Monday, February 07, 2011

Crafty Monday - Make Your Own Stitch Markers!

Welcome! It seems to be Crafty Monday around these parts! For some reason, I got a lot of crafty stuff done today, but I'm going to parcel out crafty tips over a few weeks so you all don't get overwhelmed with the craftiness.

Today's topic is stitch markers. I, like many knitters, am always looking for new gadgets and tools and enhancements to my knitting experience. Specifically, I'm always looking for good stitch markers. I've bought and received as gifts those stitch markers that look like jewelry - the kind that hang off a loop that sits on the needle.

As pretty as some of these are, I find them a pain in the patootie to knit with. They keep getting stuck in between stitches or they need to be flipped to the front or back of my knitting depending on what stitch I'm doing.

We're pretty, but we don't work well!

I wanted markers that were circles, like those ubiquitous plastic ones that we all have. I've never attempted to make stitch markers before, but I saw some online that looked like just the ticket, so I thought I'd try to recreate them. And let me tell you, they are the easiest things in the world to make! And they work! And they're pretty!

We work! And we're easy to make!

Yep. That's it. You need 10mm jump rings - the kind that are a single circle, not a coil - which you can purchase at any big box craft store or bead store, and size 6 (or E) beads, also widely available all over the place. (If you are like me, you have trillions of these beads lying around from various beading and knitting projects.)

You don't even need pliers to make these. Simply pry the jump ring apart with your fingers, slip on a bead, and then pry the jump ring back together. Voila! That's it! You're done! I took these out for a spin on a pair of mittens I'm making (Shelburne from, if you must know).

(Terrible picture, but seeing the cat's feet made me crack up)

Those mittens are on a size #9 needle, and the markers work perfectly. They had smaller jump rings at the store, but I like markers on the big side, even if I'm using small needles. I'm going to troll Etsy and see if they have even larger ones.

No more plastic markers! Make some pretty ones of your very own today! And think of what a nice gift for your knitter friends a set of these would make!

Monday, January 31, 2011

What I Knit On My Winter Vacation

Every year around this time we head out to the end of Long Island to stay at the house of my beloved Aunt Jane. We love it out there at this time of year - the bracing walks on the beach, the snuggly times reading in the cozy house, the local seafood. Heaven.

Also, I have a lot of knitting time!! Before I go on vacation, I start thinking about what I'm taking, knitting-wise, wayyyyyy before I think of packing stuff like, oh, clothes, toothbrush, those kinds of things...

I like taking small projects on vacation and besides, I'm in a very non-sweatery knitting mood these days. I started and finished these:

Shelburne Mittens from the latest Great easy pattern. I do love a textured mitten!! The yarn is from an unnamed big box store. The yarn I brought was impossible to get gauge with, so I popped in a store (yarn emergency!!) and picked up a ball of this insanely bright fuschia yarn. I like it though, and they'll never get lost in the snow!

These gloves I had already finished before I left, but they felt short to me, so I picked up stitches around the cuff and knit a couple of inches of garter stitch. The wonky, Wonder-Woman type shape of the cuffs was because I had added a sort of tab to put the button on, but added it on the wrong side on one of the gloves. So I seamed the tab to the side of the cuff and got that weird shape. Which I like, so that's cool.

Garter Stitch Sideways Gloves, in Claudia Handpaints Fingering weight, Zecca buttons.

I did some Momogus knitting too. Here I am zooming up the 2nd of a pair of Totally Twisty Toe-Up Tube Socks. Some vintage Opal sock yarn from the stash. These will never get lost in the snow either!

Finally, I made an Easy Colorwork Headband for myself, but just as I finished a cold front swept the East Coast, and I decided to convert it to a hat. It was super-warm! I'm going to write up the conversion-to-a-hat instructions and add them to the Free Patterns page of the website.

Easy Colorwork Headband, converted to a hat! Brown Sheep NatureSpun yarn.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I haven't dropped off the face of the earth!

Yes, it's been a long time. Here's where we are right now:

Aaahhh, our beloved annual Long Island trip!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Back to Knitting

Sorry, folks, the blog got hijacked by the Phillies for a while there. But since they seem to be sinking fast, let's talk about something knitting!!

Yesterday on Facebook, Kris mentioned that she was about to become a new grandma (yay!) and asked, "...Anybody have any great but simple ideas for new babies from their grandma?"

Funny she should ask because I am in the middle of the same dilemma (as a friend and sort of great-aunt-in-law rather than a grandma). My usual go-to project for new babies is this, the Easy Baby Cardigan:

In this case (I think this was for my nephew), I also made the matching hat. A few weeks ago, after a baby lull of a year or so, I found out that a dear friend of mine was welcoming a new baby boy into her family and also that my husband's nephew's girlfriend had just had a baby girl.

I wanted to make something special for each baby, but didn't have enough emotional energy to make sweaters for both. So I poked around in my patterns and suddenly had an epiphany! What if I took this:

(Easy-Peasy Washcloth) and expanded it into a blanket? Light bulb! I love a garter stitch blanket and I love the simple eyelet edging on this. So I unearthed some cotton-blend yarn from the stash and started these:

What's great about this pattern is that it is the ultimate no-brainer. You can just put down and pick up without constantly checking a pattern. You can also control exactly how much yarn you want to use. I had 2 balls of cotton-blend yarn with 207 yds on each ball. So I increased until I had used up one ball and then started decreasing with the new ball of yarn.

I started these at the corner, but instead of increasing up to about 50 sts or so (can't remember exact #) for the washcloth, I continued until I had 126 sts, which was also when I ran out of yarn from the ball. I was shooting for a stroller blanket of about 24" x 24". 126 sts on a #7 needle got me to about 21". I only want to use the 2 balls of yarn for this, so I'm going to make up the difference by crocheting a 1.5" border with cocoa brown at the end.

I love these blankets because just as the rows start getting long and boring, it's time to start decreasing! That's where I am with the pink one; the blue one needs about 20 more rows.

So there you go, Kris. A couple of ideas for that precious new grandchild. Plus here's a whole page of baby patterns. And here's a page with some sets on it if the sweater/hat combo appeals.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Why Thank You, Mr. Halladay!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Taking the Plunge!

If there's a crafty bandwagon anywhere around, I'll jump on it! Lately I've been seeing many articles about canning and preserving, and I've been intrigued. I remember years ago my friend Lisa gave me a jar of preserves that a friend of hers had made. When I expressed delight and amazement, Lisa said, "Oh you would like her - she knits and makes furniture and makes her own preserves." This paragon of self-sufficiency has haunted me a little for years.

So yesterday I went to the Oreland Hardware Store and bought this:

Matthew went to the Glenside Farmers Market and bought these:

Now I shall attempt to combine the two into (insert heavenly choir here) homemade peach jam! In my mind, this is the equivalent of saying, "Well, I'll just go ahead and build a nuclear reactor here in my backyard."

Enlist a helper. Peeling peaches (after the hot/cold water dunk) is awesome slimy fun:

Unpeely goodness:

Then chopped up a bit:

I was cooking with gas up until this point, when I checked the recipe and it said to add SEVEN AND A HALF CUPS of sugar!!! Say what?! That is a veritable mountain of sugar! It was every molecule of sugar in my house. It seemed like an awful lot, but I at this point I am fanatically following the recipe to the letter, so we'll see:

Oof. That looks like a lot of sugar....

Anyway, dump the peaches and the SEVEN AND A HALF CUPS of sugar and some lemon juice into a pan and cook it on up:

I am blessedly skipping the steps (like #5-#25) where I juggled piping hot jars and lids and liners and ladles and got half of the jam on the counter/stove/floor/the cats/anything in a 20-foot radius. (Note to self: next purchase - wide mouth funnel). Here are the jars, filled with jam and safely sealed, boiling away in a water bath for 10 minutes:

Drumroll please! Here is the finished product:

Beautiful, ain't it?! I made 4 pints of peach jam. It took about 3 hours from start to finish. It was exhausting, both physically and mentally. I am all for improvising and not throwing a lot of money at a new hobby, but this is one enterprise in which you are rewarded exponentially for having the right equipment. I am definitely going to get that wide mouth funnel and try it again. We can't eat it for another 12 hours, but I will report back.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I'm back from gorgeous Lake Willoughby, Vermont - sigh! I had a lot of time to think about designs and ideas and promotions and giveaways and all that good stuff. I also found time to visit some amazing yarn stores and add to my "little" stash (ha. ha.)

From Knit or Dye in Brattleboro, I bought some Malabrigo lace yarn. I am so all about laceweight yarn these days - it's crazy, considering how absolutely 100% against it I was just a short while ago. Well, what goes around comes around or something like that.

Anyway, this yarn is a true olive green. And while I love olive green in general, I like it on the more acid-y side. A good violent chartreuse makes me shout with joy. So I decided to see if I could get this yarn more chartreuse and decided to dye it. Follow along with me!

Here's the yarn in its original form:

Untwist the skein (but leave the ties on!! You'll never untangle it if you take the ties out!! Don't ask me how I know!) Now give your yarn a little cold water and vinegar bath (about 30 minutes soaking - 4 parts water to 1 part white vinegar. The vinegar is a mordant to help activate and hold the dye):

Take a break with some Cheerios while the yarn soaks:

Then drain the water out, don some gloves and use a strong solution of Wilton Cake Icing Dye in Yellow (strong = about a tablespoon of dye and a teaspoon of water - a little goes a long way) to paint the yarn. I started out painting it, then just dumped the whole glass of dye over the yarn:

After dyeing you wrap your yarn in some plastic wrap:

Curl it up in "cinnamon bun" style:

And then nuke it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Let it cool for at least 10 minutes out of the microwave (it will be hotter than Hades!), rinse gently (especially important for single plies like this yarn), and then hang on your drying rack of choice, in this case, the baseball pitchback in the backyard:

After a couple of hours sunbathing, the finished product was subtly but noticeably yellowy-er:



For more detailed instructions on using this method to dye yarn (like how to get stripes in dyed sock yarn and the like) go to Kalamazoo Knits etsy site. They are great ladies!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Do you all know about Etsy? Has it altered your life (and your checking account) like it has mine? I came across this wondrous website a few years ago - now whenever I have a moment I go and check things out. It's all (or mostly) handmade items. It makes you never want to shop at Target ever again. I have to be careful how often I go on because I just want to buy every thing I see.

This month I hit the Etsy jackpot with three new purchases. First this, two gorgeous chili bowls from darshanpottery. These are exactly the kind of thing I love - I love the earth tones, the shape, the capacity of the bowls. Look how beautiful!

And they're from Vermont, my most favorite state in the country!

Next, I had a hankering for a necklace, so I poked around Etsy and found this:

This is from delicacyj. Isn't that the prettiest thing you ever did see?

Finally, after seeing a ton of filmy laceweight shawls at TNNA, I had a hankering for some laceweight yarn. I had none in the stash, so I bought this:

100% tussah silk yarn from dyeforyarn which became this:

"Little Leaves" by Susanna IC. Loved the yarn, loved this pattern. It has little silver-grey beads in it - I lurve knitting with beads!

So that's a little tour through Etsyland for you. And of course, you can always find FABULOUS knitting patterns there as well!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Random Images

Don't have enough mental energy for full post, but here are some random images to get me back into the swing of things:

Mr. Cool, before the GYAC All-Star Game, at which he would drive in the go-ahead run for the National League (game ended in a tie):

Cabled Fingerless Mitts (well, Mitt) by Meg White:

Two things about this glove I do love so: One, it is constructed from the top-down, which is interesting and means you don't have to fuss with a thumb gusset. Two, the big beads which you sew into the middle of the cables when you're done. LOVE! I'm teaching a class in this at the Tangled Web in the fall.

Beat-up shack and transformer box (which says "Crazy Train"!!) near the mighty 12-million-line crossing at Marion, Ohio. The Jordan-Borns do love their trainwatching, and Marion does the trick. We saw about a dozen trains coming from every which way in the hour or so we were there. Might be the best train watching place in the country! There, I said it!

You know I try to keep cat pictures to a minimum on the blog, but this just cracked me up. This is how Nuts sleeps. Every time he gets on that old car seat, he stretches his arms out like that. It makes me giggle every time. Also notice Funny stuffed into small basket on the left. "I fit!"