Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Winter Cleaning

I have long heard about spring cleaning, but I think, when you live in a cold and snowy place, where you don't spend much time outside, January is when you notice that things need tidying. The more house bound I feel, the more I seem to try to create a more open space indoors, by sorting and tossing.

I also start planning what I will do with the stuff I turn up.

Yesterday, I started in on my "office". I sorted some new purse hardware into my drawers. I am embarrassed to say that I emptied my bag from quilt retreat, finally, and dealt with the stuff in the bag.  I washed some new fabric, and dreamed of what I could use it for. I laid out some combinations, and took pictures. would you like to see?

Some fabric I ordered, from an on line store, on boxing day, looks great, and I think it needs to become a bag.

A friend asked me to make her a Backgammon Bag.  She gave me some fabric for the points, from her stash. I was trying a couple of fabrics for the background.

Japanese fabrics with more Japanese fabric?

Japanese fabric with linen?

In monochrome.

I think I like the darker fabric. We will see what she says.

I also tried the linen with the cat fabric.

That has potential.

In knitting news, I finished another hat.

The pattern is called Expanding Rib Hat, and I knit this in the Men's size.  The yarn is Biscotte Griffon.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

I Have More Influence Than I Thought!

About a month ago, I did a review of some new knitting needles.  The review was rather well received by my small group of loyal followers. Looking at my stats, and tossing the stats from obvious web crawlers and the like, I figure about 75 people read my musings about my attempts at Art. Periodically, I review new products, books, recipes. All of this is for my entertainment, and, I hope, yours.

You can imagine my surprise when I received this email to my blog, this morning.

I am Craig. I represent ****, we are the leader in the manufacturing of ********** related products exclusively for commercial projects and the wholesale trade.
We are looking for an enthusiastic product review bloggers for our website ************* I am prepared to offer you a guestpost article to post on your blog, and to post this article we will give you $50 Amazon gift card after publishing the article.
Let me know what you think.

Thank you

Well, Craig, it is nice of you to offer. I thought it was especially nice that you were even going to provide all the words for me. I would enjoy having $50 to spend at Amazon. That would buy a lot of zippers.

However, Craig, I just don't think we are a good fit. The dogs, cats, teddies, and I don't have any use for your product. I suspect my readers don't either. We are just here to have fun.

However, if there are any makers of luxury yarn, or fine chocolates, who would like my HONEST opinion of your product, maybe we can talk! You don't pay me, and I'll tell my readers what I really think.

And for my cat fans, a picture of some tiny kittens. These guys have all gone to their new homes, now, but baby pictures are always cute! Left to Right, Bruno, Dickens, Drake, and Gary.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A Passport Neck Wallet

The Christmas season is official over. The tree is down, the cookies have all been eaten (although there is still some boozy fruitcake hiding in my cupboard!)

So, to celebrate winter, I bought a daffodil.

Somehow, grocery store potted bulbs are just what I need in the dull days of January and February.

A friend is going south (which seems wise) and I volunteered to make her a neck wallet for her passport.

I looked at the patterns available, and didn't see exactly what I wanted, but I did see a picture of a commercial one, that looked right.

I realized that it was a variation of the Double-Zip Wristlet, a tutorial by Bethany at Sweet Bee Buzzings. So I got out my passport, measured it up, and started to work.

I completed the front pocket, and thought I had better check to see if the passport fit.

Okay, looks good. Then I tried to put the passport through the zippered opening.

It is too narrow, by the width of the zipper slide. I completely forgot to take into account the zipper slide in my measurements.

Okay, Passport Wallet, take 2!

It fits! It slides in and out with ease. As you may be able to tell from the pictures, for awhile I was buying Oriental fat quarters. This seemed like a good way to use them up. However, I didn't really plan it use one for non-passport wallet.

Here is the completed wallet and strap.  Don't look too closely at the top stitching on the strap. 1/2 inch straps are really hard to top stitch and keep the stitching straight.

The back pocket can hold an itinerary, or boarding pass. I added a pocket for a credit card, or maybe a coffee card, so the user will have quick access to pay for snacks en route.

I sewed the strap to the back. I considered using a swivel clip and D-ring, but I didn't want any metal since it has to go through airport security.

I asked Bethany if I could post my changes to her pattern, and she graciously agreed, so if you want to make one, here are my measurements:

I used 2 fat quarters, and some scraps of interfacing and fusible fleece.

The general directions are the same as the tutorial.

Before you start, measure your passport. These measurements work for a Canadian passport. I don't know if they are standardized. I made the bag 2 1/4" wider and 2 1/2" longer than my passport.

From the exterior fat quarter, cut 2 pieces 2" x 22" for the strap, 2 pieces 7 1/2" x 5 1/2" for the exterior, 2 pieces 2" x 5 1/2" for the top of the front pocket, and 2 pieces 6" x 5 1/2" . I used 2 pieces of SF101 (woven interfacing) cut 7 1/4" x 5 1/4", and two pieces of fusible fleece cut 7" x 5" and fused those to the back side of the exterior pieces.

From the lining fat quarter, cut 2 pieces 7 1/2" x 5 1/2"., and 1 piece 3" x 7" for the slip pocket.

I followed Bethany's tutorial. Before I started sewing the top zipper, I made the slip pocket by folding it in half, sewing around, leaving an opening to turn, and top stitched it to a lining piece, 1 1/2"  from the top edge, and centred on the lining piece. 

The two pieces for the strap were joined, to make a 40" piece, I folded it into 4 and top stitched the edges (poorly). I attached the strap to the back, 1 1/2" down from the zipper, and 1 1/4" in from the side edges.

The top of my bag would have been tidier if I had trimmed more fabric away from the zipper seams, before I turned it, but I only realized that after I closed the bottom seam.

Thanks to Bethany for posting such an awesome Tutorial. I will be making more of these.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Good Bye 2017, Hello 2018

I always think it is good to summarize what I managed to accomplish over the past year in my world of Arts and Socks. So, here goes:


I created a pattern for a tote bag, and taught it in a class at my quilt group. 

I also made 

4 Tote Bags
8 Other Bags or Purses
2 Tablet Cases
2 Pairs of Shorts
4 Bibs
Christmas Tree Skirt (finally off my to finish list)
Preaching Stole
Wall Hnaging

Christmas Bibs For My Baby


4 Pairs of Baby Socks
4 Assorted Baby Hats
2 Pairs of Fingerless Mitts
1 Adult Hat
1 Scarf

Adult Hat

Works in Progress

2 Pairs of Socks
1 Pair of Mitts
2 Shawls

The Works in Progress are the ones I actually have immediate plans to finish. There are probably more that will find there way here in the next while.

Going forward, I am continuing to try not letting a day go by without some crafting. My knitting continues to travel with me, to meetings and appointments. Since most of my sewing is done by machine, I can't travel with it quite so well. 

I plan to make more bags, finish at least one quilt, and knit lots. I will continue to use my stash as much as possible. I will also keep learning new things.

Friday, December 29, 2017

What Shape Are Yoda's Ears?

"Do or do not, there is no try" - Yoda, "The Empire Strikes Back"

It is COLD, incredibly cold, as cold as it ever gets here. Today the HIGH was -19C.

So, I knit my grandson a helmet style hat, to keep his head warm. I consulted my favourite knitting style experts, my library Kids Can Knit friends. They all agreed that Yoda was perfect for a one year old. 

The pattern is from the book Monster Knits For Little Monsters, and the pattern is called Alien Elf. I got the pieces knit fairly quickly.

I love that the hat is knit without seams. When you are done, you are done, except for the ears. I spent three days trying to decide what Yoda's ears looked like.

This is the way the pattern suggested. That wasn't what I wanted.

Closer, but still not it.

Maybe more sideways? Nope.

I did an image search on line to see the shape of Yoda's ears, leaving no stone unturned. Then I had a eureka moment. It wasn't life changing but I started looking in another direction. I turned the ear sideways, putting the cast on edge at the top.

Okay, that looks more like the pictures of Yoda.

Next step was to make the second one a mirror of the first.

Then attach the ears, smoothly so my little boy won't feel them on the inside.

Bear volunteered to model, again. He loves to model baby things.

What can I say, I saw the first Star Wars movie when I was in university. In my opinion, it is still the best. 

I am rather pleased with the cast off. I used an invisible rib cast off. I had to watch a YouTube video to figure it out, but it makes a really nice finish.

The yarn is Zara Plus Solid by Filitura Di Crosa, an aran weight superwash merino. It is lovely and soft. I used 3.25 mm needles to get a nice tight knit, to keep the wind out. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas 2017

A cat friendly tree. Every day I get to decorate it again.

I bought this as a loose bulb in early December. It looks so cheery.

Christmas snow. Click on the picture and you can see the big flakes, just like in the movies.

I hope that you and yours are having a happy and safe celebration, and that all your surprises are happy ones!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

New Needles

I am not a "Social Media Influencer", in that I have a small number of blog followers and and even smaller number of Twitter followers. So, if I want to try new things, I buy them and you get my true impression.

Lately, I have seen these fancy new needles on several well known knitters web sites, and the engineer in me had to try them. The principle sounded good.

They are called Flexiflips and they are by Addi.  The idea is that you have three short circular type needles and use them for socks or mittens, instead of 4 or 5 double points.

Unlike the short circulars sold for sock knitting, the tips are 3.5" long, instead of short tips. This means you can hold the tip in your whole hand. I have tried the circular sock needles and find them uncomfortable to use.

You use three needles, one for the front of your work, and one for the back. The third needle becomes the working needle. Since the needles bend in the middle, it is easy to manipulate the stitches in a round.

The needles have the two different points that Addi has for their needles.

There is a short point,

And a longer narrower point (or in my world, a pointier point).

So far, I think they are okay needles, I don't find them any faster to use then my DPN's. I actually think that ribbing is slower, but maybe that is because I am knitting a man's mitten and there is 4 inches of ribbing. I am not sure how well they will work for the thumb, although I expect it is no worse then 8" DPN's.

I can see using one as a cable needle. Since I knit Continental style, a straight cable needle is awkward, when the cable stitches are left to the back of the work. The bend in the middle would get the needle out of the way.

I have knit with two circular needles to make socks and I have the problem that I lose track of which needle is which, ending up with one needle on the floor when I forget to switch. These are definitely superior to that. If you are working a patterned instep on a sock, these would work well for keeping the pattern stitches together. However, for my everyday ordinary vanilla socks, I think I will continue with my DPN's. They take up less space in my project bag, and a set of 5 (or 6) is half the price of a set of Flexiflips. My sock needles are also a handy measuring guide for knitting socks, since I use 6" needles, which is an excellent length for the leg of a sock.

In all, I don't think that they are any easier or harder to use then Double Points. They are easier, for me, than two long circulars and leave less for the kittens to play with.  If you like to try new things, and you are having problems using DPN's, you might want to give these a try.

Now for today's cuteness:

It's good to snuggle with a friend on a cold rainy day.