Monday, March 29, 2010

About Winter . . .

Ummm, it's not totally gone.  For some reason, winter doesn't want to go away.  In a desperate bid to hang on, it dusted us with white stuff and sent blustery winds our way.

More Snow

Here's hoping it's winter's last gasp. 


Sadly my crocus buds have disappeared under a thin blanket of snow.  I hope the weather warms up again.  I'm soooo ready for spring.

Hope the sun is shining wherever you're at.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

More Kids Knitting?

Perhaps?  Maybe?  Out of the blue, both boys decided to knit again.  After my youngest finished his teddy bear's scarf in November, he started a hat but soon lost all steam.  The item sat in a basket until I needed the yarn for mittens.  The older boy frogged his scarf (he'd lost interest too) and decided knitting was not for him afterall (too bad 'cuz his stitches and tension were neat and even).

How things change!  This week both boys picked up their sticks and decided to make blankets.  Right now, they're knitting strips of garter. 
Beginning of One Garter Strip

Another Garter Strip

Once one strip is complete, they'll make another in a different colour.  When all the strips are completed (say 5-6), I'll seam them together to create a blanket (similar in concept to the item pictured below). 
Blanket Made From Stripes

I thought that would be the easiest way for them to make a blanket.  Casting on hundreds of stitches would just be . . . well, too challenging and frustrating.  Besides I have tons of matching mega balls of acrylic (I'm not called acrylic-girl for nothing).

Big Balls of Red Heart

Hard to get a sense of the ball size without any reference, but these are truly "mega" balls.  They're huge!  The larger white one (pictured below) runs just over 1800 yards while the "smaller" ones probably run over 400 yards (small and large being relative of course).  I had to guess-timate yardage, as there is no amount given on label, only weight (each weighs about a pound).
As Big As . . .  A Dinosaur Egg

Cozy and Soft 
Then it hit me: why not teach the boys to crochet?  If I showed them how to work a granny square, they could make a huge blanket, but they'd only have to worry about one stitch at any  given time ('cuz unlike knitting, crochet does not require live stitches).  Both boys seemed keen to try it.  So that's my task for one of these nights (but not this weekend as they're trying out a new video game).

Happy crafting :D

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Yay, Spring Equinox!

Spring fell upon Saturday and it was the most glorious day of all!  Enviroment Canada said my area reached 12 C, but my dashboard thermostat said 19 C.  And it was the warmest it has ever been in March!  Ever.  This time last year, there was still snow on the ground.  Here's the photographic proof.
March 31 2009

See all that white stuff on the ground?  And all those icicles dangling off the lights (I couldn't remove the Christmas lights 'cuz part of the string was stuck in the snow)?  This year, no snow yet, although there's some in the forecast for later on in the week.  That can change--I hope. 

For the first time ever in March, my own crocuses sprouted!  They never EVER come up in March.  It's usually too cold or there's snow on the ground.
First Crocus Buds of 2010

It won't be long before they're blooming and looking like below.
Blooms from 2009

These beauties didn't sprout till April and it wasn't until end of month that they bloomed (photos are dated April 24).  I just love Spring!  Don't you?

Have a great week!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

By the Way . . .

Finished the slippers last weekend, but didn't get 'round to posting about it.  Remember the old nasty ones that needed replacing?  Off to the trash they went to be replaced by these cute periwinkle ones.
Periwinkle Slippers

Side View
Quick and easy--can't beat that!

My only complaint is that the garter is stretching.  In fact, even my boy's slippers have stretched one size too big--oh the hazards of stretchy garter!  I think if I extend the seaming on the top of the foot, it should "tighten" the slipper so it won't slip off.

Happy knitting!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bling Bling

No, not sparkling gold or diamonds.  I'm referring to the mystery yarn I've had in my stash since late 2006 or early 2007.  It is a little sparkly in the right light.
Mystery Yarn

Way back when my interest in knitting was re-kindled, I decided to try a garter stitch shawl as an easy and fun project.  Since I couldn't find the appropriate yarn locally, I decided to try the big bag of fun novelty yarn on sale at Walmart.  Admitedly, it was a bag of mill ends.  No clues on the bag as to the manufacturer or even suggested gauge.  Still, for $4 bucks, how could I lose? 

Well it was a royal pain to knit!  The worst stuff ever!  And the fabric it made was so dense and furry.  Worse, I could not see my stitches or count rows.  Ugh!!
Thick Dense Fabric

How was I to use up this yucky stuff?  I still wanted my shawl.  So I paired it with a worsted acrylic in dark green (I'm pretty sure it was Red Heart SuperSaver).
Red Heart with Mystery Yarn

Eureka!  It was as if I had invented sliced bread.  Suddenly I could work with my mystery yarn to create a usable fabric for my shawl.  I also alternated plain rows of only green worsted versus green paired with mystery yarn.

Finished Shawl

In the end, the finished product proved to be quite nice.  Who knew that mystery fluff paired with rough, scratchy Red Heart would produce a soft fabric?  Many a winter's night I've worn the shawl over my shoulders to fend off the chill.  Even the kids have used it as a lap blanket.

Why all this reminiscing over my garter shawl and the mystery yarn?  Remember yesterday's post on novelty yarn?  Well one of the books had the exact same yarn!  At long last I had discovered the identity of my mystery yarn.

Bernat Booklet

It's Bernat's Bling Bling.  The cover photo even uses the same colourway I've got in my stash.  Who knew?

Happy crafting!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Lure of Novelty Yarn and Other Mysteries

An acquaintance was de-cluttering and decided to give me some "old" crochet and knitting booklets (maybe 10 years old?)  My first response was "sweet!".

A few came from Red Heart which contained some nice crochet patterns for tops and cardigans.  As my crochet skills improve, I may want to attempt them. Definitely keeping those patterns.
Nice Crochet Patterns

Unfortunately, the rest of the booklets--and that would be the majority of them--use novelty yarn.  Remember that furry, nubby stuff that was a pain-in-the-you-know-what to work with?  I know because I've tried to knit with the stuff and its no picnic (so hard to "read" one's stitches).  Still, I can see where a pillow or toy might be interesting in fun fur.
Furry Pillows and Throws

Furry Toys

But clothing in novelty yarn?  Hmmm, me thinks never ever!  Most of the patterns were for scarves, ponchos,  and furry cuffs and collars.  Amongst those was the odd sweater.

NO ONE should ever wear a hairy or furry sweater--unless the gorilla look is what you're after.  Still, some of the sweater shapes looked pleasing.  As I perused some of the patterns and their schematics, a thought percolated in my little brain.  Maybe I could use a smooth yarn to re-create the garment--minus the fur and texture of course.  As long as I could achieve gauge, it could be do-able (is that a proper word?).
Garments in Novelty Yarn
This is possible, right?

Now if I could just find some free time . . . .

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Maybe Spring?

It certainly feels like spring.  'Round my neck of the woods, winter dies a slow death, often bringing on a snow storm as late as the end of April (I've been witness to that).  'Course, some old-timers assure me they've seen early May snows too (usually wet snows that don't hang around much, but still . . . snow in May?  That's so wrong).

Happy to say that I've seen small glimpses of spring this week.  First, lots and lots of sunshine--and that sun is warm!  I'm hearing so many new bird calls, songs that have long been absent all winter.  I saw my first cute little squirrel scamper across the road and clammer up a huge maple tree (they hibernate, right?).  And I think I saw the first sprouts of crocuses in not one, but four  gardens (not my garden as my flower bed is still covered under a snow pile, albeit a melting one).
Crocus Buds from April 8 2009

The picture above was actually taken in early April 2009 from my own flower bed.  Mine always seem to sprout and bloom after everyone else's--probably because my wee garden sits under the shade and doesn't get much sun.
More buds

So wherever yee may be, bask in the sun's glow and savour the warmth.  Springtime will soon be upon us.

Happy days!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Almost Forgot . . .

photograph from

Just a quick drop-in to share the big project I had been working on for Bernat blog.  It's my bestest and fastest knit to date (I know bestest isn't a real word, but I claim writer's creative license).

Hope there's some sunshine in your week.
Happy crafting :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Perfect Knitting Magazine?

So many knitting mags out there in fiberland.  Which ones do you like?

Judging from the response of other knitters in the cyber world, Interweave Knits seems to be the fave for inspiration and challenging projects--perhaps a little too challenging for me.  There's also Vogue Knitting, but I always found many of their designs too "airy-fairy" and/or unwearable (and their sizes often exclude the bigger woman).  There are others such as Creative Knitting and Knitter's, but there aren't enough interesting or stylish designs that grab my attention (matronly is the word that comes to mind).

Then there's Knit Simple .  For an advanced beginner such as myself, their designs are generally do-able and plus-sized.  And I can usually find enough items I want to make to warrant its purchase. 

Except this time, I couldn't find it!  In my little town, it is often hard to find niche magazines (even at the bookstore, there is a teeny magazine selection and forget about crafting books).  The places that used to sell Knit Simple didn't have it anymore.  Eeeek!  What to do?  Search online for a Canadian source ?  Drive to Halifax?  For a magazine?

Than I found a copy--the last copy!  In a grocery store of all places.
Winter 2009/10 Issue

So happy!  Did my happy dance . . . then perused the issue for projects to queue.  Such as the beret on the cover (I've been on a beret kick lately).

This issue had lots of lovely jackets and cardigans.  Isn't the one below pretty?
Shawl Collar Jacket

And what about this one?  It's knitted bottom up, so there'd be almost no seaming.
Striped Cardigan
Whatcha think?  I'm a girl with simple tastes.  And I'm not looking for knitterly challenges requiring complicated manual dexterity (and we won't talk about mental feats of knitterly mathematics).   

And I bought something else too.  Something full of yarny goodness.
Bernat Jr. Jacquards

There's nylon in that ball of colour--only 10%, but me thinks it'll make a neat sock experiment.  How long would it take to make a pair of socks in DK weight?  Faster than something in Fine weight on 2.25mm, right?  The search is on for the right pattern (in ribbed of course).

I feel inspired and renewed (after a not so inspiring week).  Where do you find your crafting inspirations?  What gets your crafting mojo going?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I Almost Had Nothing . . .

All week I've been busily "finishing" part of my Bernat project for Feb/March (which didn't involve any crocheting or knitting).  Consequently I've felt "lost":  I've missed the act of knitting and/or crocheting.  Worst of all, despite all my "finishing work" I've got nothing to show for my efforts!

By Thursday night, I couldn't take it anymore and hauled out a few old projects.  By Friday night I had one sock, a finished slipper and another dishcloth.  And it felt soooo good :D

At long last, say hello to my stripey sock.
Vintage Vogue Ladies's Ribbed Sock

The fit is awesome!  The heel fits nicely and the foot is long enough (added 2 extra inches to foot length).  All the trying on and re-measuring paid off.  This pattern is gonna be a keeper (I'm already planning the purchase of other colours).

One Lonely Slipper

The slipper fits nicely too.  It doesn't feel as warm as my old slippers, but it will do for spring and fall.  I may have to pair the Phentex with a bulkier weight yarn.  Wonder if two strands of Phentex together would work?  All the splitting would surely drive me batty!

And my new dishcloth:
Another Dishcloth

The pattern came from the Bernat website and there were lots to choose from.  I'm sure any yarn company that manufacturers worsted cotton offers free crochet patterns.  I use Bernat 'cuz it's readily available in my little town (I can find some Red Heart cotton, but not in worsted weight).  Also, I can purchase a big ball of Bernat cotton (about 600-700 yards) for $7.00.  That's a whole lotta dishcloths!

And now back to my happy crafting . . .  :D
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