Wednesday, April 30, 2014

5th Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

I just heard about this exciting crafty blogging event, thanks to Cyprienne over at Big Knitting Trouble, and I cannot wait to participate!! Maybe I'm a bit behind the times, as this is the Fifth Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, but better late than never, eh?

For those of you who have not heard of this spiffy event (don't worry, you are in good company; like I said, I only JUST found out about this deal) it's pretty nifty. There is a topic to write about for each of the seven days during this week (May 12-May 18). There are also special tags to use for each day to make your post pop up amid Google searches for the event. Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is all about meeting other crafty bloggers, as well as being involved in a community-wide event.

It's going to be a fun, new, interesting way to blog for a week, all while celebrating what makes fiber bloggers special. The topics are creative and enticing. I seriously can't WAIT to get writing, or to see how other people interpret the writing prompts. I'm a big fan of writing exercises, and this is exactly the sort of brain-juicing, bloggy, creative thang I can't wait to sink my teeth into.


It's like creative writing class. But for bloggers. Bloggers who crochet and knit and junk. So glad I found this before it started!! Wanna join in? It's pretty much a free for all. You can read more info on Eskimimimakes's blog. She's the genius behind this fun!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Springtime Socks

Since I tackled socks over Christmas, I've been pining to make myself some. Handmade socks are by far the most best things you can put on your feet. My poor feet were jealous of all the baby socks I've been making lately, so I decided it was indeed high time I whipped out myself a pair.

It's a little bit nutty that I just now got to making myself some socks, considering the weather has finally turned spring-like only within the last two weeks. Why didn't I make some when I'd really need them? Like when it was 50 degrees below zero? Because. I'm insane.


Regardless of the seeming lack-of-timing in making myself socks, it's really not all that crazy. After all, it'll be winter again someday, and I have chronically cold feet so thick, cushy, handmade socks are not out of the question until perhaps July. And even then, if I'm inside, I'll probably still wear socks.

My concern about not having enough yarn to make two whole socks drove me to shorten the cuffs of these a little. I really love tall socks, but my yarn-use-calculating skills are still getting re-calibrated for knitting. It's crazy how little yarn knitting uses!!! I'm still in awe!! But my miscalculations this time left me with a little less than 60 yds of this yarn, which means: MATCHING BABY SOCKS!!! 

I may be a bit obsessed with socks.

Check out my Ravelry project page for all the yarn-nerd stats on these socks.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Super Stash

I've been doing a bit of yarn sorting lately. Kind of like a Spring Cleaning for crafty people, but more like an excuse to pile all my yarn on the table and gaze at it lovingly.

Despite what you may assume from the pictures, my stash is a lot smaller than I thought it was. I got rid of a lot of stuff before we moved, so I'm really just down to the "good stuff." The wools. The pretties. There's not too much junk acrylic to be seen.

It's kind of a thrill to have all my yarn out in the open. I feel like I should just start at one end of the table and knit/crochet my way to the other end. Like a glorious fiber buffet.

In my sorting, I even updated my Ravelry Stash for super easy viewing. It makes planning projects a breeze, since I get almost all my patterns from Ravelry anyways. All my info is right there! Weight, yardage, dyelot...all ready to be paired up with patterns, hooks, and needles and whisked off into Projectland.

How do you tame your stash?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Miss A Learns to Crochet

One of the things that constantly amazes me about crafting, is the share factor. Crafting is not like chocolate: hoarding it does not make me feel more satisfied. No, crafting is something I love to share, it's something I need to share. But simply giving someone the end product of my crafty efforts is not what brings me the most joy.

Sure, I get all giddy when people ooh and ahh over the scarf I made them. And yeah, if someone tells me that the hat I made them makes them smile every time they wear it, I'll probably cry. But nothing compares to sharing my passion for creating by teaching someone how to do it themselves.

Maybe it's the whole "teach a man to fish" thing that makes me so excited. Maybe it's the fact that I'm giving someone new a glimpse inside a whole new part of creativity. Maybe I just love passing on skills to other people, perpetuating the love for making things with one's own hands. Maybe I just want more people to hang out with at the yarn store.

Regardless of the reason, I love teaching people. Especially kids.

She liked my hat a lot, so I had to let her wear it. Who could say no to that face??
On Wednesday, I had the honor of teaching one of the cutest seven-year-olds I know the basics of how to crochet. We started with the chain stitch, and Miss A was absolutely thrilled to stitch along with me.  She was the perfect student. When it was time for me to go, she informed me that I had to come back next week to "teach her the next part." Be still, my heart! I remember when this little lady was a mere infant, and now she's stitching along like a pro.

It reminds me of myself, when I was a little kid: begging my Grandma to teach me to do the magic stuff with the yarn and hook. It's something my Grandma and I still bond over, and something I look forward to bonding over with my kids. While it might not be crocheting my kids are excited about, the anticipation of passing on some skill to my own little ones is indeed thrilling. All the things I have learned from my elders are treasures; treasures I love to share with anyone willing to sit and learn.

Can't wait for next time I get to hang with Miss A and teach her "the next part." Passing along these skills that were passed along to me is a great investment. Plus, she is too dang cute, is she not? Look at her with that rainbow yarn. Can't even handle it.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Who Lives Here? A New Design by Last in Line Shop

My, what a charming little house in a little log. I wonder who lives here!

The door is closed, perhaps I should knock. 

Oh! Hello! A couple of Rabbits seem to be at home!

"You knocked?"

Mr. and Mrs. Rabbit, you both dress so nicely! And your house looks so quaint.

"Why, thank you!"
"You are too kind!"

Could I come inside for a visit?

But of course!"
"Let me get the door for you."

 Look how lovely your home is! A yard, a toadstool, and so much room inside to decorate and play!

"We love our house!"
"It's perfect for us!"

It certainly looks cozy!

"But there is always room for friends!"
"We love meeting new people!"

So do I! I love going out on adventures.
"Can we come too??"
"Just carry our house with you, and we'll always be ready to play!"

How perfect! Let's go!!

I present to you, Mr. & Mrs. Rabbit's House, a carry-along playset. I am quite proud of this creation!! Keep your eyes opened, the pattern will be coming soon to Last in Line Shop!!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Blooms and Bumps

Tara Lea Photography:
Dat baby bump!!
Betchya can't guess which one is me! Oh right, you've seen pictures of me before. And I'm the pregnant one. Right.

My sweet sister takes some pretty amazing photos, and yesterday since it was finally warm out and flowers were blooming and whatnot, she decided we should have a sisterhood/baby bump photoshoot at sunset. This was her fave shot of us, sitting in the scilla in the front lawn. So pretty, and such a nice end to a festive Easter Day.

Hope you had a beautiful day on Sunday and could celebrate the Resurrection with your loved ones!

Shout out to Tara Lea Photography! If you want to see some spiff-tastic pics of people doing things, check out her page. She's great. Love that girl.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

DIY: Make Your Own Buttons with Sculpey or Shrinky Dinks!

You can make your own buttons??  You heard me right! Trust me, I was just as excited as you are when I made the realization that yes, indeed, you can make your own buttons to adorn whatever project you choose. Think of the possibilities!! You just need a few simple supplies and an oven. Easy peasey. You'll be a button-makin' machine before you can say "whose got the button"!

Buttonbuttonbutton. Don't think I've said 'button' enough yet. Button.

Two weeks ago, my dear friend Becca from Halfway to Hipster came over to hang with me. We had a smashing crafternoon, and I thought I'd share with you all the efforts of our activities! And give you a few instructions so you can jump on the button wagon with us.

You'll need:
-An oven
-Some Sculpey (or other oven-bake clay) in any color you desire (I did white so I can paint them later)
-Some Shrinky Dink plastic
-Sharpies, watercolors, colored pencils, or other art-devices to color on your Shrinky Dinks
-Hole punch
-A toothpick or skewer

Becca got clever and stuck some buttons to a newspaper to lift the ink and get a cool wordy effect
 For Scupley Buttons:
 Pinch off a little nubbin of clay. Work in in your fingers until it gets soft. Form it carefully into a ball, then flatten it onto some wax paper with your thumb. Rub out as many thumbprints as you can (or leave them for a very rustic look) and poke as many holes as you want into your button with a toothpick. Flip the button over and make the holes clean on the other side as well. Follow the direction on the clay package to bake your button, let it cool and admire your work!

You can get really crazy with the size, shape, texture, and hole placement on these buttons. Be wild!

Becca made some cat buttons!!!!
 For Shrinky Dink Buttons:

Trace a circle approximately 2" in diameter. Cut it out , and go nuts with decorating the button. When you are done, punch some holes with your hole puncher (standard size hole punch results in perfect button holes). Bake your Shrinky Dinks according to the directions on your package. I love to act like a small child and sit on the floor of the kitchen to watch them shrink. MAGIC YO.

All my Shrinky Dink buttons I did with watercolors. They turned out so spiffy! I prefer the way they look from the "wrong" (aka, shiny) side of the button once shrunk. So vibrant!

The blue one looks super cool in person, but crappy on my camera
 A quick disclaimer, I have no idea how these buttons stand up in the washing machine. My bet is you should PROBABLY handwash any project you use these on.

Nekkid buttons! Can't wait to paint them.
Are you going to make some buttons??

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Windschief Hat & Snow

Remember way back in December when I visited Yarnology in Winona? I scored a sweet skein of black and white twisted wool and the Windschief hat pattern by Westknits (who I adore, btw). In the hustle and bustle of holiday crafting, I never got around to making myself that hat. Then, before I knew it, we were packing and moving and crazy stuff, so the hat got put aside again, before I ever cast it on.

Well, after the sadness of my Baby Sophisticate sweater fail, I decided I needed a little distracting happy project. So I dug the Windschief pattern out and got to work. After four hours of dedicated knitting with watching Law and Order SVU on Netflix, the fruits of my labor were ripe for harvest.

Or....binding off and weaving in ends. don't really harvest hats.
 Now, this is not the yarn I purchased to make this hat. No, no. I was silly and decided that since it's Spring time here, I ought to make this hat in cotton. Creamy colored cotton. Because cotton is warm enough to fight off the breeze, but breathable enough to keep my head from sweating. Because in springtime, it gets warm out.


It snowed yesterday. At least I have a cute hat.
 I've also been on a "sort stuff and make a mess while pretending to be cleaning" spree. It's like Spring Cleaning for crazy people. The down side is you make a bigger mess than you started with, but the plus side is you find some random pink cotton flowers you crocheted who knows how long ago and are able to make a cute pin for your new knitted hat.
My head will be bloomin', even if it's snowing in APRIL here. BLARG.
 I really really enjoyed the pattern. It was easy enough to do while watching Olivia Benson kick some bad guy butt, while still being interesting enough to make me feel like I was doing something clever with yarn. And it looks hipster-tastic when it's done!
Dat twisted rib section. Mhhhmmhmhmhmhhh.
So, here's hoping your week is less snowy than mine is so far!! BUH. WINTER. Needs to be over. I want flowwweeerrrsss!

Okay, I promise I'm done whining.


Okay, now I'm done.
Happy Tuesday, yo!

The Windschief Pattern is also available online.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Narwhal Hat Pattern is LIVE!

It is finally available!! Now you can be the envy of all your friends with your very own Narwhal Hat that you made yourself!! Joy of joys!!

The pattern is available for instant download via Last in Line Shop on Etsy.
(Also, look! I'm a big kid now with a Ravelry Designer page!!)

I was very hesitant to jump in and finally offer patterns for one of my most popular hats, but I am incredibly excited now that it is finally up! It's especially invigorating since I've been working on updating my Ravelry page, and now I'm a bonafied designer! With a pattern available!

In other news, I'm working on another pattern. It is a LOT more intricate than my beloved Narwhal Hat, which makes me even more excited to offer it for sale. Soon. Ish. Once I get it all typed up and edited and pretty.

That's all. Just wanted to let you guys know that I feel pretty spiffy with this pattern up for sale.
Hope your day is warmer than mine! After a weekend of 50+ degree weather, it's snowing today.



Regardless, happy day to you all!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Baby Sophisticate; or Not Everything I do Turns Out Okay

 Remember when I bought all that cotton with visions of baby stuff dancing in my head? Well, I started working on the baby cardigan before we moved, and got pretty far on it! I was feeling pretty proud of myself, but I had to put it on hold until we got somewhat situated.

When I pulled it out again, I was disgusted to find that what I had previously seen as a perfect beginning of a darling garment...was a mess.
I kept telling myself it was wasn't.
Wonky. Distorted. Stretchy. Lumpy. I was so distressed, I took a quick photo to show some of my other crafty friends. I was hoping that they would calm all my fears.

"It'll block out!"
"Oh it looks fiiinneee. You are just being harsh on yourself."
"Cotton always looks like that before it's washed."

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that if anyone said any of those things to me, I'd think they were lying. Because they would have been. My baby cardigan was weirdy shaped, and there was no denying it. When I showed my internet crafty group the pictures, my go-to knitting guru and favorite Norwegian citizen Liz (of Lizzy Knits Day By Day) confirmed what I had already accepted as truth: there needed to be some major changes if I wanted this cardi to look normal.

So, unfortunately, I'll be frogging this baby. If you hear screeching or uncontrollable sobbing coming vaguely from the direction of the midwest, it's me, ripping the sweater apart. Good thing it isn't an adult sized sweater! I'd be inconsolable if that were the case.

Really, it's not so bad. But if I want an heirloom baby piece, I want perfection.

What your worst gotta-rip-it-out story?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pitter Patter: Knitted Baby Socks

As I mentioned earlier this week, our life plans have undergone a massive makeover in the last two months. The job out West fell apart, so we have decided to stick to our roots and buy a house in our hometown in Illinois. In the meantime, my loving parents have graciously opened their house to us while we sort things out. Gotta love family!!

Though we are in a gypsy state of living with my parents until we find a house, my nesting desires are growing stronger everyday. My body doesn't care that my mom would probably flip her lid if I painted the living room while she was out. I want colors! I want to decorate! I want to move furniture around! Okay, I don't want to personally move the furniture, but I want to tell Sailor to move stuff around as much as my prego brain desires.

But alas! Though our house hunt is going well, we are not in our own place yet. So I have to be content with casting on and making some socks. If I can't force my husband to do manual labor, whipping out some adorable socks is the next best thing, right? Right. Don't argue with me. I'm pregnant.
I used the Leftovers Baby Socks pattern that I found on Ravelry. It's free. It's easy. It's adorable.I am pretty sure I'm going make at least a bajillion more. They work up super quick, especially if you are watching Dr. Who on Netflix in you pjs on a rainy day. Just sayin'.
Cuffed or uncuffed, these socks are adorable.
 I really like how tall the socks are. Baby Z is going to be born in August, which means winter will be right around the corner. Gotta keep those darling little newborn legs cozy! Especially if this coming winter is anything like the winter we still have hanging about. Did I mention it snowed last week? Barf.
Pretty proud of these heels. I am indeed. Why was I scared of socks before?
You can bet your sweet biffy that baby-type projects are going to increase dramatically in the coming days. Nothing wrong with that, right? Right. Riiiiggghhhtt.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fiber Field Trip: Crafty Planet, Minneapolis

 About a month ago, Sailor and I took a little trip to Minneapolis. There are so many crafty shops in this town, it is worth the drive to have a weekend of exploration. Plus, the streets are dotted with gluten-free friendly cafes and whatnot, which makes it super easy for me to while away some hours shopping and snacking.

On this last trip up, I had some solo adventuring time. I decided to hit up a store I've been reading about online for months: Crafty Planet. It is hard to put into words how amazing this place is. Fabric. Yarn. Buttons. Beads. Patterns. Glitter. I mean. I just. This:

"Crafty Planet is an independent retailer who prides itself on a do-it-yourself ethos, bringing you the coolest craft stuff in the galaxy!"

Walking around this shop, I was overwhelmed with the selection of fabrics. I am very very easily inspired by color, and let me tell you, this place was a mecca of inspiration. I was pulling fat quarters off shelves and pairing them til I made myself dizzy. It was very enjoyable.
 While Crafty Planet does offer yarn in addition to fabric, the selection of yarn was not enormous. I read a few reviews about the lack of yarn choices, but when I visited the shop myself, I was not at all disappointed in their offerings. They had a variety of fibers and weights at good prices. Their selection of hooks and needles was quite extensive as well. By no means could it compete with a yarn-only shop, but it was impressive when you take the vast array of sewing supplies crammed into this store.
Besides the fabric, and yarn, and tools, and just the sheer inspiration of the store itself, there were a few more factors that made me want to unroll my sleeping bag and camp in this shop forever:

1. The staff: The ladies behind the counter were so cheerful and helpful, I felt like I was a member of a fun secret crafty club. Even though it was my first time in the shop and I don't even live in Minneapolis. While I was checking out, we bantered about sock monkeys (our hometown is the birthplace of the Nelson Red Heel Sock and thus the Sock Monkey), reupholstering chairs, and how easy it is to spend money when surrounded by such beautiful fabric.

2. The patterns and displays: Besides the amount of inspiration I already felt from the colors of the fabric alone, the shop was full of funky project patterns displayed with the finished projects made by workers of the shop. Plus little piles of fabric that would look oh so great together conveniently placed right by the patterns that they would work on. Sales ploy? Oh yes. Did it work? -hides pile of fabric sheepishly-

3. The classes: Again, I know I don't live in Minneapolis, but the list of classes offered at Crafty Planet made me wish I did. Knitting. Embroidery. Quilting. Crocheting. And then some. Come on. You cannot say that taking a fun class in an inspiring shop would be pointless. So much fun. I wish Crafty Planet was in my town!!

So yes. If you are even in the Twin Cities and have a hankering to be inspired, head to Crafty Planet. Guh. I love shopping. I'll have to take some pictures of the fabrics I scored on my adventure so you can drool and jump in your car and drive to this store and get your own. Oh wait. You don't have to drive all the way to Minneapolis. Because you can shop CraftyPlanet online.

I'm sorry for telling you.