Holidays: July 2010 Archives
I heart new pattern day. Today is the debut of my Yoga Mat Tote designed just for Fabric.com customers. This pattern is made to coordinate with the Yoga Water Bottle Cozy in the stitch pattern and in fiber. Now you can look pulled together for your yoga class from your head past your toes. The lace at the top off the bag allows for more elasticity where you need it to quickly get your mat in and out of the tote. It also increases breathability. The cotton/acrylic yarn ensures fast drying to decrease instances of mildew or unfriendly odors. The acrylic mixed with the yarn helps the yarn bounce back better than 100% cotton. Lion Brand Cotton Ease comes in a bunch of great colors, bright and neutral.
The Yoga Mat Tote is a quick knit with just enough to keep you interested to the end. There is minimal finishing and some seaming. The strap is made from quilting cotton and is sewn on. The tote is knit in the round from the top down. This project is great for TV knitting, Knitting on the go (it is not very large) and knitting in public. You will need 2 skeins of Lion Brand Cotton Ease and ¼ yd of quilting cotton, as well as size 8 circular needles in a length longer than 24 in (I used magic loop), a tapestry needle and coordinating thread. The finished bag measures 24 in. high by 4 in. diameter.
You can check out more info and pictures on my Ravelry project page.
70% wool, 30% alpaca, 100% fun. My review for Nashua Snowbird must extend back to our first meeting. I was planning my July blog calendar and had just falling head of heels for the Coco Knits Ballet Slipper that this yarn ultimately went on the create when I first beheld this yarn.
Wait, I must interrupt myself. I have been listening to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen so should my language seem overly formal and slightly romantic, you will know the cause.
Back to our story. After choosing my pattern, I needed a yarn. I imagined something wooly but not full wool. I wanted it to offer good stitch definition but also offer some fluffy since I like a good fluffy slipper. I also wanted to select a yarn that was different from the yarn used in the pattern to offer you a different take on the pattern and encourage my readers to experiment. I found all of this and more in Nashua Snowbird.
I have been a fan of Nashua yarn since discovering Ivy (it is a wool/alpaca mix with some metallic threads woven in for glamour). Snowbird is another notch on their belt. It is well wound (no split stitches at all) and the color combination was really what landed me. The 2 colors strands of the yarn were bold but similar enough to be exciting without too much daring. The colors knit up in a way that I had not imagined but was even better than expected.
The yarn is fluffy but gives the definition that I was looking for. The fluffiness is very evident when wearing my slippers. They are slippery but also very comfortable. The wool gives nice elasticity that the pattern needs since it incorporates so many techniques that inhibits stretch. The many K2togs and pleats make for a tight fit that cotton or even silk would not compliment.
A search on Ravelry shows that this yarn has been featured in many projects including hats, sweaters, toys and scarves. I would recommend it for any and all of the above projects. It would really shine with large cables and textured stitches. Snowbird might complete too much with fancy lacework unless the lace were worked on very large needles and very exaggerated.
To end: I loved this yarn and my slippers and have secured it a spot on my Christmas gift list.
It is hard to get started thinking on Christmas when it is still hot outside but if you want to really enjoy the Christmas season and resist the slow decline towards "Ba Humbug" that results in homemade gift procrastination, then you had better pay attention. Allowing yourself plenty of time also ensures that you will enjoy making every gift which will surely be evident and will also allow for fine finishing details that make your gifts so special. Of course you will want to make something extra special for everyone but allow for your schedule, the number of people you plan on exchanging gifts with and how fast you create. Estimate in your head (or on paper) how many hours you can dedicate to each gift and stick to it. You can always supplement with store bought gifts or, even better, baked goods.
It is important to plan and try not to deviate but leave some wiggle room (you might want to take the weekend off to take in the leaves changing color or visit your favorite festival). The wiggle room will keep you going and help you to feel refreshed.
Pick projects that the receiver will love but you will also love to make. It is infinitely more fun to give something that gave you as much pleasure to make as it will for your loved one to use or treasure. Our Creativity Headquarters is full of patterns and gift ideas as well as fabric. It is a great place to start your Christmas list. You can also check out other blogs for free pattern ideas, tutorials and pictures of finished projects. You will be surprised how another perspective can give you inspiration on new fabric choices and gift ideas that would not have occurred to you but that you must make.
Wee Wonderfuls has great free softie patterns for free as well as embroidery deigns
Angry Chicken has some awesome free video tutorials
Another reason not to wait is the sales. You don't want your perfect fabric to slip away ne'er to be seen again. We are always having great early sales so stock up now so you don't have to scramble later. Though most of our patterns are reorderable, sometimes the stock is depleted and can take a few days or a week to be refilled. That is time you can spare now but not as the clock ticks down. If you purchase all your supplies early, you can work on your schedule and not have to sweat bullets if the pattern you must have is still out of stock.
Christmas is a season of merriment and I hope that if you follow my advice it will be so for you. Gift giving is a delight for both parties so planning ahead, sticking to your plan and allowing wiggle room will guarantee that the smile on your face Christmas morning is the real deal and not hiding the fatigue, stress and frustration of last minute gift making. Plus you will need the time for cookie making (be sure to share you recipes!!)
P.s. More info on the advent calendar here
With the first day of school fast approaching, holiday projects being planned, and warm weather ever so slowly fading into cool, it is time to start knitting for you. You have dedicated your time to summer projects, work deadlines and family fun but how much time have you set aside for some "me time". If you are like me, check the none-to-very little box please. It is understood that the time you can set aside for you may be very little but as long as you fill it with a relaxing activity (like knitting!) you can make the most of the tiniest of breaks.
Picking a project for you is very easy; simply pick something you love and can't wait to get started. Pick something small so it will be a fast knit and pick something that will enhance future "me times". For me, that was easy, Coco Knits Ballet Slipper. If fit all of the above. It was for me! I simply could not wait to cast on and it was fast (approx 4 hours of knitting time +/-). As I write I am wearing these slippers so I can honestly attest to them enhancing my future "me times". They are cute, sassy and comfy. I can also say with a smiling face that I enjoyed knitting these slippers. First of all, they were fast. #2, They were easy. #3, It was not a bunch of Stockinette stitch (which is very easy and equal to a dose of Sleepy Time tea) but small little challenges, like mini games. There were enough small challenges to keep me interested but not too much to bore me. It has been some time since I have used Short Rows so I needed a refresher and I have never knit pleats. There was a little taste of everything and not too much. It kept me interested enough to happily finish the second slipper. No second sock syndrome here. I loved learning something new, as well. The pleats were fantastic and really added to the sassiness of the slipper. I was so pleased to have finished this project but also to finish with the sensation that my feelings of excitement and anticipation leading up to the project were never depleted and I did not feel let down. I am looking forward to knitting more Coco Knits patterns. These ballet slippers have now heard top ranking on my Christmas list projects.
Knitting for you can benefit you in so many ways. For myself, I was able to find a project to look forward to. A project that I enjoyed knitting so much that very little wine was required. A project that left me feeling a little disappointed when completed, much like a really good book you don't want to end. After finishing my knitting for me project, I felt energized and rewarded. I am ready to get back to my daily grind and all I needed was 4 hours.
Check out my project notes on Ravelry
On July 4th 1776, We the people declared independence from the British and in doing so declared war. 1783 brought this hard fought war to a victorious end thanks to the many citizens who fought and died to bring freedom to America. It is in thanks to those soldiers and to the thousands of troops today that continue to fight for freedom that this article is dedicated. But it is not through the efforts of troops alone that freedom is won and protected. It is also with the aid and support of the home front that our soldiers do their job and do it well. The making and sending of handmade goods extends back as far as war itself. Always it was families and friends conveying their love from afar. Times change but the endeavor remains the same and you can help. Knitted goods are needed and wanted by our troops overseas. Below are some items you can knit and send to our soldiers deployed to demonstrate our appreciation, respect and pride.
*Please note the colors allowed by the military are black, charcoal, brown, tan, gray or combinations of these colors.
Rowan Pure Wool DK. After checking projects on Ravelry where this yarn was used in many hats and for wee babes where the items was worn close to the skin, I can assume that it is not itchy and it is also superwash. A double bonus. Choose colors Black, Shale, Barley, Hessian, or Earth. Silk is another great cold weather fiber but it is often associated with only summer. Silk is lighter weight than wool, silky to though and quick to dry. Nashua Creative Focus can be knit up in Black, Deep Shadow, and Raw Umber.- This pattern is very popular among soldiers and knitters alike. It fits comfortably under a helmet and tucks into a coat or jacket to protect the face from extreme cold and wind. The ribbing used allows the liner to contour to the wearer's face ensuring a snug cozy fit. Be sure to use a cold weather fiber like wool or alpaca (not linen or cotton) but also something soft. Certain kinds of wool can be scratchy when worn next to the skin so take that into consideration. Also, wash ability will be something every solider will thank you for, especially if they are anything like my nose which yields to running when the weather gets cold. I recommend
Socks for Soldiers- In a land of few luxuries, a price cannot be put upon hand knit socks. Even here where a whim is just a car ride away, hand knit socks are a welcome reprieve. Sock for our soldiers was founded by a mom for her son deployed and in need of good socks. All you need is the simple pattern and some wool or wool/cotton blend. Let me recommend Rowan Wool Cotton Yarn which is a sensuous blend of merino and durable cotton. Perfect for our over worked troops in need of TLC (Choose Inki, which is black).
Afghans of Honor- Knitting for troops is not limited those in active duty. Those who are injured can be said to be even more in need of our support than those not. Afghans of Honor "reminds men and women who have stood in harm's way in defense of their country that they are appreciated and remembered". To some an afghan may be intimidating but surely the courage of a fallen solider can lend itself to the needles of a newbie afghan knitter. Each stitch can be one more stitch of comfort and one less of loneliness. With each stitch you are closer to being finished and shipping your afghan to a soldier in need. Even better, there are no restrictions on this project. Any color and pattern is accepted (but do keep your recipient in mind, kittens and puppies may not be popular). I encourage you to choose warm and inviting colors to keep spirits up. With no pattern restrictions you can be sure to choose a pattern for your level. I suggest Berroco Vintage Chunky for a quick knit in a yummy Wool/Acrylic blend or Nashua Vignette for colorwork without the work.
Now is the time to start planning your knitted Christmas presents. Not that it necessarily take 5 months to knit presents for your family and friend but it takes time to find the perfect pattern, find and order yarn and then time to knit it to perfection (especially if you are working on a new pattern). Starting now gives you time to make a list and do it right without stress. This way if you decide to take a night off for wine bar hopping, a wine tasting or trip to Napa Valley, you've got time. The last thing you want is it being Dec 22nd and you have 2 scarves, 3 hats and 1 sweater left to finish and block!
Now, where to begin? Ah...the fun part. Planning is always fun for me because it involves lots of window shopping, very little price tag looking and much imagining of people opening presents with looks of delight painting their faces. Make a list of those for whom you wish to knit presents. Next, decide the general genre of the present (i.e. hat, shawl, gloves, etc). Then start your search. I always start at Knitty but Ravelry is another good place to start given the rating system. Your library of books in another starting place. I curl up on a comfy seat pulled up next to the shelf with a cup of coffee. Once you have all your patterns selected, it is time to pick your yarn (SIGH. I love yarn shopping!). Make another list of all the yarn you will need. I generally categorize it by fiber. Then if I can combine orders or yardage (say you only need 50 yds from this ball and it will work for another project, then you can combine it and save). Unless I have a definite image of what one project should look like, I try to be flexible with fiber and color so I can combine.
Next, estimate how much time you will need for each project. I write this down on the pattern itself along with the yarn I selected for it. A good way to estimate is to check out completed projects on Ravelry. Each project lists when someone starts and finishes and you should get a good feel for how long it will take. Then get started. I would recommend prioritizing your list but at this point you have already made enough lists and you should just start whichever project you are most excited over.
But wait...Let's make a plan B. Let's face it, knitting Christmas present can be much like starting a diet: You are die-hard for a while then you get distracted and lose you way. That is why a Plan B is in needed in case you have too much wine too often or your husband insists on taking you out dancing (crazy talk, I know). I like to take readymade objects and add little knitted somethings so the sentiment of a handmade present is still there but in a limited amount of time. Some good ideas are:
· Hand towels with knitted edgings
· Knitted flowers added to a tank top or tee shirt
· Purchased sweaters with added details (knitted appliqués, monograms, edgings or ruffles)
· Crazy cozy- chicken for your teapot, pig for your toaster
· Knitted fruit and veggies are great for kids
There are many little things you can knit and give or add to readymade items. This will give you tons of satisfaction but none of the stress or guilt so often plaguing us during and leading up to the holiday season.
Writer's note: The above pictures are a super cute tank top with knitted flowers added on in a cluster and a knitted inset in red flannel to make a pillow. The pattern is Odin Eagle for my Norwegian MIL but I did not have time to knit the whole pillow. This compromise allows me to give my MIL something she will love in a 1/4 of the time. The striped scarf is my free Sally Stripe pattern found here.