  Don’t want non-knitters getting bored.  Although, if you’ve entertained thoughts of taking up knitting, let these posts inspire you.  It really is easy, fun, and relaxing.

I’ve been knitting for about a year and a half now, and thoroughly enjoying myself.  It’s a skill that’s come in very handy, especially around Christmas time.

This week I’ve been musing about how many projects can come out of one of those $8 jumbo skeins of worsted weight, probably slightly boring, one-color yarns.  I’m now in love with those giant things. 

One navy blue skein has, SO FAR, produced for me:

at least 2 or 3 pairs of kids’ mittens, all with stretchy i-cords

a sweet little girl’s purse, which is not to be shown yet – Christmas gift!

a teapot cozy, looking rumpled and warm (just like me at days’ end)

a scarf cowl – click on this link to see the ins and outs

and most currently,

a very thick, warm pair of infant leg warmers for all those jaunts around the winter backyard.

Poor guy always has freezing ankles.  Not anymore!

I’m finally developing the confidence to just strike out on my own and say, “I think I can make that – see how it’s put together?  It makes sense!”  Still looking at patterns for help, but boy has it been worth the effort and patience to get good.

I just read a verse recently that I loved:

Ecclesiastes 7:8 “Finishing is better than starting.  Patience is better than pride.

I’ll never be good enough at this – I’ll never be THE BEST.  Why even try?  And why isn’t this rotten thing finished yet?  How long can a hat TAKE?!

I’m guilty of those thoughts, and guilty of starting so many projects that I can’t finish any.  I’m learning to be productive through patience, one stitch at a time.  Knitting is a good hobby for a flash-in-the-pan manic create-a-holic with what some people would call ADD.

I call it energy. 

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”  Ecclesiastes 9:10

Even if it’s vacuuming and doing the dishes, may you enjoy the works of your hands today!  Speaking of which, I have a date with the kitchen sink.  Excuse me.

A Scarf Cowl, Not a Scowl

It was an easy decision: long flowy scarf to wind around and around my son’s neck this winter, driving him (and me) mad?  or…  knit a simple, form-hugging scarf that goes around the neck once, staying in place?

Remember this scene from A Christmas Vacation?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgeyexOAOIg

Tough choice.

Hence, the scarf cowl. 

I tried combining the words for some nifty title today, but a s-cowl didn’t seem quite the thing.  That’s what I’m trying to avoid.  If I could have gotten a shot of Riley smiling, it would have helped to prove my point…

If you knit, here’s a very simple, one-day pattern for you.  If you don’t knit, pass this along to someone who does.  It makes a quick and lost-cost Christmas gift for the bare-necked child in your life.  Also makes good use of some left-over yarn you may have lurking in the bottom of your craft bag.

The Scarf Cowl

By the way, I’m calling it that because a true “cowl” is usually bulky, and sort of flowy and floppy.  My toddler won’t be happy with a giant sheep wrapped around his neck.  This cowl is only as wide as a typical scarf.  Enjoy!

Materials

Small ball of yarn

Size 7 needles

Crochet hook or tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Small-ish buttons – able to be pushed through the purled ribbing

Needle and thread for attaching buttons

Method

Cast on 72 stitches for a cowl with a tail (ie. room to grow!).  Feel free to adjust this measurement smaller if you want a more form-fitting piece.

Row 1: Knit 5, Purl 1.  Repeat to the end of the row, ending on a purl stitch.

Row 2: Purl 5, Knit 1.  Repeat to the end of the row, ending on a knit stitch.

You are creating a very wide-ribbed piece:

(Hi, Quinn!)

Continue alternating rows 1 and 2 until the scarf cowl is as wide as you’d like it to be.  Don’t forget to take into account the natural rolling in of the edges.  It will do so significantly, making it skinnier.

Cast off loosely and weave in the ends.

Use your child or someone else’s (preferably someone you know :-)) as a model, and try the scarf cowl on for size.  Figure out how tight or loose the child will need it.

Finishing this project is very open-ended.  Choose the way that seems best to you.  I sewed on two buttons at one end of the piece…

…and you can just ignore the little loops of yarn that show in that photo.  That was one failed attempt at finishing.  No loops. 

For me, the best method was to fold over the extra length, and push the buttons through the purled section of ribbing.  It’s more open and flexible than the knit sections.

This is such a fast knit, and so cute in the end…  Hope you enjoy making it and watching it get a ride around a snowy backyard this year.

A Blue Hat On Purpose By Mistake

Sigh. 

When will I ever learn that the weight of yarn affects the size of the finished product?

DuuuUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUhhhhh.uh.

A couple Christmases ago, my mother knit my Sweet Babboo a great sailor-style black hat.  I swipe it daily.  Figured I ought to just knit myself one to ease my conscience.

So I used the same pattern she’d used, but chose yarn that we already owned.  Sort of forgot to check the weight.  Halfway through the cuff, I realized it was going to fit a walrus.

But I LIKE cuffs!  That’s a good thing, considering my blundering idiocy.

Therefore, I purposely-accidentally changed the pattern and made a slouch hat that is 3/4 cuff and 1/4 body.  I’m wearing it right now.  Lovin’ it!

Turns out, however, that if you knit a gigantic hat with a large cuff, it will stretch miraculously upon your noggin as you break it in.  I’m going to have to find a way to creatively “take it in” in the back.  See how it’s rolled up?  Needs a little Weight Watchers For Hats.

Buttons, maybe.

Is anyone interested in the pattern?  I’ll post it if you like, complete with the recommended yarn weight.  🙂

Happy knitting.

Seed Stitch Mug Cozy

God’s grace includes coffee.  I think He smiles every time I grab my cup of joe or tea, doing what I can to keep myself lively at His feet.

But boy, do I hate it when halfway through that time, just when I’m getting sleepy again, my magical hot beverage cools off!  Hence, the need for a mug cozy – KEEP THIS GIRL AWAKE!!!

My attempts to find a pattern I liked were fruitless.  I decided to make my own, which would fit any average mug.

I used a blue acrylic yarn and a muddy grey brown wool yarn together, both leftovers from other projects.  That’s the beauty of the mug cozy – you can use up remnants.  It’s free!

It’s also extremely fast and simple to make.  Christmas is coming!  Is there someone in your life who might appreciate a cozy hot drink in the morning?

Seed Stitch Mug Cozy Pattern

K = Knit

P = Purl

Holding both strands of color together, cast on 12 stitches.  This is the cozy’s height.  You may want to hold it up to your favorite mug and see if it’s anywhere close to what you’ll want.  Keep in mind the slight expansion that occurs as you knit the body of your work.

Row 1: K1, P1 all the way across. 

Row 2: P1, K1 all the way across.

All odd rows, repeat Row 1.  All even rows, repeat Row 2.

This is a basic seed stitch in which the first stitch of each row is the same as the last stitch of the row before it.  The result is a checkerboard pattern with a very fun texture.

Continue working in seed stitch until your mug cozy reaches all the way around your favorite mug, from one side of the handle to the other.  

Cast off.

This gives you a long rectangle.

Go ahead and weave in the loose ends. 

To create the pointed ends, making the cozy easier to slip under the handle, I did the following:  Bend back the two corners of one end and stitch them in place so that you can see the flaps on the outside.

Pick an end on which you will add a button.  I chose a wood one. 

Sew it in place.  On the other end of the cozy, tie on a good length of matching or contrasting yarn.  This will tie around the button, keeping the cozy in place and allowing you to adjust the length.

Now grab your Bible or favorite book, and snuggle up!  The days are getting colder, but you’re ready for it.  🙂

Kids’ Mittens

“A mitten pattern?  But it’s almost April!”  Yesterday it was so cold my face hurt on our walk through the neighborhood, and Riley was bundled up like a larva.  If you like to be outside (and like to knit even more), here’s one for you.

The days of eating grass are coming soon… until then, keep knitting! 

Most children’s mittens are made with very short cuffs which let in cold, soppy snow and can quickly ruin a fun afternoon outside.  So I extended these mittens to have a cuff which will come up at least to mid-forearm.  If they’re too long at this point, they can simply be rolled down to make a thicker cuff. 

That’s the beauty of knitting.  You can alter designs to suit specific needs.  All you have to do with this one is continue in the rib pattern until the cuff measures your desired length.  I wish I’d thought of that when I made the same pair for Riley earlier in the year!

I chose a simple worsted weight yarn that I had on hand in deep turquoise blue.  When I made these, they were destined for a sweet 2 year-old girl.  I felt the color would suit her well. 

It’s amazing to see a project come together. 

…halfway finished, with a hole where the thumb will be worked.

Ready for finishing touches.  A very fast, easy knit.  I was so excited when I finished the mittens that I immediately packaged and shipped them out!  So I apologize for not having a nice photo of the finishing touches, which I describe below. 

The final touch for these mittens was a pair of yellow buttons stitched on to the back of the hand area.  I couldn’t see the little girl’s hands in person, and didn’t know exactly how long her fingers were.  So these were made to be a little extra long with the option of folding the fingertips back.  The fingertip loop (hence that little bow in the picture) can be secured behind a button, which makes the hands shorter. 

Anyway, here’s Riley’s pair with the cuff a normal length.  His mittens are attached with an I-cord and do not have thumbs.  The pattern below will walk you through either creating thumbs or leaving them out.  Also shown – my first attempt at the thumb, which I think came out in the wrong place.  I actually like it that way.

And here is Riley, plowing through my photoshoot.

If you’d like to make these mittens, please click on the link below.  The creator of this pattern has requested that her pattern not be used for personal profit (resale).  Please honor that – and happy knitting! 

As for me, it’s time to knit a toddler’s hat!  Something with ear flaps for a frigid walk in Spring.

http://www.knittingatknoon.com/mittenpatt.html