Farm to Scarf

One of the things my MIL and I bond over is yarn work.  We both enjoy knitting and crocheting.  She also spins and while she was visiting we arranged to visit an old friend of hers who is in the business of fiber arts.  I tell you, there is a whole world beyond just yarn.    It’s completely fascinating!

Peg has a gorgeous farm where she raises llamas, sheep, and angora bunnies.  She also grows veg and flowers for the farmers markets.  Plus she has a shop called Friends In Fiber on Etsy where she and her business partner sell yarn they dye and spin.  Where she has the time to breath, I don’t know.  So it was very lovely she and her husband took the afternoon to show us round.

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There were two llamas but this llama was hilarious.  It kept marching back and forth, looking imperiously down it’s nose at us.

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I learned so much about the different fibers that can be spun.  Yak and camel are incredibly soft and when you blend it with silk, stand back.  And, of course, they can be spun with your everyday wool.

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I wanted to do something special for my MIL and I had bought a Jane Austin Knits magazine which have some gorgeous patterns inspired by Jane Austin books.  She picked out the pattern called Mary’s Scarf which was a lace pattern.

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To make it more special I asked Peg what yarn she spun would work for the pattern.  It was a lot of fun for all three of us to go through the yarn and various colours.  And, here’s the best part, Peg took the skein and make put it in a ball for me.  You know, the neat and tidy square that doesn’t roll away at the most inconvenient moment!

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The huge shocker for me was I was able to knit the scarf in less than a week.  Not sure how I pulled that off but I did, in time for my MIL to fly home it with her.

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I loved this yarn with the colours of a deep ocean.  I am completely hooked with fibers art and I got positively giddy when I found Peg gives spinning lessons!  My Christmas list is starting to get interesting.  🙂

 

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Jumper of Love

Those of you who read my blog know I have a huge amount of love for my husband.  I couldn’t have found a better guy.  And trust me, before I met him, I was looking!  But I was lucky to finally find him.  Several years ago I finished an Aran jumper for my mum and he asked if I would knit him one.  Of course I would!  I was thrilled he liked my knitting enough to want one.  What I didn’t realise was how freaking long it would take to complete this.

One of the problems I was having was with my hands.  It would be very painful if I did more than a few rows at a time.  Being a slow knitter this  was taking several years.  What I learned after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia was one of the symptoms is very painful hands.  I knew I had arthritis and just thought it was that.  But the meds I started this year, while not perfect, do make it easier for me to knit longer and faster.  There has to be some perks right?  So it took me several years to do just under 2/3s of this project and this summer to do the rest.

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The Aran jumper had moss stitch, basket cable, banded cable, and the six knot cable (pictured above).  So I had a legal pad to keep track of all the rows and various patterns.  I always stress about this and like most of my complicated projects there are a few errors here and there but I’ve gotten to the point where I consider them my signature if you happen to notice them.  I’m not pointing them out!

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I spent most of today sewing the seams and weaving in all the ends.  I can’t wait for my husband to get home and try this on.  Fingers crossed it fits!  And he’ll be doing this in front of the air conditioner as it is very toasty today.  🙂

The Mod Podge of Life and Healing

Like millions of people in this world I find myself on a journey of healing.  Both emotionally and physically.  It’s a bumpy ride of leaps forward and backward.   I’ll be starting physical therapy again as it turns out my back is unstable enough to be reinjured by putting my little nephew to bed, sneezing, and pulling up a handbrake in my car.  That’s not frustrating or anything.

I was finally, a couple of weeks ago, given meds to help manage the fibro.  I was told today it can take a couple of months to kick in but I’m keeping my fingers crossed it will help.  It has helped with depression and anxiety which is a major plus.  So I will keep going with it in the hopes that it will tick all the boxes.

Emotionally I made a breakthrough.  Several weeks ago something happened that was like ripping off a bandaid.  For years I was always in protective mode from being under attack but not realising where it was coming from.  Now I know.  It’s both heartbreaking and illuminating which makes it hard to process.  But for the first time I feel like I’m going to get to a place where I am healed.  I’m more relaxed in a lot of areas in my life now.  I can take deeper breaths.  And that translates into my family life as well.  I feel really positive.

Now if I can just get through the day without sneezing!

Given this is March, this is obviously a late post as it’s about a gift I made for Christmas.  Been working a lot of hours this tax season!  I wanted to make gifts this Christmas, one to save money, and two to give something personal.  It’s a way I show my love.  Because I am a slow knitter and stuff with yarn work I had to branch out and pick something new.  I decided it was high time to try Mod Podge.  I just didn’t want it to look cheesy.  Let’s just say some of the projects in the introductory book are a little over the top!

I thought making coasters would be a great way to use some of my favourite pictures of flowers I’ve taken over the years.  And it is relatively inexpensive to make once you buy the basic supplies.  I bought a bottle of matte mod podge, glossy mod podge, and acrylic spray.  For this project I bought white tiles and cork to go on the bottom on the tiles.

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Print out on photo paper the pics you want.  Trim to size.  Because photo paper is heavy use craft glue to afix the pic to the tile and smooth to make sure there aren’t any bubbles.  Let that dry and set for a day.  Then paint the mod podge over the pic and the sides of the tile.  Don’t put it on thickly.  It will cloud the pic but it dries clear.  This requires 3 coats but it is very important to make sure each coat dries completely before doing another coat.

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Glue the cork onto the bottom of the tile.  Now the first time I did the coasters this is the point I screwed up.  For some reason I stacked the tiles and weighted them down so the cork would stick.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  The glue seeped through and ruined the integrity of the mod podge.  So I had to repeat the previous steps and start over.

To make the coasters waterproof do about three light coats of the acrylic spray, allowing it to dry completely between coats.

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I also did up a project for each of the kids.  My son loves Minecraft so I printed out some images and arranged them in a creeper pattern on a canvas I painted green.  I used the glossy mod podge for this.  It’s a little trickier getting the photo paper to stick to canvas so I had to be really patient.

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My daughter has done her room in greys so I printed out three pictures of our travels in black and white and mod podged them onto square canvases.   I used the matte mod podge without any sprays for this project.

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All in all I like this technique and have a few ideas to try after tax season.  The only pain in the neck is trying to do it with pets.  You invariably find dog or cat hair in the mod podge after it dries.  Or as it is drying and trying to remove it is a delicate process!

Yarn Crafts for Gifts

Now that the holidays have settled down and we’re not crazy busy I wanted to take a moment to share some gifts I made for the kids.  I had fun doing these projects and of course I was down to the wire.  Some day I hope to be much faster with yarn crafts but I’m not holding out much hope on that front!

I first started with my son’s project.  Like most kids his age, he is very into Minecraft.  Do you know some schools have classes on this game?  But it really does stretch the imagination.

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I found the pattern on Ravelry and I was really looking for a knitting pattern because it’s been about 10 years since I’ve crocheted and I forgot how to do it.  And I had never done anything in the round.  Thank goodness for YouTube!  I was able to relearn how to crochet and I enjoy it so I’ll be looking for more projects to try.  I also want to try my hand at granny squares.

Both kids are big fans Dr Who so I had to find something with that theme.  I found a great pattern for socks on Ravelry with the TARDIS.  I’ve never knitted socks.  Back to YouTube I go!

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I did it on the magic loop rather than double pointed needles.  The pattern was pretty good though I had to adjust how the toe was done so it decreased on the sides rather than on the top and bottom.  I was thrilled the lettering was legible.  After Christmas I found a used book that shows me how to knit two socks at a time so I’m looking forward to trying this again.

Though I’m trying to get the Aran jumper I’ve been working on for a few years for my husband.  That is taking forever!  So I need to finish that before I start anymore big projects.  Before we grow old. 🙂

A Way To Keep The Tea Cosy

We’ll be seeing my in-laws this summer and I wanted to knit something for my MIL. We enjoyed looking at patterns and getting yarn in the past together and I wanted to do a quick project. Because they have a B & B she uses tea cosies so I looked for a pattern. I wanted to do a sheep theme as she has a few sheep themed items. I couldn’t find a good one! Well I found one that was a pasture scene on Ravelry which was pretty but all that was posted was a picture. No pattern. So I went in a different direction as I’m not quite at a place where I could come up with my own pattern.

I found this pattern for Chamomile Flower cosy. I found some gorgeous burgundy wool as I really don’t like beige or colours close to beige. Think that comes from living in a flat that was all beige. Blah.

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The components are very easy to knit. I did have a thought that the main bit of the tea cosy would make a great hat as well but that’s for another day!

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The flowers were a little tricky putting together in a way that the petals look natural. I felt like I had butter fingers trying to get them go into circles. After they are shaped add the yellow pieces.

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The pattern calls for six leaves but because of the way I placed the flowers I knitted seven leaves so it looked balanced.

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I hope she likes this but I will be keeping my eye out for a decent sheep pattern. 😊

The Flutter of Leaves in a Purple Hue

Today will be a cosy PJ day with the kids.  Our son had a sleepover with a friend last night so it was a bit loud until they crashed.  So today will be a day of playing Dr Who games with no place to go.  Though tonight my husband and I will have a quick date night as it is the anniversary of us meeting six years ago.  On our first date he brought me Marmite.  I was hooked. I thought this guy is going to understand me.  I was so right!

When I think of my family I sometimes feel as though I have to pinch myself.  It’s unreal how lucky I got.  We have two amazing kids that are healthy and bright.  And they are developing the twisted sense of humour we so much enjoy.  It’s funny when they suddenly understand us because we’ll be saying something and out of the blue there will be a snicker.  Welcome to our world.  🙂  And I have a husband that makes me laugh every day no matter how crazy the world is.  And the world is often off it’s rocker.

And because we have games waiting this will be a quick post.  🙂

Over the years I’ve made gifts for various family members and this year it was my sister’s turn.  I’ve mentioned in a previous post on the wrist gauntlets that I bought the book 60 Quick Knits that uses cascade 220.  I found a gorgeous scarf in the book that has raised leaves as the pattern.  I found a soft purple that would be perfect for her.  She looks great in these tones.  It wasn’t a difficult pattern but it took me awhile because of the length and plus I was doing other projects as well.  I sometimes wonder if all this multi-tasking is efficient!

Once it was done I needed to block it.  Something I haven’t done before but I chose a simple method of steam as it was a basic scarf not a complicated shape.  I had to do this in two steps as the scarf was longer than the ironing board.  To do it, use pins to shape the scarf.

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Next use a very hot steamy iron and bring it close to the yarn without touching.  It’s a little tricky as steam likes to rise but get the yarn nice and damp.  Leave it to dry and it will be shaped and blocked.

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I really liked the delicate leaf pattern with a bit of a lace effect.

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I’m pleased to say my sister really liked the scarf.  🙂  Now it’s time to figure out Dr Who Yatzee and Dr Who role playing game.  Get your geek on!

It Should All Be So Soft

Sometimes I’m envious of babies.  They get to wear the softest things.  All the soft blankets, clothes, toys.  Well I don’t need the toys but still.  I like soft fabrics and yarn!  Our kids are obviously out of the baby stage and so are most of our friend’s kids as well.  But good friends of ours just had a gorgeous little girl and as I’ve been back into knitting this year I thought I’d knit up a few things.  So off I went to Ravelry and did a search for something practical but pretty.

I came across a pattern they were referencing as a drop design.  A little hat and blanket.  I thought this would be perfect.  Off I went to choose colours.  I don’t like to do the typical colours of pink for girls and blue for boys.  It’s so overdone.  I picked a lemon yellow for the hat and a coral orange for the blanket.

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The hat only took me about 4 hours to make, I couldn’t believe it!  I wasn’t used to finishing a project so quickly.  I see why people knit baby stuff all the time.  You can just bang them out!  🙂

The pattern for the blanket said it needed 450g of yarn.  I found that to be way too much.  I only needed to buy 300g worth and had some left over.  I did wander from the pattern in that I decided not to crochet round the edge and I knitted the whole blanket at once.  The pattern calls for knitting 12 rectangles then sewing them together.

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The blanket took me a few months what with traveling and all.  The tricky bit at the end was getting all the dog hair off of it.  With two dogs that like to cuddle it’s impossible to keep it off whatever project I’m working on.

We got to meet their baby girl yesterday and she was the sweetest thing.  She is now two months old and such a peaceful little baby.  We are very happy for them. 🙂

Throw Down the Gauntlet….

I must have blinked and missed this week!  It has flown by and I’ve hadn’t had much of a chance to check out blogs let alone write one.  Just one of those weeks that is crazy busy.  I had to wear several hats at once so to speak.

Today is a gorgeous day and will be like this all weekend so gardening is on the list.  Actually it’s at the top of the list.  Winter is coming!  Not only to we have to put the garden to bed I need to prep for the coming cold.  I picked out a few knitting patterns to help me out.  I did the cowl this summer and it has proved to be a great choice.  It keeps my neck nice and toasty.   There has been a big trend towards wrist warmers or gauntlets lately.  I usually avoid most trends as they go out of style but this seemed really practical.  Our house is usually kept around 55F/13C because oil isn’t cheap!  I start to look like a oompa loompa with all the layers I put on.  I found the pattern in a book called “60 Quick Knits” that calls for the type of yarn Cascade 220.  The pattern is called Leaf-Lace Gauntlets.  Again it was a chart pattern so I had to pay attention but overall I was able to complete them in a couple of weeks.

There was a lot of lace work in this pattern and the chart was based on working the work side rather than the right side so it took awhile to make sense to me.

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Once I had both pieces knitted then it was quite easy to sew the seams leaving a hole for the thumbs.

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The yarn is soft so it will be very cozy as the weather cools.  I may have to make some more.  🙂

Just the thing to keep my neck warm…

Genetics are a funny thing.  My Grammy would get a cold almost instantly if her neck got cold.  I was unable to escape that fate.  Even on a lovely spring day hiking along a coast if the wind is too much on my neck I get sick.  Last year in Dorset I was hot as can be in my turtleneck traipsing about so I thought this was nuts.  I needed a solution.  Poking around the Ravelry site I found it.  Cowls!  I can wear light shirts but keep my neck protected and hopefully look somewhat fashionable.  It had to be better than the turtleneck!

The pattern I decided on was this cowl.  Then I had to figure out how to follow it as it is charted.  But I loved the pattern so I gave it a go.  It took me a couple of weeks, which for me, is super fast.  🙂  I did it in the round and the only note I would mention is cast on 131 stitches, not 130, as you slip a stitch over to join the two ends of the round at the beginning.  Unfortunately I figured that out after doing a row or two.

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I’m pleased to say this does the trick.  It kept my neck toasty and protected but I wasn’t baking.  🙂

Ah the Old Wallet Made Out of Duct Tape Trick

School’s out for summer!  It is the first full week of school holiday and we’ve gotten loads of rain.  So we’ve been stuck inside.  We saw the sun this morning but it’s disappeared though rumour has it the sun will be back.  I really hope so as we were thinking a bit of mini golf would do the trick.  The rule is on their day’s off they can watch a bit of television in the morning.  But not all day as that just rots their brains.  I know, that’s what parents have said since the thing was invented but the crap that’s on nowadays really does rot the brain!

To keep things interesting we do crafts.  🙂  They asked about making duct tape wallets to go along with the duct tape bags they made during school break in April.  I went back to my pins and found this method for making the wallets from FrugalFun4Boys.  Looked relatively easy so we went for it.

Just don’t underestimate how it can go wrong with a 9 year old boy and seriously sticky duct tape.  There was a redo here or there but we got there in the end!

To do this you will need the duct tape of your choice, sharp scissors (I learned from last time!), a cutting board, and either a paper cutter or a utility knife.  If you use a utility knife a straight edge like a ruler is recommended.

Cut 9″ strips of the first duct tape and overlap 1/2″ lengthwise.  Then do the same for the second type of duct tape.  Stick those together leaving 1/2″ top and bottom to fold over and seal the edges.

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The edges on the sides need to be cleaned up so I used the paper cutter for this.  It wouldn’t cut all the way through but it scored it so it was easy to cut and be in a straight line.  The finished dimensions on this part should be 8.5″ x 6″.  We got 8.5″ but the 6″ came out a bit short.  Given that he was eyeballing it I think my son did pretty well as it is hard to get exactly 1/2″ each time!

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Set this aside and begin on the credit card pockets.  It is helpful to have a card on hand to make sure it would fit.  The method is the same as the first component but tear off 2 5″ strips of each duct tape and stick together.  Trim to 4″ wide.

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Because the wallet was coming out a bit short we only had room for one more pocket but these directions are the same for two pockets or three total.  If you had room for 3 total you would take 2 strips 9″ long and stick them together then trim two pieces 4″ wide.

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I sealed the top of the small pocket with the contrasting tape.  Next line up the pockets and place a strip of tape down the left side.

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Trim the excess and then place it on the top of the main wallet piece.  Because of the way the wallet will be folded it needs to be placed on the side that will be the outside. Tear a narrow strip and place it along the top of the wallet sealing the pockets onto the wallet.

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Fold the wallet in half with the pocket on the outside of the fold.  Tear two more strips and seal the short ends.  Trim then put one more strip on the bottom and trim.

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Fold in half with the pocket on the inside and you have a wallet!

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Voila!  🙂  This is a quick and easy project for a rainy day.  Just need to get past the wicked stickiness of the tape.  🙂