Friday, September 28, 2012

Yay! I finished something!!

I have been on a roll-- 2 weeks in a row I have something to share for FO Friday!
This is the Azzu Shawl, that might be a gift for one of my friends. I haven't decided yet.

I really like the endless stockinette sections and the eyelets, but was disappointed with the shape. I really expected it to be narrower, and I am still trying to figure out how to make that happen.

 It really needs to be blocked, but I haven't really had the time to do that yet.

The yarn was part of a recycled sweater that I dyed for a project. I had to dye more yarn at the end, in order to finish the last few rows. I also omitted a section from the pattern because I did not want the shawl to get any deeper. Pre-blocking-it is about 17" deep and 64" long. I used a size 8 circular needle, and the yarn weight is probably sport. 

Head over to Tami's to see more FOs this week!
Here you can see the color shift when I had to dye more yarn to match.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

No Longer Overwhelmed!

Last Wednesday, I posted a huge list of the things I was working on. On Friday, I shared a finished project.

On Monday night, I finished another project that I will share on Friday. I started a few more projects, but I feel less overwhelmed than I did last week.

I've nearly finished the stockinette section on my Oaklet shawl, and I am in love with the yarn I am using- Three Irish Girls Glenhaven Cashmerino sock. It is absolutely amazing. It was gifted to me in a swap, and I was intending it for a Summer Flies but I thought the color might be too busy. And then I remembered that Ginny made the Oaklet a while back, and I had browsed the FOs and loved how it looked in a variegated yarn. I really hope to finish it in the next week or so, because the weather here is perfect for a cozy shawl.

The Orchid House, by Lucinda Riley, was an amazing book. It was on my stack last week, and after abandoning my non-fiction book, I picked it up. I believe I mentioned that I had started it a month or so ago, but had to return it to the library. There was no such problem this time. I had a bit of a free weekend, so I mostly read this book. I loved the multiple layers to it, and I was fascinated by the history of Thailand and WWII that was injected into the storyline.

That's all for me today! Be sure to stop by on Friday to see what I finished!!
Check out Tami's and Ginny's for more WIPs this week!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Holiday Stashdown Challenge Week 20

I'm starting to feel successful in my Holiday Stashdown. My list has been adjusted, my priorities have been sorted out, and I am casually working on all my projects. I do not feel the crunch yet, and I am happy to say that things are rolling along. (Check out the awesome stuff Marie's doing!)

I met my goal for this week!!!
Dog Days
I proudly shared my Age of Brass and Steam scarf that I finished last week here. I really wanted to get modeled photos, especially since my little sister is really good at modeling my projects, but since it is her Christmas gift, I couldn't really ask her to do that. I got really fancy and stuff, and officially measured the yarn leftover, using my brother's coffee scale. It's awesome, and since I was knitting with "properly purchased" yarn (as opposed to one of my recycled & dyed yarns) I know how much I used!!! I definitely have more than enough leftover to make a "matching" pair of fingerless gloves for her-- probably to be held with a sock weight yarn in a natural color.

I made 3 more squares for my parents' afghan, and am getting so close to the end!! I'm still debating between 6x5 and 6x6, but I ordered Edie Eckman's Around the Border book, so maybe I'll just make a larger border.
Child's Play
Dog Days
Lazy Sunday
Child's Play

(I know the goal was 4 squares, but I am celebrating getting closer to the end, so I'm letting it pass. This time...)

Of the 3 I just made, Child's Play is my favorite. The designer also made a 12" version, Triangle Tango, and I think in primary colors, it would make an adorable baby blanket! Or even, paired with a plainer Granny for a full size blanket... Oh the ideas running through my head! (Mary, stop being distracted, you have other things to focus on!)

I found the yarn to use for my aunt's fingerless gloves- purchased on clearance a few weeks ago- Bernat Softee Chunky. It's black, so a perfect basic color!

Next week, I will list out my October goals, because I think it's a better way to organize my goals-- monthly instead of every 6 weeks. (Just to refresh everyone's memory, my goal for next week was to finish my parents' afghan. I'm not sure if I will get that far...)

I would have more pictures, except my camera died on me last night and I have yet to revive it.
Also, I posted another flower tutorial of sorts, along with photos from my last craft show (finally!). 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Flowers and Craft Shows Part 2

A few weeks ago, I posted about flower hair elastics that I was making for a craft show. (Earlier this year I shared how I made them into headbands.)

This is part 2, showing how I make the hair elastics, and featuring photos from the craft show.

When I make the hair elastics, I try to avoid having more than 2 ends to weave in.

Make your flower. Do not cut the yarn. (Here I slip stitch to get the yarn on the back of the flower)
The first few stitches are the hardest, but also the most important, because they will be closest to the flower.
Using the yarn that you didn't cut, which should now be at the back of your flower, I re-insert my hook into the loop. Treating the hair elastic like a previous row, I insert my hook in the middle and single crochet around it. Sometimes my first one does not look tidy, so I take it out and try again. The straightness of the stitches will matter.
Once you've got the first one done, the rest are pretty straight-forward. I go all the way around the hair elastic, stopping every 10-15 stitches to smoosh them together. I like having the hair elastic completely covered, but if you don't, you can skip the smooshing. When you've come back to where you've started, look over the hair elastic and make sure you've covered it to your satisfaction. I slip stitch to the first single crochet, and cut the yarn, leaving a long tail for sewing.

To sew it down, I start with the end I just clipped, and work my way across the back of the flower, incorporating between 4-6 single crochets from the hair elastic. Basically, you want the flower solidly attached to the hair elastic. Because I use 6 petaled flowers, it is fairly easy to make sure the hair elastic is running exactly down the middle.

The apple farm craft show went really well. (OMG It was nearly 3 weekends ago already!!)
When we went last year, the weather was a lot warmer, and it was harder to sell winter-type stuff-- the sweatshirts that my aunt sells, as well as the hats and scarves that I sell. This year, we sold a little bit of everything. I sold all of my infinity scarves, which was awesome, and actually had the most successful show I've ever been at. The next craft show is the first weekend in October-- hopefully another cool weekend!

My table

The sweatshirts my aunt makes

My newest addition--stitch markers!

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Scarf to Keep Warm

I'm loving the cooler weather we are getting in the Midwest because it means I can wear scarves and gloves again. I love getting ready for this weather, and have been working on Christmas gifts that reflect that.

My sister wanted a triangle scarf, and together we picked out a pattern and the yarn.
Age of Brass and Steam
Knit Picks Shadow Lace in Deep Waters
Raveled here.

I know you don't get the full affect when blocking, but I can't get a modeled shot just yet.
(I got called in to substitute teach this afternoon, so this post is shorter than I had planned!)
Linking up with Tami's to see other awesome finished projects this week!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Moving On

This is definitely a post about books. And school.

I was really excited to start reading Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: the Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle, and as soon as I checked it out from the library, I started reading it. It is a good book, but I did not finish it. I am obliged to read multiple non-fiction books this semester, and I really couldn't continue to make myself read another non-fiction book. Well, it's more of I was not going to enjoy finishing that book, so I returned it, and I will try to remember to come back another time.

I need escape reading right now. I'm going back to The Orchid House, which I started reading a number of weeks ago at the recommendation of a blogger who linked up with Ginny's Yarn-Along. It's listed as a German and UK bestseller, and what I read before I had to return it to the library was good. Luckily, I was able to get it again, even though there was a waiting list at the library. I like the idea of books spanning several different time periods, and this one has at least 2.

School is overwhelming in an underwhelming fashion. If that makes any sense. I am only into the 4th or 5th week of the semester, and I am just blah. My classes are necessary, not fun. And I'm just upset about still being in school. I should be graduating in December, and not in May. My schedule is really full, and I have less time to work, and have over 14 hours of 'dead time' (no classes) while on campus. All in all, very frustrating. But, I'll be done in December, student teach in January, and graduate in May. The end is in sight- now more than ever. Will I be ready to move on to a new stage in my life? I hope so

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Too Little Progress, Too Many Projects

I am terrible at project monogamy. When something gets too big to stay in my bag, it stays at home and I start something else. And then there are the projects that I can only work on when certain people aren't watching.

"In Progress":
Homespun Infinity Scarves
Autumnal Afghan 
Smorgasbord Mish-Mash
Age of Brass and Steam
Toothless Hat
Plus, a dinosaur hat and a pair of fingerless gloves-- neither of which have a photo.

3 of the projects are knitted. The other 5 are crocheted. And these are the projects that I can see in my room right now. A few of them just need a bit of finishing-- mainly the hats and the infinity scarves. My Azzu needs more yarn. Age of Brass and Citron are both knitted in lace-weight yarn, so they are taking FOREVER. I just need a few more squares to finish the Autumnal Afghan, but I don't want to weave in ends on the squares that I have finished, so why should I make more? It's a toss up, which of the above projects I will finish first.

I think I just overwhelmed myself making this list. But then, you need to see my stack of books. That's overwhelming too.
It's been modified slightly since it was photographed. Swap out Slave Ship for Civilization: The West and The Rest, and add The Orchid House. I'm currently stuck on my 2 non-fictions, and really want to finish at least one of them before I start on one of my fictions. But, the only books that are NOT library books are the ones I am reading for school, so they all have a time limit on them. The DVDs on top are Castle Season 4 and Downton Abbey Season 1-- I'm getting geared up for the new seasons- a bit early for Downton, but Castle starts next week!! I know, I don't often talk about TV here, but if I were to pick my favorites, they would be Castle, Bones and Downton Abbey.

Enough of me-- head over to Tami's and Ginny's to see what everyone else is up to this week!

Holiday Stashdown Challenge Week 19

Wow- 19 weeks already! Marie wrote a roundup post, talking about what we've done so far.

Last week, I celebrated finishing my brother's vest, but it now means I need to come up with a different idea for a Christmas present for him. Probably a hat, because I always have yarn for hats.((Note: Sorry for no photos today! My computer was being slow))

I've also failed quite miserably on the stashdown aspect of this Challenge. On at least 3 separate occasions, I've purchased yarn for my parents' afghan, and after my successful craft show last week, I had to buy more yarn to make items for the next craft show. But I think, other than craft show yarn, I've overall done alright.

For this week, my 2 goals were more afghan squares and more star ornaments. With Jan Eaton's 200 Crochet Blocks in my bag at all time, I was able to make some progress, at least on the squares.

#13 Circle in a Square
#16 Waterlily
#22 St Petersburg (modified)

After those three, I actually reverted to the Vanna's Choice Group's BAWL- where I got 3 more patterns I hadn't tried yet.

BUT! I didn't get to them.

I have been focusing on 2 of my knitting projects, and am so close to finishing both of them! Hopefully I will add more items to my finished list next week.

I've also changed up my List slightly, as all of my close girlfriends have requested something specific. A wanted a hat (which, hey, I have a completed one!), K wants another infinity scarf (not pink, or green-last year's color), and B would probably like one too.

Little Sister is still getting Age of Brass shawlette, the progress is just slow going. A also might be getting a scarf (Azzu), as I re-dyed yarn with her in mind. Brother 1 will be getting a hat, as I finished his vest.

My goal for next week is more squares for the Autumnal Afghan (again!) and finished my sister's knitted scarf. I had listed out goals through mid-October, but will definitely be modifying them come the end of September.

Things that Still Need to be Started: 
Aunt #3: fingerless gloves in something bulky
Brother #1: beard hat
Brother #2: scarf
E: beard hat
Friends B & K: infinity scarves
Gifts for E's family (4 adult women, 5 adult men, 6 children)
Gifts for Co-workers (16, variety of age & gender)

Finished Items:
Shell Stitch Beanie- VC stash (goddaughter M)
Neon Soft Waves Cowl- hand-dyed stash wool (R?)
Lacy Cheery Cherry Cowl- VC stash (Aunt #2)
Starlight Tunisian Scarf- hand-dyed stash wool (cousin T)
Divine Hat for Sister Friend A- stash yarn
Non-Felted Slippers for Godmother- stash yarn
8 hats of 9 (custom order)- stash yarn
Snowflakes (6 to try @ craft show) - stash yarn
Love Cabled Vest
Star Ornaments (12)- bits of leftover yarn

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Despite the semester now being in full swing, I managed to get in some pleasure reading this past weekend.

Bones are Forever, by Kathy Reichs, is the lastest of her Temperance Brennan novels (and the basis for the Fox TV show Bones) and only took me 2 days to read. Granted, it was all I did for 2 days, but I got it from the library and knew that there are many other people waiting to read it. I really like both the Temperance Brennan in the novels and the one on the TV show (Bones is one of the few shows that I will allow to semi-dictate my evening engagements), but I really like the idea of the novel Tempe better. The novel Tempe is a forensic anthropologist that alternates between her home base in Charlotte, NC and Canada, mainly Quebec. Bones are Forever is a book that spans across Canada, introducing mining issues and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  This really was an investigation of murder that I did not expect. There are times when a book totally follows everything one expects, but Kathy Reichs has a way of creating unexpected plot twists and connections that ought not to be connections.

Mainly, I would call this a fluff read. I just wanted a novel that I didn't need to analyze or summarize in a 3 page paper. I'm a history bluff, so some of what Reichs injects into her novels, such as the establishment of the RCMP, is totally fascinating to me.

I'm still reading a mixture of pleasure and school work. I'm reaching the halfway point in Lady Almina, which I am really enjoying, especially when I find little things that link the real-life residents of Highclere Castle to the fiction residents of Downton Abbey. Even though this is a biography, I find that it reads like fiction because it's hard to imagine the upper class lifestyle that people like Lady Almina had.
For school, I'm finishing up Nietzsche, finally, and halfway through The Slave Ship. The second one is for a history class, which I am really enjoying because we are analyzing the text as a class. I like being able to bounce ideas off my classmates, especially when they have a differing perspective. It really opens my eyes to different ways of thinking.

I don't really have any projects to share today, as it's mostly craft show stuff that I haven't had a chance to photgraph. I am making things, just nothing spectacularly out of the ordinary.

Linking with Ginny for the Yarn-Along!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Holiday Stashdown Challenge Week 18

Whew, I breathe a sigh of relief. After being an on-again-off-again project for at least 3 years, the cabled vest is DONE! I blogged about it on Friday, but it deserves another mention here. It is now another item crossed off the list, leaving a pile of yarn behind. I initially bought 4 skeins of yarn for this project, me being inexperienced with re-sizing patterns, and not wanting to run out of yarn. I have 2 skeins left, the first being partly used, but the little balls left from the first 2 skeins make up for it. I already know what I want to make with at least one skein of the remainder: a scarf for an aunt. I spent some time perusing my craft books, looking for something suitable.

My dashing brother in his new vest

Last week, I said I would finish the vest (which I did) and make 4 more afghan squares. Here are my squares:

Lightning Strikes

Diamond Squared
Unfortunately, my homework got the better of me this past week, and I only did the two squares above.  I did, however, make 3 infinity scarves while sitting at the craft show, because doing homework when trying to sell your wares just seemed silly. (One funny thing though: in reading Nietzsche, I found the word crocheted)

Anyway. Next week, I plan to make up for this week. 5 afghan squares and 5 star ornaments. Hopefully I can do it :)

Linking up with Marie!!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Flowers and Craft Shows

A few weeks ago, I posted about flower hair elastics that I was making for a craft show. (Earlier this year I shared how I made them into headbands.) Today I thought I would share how I make hair clips and hair elastics. ((Since this post has been languishing in my drafts, and I haven't had a chance to take pictures of the hair elastic process, I'll share that in a second installment))

The hair clips are a recent addition, and I am not sure how they will sell. I bought a 25 piece package of these clips from Hobby Lobby. I debated between these and the alligator clips, but I use this style more myself, and why would I sell something that I don't use? I got the 50mm size, which still had 25 pieces, whereas the next size up had fewer clips for the same price. They have lovely holes at the top, and these are what make them easy to attach.

After making the flower and cutting the yarn, I wove in one of the ends , and the other I moved so it was more toward the middle of the flower. (Note: I am only using what I have on-hand.) Because the holes in the clip were too small for my regular yarn needle, I found a different one, and then split the yarn. I make my flowers using worsted weight, which typically is a 4-ply. If you use something different, you may not need to split the yarn. The way you sew is entirely preference based, in my mind, but below are some pictures of how I do it.
This is the back of the flower
Halfway through sewing
Completely attached and ready to wear!
The reason I started the hair clips was due to having a number of flowers leftover (and having no inclination to make headbands. Bad Mary).

Several people asked what sort of craft shows I do. This first one is this weekend at a local apple farm. They've hosted a fall craft show for several years now. My lovely aunt does machine embroidery and applique on sweatshirts, and has turned it into her retirement job. I piggyback on her stall, giving her an extra pair of hands, as well as giving some lower price points to draw in more shoppers. I have been doing this for nearly 3 years now. Most of my products you've seen here: hats, scarves, shawls, and the variety of flowered hair accessories. I like keeping it to smaller items, as I can work on them nearly anywhere.
(PS: you can view more of my stuff at my Facebook page)
I will be helping my aunt at at least 2 other shows besides the apple farm one, one in early October put on at my university, and one in early November at my aunt's church.

Because I'm slow on the photos, the elastics will come around next week or so. And by then, the first craft show will be over, and I can share photos and stuff :)

FO: Finally!

I am so pleased to finally share the knitted cable vest that I made for my brother. I've talked about this vest so many times- it was nearly the bane of my knitting existence. I started it between 3 and 4 years ago as a Christmas present, and it never got finished. Until now!

Tuesday night I kept going and going, fueled by the long weekend, and my desire to finally cross it off my list. I followed the pattern and picked up stitches around the neck, but without a short circular needle, I switched to dpns, then got frustrated. I only ended up with 3 rounds on the neck, but for a first time go at something, it doesn't look awful. Because I didn't want to play with more dpns, I just put a round of single crochet around both sleeves to finish it off.

The pictures were all taken at night, and my body is not great at modeling a sweater for a boy.
Not completely finished
If he doesn't like it, I might keep it!
Finished! with the leftover yarn behind it!
All wrapped up for his birthday!
Since starting this project, I have not committed to making garments for anyone else. I can feel better about making a sweater for myself though, now that this one is done.

I'm taking a short break from garment sized projects for the time being, and will just work on my scarves and shawls and hats.

Linking up with Tami to share my big accomplishment!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

New Knitting

I have a new knitting project!
I just started working on Azzu's Shawl, using a recycled yarn that I re-dyed a few weeks ago. I love this pattern so far, because it doesn't use a garter tab to start, the increases are simple, and the instructions are well written. Also, I can see its progress a lot better than on my Underwater shawlette

Here's a close-up from this morning:
My reading has not changed much, though I'm attempting to finish up my few pleasure reading so my homework can actually get finished. Of the three books, 2 of them are for school. Slave Ship is decent enough, but all the Nietzsche I have to read is annoying. I'm reading Lady Almina bit by bit, and I really enjoy the turn of the century British facts.

I have been working on my next "big" crochet project, and have yarn all over my bed:
Hopefully I can share more next week!
Linking up with Tami and Ginny!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Holiday Stashdown Challenge Week 17

Last week Marie wrote out a list of weekly goals, and I thought that was a great idea. First I had to decide when I wanted all my projects finished. I figured either the week of Thanksgiving, or the week after. It would give me 11 to 12 weeks to finish things up. But because so many of my gifts are fluid and subject to change, I'll plan goals through mid October, and re-assess from there.

But before I get into writing out my goals, I want to address last week's goals. Last week, I expressed the desire to finish 5 afghan squares, 5 star ornaments, and one of my knitting WIPs. Both crocheted projects were easy goals to meet. I even went over my ornament goal, making double what I had planned to make. The afghan square goal was nearly met, as you can see from the photo above. 4.5 instead of 5. But considering the time it took to make them, if I tried harder, I would've done fine. (Counting the half square as a whole square, I am now at 18/30 squares)

However, the knitting goal was not met. I am very close to dividing the front of the vest for a V-neck, but not there yet. I know if I spend a whole day working on it, it will definitely be finished. The scarf for my sister is taking a backseat to the vest, as the vest was basically a gift promised nearly 4 years ago. My brother's birthday is next week, so my goal is to have the vest completed by then. Only problem with that is I will need to find something else for him for Christmas.

Anyway, onto my goals for the next 3 months:

By week of 9/11: Finish knitted vest for Brother 1.  4 more afghan squares (to bring the total to 22).

By week of 9/18: 4 more afghan squares. 5 more star ornaments.

By week of 9/25: 4 more afghan squares. Finish scarf for Sister
By week of 10/2: Afghan completed- squares pieced together and all ends woven in.
By week of 10/9: Scarf for Brother 2, fingerless mitts for Aunt 2, Scarf for A.
By week of 10/16: Hat for E, Start activity rug for E's nieces & nephews.

Be sure to check out Marie's post for this week- more inspiration!