Saturday, January 31, 2009

What can I say, I'm obsessed...

...with mittens. The lavendar pair in the previous post was a prototype and I used a rather cheap acrylic yarn. They are warm and cute but not very soft. So I found this yarn from Unger in my stash, which is a better acrylic and much softer, and I knit up an identical pair. I like the contrasting pom-poms. (And while we are on the subject, I used to hate making pom-poms but I got a Michael's coupon and bought the Clover pom-pom maker and now they are a breeze to make and so cute!)

Here is the pattern:

Finished Size: At palm 8", cuff 4", overall length 11" These are very roomy mittens.

Yarn: Worsted Weight, approximately 4 oz. Coordinating color for ties and pom-pom

Needles: Four double-pointed size 9 (5.5mm)

Gauge: 4 sts X 5.5 rows = 1"

With double pointed needles, cast on 64 sts. Place a marker at the beginning of the row.

Work in K2, P2 ribbing for 7 rows.

Decrease row: K2 together across row, 32 sts.

Row 1 - Purl
Row 2 - Knit
Row 3 - Purl
Row 4-8 - Knit
Row 9 - Purl
Row 10 - Knit
Row 11 - Purl
Row 12 & 13 - Knit
Row 14 - * Knit 2 together, YO; repeat from *
Row 15-16 - Knit
Row 17 - Purl
Row 18 - Knit
Row 19 - Purl

Thumb Gusset
Left mitten: Knit 17, place marker, make 1, knit 1, make 1, place marker, knit to end of round.
Right mitten: Knit 15, place marker, make 1, knit 1, make 1, place marker, knit to end of round.

Row 21 - Knit
Row 22 - Knit to first thumb marker, make 1, knit 3, make 1, knit to end of round
Row 23 - Knit
Row 24 - Knit to first thumb marker, make 1, knit 5, make 1, knit to end of round
Row 25 - Knit
Row 26 - Knit to first thumb marker, make 1, knit 7, make 1, knit to end of round
Row 27 - Knit
Row 28 - Knit to first thumb marker, remove it, slip 9 stitches onto a holder, cast on 1 stitch and knit to end of round
Continue to knit until mitten is about 1/4-1/2" from your longest finger.
Shape Top
Decrease round: Knit 2 together, knit 14, K2 together, knit to end of round
Next row: *Knit 4, knit 2 together; repeat from *
Next row: *Knit 3, knit 2 together; repeat from *
Next row: *Knit 2, knit 2 together; repeat from *
Next row: *Knit 1, knit 2 together; repeat from *

Cut yarn, thread through remaining stitches twice and pull tight.

Place the 9 stitches from a holder onto needles. Pick up 3 stitches from where you cast on the 1 stitch and place marker at beginning of round. Knit these 12 stitches until thumb is covered.

Decrease round: Knit 2, knit 2 together.

Cut yarn and pull through all stitches, making sure it is secure.

Ties and pom-pom (make 2)- Cut six 40" lengths of yarn. Using 2 strands each, braid until you have about 30". Make a pom-pom (I used a Clover pom-pom maker). Thread the braided tie through the eyelet row and then attach the pom-poms to the tie (I used a needle to thread the braided tie's ends through the pom-pom, tying them tightly and the trimming the ends so it matches the pom-pom)

Weave in yarn ends and enjoy!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

MItten Love

Dear Mittens,
I want to sincerely apologize. I didn't know what a little slice of perfection you were. I made the mistake of assuming that because you were small that you would be fussy and persnickety like your cousin, the sock. My ignorance of the simple mechanics of making a thumb gusset led me to ignore you for all these years.
I am sorry for having underestimated you so. What a little slice of heaven you are to knit. Oh, many wax poetic about the virtues of the sock but give me a sweet pair of mittens anyday.

You are so gracious and humble - you require little time and even less yarn, yet, within you lies a little microcosm of all the design possibilities - stitch, yarn and color combinations that can be tested and tweaked. You have inspired me in a way that no other knitting has inspired me and I promise never to take you for granted again.



Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Show me the (creative) love

Two items for today. First of all, I previously posted about wanting a "creative buddy". I actually posted this on Craig's List on a whim. To my surprise, I got a couple of responses and have since met some wonderful, intellegent, creative women and have several more that I hope to meet soon. Just goes to show that you never know until you try. I'm glad I stepped outside of my comfort zone and tried this one.

Second, awhile back while searching the internet I found a workshop offered in California called The Creative Entrepreneur. It looked fascinating. The workshop uses visual journals as a means for coming up with a business plan. I emailed the teacher (never got a response, thank you) and asked if there was a manual or something that I could purchase since I couldn't make it to California anytime soon. Well, wouldn't you know, there I was in the bookstore yesterday and she had written a book aptly titled The Creative Entrepreneur. I plopped down my $22 and I am very excited to get started. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Treasure Hunting

Some people turn their noses up at thrift stores. My husband is one of those people. For the most part, after getting hand-me downs as a kid, he wants his clothes new.
Second-hand clothing doesn't bother me. As a matter of fact, the hunt is part of the fun. I also like that I am being environmentally conscious (trust me, to my shame, I am not always so good), and that I am getting a lot for my money.
Now there are some things I won't buy at the thrift store (underwear, shoes and jeans are the main items. Underwear and shoes I think are self-explanatory, jeans because I am hard to fit and need a long inseam) and there are some thrift stores that I won't go to (I do have a threshold for cleanliness/grossness and some stores have pushed it). For the most part, though, I can easily kill a couple of hours and there are some great stores near my house.
This week I paid a visit to 2 stores. While I told you about some of the stuff I got, here is the run down of everything I got for $100:
1.Bohemian cardigan (pictured below)
2. Black Apostrophe shirt
3. Long sleeve (print) t-shirt
4. 2 sweaters which I will unravel for the yarn
5. Poncho which I will unravel for the yarn
6. Denim jacket
7. 3 casual blazers
8. Black dress skirt
9. Candie's capri's
10. Old Navy long sleeve tunic
11. Black/white/grey knit pullover
12. Banana Republic T-shirt
13. Knit hooded pullover
14. J.Jill cardigan
15. Black and white cropped cardigan
16. Black Ralph Lauren hooded zippered cardigan
17. Large round decorative tray
18. Brand new decorating book

I got 21 items so that is approximately $5 a piece I spent for these items. Now I shop carefully, I try things on and I am pretty aware of what looks and doesn't look good on my body type so I rarely get home and have a loser (which I either try to refashion or donate back to charity).

My shopping strategy is to try to find basics like the black skirt or denim jacket (yes, even though I already have 4) and then look for pieces that I can layer. Although the weather in Texas is mild, I find that I usually like to have a jacket or cardigan no matter what time of year it is because in the winter it can be cold and in the summer, many stores and offices run the air conditioning at arctic temps.

I would encourage everyone to hit their local thrift store, consignment store, flea market, garage sale or vintage shop because you never know what treasure you will find.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

HIp to be Square

Like almost every knitter/crocheter/sewer that I know, I have amassed insane quantities of yarn and fabric and continue to acquire more! I am not delusional, I know the stash will outlive me, but I am at least trying to keep from being completely buried by it by exercising a little stash management. What project would take up a decent amount of yarn or fabric? A blanket. So I have been working on some quilts and afghans as a way to use up some oddball skeins and fabric.

Unfortunately, quilts and afghans do NOT use up as much yarn or fabric as you think but they can be fun. I came across a block pattern for a baby blanket and started knitting squares. These squares are fun to knit and I think they are pretty. When I have enough to make a big afghan (I really hate those tiny little blankets, I want to be covered from my feet up to my neck), I will crochet the squares together. This particular one is going to be in blues, violets and greys.

On a separate note, I got a surprise day off yesterday and went to a favorite thrift store. I came home with some amazing finds - a Ralph Lauren hooded sweater, a Limited jean jacket (I seem to be collecting jean jackets as that is my 4th one) and this:
I absolutely adore this cardigan. Unfortunately, it is falling apart but I bought it just to remind me of the possibilities. It is a combination of knit and woven fabrics and I love the juxtaposition of the chunky knit with the silky and sheer fabrics. It has a very boho vibe and I adore it.
I managed to find quite a few good tops that I will refashion as well as some sweaters that I will be unravelling for yarn.
I don't know what it is, but I love the thrill of a hunt and hitting paydirt (and being economically responsible and earth friendly at the same time).

Friday, January 9, 2009

Wanted: Creative Buddy

I've always been sort of a self-help junkie, but my forties have been incredibly insightful as I have learned so much about myself. I recently read "The Truth About You" by Marcus Buckingham and he points out 3 truths.
1. As you grow, you become more and more of who you already are.
2. You grow most in your areas of strength (by the way a strength is NOT something you are good at, it is something that makes you feel strong, confident and energize you. You could be good at something but loathe it, in which case it is a weakness. A weakness is not something you are bad at, it is something that makes you feel weak or
sucks your soul dry.)
3. A good team player volunteers his strengths to the team most of the time and deliberately partners with people who have different strengths.

The most interesting to me are #1 and #2. I have wasted tons of my time focused on my weaknesses. I didn't realize I was doing it until recently. But now I know better.

All of this newfound self-knowledge has led me on a quest to live my most authentic life (sorry I sound like one of those philosophy spouting self-help gurus) but it is the best way to describe it. Since I have decided to do this, one of my goals is to redirect my career towards one of design, the etsy store is one step in that direction.

But one of the most important things I realized about myself is that I love taking classes. Not algebra or quantum physics, but classes in creativity and design, anything from cake decorating and knitting to writing and graphic design. Being around other creative people really energizes me and feeds my creativity and inspiration.

So I am on my search for a creative buddy. At least one person who has similar interests and aspirations as myself so that we can motivate, inspire, cheer each other forward and celebrate our successes with. Narrow-minded, judgmental, critical naysayers need not apply.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year

I wish everyone a wonderful 2009. Despite the lack of postings the last couple of weeks, I have been very busy. To see some of my work, visit my etsy shop