Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fuzzy Pickles (or - I am easily amused.)

As you see, I am easily amused. I knit not one, but two of these pickles out of two different batches of handspun. Same colors, blended slightly differently, the first made out of a singles, the second 2-ply. The first was done on size 1 needles, the second size 4. One is a gherkin, the other a big dill pickle. Both have short rows and random purl stitches. Now, why should you have a pickle ornament? Well, its supposedly traditional in Germany - however people from Germany never seem to have heard of it (read here for myth debate); but mostly its just funny. A fuzzy pickle just seemed extraordinarily funny to me. Here's how you make one:

Short-row Pickle:

  • 25-50 yards of green yarn in your chosen weight (one whole skein will give you lots.)
    I used handspun wool that I blended and spun myself.
For large: light worsted/ dk-weight yarn (thick and thin yarns make for bumpier pickles)
For small: fingering weight yarn
  • Set of 4 or 5 dpns (you will only use 4 total)
For large: I used Size 4 (US) 3.5 mm
For small: I used Size 1 (US) 2.25 mm
  • Stitch marker
  • Yarn needle
  • stuffing (fiberfill, wool, cotton balls, etc - something light.)
Gauge (largely unimportant - you'll just want it tight enough so that the stuffing doesn't show):
For large: 5.5 sts/in.
For small: 8 sts/in.

Notes: Adding random purl sts makes a really nice bumpy pickle. If you use a thick-and-thin yarn or slubby handspun, purling into a thick stitch makes for a very satisfying bump. Also, this pattern uses short rows to make the pickle curve - a good practice piece for short rows if you've never tried them, especially short rows in the round. For a tutorial click here. Just remember to pick up and knit your wraps or you will have holes that the stuffing will show through. Adding dill seeds to your stuffing material will make it pickle-scented.

Cast on 3 sts.
Work 2 rows of I-cord.
Row 3: Knit into the front and back (Kf&b)of all sts. (6 sts.)
Spread sts over 3 dpns.
Row 4: Knit all sts. (6 sts.)
Row 5: Kf&b all sts. (12 sts.)
Row 6: Knit all sts. (12 sts.)
Row 7 Kf&b all sts. (24 sts.)
Row 8: Knit all sts. (24)
Row 9: K 18, wrap&turn (w&t), purl 12, w&t, k to end of round.
Row 10 : K all sts.
Row 11: K 18, wrap&turn (w&t), purl 12, w&t, k to end of round.
Row 12: K all sts.
Row 13: K 18, wrap&turn (w&t), purl 12, w&t, k to end of round.
Rows 14-16: K all sts.
Row 17: K 18, wrap&turn (w&t), purl 12, w&t, k to end of round.
Rows 18-29: Repeat Rows 14-17 3 times.
Row 30: K all sts.
Row 31: K 18, wrap&turn (w&t), purl 12, w&t, k to end of round.
Row 32: K all sts.
Row 33: K 18, wrap&turn (w&t), purl 12, w&t, k to end of round.
Row 34: K all sts.
Row 35: K 18, wrap&turn (w&t), purl 12, w&t, k to end of round.

Stuff pickle lightly, but firmly enough to maintain shape

Row 36: K2tog all sts. (12 sts.)
Row 37: K all sts.
Row 38: K2tog all sts. (6 sts.)
Row 39: K all sts.
Row 40: K2tog all sts. (3 sts.)

Break yarn , leaving a 12" tail, thread tail through remaining sts. and secure. Used remaining tail to create a loop for the pickle to hang from. Laugh self silly. Place in a washed pickle jar to confound family.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Braving Black Friday for Malabrigo! (Or yarn drugs.)

Well, last week was my birthday and my family all took pity on me and gave me yarn money. I think they all realized that I needed a fix. I have it bad - a skein here and there, some for a sweater for my daughter, some just knit into fingerless mitts (a modified version of Fetching - made longer for my long hands.) I will eagerly admit it - I am thoroughly addicted to Malabrigo Yarn. I used that lovely bit of birthday money and used it for NINE skeins of Malabrigo Worsted in the Velvet Grapes colorway (see top photo.) The bottom photo shows the Fetching Mitt in Pagoda.

Now, as long as I have been knitting, I have never knit a sweater just for myself. My daughter has 4, my son 1, I have a shrug or two, everyone has lots of accessories, and I have 2 shawls - but a sweater seemed downright decadent. I debated for a week whether to go ahead and get something special for my birthday, or split what I had and buy some less expensive yarn for myself and some for each of the two kiddos. I really agonized over it, thinking that the act of knitting things for my kids would be gift enough. I stayed awake nights wondering if I'd be a selfish person for wanting a really nice sweater for myself. I know - there are more important things to worry about in my life as well as the world around me. I have a thing - I feel really selfish for not sharing with others, even my own birthday presents.

But this is Malabrigo! It calls to me, and I am weak! For the first time ever in my whole life I went shopping on Black Friday. To buy Malabrigo. First thing in the morning. For a spanking new shipment. Granted, central Texas doesn't provide many occasions for toasty knitwear, but I often wear sweaters instead of a coat. I'm justifying my behavior by saying that the best gift for my kids will be a warm, happy and contented Mama. And I am not knitting the sweater(Mr. Greenjeans, but made longer) until January.

The rest of November and December is knitting, sewing, and crocheting fest. We are making everything for family this year. It is a decision which was based both on the desire to put ourselves to really work for the ones we love as well as a financial decision - my husband having been laid off for the last 10 months. We haven't got the budget or the desire to go out and buy cartloads of mass-market toys. But we have time and I've got yarn and fabric stashes to plunder.

(Oh, and you meet the nicest people from Minnesota when you drop in the yarn store early. Hello! it was so nice to meet you. Yay!) (I also heard about a possible volunteer opportunity teaching knitting at a local middle school - double yay!)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November Surprise Project: Rimrock Cape

Well, here's the project I was working on for November. The Rimrock Cape from Cat Bordhi's Book A Treasury of Magical Knitting . The original calls for wool and mohair yarns, but I used all synthetics from my stash because my mother-in-law has a hard time wearing wool. Also, it needed to be easily washable. The collar is a moebius strip, and the back is worked in short-rows until the depth of the collar is reached. The rest is knit in the round. This is the only project that I worked on really for 6 weeks, except for some small sewing projects. It was a very interesting pattern to work with - there were times that I swore that what I was doing was not what was pictured in the book. There were times that I just swore. I swore mostly at the yarn - synthetics really eat my hands. Happy Birthday Michelle! I'm glad you like it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Make and make do: chugging along.

Well, here are some of the most recent things for the make and make-do project. Except the third picture; that's the only hint for the November surprise project. The top photo is the pixie hat I made for Rose's pond fairy Halloween costume. It's a Knitty pattern - "Pixie Hat" modified to be slightly big on a toddler. The second photo shows Rose in her skirt made from sewing scraps and an upcycled shirt of her brother's appliqued with another sewing scrap. This week I've also made Badger a pair of Fall Pixie shorts (for Halloween), a squid shirt - part of the great cephalopod project (more pictures next post) and an upcycled hoodie of Badger's for Rose. Whee! All this and I've been knitting a birthday project for my brother. Whoo-hoo, I'm a mad woman.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Goth Cupcake Amigurumi


· Black worsted weight yarn (I used Lamb’s Pride Worsted in Onyx)

· Dark grey worsted weight yarn (I used Lion Cashmere Blend in Charcoal)

· Fiberfill or stuffing of your choice

· Small burgundy ribbon rose (available at craft/fabric stores – or make your own)

· Black felt (6mm/ 1/4 “ circles for eyes)

· Light grey felt (12mm/ 1/2 " circles for cheeks)

· Black thread

· Light grey thread

· Burgundy embroidery thread

· Size E (3.50 mm) or F (3.75 mm) hook, depending on how tightly you stitch

(I used an E hook.)

· Yarn needle, embroidery needle and sewing needle for finishing.

· Stitch marker to mark beginning of rounds.

· Blocking pins to block chain loops.

Abbreviations used (American):

ch – chain

dec – decrease (single crochet decrease)

R – round

sc – single crochet

sk – skip

sl st – slip stitch

st(s) – stitch(es)

* - repeat directions between pairs of asterisks the number of times indicated


Cupcake Bottom – use dark grey yarn

Rounds are spirals, you’ll have to mark 1st stitch of each round.

R1 – Make magic loop and make 6 sc in loop; 6 sts.

R2 – Join and tighten loop; 2 sc in each st; 12 sts.

R3 - * 1 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 18 sts.

R4 - * 2 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 24 sts.

R5 - * 3 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 30 sts.

R6 - * 4 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 36 sts.

R7 – Through back loops only - * 4 sc, dec 1* - 6 times; 30 sts.

R8 - *4 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 36 sts.

R9 & 10– Sc 36; 36 sts.

R11 - *5 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 42 sts.

R12-14 – Sc 42; 42 sts.

Bind off, secure loose ends.

Cupcake Top –use black yarn

Rounds are again spirals.

R1 – Make magic loop and make 6 sc in loop; 6 sts.

R2 – Join and tighten loop; 2 sc in each st; 12 sts.

R3 - * 1 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 18 sts.

R4 - * 2 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 24 sts.

R5 - * 3 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 30 sts.

R6 - * 4 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 36 sts.

R7 - *5 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 42 sts.

R8-11 – Sc 42; 42 sts.

Continue to make chained edge:

R12 – *Sl st 1, Chain 7, skip 5, sl st 1* - 6 times; 54 sts.

R13 - *Sl st 1, Chain 10, skip chained 7, sl st 1; 84 sts.

Bind off, leave 18” tail to sew cupcake halves together.


· Attach ribbon rose to cupcake top as pictured.

· Attach felt eyes with black thread as pictured.

· Using light grey thread, make 2 or 3 stitches on black felt eyes, slightly to the right and down from the center of the eye.

· Attach light grey felt cheeks.

· With burgundy embroidery thread, stitch 2 straight lines as pictured for mouth.

· With tail of black yarn and yarn needle, sew top and bottom pieces together, catching top chain of each grey stitch from cupcake bottom and the back of each black stitch from the final sc round from the cupcake top. Stitch until only 2” (5 cm) of the piece is still open.

· Fill with stuffing, being careful not to overstuff.

· Finish stitching piece together.

· Mist top chains with water until fairly wet, and pin chains into place with blocking pins until dry.

· When piece is dry, remove pins and scare your neighbors with your gothic goody.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Long Time Making

Here I am at almost 2 years old. Just hanging out by the kitchen, playing with blocks. Making a Roman Colosseum or a temple of some sort. Who knows? But I loved to make things, even then. (My mom made the nightgown I'm wearing here.) Mind you, almost everyone I knew made things. Both my grandfathers were engineers, and were constantly tinkering in their garages and workshops building all sorts of things - hydroponic tanks for growing tomatoes, a large smoker for barbecue, electronic gadgets, fatal-looking farm implements. My great-grandmother, as I've said, sewed, crocheted, embroidered, and cooked. My grandmother cooks, my mom cooks, my dad cooks. ( I cook, too. That's a different post entirely.) My mom knitted, crocheted, embroidered, and sews. An aunt embroiders and sews. My uncles both build things all the time. My brother, Nick, cooks and does handcrafts. This, I think, is unusual.

Among those of my generation, handcrafts used to be seen as kitschy and grandmotherly. Among my mother's generation, handcrafts were briefly seen as groovy - before they pursued career and family. Among my grandmother's generation, handcrafts were seen as something that was uncomfortably reminiscent of their childhood years during the Depression - or something only those who were poor pursued. The last 10 years have seen a revival of handcrafting in all three of our generations as well as among those of the next generation. But will it last?

I grew up during a backlash against handcraft during the late 1970s and 1980s. Home-Ec was seriously uncool (I still took it for 3 years.) Shop classes were for dummies (I took them for 2 years.) If you were a serious student, you took art classes if you wanted to make stuff (I took 6 years.) This period was chock-full of crass consumerism, conspicuous consumption, and yuppies who posited that only expensive name-brand goods were worthy of notice. Handmade was definitely OUT.

My mother's generation made stuff in their teens and early twenties in a manic hippie handmade love-fest. Soon after, many abandoned craft in a feminist backlash against all things reminiscent of housewifely duties. Craft was seen as a betrayal of the feminist movement, unless it could transcend the name of craft and be considered ART. The irony inherent in women denigrating women's work instead of valuing it in its own right would later be a central theme in the post-feminist discussions of art vs. craft of my generation.

My grandmother's generation felt the thrill of mass-manufactured goods for the first time in the U.S. Why make when you can buy? Her childhood was spent in the heart of the Depression and her teen years in the middle of World War II. I'm sure many were glad never to have to make or make-do ever again. Handmade objects earned a reputation as things produced by the poor, or something to be made for children, if at all.

The current generation has had the benefit of a world where craft projects and supplies are widely available and where craft is seen as cool. The past few years have even seen an increase in interest in Eco-Friendly materials and monikers. Craft in the last ten years has seen a huge upswing in popularity, even celebrity. But will there be a backlash again? Will the saccharine sweetness of Big Chain Craft Store projects and supplies overrun artisan-produced fabrics, yarns, and other materials as well as the independent shops that stock them? Let's hope not.

I support locally-owned shops for my supplies as much as I possibly can. I also buy fair-trade or locally made materials from these shops. Crafters support a whole chain of people; from the local yarn store owner to the local shepherd to the local fabric shop. These support others in turn. And we make stuff. Glorious stuff, silly stuff, strange stuff, and sublime stuff. We fill our homes and clothe our children. We beautify our environment and amuse our neighbors. Let's hope this lasts.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Not re-inventing the wheel, just assembling it.

I finally got a spinning wheel of my own. A Schacht Ladybug that spins beautifully. It took 8 weeks to get here, and my local yarn store lent me the use of another Ladybug for 4 weeks. Thanks very much to Suzanne at Hill Country Weavers in Austin, Texas for that particular kindness. It took me about 1 hour to assemble - with child help. It might have been faster without it, but not as much fun.

Now, I started to spin thinking that it would give me more control over my knitting. I thought that now I could pick exactly the fiber I wanted, in exactly the color, exactly the shade, exactly the weight of yarn, exactly.... What I have learned in the last two years is that the fiber is going to do what it wants to for the most part. I can pick the color and shade, yes. I can pick the fiber, yes. If it is not meant to be fine lace-weight, it will not even begin to cooperate. What I have learned is that I have to make good decisions to begin with, but I will have to let the yarn be what it is going to be. What I have learned is that the fiber has more control of me. Sounds like having children.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The insistant hat.

I didn't mean to. It was looking at me. It kept calling me, "knit me, knit me, knit me." I kept turning away; it kept waving its bead-like fibers at me. I would hear it in my sleep, "you know you want to." I dreamed of little purses, little mitts. I hid it in the bottom of my project basket. It peeked out of the basket's handle. I told myself that I was only going to wash it, to set the twist. I washed it. It leaked lots of purple-tinged dye. I hung it to dry and set. It waved at me as I passed it in the hall. I took it down, put it back in the basket. It whispered "hat" and I was done for. I immediately saw my daughter in an aurora-striped woolly hat for the winter. I started it Friday night and finished it Saturday at noon. I tweaked the pattern so that I could have enough for a stem on top. The hat wanted it.

This is the handspun that I made recently. Half merino wool and half soysilk, it spun up "sticky." The color progression was interesting, but the fiber did not want to slide past itself. I have to say that I have mixed feelings about how it knit up as well. It is noticeably heavier than wool alone, and has a less-soft hand. It has a slight sheen from the soysilk, but has less elasticity as well. The hat came out well, but I don't think I'll spin more of this voluntarily. Besides - I have a soy allergy and I think this stuff gave me a slight rash. Thankfully, Rose has no problems.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rose is 1!

Yesterday, Rose turned 1. I can't believe its already been a year. She went from a smallish nursing baby into a big talking, nearly walking person. You forget how quickly this happens as you go through the daily stuff of their first year. It seems like everyday takes 4 times as long and then you look back and time has flown past you. An example of time and relativity?

I woke up early to make her a special necklace to wear for her birthday. Nothing too fancy; just a crochet chain and some small flowers. I put it on her and she hardly took it off all day. We didn't get too many pictures yesterday, which I am kicking myself over; we were just having too much fun playing together that I lost track of time and it was suddenly bedtime. I'll take more today, but before the visit for checkups at the doctor, as grumpiness will ensue.

I'm just tickled that the first thing she played with was the necklace. It was nice to start her day with something that I made for her. I will never again make anything as great and grand as my kids, but I can try to make things for them to show them how much I'm grateful that they're here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Basic Roll-Brim Beanie Pattern

This is the pattern for the hat that I make the most. I took the best of about 7 patterns that I liked and tested it for every size listed. I have made it in stripes, ridges, plain, etc. I've even tie-dyed one. Fits newborn-large adult. If you make one, let me know! Featured in an earlier post as Badger's Beanie. (Pardon the really basic pattern, but I wrote it originally for a very beginning knitter.)

Pattern for Roll-brim Beanie (knit in the round)

  • Gauge: 4 sts./in. (Row gauge is not such a big deal in this small project.)
  • Suggested needle size 7, or as needed to maintain gauge
  • Sizes: 13", 15", 17", 20", 22.5", 25" (newborn, older infant, toddler, lg.child/sm adult, med. adult, lg. adult.
  • Hats will stretch quite a few inches, and rolled brims allow for some growth.
  • I cast on using the long-tail method, which I recommend as it gives a neat and elastic edge.

  • Worsted weight yarn - approx. 90-150 yarns depending on size. 100-120 yards will do all but the largest size.
  • Needles: 1 16" circular and one set of 5 dpns (double-pointed needles) except for the 2 smallest sizes which will have to be knitted on dpns only, one 12" circular and dpns, or likes socks on one long circular using the magic loop method, or on 2 circulars.
  • Stitch marker
  • Yarn needle
  1. Cast on 50 (60, 70, 80, 90, 100) sts., place marker, and join making sure the stitches are not twisted. You will slip the marker at the end of each row.
  2. Knit in plain stockinette for 18 (20, 24, 28, 30, 32) rows.
  3. First decrease row: K8, k2tog until end of row.
  4. Knit 2 (2, 3, 3, 3, 3) rows.
  5. Second decrease row: K7, k2tog until end of row.
  6. Knit 2 (2, 3, 3, 3, 3) rows.
  7. Third decrease row: K6, k2tog until end of row.
  8. Knit 2 (2, 3, 3, 3, 3) rows.
  9. Fourth decrease row: K5, k2tog until end of row. (Switch to dpns on this row, placing joins between dpns after a k2tog st. Knit with 5 dpns or on 2 circulars to reduce the tension on the joins between the needles. This will help prevent laddering between needles. You will have to slip your stitch marker to after the first st, or place a point protector on the back end of the dpn after the last st. of the row to keep your place.
  10. Knit one row.
  11. Fifth decrease row: K4, k2tog until end of row.
  12. Knit one row.
  13. Sixth decrease row: K3, k2tog until end of row.
  14. Knit one row.
  15. Seventh decrease row: K2, k2tog until end of row.
  16. Knit one row.
  17. Eighth decrease row: K2tog across row.
  18. Cut yarn, leaving an 8" tail and, using a yarn needle, pull tail through the remaining stitches twice. Pull tail through center to the inside of the hat.
Weave in ends, trim, and roll brim to desired length.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Appliques cut. Big surprise project started. And stuff about my Granny.

Well, I spent all of yesterday morning cutting appliques for Rose's cold weather shirts. I've got 4 of Badger's shirts from when he was 1, and 3 that he outgrew more recently. Two shirts are going to be simply modified, all the others are going to have applique. Holding them up to her, it seems that Badger was enormous in comparison, so I might have to break down and buy her two from the resale place. The larger three will be wearable as dresses for a while.

I have also started the big November surprise project. It took a lot a swatching because I'm not using the yarns called for in the original pattern. I will say, however, that it begins with a mobius.

I want to tell you about one of the women who began my love of craft. My granny was my mother's maternal grandmother. She was my great-grandmother as well as my godmother. She was tiny. She was 5' in 2" heels. She always wore heels; even her house shoes had 2" heels. And she made everything. I don't know if she made the dress in the photo, but I wouldn't be surprised. She crocheted and embroidered and loved to cook for all of our family. She also made the best pickles in the world.

My mother says that she had her own business when her children were small custom making clothes for wives of some of the oil men here in Texas back in the 1930's and 1940's. All I ever knew was that she had the best clothing and shoe collection that I had ever seen. And costume jewelry, lots and lots of costume jewelry. I remember that she would let me look through her closets and let me try on all her shoes. I would find the matching purses and parade around her house. She made much of it and it was all exquisite to my child eyes. I remember her embroidering and crocheting, me sitting fascinated in the seat next to her. She would tell me what she was doing and what of it her grandmother had taught her. I guessed that she must have sat nearby watching like I was then.

She had a tiny tea and dish set made of pressed cobalt blue glass that she let us eat and drink out of and have tea parties with on her back porch. That's where she kept the pickles. She never stopped canning and pickling and she had rows of shelves filled with pickles, jellies, and canned fruit. When we were over for dinners, she'd send us to the back porch to pick out which pickles we wanted. My brother Nick invariably picked beets. Packed in pint jars, these beets were sweet and sour and spicy and deeply red. Nicholas could eat a jar by himself in one sitting and ask for more. He'd have to be told to stop. I usually went for the Three Bean Salad or the bread & butter pickles, but the beets were pure heaven.

She was the sweetest person that I ever knew, the kindest and funniest older person in my life. She always had the best family gossip, which she'd tell me as I washed the dishes and she drank coffee at the kitchen table. She was also an ardent feminist, served on her local board of education, fought for voter's rights, fought like crazy with my great-grandfather and told me that I could be whoever I wanted to be. She would have been 100 this year.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Busy with small projects

Sorry its been 8 days since I last posted, but I've been making lots of small projects this week. The first 3 photos are an amigurumi blueberry muffin that my friend Rasmey asked me to make for her little girls. I improvised the pattern except for the way that the bottom edge of the muffin was turned. I was inspired by the cupcake pattern from Ana Paula Rimoli's blog. I have to admit that it was more fun thinking that the blueberries kind of looked like buboes - plague muffin. Badger liked it so much that he asked for a strawberry one. The next photo is Rose eating the crocheted strawberry. I modified the strawberry pattern from the book Tasty Crochet, making it smaller to fit on a muffin. Rose decided it was hers and proceeded to scoot around the room making yummy noises. Needless to say, I'm making another one for Badger as he is not interested in a soggy one. The last is a steering wheel cover that I knit to replace the one that I crocheted and put on 2 weeks ago. The synthetic didn't withstand Texas heat so well and stretched and shredded quickly. This one is made out of Lamb's Pride Bulky Yarn in the Forest Shadows colorway. It is 85% wool and 15% mohair. It was a little slick at first, but is better now that we've used it for almost a week. Don't look too close, as it looks like I need to dust the dashboard.

I will post tomorrow about sewing projects, knitting projects, and one of the women that inspired me to craft.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Giant pile of fabric!

I have finally finished overcasting the edges of all of the fabric that I need for the make and make-do project. This does not include all the polarfleece. Four different types of polarfleece. Two days of nothing but overcasting, so that all of the fabric can be washed. It's a lot of fabric. Now, I get to do 4 loads of laundry to wash all the sizing out and pre-shrink it all. Woo-hoo!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Badger's Roll Brim Beanie

Man! 3 days and done! Badger's roll brim beanie is finished. Check out the decreases on the top. Mmmm, swirly. I made this out of Swish worsted superwash merino yarn from Knit Picks. The colorway is called Lava and is so pretty. I was concerned when Badger picked out the yarn that it was going to be a plainish gray heather. Its a beautiful almost brownish purple with sparks of burgundy, gold, blue, and green. The images on the website and in the catalog don't do it justice. So now it's onto another make and make-do project (this one secret until after mid-November - its a present!) I did, however, get to overcast a large pile of fabric for all of the sewing. Yay!

Yarn made. Next!

Here's the finished skein of Karaoke fiber. It's actually yarn now. 105 yards of worsted weight barber pole merino and soysilk. Andean plyed (2 ply). Enough for a hat. (yay!) Its really soft, slightly thick-and-thin and looks like beads in a row.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hat Junkie

It's an illness. I'll be the first to admit it. I am a hat junkie. Instead of doodling, instead of making swatches of new yarns, I make hats. I just can't stop. This is just a small sampling of the many hats I've subjected my children to. Mind you, Badger's come up with at least half of the ideas for his hats himself. There are many that are also mine, but many, many more of my children's that I haven't even posted yet. Mwahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Badger's Watch Cap

Yay! It's done and I'm already on to his next hat. Man! He looks like a snaggly little longshoreman. (You can see a small part of my stash in the background.) Badger is a hat kind of guy. I started making him a pile of hats when he was 3 and now that he'll be 6 tomorrow - a new hat! You can check me out on ravelry for pics of others that he has (name: badgersmama) including a squid, pineapple, turtle, bee, and many more.

What I did this summer

Besides making various stuff this summer, I spent 8 weeks volunteering as a knitting instructor for our local library in Austin. Katie, pictured above, also started taking crochet lessons from me and is continuing through the school year. I had a blast doing this! There were anywhere from 10 to 16 students - both kids and moms - every week and we went from beginnings right through projects that they chose themselves. Katie, her mom Kathy and I met before class to learn crochet and amigurumi construction. She is a fast and natural fiberista.

I have to admit that I was unsure of what to expect of my teaching. I am fine working in small groups of 2 to 3 people, but I really am uneasy with big groups. After some trepidation, I got there and was happily surprised by everyone's enthusiasm. Yay! I would definitely do this again in a heartbeat, and would encourage other fiber artists to volunteer every now and then. I know that the work that we do is time-consuming and we are often protective of our skills that we have spent so long nurturing. However, I gained so much from helping others to develop their passion for knitting and crochet that I feel a spark of renewed energy for my projects and my craft.

I want to thank all of my students, but most of all I'd like to thank Stephanie at the Twin Oaks Branch of the Austin Public Library for giving me the opportunity to have so much fun! Thanks to you all and I hope to see you all again soon.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Making yarn myself...

As a sideline to make and make-do: homemade yarn. I haven't spun in a year, but with a borrowed wheel, 3 ounces of Karaoke (50% soysilk 50% merino wool) and 2 mornings before my daughter woke up - YARN! I'm relieved that I remembered what the hell I was doing. It was different spinning without being pregnant - surprisingly different. But I got the hang of it again. I only have the one bobbin, so I'm going to have to wind it off to ply it. I can't decide whether to Navajo ply or Andean ply as it already has really long color repeats. If I Navajo ply - really long repeats, 3 ply.. If I Andean ply - barber pole, 2 ply. Keeping in mind that it is just 3 ounces, i think it better be Andean - hmmmm.....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Make and make-do: going slowly....

Well, I've finished the ribbing on Badger's hat. Man, I do not like 2x2 ribbing. Three inches of it, ugh. However, it's just 88 stitches around, so at least it's not a sweater. I think the pokyness of the project is more due to the fact that it is black yarn more than that it has a bunch of ribbing.
That being said, I feel a bit discouraged that a project that should take 2 days at the most is taking a week or so. Granted, Rose has been keeping me up until or past 4 in the morning. But looking at the list that I am trying to get accomplished this year, I am wondering if I was being over-ambitious. Me? Over-ambitious? When has that ever happened?

I really wonder how other crafty mamas get stuff done. It seems that I can only get anything done after every single person in the house is asleep - which means that I get very little sleep. Morning comes and there's breakfast, playing with children who do not like to play independently, lunch, errands, chores, dinner, showers, bed. Craft time? It makes me feel a little guilty trying to carve out craft-time by myself. DH Matt does so much of the housework, for which I am GRATEFUL. However, I spend my day and evening being crawled over, shat upon, covered in toys,nursing every 2 hours, being read LEGO facts to, and having bananas spat upon me by children who I love with all my heart. Full-time Mama-dom is tiring, frustrating and heart-rendingly lovely at the same time. It can also be stultifyingly lacking in the time to create for one's self. Would I change it? I might change the 4 a.m. bedtime.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Well, I am working on a hat for Badger. He wanted a black watch cap so that he could match his Lego guys. Ribbing, lots of ribbing. But it will be easy-peasy after that.

I also finished a new steering wheel cover that I crocheted from some suede-type chenille that was in my stash. So, stash used up and $20 or so saved for making the cover instead of buying it. And the yarn was gift yarn besides (rubbing little hands together.)

Broke my Camera!

Dang it! I broke my digital camera. Rats.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The totals are in: Make or Make-do project list

One might wonder why, besides the obvious economic climate, a person might choose to embark on a massive family clothing project. Well, I am the mother of two young children and haven't worked outside of the home since 2002. My lovely husband got laid off in January after 15 years in the industry because of the downturn in the economy. We have been living frugally since then, even before then. However, after 8 months of job-searching, things are still not looking up. I have started to teach knitting and crochet classes to a few private students - but much of the teaching has been volunteer work at the local library. My husband has been trying to get a small business together as well.

Thankfully, I come from a long tradition of DIYers. My mother and her grandmother sewed and cooked and knitted or crocheted. I am grateful that they taught me. I have always cooked and sewed for myself and my family to supplement what we bought. For the past 10 years or so I have been knitting and for the last year I have been crocheting. Now, the need is greater - so I'm stepping up with my skills. Besides - no sweat labor (besides my own) and no items left for the landfill.

I have decided to be a part of the make or make-do list myself and get some projects that I had planned or had supplies for made as well. After looking at my knitting and crochet list as well as the sewing list here are the totals for the year's worth of clothing:

  • 2 baby sweaters
  • 1 shawl
  • 14 hats (for 6 people - Rose, Badger, DH Matt, one of my brothers, his wife, and myself.)
  • 2 pairs of fingerless mitts
  • 1 pair of baby mittens
  • 3 pairs of socks (2 baby, 1 adult)
  • 2 purses (1 crocheted)
  • 1 top half of sundress
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 2 pairs of polarfleece pants
  • 3 coats (1 polarfleece, 1 brocade, 1 faux suede)
  • 9 1/2 dresses (bottom half of sundress included)
  • 7 skirts (3 baby, 4 adult)
  • 2 longsleeve shirts
  • 2-3 hats (1-2 sunhats, 1 polarfleece cap)
  • 1 pair of wrap pants
  • 1 gauze top
Upcycled or Reused items
  • 6 baby shirts
  • 2 of my tshirts
  • 1 tshirt for my brother
  • 6 baby pants

Monday, August 10, 2009

Make-do project continues

Here's the beginning of the great make-do project. This sweater is for Rose and uses a 50% wool, 50% acrylic yarn that was in my stash and is from a pattern that I had on hand. On Saturday, we found 2 pairs of boys' jeans for $5 each and a heavy parka for Badger for $7 from the local resale store. The parka needed a little repair - most of it being split seams on the sleeves - but it only took an hour to fix. We found Rose 3 pairs of leggings and one pair of sweatpants for $2 each resale. The only new things we are buying new are underpants, 2 pairs of sweatpants, and socks for Badger and 3 tshirts, 3 camisoles, and some socks for Rose. I found 5 fat quarters of fabric to embellish Badger's old shirts to repurpose those for Rose. She'll have 5 pairs of his pants that I had sewn for him as well. On to the next sweater.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The other big making project.

I have decided that, for economy's sake, I will be making all of my daughter's clothes for the fall, winter, and spring. I'll also be making a good bit of clothing for my son as well. Jeans, however, are easier and less expensive to buy resale than make. Besides - lessen the landfill burden, right? I already have some sweaters started or planned to knit for Rose, as well as hats, legwarmers, socks, and a blankie. I'll be sewing her dresses, some long-sleeve shirts, leggings, and a coat. Badger will be getting a pair of red polarfleece pants at the very least. He's also outgrown many of his knit hats, so he gets at least three more. I need a few patterns, but the goal is to recycle some of my tshirts as well as using fabric that I already have. Rose and Badger will both need regular socks, and Badger will need a new or resale coat and possibly some more jeans, but other than that everything else will be made. So the goal for the day is to take advantage of the 5 for $5 pattern sale at the local fabric store and possibly get some more elastic - but that should be all I need. I'll post as I finish things, but I'm going to have to make a list of all that I have to make because my knitting queue alone is long. Thankfully, I don't expect that it will get really cool until December, so I have a few months lead time.

Upcycled Cephalopod Shirt #1

Well, I'm progressing on my brother's upcycled shirt project. I found a tshirt with a nice, but moody, beach scene - perfect for his Cthulu Is Sleeping shirt. My mom and I went to the cloth store and found a lovely swirly green fat quarter of fabric for his head and body as well as a smale scale hawaiian print for his shirt. I will also have to put on some linen-weave fabric for sand. The tshirt has a large logo for the Vietnamese-American Aerospace Professional Assoc. on it and I'm covering that with a large oval of the green with Cthulu's face stitched over it. We also found a tropical drink themed Hawaiian shirt that I will be using for a margarita for the guy. Updates soon.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Let the cephalopod project begin!

This is the squid hat that I made for my son's 4th birthday. It has inspired the great cephalopod project. I will be taking recycled vacation tshirts and art tshirts and changing the context of the pictures with the addition of appliqued octopus and squid. I already have two orders from my brother for Cthulu images.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Howdy from the ocean!

I have finally buckled to family and friend's pressure to start a blog - so here it is. I will be writing about and posting pictures (and patterns) of all the needlework that I do, much to my husband's relief. He will no longer have to hear me hash out plans for a floating man-of-war hat (the Cnidarian, not the ship.)

I will also write about fiber research and technology, because I can. There will be discussions of my family history of textiles.

So, check back for posts about all these and knitting, crochet, and sewing.