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1  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Commemorative travel bags! on: January 24, 2015 03:56:34 PM
My younger sister does a lot of international travel for work, and 2014 was particularly busy.  Leafing thru Mary Jane Mucklestone's 150 Scandinavian Motifs I started picking different images for the different countries she'd gone to.  Owls, for Greece.  Flying horses, for Kazakhstan.  And a row of dancing women for the girls program in Malaysia.  And I started dreaming... of a sweet little laptop cover....

When you have an idea, you can't wait to get started.  I didn't have fingering yarn, or sport yarn, and any "nice" yarn at all.  I did have two skeins of Red Heart, in a rich gold and intense scarlet.  So, I started.  Just a swatch, you know.  Just to see if the idea would work....  

I quickly realized that this was going to make a way taller bag than I had imagined, and - unless I made it about the size of a pillow case, I wasn't going to be able to get all three motifs in one bag.  And by that point I was 8" into the first bag, so I wasn't about to stop....

I wished I'd used a softer yarn, but these turned out quite nicely as bags to hold special trinkets or sundries in your luggage.  Still in the process of putting in their linings, but I wanted to share.  This is the second bag I made, and I made a hem at the top, which will help when I put in the zipper.  I love this motif the best!

This is a fairly flat bag; altho not as flat as I mean it to be.  I started by knitting a rectangle for the bottom, and knitting from the bottom up.

This is actually the bag I made first, when I was still under the illusion I would get all these motifs in on one bag.  This was knit from the top down.  (If I did it again, I would knit a pearl row and fold over a hem.  Live and learn.)

I didnt get the bottom of the bag quite the way I wanted it I was going for something like a paper bag bottom, and I didnt decrease quite fast enough.  But this is not too bad!

My sister has lots more travel on tap for 2015 - maybe this time I'll acually *pick* the yarn!
2  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / New Throw Pillows on: September 04, 2014 03:39:56 PM
And all from stash!  I used up some partial skeins of Bernat's Mosaic, some Vanna White natural, and backing made from a drop cloth I've been cutting up and using in everything.

The first two are a simple diagonal, and a mitered pattern in garter stitch, nd have a kinda cool optical effect.

The third is a honeycomb stitch from (I think) Barbara Walker, and I really love the texture.

Now that I have new throw pillows, I need to recover the sofa.  And paint the living room....
3  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / An improved plastic planter on: September 04, 2014 02:53:10 PM
Last summer, my neighbor pulled a cheap plastic planter out of the trash and presented me with it for my yard.  I thought it was the ugliest thing I'd ever seen, and ducked the issue every time she asked about it.

But the more I looked at it, the more I realized, it actually had nice lines.  And it was a nice height.  So, two cans of textured faux stone paint and some quick growing bedding plants later....

... I'm actually proud to have it in my garden!

And I'm looking for some more....
4  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Inexpensive raised garden bed -- picture-rich! on: September 04, 2014 10:51:32 AM

Ever since I moved to this house, I have wanted to put in a raised garden bed along the backside of neighbors garage, to create a little more gardening space. I priced stone, but realized that anything even marginally nicer than cinder block would cost a pretty penny not to mention being a PIA to transport the stone in my tiny car.  I had almost resolved to spend the money when I thought of landscape timbers.  Cheap, ($3.25 an 8 length) easy to find, easy to work with, and easy to pick up and carry.  (Which became even more of an issue this summer as I developed spinal arthritis and carpal tunnel.)  I havent filled it all in and planted it yet, but Im so pleased I cant tell you!  But Ill try

Altho it was about 2 months from first design to completion, it really took only 4-5 afternoons.  Part of the challenge was finding 9 timbers at the box store that werent bowed, cupped, bent or split.  I borrowed my brother-in-laws Sawz-all and cut 12 2-foot sections.  Then I cut a notch in one end of each of the short lengths, and notched both ends of 6 full length ones.  

Safety first; always wear protective eyewear, and have proper feline supervison.

The space the bed occupies is half on concrete, half on soil, so I excavated where the short lengths of the U would rest and put in a layer of gravel.  Probably unnecessary, but couldnt hurt.  Using 4 decking screws, I put 3 in each of the long timbers, one in each corner join, and one additional screw in each of the short legs, screwing each layer to the previous one.

When I got to the fifth and penultimate layer, I stapled in a triple thick layer of landscape cloth inside the bed, running the bottom end of it across the concrete and pinning it into the soil.  Will keep the soil from running out the cracks, and perhaps keep the soil moister longer.

Had to bring in a secondary supervisor.

I worried about frost heave, and soil slump eventually pushing the U-shaped frame away from my neighbors garage, and initially thought about bolting it to the cement foundation with L-brackets and masonry screws, but ultimately came up with a more elegant (and less destructive) solution.  Towards the end of each of the shorter legs, where the wood rested on soil, I drilled a 5/8 hole.  Then I took a 2-foot length of rebar, pounded down about 8-10 inches into the soil, to hold the frame in place.

I knew rain would run down that hole, creating more possibility for rot, so I made sure the rebar stuck up only about 2 from the top of the fifth course.  Then I drilled the hole only halfway thru the final row, from the underside.

That way, when I screwed the final course into place theres no hole for the rain to dribble in!

The final bed is 8wide by 2 deep and almost 18 deep, with just enough room to tuck the recycling cart in.  I know it wont last forever; the wood will start to rot eventually.  But at less than $40 for the whole project, I can afford to replace it 5-6 years down the road!

Now to fill it with soil and plant it out!  Thanks for looking.
5  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Twirly, swirly, little girl dress on: July 11, 2014 04:27:52 PM
It took about a month, but I finally finished this dress for a young friend of mine who like twirly things.

It's from this pattern, and is a great, easy knit.  http://knitting.about.com/od/childrenspatterns/ss/girls-sundress.htm

The pattern calls for fairly slender straps that seemed a little too thin to hold up the weight of the cotton of the dress, so I used short rows to add tiny cap sleeves.  (The dress itself used an entire giant skein of cotton, with about a yard to spare, so I just pulled another color out of the stash.  Doesn't excatly match, but good enough!)

I learned how to do a Picot Cast On with this dress, which I quite liked; a Picot Bindoff, which I didn't, and ended up not using.

I think if I do this dress again, I'd make the cap sleeves a little longer, maybe a little fuller, and probably in garter stitch or reverse stockinette, to better match the texture of the bodice. 

I think I'd purl the first worked row after picking up stitches on the neckline. And I'd reduce the number of stitches in that first row.  (It flops just a little bit.)

But mostly, the next time I make this dress, I'll make it for a smaller child!

6  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / DIY playoff beard! on: July 08, 2014 02:57:18 PM

I love the tradition of players not shaving during their playoff run as a sign of their dedication, and when my hockey team made the playoffs for only the second time in franchise history, I wanted to play along.  

So, I started my Blue Jackets beard, making it up as I went along. (Photo below)  I knit the base, the part that covers your face in blue.  Then I knit two rows for each game; red (their secondary color) for a Jackets win, or black for a Penguins win.

Unfortunately, my team didnt make it past the first round, so I bound it off in lime green (also a Jackets color!) and started a beard for my first love, the Chicago Blackhawks. (Photo above!)

I did this one a little differently; made the ear loops a little larger, and the beard itself a little narrower.  And I stuck with one color, Blackhawks red, for Chicago.  But I added in another two rows for each period of over time.  (There were a lot of OT periods in this series!)  

This beard stretched thru the Blackhawks series with the St. Louis Blues, the Minnesota Wild, and their ultimate defeat at the hands of the purple-clad LA Kings.  But it was fun while it lasted!

7  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Cap'n America crib blanket for a small superhero... on: March 18, 2014 12:15:01 PM

This blanket got shelved for a month or two, but I'm so pleased with it I wanted to share.

I wanted to try out this pattern from Ravelry  -- http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/baby-shane-blanket -- (some day I'll figure out how to do the "just the name, clicky link thing")

I was looking for affordable, so I went with Red Heart Soft, and was very pleasantly surprised -- these skeins really were soft!  And I love the vintage American vibe of the colors.

It ended up being really large, 47"x47" and has a lovely drape.  The only drawback is that I'm not really wild about the look of the backside, so I may go back and line it before gifting it.  And if I knit it again, I will try to figure out the provisional cast on, so I can do it with no seams.  But over all, I'm really pleased!
8  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Tubular, dude... on: January 15, 2014 09:34:33 AM
I don't buy knitting books.  Between Ravelry and the library, I have access to more patterns than I can ever knit.

But that doesn't stop me from reading them at the craft store!  And browsing thru a copy of the cleverly named Cowlgirls: The Neck's Big Thing to Knit, I found a pattern for this cowl, called Put A Ring On It. Knit in the round, alternating several rows of knitting with several rows of purl make these very clever accordion tubes.

I had some super soft Heartland yarn, and a small amount of Paton's Metallic, so I doubled and tripled and used #13 needles -- and it was done in 2 short nights of TV!  It's exactly what I like in a cowl; not tight, but not floppy, looks cool tucked in under my coat or over a sweater, and you can pull it up to cover your ears (or even balaclava style) in bitter cold.  (The colors are much richer IRL.)

If I make it again (rainbow stripes? variegated and solids?) I'd start the flare a little sooner, and do a second row of increases towards the end.

Whaddya think?
9  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Stripes ahoy! on: November 20, 2013 11:35:08 AM
Every year my knitting group makes hats, scarves and gloves for an area homeless shelter, which we drop off the week before Thanksgiving.  A lot of the hats I'm making for the "13 in '13" knit-along are heading there way, but I wanted to share the quickest, most satisfying pattern I've found.

Margaret Radcliffe, in her Circular Knitting Workshop book, calls it the Helix Hat; it's a simple roll-brim cap with jogless stripes.  It's a quick knit, and I've used up a lot of small bits of leftovers in a delightful way!  You can make them short and perky, long and slouchy, decorate them with pompoms, tassels or buttons, dress 'em up or down -- and still finish them in a night or two!

(In fact, it's kinda addictive -- I can't stop making them!)

10  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Serenity -- now available in cotton! on: October 17, 2013 09:10:54 AM
A year or so go I took a stab at Laura Wilson-Martos' Serenity baby blanket, http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/serenity-2  mostly to use up an enormous skein of grape purple yarn.  And then I fell in love with the blanket!  Once you figure out how to enlarge the charts for easy-reading, this pattern is a real joy.  and I promised myself I would make it again, in white cotton.


The inspiration for the patterns was a line from the TV show 'Serenity' -- "Like a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar..." and you can see the leaves fluttering in the pattern.

It's about 42" square, and I'm trying to decide which small child I like best, to give it to.  If I give it to a child, I think I'll put a backing on it, to help it survive frequent washings.

And I'll start looking at ways to make one larger.  For me.  I cotton, of course!

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