DIY Yarn Swift!

Today I’ve got another DIY for you – how to make your own yarn swift from things you can pick up at Goodwill!

DIY Yarn Swift with green yarn on it

I’ve needed a swift for a long time, but it never seems to make it to the top of the supply list, so I thought for quite a while about how I could just make one with stuff I had on hand or could pick up used. My first idea was an upside down umbrella, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to make the yarn stay where I wanted. My next thought was an expandable wine rack, which is actually what I went to find at Goodwill, but they didn’t have one, so I ended up with the coat rack instead, and I think it actually worked better. If you’d like to make one, please read on!

To make this project, you will need:

1 Expandable Coat Rack,

4 Large Pegs (I used these Shaker Pegs that we found at Home Depot, but any pegs that are about 3 inches or longer will work)

1 Lazy Susan (Mine is a 15 inch from Ikea. I wouldn’t go any larger than that but smaller would be fine.)

6 screws (The thickness will depend on how thick your shoe rack and Lazy Susan are; you will be screwing two of them into both pieces to hold them together, so you’ll want the screws to be long enough to get through both. Mine were about two inches.)

A drill (While this project could be done with just a screwdriver, it would take a lot of arm power and time. I don’t recommend it!)

I found my pieces in my own hoard of junk, and Goodwill. You could certainly buy each piece new, but I’m not sure it would save you a significant amount. My swift ended up costing about $14, as I already had a Lazy Susan, the drill, and the screws. I bought a coat rack (that was originally $30 at World Market) for $8 at Goodwill, and the pegs were about $6 new at Home Depot.

So, on to making your swift! Start with your coat rack and pegs.

Expandable shoe rack and four wooden pegs (start of DIY yarn swift)

You’re going to be replacing the short peg on each corner with a longer one. Take your drill and make a pilot hole in each peg, like so:

Putting a pilot hole in a wooden peg

Then, take the short pegs off of the corners and replace them with long pegs:

Shoe rack with two pegs replaced with longer ones (part of a DIY yarn swift)

You may be able to reuse the screws that you already took out, but in my case, the short pegs were held on with flat ended screws (rather than the more usual pointed end), so I had to use different ones. Now, see that lone short peg on the very end of the coat rack up there? Go ahead and just turn it around – it might catch the yarn when you’re winding. There’s no need to cut anything or get fancy with it (unless you want to), so just switch the peg to the back. When you’re done, it should look like this on the back:

Back of shoe rack (part of DIY yarn swift)And like this on the front:

Shoe rack with 4 long wooden pegs (part of a DIY yarn swift)

You’re halfway there! Now take your coat rack and center it on top of the Lazy Susan; it doesn’t have to be exact, so I just eyeballed mine, but you could measure if you’d like.

Making a DIY yarn swift with a lazy susan and expandable shoe rack

Then clamp it down so there’s no sliding around while you’re trying to drill.

Making a DIY yarn swift with a lazy susan and expandable shoe rack

Take your drill and put two more pilot holes on the bottom middle rungs, where the pink arrows are pointing in the above picture. You want to put them as far from the very middle as you can, so that you don’t drill into the base. Then drill your screw into each hole; if you find that the pointy end reaches down far enough to touch whatever surface you’ve got your swift on, it’s too long! You want it to go through the coat rack and the Lazy Susan with only a little of the pointy end poking through on the bottom. It should look like this when you’re done:

Making a DIY yarn swift with a lazy susan and expandable shoe rack

And you’re finished! The coat rack part of your swift should still contract in and out, so it should be able to accommodate most skeins of yarn. I tried it out with some Hawthorne Fingering from Knit Picks, and it looked great!

DIY yarn swift made from an expandable shoe rack and a lazy susan

I don’t have a ball winder either, so I use an old medicine bottle, and to show you how to do it, we made a video! It’s my first one, and we accidentally filmed in portrait (not knowing that all editing software turns it into landscape – oops!), but I think it’s got some good info and will teach you how to wind yarn, starting from the very beginning; most of you knitting veterans won’t need it, but I thought it would be a good brush up, or a place to start for newbies!

I hope this helps at least a few of you, and if you end up making one, I’d love to see it on Instagram or Facebook!

The Cloud Blankie

Hello hello lovelies! I hope everyone is enjoying your summer weather (or winter weather, for my friends in the southern hemisphere!); it’s been very warm here in Seattle, but we’re finally have a little break today, and it reminded me that I hadn’t posted about my latest blanket. I’m calling it “The Cloud Blanket” because I think the stitch looks kind of like a cloud, and its made with a super soft and cushy yarn in sky colors…or at least the skies here in the Pacific Northwest!

Tunisian shell stitch crochet baby blanket, made with Cascade Yarns Cherub Chunky in blue, gray, cream

This blanket started out as an experiment; I saw the Tunisian Shell Stitch Shawl and was intrigued by how complicated and pretty it looked, so I looked it up (this post is an excellent tutorial) and started practicing. I really hadn’t been intending to make a project, just play around with the stitch and see how it worked, but…well, I think we all know how that goes! I absolutely loved how it started looking, and a design slowly started taking shape in my head, so I went with it. Once I got going, I decided it would be a baby blanket for a special little guy who was due in a couple of months – I still hadn’t decided on a baby shower present, and it seemed perfect.

Tunisian shell stitch crochet baby blanket, made with Cascade Yarns Cherub Chunky in blue, gray, cream

I used Cascade Yarns Cherub Chunky because it’s what I had on hand, and I ended up sticking with it, because it’s just so darn cushy. It’s a newer yarn from them, a chunkier version of their cherub line (also check out the Cherub Aran, Cherub Baby, and Cherub DK…I love them all), which I appreciate because I’ve been doubling Cherub Aran to make thicker stuff, like the Transenna Blanket. As I’ve said before, this is my favorite acrylic yarn – it’s incredibly soft, washes well, and is very affordable. I’ve made everything from sweaters to blankets to slippers from this yarn (in all different weights) and have been pleased every time. This blanket is made in Ecru, Grey, and Baby Blue.

Tunisian shell stitch crochet baby blanket, made with Cascade Yarns Cherub Chunky in blue, gray, cream

I didn’t really swatch, so I just cast on however many stitches I thought looked right, and of course it ended up much larger than I had been intending, at 45″ X 50″. By the time I realized that it was going to be way too big, I was too far along and decided to just soldier on, figuring that it would make a good floor blankie for tummy time, and that eventually he’d grow into it! I’m writing up the pattern for this one, but making it smaller will be a major tweak in the final write up…unless there’s demand out there for a huge baby blanket pattern?? Let me know in the comments! I’d like to start a list of possible pattern testers as well, so please also let me know if you’d like to be included!

When it was all done, I thought it needed a finishing touch, so I added some edging in the cream color (and had just the right amount of yarn left to do it!). I’m not exactly sure what this edging stitch is called, or where I learned it, but I think it was the right choice here.

Edging on tunisian shell stitch crochet baby blanket, made with Cascade Yarns Cherub Chunky in blue, gray, cream

I really love how this one turned out, but more importantly, I got the best reaction from new mama-to-be Aliya when she opened it! This is the face you hope everyone makes when you give them a handmade gift :).

Woman opening tunisian shell stitch crochet baby blanket, made with Cascade Yarns Cherub Chunky in blue, gray, cream

Happy friday and have a fantastic weekend everyone!

A Lavender Mermaid!

Okay, I know it may seem like I make only Lalylala dolls now – I am working on other things, but a lot of them are top secret projects that I can’t talk about yet. All will be revealed in time, but for today…yes, I made another one! This time I decided to try Mici the Mermaid, and she’s probably my favorite so far.Purple Lalylala Mici the Mermaid holding buttercups

We have about a million buttercups in our yard right now (which I love), so I thought I’d use some as props, and I love how these pictures turned out. Purple Lalylala Mici the Mermaid holding buttercups

Mici is made of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in colors Cloud and Haze Heather (with a little scrap ball of dark purple for her girdle), and size 2.75mm hook. I also used a gold metallic thread mixed in for the tail and hair; it was really difficult to get a good picture of it, but you can see it a bit in the photo above. A tip on the thread if you decide to do this: make sure you buy a bunch of spools! The yardage did not last as long as I thought it would, and I kept having to go buy more. I think I ended up using about 6 spools of this DMC thread.Purple Lalylala Mici the Mermaid in bunch of white peoniesI like using wool to make these toys, because it’s kind of sticky and sets up well when you stuff them, but the downside is that you can’t just throw it in the washing machine. I usually recommend that toys be hand washed anyway, to keep the stuffing where it should be, but it’s nice to have the option if you’re in a hurry. Still, the colors that Wool of the Andes is available in are hard to pass up, and it’s nice to work with.

The body and tail were pretty easy on this one, but the hair was incredibly time consuming! Each little swirl is individually crocheted and then hand sewn onto the head…not quick process. This is her after the first row, about the time I realized this was going to take me a lot longer than I thought!Purple Lalylala Mici the Mermaid in process of getting hair

Yeah. It was a lot of work. But when she was all done…man was I in love!Purple Lalylala Mici the Mermaid sitting in a tree

I’ve seen from some other people that they made their Micis a little bikini top to wear, and I also toyed with sewing or knitting one, but nothing I designed looked quite right, and in the end I just left her the way she was. I think it works! If you like my Mici (or want one in another color!, she’s available to purchase in the Etsy Shop, or you can get the pattern to make your own over at the Lalylala website!

Purple Lalylala Mici the Mermaid laying on bricks

Have a great weekend everyone!

Giveaway Day!

Hi all, the giveaway is officially closed (sorry I’m a little late!) and the winner is Amanda! She says:

“I love the flowers and spending so much more time outside!”

Thank you to everyone who left me a comment or became a new follower – you guys are awesome!

Hello lovelies! Today is the day for the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway, and I’ve got something really cute this time around! Meet Rita the Bunny:

Lalylala Rita the rabbit blue yarn

Some of you may recognize Rita as being related to a few of my other recent finishes, and you’d be right – he’s the fourth Lalylala doll I’ve made so far! His hobbies include climbing…

Lalylala Rita the rabbit blue yarn back view

…hanging in the library…

Lalylala Rita the rabbit blue yarn hanging in library

…and gardening!

Lalylala Rita the rabbit blue yarn with plant

He’s made of completely washable and dryer safe yarn, with safety eyes and recycled stuffing, and he gives great hugs!

Lalylala Rita the rabbit blue yarn hugging

This time around I’m trying something new, so you’ll have two chances to win! For one entry, leave me a comment telling me what your favorite part of spring is (mine is flowers, especially magnolia blossoms!). And for a second chance, if you’re a follower, leave me another comment telling me how you follow (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or on a service like Blogger – or there’s an email sign up over there on the right!). I’ll pick the winner from a random number generator and the giveaway will be open until 6 PM P.S.T on Sunday, 4/10. I will ship internationally, so if you’re one of my overseas readers, go ahead and enter! If you are a no reply blogger, please make sure I have an email for you. Good luck and thanks for visiting!

Lalylala Rita the rabbit blue yarn with sail boat

Lalylala Dolls

A while ago I saw a picture of a Lalylala doll, and I was instantly in love. I put off buying any patterns until I had room in my schedule, which turned out to be a good call, because now that I’ve started, I can’t stop! So far I’ve made a bear, a dragon, and a lamb:

Lalylala amigurumi dolls - pink dragon, brown bear, teal sheep

I love these patterns, not only because they’re adorable, but because they’re incredibly easy to read and follow. She breaks down every little part, there are tons of pictures and diagrams, and she specifically notes things like where the eyes should go or where the arms should be sewn. These are some of the clearest patterns I’ve ever worked with, and she’s translated them into a bunch of languages!

I made each one out of a different yarn to see how they behaved (all were crocheted with a size C 2.75mm hook and used size 9mm safety eyes), and tried different stuffing methods for each. First up, we have Lupo the Lamb:

Lalylala amigurumi doll - teal lamb

I used Caron Simply Soft in Cool Green and White. I like how she turned out for the most part, but if I were using this yarn again, I think I’d go up a hook size – 2.75mm was just a little too small for those bobbles. She’s stuffed using regular old Poly-Fil, which turned out okay, but wasn’t as sturdy as I wanted her to be, so she’s got a bit of a slouch going on, which luckily seems to be working for her!

Lalylala amigurumi doll, teal lamb

Lupo has a hat (most of the others have hoods that connect to the body, but this one has a hat that fully comes off) that’s tied with little single crochet strings ending in pompoms. The pompoms are a pain in the neck, but I’ll admit, they might be worth it. The ears are very easy to sew into place, and that’s really the only part that has to be sewn at the end (the head is crocheted from stitches picked up from the body).

Next up, Dirk the Dragon, made in Cascade Cherub Aran in colors Rouge (the hot pink) and Cotton Candy (the lighter pink).

lalylala amigurumi doll - pink dragon

She’s stuffed with a firmer stuffing (I used this Air Light recycled stuff, which I really like), and stands up better, but I think it made the head too heavy – probably not a thing anyone else would notice, but something that bothered me a bit. Despite that, this one is probably my favorite of all the dolls I’ve made so far. The spikes are so clever, and the tail and ears are just too cute.

lalylala amigurumi doll - pink dragon

The hood is supposed to come off, but I wasn’t being careful enough when I crocheted the spikes and got some of the head too, so the hood is just for show on this one.

And last but certainly not least, I made Bina the Bear from Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Chocolate and Oyster Heather.

Lalylala amigurumi doll - brown bear

This time I tried the firm stuffing in the body and the lighter Poly-Fil in the head. I took extra care to basically over-stuff the neck, and that seems to work well. I probably should have used a darker stuffing because it shows through a bit, but mostly I really like how this one came out. Next time, I might double up on the yarn and increase the hook size when I make the ears and tail, because I felt like they could have been bigger, but that’s just personal preference. Bina’s hood does come off, so I may add hair at some point!

Lalylala amigurumi doll - brown bear

Overall, I highly recommend these patterns. You’ll need to have intermediate crochet skills – most of it is single crochet, but both the dragon and the lamb use double crochet, half double crochet, and bobbles, as well as increases and decreases, but if you’re familiar with those things, you should be all set. Or, if all that sounds like too much trouble, the dragon and the bear are both up for sale in the Etsy store!

Lalylala amigurumi dolls - pink dragon, brown bear, teal sheep

Cowls Cowls Cowls (and a scarf)

I’ve been in the mood to make some simple things lately (probably because I have so many boxes to unpack), so I’ve been using up stray skeins of yarn to crochet and knit a few big, chunky cowls (available in the Etsy … Continue reading

A Few WIPs

I’ve had some trouble settling on just one project lately; I have Christmas presents to make, but I just can’t seem to concentrate on anything for very long, so I don’t have any finished projects to show this week. Instead, you get a bunch of who-knows-when-they’ll-be-done projects!

First up, I’ve been making applesauce like crazy around here. I normally hate to cook and consider it more of an inconvenience than anything else, but for some reason I love to can and make jam. I got a brand new, giant canning pot, so now I can process a bunch at a time instead of trying to fit them into our little pressure cooker (there’s only 3 in this pot because it was the last of the batch, but I can fit up to 8 pint jars in here!).

Applesauce being canned

In craft project news, I’ve been working on making a Super Grover costume for friends of ours (they have a dog named Grover, so it had to happen) and I’m fairly proud of this helmet I made:

Dog wearing a Super Grover helmet

Zoey is quite rakishly modeling it for me in this picture (she is the WORST model, so she’s being bribed with a tennis ball here), but I’m hoping Grover’s Mom and Dad will send me some pictures when he dresses up for trick or treaters, so hopefully you’ll see the whole enchilada (there’s a cape too) soon!

I’m also working on a birthday present for the husband – he is a notoriously difficult person to shop for, so when he really liked the Warwick sweater from my The Knitter magazine, I decided that would be the way to go. I can’t show the full thing because he reads my blog (hi babe!), but showing the backside is safe, and I’m actually pretty proud of it:

Back of navy and light brown tweed men's sweater

Of course the sweater he liked involves colorwork, which is not a thing I’m particularly good at. After completing the entire back and half of the front, though, I think I might finally be getting the hang of it; my floats are pretty uniform and not totally out of whack gauge-wise. The pattern is well written and fairly easy to follow, and the colorwork is pretty simple as far as it goes, so I recommend it if you like making sweaters and want a bit of a challenge. Now that I’m getting a bit more confident in my technique, I’m eyeing some of the more complicated patterns in that issue – like this adorable sweater vest. Maybe after the new year!

My youngest brother (age 11) has been asking for a hand knit sweater for years, and I always hesitated because 1) he grows SO FAST and 2) like most kids, he’s really hard on his clothes. But, I found this Red Heart “Team Spirit” yarn at Joann’s in red and black (his favorite colors because he’s a huge Manchester United fan), and decided it would be perfect.

Halfway done knit red and black striped sweater

This a great yarn for a kid sweater; it’s totally acrylic, comes in fun colors, and is really bulky. I don’t love knitting with it, but I found some tutorials online about softening up rough yarn, and since it’s inexpensive and quick to knit, it won’t matter super tons if he puts holes in it. I’m using the Flax pattern, with a little modification, and I’m loving how the top-down knitting makes the stripes different widths.

And because I don’t have enough fiber projects happening, I’m also working on a couple of blankets. I can’t show one of them, as it’s a Christmas present, but the other one is just-for-fun crocheted blankie. I started out with a hexagon pattern:

Blue crocheted african flower hexagon, made with Cascade Yarns

But as it grew, I just didn’t love it, so I frogged it and decided to try out a wave stitch, which I am now totally crazy about.

Blue crocheted baby blanket using wave stitch

This is just a small sampling of what I have going on (there’s some other top secret stuff I can’t show yet), but I’m hoping to actually have something finished soon, so stay tuned!

 

Bailey’s Blanket

My mom has a good friend who just had her second granddaughter. When they let everyone know that they were expecting again, I added a blankie for the new baby to my list of to-dos…and then proceeded to totally miss the due date. Whoops! Nine months goes by so fast! Baby Bailey was born last month, and I realized I had to get to it. This cute little receiving blanket is what I came up with:

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Since time was a factor, I went with something super simple and did a plain seed stitch in pink and white (yarn held doubled), then added a pretty crochet border (scalloped edging makes everything better!). It still felt like it needed something a little extra, though, so I added a little “B” in one corner.

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I basically want to add this edging to everything, ever. Good thing my husband pulls me back or all the things I’ve made for our house would have it :P.

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I used Caron Simply Soft again; it’s perfect for baby blankets because it’s very soft and can be machine washed and dried. Plus, it comes in a bunch of colors and is easy to find if you need more! Luckily I had enough in my stash – it only took about half a skein each, and even less of the border color. Not bad for a quick project, right?

Speaking of rugs…

This is one I finished a while ago.Image

It started it’s life as an Ikea duvet, but between a husband who’s not a giant fan of the rainbow end of the color spectrum and a cat who barfs A LOT, it wasn’t getting much play as a blanket. So, I ripped it (yes, ripped. Scissors are for chumps! As long as you’re using cotton :P) into strips and did a simple single crochet stitch to make a cute little rug.

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Of course, Zoey thinks this one is for her too.

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This is her “What do you mean this isn’t mine?!” face. She tries it at least once a day.

Right now I have the rug in front of the back door:

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But I’m thinking it will probably move to the kitchen where there’s little less traffic – and slightly less potential dog usage :P.

Finished Project – Zigzag Crochet Blanket

So, it’s June. But I started working on a blanket anyway. I know. But in my defense, we’ve been having a little “Juneuary” around Seattle (it doesn’t actually rain all the time here, but lately it feels like it), and we only have one couch blankie. So, I decided to crochet another one.

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I had quite a bit of the purple color already, and got a few more balls to finish it out. The cream color I didn’t have as much of, and couldn’t remember the brand, so I just did two rows of cream for every 10 rows of purple to break it up. I left the edges zigzagged instead of making them straight, although it would have made it easier for folding reasons.

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I haven’t crocheted in a while, and I forgot that it takes a bit more yarn than knitting does, but that’s really my only complaint. The pattern was really easy, just a one row repeat, and then I finished the side edges by crocheting two rows of cream to even it out and make it look “framed”. It’s just wide enough for one person, and long enough to cover my feet to my chest.

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I love it, and so does someone else:

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Her life is so rough, right?