Knit Bag Essentials

Summer involves a lot of traveling, so I keep my knit bag stocked with key things I need. Here’s what comprises my travel knitting essentials. 

The Bag

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A gift from my cousin, it’s made from recycled fabrics by ScrapSacks(TM) in Lowell, MA. It’s a good size with a zipper closure so there’s no need to worry about anything falling out.

The Craft

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Right now I’m working on a pair of socks, so I have my current skein of yarn and the project is on Takumi size 3 double-pointed needles.

Ruler

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The sock pattern I follow doesn’t provide instructions in counts of rounds, instead it’s done by inches. Hence why I need a ruler. My grandma gave me this ruler when I started knitting, it’s a lightweight plastic. It features the US Presidents and their terms on the front and back; the list ends with Lyndon B. Johnson’s term starting in 1963.

Stitch Holder

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I’m working on a sock, so when I get to the heel, the stitch holder will really come in handy. This one is a large loop with a white plastic stopper. It used to be my great-grandmother’s.

Stitch Markers

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I keep a small collection of stitch markers handy, because it seems that when I don’t have them I need to use hair ties until I get home. The little pouch came with a knitting kit I bought at the Gore Sheep Shearing Festival this spring.

Scissors

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My grandma gave me these travel scissors. They fold up to enclose the blades and fit neatly in this little pouch.

Crochet Hook

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Nothing grabs a dropped stitch faster than a crochet hook. This one is a size 5 or F.

The Pattern

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This book is compact and light enough that I can carry it with me. My other go-to is to print or photocopy the pattern so it’s easy to take with me. Sometimes I jot down notes and take those with me as well.

Two Knitted Gifts

Knitting is one of those fantastic pastimes in that it’s portable. When you’re busy and on the go, your knitting goes with you. (Obviously, not talking to you, arm-knitted blanket in extra-super bulky yarn).

The spring was super busy, but my knitting went with me in my purse and I finished two cool projects that I wanted to share with you.

Most importantly, I FINISHED MY FIRST SUCCESSFUL PAIR OF SOCKS!!!!

I’m quite proud of this, can’t you tell? I knit a pair of large, men’s socks for my Dad for Father’s Day. His grandmother (my great-grandmother) had knit him a pair of wool socks ages ago. These socks are at least 30 years old, if not older, and they were falling apart. When I first started knitting my mom gave them to me to darn, but let’s be real, you can’t darn socks when you’re still learning the difference between a knit and a purl stitch. I gave it my best shot, but it couldn’t save them. So I decided I wanted to make Dad a new pair.

I found a super-helpful book at the library, How to Knit Socks that Fit by Donna Druchunas. This book is basically how I learned to knit socks. I loved it so much, I went out and bought my own copy.

The socks came out great, and my Dad was really excited to receive them. I don’t think he was expecting them (although I had been knitting during both my brothers’ graduation ceremonies this spring). I kept it a surprise from everyone except my Grandma. It was less pressure that way in case I wasn’t able to make them.

The other adorable project I finished was a newborn baby’s cap. A friend’s baby is due this summer and she had a Winnie-the-Pooh themed baby shower. I love Winnie-the-Pooh, so I knit a cute, simple Pooh hat with little ears. I didn’t follow a pattern for this one I just made it up as I went. It was a fun and quick, whimsical knit!

I’m working on another fun knitting project that you may have seen on Instagram, it’s another cool pair of socks!

The Cutest Activity Book Printable!

Some of our wedding guests will be little. And everyone knows that little kids need to be entertained. We don’t want a cringy outburst of “It’s boring” during the speeches….

While browsing Pinterest I came across this website, Lovely Indeed, that offers a free printable for a Wedding-themed Kid’s Activity Book. It’s super cute and each book only uses two sheets of 8.2″ x 11″ paper (printed double-sided). It features two coloring pages, a word search, a tic-tac-toe board, and a connect-the-dots page.

It took me a little while to print all the pages, since I printed each page one-by-one to ensure I would line them up accurately. Then when they were all printed, I hole-punched the side and bound loosely with navy ribbon.

You can access the free printable here. The PDF is in black, but mine actually printed in blue because (whoops!) my printer ran out of black ink. Rather than change the cartridge, I left it to print in blue because I liked how it looked.

Craft Haul – All the Beads

Over the weekend, my Grandma and I visited my favorite jewelry supply shop, North Star Gems in Bridgewater, NH.  We had a fun time browsing the shop together, and she helped me choose the beads to make jewelry for my bridesmaids.

Here’s the fun stuff:

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All I want to do is CRAFT ALL DAY.

I just love the color of these beads, and the way they compliment each other. The golden beads will be the main accent color. The dark blue, somewhat translucent beads are the base. And the opaque dark blue beads were the surprise purchase. They’re also forming the base, but the finish of these beads is more metallic and reflective, and these beads contain tints of both blue and gold depending on lighting. I love how these beads compliment each other.

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I love the cut of these glass beads, they look so elegant.

Part of my plan for the bridesmaids’ jewelry is to make earrings. I found these cute chandelier bases in gold that are so delicate and pretty.

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These are so pretty! I can’t wait to start them, but I’ve disciplined myself to save the earrings for last. 

I also stocked up on some of the essentials.

I picked two different types of earrings to accommodate those who don’t have their ears pierced. The hairpins are used to string beads and then wrap them around either the earring or the chandelier loop.

And of course, a necklace needs to be strung on something…

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My all time favorite beading wire.

Whenever I craft beaded necklaces or bracelets, I use this nylon-coated beading wire. It’s strong, beads slide on easily, and (best part) it’s affordable.

The wires come in different weights, so you can adjust based on requirements of a project. Typically, I use 0.18″/0.45mm weight, because it’s versatile and fitting for most projects.

Word to the wise: Only use wire cutters, using scissors would damage the blades.

Hope you enjoyed this sharing session. I love craft supplies and am always on the hunt for new inspiration for a project.

Happy Crafting!

The Weekend Craft Bag

With a three-day weekend ahead, it’s the perfect time for crafting!

Waiting for Rain Shawl

Current Status:  Garter Stitching for Days…

I’ve finished three lace-work short row sections in the shawl so far. I had just enough yarn in my skein to make it into the garter stitch before I had to switch to the next one – was a little nervous that I wouldn’t make it!

I love this pattern, the lacework is so beautiful and intricate. This is one of those patterns that makes me feel accomplished each time I complete a row. I’m now  a little more than half-way through what I think is the final garter stitch section. Being so close to the end of the pattern gives me motivation to push through and finish.

Here’s a close up of the short row section.

Check out this pattern by Sylvia of Softsweater Knits on Ravelry (where I purchased mine) or visit her website.

Bead Quest

Current Status:  On the Prowl

This afternoon I’m super excited to go to my favorite jewelry store, North Star Gems in Bridgewater, NH. It’s a tiny shop with an incredible selection. I’m headed there with a list: beads to make the Bridesmaids’ jewelry.

Wedding Crafts

Current Status: If I’m Feeling Ambitious

I’ve got a super long to-do list of fun wedding crafts ahead, but sometimes it can feel overwhelming to try and get it all done. Especially when I’m striving for perfection. Right now, I’ve been breaking up the wedding craft projects into smaller pieces, so it’s more manageable. I love to DIY, and I’m so happy we’re including that in our wedding.

My latest up-cycle jewelry design

There’s nothing I love more than taking something broken and fixing it back up. These bracelets are a great example of that. They’re fun, standalone pieces that compliment a wider range of outfits than the original necklace.

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Here I’m wearing all five bracelets at once so you can see the all color variations. They’re great for layering, but they look equally amazing on their own.

The beads are gorgeous earth tones with veins of color. Paired with delicate silver spacers and a spring clasp, they’re ready for any sort of trip be it the mall, office, or event.

As someone always on the go, streamlined pieces like these really work for me.

I love jewelry that tells a story, and pieces like these accomplish that.

Happy crafting!

 

2016 Crafting Roundup

There’s been a lot of hate for 2016 online, but for me personally I had a great year crafting. I tried out new projects, tested out some new methods, and kept the Etsy shop going despite being very distracted by my day-to-day life. Here’s a look back at some of my favorite crafting moments of the year.

Knitting Lacework Short Rows

The wedding has inspired me to tackle my most ambitious pattern-knitting to date: The Waiting for Rain Shawl. This pattern features beautiful lacework done in short rows, and it’s the first time I’ve really worked with either of those elements. I’m almost finished the second lacework section and seeing how the pattern comes together is really exciting.

Check out the Waiting for Rain Shawl pattern by Sylvia of Softsweater Knits on Ravelry (where I purchased mine) or visit her website.

Working with Wire

I’ve been playing around with wire a lot more recently in my jewelry making, although none of these wire-wrapped pieces have made it into the Etsy shop yet. Last year I bought new round-nose pliers, which are perfect for creating fun curlicues and wrapping. I still have room for improvement, but that’s a goal for the upcoming year.

Using the Sewing Machine

Creating costumes for PAX East was definitely a larger undertaking than I anticipated, but my favorite part was reconnecting with the sewing machine. I have only limited experience with the sewing machine, basic skills taught to me by my grandmother, but these costumes gave me a chance to work those skills and become more confident. There were definitely some moments that I had to learn the hard way, but I was still learning and that’s the important take-away.

PAX is coming up soon!! Check out some of the CosPlay posts if you want to get ready, including making Lucina’s Mask, Resetti’s Mask, Chrom’s Tunic, and costume design tips.

So what’s up next for 2017?

Well you can definitely bet to see more on the lacework short rows, since I plan to finish the shawl before the wedding. Also, expect to see more experiments with wire; I want to try wrapping stones in different ways and get really creative with it. I also have a real urge to do more with the sewing machine, but access to the machine is hard to come by since I don’t own my own. I’d really love to get more into sewing projects to make things around the house and also DIY/improve some of my clothes. Another big thing on the 2017 craft list is paper crafts. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’ll involve handmade flowers…

Wishing you all a happy new year!

Creating Chrom’s Tunic by Avoiding Near Disaster

For PAX 2016, The Boy and I wanted to go as Chrom and Lucina, two of our favorite characters from Nintendo’s Fire Emblem Awakening. I sketched the costume designs and we bought a few yards of fabric in the colors we needed. Problem was, we underestimated how tall The Boy is… and didn’t buy enough fabric to make the tunic.

 

Rather than accept disaster, I improvised. 

Knowing that The Boy would wear an undershirt with the costume, I altered the design to be more like a smock with adjustable ties down the sides. This ended up having more benefits than I originally anticipated:

  • The smock used less fabric, essential since we didn’t buy enough
  • Adjustable ties reduced the margin of error of making the tunic too small or too large
  • Less pressure for perfection, because the costume’s cape would hide mistakes

How to Save the Project:

First, I cut two identical lengths of the fabric for the front and back of the tunic, making sure to cut a semi-circle for the neck for a more natural fit. Second, I cut 8 long strips out of the remaining scrap fabric to use for fabric ties. I hemmed these strips with the sewing machine so there would be no loose ends.

Next came the hem. I pinned the tunic all around, and affixed the ties on both sides in two main locations: one near the chest and one near the waist. I sewed the main hem for both the front and back panels before attaching them, because it was easier to feed through the sewing machine at this point. Then the two identical panels with ties were sewn together at the shoulder.

For detailing, I trimmed the tunic in a gold ribbon that I stitched about 1-inch in from the hem. The gold trim adds a nice touch to the costume, without being overly complex.

My dad once told me that all crafters make mistakes, but it’s the masters of their craft that know how to hide them.

We were talking about knitting. Or carpentry. One of those two. Either way, the concept still applies. I still consider myself a novice seamstress, but I’m a master at fixing my own mistakes and making the best of any situation.

I was really happy with how the tunic turned out. It wasn’t perfect, but I wasn’t going for perfection. The goal was to make a Chrom costume and have fun; and I think I achieved that with this tunic.

The takeaway from this crafting session:

  • Measure twice.
  • Create backup plans when a project doesn’t go as anticipated
  • Measure a third time.

 

The Knitting Bag – Holiday Weekend edition

Hope the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend was lovely for everyone.

Waiting for Rain Shawl

Current Status:  Short Row Take II

Reached the second section of lacework short rows in the car traveling to Thanksgiving festivities. I need to count my stitches to ensure I have 294 before I start the section… counting requires concentration which is (un)surprisingly hard to come by on a holiday weekend.

Here’s a close up of the short row section.

Check out this pattern by Sylvia of Softsweater Knits on Ravelry (where I purchased mine) or visit her website.

Ninja Turtles Inspired Child Hat

Current Status:  Complete

Met my goal of finishing the hat last week. Once I had the color sorted it came together really quickly. I love knitting child hats because they’re such quick knits and they’re so cute. The eyes gave me a little trouble, because I couldn’t figure out what size I wanted them to be. I experimented while watching Netflix’s and eventually came to create a pair that look like a nice match and a good size. I stitched them to the hat, and it’s complete! Super excited to have finished this project.

See a photo of the completed hat here.

Still working on writing up the pattern, since I need to figure out how I actually made those eyes…. I may need to recreate them again to be sure I’ve done it correctly.

The knitting bag

Waiting for Rain Shawl

Current Status:  Commuting

 

I have three more rows to finish before making it to the next short row section. I was hoping to finish more of this shawl during the week, so I could work on the lacework this weekend, but best laid plans never tend to go that way. Aiming to get through the next three rows by Wednesday… we’ll see how that works out.

Check out this pattern by Sylvia of Softsweater Knits on Ravelry (where I purchased mine) or visit her website.

Ninja Turtles Inspired Child Hat

Current Status:  Found the perfect blue!

 

Finally found the perfect shade of blue at the craft store when my yarn stash failed to deliver. It’s great for that classic animated Leonardo blue. I’ve been making good progress on the hat this weekend, I’ve added in the two-inch blue for the bandana, switched back to green, and now I’m at the decrease rows. My goal is to finish this hat this week.

I decided today that I would write down this pattern as I’m making up. Even though I’ve made up my own knitted creations in the past, I’ve never written a pattern down for others to use. I’m pretty excited to try it; I like challenging myself.