Make it a crafty Christmas!

It's a Crafty Christmas

Christmas crafts are my jam! I adore handmade ornaments and now that my kids are old enough, I can force them help them to make their own. I thought I would share some of the ones we’ve made, this year. Some were already made during our last few scout meetings (oh, Tigers!) and others, I’m taking with me to our scout Christmas party, so the evening isn’t just a bunch of kids with sugar rushes running around the community center.

1. The top left corner is my FAVORITE. Winter Hat ornaments made with leftover yarn and a toilet paper roll.

2. Cookie cutter jingle bells are a kid favorite. Just use pipe cleaners to secure bells to a Christmas cookie cutter. I found these Wilton ones at Tuesday Morning for 29 cents! Score! If you don’t have a Tuesday morning, this 18-piece set looks good.

3. The foam ornament in the right hand corner is a kit from Hobby Lobby. It’s actually a photo ornament, so there goes one of our Tiger electives.

4. The beaded candy cane is an idea from a kit I saw. Just alternate red and white tri-beads on a pipe cleaner, then shape it into a candy cane.

5. The popsicle stick Rudolph is pretty self-explanatory. My MIL had one my husband made when he was little, so I just copied hers. Three popsicle sticks glued together, wiggly eyes put in place, and a red pom-pom nose, with a jingle bell tied to the center by a piece of yarn.

6. The popsicle stick Christmas tree was fun to shop for. Make a triangle with popsicle sticks, then let the kiddos color it green with markers. We glued sequins, buttons, and other “ornaments” on to decorate it. The photo was a quick print on my home printer on regular printer paper. Twine at the top to hang it.

7. Last, but not least, the baby wooden clothespin Rudolph. These wooden clothespins were actually given to me by my MIL. They were leftover from when she did this craft with her kids! So, early 90s? Anyway, it’s 2 clothespins inverted and glued to each other. Mini pom pom nose, ribbon bow tie, and sharpie eyes. Simple, but cute.

I actually put together little ornament kits for my scouts because I am slightly neurotic when it comes to messes. I KNOW they’d help me clean and I should trust them more with supplies, but let’s be real–things are gonna get crazy. SO, each kid gets all the supplies they need and they can make them at the party, or take them home to work on. It was actually quite pleasing to lay out all the supplies and then make little baggies of craft stuff.

What are you crafting for Christmas? How is your Christmas knitting going?! I have made a ton of those bulky zig-zag cowls and oh boy, I am loving that pattern still.

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Knitting: Bulky Zig-Zag Cowl (pattern)

cowls

I keep mentioning that I’ve knit a whole bunch of cowls over the past few weeks. It all started with the #bulkyhatkal and my brand new set of interchangeable needles.

knitterspride

I received the Knitter’s Pride Trendz Chunky Set to work the KAL and they have been the best addition to the set of interchangeable needles I bought from Knit Picks, a few weeks ago. Those only go to size US 11, so I needed bigger sizes to work with bulkier weights of yarn.

I used the US 17 needles for my hat and then switched to the US 15 (seen above) for my cowls. The needles are fantastic! I’m new to interchangeables, so I don’t know how the cords compare, but I can’t imagine them working any better. They have the perfect amount of flexibility and the needle part is a great length–not too long or short. My hands didn’t get that sore feeling that usually accompanies bulky knitting.

I picked up a few different colors of super bulky yarn at Michael’s and just took off! One of the very first patterns I tried was the Swirling Cowl by Signe Marie Ricter. That pattern is for even bulkier yarn than I’ve got, so I increased my CO to 50 and started. When I got about 5 rounds in, however, I decided I wanted to make the swirl go the other way, so I changed things up a bit. Working alternating repeats of left and right leaning stitch patterns, I ended up with a really cool zig-zag cowl!

I wrote up an explanation of my modifications, so you can make one for yourself! If you’d like the original swirly cowl, check out the link I posted above! It is really pretty. Make both?!

cowl-gris
Knit with Loops & Thread Cozy Wool

Yarn: One skein of super bulky yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick (6 oz/170 g equals 106 yd/ 97m) OR Loops & Threads Cozy Wool (4.5 oz/127 g equals 90 yd/82 m)
Needle: 10 mm (US 15) 16-24″ circular needle

Right-leaning stitch pattern
*YO, K2tog; rep from * around.

Left-leaning stitch pattern
*SSK, YO; rep from * around.

CO 50, place marker and join to work in the round.

Start right-leaning stitch pattern and work for 5 rounds.

02-rtol

Switch to left-leaning stitch pattern, as follows: remove stitch marker (left photo), place first stitch on to right-hand needle without twisting, replace marker (right photo).

Start left-leaning stitch pattern and work for 5 rounds.

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Switch back to right-leaning stitch pattern, as follows: do NOT make last YO, instead slip the stitch marker to the right hand needle (left photo), YO, and knit the first stitch (right photo). Resume right-leaning stitch pattern.

Continue switching between right and left-leaning stitch patterns to desired height. I worked 3 repeats each, then finished with another section of the right-leaning stitch pattern.

Bind off loosely, weave in ends.

cowl-orange
Cowl knit with LB Wool-Ease Thick & Quick

Ta-da! I think it takes me about 2 hours, or a movie, or 3 episodes of my favorite TV show, to work one cowl. That’s pretty sweet instant gratification, don’t you think? I want to make one with a 100 stitch cast-on and a few less pattern repeats, to loop around my neck a couple times. You only need to remember to CO an even number and the pattern should work out. Perhaps you want to make some boot cuffs? Try casting on about 24 stitches. The good thing is if you have to frog a project to adjust the size, you aren’t working on an incredible number of stitches, so it won’t hurt too much.

Disclaimer: I was sent a set of Trendz Chunky Interchangeable Needles for review. All opinions are my own. No monetary compensation was given, but the link above is an affiliate link from Amazon.

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#BulkyHatKAL with Blue Sky Alpacas

Blue Sky Alpacas BULKY

The good folks over at Blue Sky Alpacas are hosting a really lovely Bulky Hat knit-a-long, right now, in their Ravelry Group. Through December 15, you can get a coupon for $5 off their Bulky Knit Hats for Kids & Adults book by Sarah Smuland. For every completed hat you post, you are entered to win a cool prize that includes a knitting kit AND needles from Knitter’s Pride. Pretty sweet, hmm?

I was sent enough yarn to knit the amazing “Trapper Hat” from the book. I LOVED the ear flaps and was intrigued by the fluffy bits under them and on the brim. I chose the colorway Atlantis because my kids both love blue and it’s totally grown on me. I’ll take a blue of every yarn ever, thankyouverymuch.

Trapper Hat, knit

It took me about 3 hours to knit this baby up. You start with the ear flaps and brim, then they get joined and you work the rest of it. It was a super simple pattern to follow and I was almost ready to call it a day right there. BUT THEN…I remembered the fluff. I really wanted to see how much cuter this hat could get.

trapperhatprogress2

trapperhatprogress2-3

The answer was “pretty damn cute.” It took me about as much time to attach 300+ pieces of fringe as it did to knit. I thought it would be a tedious process that would bore me to tears, but I was SO wrong! I found my groove while working and with each piece that was attached, I got more and more excited.

I let out an actual squeal when it was done. I sewed up the front brim and plopped it on my head. SO DAMN CUTE. My son walked in a few seconds later, I suppose to see what the ruckus was, and I pretty much threw it on his head and squealed again. What could make this cute hat cuter? This dude’s cheeks.

Knitting: Trapper Hat

Knitting: Trapper Hat 2

trapper-a3

Knitting: Trapper Hat sides

Knitting: Trapper Hat back

Knitting: Trapper Hat 4

I knit the largest size, so it is definitely too big for his head. It even fits me a bit over-sized, but I think it works well with this style of hat. I let him ride his scooter with it and giggled pretty much the entire time.

riding

blue headed

Knitting: Trapper Hat cutie

We hate our sidewalks. Look at that face! Sigh.

Check out the KAL and maybe join us? These quick knits would be great Christmas presents!! This is the project that put me on an extreme bulky knits kick. Did I mention I’ve knit like five cowls in the past 2-3 weeks? I knit TWO more, today. It’s just SO nice to start a project and finish it the same day. Bulky yarn for the win!

Disclaimer: I was sent yarn and needles to complete this project. All opinions in this post are most definitely my own.

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Experimental Knitting: 2-Gauge Hourglass Pillow

double gauge textured pillow

Hey, friends! I was sick for a whole 5 days and didn’t touch my needles. I decided I should probably compose a post about a pillow I knit early this year. I don’t have a pattern written up because I don’t really think anyone wants to knit one, but perhaps you might like the idea of using two gauges at once and YOU want to experiment, too? Anyway…

Way, waaaay back in February, I started knitting a pillow with Lion Brand’s Luxe Fur Yarn. It was on super sale at Michael’s and so so soft, I picked up like 10 balls and was determined to knit something…ANYTHING with it. Maybe a teddy bear?!

I knew that it would be a little tricky to knit with yarn that had so much texture, so I paired it with a regular worsted weight yarn in a similar tone. That just so happened to be Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca. I started knitting a gauge swatch and wondered what it would look like if I dropped the fur and worked stripes without it. I knew I’d need to use a smaller needle, so I switched right there. I made a little swatch with furry stripes and knew I was on to something.

What proceeded was a marathon knitting session where I jotted down notes on notes of measurements and calculated possible patterns. I realized that one stitch with both yarns (and the larger needle) was close enough to two stitches with just my lighter yarn (and smaller needle). Using a series of short rows, I was able to create the front of the pillow you see above in one single piece. The blocking I did afterwards was minimal, too. I didn’t have much to do once I finished.

Yarns: Lion Brand Luxe Fur (about 6 skeins) and Berroco Ultra Alpaca (2 skeins)
Needles: 6.5 mm (US 10.5) and 3.75 mm (US 5) 29″ circular needles (you’ll be using both at the same time)
Gauges: (both yarns, bigger needle) 16 sts x 28 rows = 6″ x 6″ in garter stitch
(lighter yarn, smaller needle) 11 sts x 15 rows = 2″ x 2″ in stockinette stitch

luxefur03

I started by casting on 50 stitches with both yarns and the bigger needle. I knit one row, then started my work with both needles and gauges. When I was using the smaller needle, I knit with only the ultra alpaca. When I switched back to the larger needle, I picked up the Luxe Fur.

Row 2 looked something like this: With smaller needle, kfb, switch to larger needle and both yarns, K 48, switch to smaller needle, kfb, turn. [What I ended up with is 4 stitches on the smaller needle and 48 stitches left on the bigger needle]

Still using smaller needle, Rows 3 and 4 were my short rows. For Row 3, I slipped the edge stitch, purled the next stitch, wrapped the next stitch and turned. Row 4, I knit the two stitches, then turned.

Row 5 went right across. When I came to a wrapped stitch, I just picked the wrap up and knit it with the stitch. I started with the smaller needle and slipped 1, P 1, switch needles and K 48, switch needles and P 2, turn. The furry part of the pillow is in garter stitch while the other is in stockinette.

Rows 6 and 7 were short rows like 3 and 4. Row 6: slip 1, K 1, wrap and turn. Row 7: P 2, turn.

Row 8 and every 6th row from here on out, I increased the number of stockinette stitches by knitting in the front and back of the edge fur stitches with the smaller needle. I ended up with 4 rows of stockinette in the lighter yarn equaling 2 rows of garter stitch in the heavier weight. It certainly wasn’t a perfect match, but it worked! I increased the stockinette portion until I only had 10 stitches left in the original gauge on the larger needle and 80 stitches on the smaller needle (40 on each side).

luxefur02

At this point, I started the same sort of pattern, but instead of increasing the stockinette portion, I decreased by using my larger needle and both yarns. Basically, I would use the larger needle and both yarns to turn two stockinette stitches into one on either side of my fuzzy center. Once I got back to 50 stitches on my larger needle, I had about as close to a square as I would get.

It was actually a rather simple pattern, but the result looks rather impressive, if I may say so.

The back of the pillow is two fuzzy panels with twisted rib in the smaller gauge. It was meant to be an envelope design, but I stuffed a 24″ pillow and it gaped too much, so I attached a zipper along the edge of one side and along the furry edge of the other.

luxefur04

luxefur01

Do you ever get the desire to experiment with knitting like this? I can say this is the first time for me. I don’t know if I’ll make anything similar. This pillow is enormous, so maybe one day I’ll knit a smaller one to compliment it. I DO like knitting with yarns I don’t normally have in rotation. That’s why I’m currently in a big chunky yarn fit. I have knit no less than 5 cowls for Christmas. This entire week I’ve been sick, all I wanted to do was knit, but coughing and knitting equals gross.

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“Crochet With One Sheepish Girl” book review & giveaway

Crochet with One Sheepish Girl

Hey, friends! I hope everyone is well. I have a cough that just won’t go away. It’s just a little scratch at the back of my throat that makes me sound like I’m trying to get people’s attention every 5 minutes. Ahhheeemmmm.

Anyway! Today, I have something really lovely to talk about. I have been following Meredith Crawford’s blog, One Sheepish Girl, for a little while, so when I was asked if I wanted to review her new book AND have a giveaway on the blog, I immediately responded with a “heck yes!” Not my exact words, but you get the idea.

Crochet with OSG table of contents

First of all, this book is a thing of beauty. The photos are gorgeous and the projects are all bright and pretty. My FAVORITE aspect of the book, though? The table of contents! Recently, my son has asked to read the table of contents for any book we are starting. It was kind of weird at first, but now it’s part of our routine. It’s nice to know what’s coming up and in this book, you can SEE everything. I loved that.

The first part of the book includes a sweet introduction and then some very detailed instructions for crocheting. There are directions for the basic stitches you’ll need to know, changing colors, finishing, embroidering, surface crochet, blocking, and even sewing in a zipper or liner! All have step by step photos and instructions. That alone makes it a great gift for new crocheters. I would have loved to have this when I first started. I’ll definitely be referencing these when I get around to working with zippers (I’ve been crocheting for 8-ish years and they STILL scare me).

The rest of the book is the patterns, divided into three categories: WEARING, LIVING, and, GIVING. It’s pretty easy to find something to crochet for any occasion.

scallopstripcowl3

I went through the book several times to figure out what I wanted to make for this post. I chose to crochet the Scallop Stripe Cowl. The pattern calls for super bulky yarn, of which I didn’t have in colors I loved, so I used two strands of worsted weight yarn. I used the same hook size (N) and it worked out nicely!

The instructions were very easy to follow, though I would have liked to have a stitch count at the end of rows. That’s just a personal preference, though! I think this pattern would be very easy to adjust to work with different weights of yarn. The stitch pattern is simple enough to memorize and work while you’re watching a favorite TV show or listening to music/books.

scallopstripcowl

scallopstripcowl2

Pattern: Scallop Stripe Cowl by Meredith Crawford from Crochet With One Sheepish Girl
Yarn: one skein each of Red Heart Soft in deep sea and Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn in light peach, held double
Hook: 10mm (US N/15)

Now, if the weather here in Houston would cooperate with my yarny desires, it’d be cold enough to wear this regularly. Just wearing it to take the photos had me super cozy, on the verge of a sweat.

If you are interested in the book, you can find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble! Perhaps you can buy one for yourself, then try and win one for a friend? Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below! No purchase necessary. Open to residents of the US and Canada only. Giveaway ends October 30, 12am.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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