Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Coffee Chalk

Hi Knitters,
This morning my daughter and I did some sidewalk chalk art along with my cup of coffee. What a beautiful morning, a summer dream.
I drew my obligatory polka dot flower. My kids always ask me to draw the same things. Isn't that silly? Kids like to do the same things over and over again. I always find that interesting. It must bring comfort.
Here is a crazy artist at work. Look at that extension and the passion. She loves to make things this girl.This is her masterpiece. A duck and an apple tree together at last. I am loving the proportions.
A satisfied brow smudged with chalk remnants is a good sign.
She requested this shot of her pulling an apple from the tree. What would I do without her?
Okay, here is a new project I started this morning. Note my extremely organized pattern writing technique complete with arrows and frog post-its. Oy. Why do I do this to myself?
This is a freshly felted (or is it fulled?) sweater from my washer. I see so many possibilities.
A pillow, maybe? I'll keep you posted.
The second monster hat is underway. Look what mama got yesterday! I'm pretty excited about my new ipod nano. I had an ipod mini that was not working well at all. It had been dropped one too many times. I am checking out audiobooks to load up right now. Any suggestions?
Have a super Tuesday.
best, susie

Friday, July 27, 2007

Gnome Sweet Gnome

Hi Knitters,
Meet the newest addition to our little family. I finished this Alan Dart Yuletide Gnome early this morning after receiving the beard yarn yesterday afternoon. The pattern is from the Simply Knitting's Big Book of Family Knits.
It was a fun knit and pretty quick but it is all of that seaming that gets you in the end. I think I will make another gnome or two but I will be making these in the round from now on. It just seems like there is so much work to do after the knitting when you knit flat like that.
I made the gnome in Cascade 220. I used a very light shade of pink for the face and nose.
The beard is made from Foxy by Sirdar. The gnome is knit on US size 3 needles and the beard is knit on US size 10 needles. Boy, is that fur stuff not fun to knit with. Yucky but worth it
The hat is the best. To make it take the squiggly shape at the top you pin it into the form you like and then you spray it with hairspray. I put a towel over a pillow and pinned down the point and then I let loose with the Aquanet. That was pretty fun and a new experience. I waited until it was completely dry before taking out the pins.
See, you always learn something new with every project, even when you have been knitting forever. I never would have thought of the hairspray trick but now I am thinking about how I am going to use that Aquanet in future projects.
Alan Dart has many toy designs, not just gnomes. It is worth checking out his patterns if you get the chance. I googled him to see if he has a website of his own but I couldn't find anything. If you know of one please let me know.
He's as cute from back as from the front. I hate it when my beard gets stuck on bark like that.
The beard and hat I attached with needle and thread.
I love that there are no eyes. Perfect. The beard is really too good. I had to spend some time picking out the strands for the beard to look right. That yarn is tough I tell you. I put the purl side facing out. I thought the strands showed better on the purl side.
Lovin' the gnome!
This morning I read the article about the Old Guard in the 25th anniversary issue of Vogue Knitting. I loved this article so much I can't even tell you. Trisha Malcolm interviewed Kaffe Fassett, Alice Starmore, Meg Swansen and Mari Lynn Patrick and it was wonderful. I admire these knitters/authors/designers/artists. They have such rich knitting history and experience to draw from. Can you imagine the completed projects between this group? Mind blowing. Their take on knitting issues old and new is so interesting to read. If you get a chance take a look at this article. We don't get to hear from these people enough. There is also an article on the New Guard, Vickie Howell, Shannon Oakey, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, and Deb Stoller. That's fun to read too. What a great edition of VK!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Monster Love

Hi Knitters,
The Monster Hat is a success. I ordered the kit here. The designer is Insubordiknit. She needle felted the monster and the yarn is her original hand spun. It is beautiful yarn. (Sorry about that weird cord sticking out on my neck. What's a 42 year old to do? Just keep your eyes on the hat.)
I used her pattern but changed it here and there. Her needle suggestions are a little vague, to get the gauge of 3.5 stitches per inch she suggests needles anywhere between US size 10-15. I grabbed my size eleven 16-inch circulars and started in. I started with the medium size hat and I first used a seed stitch border. I quickly noticed that it was waaay too big. I was knitting at about 3 1/4 stitches per inch. I pulled it out and dropped down to the smallest size. This size required 10 less stitches than the medium size. This is a much better result. I switched to a 2x2 rib for the brim so it would be a little tighter as well.
I have to warn you that if you get this kit pay close attention to the amount of yarn you have left while you are knitting. I actually ran out of yarn before I finished my decrease rounds. The kit says it has enough yarn to complete a large size hat and I made the small size. I am not sure about this and when I make the other hat I will let you know if I end up with enough yarn. I switched to dpns for the top section. After I discovered that I didn't have enough yarn to finish the hat I ripped back and did a quicker decrease (every row instead of every other) to get down to 8 remaining stitches. I ended up with about 2 inches of yarn left.
One thing you can't see in the photos is that every once in awhile there is some coppery tinsel thrown into the yarn. I love this surprise so much. Insubordiknit yarns often have crazy stuff thrown in and I think that is so great. I sewed on the monster patch with red thread and it's ready to go. The hat is actually for my daughter and she is thrilled about it. She wore it all morning even though it is 87 degrees today. I love the finished result just as much as my daughter.
p.s. I still haven't received my beard yarn.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Gnome Fever

Hi Knitters,
I gotta fever and the only cure is more gnomes. Remember SNL with Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken and the cowbell? My husband and I laugh so hard just thinking about it. Gnome fever it is over here! I have seen other Alan Dart patterns in the English knitting magazine, Simply Knitting but this pattern compelled me to knit immediately. This is one of my favorite knitting publications. If you haven't seen this mag you should give it a shot. I always pick my copy up at Barnes and Noble.
A couple of weeks ago I was out running and the knitting podcast I was listening to was either the Continental or SSK or something else. I can't remember but the women were talking about Simply Knitting and how great it is and also about Alan Dart. He is a knitted toy designer and wow is he a talent. This last issue has a pirate he designed and the detail work is fantastic. I admire that because anyone can knit a basic toy. It's that added detail that makes it unique and he has that. The podcasters were going on and on about the Alan Dart gnomes and now I can see why.
Are these not the cutest things you have ever seen? I think so! The other thing the podcasters were talking about was the Bumper Book from Simply Knitting where the magazine editors took the best patterns from the magazine and created a book compiling the best of the best. I looked for this several times and tried to order it online to no avail.
There I am in Barnes and Noble with my son getting the new Harry Potter book and lo and behold this compilation book is in the magazine section right behind a new issue of Simply Knitting. They changed the name to The Big Book of Family Knitting. There were only a few copies (you better hurry, Renee!) so I was glad to get my hands on one.
Right away I found the gnomes in the book, skipping everything else. I was enchanted. I ran home and starting knitting away on my first gnome. The only thing I don't have is the furry yarn for the beards. This is a Sirdar Foxy yarn which I finally found here. I ordered that up and I just got an email that it has been shipped. Yippee! I never envisioned myself ordering fur yarn of any sort but for this beard I'd order anything.
This is the cover if you are looking for this book/magazine. The other patterns are all beautiful, sweaters, hats, bags, booties, toys, pillows, etc. There are many things I am going make from this collection. There is even a Fiona McTague monkey pattern in here that is wonderful.
Here is my progress so far. He's cute already. The pattern calls for a dk weight but I am using a worsted weight Cascade 220 instead. I am using US size 3 needles, not my beloved dpns, straights only. Once again, just like Mousie, Mousie, this toy is knitted flat and then seamed together. This time I am knitting it flat just like it says and then seaming. I am regretting that choice now but will follow through until the end. Knitting in the round is so much easier and it looks better but oh well.
I stuffed it so it looks like he has big bottom. I love knitted fabric because you can make it take shape however you'd like. I used plastic pellets for stuffing the bottom and the boots then I filled in the rest with poly-fill. Alan suggests creating a muslin bean bag and then inserting that into the toy but I don't think that is necessary at all. The knitted fabric is so dense it can hold those pellets in no problem. Why create more work? I'll keep you posted on my progress here as soon as I get that beard yarn. That sounds so wrong.
Okay, one more fun order I just received today is from another favorite of mine, kpixie. Ugh, I love this online shop too much! I happened to be sitting at my computer this weekend when I got an email from kpixie about updates. I ordered the new Interweave Felting mag, which is excellent. If you are interested in the whole felting movement grab this issue. There is more information packed in these pages than you will know what to do with. The ads are just as good, too. I am loving that bag on the front. The rings are knit around brass rings then felted. I get so into stuff like this when weird things are knit right in a project. You will see some of this kind of thing in a few designs in itty-bitty nursery. But then when I was clicking around I found what I had been wanting for months and months.
Yes, I scored two monster hat kits from Insubordiknit! I have wanted one of these forever and a day and they are always sold out. I feel so lucky and now I get to try some of her hand spun yarns. I cannot wait. I am starting later today. You knit the hat and then you sew the needle-felted monster face onto the hat. Oh yeah, I am going to have some fun! I haven't even looked at the pattern yet but I'll let you know how it goes.
Oooh la la, just look at that yummy yarn. My fingers are itching, gotta go!
best, susie

Friday, July 20, 2007


Hi Knitters,
Oh my goodness, do I love this bag. I finished it early this morning and it was a joy to make. I started with an old white wool sweater, threw it in a hot wash cycle and a week or so later I have this to show for it. There is nothing more satisfying than completing a project and being pleased with the results of your work. Look here for my starting details of this project.
The bag shape comes from Linda Lee's Sew Easy Bags from Sixth and Spring. This is a gem of a collection and I am planning on making many more.
I needle felted the dots and gave a tutorial on this fun and quick technique here if you are interested. I see so many possibilities with this technique, the sky is the limit.
I added a felty flower from pre-cut petals and a felted ball sewn together. The original pattern was made from cotton fabric and had a silk ribbon flower. My bag has an entirely different feel due to the materials I used.
The pattern also called for a zipper but I decided on this felted closure instead. The larger felted ball and the felted ring along with the other needle felting supplies I purchased here. My sweet friend Betz White clued me into this fabulous site awhile ago. She is a fantastic designer and has a new book coming out called Warm Fuzzies which is all about her felting and recycling genius. I met up with her not too long ago and got a sneak preview of her book. Look out! Betz is going to shoot to the top and quick. This book has some of the cutest, most original ideas I have seen. She is starting her second book right now and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. She is one to watch.
What a perfect closure for this petite bag. I hand sewed the entire bag due to my not having my sewing machine in my house yet. Again, it is a long story. Actually I like hand-sewing and I think it gives the bag an even sweeter feel. I am a true hand-crafter, really. I have no problem with little imperfections.
The lining is a Kaffe Fassett print that I bought a long time ago. I have used it for background on some of my photography before if you recognize it. It makes the perfect lining for the dotty outside. This is a pretty small bag just right for those small knitting projects.
It even sits up and open nicely which you wouldn't get with a cotton fabric bag. Even better for knitting.
My daughter can't keep her hands off of this new bag. She keeps informing everyone that it is a wristlet. She is my arm and wrist model here and she is a good one, too. I see some serious arm modeling potential here. You've seen my arm and hand modeling and there isn't any hope for me in that area. A mom can dream, right?
Another successful project in the bag!
I have to give a brief thank you to a sweet friend of mine who won't forget the enormous loss my family suffered this past spring. Believe me we are all still recovering and slowly. She continues to drop off little trinkets of love on my doorstep. It makes me feel so loved it is hard to express. Imagine how my kids react to these beautifully crafted sugar cookies. They are in heaven. She is an example to follow on how to be a friend, quietly and lovingly. I want to be just like her.
p.s. Did you notice my new pictures for the blog? My sons have been having fun adding to the layout and I welcome their help. We'll keep working on it!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Vintage Yarntini Mousie

Hi Knitters,
I was recently reading through Lucinda Guy's wonderful book Handknits for Kids and ran across this adorable mouse pattern. I started thinking about all of that left over sock yarn I have. I don't like a super long cuff on my socks, usually about 5-6 inches, so I end up with a lot of yarn left at the end.
The Yarntini along with this sweet pattern make a perfect union. Here is the result of that combination. I quickly knit this up yesterday morning and it took no time at all. Really any sock yarn would work because your gauge doesn't have to be perfect when you are knitting toys because no one has to wear anything at the end.
I used the fabulous Vintage Yarntini self-striping sock yarn to create the pattern called Mousie Mousie (loving the pattern name).
I used US size 3 dpns and changed the pattern slightly to work in the round. It seems that a lot of English designers knit the pieces to toys flat and then seam the pieces together. This works just fine and I know that a lot of knitters don't enjoy dpns but I am not one of them!
I'll say it again, I love my dpns and will use them as much as possible. I would much rather knit in the round and get that smooth seamless finish for a toy wherever it can possibly apply.
You can see my decreases running smoothly up the back of the mousie. The ears are knit flat in four separate pieces and then sewn together.
The fun thing is that I let the striping yarn do all of the work. I just let it flow any which way except for the inner ears, I purposely made those from the pink stripe in the yarn. Even the tail turned out great by chance with that rosie red tip.
I knit the bottom piece as is from the pattern. Then I picked up the required number of stitches around the bottom edge onto 3 dpns, using the fourth to knit onto, and knitted the rest in the round. You could easily do this too.
Lucinda Guy's Handknits for Kids is a terrific book filled with children's patterns. These are some of the best toy and children's wear designs I have ever seen. You should give this book a look if you haven't as of yet.
Mousie, Mousie is just one of the many creatively fresh ideas in this book. The sweaters, scarves, socks, toys, blankets are beautifully crafted. Her attention to detail is what draws me the most. She does lots of embellishing which I adore. Also, if you are looking for great boy sweaters and accessories this is your place to go! Her boy designs are clever and wearable.
I, of course, own all of her books. The first book, Handknits for Kids, is my personal favorite so I would recommend it if you can only get one book. And So to Bed... is fun as well, but there is just something about that first book. I would knit every pattern in Handknits for Kids. I rarely say that. Her partner, Francoise Hall, does all of the illustrations which are intertwined with the knits throughout the book. The illustrations are delightful and add a new and pleasant dimension to this knitting collection. I read an article about these two in a recent Rowan Magazine which was interesting. She uses all Rowan yarns for her designs. The books are published by Trafalgar Square Publishing.
Fairies are all of the rage over here this summer. I snapped this while I was out shooting Mousie this morning. This is my daughter's enchanted fairy garden which she painted and planted from a kit a couple of weeks ago. So sweet.
Now go and knit some Mousies!