The Thankful Mama

Crochet Challenge

I am a self taught knitter and I absolutely love the craft. My grandma is a self taught crocheter and she can crochet like a machine. She tried more than once to teach me and my sister how to crochet a chain, but of course we never really stuck with it. I naively thought crochet was lace doilies and toilet paper cozies, because that’s all Grandma really made. Once I learned to knit I started to eye crochet again after seeing it applied so creatively to edgings in knitted items. From there I stumbled across Amigurumi…and oh my! Cute is just not a sufficient enough adjective to describe these little yarn sculptures. I totally wanted to make these! Grandma, why didn’t you show me how to make these!

I enlisted my mom to go over crochet basics with me, since somewhere along the line she paid attention to what Grandma was doing. I also purchased Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker and Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts!: Amigurumi. I can highly recommend The Happy Hooker, it is perfect for learning crochet visually. It helped me better than any other printed resource I tried. I expected as much since I used the Stitch ‘N Bitch knitting series to learn knitting. The instructions are clear and written casually, and the drawings make sense. I was so impressed with myself after crocheting a sample swatch and it actually looked like the real thing! I finally figured out how to work in a circle and then it was on to cute dolls…

I’ve decided to challenge myself. After going through the Amigurumi book I bought, I’ve decided to try and make every single pattern. They are all so adorable and I know my little girl would love a whole set of dolls made by Mommy…I know I would! I’ve started the first pattern, Little Teddy Bear and so far so good. I’ve completed the head, body and arms. I can’t wait to see this little teddy all finished! I’ll definitely feel a sense of accomplishment seeing him sitting in my baby’s crib alongside her knitted baby blanket I made.

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Baby Aviatrix Hat

I finished another knitting project! I’m so pleased to finish anything… my knitting time is mostly squeezed in between baby’s naps, housework and everything else. To make it even better, this is a functional item.
I used the pattern Aviatrixย  Baby Hat by Justine Turner, a free pattern on Ravelry. I had some leftover Sensations Angel Hair yarn in my stash and it is so soft I thought it would be perfect against my baby’s delicate skin. It’s also pretty dense when knitted up on smaller needles than recommended.

Baby Aviatrix Hat

Yarn: Sensations Angel Hair

Color: # 647 Posey

Needles: Size US 4 & 6

 

 

 

 

This pattern is written well and is easy to follow. It’s divided into different sections according to what weight yarn your using. I love the design the garter rows make along the top of the hat. Adding a button closure helps it stay on, even when it’s being pulled and tugged at by the wearer! Being that this hat is so quick to knit and the pattern keeps your interest, I think I’ll make several more in different colors to match everthing in Baby’s closet! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Yarn Harvest

It’s Autumn, and what better time to harvest…yarn? I’ve learned the art of unraveling thrift store sweaters for usable yarn. This is something I came across listening to knitting podcasts and on Ravelry. It’s quite an ingenious idea. By perusing through the sweater racks at thrift stores you can potentially get really nice fiber to salvage for yarn. I had fun scouring my local stores and ended up finding several great deals. I was able to get a few wool, cotton and an angora blend sweaters for about $4.00 each. I learned that you need to look for sweaters without surged seams. There is an excellent tutorial by Neauveau Fiber Arts that has wonderful photos showing the seams to look for as well as fabulous instructions for the complete sweater deconstruction.

The Niddy Noddy

I also decided I needed a niddy noddy to help me wind the yarn into hanks. I found another great tutorial here for making your own out of PVC pipe. The instructions are clear and concise. My dad was kind enough to build me two of these in an afternoon out of spare pipe he had in the garage. Just a few extra parts were needed, bringing my total cost for two niddy noddies to justunder $10!

 

 

 

 

Unraveling

I decided to start with my bulkiest sweaters so I could easily see what I was doing. These sweaters are a wool and acrylic blend. They are both mens XL and I bought one in brown and white. I followed the instructions in the tutorial and found the tiny thread holding the seams together. With a little cutting and searching I found the yarn end and started winding. It is really satisfying to watch the yarn come pulling off row by row, amusing since this is usually a frightening and frustrating thing to do to knitting! ๐Ÿ™‚ It did take a bit of work to get all the yarn unraveled from the body and two sleeves, but I was astounded at how much of it there was! I ended up getting 13 oz. (370 g) from the brown sweater and 14 oz. (422 g) from the white sweater. All for about $4.00 each! Wow! It was worth it. I could already imagine the things I wanted to knit this yarn into.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dye Job

I decided to make my sister a cowl for a Christmas gift with some of the white yarn but I wanted to make it a special color just for her. I’ve experimented with dyeing yarn before with the sock blanks from Knit Picks. They are a lot of fun and even more fun to knit up. I wanted to make some sort of green/blue color, but didn’t want to be too exact. I mixed up three colors of Jaquard acid dyes. I used about a 1/2 teaspoon ofย  Sapphire Blue, Sky Blue and Yellow Sun and a generous glug of white vinegar, resulting in a lovely color I like to call “Mermaid Green.” I found a cute little cabled cowl pattern on Ravelry and cast on. I can’t wait to see how this yarn turns out in its new form!

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Baby Cardigan

I just finished knitting my first real garment. A baby cardigan.

Baby Classic Cardigan

I wanted to try out the construction on something small and easy to handle. I also was making this item as a gift, so it had to be somewhat a quick knit.
I used the pattern Classic Cardigan from the book Natural Nursery Knits by Erika Knight. This is a relatively straight forward pattern that I found pretty easy to make. I was really pleased with how my finished cardigan turned out. It’s designed to be knit in one piece, which was great, very minimal seaming. It also uses snaps as closures. This I like…it’s a little easier to snap a sweater closed on a little wriggly baby. The snaps hide underneath the buttons quite nicely. There is also the option of pockets, but I found them to be too large for the newborn size that I knit.

This is such a cute little sweater that would look great for either a boy or girl by using different colors. Mine is made for a little boy and I wanted it to resemble a man’s cardigan. This is a great project, but what I’m really happy about is that I was able to actually start and finish a project in between taking care of my little 2 month old girl! I feel a sense of real accomplishment! ๐Ÿ™‚

Project Details:

Lion Brand Wool Ease in Grey Heather #151ย  Approx. 1 ball

Needles Size US size 5 (3.75mm) &6 (4.0mm)

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Mary-Janes for Tiny Feet

I just completed the finish up on two pairs of Mary Jane style baby booties for my little girl, who’s yet to arrive (three weeks and counting!) I’m so happy with how they turned out and with the new yarns I used.

Both are knit from the pattern Mary-Jane Style Booties by Grace Akhrem. I found this pattern at the Daily Fiber, my local yarn store, and my wonderfully generous mom bought me the pattern and yarn. The store had a finished version of the booties on display. After seeing those, we couldn’t resist! I found the pattern to be pretty easy to follow and they are knit in one piece, which is a plus!
The first pair is knitted up in Berroco Sox Metallic. This was my first time knitting with this particular yarn. I found it really easy to work with. The wool/nylon blend gives it a nice springiness that helps keep it’s shape and makes fixing mistakes or picking up stitches much easier. The colorway is a beautiful blend of denim blues, yellow and green, with a gentle metallic sparkle thread running throughout. It is quite soft, especially after washing, but I think I’ll always have baby wear the booties over socks. The wool is just a little too coarse for delicate baby skin.

Borroco Metallic Mary-Janes

My second pair was knitted with Premier Yarns Serenity Garden. This was also a new yarn for me. I bought it on impulse, mainly for the lovely color and it seemed the right weight for baby booties. This is a sport weight yarn, so it made a little bit bigger pair. The microfiber was pretty easy to work with and soft, but it did split a bit too often for my liking. Of course that’s not enough to keep me from using it again. I’m really pleased with these, also and can’t wait to pair them up with a cute pink dress!

Serenity Garden Mary-Janes

I’m looking forward to making more of these booties. They are such a quick knit, perfect for working on in the evening while watching TV. I was able to make a pair with minimal yarn in about two evenings. They also make a wonderful gift and, depending on the color yarn used, can be perfect for boy or girl. Thanks to Grace Akhrem for making this pattern available!

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Easter Egg Hunt II

We had a great Easter, spending time with family and friends, delicious food and another Easter egg hunt for the kids. I have to say, though, that I found just as much fun in it as they did.
We spent the day at my sister’s house, where she had lunch and an egg hunt for the kids planned. We were joined by our good friend, her son and her boyfriend. Since we had two kids who’s ages are 2 (almost) and 8 it was decided that we should have two egg hunts with corresponding difficulty levels. The baby’s eggs got dumped out on the lawn…there that’ll do. ๐Ÿ™‚ The big boy’s eggs my sis and I carefully and craftily hid all through her backyard. I thought the use of shoes and patio umbrellas was quite clever.
When the hunt commenced, it was pretty enjoyable to watch the difference between the innocence of the baby and the determination of the older boy. The baby went from egg to egg and immediately handed them over to mom to “abu” or open. The older boy was on fire looking for the eggs and shouted victoriously every time he located one. It was all so entertaining to watch, I had a hard time deciding where to point my camera.

My nephew egg hunting...or rather candy hunting

Aka Tom Sawyer

Aka Tom Sawyer

After all that excitement, we were treated to a fantastic lunch of chicken Caesar salad, fruit and chocolate dipped strawberries!

We also shared a few gifts with each other. I made hand knitted Easter eggs to add to a basket of goodies for my parents, sister and friend. They were easy and quick to make and a great way to use up leftover cotton yarn. I really enjoyed making these little gifts! Thank youย  Emmy Knits for making this great pattern available!

Our baby also received a first Easter basket, even though she’s still a bun in the oven! ๐Ÿ™‚

My sister generously put together a little basket full of baby goodies for the little one to come. It was so sweet and thoughtful and Hubby and I were quite touched!

Knitted Easter eggs artfully tucked in basket

Easter was a wonderfully relaxing day spent with family and friends and to top it all off, that afternoon we were surprised by an earthquake! Easter, Southern California style I suppose!

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Bibs, Burp Cloths and a Blanket

A lot of baby stuff off the knitting needles recently! I have been busy working up miles of garter stitch on cottony accessories for my little one on the way. I have completed several projects recently and all from one of my favorite knitting books, Mason Dixon Knitting.
First up is an adorable pattern for baby bibs. These simple garter stitch bibs are quick to work up and great for knitting in front of the TV. They also are perfect for leftover cotton. The pattern suggests embellishing the bibs with buttons, patches, etc. I decided to use some vintage buttons and crocheted rosettes made by my grandma. I love how they turned out!


Project Details:

Pattern: Baby Bib O’ Love by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne

Yarn : Lily Sugar’n Cream Ombres and Stripes

Colors:ย  Swimming Pool & Pinky Stripes. Approx. 1.5 skeins for each set.

I’ve also made a few of the burp cloths from the same book. This is another pattern with all the same great qualities as the bibs; easy, great for TV knitting and using up leftovers.

Project Details:

Pattern: Baby Genius Burp Cloths by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne

Yarn: Lily Sugar’n Cream Ombres & Prints

Colors: Swimming Pool & Landscape (pictured). More colors on myย  Ravelry page. Approx. 1 ball for each cloth.

And now for the piece de resistance, the Moderne Baby Blanket! I finally finished it! It took about two months to complete and took about 11.5 balls of yarn, which translates to about 1,226 yards. I absolutely love how it turned out and I’m especially proud of my crochet border, considering my crochet skills are quite rudimentary. I chose colors that weren’t too babyish or boy/girl. I also went for an easy care cotton so it can be useful in warm or cool weather. This cotton blend turned out to be so soft and feels great against the skin! I can’t wait to see the baby all snuggled up in this blanket in my arms! As of these photos, I still need to wash and block the blanket, but I couldn’t wait to take pictures! ๐Ÿ™‚


Project Details:

Pattern: Moderne Baby Blanket by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne

Yarn: Knit Picks Comfy worsted weight

Colors: Blackberry, Creme Brulee, Honey Dew & Pomegranate. Between 2.5 and 3 balls of each.



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It’s a Beautiful Morning

Today has been one of those mornings that is so inspirational. We are having some unseasonably gorgeous weather here in Southern California. I awoke this morning to warm sunshine. This kind of weather, so spring-like, is perfect for throwing open the doors and windows and letting in the fresh air after weeks of keeping out the cold.
I decided to take advantage of this early spring and grab my knitting, a pillow, my iPod, and a glass of iced tea and set up shop on the patio. I couldn’t believe how happy everything in my backyard was. The trees were full of little birds hopping around, busy with their morning routines. I even have some beautiful roses blooming in my completely overgrown flower beds.
All of this put a spring in my knitting needles as I got a great start on my latest project. I’m making the Moderne Baby Blanket, from the book Mason Dixon Knitting, for our little one due in July.

Blanket Beginnings

I’m knitting it in Knit Picks Comfy which, combined with their nickle plated circular needles, is a dream to work with . I love the way the cotton yarn just slides right off, easy as pie! It is making this project such a joy to work on.
Even if your weather isn’t exactly perfect right now, find a quiet place and load up on comforts you enjoy. Happiness can only follow!

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Wonderful Winter Woolies

I managed to finish yet another pair of socks! Yay me!Blue Ox Socks 5 I had purchased some beautiful tweedy merino wool from Knit Picks in the manly color of Blue Ox. I wanted to make my dad a pair of socks for his birthday in July. After speeding through the first sock in about a week or so, I didn’t get around to the second quite as fast. I’m guessing that being able to work on sock No.1 for hours at a time in the car on our trip to Lake Tahoe was helpful. Sock No. 2 was rudely interrupted by last minute baby shower knitting and local politics (another story!) I no sooner finish the pair of Blue Ox Socks and I hear my mom and dad are going to Yellowstone National Park for a little vacation. It happens to be pretty cold up in Montana…compared to Southern California, and there might be snow! Oh yeah! Perfect weather for hand knitted merino wool socks!
Since I brought up my other knitting project, that has been keeping me busy, I might as well show it off too. Stephanie Baby WashclothThis pattern is the Baby Feet Cloth by Rhonda White. It’s an adorable pattern using knit and purls to create little baby feet prints. The toes are made using a bobble and mini bobble stitch. It’s a quick knit that’s perfect for gift giving. I feel really good about making and giving two hand knitted gifts that were made with loving thoughts for each recipient. I think I’ve earned a pair of socks for myself now…off to cast on!

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Lake Tahoe Socks

I finally finished them…wool socks, just in time for summer! ๐Ÿ™‚ If you read the stats of these socks on my Ravelry page it shows that I started this project in August `08. Although I’m not a speed knitter, I’m happy to report these socks did not take me continuous months of arduous needle clicking. I somehow let myself succumb to the so called “second sock syndrome.” I’d like to blame it all on frantic Christmas gift knitting, but what’s the excuse for January through May? In spite of my procrastination, I think I turned out a pretty good pair!

Lake Tahoe Socks

I bought this yarn at Rumplestiltskin in Sacramento, CA, while on vacation. The shop is adorable! Located inside a large factory building, it’s loaded with bin after bin, shelf after shelf of wooly goodness. It was by far the best yarn shop we visited (yes, I made Hubby go vacation yarn shopping!) We were haeaded to Lake Tahoe, so imagine the excitement when I rummaged through the Lorna’s Laces shelf and found the colorway…Lake Tahoe! I didn’t even look at the price, just frantically dug for another skein! I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m a nerd, right?

I definitely wanted a rippling water look to my Lake Tahoe’s. After searching many sock patterns, I finally came upon the rib and welt stitch. The diagonal patterning seems to achieve the rippling, moving water motif that I was after…at least to me! ๐Ÿ™‚ I also love the way the colors vary throughout the stitch pattern. They really do look like the hues of the lake, especially during the evening. So, for this winter, I finally have some socks pre-knit!

Lake View

Lake View

The Particulars:

Yarn : Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock Multi

Color: Lake Tahoe #34

Used: 1.5 skeins = 322.5 yards (294.9m)

Check out my Lake Tahoe Socks on Ravelry!

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