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!

Variegated Spiral Baby Blankets

I’ve been working on a few pretty intricate quilts lately, so when I ran into some Bernat Handicrafter yarn on sale in pretty summery colors, I snatched it up to start on an easy project. Generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of variegated yarn, but I was totally swayed by the colors in this case, and I love how they turned out.

Two spiral knit baby blankets, one in pink cotton yarn and one in blue cotton yarn

The sherbet colored one is color “Strawberry Cream” and the blue/mint/yellow one is in color “Peppermint Patty”. A quick look seems to indicate that these colors may have been discontinued, but they have a bunch of other ones that look just as nice.

Close up of two spiral knit baby blankets, one in pink cotton yarn and one in blue cotton yarn

I based them off of this pattern on Ravelry and added a teeny ruffle on on the outside edge of each by working a row of knit one, yarn over at the very end. The sherbet one is slightly smaller than the other one, since it was the first one I made and I wasn’t sure how far the yarn would stretch. It ended up being about 32′ across.

Spiral baby blanket made from variegated pink cotton yarn

The blue one ended up just a little bigger, at about 34′ across.

Spiral baby blanket made from variegated blue and yellow cotton yarn

Since the yarn is 100% cotton, it’s a pretty lightweight blanket that should be perfect for late spring and summer, and it was nice and soft to knit with. These were extra large skeins, with 608 yards in each of them, and they were just about perfect for a baby blanket size. They shrunk slightly in the dryer, so I think I would recommend that these be air dried only to avoid further shrinkage.

Close up of spiral baby blanket made from variegated pink cotton yarn

I couldn’t resist using our yard as a backdrop; everything is blooming at the moment and these bright blankies fit right in :).

Spiral baby blanket made from variegated blue and yellow cotton yarn

If you’re looking for an easy, pretty pattern, I would highly recommend this one. Or, if you’d rather have one of these, they are both available in my Etsy shop!

Feathernest Raglan

Remember the Simply Marilyn sweater? Let me refresh your memory:

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Well…it’s been frogged. You see, it was already a bit big to begin with, and I’ve lost some weight in the last few months, so a bit big turned into a lot big. This particular pattern is difficult to alter after the sweater is all done, so I either had to frog it and redo the same sweater, or frog it and use the yarn for a different sweater. After wearing this one for a few months, I had a couple of issues with it; one, the neckline tends to slip way too far down. I think this is partly a function of how big it was on me, but I think it was also partly the way that the cowl part is knit. The other issue was that it was just too warm! We don’t get super cold winters here in Seattle to begin with, and it seems like it’s been warmer than normal lately, so doubling up the yarn was maybe not the best choice.

I made my one of my sisters in law the Feathernest Raglan for Christmas, and I loved this pattern. I made hers in a green (this is obviously an in progress shot).

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I was really happy with how her sweater turned out; the short row collar is genius, and the shaping is very subtle but makes sure it drapes beautifully. I’ve been meaning to make one for me, and I really do love the wine color of this yarn, so I decided that the frogged yarn will now be a Feathernest for me!

This is my progress after a couple of days (it’s knit from the top down).

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The yarn is pretty crinkly, but that should block out. The pattern is easy to get down once you’ve done a few rounds, but the short row collar takes some effort, and working the increased stitches into the pattern is tricky, so that’s something to keep in mind if you’re wanting a simple knit.

And…I’ll probably have enough yarn for two sweaters :P.

WIP – Crown Prince Square Shawl

I’ve decided that it’s about time for me to knit some lace again! I’ve been wanting to make the Crown Prince Square Shawl from Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush since I first got the book. I went with one of my old standby yarns, Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace, in color Eggplant.

ImageI’ve talked about this yarn before; it’s one of my favorites for shawls because it knits up really warm and it has a beautiful sheen to it. It also blocks really nicely – you can re-wet and stretch it a few times if you need to without a problem.

Right now it looks like a pile of yarn:

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If you stretch it, though, you can see the patterns. The bottom and sides have a pretty butterfly (at least I think it looks like a butterfly) border, while the middle has a fairly easy diamond latticework.

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I’m also getting the chance to use one of my favorite Christmas presents: a yarn bowl!

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For those not familiar, a yarn bowl is just a regular bowl, but with an opening or hole on one side to string the working yarn through. We have serious pet hair issues, so this is amazingly helpful. No more yarn sliding around the carpet or rolling underneath the couch. I highly recommend getting one!

Blue and Green Stripes Quilt

It’s 5 days to Christmas, and we got a little magic this morning here in Seattle :).

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Yes, that’s snow! I know everyone living basically anywhere else is rolling their eyes at us right now, but we never get snow that sticks around here, so when we do, the whole city freaks out. Our puppy Zoey was very confused by all this white stuff but decided it was an occasion to run around all crazy (although basically every occasion is that for Zoey).

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Okay, enough of our teeny snow storm; pretty sure it’s already melting anyway! So, after a couple of days of fighting with my machine, I’ve finally finished my latest quilt:

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I was asked to make this one for a woman who was having surgery, and I put a lot of thought into this one (not that I don’t put in a lot of thought to my other ones, but this one was special). I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals and surgery centers, so I while I was picking out fabric, I thought about what would have worked for me during those times. Blue is a calming color, and when I saw the jelly roll of these prints, they seemed feminine but not girlie to me. I pieced the strips and then cut them into triangles, which I’ve paired with plain white. I also made it slightly longer and skinnier than a regular lap quilt, as sometimes regular sized blankets hang over the sides of beds and get in the way when someone has to come do things at the side of the bed.

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I tried piecing the squares of all prints, but it was incredibly busy looking, so I think the white goes nicely. For the quilting part, I free motioned white in the blue triangles and blue in the white triangles. Now, this is where the trouble came in. I tried to use plain white cotton thread for the white free motioning, and it seems that since I tried the nice stuff, my machine (and me) will accept no substitutions. After two days of fighting for every inch of quilting and dealing with serious breaking issues, I replaced the thread with Aurifil. This went much better; I think I’ll save the cotton for piecing and use the smoother thread when I need to free motion.

The blue thread is a silk finish from Mettler, and I was even happier using that while quilting. The silk finish makes it really smooth while free motioning; I finished all six white triangles in probably a quarter of the time it took me for the blue ones. It’s hard to see, but the thread has this amazing, gorgeous luster:

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I’m really happy with the loops and curlicues, and it didn’t loose any of it’s finish after it was washed. So far I’ve been incredibly happy when using Mettler thread, so I will definitely be using it again. For the back I used some spare polka dot cotton that had some teal dots that matched, and I embroidered her name.

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I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, despite the rough start, and it should arrive just in time for Christmas :).

I also decided, since I was already sitting at my machine, to make a little bandana for the doggy out of some extra fabric I had laying around.  When I say that she loves Christmas, I am not kidding. She tries to help wrap presents, she sniffs the tree every morning like it just got here, and she is a huge fan of dropped cookies. So, she got a bandana with some gingerbread men on it.

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And believe it or not, she sat for this picture with no treats involved :P.

Modern Baby Bonnet

Just a reminder before I start today’s post: there is still one day to enter my stocking giveaway, if you haven’t already :).

I’ve finally started unloading the boxes in our upstairs (I know, we’ve been here five months, but there’s been a lot going on!) and I found an almost finished baby bonnet that I’d been working on:

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How sweet is this? I’d totally forgotten about it (the hazards of having a thousand projects going on), but it’s from one of my favorite baby knits books, Vintage Knits for Modern Babies. I picked it up several years ago at Half Price Books, and I’ve made probably half of the projects in it with great success. All the patterns are very easy to follow, and each of them are labeled with an experience level, which I found very helpful when I was new to knitting clothes. This hat is made from the Modern Baby Bonnet pattern, and is a super quick knit. Definitely a great weekend project.

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Please excuse my somewhat unorthodox model; we don’t happen to have any 3 month olds around that I can borrow :P. The yarn is Caron Simply Soft, which I love for baby projects since it’s so soft but still machine washable (very important in baby clothes). When I found the hat, all it needed was a button, and I happened to have a one in my stash that fit perfectly.

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Once I added the button, I felt like it could us slightly more stability since babies tend to tug on straps, so I also added a snap closure.

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The back is also really sweet:

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I don’t know if this is technically raglan shaping since it isn’t a sweater, but it has the same effect. I’m also knitting a couple of top down raglan sweaters right now and I love the look of these increases. It appears that this pattern is free if you follow the Ravelry link, so I highly encourage you to check it out!

This bonnet has been listed in my Etsy store if you’d like to give it to a baby in your life :).

Finished Project – the Simply Marilyn Sweater

The Simply Marilyn Sweater is all done!

ImageI loved making this – it was an easy, quick (or would have been, if I could focus :P) knit, and it turned out beautifully. I think I will narrow up the collar a bit – shawl collars can be tricky and I’d like it to stay up just a little bit easier. Other than that, it fits great!

ImageThe cable is really, really simple but looks really nice, and holding the yarn doubled made the sweater super warm. Unfortunately, it’s a bit too warm for right now, so I’ve only been able to wear it once. It was a hit, though! I had lots of people tell me how pretty it was, so I’m feeling good about it :). The weather has finally turned to fall-ish temperatures in the last few days, so I have high hopes for getting to wear it on a regular basis soon!

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In the meantime, it’s perfect for early foggy mornings playing with the puppy :).

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WIP – Simply Marilyn Sweater

My Simply Marilyn is finally coming together!

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I mentioned in my last post that I was thinking of ripping out the back and knitting in the round to make it seamless. I ended up doing just that – that’s how much I hate seams! This pattern is really easy to alter, as the front and back are made up almost exactly the same way, except for the neckline on the front. 

I also added a couple of things. First, I have never been able to make a garment in stockinette stitch that didn’t roll, so I generally add a garter stitch or ribbed band at the bottom when a piece is knit in stockinette. In this case, the sleeves already have a ribbed pattern on the ends, so adding one to the bottom didn’t look out of place. It also added a few inches to the sweater; I don’t know if I just have a freakishly long torso, or if this pattern was made for someone with a really short torso, but this sweater would have been way too short without it!

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I also decided that I needed a bit more waist shaping, so I added a decrease (and therefore an increase). It created a nice hourglass shape that hugs my figure without being super tight.

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The pattern is incredibly easy to follow; it’s mostly stockinette, with the only semi complicated part being the pretty horseshoe cable down the front.

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I’m not done yet, obviously, but I’ve tried it on and I’m really thrilled with how it fits. I can already tell that I’ll be making this pattern again! 

Frogged – Midsummer Aran / WIP Simply Marilyn

Remember this sweater?

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Another lesson in why you should always make a swatch. I was too impatient to get it on my needles, and in love with the color of the yarn, so I just started it, knowing in a little part of my brain that it was a mistake. Well, I got about halfway through and realized that the sweater was basically going to be wide enough for a giant!

Once I finally admitted to myself that this yarn was just not going to work with this pattern, frogging commenced. Non-knitters (like my husband) are always incredibly traumatized to watch you rip out what seems to them like so much work, but most knitters I know just kind of shrug and accept it as part of the process. I knit to knit, and an inevitable part of that is frogging. When it was all ripped out, I decided that I still loved the color but needed a more appropriate pattern. I picked out an oldie but goodie: Simply Marilyn by Debbie Bliss. She’s one of my favorite designers (which is probably fairly obvious by now), and I know that when I make one of her patterns, I’m going to be happy with it. I’m nearly done with the back, and I’m loving it so far (and since I actually made a swatch, it appears that it will fit this time!).

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I’m holding the yarn doubled and am using size 8 needles, so it’s going fairly quickly. The front and the back are made the same up to the arm holes, and it would be really easy to make in the round if someone was so inclined – in fact, I’ve been considering frogging what I have and doing just that. The one part of knitting that I do find tedious is sewing seams, and I dislike it enough to make starting over worth it. I also added a little band of ribbing at the bottom, since I like my sweaters to be longer, and the rolling hem when you do straight stockinette drives me crazy (even when it’s supposed to be like that). It should match the ribbing on the sleeves, so hopefully it won’t look too out of place.

This yarn has a pretty sheen to it, so I’m loving the way that the simple design showcases that:Image

It’ll be even prettier after it’s been washed; the best part about this yarn (Caron Simply Soft) is that you can wash and dry it, and it makes the garment have a nice, fluid drape. Assuming you got the gauge right to begin with, of course :P.

Couch Pillows

When we bought our new couch, it came with new pillows. Unfortunately, they were really ugly.

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Black is not my favorite, particularly when we have a blonde dog who gets hair everywhere :P. The covers were also made of something that felt like velvet, but wasn’t. Needless to say, they had to go.

I decided to use the blanket that I finished a few weeks ago as a base for the colors, especially since I had this skirt that no longer fit, but had a lining that was the perfect color.

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After I’d taken it apart, I had a piece of fabric that was the perfect color and size.

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The label says that the fabric something called acetate, which I don’t imagine is easy to wash, but the pillows are going to live on the couch and hopefully won’t need that much cleaning. For the front, I decided on a pretty eyelet fabric that I picked up at Goodwill ($6 for 6 yards!), backed by lavender fabric from an old sheet. You can’t really tell from the pictures, but the eyelet is a very light purple.

ImageThen I just pinned around the pillow and sewed around them. Not particularly sophisticated, but it worked!

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I was going to make both pillows in the eyelet, but after I finished the first one, I decided it was kind of fussy, and was actually going to scrap it altogether, but my husband really liked it. So, I decided to just do different fabric. I picked up a fat quarter of a purple Moda fabric; the measurements were exactly right for the pillow, and I used more of the same acetate lining for the back. Both pillows were finished by hand sewing the fourth edge. They won’t be removable, but I’m not super concerned with that at this point.

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The fabrics coordinate really well with both the new couch and the blanket I made.

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I think they compliment each other without making our living room look like an eggplant exploded, and the fabrics themselves look really good together.

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ImageIt was a really easy update, and only cost the $2 it took to buy the fat quarter; all in all I’m pretty thrilled with the results!