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!

Husband Sweater, Take Two

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but my husband is notoriously difficult to buy presents for. His birthday was in November, and I was (as usual) having trouble finding something, when the idea of another sweater came up. Now, you may remember that I made him one before that took a very long time – it started out as a Boyfriend Sweater and ended up being a Husband Sweater (granted, we got married after dating for 11 months, but still). This time I was pretty determined to actually get it done on time…and then of course he liked one that featured colorwork as the main technique.

Colorwork and I are not friends. I’ve attempted it before on a few occasions and have always put those projects aside. It just seemed so impossible to wrangle all those yarns at once, and things get tangled, and then you have those ugly floats one the back…ick. He really liked the pattern though, and it was only two colors, so I decided it was about time for a challenge and cast on. Not only was it done on time (okay, barely, but it was done!), I think I may have officially conquered my fear! May I present, the finished Husband Sweater #2.

Warwick sweater in light brown and navy tweed Berroco yarn

The pattern is the Warwick Sweater by Sarah Hatton from Issue 76 of The Knitter magazine, which I found to be fairly easy to read and understand, although this magazine in general seems geared a bit toward somewhat experienced knitters; the directions assume that you understand most knitting terms and techniques. I’ve been knitting for quite a while and still have to look things up!

Warwick sweater made with light brown and navy tweed yarn, laying on a bed

It took me probably until the end of the first piece (the front) to be pretty comfortable with how my tension was going – getting all those floats to be somewhat even takes a lot of practice. I still wasn’t all the way sure that they were going to block out correctly, but I think they ended up being fairly even and not too loose or tight:

Inside of Warwick Sweater in light brown and navy tweed Berroco yarn, showing even colorwork floats

I continue to totally dislike how the yarn gets tangled and has to be constantly managed (if anyone has tips for that, please let me know!), but by the end I was getting pretty good at judging when those tangles could be left until the end of the row, and when they had to be worked out immediately. Overall though, it was a fun sweater to work on and fit well while piecing, and the shawl collar is really pretty.

Close up of folded Warwick Sweater in light brown and navy tweed yarn from Berroco

I used tweed yarn for the first time, Berroco Blackstone Tweed in colors Steamers (the light brown) and Narragansett (the navy), and for the most part I felt pretty positive about it. The colors are beautiful and play well together (although I can’t take credit for the colors since Kyle picked them out), and it’s very soft to knit with. My only complaint is that it breaks really easily, which made seaming a bit of a trial, but that’s hard to get away from with natural fibers. The only downside is that we’ve had a crazy mild winter here, so the sweater is a little too warm to wear most of the time! He’s gotten to wear it a few times though, and January/February are usually our coldest months, so hopefully there will be a few more chances before spring hits, because I think he looks quite nice in it :).

Man wearing Warwick sweater in light brown and navy tweed yarn from Berroco

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 Finished Projects

Happy holidays everyone! I’m over here finishing up Christmas presents and planning our dinner, but I do have a few finished projects to show today. I’ve made a lot of hats in the last month or so, for whatever reason. It … Continue reading

Buried Treasure

I’ve finally unpacked the last of my craft room boxes (it only took 8 months!) and I found some buried treasure that I thought I’d share. First up, a couple of really special quilt tops:

Quilt top with gold birds and indigo clouds appliquéd on it

My grandmother was a quilter, and this is one of a few quilt tops that she gave me several years ago. She had largely stopped quilting at that point, and I had just started. I had them out in my room for a while, but felt much too intimidated to even know were to start quilting them, and eventually they got put away for space reasons. This one is all hand turned and appliquéd, with beautiful golden birds and indigo clouds.

Close up of quilt top with gold birds and indigo clouds appliquéd on it

It’s quite long, and I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to keep it tapestry length, or cut it into two pieces to make a blanket. It would be the perfect size for a baby blanket, and as my grandmother is no longer with us, I like the idea of making our (eventual) baby something that she started.

The other quilt top from her is more of a lap size:

Quilt top made with solid blue squares and blue and white checked squares

Again, it’s all hand quilted patchwork. I think when I do quilt these, I’ll hand quilt them, maybe with a bit of machine stitching in the ditch to stabilize it. I’m just now, some 5 or 6 years later, feeling confident enough in both of these skills to feel like I’ll do them justice.  I’m really glad that I didn’t just use these as practice projects, and I think they’ll be beautiful with some careful planning.

Next up is an apron that I bought on sale right after my husband and I moved in together. It seemed like a good idea to have a cute apron for our brand new kitchen, and this one had a cupcake already drawn onto it (it was a kit, I think from Martha Stewart), so it seemed like an easy project. And it was…3 years later. I found it in the boxes and finally stitched it up, which took about an hour and made me feel really dumb for not just doing it sooner!

Apron with hand embroidered cupcake on it

I also found a baby bunting that I made from a Debbie Bliss pattern:

Baby sleep sack made from yellow wool

This was one of my first knitting projects, and you can tell that I wasn’t so good at seams yet. It’s also made out of wool, which is not exactly the most practical yarn for a baby garment, but at least it’s warm! I think I’ll redo the seams and add snaps in the enclosure rather than velcro, but then it can go to a new home.

Back of baby sleep sack made from yellow wool

And last but not least, not something I made, but treasure all the same:

Stuffed sewn letters spelling out "love"

This was made for me when I was a baby, and was in my room for my whole childhood. It came with me when I moved out on my own, and has lived in whatever space I used for sewing for the last few years.  It’s looking a little worse for the wear, admittedly, but I still love it, and it’s been restored to it’s proper place above my craft desk.

So there you have it, my version of buried treasure! Pretty sure I would have been an excellent pirate :P.

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.

My Shawl

We’re still full of moving boxes here at Measured and Slow Headquarters (pictures of our cute new house to come as soon as said boxes are out of here!), so today’s post is a project that was finished a while ago – my wedding shawl.  I was a little busy at our actual wedding and neglected to get any good pictures of it, but this weekend I had the opportunity to wear it again, so I drafted my husband to get a few snaps.

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I actually decided on the yarn (Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace, in color Pixie Pink) for my shawl before decided on anything else for the wedding, which says a lot about my general life priorities :P. I’ve used this yarn several times in various colors and patterns for shawls, and I absolutely love knitting with it. It’s 70% alpaca and 30% silk, which means it’s incredibly soft and warm, and it blocks out beautifully. It does tend to shed a bit, like most alpaca based yarns, so that’s something to watch out for, but it’s more than worth it in my opinion.

I then had to pick a pattern, so of course I turned to Ravelry. I knew that I wanted something really intricate and challenging, and after much debate decided on the Heliotaxis Pi pattern by Renata Brenner. I love how the whole thing is different leaf and flower designs – they flow together really well without being repetitive. The pattern itself was very easy to follow, but required my full attention, especially on the rows that changed from one design to the next. It was also the first time I’d knit a circular shawl, so I tried the cast on a few different ways before settling on one that I was happy with. Circular shawls aren’t as practical as far as wearing goes, but are so pretty when worn full length:

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I usually wear it folded in half, though, which keeps it from dragging through who knows what, and helps warmth wise:

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We got married outdoors last August, and it was perfect for when the sun started going down. I’ve since worn it to a few different functions, and it’s worked with all different outfits and events. Definitely worth all the time it took!

Finished project – watercolor baby blanket

So after frogging and knitting it again with smaller needles, and several trial and errors with the border, the Watercolor Blanket is done!

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Originally, I had planned to add a piece of fabric on the back to hide my less than neat colorwork, but then I just couldn’t take it. I felt like there was too much space between stitches for a baby blanket, so I ripped the whole thing out and started again. The original was knit on size 6 needles, which themselves are two sizes smaller than the label recommends. I ended up doing the final product on size 3…I guess I just like my blankies with a really tight gauge. I’m even happier with the way the colors blended with the smaller needles.

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After several tries with attaching the fabric to the back, it just didn’t seem right still, so I ended up completely bagging that idea and just doing a simple seed stitch border on each side. As far as I’m concerned, the seed stitch is the perfect border; it’s simple and clean and works really well for baby stuff. I suspect that I feel this way because a lot of Debbie Bliss patterns include seed stitch, and I love her designs, but I suppose it doesn’t REALLY matter :).

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This time around I managed to be a lot more neat about switching the colors around, so it actually looks pretty good as is. The blanket I made is up for sale in my Etsy shop, or if you fancy making your own, you can get the pattern here. Let me know what you think!