Sew Fun: Making a Bag Lining

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Haha, I conquered the sewing machine yesterday! Remember, I am not a seamstress. But we have a sewing machine from my daughter’s short-lived obsession with sewing, and I really wanted my purse lining. So like I did several months ago with the hot pink crochet purse, I pulled out the machine determined to do it myself.

I pressed the fabric and laid it out on the table. I decided I wanted the silky part of the fabric on both sides. Since the bag didn’t felt completely, there are little holey spots where the fabric will show through. I decided I would just do a rectangle, rather than try to mimic the curve of the bag, since I’m a novice at this sewing thing. I’m certain I didn’t do it the “proper” way (my SIL would probably cringe. Or laugh.) but I ended up with an open bag-type rectangle that should work just fine. Yes, it’s bigger than the bag. Oops. My eyeballing it measuring was not exact. But I’m certainly not going to scrap it and try again. It’ll be fine. It’s pinned in and ready for the hand-sewing portion. Whee. *she said sarcastically*IMG_1815The funny thing is, I’ve kind of had a lot of fun each time I pull out the sewing machine. And it’s really cool that I can just…make stuff. But no, I don’t need another hobby. And I certainly don’t need to start a fabric stash! Right? Right. … But I could start making my own little project bags. That would be fun…

A Day with All the Knitting

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After a day with no knitting on Saturday, I had a day with all the knitting yesterday, and I finished TWO projects! Without further ado, I present to you the Hogan Infinity Scarf:IMG_1797I know, it looks like poo in this photo, but that’s the wonder of blocking! This morning it got a little bath in Eucalan and now it’s laid out to dry.IMG_1800I’m so glad this silly thing is done. After all the fuss trying to figure out yarn amounts and what colors to use, and then I had a mistake in the chevron pattern that I couldn’t find…ugh! The upside is that this was my first experience with Rowan yarn, and it was lovely. It feels strong yet still touchable, not splitty, and I think it’ll have good stitch definition. And I really do like these colors together. I’m glad I went ahead and used the white on the edges. My Ravelry notes are here, and I’ll post another photo when it’s done drying.

I finished the cowl during Harry Potter #5, and while we watched #6 I needed another project, so I finished up another long-tail baby hat. These are fun.IMG_1801Now I *could* start a new project, but I’ve been in the mood to clear through some of my WIPs, so I think I’ll pick up something I’ve been ignoring. But first I want to line my felted bag.IMG_1798Here’s the fabric I have. It’s not quite an exact match but I think it’s close enough. What do you think?

The Day of No Knitting

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I didn’t knit a stitch yesterday. I know, isn’t that crazy?! I wasn’t sick, I was home all day, and yet I never picked up a needle. BUT. That does not mean I didn’t play with yarn. I spent the day organizing my inventory of finished objects and getting ready for upcoming shows. Everything is priced, tagged and bagged. I pulled out the heavy winter items, since they won’t be big sellers for a while. I updated my Facebook Items for Sale photo album. And best of all, I worked on my Etsy shop.

A while back, I blogged about my frustrations with Etsy and got a LOT of great feedback. One seller graciously offered to look at my shop and give me some pointers. Thank you so much, Leonor, your suggestions were detailed and on point! I also took the time to look through her shop, Felt Buddies, for some ideas. She’s got some amazing needle felted sculptures.

Anyway, one of her suggestions was to improve the quality of my photos. My photos were better than when I first started on Etsy, but I knew they would be even better if I used natural light with a real person, which is exactly what Leonor told me. Yesterday, I finally did. My daughter already looked nice because of a morning music competition, so I told her to put on a neutral top and come outside with me. Her hair was up, so we focused on cowls and scarves, and I love the pictures I got!IMG_4077IMG_4097IMG_4122IMG_4155She had the most fun sitting on the hood of the truck, even if it was a bit too much sunshine. It was a great exercise for me too, to see how much better the photos look when they’re not in direct sun. We had fun playing with poses and backgrounds, and I can’t wait to get her out there with all my hats! Thank goodness we’re on Spring break–we’ll have time this week.

I also took my teddy bears out for some fresh air. I figure maybe they want to be in someone’s Easter basket this year.IMG_1407IMG_4193So my Etsy shop is updated now, and I’m pleased with it. It’s still a work in progress but I like where it’s headed. Today I’m going to take my new baby hats outside for some photos and get them listed on Etsy too. And I’m always open to hear how you make Etsy successful for you!

Problems in Felting

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I love felting my knitted things. But I also hate felting them. Ever since we replaced our ancient center-agitator washer with a newfangled tub-agitating washer, I have not been able to felt to my satisfaction. Yesterday I decided it was time to felt my blue/fuchsia bag, the one made with recycled sari silk that I blogged about a while ago. I did finally find some wooden handles I like so it really was just waiting for felting. I think I waited so long because I was dreading the process.

I started with hand felting: I filled the sink with tepid water, added the Eucalan and dropped in the bag. The water immediately started turning pink with dye from the silk. The more I agitated, the more it bled. I ran it under the cold tap, then the warm. I beat it against the side of the sink. Then I dunked it back in the water and did it all over again, rubbing the bag between my hands over and over until my arms ached. After half an hour, I had gorgeous deep fuchsia water, a barely-felted bag, and a burgeoning disappointment. I had such high hopes for this bag.

A stint in the washer was next. What could I lose, right? A few towels, a bit of soap, and no spin cycle. It took two wash cycles but I did end up with a bag that could conceivably be considered felted. Not wanting to do another round, I shaped it and set it out to dry.IMG_1787It’s amazing there’s still some fuchsia dye left, as much bled out during the felting process. And it’s so strange how the top band, which is garter stitch, felted so much less than that stockinette body. Is that normal? If so, I’ll avoid garter stitch in the future for felted items! I checked on the bag this morning, turned it to let the other side get some sun, and switched out the damp newspaper. The silk is *still* bleeding.IMG_1786Once it’s fully dry, I’ll reassess. I suppose I might try to felt it more, but I’m also pondering lining it. I’ve got some satiny fuchsia fabric that might look pretty nifty in there.

Last night we binge-watched Arrow. We just started it, so we’re still in the first season, and I’m really enjoying it. So while we watched 4 episodes (or was it 5?) I worked on my cowl. It tried to foil me at one point. I got to the end of a round and the pattern didn’t match up. I went back and checked, and the whole round was fine. I tinked it anyway, reknit, came up with the same results. I counted my stitches and was one short. I counted again and was still one short. I have no idea when or where that stitch got lost. And since this is something I’ll probably keep, I decided I didn’t want to work hard enough to find it. I increased a stitch and moved on. So far, so good.IMG_1789We are officially in Spring Break mode now, which means I’ll have the kids home with me for the next nine days. I’m not sure how I’ll persuade them to not spend that whole time on their electronic devices. Maybe it’s time for some spring cleaning?

What do you make for a Spring craft show?

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How often can I write about baby hats and you’ll keep reading? For that matter, how often can I knit baby hats and still like it? I guess we’ll find out, because I don’t see an end anytime soon. I’m prepping for a craft show at the end of April and all I want to make is baby hats. Because it’s spring, I don’t think people will be tempted by warm cowls, hats or scarves. But babies are always being born, and a handknit hat makes such a delightful gift, doesn’t it? Like this little cutie:IMG_1780 IMG_1781
I love this style! I may have made the long tail a bit too long, but since this is a newborn size I’m not concerned about the baby being able to grab it or get it in his/her mouth. And I am loving the gray/white color combo, so cute for either a boy or a girl! See, here’s another one:IMG_1782This is probably a 6-9 month size. I’m so proud of how it turned out. The stitches are so neat and tight, and I wish I’d taken a picture of the join edge, because I have to say, it’s the best I’ve ever done. You can hardly tell it’s there. I carried the yarns up, twisting them around each other with each row, and it’s practically invisible! How about that?? I love it when I can see improvement in my knitting skills.

This is the kind of stuff I want to make going forward, classic styles in good yarn with quality workmanship. And hats like this are a bit quicker, too, so I can build my inventory faster. I made the striped hat yesterday, all in one day. I did have to take a break in the middle because the tip of my middle finger went numb. It does that every once in a while, and I’m sure it has something to do with the nerves going from my wrist to my fingers. I should probably wear my wrist support when I knit for a long time. I won’t need to today, though, because today I have 50 million errands to run for my daughter. Okay, only three. And one for my mother. At least my son is still low-maintenance!

Cute little baby hats

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Oh good. It’s raining. Sighh. Gray skies, cold rain, muddy puppies. Can you tell I’m not a big fan of rainy days (and Mondays)? Seriously. I should be living somewhere with sunny days 90% of the time. But in lieu of that, I guess I’ll keep knitting. I finished the green and white long-tail hat. IMG_1768It’s toddler-sized and came out more Christmas-ish than I was expecting but I still liked it so much I started another one this morning, only this one will be a newborn size in gray and white. I’d bought some 12″ circular needles at the Yarn Barn and this is the perfect pattern to break them in.IMG_1770It’s weird! They’re so tiny! Such little bitty needles for a little bitty hat. It was a little awkward at first but I’m getting used to them quickly, and they’re still faster for me than DPNs. So let’s see if I can get it finished before I have to start the driving-around-for-other-people portion of my day.

Happy Blog-iversary!

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WordPress reminded me that a year ago today, I signed up for my blog and wrote my first post. Since then, I’ve written 179 posts and gained 154 fabulous followers. I’ve also found 115 blogs to follow, with so many delightful like-minded knitters and readers and nerds. I’m happy to be here, and I’m happy you’re all here too!

Now, on to the knitting. Alex and I spent the weekend in Lawrence and of course I had to go the Yarn Barn…twice. The first time, I just bought one lovely skein of Malabrigo worsted in blues and greens. Then we went to the bookstore and I found a book called Baby Beanies by Amanda Keeys. (This time I made sure the hats were knit in the round before I bought it.) With that, nothing would do but to go back to the Yarn Barn the next day and buy what I needed to make a hat. I came out with two skeins of soft acrylic/wool, Square circular needles and Square DPNs.IMG_1764I like the square needles but I’m not sure I notice I big difference. I do like the pointiness and the super-smooth finish. I also found these fun little socks and it was the last pair so of course I had to get them.IMG_1763They please me. It’s like I can have my secret superhero costume. That’s right, I am…Knitting Girl!

It wasn’t all knitting all weekend, of course. There’s also a great pet store, and we went in hoping to find something to prevent Grace from tearing the wood off the side of the house. Like any normal pet-owner, we found that and more. We got a bottle of bitter spray but we also bought a super Ruffhides chew toy. It’s made of really durable rubber and it has a tough Himalayan chew inside, but it’s designed so the dog can see and smell the chew but not chew on it! Hahaha! It drives them wild. My two puppies were going nuts trying to get to the chew…well, that and steal it from each other over and over. And guess what? They’ve been gnawing on it for hours and there’s no sign of any damage or wear. And these are dogs that can do this:IMG_1739I may never buy another brand of dog toy again.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go rest from my busy weekend and make some baby hats. Thanks for being part of my first blog year!

WIP Wednesday

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It *is* Wednesday, right? I hope so because here’s some stuff I’ve been knitting. This little black and white chevron scarf has been my go-to travel project lately, so I’ve got a good chunk done. IMG_1730
I’m really enjoying this one, both the process and the product. The yarn is silky smooth, doesn’t split, and when I almost drop a stitch, it doesn’t unravel too quickly. Plus it looks more complicated than it really is, so people are impressed with my mad knitting skills (which aren’t really that impressive). Everyone loves the bit of green on the end, and they’re sad when I tell them the green will get pulled out so I can stitch the ends together. I confess, I like the green too. But I want to be able to wear this with everything, which means no little pop of color.

Here’s the other thing I’m knitting. I restarted my pink and gray infinity scarf and it’s going much better. I decided to go with the addition of the white yarn, so I did a 4-row border before starting with the pink. I added one extra row of pink stockinette before switching to the gray. I think it will be lovely. It’s a pleasant knit but not as mindless, so this project stays home.IMG_1729Of course I have several WIPs I’ve been ignoring. I think I have a wee case of Startitis. And I also think I’m going to frog my Rikke hat. It’s pretty but I really really don’t like doing garter stitch in the round, which means I never want to pick it up to knit. And the Malabrigo Arroyo I chose for it deserves better than that. Yep. Just decided. I’m gonna frog that today.

Oh, and I bought this neat Knitted Animal Hats book by Fiona Goble, and the hats are super cute and I was so excited…until that night when I had yarn in hand and was ready to cast on. Every hat in there is knit flat and seamed! Who does that?? I know, lots of people. But not me. That’s part of the charm of hats for me, the ease, the quickness, the lack of seaming. I tried. I started one, the Mouse hat, and it wasn’t working for me. But I feel guilty returning the book, so I guess I’ll keep it for inspiration. I can always make the base hat however I want, and use the book for the ears, faces, etc. Anybody out there a fan of knitting hats flat?

Planet Comicon

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We spent Saturday at Planet Comicon, a first for my little family. Karen Gillan (Amy Pond on Doctor Who) was attending, and my Whovian people thought they just HAD to meet her. I couldn’t blame them; I would feel the same with a star from one of my favorite shows. We arrived a little after it opened, stood in a very long line to get in, and then followed the masses into the convention hall. It was…hmm, what word to choose? Awesome. Terrifying. Overwhelming. Amazing. Crowded. It was all those things and more. I’m not great in crowds, so the first hour or so was not a lot of fun, to be honest. There was just so much to see, so many people moving around you and bumping into you and there were costumes and props and vehicles and I didn’t know where to go or what to do and it was all very very scary.IMG_1715I let my husband and son take the lead and followed them as we slowly wandered through with no real goal or destination. It really was amazing, once you got past the initial shock. I loved seeing the TARDIS, the R2D2s, Kitt from Knight Rider, the DeLorean, and the Batmobile. I loved seeing Chewbacca (so TALL), Storm Troopers, the Fetts, Leia in the gold bikini (brave girl) and lots of Doctors. There was a screen set up for photo ops with Han Solo, Obi Wan, Luke and Leia. IMG_1716There were people in costume EVERYWHERE. I didn’t recognize half of them. I was constantly poking my kids and asking, “Who’s that?” or sometimes “What the heck are they supposed to be?” I saw a girl dressed up in a blue skirt suit with a red fedora and I was sure she was Carmen Sandiego. Nope. I was informed she was Agent Carter. Oops. There were a lot of Agent Carters once we got inside, with all different color hats. And of course every superhero you can imagine, along with several Captain Jack Sparrows, some Poison Ivys, and a few Frozen princesses. I only saw one good Wonder Woman though, wearing a nifty chain mail suit.IMG_1719Pretty soon the kids were ready for the main event: Karen Gillan. The line was long, and that’s an understatement. We left the kids in line and the hubby and I moved on to look around. As we walked through Celebrity Row, I saw Mitch Pileggi and thought about going up to say hi, that I loved him on Grey’s Anatomy, then thought better of it. I saw lots of celebrities I didn’t recognize, and then I saw the sign for Ming-Na Wen. She hadn’t arrived yet so the line had just started to form. I didn’t want to pay for an autograph, but I did want to meet her, so I decided to stand in line for the 20 minutes until she arrived. There were around 6 people in front of me, at least until the VIP line formed. Then there were probably 15 people who’d get to go first. Fine, I thought. I had ten minutes left when my daughter texted me that they were getting close to the front of the line for Karen, and I did want to meet her. I also wanted to watch the kids meet her. Sadly I left the line for Ming-na and joined the kids. I was glad I did, too. They were so fun to watch, all giddy and excited and spilling over. Then we got in front of her and they were speechless, just standing there grinning at her. Karen said hi, and I think my daughter said hi. She signed the photo, and I think she complimented my son on his Doctor costume. As we left, I told her how much I enjoyed her on Selfie, and she gave me a big grin and a thank-you. It was pretty neat.

Once the kids calmed down from that, we went up to meet Caitlin Blackwood, who played the young Amy Pond. She was sweet and tried to get my poor starstruck kids to chat. I broke the ice by asking her a question, and after that the kids loosened up and got to talk with her for a few minutes.

That was enough celebrity craziness for me. I’d brought my copy of The Princess Bride to get signed by Cary Elwes, but his line was even longer and I just didn’t have it in me to deal with it. So we lunched and split up, boys and girls. Katie and I had a great time exploring all the shopportunities. IMG_1717We restrained ourselves pretty well until I found a few booths with local crafters. I bought the cutest little robot watch pendant, and an amazing new bag from an artist called The Costume Wrangler’s Closet. She sews bags, keychains, skirts and so much more from pop-culture inspired fabrics. You know it’s a good artist when they can inspire a minor-league Whovian like me to buy a bag like this. I love the style, the colors, and the extremely high quality of the workmanship. It’s fantastic.IMG_1731There was so much more. We went to a Q&A with Karen Gillan, the boys went to a Q&A with Bill Amend (artist of Fox Trot comic strip). We shopped A LOT. We people-watched a lot. By 5:30 we were almost pooped and ready for the last part of the day. The girl had signed up for a photo with Karen at 6 p.m. One more line, a quick snap, and our Planet Comic-Con experience was over for the year.IMG_1721My kids were exhausted but over the moon. David especially was so happy, wishing he could go back again the next day. He asked me if I’d go back again next year. I had to think about it. Soon after we’d arrived, I’d told my husband I would never go again. But after a whole day of watching my kids enjoy the unabashed geekery, after watching all these people embrace their weirdness and put it all on display, after seeing so much artistry and craftmanship…yeah. I’ll do it again.

p.s. I was going to include the bit of knitting that got done that last few days but this post ended up so much longer than I expected that I think it’s best to save it for another day!

“Now What?” Update: Old Favorite WIP

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Remember that pink and gray Hogan Infinity scarf I was struggling with? I started it a couple of days ago, didn’t have enough pink, and frogged it. This morning I blogged about *why* I was running out of yarn, and a couple of comments supported my instinct to reknit it with a smaller needle.

So I cast on this morning with size 9s (instead of size 10) and made it through 8 of the first 11 rows before weighing my yarn. I’ve used exactly half of the pink yarn. Yep. That means I don’t have enough for the last three rows of the pink section, not if I want to repeat it on the other side. Sighhhh. So now what?

I have a few options: 1) knit it as a single loop cowl. 2) Eliminate two or three rows in the pink section. Not crazy about this, because I love the full pop of pink. 3) Add a third color. I do have another ball of the yarn in a winter white named Snow, so I could do the outermost 5-row edge in Snow, then the Fuchsia, then the Shale. When I bought them, I envisioned using them together. So why am I resisting? I just love the look of the original so much that I’m afraid the white tone will change it too much. What would you do?

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