Christmas knitting


Every year, we have a big New Years party.  This year was no exception. We did have the big party.  It was a blast.  I love welcoming the New Year in surrounded by friends and fun.  Then we spent a day recovering. The boys and I had a jammie day.  Today was church and then knitting group. I  never really feel like it is a new year until work starts back up. That is tomorrow.  I really feel like my year starts tomorrow.  So I have spent today doing what most people do on New Year’s Eve, thinking about the upcoming year.  I don’t really like New Years Resolutions.  I prefer to think of New Year’s goals.  So, here is what I have come up with in the crafting realm:
Christmas 2011 cloths 2
1. Every year I make a Christmas crafting plan in January. I assign different gifts to each month and work on them through the year.  This year is no exception.  For my Christmas dishcloths, I chose the Nubby Dishcloth pattern.  I have already made 6 1/2 cloths. I will need at least 20.  I am working on them in January and February.

2. I want to do more scrapbooking. One of my big holiday plans is a 2011 scrapbook for my mom and mother in law.  In the January/February 2005 Simple Scrapbooks magazine, there was a “Scrapbook 200 photos tonight!” article.  The idea is that you use a “two-up photo album” (an album that holds 200 4×6 photos).  I loved the idea and bought two albums back in 2005. I also cut 400 4×6 pieces of coordinating cardstock.  Then, I put it away. All I have to do is print out photos, attach them to the cardstock, embellish, and do some quick journaling. My plan is to do two identical albums and to do a few pages each month.

3. Each year I have a goal to learn something new.  This year, there are two things that I want to learn. The first is that I want to learn to really use my serger. I have used it a few times for very simple stuff.  I know that it will do a lot more than I have ever used it for in the past. I got a book called Ready, Set, Serge.  I plan to make some of the things from the book (and put them in my future gifts basket).  I am really excited to do a rolled hem. One of my Christmas gifts next year will be cloth napkin sets!

4. The second thing I want to learn to do is make soap.  I don’t really have a plan on this one, but I will soon.  I would like to make soap for gifts next year too.

Wee block jar

5. This is the cookie jar I bought for $3 today. I put my very small sock yarn balls in the jar.  These are for my sock yarn blankie!  These are only the ones that have not been put into the blankie yet.  After I use a ball, I put it in a bin. Later, they will be put back into this jar to be used again (just not too close to the first block).  One of my goals is to work on this blankie more consistently!  I really think the jar looks beautiful. It will be a nice reminder to work on it.

6. I also want to finish some unfinished projects.  My February Lady Sweater needs one sleeve.  I need to assemble Logan’s blankie from 2009. I need to finish Wyatt’s block borders and then assemble his.  Neither will take me long, but I just need to buckle down!

7. I want to start an Etsy shop. I am working on getting all of the legal stuff in order. I am hoping to announce more and launch in early this year!

8. My last crafting goal is to blog regularly.  I think this is self-explanatory. I love blogging, but I don’t do it as regularly as I would like.

I also have some personal goals. The first is to get pregnant. I know this seems a bit weird, but we have been trying for about a year. I had an ectopic back in March. Since then, no luck. I really want another baby (my last).  The second is to go through Operation World as a family.  We have “family church” every night. We read a bible story and pray as a family.  We are really excited about a more guided prayer experience as a family.  My last personal goal is to keep my house up.  We have been doing a pretty good job.  I want to keep that going.

Well, that seems like quite enough for one year!  Happy New Year to you!!

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My Christmas crafting is nearly done, and I am in the home stretch! I have finished all 6 I-Spy bags for the kiddos in my life.  They came out really cute.  The key to making them is the teflon foot for sewing the vinyl.  They were super easy with that attachment.  Otherwise, it would have been a real pain!  These are so fun. I have all kinds of small goodies inside.
All 6 I-Spy bags!

To make these, I cut out 2 9″ squares of fabric. I picked out my toys.  Then I printed the list of toys on an iron on transfer sheet. I ironed it onto a piece of ivory knit fabric that I had.  I then sewed that onto  one of the squares.  On the other square, I cut out the center. I then cut a piece of vinyl a little bit bigger. I sewed the vinyl to the back of the opening (double stitched). I then sewed the 2 squares together (right sides facing), leaving a small opening.  I then topstitched around (except for the small opening).  I added the toys and poly pellets. I then stitched the opening closed (blind stitch by hand).  Then I topstitched the small opening area.  They were pretty easy!

Showing the back

The last couple of days, I have been working on making other little gifts.  For my nieces, I decided I wanted to do a little hand sanitizer holder. I spent a lot of time looking online for a pattern/tutorial I liked. I never found one.  I had some socks that I bought for another project. I started thinking about how to use them.  This is what I created:
Sanitizer sock 1

I am calling them hand sanitizer socks!  I love how they turned out.
Sanitizer sock 2
The button is just for decoration. It closes at the top with a snap.
Inside

I have been covering composition notebooks with fabric using fusible web.  I ran out with two notebooks left.  After I pick some more up and finish, I will post pictures.  Besides that, I need to do a little more candy making. I also want to make a few coupon holders to have on hand to give as emergency gifts.  I have a few things I have made that need to be photographed.  I should be posting the final wrap up in the next few days.

This weekend has been really busy. I have made chocolate/white chocolate coated pretzels, coconut bon bons, and peppermint bark.  I got a chocolate melter at JoAnn’s on Black Friday. It was the best $15 I have spent in a long time!  It made it so easy to make all my Christmas candy.  It cleans up so easy too!

Besides that, I finished the superhero capes.  Four capes, instead of the three I planned.  Fortunately, flannel was $1.27 a yard at JoAnn’s on Friday.  I got some pink and a pink/brown floral for my niece’s cape (special request from her mom when she found out I had done them for the boys).  They came out really cute.

When I first read that it would take about 2 hours to make a cape, I didn’t think that was accurate.  It was.  The pink cape took me an hour and a half this evening. The other capes I made together. They took me a total of 6 hours to complete (which is 2 hours per cape).  They are not difficult. The hardest thing was the applique.  I had never done it before, but it wasn’t too bad. The flames on Logan’s cape were the most difficult.

Besides cute superhero capes, I also made a notebook cover for Logan’s teacher and a coupon holder for my mother-in-law. For the notebook cover, I used this tutorial, but I used a large composition book. I had some cute vintage fabric.  For MIL’s coupon holder, I used this tutorial.  Next time, I will add some interfacing to give it a little structure, and I will print the labels on ribbon and sew them on.  Sewing vinyl is a real pain!  I will post pictures later.  I also have been knitting on a baby hat for a friend.

I feel like I got a lot done. I still went shopping, ate too much, spent time with family, went to the city tree lighting, and went to church. I didn’t just craft all weekend.  It has left me feeling very accomplished!

I can’t believe how little time I have had lately.  So, this will probably be a long post.  There is a lot going on in my life.

1. CB’s testing and such: We had CB’s EEG last week.  The neurologist was really surprised by the results. We suspected that CB was having absence seizures a couple times a week. It turns out that it is more like a couple times a day (and when he is tired or stressed, a couple times an hour).  He is now on meds. We have already noticed a difference after one week. He is more focused. He is also sleeping a lot more (and really well).  We have an MRI in December.  That will determine if there is any neurological cause for all his right side weakness. In the meantime, we will be starting physical therapy on Friday.  Everyone has expected me to be very upset about the results. So far, I just feel a real sense of peace.  CB is happy and healthy. He has absence epilepsy, but no delays as a result and it seems like the meds will work. He is growing and is cute as a bug. I couldn’t ask for a better kid. We are just trusting in God that this is all part of the plan.  On a very positive note, CB has started calling me “mama”!!  Until last week, he called me “this” if he was talking to me or “that” if he was talking about me.  He called his pacifier “mama”.  It was a little strange to hear him say, “Love you, This.”  Last week, he started calling me “moi moi” (think French pronunciation). Just last night, he finally converted that to “mama” (so now it is confusing…sometimes he wants me and sometimes he is asking for his paci).  It is so nice to hear, “Love you, mama” at night!

2. On the knitting front, I have been working like crazy on Christmas gifts (when I get a chance). I have done some more afghan squares (all are pictured in my projects on Ravelry).  I am currently waiting on the final Knitpicks order for the yarn. Once I get that, I should be able to blaze through the squares to get caught up (I hope)!

3. I got a great package from my pal in the Flat Rate Box Swap!  It had two skeins of Classic Lite Alpaca yarn, two skeins of Palette, a skein of Sockotta, and a skein of Baby Cashmerino.  She also included a pumpkin dishcloth (which CB loves, and keeps him from whining about having his face washed). I also received cocoa, two kinds of coffee, cinnamon bears, and Good n’ Plenty.  My pal, Shannon, included things for the kids too. There was some ribbon for their scrapbooks, a little book for CB, an activity book for LB, and stickers for their scrapbooks.  She also included honey from her local market (that is my littlest one’s hand reaching for the bear), soap from her local market, candles (that smell so good!), a circular needle perfect for two at a time socks, stitch markers (the kind I was going to buy myself, but could never justify it), stationary, and a calendar!  It was a very full box!!  Here is a link to a post about it with pictures.

4. I have also been very busy with church.  We are putting on a Kid’s ministry program the first Sunday of every month. I am the team leader for the greeters. I am also the contact person for the volunteers for our church (we are doing the ministry with three other churches).  That hasn’t been too bad.  I am also in charge of the planning for our annual Halloween carnival, Halloweenival (clever, huh).  It has been hectic planning, but it is all starting to come together.

5. Lately, I have really been focused on the homeless.  As some of you know, during law school, I worked in the Homeless Legal Rights Unit in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale legal aid.  Homelessness is a big issue for me (my pet issue if you will).  When I moved north and took this job, it kind of went on the back burner.  Lately, every conversation, every new person I meet, everything I do seems to put me into contact with the issue again.  Our community no longer has an emergency shelter.  Right now, I am working with some other members of the community to see what can be done about that.  In knitting related news, I decided to open a chapter of Warming Families here.  The North Florida Chapter is officially open and accepting donations! I am really excited to be doing this small thing to help the community!

Well, that is what I have been doing with my time!  I will try to be better at posting as things slow down (which I hope is really soon!)!!

It is September. That can only mean one thing this year.  That’s right…all Christmas knitting all the time.  I am in the Christmas spirit. I have been working on Christmas dishcloths, Christmas tribbles, Christmas laundry soap, Christmas blankie squares, and a Christmas scarf!  I have gotten a couple more dishcloths done. I have also gotten a couple of tribbles done. These will go in baskets with some “kitchen” goodies (measuring cups, hotpads, etc).  I also found a great recipe for laundry soap, so I have been making batches of that to give away in pint jars!  My laundry soap is 1 Bar of Kirk’s Castille soap finely grated, 2 c. washing soda, 2 c. baking soda, 3 c. Borax, and a small amount of fragrance (about 30 drops).  It smells wonderful and cleans better than anything I have ever tried. It is also diaper safe (a big deal in our house).

In working on the Christmas blankie squares I have learned a new skill.  Cabling.  I haven’t just learned to cable, but I have discovered that I hate cable needles.  I learned to cable without a cable needle!  I feel so daring!  The May square was my first attempt at cabling. I decided that I was not brave enough to cable without a needle.  I fumbled with the needle for two really badly done repeats. I decided that there had to be a better way. I had only ever seen cabling without a needle where you drop the stitches you would normally put on the cable needle, knit the others, and then pick up the dropped stitches. I decided I just wasn’t that daring.  Then I saw some reference to doing it the way that is described in the Confessions of a Knitting Heretic.  Well, I just got the book. I looked up how she did it.  Taking the example of a 4 stitch cable, she takes the first two stitches and slips them to the right hand needle. Then she knits the next two stitches. Then she puts her needle into the two slipped stitches (into the front if the stitches were to be held in front or into the back if they were to be held in back). She then slips all four stitches off of the right needle.  The two slipped stitches are now on the left needle. The other stitches are “dropped”. You then pick them up on the right needle.  They don’t hang out there. They are only off of a needle for a few seconds. That didn’t seem so dangerous.  I tried it out, and discovered that I love to cable that way!  For some reason, it is much neater and easier for me.  Not to mention that I don’t risk losing the cable needle. I ripped the first cables I tried and started over. The square came out great.

I have now done three cabled squares without the cable needle. It is making me feel so clever and daring (and as you know, that always makes me love a technique…when it makes me feel smart)!!  I am so glad I waited to do the May and July squares until after I bought that book.  I am thinking of writing an ode to Annie Modesitt since she has so transformed my knitting (or maybe that would just be weird)!!

I also got a great present in the mail, which made me think it was Christmas for a day!  I got my package for the Reducio 7 swap.  Included were a lovely little Hufflepuff sock, a travelling bag (which is lined and has a little bumblebee sewn into the lining…my pal’s patronus to protect against lost items), a train whistle, and some candy. It also had the Ribbit pattern, yarn, and a tennis ball to make a cute little frog!!  She did such a fantastic job on the package!!

I have two FOs. The first is the scarf for my niece.  It is double stranded sock yarn knit on size 8s.  It was very easy and went very fast. I love this pattern!  I have started a second of the same pattern for my niece, Marcie.  I am nearly half way done with it even though I started less than a week ago.

I also finished the monkey for CB’s birthday!  It came out really, really cute.  He is so cuddly. I think that CB is going to love him.  I am going to do another for my nephew for Christmas.  They are easy. If I wasn’t working on other projects, I could have gotten it done very quickly.  Here is a side view that gives you a view of the tail:

I also received my Loopy Ewe Sock Club installment for September. Here is the yarn:

It is Wollmeise in Guide to the Galaxy. It is really pretty.  Of course, it came with a pattern and goodies too.  The goodies are sheep notecards, a clear case for supplies, and a pattern.

I finished my CNE scarf a few days ago. This is a scarf that will go to one of my nieces for Christmas.  It is made of the yarn I dyed using Easter egg dye left over from our eggs this year.  It is very bright.  I really like the pattern, but the project seemed to take forever. It was knit on size 3 needles with fingering weight yarn. I suppose that is why. If I were to knit it again, I think I would use larger needles.  The pattern was easy to memorize. I also have a fondness for seed stitch, and this scarf has a seed stitch border.  I don’t know why, but I love knitting seed stitch!

After I finished the scarf, I cast on a Monkey 2.0 for CB for his birthday. He turns two at the end of September.  We are trying to wean him from his paci, but I really feel like he needs a comfort/security item to replace it. He loathes blankets, so that is out.  I think he will love the monkey.  The pattern for this monkey is really clever. It eliminates a lot of the sewing by being knit in the round.  I really am enjoying knitting this. I also think this yarn is completely perfect for this project. This is the Kindred Spirits yarn I got in the first Flat Rate Box Swap.  It is supposed to be fair isle/stripey yarn. In the legs of the monkey, it has almost a “galaxy” effect (like the Regia Galaxy yarns).  Also, the legs and body all started in exactly the same point of the color repeat.  I could not have done this on purpose so perfectly if I had tried.  It is such a fun, happy accident.  This monkey is going to be very, very cute.  I also love that it is knitting up really, really fast.  I am thinking that I may do one for my nephew for Christmas since I hadn’t decided what to make him.  I may also do one for LB for his birthday (late December).

I have also started another new scarf (another Christmas present for another niece).  I decided to make it out of the Spritely Goods that I got in a trade some time ago. The colors just scream to be made into something for this particular niece.  I decided to knit the One Row Handspun Scarf by the Yarn Harlot.  I doubled the yarn and am knitting it on size 8 needles.  It is a huge relief after knitting the previous scarf. It is knitting up so fast!  Part of that is the completely addictive nature of the pattern.  A row doesn’t take long. I can’t seem to knit a single row. I keep saying, “Just one more…ok, just one more…maybe one more…”  I am enjoying this pattern (and how quickly it is knitting up) so much that I may do another for my last niece.  I just have to check the yardage on the yarn I have for her.

I am actually pretty surprised at how much knitting I have gotten done over the last week or so.  We have been dealing with a lot of kid stuff.  LB started pre-K this morning. We have been trying to prepare him for the last week or so for the change in routine. I am not sure why we worried so much. He is such an easygoing kid. He adapts to new situations with amazing ease.  I actually cried a little when I dropped him off. He started by telling me that I didn’t need to take him into the building. Thankfully, they require that parents sign their children in, so I had a really good excuse to go in with him.  He went in and started playing immediately.  I spoke to the teacher briefly, and then told LB I was leaving.  He said, “Bye, Mom” without even looking up from his toys. I said, “Can I maybe get a hug and kiss before I leave?”  He heaved a huge, long suffering sigh, and then gave me the fastest kiss and hug on record before returning to his toys. I got all teary eyed and looked at the teacher. She said, “He will be ok, mama.”  I said, “I know. I think that is why I am crying!”  I couldn’t believe how big and independent he seemed!

We have also been dealing with some health stuff with CB. While we were in Wyoming, my mom asked me, “So, how long has CB been walking like that?”  I had no idea what she was talking about. I turns out, he walks with his head tilted.  I never noticed.  She had to point it out and tell me it wasn’t normal.  Then, CB had one of his “spacing out” spells. Sometimes he just spaces out.  My mom noticed and tried to get his attention. She couldn’t.  She asked me how often he does that. I had no idea because we leave him alone when he spaces out. We have always just assumed that he was such an internal child that he just needed space sometimes. We thought he was just very good at tuning us out, so we don’t really try to get his attention when he does it.  My mom was very disturbed by it. She suspects that he is having absence seizures.  At first, she told me just to mention it at his next appointment at the end of September.  After thinking about it and considering that his head is abnormally large, my mom asked me to call the doctor immediately. The doctor diagnosed CB with mild torticollis (for the “tilt” when he walks). He is going to start physical therapy (again). She also expressed concern about the possibility of absence seizures combined with his head size. She decided to send him for an EEG and neurology appointment. I spent all week setting all the various appointments up (in between court, office appointments, jail visits, and all the other mom stuff I do).  All the appointments are spread out over the next month.   As I said, it amazes me that I got any knitting done at all!

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