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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sock Experiments

It has been a whirlwind these final days before the Christmas holidays! Besides the kids being home from school and all the Christmas preparations, some design submissions and proposals were due, and of course my software consulting business had some deadlines too.

Now it is time to sit back, relax and play around with ideas that have been patiently waiting their turn to be put in yarn.

completed sock experiments

One such "project" are my ideas for socks. I am not really a handmade sock wearer (I wonder why, actually, with all those great sock patterns everywhere?) but the cold weather lately has peaked my interest in some thicker yarn (worsted) socks for home wearing.

The first step was to get educated about sock knitting. So off I went to the library and came home with a couple of interesting looking books. I did not realize all the different ways you can construct a sock!

The traditional top-down approach, then we've got a toe-up, and flat. And all the options for heel and toe constructions! My work was cut out for me. Neat, something new to learn and to expand my horizon.

It was quite a learning experience. Not so much that the knitting instructions were difficult or the sock construction was a mystery. No, pretty much all the instructions are for sock yarn and here I was with worsted yarn. I sure learned a lot about sizing and what patterns work and don't work. For example,
  • I needed to knit with smaller needles than the yarn tag calls for to get a denser fabric or else the socks were very "airy" and not very warm
  • Smaller stitch repeats are necessary because of the thicker yarn else you end up with only 2 or 3 pattern repeats
  • Variegated worsted yarns pool colors in not so advantageous designs as worsted yarns are designed for larger stretches and not for a small tubes
My sock experiments are not over yet (as quite a few unfinished sock projects littering my work area can tell you) but slowly I am developing some favorites. For example, I definitely like the toe-up approach. It just makes a lot of sense - you can easily try them on as you go and you won't have to worry as much about running out of yarn before you are done.

As I get closer to my perfect sock (and some patterns to write), you will find me wearing miss-matched socks around the house as they go through their wear test. Who said they always have to match?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ryuu-ko: Dragon Child

Yippee! The winter issue of Petite Purls is live and my first ever seamless, bottom-up, raglan sweater is part of it!


The sweater is called "Ryuu-ko" which means "Dragon Child" in Japanese. The sweater is sized for 2T, 4, 6, 8, and 10 and can also be found on Ravelry.

I was surprised how quickly this sweater knit up and when I was finished, I was finished. No sewing seams. Ah, that was really nice and perfect for my impatient boy who couldn't wait to wear his dragon sweater. :D

I've also used Knit Picks' Wool of the Andes for the first time. It was a great yarn for this project and I can highly recommend it. The yarn cost came out to about $15 for a size 6. You can't beat that for a wool sweater!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

2009 Christmas Cards

It was high time to make my Christmas cards for this year!

I've been turning over ideas in my head for the last couple of weeks until finally my creative juices had to be let out and I was in the right mood. For a whole morning I took over the dinner table and cut, folded, glued, and stamped.

Wow, I really liked what came out of my session! Nearly too nice to send off... :)

Origami inspired Christmas trees

Laser cut felt embellishment

Unfortunately I was a bit late to list them in my Etsy store so that I don't expect many sales this season... but I was able to sell a couple at various craft shows and to friends. I've marked my calendar to be earlier for next year...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Circle the Pearl" Necklace

This morning I woke up with an idea for a pearl necklace that would break the traditional strung pearl look a little bit. It's more modern twist on the strand of pearls. - And I had to try it out to see if it really would work in the real world. :)

Sometimes what you imagine just doesn't look so nice in the "real world" and you've got to go back to the drawing board. But this design really worked!

The lavender/blue fresh water pearls looked great inside the silver plated rings and the small pearls and silver beads give the rings a nice spacing so that each pearl could shine.

The necklace is a little bit more than 20" long so that you can wear it comfortably with a turtle neck.

It is now available in my Etsy store.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Flower Hair Barrette

On one of my runs to the craft store I picked up this really nice Christmasy fabric remnant. It had the Christmas colors and a bit of glitter thread to make it special. Unfortunately it was not enough fabric for napkins... but then I remembered a beautiful book I once had borrowed from the local library on how to make fabric flowers.

After a little searching I found my notes on the flower folding technique in my idea/project book and gave it a shot. Oh, how neat this barrette turned out! And I happened to have a regal looking button too for the flower center!

I had just enough fabric for 7 flowers and you can purchase one through my Etsy store.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Luxurious Tulip Cable Gloves

TulipCable Fingerless Glove
Shown in size L

After getting quite a few comments and requests for the pattern of my Tulip Cable Gloves (I love them! They are soooooo soft and silky, and have a great elegant sheen), I've finally put it together for sizes L (7.5" hand circumference) and M (7" hand circumference).

It has been test knit in a couple of different yarns besides the Patons Silk Bamboo that I've used for the glove  in the picture above. Other yarns used were Dale Tiur and a DK angora. All of them turned out really nice.

You will be amazed by what the right pattern with the right yarn can do.

Or as one of my test knitters commented:
Your gloves are VERY nice for the level of difficulty. [..]. Part of the appeal of your pattern is a very quick knit with very pretty results.
The combination of the simple to knit tulip cable pattern and luxurious yarn will garner you many compliments.

Thank you so much for the great volunteer test knitters over at Ravelry. It was a pleasure working with you.

If you are interested in a quick knit that makes a perfect gift, find the pattern for purchase here:  ($4.00)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

5 Pointed Star - Christmas Ornament

I thought, I would crochet a couple of Christmas ornaments for our tree this year and perhaps sell a few at an upcoming crafts fair. But I don't know what it was with me this year: none of the patterns I had or found seemed to be right! Ahhhh!

They were either too busy so that you couldn't see the nice color of the underlying glass ornament or too simple that it was just not very, well, Christmasy...

With all the browsing, I came across a doily with a 6 pointed flower center that could serve as a model for a star design I had in mind. After much trial and error I finally came up with a heavily, heavily modified 5 pointed star design that I really liked. Yeah!

It shows off the lacy star design nicely and lets the beautiful rich mat red color of the glass ornament shine through. The two star designs are connected with a playful "snowflake" band that don't distract from the main design.

And so I have a new Christmas ornament design to admire on my little table display and later on my Christmas tree. Gotta get crocheting!

If you like to purchase one (or more), please visit my Etsy store.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Finished Felted Slippers

I was a bit slow in making the second felted slipper since it shrank to a size that was a bit too small for me. Hence I wasn't in a big hurry to finish them. I would say it fits comfortably a ladies size 7 - 7.5 and I am an 8 - 9...

But it was time to close out the project and after adding a nice silver metal buckle they look really nice.

My oldest son has his eyes on them but first we'll see if we can sell them as they are a bit too large for him. - But then he is growing like a weed and they will most likely fit him very soon!

If you like them, you can find them in my Etsy store.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Christmas Skates

When I was unearthing our painting things for the Santas and Nutcrackers I came across an old pair of children ice skates that I've laid aside a couple of years ago for a special kind of Christmas wreath decoration.

I've seen this idea quite a while back in an old fashioned Christmas book and thought that that was a great idea. Especially since my whole family loves to ice skate.

I've never considered myself a painter and was a bit hesitant to tackle this project. But painting the Santas and Nutcrackers gave me enough encouragement to go for it. So over the next few days the skates got more and more decorated until there wasn't much more that could fit on them.

I usually like the "less is more" philosophy but this time it called for some extra decoration and the golden ribbon shoe laces were the finishing touch. It was for Christmas after all!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ribbon Trees

Alright, now or never!

For the last two years I've been buying these really pretty Christmas ribbon rolls in the after Christmas sales with the thought that one Christmas I will make something out of them.

My drawer with the ribbon rolls was now full to the top and something needed to happen. But what? I mentioned my dilemma to my mom on the phone and she remembered making once a wreath out of ribbon strips that were folded and stacked like fish scales.

Oh, yes, I remembered. That was a very pretty wreath. But I am not a big wreath fan... and settled on a more traditional Christmas tree design.

I first made  the cone shapes out of brown paper bag paper mache (3 layers), then stuff them with old newspaper and sealed them. At last, I cut the ribbon into strips, folded them into triangles and pinned them like fish scales on the cone.

Phew, it was quite a bit of work over several days but I think the effect was worth it!

You can purchase them in my Etsy store and even send me your own ribbon so that the tree will fit perfectly to your decorations.

EDIT: Look how neat the ribbon tree looks with the XS Santa and Nutcracker figures!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Santas & Nutcrackers

For the last couple of days my oldest son and I have been busy painting and crafting Santas and Nutcracker figurines for an upcoming craft fair.

It was a real assembly line with him painting all the solid colors and me adding all the embellishments. For a couple of days we had Santa and Nutcracker parts all over our place until they were put together. We had a great time working together on this project.

Boy, this was quite a bit of work! But they sure look cute. :)

The Santas and Nutcrackers are available in four sizes each: XS (8"), S (9.5"), M (12") and L (15"). The figures are now listed in my Etsy store as well.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lip Balm Key Chain

Are you like me? I always have to dig to the bottom of my purse to find my lip balm and sometimes, I can't find it and end up buying another one just to find the first one the very next time?

I finally had enough and came up with a lip balm cover that I can attach to my purse's zipper, handle ring, belt loop or my key chain.

Ah, what a difference this little invention makes. I actually own a couple - a bright and fun one (green with a butterfly) for my daily bag and a mocha/black one for my going out purse.

You leave the lip balm in its cover and only unbutton the cover and pop off the lid. You can turn the wheel at the bottom through the cover to adjust the lip balm stick.

I LOVE it!

It's a great little gift or stocking stuffer. You can find them in my Etsy store as well. Let me know if you want a different color (combination) and button. I've even made one for a guy in dark forest green and midnight blue with a fish button that was given to me by the customer.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Spiral Cap

I was looking through my yarn stash when I bumped into 6 skeins of Yarn Bee Mosaic Twist "Iced Fruit". I just love those colors! But what was I thinking when I bought only 6 skeins... must have been one of those "I must have this yarn/color and will figure out something with it later" moments. :)

But "only time can tell" really came true because today I happened upon a neat looking cap pattern on Ravelry (free) that was knit in the flat. Yep, in the flat. I had to try it out.

And voila! Here it is. I think the yarn is perfect for this pattern.

I had to adjust the pattern a bit as my yarn was much thicker so that I ended up casting on 37 sts and repeated the pattern 15 times. This cap fits nicely a regular women's size head.

What a nice splash of color in the cool and grey weather of the season...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Evening Out Scarf

I just came home from a errand run during which I saw this lady wear a cool looking ribbon scarf. I remembered my stash of similar looking ribbon yarn and had to try to recreate it.

After a couple of trial and errors I found a nice combo that works for me. But oh boy, was this ribbon yarn (Bernat Matrix) hard to work with - no quick knitting here (or many scarfs for the crafts fair).

I've also added some silver beads to the fringe to give a little bling but not too much.

It wears really nicely in place of jewelry and I have already gotten a couple of inquires of where to buy it.

So, I will make a few more for the fair and you can also find it in my Etsy store.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Craft Fair with a Friend

What was I thinking when I got all excited and aggreed to participate in a holiday crafts fair!? Yep, I am going to participate not just visit... Yikes!

My friend who reeled me in has her kids attend the Shining Mountain Waldorf School which holds an annual winter crafts fair. This year it's called the "KingWinter Faire and Holiday Bazaar" and will happen on December 5.

Gotta figure out what to contribute and how many in the little time I have left.. I have just under 8 weeks time and lots of other commitments (think of Halloween, son's birthday, Thanksgiving, submission deadlines and, oh, did I mention some tight work deadlines, kids, etc.)...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wood Frame Necklace

While working on a new submission for Petite Purls my mind was wandering a bit to come up with a use for a few dark brown stained wooden frame "beads" that I've picked up a while ago...

A new vision of the traditional Turquoise necklace

With the first snow fall for this season reaching our door steps, the warm wood "beads" and fresh Turquoise colored cubes (dyed Jasper) were the right "medicine" for my eyes. Trying to hold on to the beauty of crisp fall weather before everything goes to rest until next year.

I like simple lines and bold colors with a little surprise element mixed in to keep things interesting. It allows you to dress up or down depending on how you match it up with your wardrobe.

And I always need some matching earrings with it. :)

You can find this necklace set in my Etsy store.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cable and Rib Jacket

Boy, I've been busy with so many things and always for others that I've finally told myself, "Time Out! My turn."

I've noticed in horror that my wardrobe doesn't sport any knit jacket or vest! Everybody around me is sporting my knit or crochet garmets or accessories! What about myself?!

And then the trouble began... what to knit for myself. The type was decided: Jacket for everyday wear. But what style and pattern?... There are so many choices or as you say in German: "Die Qual der Wahl" (the pain of choice).

It needed to be quick and easy but as always with a new aspect to broaden my horizon. I think I found a nice pattern on Ravelry by Debbie Bliss, titled "Cable and Rib Jacket". I always wanted to do some cabeling and a zipper jacket or sweater.

I had some Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool sitting in the closet waiting for its turn for quite some time now. This would be the right kind of project to get a feel for this wool. And indeed it is knitting up really nicely. And what a bargain too at $8.95/skein (100% pure virgin wool; 465 yd/425 m; 8 oz/227 g)!

Ahh, it feels great to work on something for myself. :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Quick House Slippers

Alright, no more denial: fall is here and the summer is over.

The leaves have turned color in a hurry and set the neighborhood ablaze. It's like a painter went to work and dropped color splashes all over the place. :)

I better take a hint and hurry up with my cold weather projects. First one up: house slippers.

Found this easy looking, quick to make pattern on the web and Ravlery.

Added some mohair to the cuff squares as I always seem to feel the draft there.

Knit the squares that make up the L shape in the following order (sts x rows):

16x14 in black w/ mohair, 18x16 blue, 18x16 black, 18x16 white, 18x16 blue, 18x16 black. BO. Pick-up 18x16 white, 16x14 black w/mohair. BO.

Hand-felted for ~15 min. Let dry over night.

Size turns out to be about 8.5”/22 cm long.

About 8.5" long

About 22 cm long

Will make the second one now that I was able to try on the felted slipper. The slipper is really comfy... :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Felix the Fox - Free

I needed a break from knitting and crocheting swatches and putting some submission packages together for some deadlines.

That's when my son saw me browse some Amigurumi patterns and he was just hooked by this cute little fox. And the pattern is free too!

Finished size: ~4.5"/11 cm

As I happen to have some orange yarn left-overs from the Boy's Airplane Vest this should be a quick one to make.

I've changed the pattern so that after the head is done, I don't fasten off but I continue with the body by reversing its instructions. Less ends to weave in and less work.

I've added clear glass mini marbles (in the craft store isle where the river rocks, etc. are) in the body bottom and paws to add a little bit of weight for a good stance.

What a hit with pretty much anybody who saw me work on this. Adults love it just as much as the kids. And it was fun to make too!

You can also find this pattern on Ravlery.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Yep, I had to look up this word as well. It is the name of the traditional 3 (tri) cornered (corn) hat worn during colonial times.

Today my 2nd grader's class put on a short re-enactment of the signing of the constitution and the teacher asked them to be dressed somewhat in that period to make it more fun.

Thanks to the internet I was able to find easy instructions for a self-made tricorn hat made out of felt, fabric stiffener, glue gun, and a golden cord.

I wasn't quite sure if my fabric stiffener with an expiration date of 1995 (yeah, I know, one should throw things away but you see, I needed it, right?) would still work but with a generous application it stiffened up the felt nicely over night.

To give it some more flair we started curling some white curling ribbon to immitate the white wigs that were fashionable during that time as well.

Project cost: ~$4 and an hour of your time while having a good time with your child.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kick It Up - Free

It finally has arrived: my very own first published knitting pattern - Kick It Up in the Petite Purls' Fall 2009 online issue.

And it's yours for free! The sizes are: 2T, 4, 6, 8, and 10.

I still can't believe that I was given the chance to knit a design for Petite Purls. Yippee! I feel so honored.

Kick It Up

It has been a great experience and such a pleasure to work with the Petite Purls team. It is pretty amazing how much work goes into publishing a pattern... it is so much faster and easier to work a one-off just for yourself. :)

This vest is a quick knit with a simple knit/purl pattern that will get you many compliments. You can also find the pattern on Ravelry.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Busy Late Summer

After a nice, slow-paced summer with short trips here and there, lots of family and friends time, and finally some hot summer weather, my soul had a chance to refuel and the batteries were recharged to tackle the fast approaching back-to-school madness...

It was the silence before the storm...

Incredible summer sunsets

And madness it was!

Crazy summer weather: thunder, rain, sunshine, and rainbows all at once

Both my boys started with new schools (we did the Open Enrollment Process to get them into a school within biking distance - but the kids didn't end up at the same school - oh, boy!), tons of paper came home, lots of meeting dates suddenly filled our calendar, my DH out of town, a software project deadline got moved up, soccer coaching sessions and practices, and lots of knit, crochet, and crafting submission deadlines just around the corner - it was quite the chaos...

Now it's just a few weeks later and it seems like a lifetime! Somehow I've managed to keep all the balls up in the air, deadlines were met, kids are happy at their new schools, they've made new friends, design ideas are backing up in my notebook... - now I just need to find a few fairies to do their magic and whip the house in order so that I can sneak in a few minutes of crafting... :)

Besides on-going design projects, I've promised some Ravelers to write up the pattern for the "Boy Plane Vest", "Boy Spider Vest" as well as the "Tulip Cable Hand Warmers" in my Ravelry projects. I better hurry up before the proper season for these knitting projects is over...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Shell Rays Necklace Set

It was Sunday morning 7 am, the house was still nice and quiet, and I realized that I needed a necklace/earring set for an outdoor BBQ party later that afternoon. Nothing in my jewelry drawer quite fit to the skirt I was planning to wear.

Perhaps a design idea that I've been carrying around with me for the last couple of weeks, after falling for some outrageous shell beads, could work...

1.5" - 2" long shell beads

After my first design idea was rather underwhelming (seemed much nicer in my mind than when actually put together) I started rummaging in my bead stash for some ideas. I couldn't believe that in all my beads there wasn't quite the right match around... until I remembered some amber/copper lampwork beads I've just picked up the other day!

Yep, that was it! Working off and on throughout the morning on getting the bead placements just right and feeding the family, I finally settled on an arrangement and strung it up. Nice!

Shell Rays Necklace
Shell Rays Necklace

And as before with the necklace, my idea for the matching earrings didn't work out either. There were too many shell beads fighting for attention so that I decided to go with a simple supplemental earring.

Shell Rays Necklace Set - detail

I felt great at the BBQ and made another set for sale in my Etsy store after receiving quite a few compliments.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Petite Purls Final Design Package Submitted

Oh, how wonderful this project turned out - and what a great learning experience it was! Well, it's not quite over yet because I've just submitted my final design package and will see what changes Joan, the tech editor, needs me to take care of... fascinating...

The Fall 2009 issue will be live sometime in mid September.
Make a note of it!

I've never realized how much calculation goes into patterns for multiple sizes! Well, now that I have my Excel spreadsheet setup for this type of project (Thank You, Marnie MacLean for your great tutorial and tips!) it will be a much easier and quicker process for the next project.

While knitting the design at the playground and watching over my kids, quite a few of the other moms came up to me to check out the project. What a great confirmation that this design hits the spot! And when they heard that it was an easy pattern, I was able to knit it while observing the kids, they were delighted.

Later in the week, the weather played along to get the right kind of mood going for the photo shoot and the kids were too busy playing to notice me taking pictures. This made for some natural looking photos but I also quickly realized that any instructions were either not heard or totally ignored! :)

And, I need to practice some more with my camera settings and live action shots, haha!

Well, so far it has been a very pleasant experience and I can see myself designing away... dreaming big is always good... :)