Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Knitting and Home Improvements

Man, it has been a while! I can't believe how the time flew by - I've had so much going on that my blog hasn't shown the progress. But progress has indeed been made! First off, here is my sock:
I know it's an awful picture, but at least it's looking more sock-ish now :) Once I turned the heel, I had to try it on (much to the dismay of the purl rows between the motifs, lol) Now I'm just continuing my way up. I plan on making these as knee-high as I have yarn to do, if that makes sense. I am just a smidge shy of how much yarn the pattern calls for, so I might not make it truly "knee high". They do seem to fit nicely though, so that's good :)

I feel like I should make my full excuse as to why I've been so busy - I'm finally finishing a bunch of things around my house! My sister has been in town from Japan, and she has made it her goal to get things done in my house, lol. She loves diy, and living on base housing she hasn't been able to do anything where she lives, so she's living vicariously through my house - that's just fine by me :)
This is just a sill preview, but it shows two of the finished areas - my hall and foyer are painted gray with white trim, my living room is finished being painted (the other side of the room still had never been painted, lol), and we've even started hanging art work - it's kind of a miracle after living in a sadly unfinished house for 2 years. She also is painting my cabinet doors and drawer for my kitchen - I have functioning drawers! That alone has been kind of life changing. Now I'm working on getting all my art work together so that we can design a gallery wall. I've even ordered a few new prints, so it should be pretty exciting :) That picture above the lamp in the photo is a hand colored lithograph I bought at a thrift store for $5.00 year ago - it's numbered and signed, and it's professionally framed and everything. I love that I get to see it hanging up everyday now! I can't wait to show more progress once the gallery walls are done. So exciting!

Hopefully this makes at least some kind of good excise for my lack of knitting, lol.
That's it for me this week :) Head over to Stitch Along Wednesday to see what others are working on too!

Monday, January 19, 2015

FO: Christmas Edition #2

Our journey through the items I made for Christmas gifts this year continues today with a few more :) First off, I'll show you the two gifts I was most excited about months and months ago.
They're Shibe Doge beanies! lol My husband loves the Shibe Doge meme (click that link if you don't know what I'm talking about), so when I was looking around on Ravelry one day and I came across a Shibe Doge themed hat pattern, I knew I had to make it. I will confess to being a bad ... supporter? I guess? ... The pattern I originally found was on sale for $4.50 and it come with instructions for a colorworked brim hat or for duplicate stitch words (like I made). Well, I just couldn't see spending $4.50 for a pattern when the part I wanted to use it for was just a basic beanie with words stitched on - I can do duplicate stitch without any pattern, you know? So, I used the Basic Hat pattern by Ooo Baby Knits (which is a free pattern) to make the hat, then I looked at the photo of the "inspiration hat" to figure out the spacing for the words.

I got a bit sneaky with my hats - the pictures above are of two separate hats, by the way. See, my husband has a bigger than normal head (love you, babe). I planned on making my brother in law a hat so he and my husband could match, so I started making this back beanie and told my husband it was for "the other Justin" - this wasn't entirely a lie, but the one I had my husband try on repeatedly was actually for him. This was a good plan because I would have made the hat too short for my husband otherwise. This was my first time using duplicate stitch and I swear to you stitching on the words took as long as making the hats - craziness! But it was all worth it because they came out great. Each hat says, "So Chill, Much Brr, Such Cold, Wow." In retrospect, I kind of wish I had added "Very Hat," but you can't have everything, lol. The beanies are made with Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Black and the words are stitched in Lion Brand Lion Wool in Pearl Gray. This combo makes for nice and snuggly hats :) Both my Justins loved them, so I hope they get a good amount of wear.
Next up was a fun experiment that ended up being a few well liked gifts :) I've always been curious about Red Heart's Sashay yarn, but I just never wanted to pay $6 for something I might not like. One day a few months ago I came across a clearance section that had this particular color (Waltz) for only $1 each - I bought several skeins not knowing what to make at the time. Come Christmas making season, I knew just what to do with these skeins! I made two frilly scarves for my Mother-In-Law and Sister-In-Law :)
I the color combo of this colorway, and I love that it has a shimmering silver thread throughout for just a little bit of sparkle. For each scarf, I just used one skein and look how long they came out! By the way, my lovely model is my younger sister :)
As far as working with this stuff ... it was tedious. You have to open up the yarn as you go to expose the lattice structure since you actually only knit into the very outer edge. Once I got the hang of it, it wasn't really hard, just more annoying than normal yarn. Happily, these went very quick - maybe 2 hours each scarf - and I waited several weeks between making each one so I didn't get sick of it, lol.
My two recipients were both pleased and seemed surprised that I made them, so I take that as a success.
Another item I made early on is this pretty shawlette for my husband's Grandma. I asked my husband what her favorite colors are and when he told me teal and pink I immediately thought of this yarn I've had in my stash for ages. I purchased this yarn when I was still in high school (!) back when I used to do a lot of Swedish Weave projects. I used a little bit, but had most of the skein left ... it's been sitting in a bin for at least 12 years. I'm just not a huge fan of variegated yarn, personally. I was so happy to have recently organized my stash so that I knew I had it and was finally able to use it all up!
I used the Garden View Shawlette pattern, which is free, and I really enjoyed this pattern! It's nice and simple, but with just a bit of lace to keep things interesting. It ends up having 7 of the leaves along the edges.
The end is where things got a little interesting. This is the cast on side, so everything looks good, right? Well, when I reached the end ...
I ran out of my antique variegated yarn! Oh my gosh, I was so mad, lol. I ALWAYS buy extra yarn for my projects. This is my first time using a really specific yarn like this and running out. Because of how the pattern mirrors its decreases and increases on each end, I couldn't just pull back one leaf to make it a smidge smaller - I would have had to pull out all the way back to the 1st leaf at the cast on edge and redo it all. Well, that was absolutely not happening, lol. So I dug through my stash and pulled out all the solid yarns I had that were represented in the variegated skein. I only had 3 that matched, so I just alternated between them for the last 2 inches. Then I had to weave in the ends - 67 ends of yarn! In a 2" area! Ugh, it's so nasty, lol. It was just an awful experience. It was the best I could do though, and she didn't notice anything about it on Christmas. I certainly won't tell her, lol.

The other three items I made were not knitted or sewn and I forgot to take pictures of them. I made my mom, my sister , and my aunt all magnetic pin plates. I actually started a post about them way back in July, but never finished it, lol. Maybe I will get around to it this year. They are super cute and useful.

So, this wraps up the Christmas gifts I made this year :) It was certainly a lot of work, but I am proud that I started early enough to get them done while still working on other projects. This saved my sanity and I didn't begrudge the gifts I was making by the end. I'm happy with how everything turned out, and I hope the recipients enjoy their presents!

Friday, January 16, 2015

FO: Luke's Christmas Present

Since this gift alone entailed so many items (and they're so cute!), I figured I'd put all these as one post together. Remember the awesome birthday present I made my nephew in November? Well I had more Star Wars patterns and I knew back then that I would be adding to his set for Christmas. Spoiler Alert - I still have patterns for more figures, so you will certainly see more of them in the future as well. I'm working through the patterns in (what I feel) is the order of character importance. The last set had all the main characters (Luke, Leia, Han, Yoda and Vader), so I added some of the supporting cast this time :)
I started off making the simplest pattern first, the Stormtrooper. He's a very basic shape and only 2 colors, so he went together in just a few hours. I know it's hard to see, but he has a bobble stitch belt too :) He is made with Vanna's Choice in white and black, and the only change I made to the pattern is the eyes. The pattern tells you to use safety eyes, but the troopers in the movie have these triangular eyes in their helmet, so I was trying for authenticity with these felt ones. He certainly looks meaner than the pattern, lol, but I like that it's more accurate.
C-3PO came next just because I already had all the yarn on hand to make him. The pattern suggests using a brown and gray variegated yarn for his belt, which I didn't have so I just went for a striped design and I really like how it turned out. I also made felt eyes to keep with that as a theme, and I made an orange ring because I feel that's an important part of his look in the film. I love that the pattern actually works a bend into the arms, so they stick out like they always do in the film. This was made with Vanna's Choice yarn in mustard and black with Patons Canadiana for the silver.
My next endeavor was Chewbacca. This pattern was really funny - at first I thought that you had to use fuzzy yarn - not so! You take a metal dog brush and brush the daylights out of the finished figure, lol. It was certainly the weirdest thing I have ever done to yarn, lol.  You have to get kind of medieval with is to really get it looking hairy - I'm kind of amazed it didn't rip it apart. This one ended up bigger than normal because I technically used a bulky yarn (Lion Brand Homespun in Barley), but I did use the same size H hook that I used on the rest, so it's a bit of a mystery. He definitely towers over the others though. His satchel is made from Patons Canadiana in Gray and Vanna's Choice in Rust.
Next up, R2D2 - where would the films be without him?! I always loved R2 as a kid, so I really wanted to do him justice. The legs are actually jointed, so you can move them to get him standing upright. The only change I made to the pattern is that I shortened his body by 1 row - it just seemed like it was too long. I made my R2 using Lion Brand Pound of Love in White, Patons Canadiana in Gray, and Premier Everyday Soft Worsted in Royal Blue. I also added a little French dot of red embroidery floss just because I wanted to :)
The final figure I made Boba Fett. He didn't come last because I was reluctant to make him, quite the opposite really. I know that little boys (and big boys) everywhere LOVE Boba Fett, so he was one of the first ones I planned to make for this set. My delay was caused by yarn choice - I had no idea that "Boba Fett green" would be such a hard color to find! I was sure I would have something in my stash that would work when I began, but the further I dug and looked through my Ravelry stash, the more I realized what a strange color green it really is. I'd always though olive green, but he has a decided amount of teal in his color. My husband would not accept the substitutions available in my stash, so he accompanied me to Joann's specifically to find the right green. He ended up being the one to pick the perfect color, lol. The green yarn is Patons Classic Worsted in Jade Heather (write this down if you plan on making him up, you will thank me later!). The pattern actually has quite a bit of literal "color work" for his face and accessories. It was time consuming to make him up, I won't lie, but I love how he turned out. The other yarns I used were all from my stash and included: Vanna's Choice in Mustard, Cranberry, Toffee, Black and Charcoal Gray, as well as Paton's Canadiana in Gray. I did change the pattern and make his cape bigger - I added length and width. I made the cape as the pattern is written and it looked puny, so this one is much more dramatic.

And there you have it: Luke's Christmas present :) I am really happy with how all of these turned out. I will confess that Luke didn't really seem too into them, but he was tired at the time. Toddlers, amiright? His mom loved them though, and I know his dad will be excited too when he gets to see them. These have now joined the rest of the gang in their special carrying bag. I'm excited to finish off the set for the next occasion - I think I have 4 or 5 more patterns to go :)

*If you want to make these yourself, you will have to wait until Lucy Ravenscar's Star Wars Crochet book is published later this year :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Minimal Progress

Well, things have been ... interesting these past few weeks. So much so that I didn't knit at all for almost 10 days (?!). This is a definite indicator that something is wrong in life, as any knitter would know :) Things finally started to calm down on Sunday night, so I got a chance to do some knitting. Not wanting to get too complicated straight off, I picked up the puny little toe I had started for my lacy socks and ran with them. In just a few days I have a sock that looks like this:
Not bad, eh? This is technically the 3rd time I started this sock, but it seems to have paid off because this time I didn't make any weird mistakes - the lace pattern is actually very easy to memorize, and I can say that what is knitted is 100% correct :) It's a small miracle, but I'll take it. I'm really liking these socks - the pattern is engaging enough to be interesting, but simple enough that I can do it while watching Downton Abbey. I hope to finish these soon so I can actually wear them this year. Good ole' Florida weather.

I have other things in the works, like my Emelie cardigan, but I haven't been in the mood to focus that much when I get knitting time. Hopefully my brain gets to settle down soon and then really get cooking. Until then though, these socks are filling the void.
Since Tami's Amis kind of fell apart midway through last year, a new WIP Wednesday group has started up :) So now I'll be joining with Stitch Along Wednesday each week. Come over and have a look for yourself!