Sunday, February 26, 2012

Crochet, thrift store sweaters and trashed onesies recycled

The ripple afghan is coming along nicely. I've gotten another 6 rows done since taking the picture, and I love the way it's turning out. It's so pretty! The stitch pattern looks almost lacy in this DK weight yarn, Lion Brand LB Collection Superwash Merino. I LOVE this yarn. It's so soft and springy and just a delight to work with. I'll definitely use it in more projects after this.

I read about people recycling thrift store sweaters all the time, harvesting them for yarn or embellishing them with handmade elements, so I decided to check out the local Goodwill and try to score a couple rippable or embellishable sweaters.

Eh. I didn't find anything I'd want to rip. I did find four really great sweaters, though, and the whole mess cost me only $25. Pretty cool. One of the biggest scores was this:

It's a score because I have a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old. For that reason, I'm totally willing to wear this sweater and look like a giant ass. Their amusement is priceless!

While purging my dresser of clothes that I don't wear (to take to Goodwill!) so I can fit the clothes I actually DO wear in it, I found this lovely Express cabled merino/cashmere sweater that I have not worn in years, because it does not fit my post-childbearing boobs. Having two kids made them grow by a whole cup size, apparently permanently. So even though I didn't find any rippable sweaters at Goodwill, I ended up finding an excellent one in my own dresser! I have no idea what I'll make with it, but it is in my yarn stash now.

I haven't just been taking my own unused clothes to Goodwill, I also took a ton of my kids' outgrown clothes to Goodwill. The stuff that was too stained went to a special project that I've been planning for years: a trashed onesie quilt.

Whenever my daughters totally trashed a onesie, staining the front (or... heh... the back) beyond all repair, I cut off the section of fabric that wasn't stained to eventually make into what I'm calling a "trashed onesie quilt."

As I went through my kids' outgrown clothes, I found a lot more onesies, pajamas and T-shirts to add to the quilt.

Eeee! All those cute prints, on uber-soft cotton knit fabric. I also rescued some adorable appliques to add to the quilt:

I was sad to say goodbye to many of the clothes my kids have outgrown, but along with what I sent to Goodwill, I also sent a huge box to my sister-in-law for my niece and I saved a big bag of newborn stuff for my little sister, for when she has kids. It's great to know that all the clothes will be used again, and even the unwearable stuff is still being reused and recycled into what I hope will be an adorable quilt.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Knitting, Crochet and Sewing, Oh My!

Well, I've had a couple busy weeks of making stuff! It's been great. Let's see, where do I start...

Two new pairs of mittens for my kids, out of Knit Picks Chroma in the "U-Pick" colorway, a colorway that is unfortunately being discontinued!

I got all four mittens out of one ball of Chroma, with a tiny bit left over. I love them! They are so pretty, and really warm and soft.

One of my favorite things that I've made is my new handspun, hand-dyed, hand-crocheted cowl (as my husband said, "A full hand-job!" Gosh, what a lovely way to put it, husband...).

It's the first cowl I've ever made, and I must say, I love it! I spun and dyed the yarn months ago, and it's just been sitting there waiting to be made into this. Apparently I really like the combination of red and purple, which I didn't realize until I took the mittens and cowl out to the porch to photograph them. It's just double crochet, crocheting into the spaces between double crochet stitches, inspired by the Vintage Vertical Stripe afghan. I crocheted it in the round, and since the yarn is super bulky, it only took one day. I wore it the very next day and it was wonderfully warm!

I also got the Spring Ripple Baby Throw started, and I'm really enjoying it. The yarn, Lion Brand Superwash Merino, is WONDERFUL. It's so soft, and not at all splitty. Here's the first four rows. Soooo pretty.

It's the exact same stitch pattern as the Cottontail Dishtowels that I like to make. It's really easy to memorize, so it's great for crocheting in front of the TV. I got about 5 rows done in the car while my husband drove us to downtown Seattle and back the other day, a little over an hour round trip.

I also got to get my sewing machine out this weekend and turn this:

into these:

We rearranged the house this last week, taking what was the computer room and turning it into the girls' bedroom. We've had our younger daughter, now two, in our room since she was born. Her big sister, who's 4, had refused to sleep in her room for the last 6 months or so, and would bring her pillow and blanket into our room and sleep on the floor every night. We decided they were ready to share a room and we also figured (and hoped!) that they would stay in their room if they are together. Guess what? IT WORKED! For the last two nights, we have had our bedroom to ourselves! It's been a little weird, after 4 and a half years of having a kid or two in our room at night, but it's also been glorious.

I have no idea how I've made so much stuff in the last few weeks. It's all been a few minutes here, a few minutes there, while watching TV in the evening or scratching out a minute or two to knit or crochet during the day as a little sanity-break. Obviously, it adds up! The curtains were a several day process. I washed the fabric one day, ironed it the next, then Saturday I measured and cut it, and then I pressed, pinned and sewed them from 11:30 PM to 2:00 AM Saturday night. That's how a work-at-home mom of two gets time to make stuff!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Seamless Crochet

In my mom's closet, there is a bag of unjoined crocheted afghan squares.

She crocheted them while pregnant with me.

I'm 36.

That's right. There is a bag of 36-year-old unjoined afghan squares in my mom's closet. She learned to crochet and wanted to make an afghan while she was pregnant and bored. She got all the squares made, but she didn't know how to join them and in 1975 there was no YouTube, no Google, and she didn't know anyone else who crocheted. So she stuck them in a bag in the closet, and there they remain to this day.

I wish I could travel back in time and give her Kristin Omdahl's wonderful new book, Seamless Crochet!

In her new book, Kristin brilliantly creates a way to avoid having to weave in all the ends and sew together a huge stack of crochet motifs when you're done with a project. When you're done, you're done! I love crochet motifs, I think they are so pretty and offer an opportunity for endless creativity. I hate weaving in ends and sewing pieces together, though, both in crochet and knitting. This is why I knit in the round whenever possible!

The technique that Kristin has created is innovative and easy to understand. Not only is the book full of beautiful seamless shawls, accessories and home decor items, at the end of the book, she describes how to apply the technique to any crochet motif, and this is great, because it just might prevent someone from having a 36-year-old bag of unjoined afghan squares.

After reading this book, my Ravelry queue grew by quite a bit! There are so many gorgeous projects. For instance, I am in love with this shawl, the Blue Lagoon Swirling Hexagon Shawl:

I think the Blue Skies Chunky Cowl is so cute!

The pattern calls for two balls of Lion Brand Hometown USA, making it a really inexpensive project and a great gift for wool-allergic people or for charity projects. I am dreaming of making a super luxe one out of Misti Alpaca Chunky, which I've been drooling over at my LYS for a while.

It's hard to say which project I'll make first from this book, since they're all fantastic, but I'm leaning towards the Moroccan Tile blanket:

It's gorgeous and calls for 8 balls of Red Heart Eco-Ways, and I calculated the project cost to be less than $30. That fits my current budget perfectly!

The variety of yarns used in the projects is another thing I love about this book. There are inexpensive, acrylic yarns used in many of the home decor items, and that's where I think acrylic is best: items that are going to get heavy use and frequent washing. I have a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, so all blankets have to be machine washable and dryable! Everything from the least expensive acrylic yarns to the most luxurious, natural fiber boutique yarns are featured in this book, so there is something for everyone. It's not one of those books where every project calls for some yarn that costs $75 per ball, and you have to make yarn substitutions for everything you actually want to make. In fact, the one very expensive yarn called for is used in a 1-ball project, making even that one accessible to everyone:

The Radiance Sparkling Skinny Scarf calls for one ball of Tilli Tomas Symphony Lace. I've been dying to try a Tilli Tomas yarn, but hadn't yet found a good one-ball project (and with two kids, one ball is all I can afford!). This scarf, though, would make one awesome Mother's Day gift... for my mom or myself!

Each pattern has both written instructions as well as stitch diagrams, and an instructional DVD is also included, so the book is accessible for all types of learning styles. Hopefully this innovative technique can prevent tragedies like 36-year-old UFOs. I keep trying to get my mom to send me those afghan squares so I can join them and finish the afghan, but I can't say I'm looking forward to all that sewing! I guess I'll have to find a time machine...