Saturday, December 31, 2011

Coral Cables

I knitted a pair of leg warmers a few weeks ago and I love them! They've been keeping my legs toasty warm. They only took half the skein of yarn I hand dyed with Kool Aid. That left plenty for another pair and I quickly got started. I worked on them just about every chance I could, in between making Christmas gifts, the holiday activities, and busy-ness of life. I finished them yesterday morning.

I found the pattern on Ravelry and it's free. It's called "Waterlily Leg Warmers". It calls for the use of three different sizes of double point needles, 7, 8 and 9. However, I knitted the last pair with fives and they fit my skinny legs perfectly. So, I read through the project notes of other Ravelers and decided to stick with fives on this pair too. They're a little snug compared to the last pair but not tight. That should prevent them from slipping down.

The pattern was simple, easy to memorize and fun to knit.

I really enjoyed knitting with yarn I had dyed myself. I really like the variation in color. It's so pretty! The Lyon Brand Fisherman's Wool is a little itchy but it's perfect for this project because I wear them over knee socks to prevent that. It's not super wash but I tend to hand wash a lot of my handmade items. I'll just be a little extra gentle on these.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Needle Cozy

A very good friend of mine started learning to knit and weave a couple of years ago. She's doing great at both. Well, as all knitters know, the ever growing collection of needles eventually need a place to stay where they can be all together, organized, and safe. Yarn shops don't always carry needle cases. When they do, they tend to be a little pricey and usually not very pretty. I made one for myself a few years ago and I love it! So, I thought, what better gift this Christmas than to make a needle case for her.

An added bonus to this project was that I did a little de-stashing from those bulging fabric bins. I only had to buy one extra fat quarter and was lucky enough to find the right one. I used a total of four fat quarters, left over black fabric and some left over fleece as the batting inside. I even had thread to match. I love these colors and prints.

I used the fat quarters as my guide for how large I was going to make it. I just trimmed them up to square off the edges. I used one fat quarter for the outside; one for the inside; one the two levels of pockets with black fabric inside the pockets to make it so I didn't need another fat quarter; fleece on the inside; and one more fat quarter for the binding.

The stripes made it easy to keep my seams straight for the pockets. I alternated the top row pockets with the bottom row to help the needles fit better when the case is all rolled up. The case is a perfect fit for 9" and 10" needles with a flap that folds over to secure them when the case is rolled up. However, 14" needles can also be stored in it. The top flap just won't fold over quite as far. It even holds her circulars! Yay!

Flap down...

Rolled up and tied...

All her needles are safe and sound and all in one place.

And, she loved it! :-)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Simple Things Mean So Much

I gave my mom the quilt today and she loved it!  She even got a little choked up.  I didn't expect that.  But, we've had a tough year with the loss of three uncles, a cousin (her nephew,) and her brother has been in the hospital for weeks.  When things like that happen, we tend to look at life a little differently, family means more and so do the little a kitty quilt.  My dad's eyes watered up when he opened the gift I gave to him.  It was a picture frame with three pictures from a recent visit from his sister which I just found last year after losing contact for decades.  It was a good Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Kitty Quilt

A few months ago, my parents decided to give up the RV lifestyle they'd lived for over 10 years and move back into a house. They needed to furnish their new home and I helped out by giving them an antique bedroom set that I had leftover from transforming our guest room into a craft studio. That meant I needed to empty out a dresser full of fabric. I loaded it all into plastic storage bins and was determined to keep it to three. But, they were a little bulgy...

There wasn't anything I wanted to get rid of. So, I needed to do some stash busting. The bulgy bins were just what I needed to finally get the inspiration to do something with some quilt squares my mom had made and given to me years ago. Since she had put time and effort into making them, she must have liked them. So, what about using them to make her a Christmas gift? Seemed like a good idea to me. There were 16 cat blocks, a little pattern book and a bag of buttons for eyes.

I went through my stash to try and find coordinating fabrics to finish it but had no luck. The fabrics were from the 80's and that made it challenging to find colors that worked. I ended up buying a solid blue that matched a blue in most of the cats. I used it to outline the blocks. I also bought some cute green print fabric from a local quilt shop that I had planned to use for a border. But, by the time I had put all the blocks together, it was so large that I didn't need a border. It would have looked adorable on the back with the leftover kitty block in the center but I didn't buy enough.

I found a thick, furry fabric that I used for the backing and batting all in one. It was wide enough that I didn't even need to piece it! I tied the layers together with white crochet cotton and bound the quilt with more blue fabric. The furry fabric feels really nice and it looks good too. I think this quilt will be nice for her to curl up with on the sofa in chilly weather. It's soft and cozy.

It's all folded up and ready for wrapping. I hope she likes it!

My fabric stash didn't go down with this project because the cat blocks were replaced with green print fabric and a little leftover fur. But, hey, I tried. And, I'm not giving up just yet. I have fabric for a couple of quilts and some garments that I'm anxious to get started on. I wonder if finishing those will lessen the stash enough to close those bins? At least, those kitties won't be staring at me anymore when I look through my stash!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Warm and Toasty

I just finished up the leg warmers that I talked about in my last post. Yay! It's been cold here lately. I think they're going to get a lot of use.

I used less than half the ball of Fishermen's Wool. So, that means it took less than 230 yards to make these. I still have a little bit of yarn on the one ball I used to knit these. And, I'm happy to report that my pull skein worked fabulously! :-)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ball Winding for a Toasty Project

Whenever I pack to go on a trip, yarn projects are high on the list of importance. I take projects in progress; spend hours looking through patterns on Ravelry and in the patterns I have in books and notebooks; dig through my stash; and always, always, bring way more than I could possibly finish or even work on. It's almost like I think vacation will give me endless time and super fast ability to accomplish way more than is humanly possible in a very short amount of time. It's a nice dream!

This vacation was no exception. I took my troublesome vest project that I started on a couple years ago, put in time out over and over, and have been trying hard to finish the past couple weeks but keeps giving me trouble. I took a sock project I started a couple of months ago. I took a few small leftover balls of yarn, needles and the pattern for ruffled wine bottle cozies. I took an old shawl project. And, I threw in the yarn I dyed earlier this year, along with needles and patterns for leg warmers. There may have been more, but that's what I remember packing. This was only a five day trip!

The night before we left, I did some quick searches and video watching on how to wind center-pull balls of yarn by hand. Many of the videos used a nostepinne but others said I didn't really need one. It seemed that wooden spoons, cardboard toilet paper rolls, and other things would also work just fine. I have some fat knitting needles and figured one of those would work. So, I threw it in too.

Halfway through our drive to Utah, in the middle of the afternoon and the middle of the desert, I got started. I untwisted one skein of my hand dyed yarn and draped it over my knees, got out my big, fat knitting needle, and got started. Please excuse the poor quality photos. Many of them were taken with my cell phone.

It wasn't a "cake" shaped ball like I would get from my hand-crank ball winder but it was turning out just fine and I was having fun.

When I was all done winding, I slid it off the needle and...Ta Da....I did it! A pull skein!

On the way home, I started winding the second skein of yarn. Looking good!

However, this perfect look was verrrry time consuming. So, when I got home, I watched another video and started over. The next try was turning out well but equally time consuming. I ended up just winding a round ball because it's faster.

Here it is. Not as pretty, but it should (hopefully) work just as well.

That big bag of projects?...the only things I did was wind balls, and start on a pair of leg warmers. But, I had a lot of fun.

Here's the first leg warmer...

I'm using a free pattern from Ravelry called, "Les Cables de Faux" and size 5 double point needles. I started out making the small size but it was huge! So, I re-cast on with 50 stitches and it turned out perfect. It stays up and doesn't slip down. They can be made larger or smaller in multiples of 5. They're pretty easy. I just have to keep track of which row I'm on in the eight row repeat.

I took the advice of another Raveler and changed row 7 to: P2, K1, YO, K2TogTBL. Basically, the only difference is the last stitch. The K2TogTBL replaces SL1, K1, PSSO. It's much easier, quicker, and more fun but it yields the same results.

When I tried on the first one, it was toasty warm. I'm anxious to finish the second one so I can wear them. The weather has been quite chilly lately.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Salsa Dancing in the Leaves

Our Thanksgiving trip to Zion included my whole hubby, my daughter and...yes...our dog, Salsa, and cat, Duchess. They love to go bye-bye as much as we do. The cat enjoys lounging in the backseat with my daughter as we travel. After arrival, Duchess lounges around under cozy blankets and takes in the view through the trailer windows. Salsa is happy to go anywhere. We just say "wanna go bye-bye?" and she's up and ready to go. Even when it's the vet! Lucky for her, this was a much better trip. It included lots of extra time with us and more walks than usual. She was an extra happy girl!

Zion had something she loves....LEAVES! She likes it when we kick them or toss them up in the air. Yippee!

Dance for joy!

Leap into the air and catch the leaves! Wooohooo!

She got to wear her new little red coat for those chilly morning walks. Hubby puts up with the coat. At least it's not a frilly pink dress or something! I like that she seems to enjoy wearing it and it keeps her warm. We kept her long and shaggy for this trip so she could stay warmer. But, she quickly went to the doggy groomer for a haircut when we got back. She's now back to her trim, stylish and beautiful self. I should have taken a picture of her new "do" but we've been so busy snuggling with her clean and velvety soft self and we haven't taken the time. What a cutie and sweetheart she is! We love our Salsa! :-D

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fall in Zion

The vibrant colors in Zion National Park during Thanksgiving week were incredible and one of the highlights of our visit. We weren't sure if we were going to miss the colors since we were going so late in the Autumn season. So, imagine our surprise and delight after our night time arrival and waking up in the morning to colors like these...

As the breezes blew, the trees whispered those peaceful whoooshing sounds and leaves gently fell to the ground like giant snowflakes. They decorated the landscape, in the trees and on the ground. Zion was even more beautiful with all the extra color and magic of the leaves.

The bright yellows were so pretty with splashes of other orange! I love this scene at the visitor center with the colorful trees and the American Flag...

Breathtakingly, vibrant and beautiful color! I love, love, love it!

We just couldn't stop taking photos. I took over 550 and I think my daughter took at least that many.

A lemony yellow tree with a black, water stained, sandstone wall behind it...

Intense oranges...

Even the lichen was getting in on the fun...

Every step along the trails was filled with color and beauty. Check out the pinks...

How about some yellow lace?!...

The color combinations were fun to see and I imagined them in yarn! The greens, golds and tans on this part of the trail were pretty...

Oooohh....more red!...

Soo pretty!...

The colors weren't the only star of the show. The textures and shapes are beautiful too! Like these oak leaves on super fine, soft sand...

There were even a few flowers here and there. I saw some tiny purple ones and these little yellow ones...

There was even a little greenery like these ferns tucked into moist little crevices of the rocks...

Living in Southern California doesn't provide the huge amount of Fall color that Zion and other parts of the country usually see. So, this was a real treat. We have more color this Fall than usual but nothing like what we saw in Zion.

I think it's interesting that as much of the country's leaves are turning colors, dropping off and the landscapes are turning brown...and white with snow, my part of the country is turning green as the rains water the brown landscape and seeds begin to sprout. In the Spring, as our green landscape will die back to brown, much of the country will turn from brown to green. I love how nature gives us constantly changing beauty and such wonderful surprises when we take the time to look. Nature is AWESOME!