Baskets!

For the last few months, I’ve been working on what I’ve been calling “Operation Organized Sewing Room”. At all the houses we’ve lived in so far, I’ve only had a corner of a room for all my crafting things, and now that I have a whole room, I’ve had a hard time trying to figure out where to put everything, with storage being an especially big issue. I like to have stuff at least partially visible, because I often don’t know what I need until I see it. It basically always looks like fabric just exploded in there, especially the scraps everywhere that I refuse to throw away. I wanted to sort them by color (I’ve found that works better for me than say, by shape), so I needed a lot of containers, and those containers had to be pretty but functional – this is going to be my studio for the foreseeable future, so I want it to look nice! I tried a few different variations on a basket, but my absolute favorite is rope bowls.

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I’d seen some pictures around Pinterest and they looked fun, so I grabbed a couple of packages of clothesline and started experimenting…and now I’m hooked! If you’ve ever made coil bowls out of pottery, it’s a very similar build process; you slowly coil the rope, zigzaging with your sewing machine as you go, and then when you feel the base is big enough, you just tip the whole thing up to be parallel with your machine and keep sewing. It’s like magic! This is the shape you get with no manipulation at all, just letting the bowl shape how it wants to:

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But you can also vary the tension of the rope as you sew to make more deliberate shapes:

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And, to make cool patterns, you can cover the rope in scraps of fabric:

White Bowl Pink and White Basket

I finish my bowls with embroidery thread to close the ends, but lots of people just go back and forth with the thread to secure it, which looks cute too.

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I use variegated thread on most of mine, because I really like the way it looks, but really any thread works (I’d recommend 40 weight or thicker; anything thinner than that kind of disappears into the rope). I’m having a lot of fun working out how to different shapes, adding handles, and (maybe my favorite thing), making yarn bowls!

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Some of these are already listed in the Etsy shop, and there will be a lot more in my future, so keep checking back for new listings. Happy Friday and have a good weekend, everyone!

Claire’s Shawl

Recently, a good family friend was elected to be a judge. This is, obviously, a very big deal, and I wanted to make something that would attempt to equal the occasion. Meet my version of the Albertine pattern from The Knitter Magazine (special thanks to my lovely friend Aliya for agreeing to be my model for this one!):

Green lacy shawlI picked up some Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere (this color is Irish Spring, which it seems from their website might no longer be available) on our last trip to Ashland, and it was perfect for a special occasion gift. I keep saying that I don’t normally go for variegated yarns, but I guess I need to stop, because I’ve bought quite a few lately! It was just too gorgeous to pass over, and the yarn is made of Merino wool and cashmere, so once I picked it up, I just couldn’t bring myself to put it down. It’s amazing to knit with; so, so soft, no splitting, and no breakage (the label says it has a little nylon, so I’m guessing that’s why). I loved it so much that I’m going to buy more (in a different color) when I get around to making my next lightweight sweater. I was actually kind of sad when it was done!

Girl with red hair wearing green Lacy Shawl The shawl turned out a little bit bigger than the one in the magazine, which was just fine with me – I prefer ones that are big enough to wrap (as opposed to just draping, although those are great too!).

Girl with red hair wearing green lace shawlThe only problem is that we only have carpet in one room now, so I’m going to need to invest in some blocking mats at some point. I fudged it by just trying to go around the furniture in the guest room (I also can’t find whatever box I threw my blocking wires into, but luckily the edge turned out pretty straight anyway):

Green lace shawl blockingBy and large, I would recommend this pattern, but  (and I’ve mentioned before with this magazine) I probably wouldn’t attempt it as a new knitter. It wasn’t difficult, but as with most lace knitting, it requires a lot of attention to detail and careful counting, and there was a small discrepancy for me in the third row of eyelet increases. It may have been just me, but I frogged and re-knit it a few times and couldn’t get it to have the right number, so I ended up just adjusting the row to match what it should be. You couldn’t tell in the end, but it’s definitely to sort of thing that could really frustrate someone with not much lace practice.

Girl with red hair wearing green lace shawlProbably my favorite part of this shawl (apart from the color) is the teardrop shape that forms at the bottom of the last section of lace. It’s so pretty and elegant! My version doesn’t hang quite like the one in the magazine, but I think that’s a function of my gauge more than anything else…I could have sized down on my needles and been just fine (I used size 1 for this one; the label recommends 0-2, but I prefer my gauge to be tighter, as a general rule, so I’d go with 0 if I was doing it again). I’d say definitely try this yarn, and the pattern is great if you’re looking for a little bit of a challenge!

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!

Surprise Yarn!

We are down to 24 hours until we move, so we have (obviously) been on a packing spree. In the course of said packing, I opened a storage ottoman and found a surprise waiting for me:

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Yarn! Now, it’s obviously not that unusual for me to have yarn laying around, but these particular skeins were actually purchased by my husband. Some years ago (before we met) he decided he’d learn to knit, so he bought needles and this really nice yarn. It’s 100% wool, made in Italy and it is beautiful. As the project he’d cast on had been sitting for quite a while, I decided it was time to claim the fiber for myself! Originally I thought slippers, but it’s just too pretty, and after some deliberation I decided to make it into a scarf, as the husband had originally intended. I’m just using a simple seed stitch, since I wanted the focus to be the yarn.

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It’s super soft and I was able to use the “spit splice” method of joining new yarn for the first time. It sounds gross, I know, but I’m really happy with how seamless it looks – it drives me crazy when you knit a scarf or some other reversible item and have to worry about hiding knots. And it’s a quick knit, so I don’t have to feel too bad about sneaking in some knitting time when I should be packing :P. I’m through three skeins already and the stripes are just so pretty!

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