Craft, Knitting

Knit: KnitPicks Holiday Sale Haul

20131212-215330.jpg

I think I may title all of my knitting related posts from now on “knit: blah blah blah” so that non-knitters can totally ignore the posts. It’s okay. I know it’s incredibly boring to read these posts when you aren’t part of the Wooly Coven.

SO! Remember when I said I had fallen back into the loop? It is on! When I was thinking of pulling together my Etsy shop, my mind went directly to KnitPicks as a potential yarn source, even though I haven’t ordered from them since college.

As usual, my mind wandered, and I ended up getting quite a bit more than what I had planned for. In the picture above, I’ve got (clockwise):

  • 10 balls of Biggo in Cobblestone Heather, which is this really gorgeous dark grey. It was 50% off, which made it a steal at 4.50 ish a skein.It’s 50% merino, 50% nylon, which is actually heavenly.
  • 1 ball of Brava bulky in a Dove Grey (100% acrylic, it looks kind of cheap and crappy, but it was only a buck fifty)
  • 1 ball Wool of the Andes Superwash in Haze Heather (really great heathery lavendar)
  • 2 balls of Swish bulky superwash merino in Potion (forest green)
  • 2 balls of dishie cotton yarn in linen and kenai (cream + beautiful teal/blue)

I’m mostly going to mess around with the yarn that I bought, but those 10 balls of Biggo? Those are going to become the lovely Cozy Weekend Sweater, which I found on Ravelry. I’m casting on tonight, and looking forward to working on it over the holidays.

20131212-215338.jpg

 

 

Craft

Recent Knits: Easy Breezy

I don’t know what it was about Thanksgiving, but my knitting mojo is back in a big way since the long holiday weekend. For the cold snap I’ve been turning to simple chunky knits in alpaca and silk blends.

20131208-220054.jpg

I love making and wearing cowls, and yet I didn’t have a simple ribbed one in my collection.

For the cowl above I…

  • Cast on 96 stitches in Misti Alpaca Chunky  on size 10 1/2 double pointed needles.
  • Knit in 2×2 rib for 15 inches.

I know, it’ s pretty mindless. But the yarn is exquisite and it worked up fast. Some days I wear the cowl up to my nose. Others I flip it in half and enjoy a doubly squishy turtleneck. Mmmmm squishy and warm.

For the hat I used the Hill Country hat pattern (again) in Marisol Sulka. You can’t keep that pattern down. It makes a great slouchy beanie with minimal yardage (100 yards or so… 1 skein). The only problem with the pattern is that it’s a pain for the first 15 minutes or so, as it’s knit from the top down, with only 8 stitches on 4 really big needles. I may make it again, but in a trinity stitch.

Last but not least… I made the ever popular Hooray for Me gloves, with a few size alterations. When I first set out looking for a pattern for a men’s glove knit in sock yarn I was shocked at the dearth of options. Thankfully the Hooray for Me pattern was written clearly enough for me to wrap my head around sizing adjustments.

20131208-220241.jpg

The yarn is Dirty Panther by Madeline Tosh. Ain’t it great?

Other things currently on my needles: I restarted the Sunday Swing socks, and I’ve been testing prototypes for knit coffee sleeves (thinking about selling them on Etsy). Also, trying to learn this “arm knitting” phenomenon that is all the rage on Pinterest.

Craft, Knitting

New Project: Sunday Swing Socks

I haven’t shared any knit projects in so long because I keep ripping them to shreds.

Finally the curse is broken.

It took me three tries and about three hours but I finally got into the swing of things with the Sunday Swing socks. The pattern is from Knitty and is a little spicier than your usual stockinette stitch socks but easy enough to keep up once you establish the pattern. The yarn is Jitterbug, a present to myself from a million years ago.

I fucking love this stitch definition! Look at that sock! Hot!

20130314-130643.jpg

Craft, Home

Not Quite Block Printed Napkins

A little background

About a year ago I got into linoleum block printing. As a result of seeing my card posts, my friend Michelle from Hummingbird On High fame asked me if I could decorate a couple of napkins for her. After investigating the technique on Etsy, and seeing the block printed napkins post on Apartment Therapy, I agreed. I have worked with fabric before, but never in this particular way.

So Michelle asked me eons ago. Of course life got in the way, as it always does. By the time that I finally tried out fabric printing with linoleum blocks, I realized that for this project it didn’t make any sense. Using stencils would achieve acceptable results with much less work and a more even finish.

I stopped by the local art shop and picked up several different types of letter stencils in several different fonts and played around to find a look I liked. So I prepared! And YET when I finally sat down and pulled it all together, I still made several mistakes. Here’s a quick recap:

How to + Don’t Make the Same Mistakes I Did

Ah, napkin number one. So lemony yellow fresh, so full of promise. It’s going to have the word “EAT” decorated in the bottom right hand corner. I threw down a cardboard mailer to catch the ink.

Mistake #1: Remember to wash and dry your fabric first before decorating!

IMG_4198

 

Next I traced the outlines of the letters with pencil. I messed up, so I erased my mistakes. It became a mess that lasted until the end 🙁

Mistake #2: Do not trace and erase pencil on fabric. Use fabric chalk.

I traced over my pencil with the water-based black ink I’d purchased because I thought I was going to be filling it in with shading lines.

Mistake #3: Avoid freehanding if you can, the result is less polished.

IMG_4199

 

Ugh. You can see the erased pencil. So terrible. I ended up not liking the shading lines, so I filled in the letters completely black.

IMG_4200

 

For the next napkin I got it together a little better. I taped down my stencils.

IMG_4201

 

And carefully filled in the outline with a very very thin coat of the ink (different effect than the first time around). Then I let it dry for about 10 minutes. Then I added another layer.

IMG_4202

 

It’s all good, right? NOOOOOO.

Mistake #4: I did not put my ink protection between the napkin layers. The ink bled through. D’oh.

IMG_4203

 

Next I removed the stencils and manually added the serifs to the letters. This is about what it looked like when I was done. I added another thin layer of paint to fill out the empty white spots after this picture was taken. The napkins air dried for about 24 hours. The finishing touches were a quick ironing to set the ink, hand washing in cold water, air dry (again), followed by another bout with the iron to press the napkins.

IMG_4205

 

Phew! What work just to decorate some napkins! Seriously though if you want to decorate fabric you should have at it. The main tips again:

  1. Practice on a rag first
  2. Wash and dry your fabric before printing/decorating. It may shrink.
  3. Lay down something in between layers so the ink does not bleed through. A piece of cardboard works well. Avoid newspaper.
  4. Use fabric chalk to sketch out your ideas.
  5. Don’t go freehand if you don’t have to. Best to print out a stencil and tape it down for stability.
  6. Use water-soluble screen printing ink. I used Simply Green, which had a precise nozzle tip for detail work.
  7. Use very thin layers of ink. If you get too gung ho about it, it’ll be all puffy, and that is gross, especially when you iron it out.
  8. If it looks like crap when you’re done decorating, don’t worry. It will probably even out after you iron, wash/dry and iron again.

Happy crafting!

Craft, Home

Turn On The Lights

Well, the “throw some holiday lights in a mason jar” thing finally made it to Real Simple. Saw it while I was scanning this month’s RS in the bath and almost dropped the magazine in the water. Really, Real Simple? It took ya this long? Did one of your writers finally see it on Pinterest or something?

I decided not to be outdone by Real Simple. After my bath I marched into the kitchen, dumped all the quinoa out of the prettiest jar in the pantry, and stuffed in some blue and white LED snowflake lights that we had lying about. I’m undecided about the outcome, but glad that I got it out of my system.

A few things that came to mind after I was done (AKA five minutes later):

  • You actually need a pretty big jar with a wide mouth to stuff all those lights in there. Like not “drinking a trendy cocktail out of a mason jar-sized mason jar” but “this is going to be full of beans and heavy as hell when I lug it back from the co-op -sized mason jar.” This makes sense, but I had not thought of scale when I saw the project on others’ blogs.
  • White cords with white lights are key. Green cords look a bit messy to me in broad daylight. I suppose it comes down to taste.
  • Lights that are battery charged make the most sense for stuffing in there, but if you use wall plug in lights, just cut a hole in the top of the lid. If you’re using a Ball mason jar, you can remove the top circular part of the lid for the same look.
  • Safety is key. I’m paranoid about the heat of the lights melting the whole shebang, causing a fire or exploding the jar, leaving me permanently blinded (even though I think Mythbusters proved that was not quite possible) so I think LED lights are the way to go. Or you could just use them because they save energy.

They’re cute I guess.