Archive for category Seasonal Crafting

All of a Sudden

Here we are.  It’s fall again after a whirlwind of a summer.  Though it was an amazing summer, it was full of M (for the first time) having summer activities that our lives revolved around and me straddling two positions at work, just trying to stay afloat.  But now, school is in full swing and we’re starting to get back to a normal rhythm in our lives.

It’s no secret that fall is probably my favorite season.  Between finally breaking out the hand knits to apple picking and Halloween festivities – there’s really nothing that beats it!  Except maybe winter, with my love of layering and snow…

Regardless, M and I have already started our apple adventures and by picking four pecks of delicious, early-season apples.  We even made our first batch of apple sauce a few weeks ago.  Now we’re in prep-mode for M’s birthday and Halloween. But first:  New York Sheep and Wool Festival (aka – the beloved Rhinebeck).

I am glad to say that, though I didn’t manage to knit a new sweater for Rhinebeck this year, I have completed an epically large shawl and a poncho and I’m almost all packed and ready to go!  This is the first year that I’ll be heading up to Rhinebeck without M, staying in a house with friends and attending the festival both Saturday and Sunday.  So it was crucial (really just to me) that I had two major new pieces to wear.

First, I spent most of the summer, including hot Saturday mornings at swim meets, knitting up the Sixpence Shawl by Kristen Rengren.  I couldn’t be happier with this epically large piece!  There are different sizes in the pattern, and I definitely could have stopped sooner, but I basically wanted a blanket to curl up in.  I knit it up in my handspun from Gourmet Stash Tribbles (combining colorways Shrewd Slytherin and Screenager) with a “boarder” (because that’s probably the largest boarder I’ve ever knit…) out of Knit Picks Capretta in the Hunter colorway.  That’s right – this shawl is a Merino, Nylon, Cashmere and more blanket of heavenly cloud warmth.  I even enjoyed how light-weight, yet warm it was to the extent that I wore it multiple times at work – before weaving in the ends and blocking it.  It was the perfect layering piece over summer outfits in my freezing office – how could I resist?!

While blocking, it took up nearly my entire craft-room floor

While blocking, it took up nearly my entire craft-room floor

Once the shawl was done, and I finished the knitting aspect of my mother’s long-overdue sweater, I knew I needed to crank out another substantial piece before Rhinebeck.  Otherwise, I mean really – how could I show my face at the festival for day two? 😉

The problem was, what could I possible knit quickly enough that would make me feel super comfortable and confident?  Of course – the Rodeo Drive Poncho by Stacy Perry!  Even better – I had the perfect yarn already in stash from Aylin’s Woolgatherer’s massive store-closing sale this past summer: Filatura Di Crosa Zara in the beautiful 1962 colorway.  I love creative yarn companies and their love of yarn names 😉

I promise, it's a medium teal color....

I promise, it’s a medium teal color….

Now that all the knitting is done, both pieces have been blocked and most of my packing is done – I’m on to the next crazy struggle – what projects do I bring to work on while at Rhinebeck!? Do I bring my spinning wheel?!  Is that completely insane?! Then of course there’s making the “What to Purchase and Not Purchase” at the festival.  Yes – this year, I am telling myself there are actually things I have too much of (ex: Jacob fleeces, and really all fiber) and giving myself a real shopping list of the yarns I need to knit projects on my To Knit List for 2017.  More information on that list to come! 🙂

Tell me – what are your favorites about/for fall? Knitting/crafting musts?  Items you knew you needed to have done by fall so you could enjoy them? Favorite beverages? Foods?  Whatever it is – let me know – I should probably add it to my fall must-have list as well!

Leave a comment

Crafting on the Go

Since we actually took a family vacation this year… by car… I had to plan my projects accordingly.  I brought a couple drop spindles, which of course were not touched, as well as a few knitting/crochet projects in the hope of making some serious progress during our drives to New York and Boston.  Fortunately, I did not drive.  In theory that meant I would be able to knit.  Unfortunately, I did not drive… which meant I could do little more than sleep.  I have the horrible misfortune of getting car sick when I am not driving.  This was not made better by the fact that my daughter insisted that I ride in the backseat with her.  Not to mention the ridiculous amount of traffic we were stuck in on the way up to New York.  But since we are bringing it up, that ridiculous traffic did seem to help my knitting progress incredibly as we were stuck – cars off, not moving – in a tunnel for an hour and a half.  Which meant I could pull out the socks I was working on and complete most of the second sock.  Sure, it was darkish and the people around us were starting to cause concern as they randomly would call out or honk their horns, but this was the only real knitting progress I made on the trip up.

While staying at my sister’s place, I finally admitted to myself that the socks I was knitting were never going to comfortably fit my enormous feet.  They were too snug and I wasn’t knitting them at a tight enough gauge to feel like my toes wouldn’t break through the stitches within the first couple wears.  Luckily, my sister lives in a cold climate and is very knit-worthy… and her feet are about a size smaller than mine.  The socks fit her perfectly and project 1 was completed.

IMG_9637

The next project I brought along would not be what I would consider an awesome travel project.  I could never work on it in the car as I had to count and watch what I was doing the entire time I worked on it.  I also had to bring three gallon-size ziplock bags of fiber fill, which really made my attempt at packing light look like a huge fail.  Plus, it was crochet… which is not my strong suit.  However, I loved this project.  It was my first crochet project that wasn’t flat and it was pretty magically watching it take shape.  With a pattern name like “M. Richard the Whale” and it’s witty pattern description, I was hooked…. literally.  Project 2 was completed and then gifted to a good friend’s baby.

IMG_9195

The final project I brought with me was my Viajante by Martina Behm.  At that point, this project had not been touched in at least 6 months.  I had been worrying that it would never fit properly at the rate I was increasing and so I moved it on to some try-it-on tubing, soaked and blocked it before we left.  I figured I would try it on while we were gone and if I had to rip it all out and start over, at least the relaxing vacation would help ease the frustration.  Luckily, I came to my senses and realized it fit fine considering I was only about a quarter of the way through the 2,000 yards of lace weight yarn I would be using.  I moved it back on the needles and I was delighted to find that I could work on it without looking.  Thus, it was my car knitting for the entire trip to Boston, back to New York and all the way home.  We arrived in Virginia, and I arrived at the end of my first 1,000 yard skein of yarn.  This project was then kicked into high gear and became my serious “travel” project as I never left home without it and literally worked on it every possible second.

 

I may not have brought my typical small and easy projects, except the socks, but I found that the variety and excitement toward the projects is what was best.  None of them were too complicated and all of the knitting was basically stockinette, but there was enough of a difference between the projects to keep me interested and they were simple enough that I could still carry on a conversation or just relax while working on them.  In my mind, they were the perfect items to complete my vacation and set me up for success upon my return home…. And that final success will be shown shortly!

Leave a comment

Summer Crafting, Preschool Style

I have an amazing sister.  I know, this is not a blog where I brag about my family too often.  But no joke, she’s awesome.  When it comes to being the fun aunt, she’s even better.  Our vacation this summer mainly involved staying at my sister’s place where we went on loads of fun adventures to the beach and Coney Island and more.  Back to my sister, though.  She anticipated nearly all of my daughter’s wants and needs… before M even knew she had them.  She even had her willingly eating multiple helpings of salad… my daughter likes her veggies, but baby spinach?  This was new for us…

I brought some toys my daughter hadn’t played with in a while hoping to fill some of the odd hours where we didn’t have something planned and we needed her to be able to play quietly so the adults could rest from all the traveling and excitement.  But it was my sister who brought some real child-entertaining game.

We arrived to find a well-thought-out list of activities she had planned to keep M busy.  There was dress-up, slinky racing (which M and my brother-in-law took off running with), and more drawing than I thought could be humanly possible, especially that done by the adults at the direction of my daughter.

However, the most impressive activity my sister came up with and the one that seems to keep on giving is the one involving thin cut-out wooden bears. Think paper dolls, but made from wood liken to a tongue depressor.  My daughter helped direct how she wanted the faces drawn on… I snuck off for a nap… and when I awoke – all three bears had paper outfits cut out of fancy card stock.  I don’t just mean dresses.. There are shoes, a hat and a purse.

IMG_9669

Plus, these outfits aren’t glued on.  There is the potential for more outfits to be created.  That’s because my sister thought to also get that weird blue wall putty stuff that you can hang pictures on your walls without messing up the paint.  The stuff that will now always be referred to as the amazing putty that allows my child to make her own bear dolls’ clothing that will stay on when we want it to but be so easily changed to a new outfit on a whim.  No silly fold-over paper tabs where the clothing inevitably falls off in less than five seconds like normal paper dolls.

IMG_9671

Since we’ve been home, I’ve been incredibly inspired to come up with more fun crafting/play time for my daughter and me.  Last summer we had dabbled in some art journaling.  This summer, M is going at it full force.  We pulled out the paints, stencils, glitter glue, crafting tape and craft paper and she has been adding to her pages pretty consistently.

IMG_9652

We also pulled out some other projects I had planned on us completing together…. years ago.  We finally painted and decorated the wooden letters for her name and hung them on the wall of her room by stringing them on decorative ribbon (less nail holes).

IMG_9646IMG_9673

I’ve also been struggling to find ways to better display all of the artwork she creates both at school and at home, so we hung a couple more lines of ribbon in her room and are hanging each piece with clothes pins.  Now she has her own little art exhibit that she gets to curate.

IMG_9672

For our next project, we will be revisiting the bears by making them homes.  Shoe box homes.  I told her we could paint them to look like rooms and paint furniture and rugs and such.  She turns to me and says “and we can cut out a door and make windows too!”.  I hear we will also be gluing the shoe boxes together to make a little bear mansion…. It will likely take up the rest of our summer!

Leave a comment

Summer Project Planning

With hot weather looming outside everyday and the prospect of having any and all wool stick to me upon contact, my summer crafting usually has to be pretty thought out.  Between taking M to the pool and actually letting her play outside in the disgusting heat (I’m clearly not a big fan of being hot), I have found that small portable knitting projects get the most attention.  That being said, two of my favorite events happen every summer – Stash Dash and Tour de Fleece – both of which require serious planning.

Stash Dash, hosted by TheKnitGirllls, is running from May 23rd to August 7th this year and the goal is to knit/spin/use 5K of yarn.  If I only work on small projects all summer, I would not only go out of my mind, but I would likely never reach this goal.  I would waste so much time in between projects deciding what I felt like working on next.  I very easily get analysis paralysis…

In order to minimize the time wasted in this manner, I’ve lined up some of the larger projects I would like to accomplish this year that would seriously help reach the 5K goal.  Since I won’t likely bring these projects on our outdoor “adventures”, I will be certain to have a smaller project on the needles at all time.

  1. Viajante by Martina Behm (this has been on the needles since July 2013 and seriously needs to be finished)
  2. Anna Maria Cardigan by Connie Chang Chinchio (the sweater I was knitting for my mother until I realized it was large enough to fit three of her and needs to be re-cast on)
  3. Lush Cardigan by Tin Can Knits (hopefully to be my Rhinebeck Sweater)

It is also unlikely that I will be able to knit quickly enough to accomplish this entire goal.  Luckily, spinning also counts – and that’s where Tour de Fleece comes in.  Running from July 5th to July 27th, Tour de Fleece is the perfect motivation to spend some serious time spinning in the comfort of my air conditioning.  I don’t ask for much, but I do require it to be 80 degrees or cooler in order to spin without feeling like I’m felting the fiber before it even reaches the orifice of my wheel…

This year, however, Tour de Fleece seemed to sneak up on me – as did the month of July in general.  I originally intended on spinning my Jacob fleece batts and having it either all ready to ply or completely finished by the end of the Tour.  Since it began on July 5th and I realized the day of that I had projects going on nearly all of my bobbins and both of my drop spindles, I decided to change things up a bit.

I would like to be able to clean and condition my wheel before spinning my Jacob fleece, so I’ll need all of the bobbins cleared to do that properly.  So…. you guessed it – my goal is now to finish all of the spinning projects I have in the works… or at least the ones not on storage bobbins.  The current hope – and by that I clearly mean plan – is to clear these off my wheel and my spindles:

Loop Bullseye Bump - Merino in the Vineyard colorway.

Loop Bullseye Bump – Merino in the Vineyard colorway.

KnittyAndColor - Merino/Bamboo in the Soren colorway.

KnittyAndColor – Merino/Bamboo in the Soren colorway.

FiberFancy - Shetland in the Costume Ball colorway.

FiberFancy – Shetland in the Costume Ball colorway.

Fiber Optic Yarns - BFL in the Bramble faux Batik colorway.

Fiber Optic Yarns – BFL in the Bramble faux Batik colorway.

Unwind Yarn Co - Polwarth/Silk Blend in the Ghoulish colorway.

Unwind Yarn Co – Polwarth/Silk Blend in the Ghoulish colorway.

This is also a much better goal as I will be doing a bit of traveling and it is much more reasonable to bring along a drop spindle or two than to bring my wheel along for the ride.  Not to mention a lot less annoying for those I’ll be traveling with!

What are your crafting goals for the summer?  Planning any Christmas in July crafting to get a head start on your gifts basket? Please share to keep me… inspired? …paralyzed by all the possibilities?

Leave a comment

Holiday Crafting

Though I usually have M make all of her valentines, I decided to do things a bit differently this year.  She has many of the same kids in her class as last year and I didn’t want to give them the same foam heart with foam letters and heart stickers.  Plus, I’m all about gifting things that are also useful.  Often valentines are store bought cards and/or candy.  Which is fine.  But four year olds only need so much candy.

Instead, I decided to use some of my dish cloth cotton to knit heart “scrubbies”.   These nice little hearts can be used to scrub dishes or as wash cloths.  Plus, with their super convenient crocheted loops, they can be hung in the dishwasher or be thrown in the wash.  I did try making a crocheted heart to see if it would take less time and look nicer… but it took at least twice as long… just to do one side of it.  I asked M on Thursday morning which of the two she preferred.  Luckily, it was the knitted heart.  So M’s teacher was gifted the larger, “fancy” heart and I made ten (I promise, even if only eight made it into the picture!) of the little knitted hearts.  In order to give each valentine M’s special touch, she was in charge of writing out the tags with each child’s name and her own.  Which, for a four year old, is a lot of hard work!

i ♥ tawashi's by Julie Tarsha and HDC Heart in Lily's Sugar'n Cream cotton

i ♥ tawashi’s by Julie Tarsha and HDC Heart in Lily’s Sugar’n Cream cotton

M was so pleased with how they were turning out, she started to list other people I should make the hearts for.  Since I was working on most of them during our snow day the day before Valentine’s Day, I told her the others might have to wait until next year!

Once Valentine’s Day was over, I had the three-day weekend ahead of me to craft on whatever I wanted.  I always find that after (self-imposed) “obligation” knitting is complete, I want to do nothing but spin.  Since I was out of the house most of the weekend, I did work a lot on my mother’s sweater.  But whenever I was home, I worked on spinning up some Highland Handmades’ Polwarth (aka Pitch Pine Top) in the SSKers For the Win colorway.

Highland Handmades Pitch Pine Top - SSKersFTW colorway

Highland Handmades Pitch Pine Top – SSKersFTW colorway

On Presidents’ Day, I took advantage of my day off to not only clean my place, but to sew the rest of the fold-over hems on my father’s sweater as well as sew on the six buttons.  One would maybe think this should have been done back in September when the knitting was finished.  But after finishing the hems at the bottom of the sweater, the collar and both the sleeves were incredibly intimidating.  Not to mention time consuming.  I kept fearing I would get nearly to the end of the collar, only to find that I had sewn it askew.  Luckily, I had an easy way to line up the sleeves as the hem portion was continued directly from the rest of the sleeve and I could line up the stitches exactly.  However, the collar portion had been picked up and knitted from the cast on of the sweater, so there was not the same number of stitches and with the raglan increases, the stitches in the sweater were at an angle while the “hem” was straight.  It took some doing and a lot of straight pins (which are incredibly useless when sewing knitting), but the sweater is now finished.  My father, who was over spending some play time with M, was able to wear it home.

IMG_7642

I might not be completing my intended goals during this Olympic season, but at least I seem to be staying on track with my overall year goals of completing these sweaters and using up stash!

Leave a comment

Olympic Crafting

With the Olympics starting this week, I am only just now trying to decide what to do.  Since I have not had the proper amount of time to really plan anything and I already have several projects going, I am not going to officially participate in the Ravellenics. Instead, I’m thinking my goal should be to work on combing my Jocob fleece every day and attempt to finish my mother’s sweater (of which I have only knit about 10 rows since casting it on at the end of January).

Though finishing the sweater is a rather lofty goal, I am not going to hold myself to it.  I have not done the math to figure out how many rows I need to knit a day in order to complete the sweater by February 23rd.  I will just focus on knitting on it every day, either while I’m on the go, or each night after M has gone to bed.

During the 2012 Olympics, I pushed hard to pump out numerous projects and I felt like I could not let myself do anything but knit in order to complete everything on my list.  It may have been rewarding to see all those finished objects stacking up, but this year, I want to focus more on enjoying the process.  By keeping my knitting goals relaxed, I will still have time and energy to work on combing the fleece as well as some spinning I’ve been doing since completing the last of my blanket knitting.

Hopefully, the Olympics will keep me motivated to work on these goals and bring me one step closer to accomplishing two of my four major goals for the year!

Leave a comment

2013 Wrap-Up

2013 seemed to go by in a blur of ups and downs.  I am hoping to keep a better handle on 2014 and make it a year full of more intentions.  While my professional life is keeping me very busy, I am determined to set aside time for knitting and spinning and continue to find ways to include my daughter in on the fun.

Last year, I purchased my first fleece, and M was there to help sort and wash it with me.  She also helped pick out my only purchases at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival (aka Rhinebeck) and guided (or dragged) me around the barns to visit with every sheep at least three times before we left.  She has a definite interest and still likes to treadle at the wheel, but I think her interests fall much more toward the fiber and spinning side of the spectrum and she has no interest in knitting or crocheting at this point.  I believe her words were: “But Mommy, you can just make it for me”.

However, because of her guidance, I had a wonderful time at Rhinebeck and was able to keep my spending down.

IMG_6832

Saying hi to a newborn

Saying hi to a newborn

IMG_6824

During the Ravelry and Podcaster meet-up she entertained herself, as well as a few unsuspecting passersby, with an enormous leaf pile of fun:

Bringing others in on the fun!

Bringing others in on the fun!

Enjoying a very brief moment

Enjoying a very brief moment

As Fall came to a close, I began seriously buckling down and trying to crank out my Christmas hand knits.  I didn’t attempt to complete nearly as many items as last year.  Instead, I focused on a couple special pieces that were themed according to their recipients.

"Tattered" scarf knit out of GnomeAcres "I Dream of Zombies" colorway.

“Tattered” scarf knit out of GnomeAcres “I Dream of Zombies” colorway.

"Zombie Teeth" shawl knit out of GnomeAcres "I Dream of Zombies" colorway.

“Zombie Teeth” shawl knit out of GnomeAcres “I Dream of Zombies” colorway.

I ended the year off by knitting and crocheting blankets in rapid succession.  Unfortunately, this has continued into the new year and I cannot seem to see the light at the end of the enormous-project tunnel.  One more blanket to finish and three sweaters to complete and I will be able to move on to less (self-imposed) “obligation” knitting.

Crocheted lap blanket

Crocheted lap blanket

Knit baby blanket

Knit baby blanket

2 Comments