Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Scrappy Crochet Bear Pattern

Scrappy Crochet Bear

Approximately 9 grams of worsted weight scrap yarn
size G/ 4.25 mm crochet hook
notions to make the face
yarn needle

Start with the body, since it is the largest piece.
Ch 60 in body color, work flat in sc until the piece measures about 3.5 inches. This will be the face. Switch to the scraps and continue to sc until the total piece measures 9 inches, changing colors and striping as you wish. Finished piece will measure approx. 14" x 9".

Ch 20 using the same color as the face. Join into a ring with a slip st and work in sc for half an inch. Switch to using scraps, changing colors and striping s you wish, until the arm measures 3 inches. Make 2.
Ch 25 (at this point, you may be out of face color. I used the same color to start each leg to give the impression of shoes) Join into a ring with a slip st and work in sc for 1 inch. Switch to your scraps, striping as you wish, until the leg measures 4.5 inches.
Using whatever colors you have left, Ch 2.
Round 1 - 6 dc into 2nd chain from hook. Join with a slip st into 1st dc.
Round 2 - switch colors, 1 ch, 2 dc into same stitch as chain, {2 dc into next dc} 5 times. Sl st into 1st dc.
Round 3 - switch colors, 1 ch, 2 dc into same stitch as chain, {2 dc into next dc} 10 times. Fasten off and weave in ends.
Finishing and Assembly
For the arms and legs, turn inside out and center the color jogs (think of this as a back seam) Tie off or weave in the ends, press flat and then stitch the end that is the hand or foot closed. Leave the other end open. Lightly stuff the arms and legs.

Add the Face

For the body, find the center of the rectangle and add the face. You can use safety eyes, felt, embroidery floss, whatever you have handy.

Add the Arms

Then fold the edges to the center and mark where the sides are. Lay it out flat again and stitch the arms on (arms should be lightly stuffed).

Add the Legs

Fold right sides together and sew the back seam closed. Center the back seam and then tuck the legs inside the body (legs should already be stuffed), aligning the open edge of the leg with the bottom edge of the body. Pin in place and sew closed.
Turn right side out.

Add Ears and Close
Stuff the body to the desired firmness. Sandwich the first ear between the front and back sides and stitch closed, being careful to pass through all three layers of fabric. Stitch the top middle of the head closed and then add the second ear as the first.

Enjoy your new toy!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Something Pretty

I'm working away at my Loulouthi Tiles quilt. It is the largest thing I have ever made. I'm pretty excited about that. Hopefully it will be pieced by next week. It is a happy way to spend a Friday nap time. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

At Last - the Clapotis

Pattern: Clapotis
Yarn: Berroco Weekend in icy blue
Needles: size 8

I have wanted to make this pattern for six years. How insane is that? I actually attempted it once, with some ridiculously awful novelty yarn. It was glittery and ribbony and just really not good. I was a new knitter though. We all go through that phase. Anyway, it was a disaster.

This Clapotis has been a long time coming. I made it for my mom, originally for her birthday, but it ended up being Mother's Day before I finished it up. This pattern is teeedious. There are a million repeats of what is pretty much just stockinette. I had to put it down several times.

But then came the wonderful day it was done. I threw it over my shoulders and suddenly did not want to part with it. It's so perfectly sized and delightfully drape-y. It's like having a warm towel to put around your shoulders after getting out of a cold pool. I want my own. I now understand why people slog though several of these. It might take me another six years to get around to it, but there most likely will be another one of these in my future.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

To all the mothers, grandmothers, and the women hoping to become mothers, have a wonderful day. To all the women in my life who have ever mothered me in some way, thank you! And an even bigger thank you to my own mom, who has always been there for me and who I love dearly!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Letter Discovery Activity

We've had several glorious rainy days. Multiple inches in single hours. Thunder, cloud-to-ground lightening, the works. It makes my little drought shriveled heart happy. But OMG, does it get stir-crazy in here with a toddler.

So we've been painting. To add an element of surprise and education to the mix, I devised this little activity. Super easy, fun, and educational.

The only supplies you need are watercolors, paintbrushes, paper, and a white crayon. Write out the alphabet in white crayon on white paper. I found that it helps to press firmly and go over the lines a couple of times.

Then let the little one paint away! Ben was so excited to watch the letters emerge from the paint. He'd shout them out and dance around. (Dancing with a wet paintbrush is a hazard, fair warning.)
This is also an easy way to observe what your kiddo knows without pressuring them. Just through observation of his unsolicited responses, I could see what he understood and where we might need to spend some time practicing.

Ben was particularity excited to discover "his" letter.

Another great thing about this activity is that you can you it for multiple subjects - we've done numbers, shapes, and his full name.

You can even use it to make nice homemade cards.

What do you do to survive those stir-crazy afternoons?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Modern Triangle Quilt

I'm so happy with how this quilt turned out!

Ben had to demonstrate how to use it. He likes to play on it, but he doesn't want it on his bed.

I pieced the back with scraps so it could be reversible. I used this tutorial for quilting without binding (I find the binding process frustrating) and I'm so happy with the results. I think it adds to the modern look of the quilt. It's quilted all over with more triangles. This is my first time using a walking foot for quilting - definitely a worthy tool to have! I should stop being surprised how good tools make a big difference, but I always am.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sweet Treat - Homemade Fudgesicles

I seriously ate half of the last one before I remembered I wanted to share the recipe.

1 pint of heavy whipping cream
2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
4-5 oz if chocolate, chopped or in chip form (I used 2oz of 100% cacao baker's chocolate and 2 oz 63% cacao chocolate chips)
2 tsp of vanilla extract
Popsicle mold

Chop up your chocolate, if you need to, and place in a heat resistant bowl. In a sauce pan, heat cream, cocoa powder and vanilla to a simmer. Once simmering, remove from heat and pour into the bowl of chocolate. Stir until thoroughly combined. An immersion blender would be helpful, but isn't necessary. Carefully pour into molds and chill in the fridge for an hour or so, then move to the freezer. Ready in about three hours, makes 4-6 pops. So good they will not last more than 24 hours, keep them a secret if necessary. They aren't overly sweet, so if you like your pops sweeter, use milk chocolate chips. You're welcome :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Last week, I was treated to a weaving class at Hill Country Weavers. I don't NEED a new hobby, but it was really fun. And about as instant of gratification as you can get from a fiber craft.

For the scarf I made in class, I used some scraps from my stash. I think it came out surprisingly well! After that practice, it was time to get down to business. One of the great things about the class is that you get to borrow a loom for 5 weeks afterward (and if you decide to purchase it, you get a discount!).
So for my first "real" woven project, I made a subtle hounds tooth scarf with some Cascade Pure Alpaca. It took longer than the first one, but that's because it is long - 87" long, not counting the 4 inches of fringe on the ends.
(my modeled shots always fail)

It is soft a beautiful and I love it so much I might just be wearing it right now, despite the 80 degree weather. Hopefully I have enough time to make another one or two lovelies before I have to return the loom. Maybe if I'm extra-good this year, Santa will put one under the tree for me?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

All Laid Out

I've been working on a modern quilt on and off for a few months. I got some pre-cut fabric packs for Christmas (the triangles and the 2.5" strips). All the prints are floral, so I picked out the most graphic, modern ones because it's for Ben. Since most of the prints are rather small, using all of them would have looked to busy for the effect I was going for. I am quite pleased with how it looks laid out, but I'm worried about some of the slightly wonkier blocks.

Ben "helps" me sometimes. He's actually really happy to sit and take the pins out of the finished strips and put them in the pincushion. He knows the quilt is for him and he even picked out a fat quarter of extra fabric and demanded it be included. It was black and white, who was I to argue?

Warmer weather always makes me want to drop my knitting and sew. I ordered the Loulouthi Morning Quilt bundle today. Aren't the colors and prints so happy? The plan is to make it for our bed.

You can find the free pattern at Stitched in Color.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Easter Bunnies

Pattern: Anything Animals(free!)
Yarn: Worsted weight scraps
Needles: 6

These little guys are even cuter in person! I made them for Ben and a friend's Easter baskets. They are quick, fun, and a little quick that there's still time to make one or two before Easter. If rabbits aren't your thing, the pattern has instructions for making various kinds of ears or hair to create whatever creature you desire.

The tutu was my own adaptation.
To make the tutu, knit 7 rows in the shirt color in stockinette, then knit a row on the purl side. This will give you purl bumps on the right side.
Continue knitting the body per the pattern. (I switched to the tutu color at this point.)
When the body is completed, use a crochet hook to attach the yarn through one purl bump on the left side of the body.
Chain 5, then slip sts through the 3rd purl bump. Chain 5 again, and slip sts through the 5th purl bump. Continue to chain 5 and attach to every other purl bump all the way across and tie off.
I knit the legs in the same colors as well to give the appearance of stockings.

I didn't get a picture of it, but they also have little pom pom tails in the back.

Happy Spring knitting!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sweet Gift

One of the lovely gifts I got for my birthday this year was a "party in a box" from my sister. I love getting boxes of fun stuff in the mail and I think this is such a thoughtful gift. There was a sneak preview CD from her band, a handwritten and water-colored recipe for vanilla buttercream, cupcake wrappers, ribbon, and custom cupcake toppers!

There was also a sweet birthday banner and bunting. Just add friends, and you have a party!

In addition to being an awesome sister and gift-giver, she is an excellent musician. She contributes her talents to various bands and she is currently raising funds via Kickstarter to record an album with Envelope Peasant and the Scientific Orchestra . Check them out, you need some new music in your life!

Friday, March 16, 2012


My new pot of miniature roses and my birthday pedicure are so on trend, aren't they? My Knockout Coral Drifters I planted last spring aren't blooming yet, so I'm happy to have these little grocery store wonders by my back door. The insane color of the blooms and the dark green of the leaves gets me every time.
I'm also anxiously awaiting a bud or bloom on the more lady-like Belinda's Dream rose I got for Mother's day last year. It was a tough summer, but I'm hoping all of this wonderful spring rain will make up for it.
I'm spending my weekend in the backyard. I've got big plans for the desolate flower bed. What are you doing?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Shalom Cardi

Pattern: Shalom Cardigan (free!)
Yarn: Plymouth Yarn Royal Llama Linen (discontinued)
Needle: size 8 (I think)

First off, I apologize for the poor photos. It's raining today and even if it wasn't, my camera is getting a bit long in the tooth. Anyway, I am finally calling this one done. I started it way back in June. It's a good pattern and a million people have made it so there's lots of helpful notes on Ravelry. I got the yarn on super sale from Webs some Christmas past. It's beautiful, the pictures don't do the color justice. Llama, linen AND silk, married together in tweedy glory? Awesome.

Except that the yarn screwed me. The glory of the Shalom pattern is that it's easy to customize it to your personal body type. I happen to have a long torso and broad shoulders, so I knit this to accommodate those little features. I so badly wanted this to be the Perfect Cardigan that I ripped out 10 inches (!!!!) at one point because I thought the armholes were too baggy.

So I finally got it right. And like a good little knitter, I blocked it. And disaster struck. It grew. And got really drapey. I thought about ripping it out and doing it again, but I reinforced the button holes (so badly hoping for perfection) and that made it too hard to rip. I literally threw the damn thing into the closet.

Then some helpful and more fashionable friends said it wasn't a total loss if I put a belt with it. So I bought a belt and did a single crochet around the neckline to make it less baggy and ta-da! not a total loss. Such is life and knitting.

In other news, a pair of cardinals have been gracing my bird feeder lately. Aren't they sweet?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

PLaydough Color Surprise Activity

I think you either love or hate playdough as a parent. I love it. It offers hours of endless, open, independent play. I extended the activity by adding an element of surprise. Here's how:

Make some natural-colored playdough. I use this recipe:
~ in a large sauce pan, mix together 2 c plain flour, 2 cups of water, 1 tbs of cooking oil, 1 tsp of cream of tartar and 1 c of salt. Stir over medium high heat until thick and dough-y. Remove form heat and let cool.

When the dough is cool enough to handle, divide it up into small balls (I would guess about the size of a lime.) Put a dent in each ball with your thumb and fill with a few drops of food coloring. Pinch the dough closed over the food coloring, careful not to squeeze it out. Let sit 5-10 minutes for the food coloring to slightly absorb.

Hand over the dough balls to your little ones and encourage them to knead them around. The color with slowly work its way out, marbling the dough and eventually becoming all one color.

This is a great way to build hand strength, especially if you make the balls too large - you'll be the one working those muscles while your toddler repeats over and over, "What color, Mommy?"

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Guy

A little while back, Ben and I collaborated on a guy for him. Not a doll, or a baby, but a guy. His name is "My Guy" in fact. He's bigger and heavier than the other dolls I've made, standing about 16" tall. Ben picked out the fabric for the clothes, the button on the shirt (he loves buttons) and the color of his "hair". My Guy was supposed to have blue hair, but Ben liked the crocheted wig cap so much as a hat, I just left it as is.

My Guy is currently in the closet because Ben has zero interest in him now that the sewing portion is done. That's ok. We passed several pleasant afternoons sorting buttons and sewing together. He's old enough now to sit on my lap with his hands on mine and sew. He loves all things machine, so my big grey heavy duty Singer machine is way more interesting than a doll. Or guy. I let him do the reverse button and turn the wheel. The other day, I took it apart to clean and oil it and he thought that was pretty awesome. We're currently making a quilt together.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Toddler Valentine's Cards

*WARNING* If you are a Lolli, Grandad, Nana, Papa, or Yia-Yia, don't look past the first picture! It will ruin your surprise!

Last year, when all the blogs were abuzz with cute Valentine's days crafts, I have to admit I felt a little left out. Ben was only about 14 months old and I think I'd barely worked up the courage to let him wield a washable marker. But this year, he's a self-proclaimed "big boy" with a few months of painting experience under his belt so we dove right into making some special cards for the grandparents. They are simple, sweet, and the right ratio of messy:easy to clean up.

You will need: White cardstock, paint, foam mounting dots (or just glue, if you don't have them on hand), a heart punch, envelopes to fit the cards in once done.

Step 1: Let your kiddo paint all over a piece of cardstock or two. I think the secret to success in making gift art is to limit the color palette so everything doesn't end up just brown. I offered him red, pink and purple and he went to town. While the kiddo is painting, fold some blank sheets of cardstock in half, as many as you want. The paint should be all mixed together by now, ready for step 2.

Step 2: Set aside the painted on pieces of paper to dry. Take a deep breath, dip your kid's hand into the paint, and "stamp" it onto the paper cards you folded. Be sure to make one for yourself!

Step 3: Set the hand print cards aside to to dry. Clean up all the paint and hands and walls and have a drink if necessary (ha ha). The toddler paintings should be dry by now. Use the hole punch and punch hearts out from the painted paper. Ben loved this part best, we made lots of hearts!

Step 4: Use the foam mounting dots or glue to add hearts to the card.
Step 5: Fill out the inside of the card with your message and send to your loved ones!

Bonus Round: Use leftover painted paper to make note cards with a heart punched out. Also, just go a little crazy with the heart punch. I know I did!

Ben really seemed to enjoy doing this. He kept saying "Dec-rate gift cards!". I have no idea why he was calling them gift cards, but it was really cute and made my day! It was a happy way to spend the morning.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The River Ombre

Pattern: Kalajoki
Yarn: Knit Picks Bare Stroll Sock Blank
(Post about dying this yarn here)
Needles: Size 2 dpns

I loved how these turned out! It was my first time knitting knee socks and my first time using a charted pattern. The chart was a bit daunting at first, but once I color-coded the symbols, it went smoothly. This is a relatively fast pattern, since most of it is stockinette. It was probably not the best choice for knee socks, since they seem to be a little saggy after wearing, but it doesn't really bother me since I'll only be wearing them around the house.
Oh, and I used the Streets and YOs Knee Socks! pattern to adapt the original. And, as usual, I knit these toe-up. That prevented me from continuing in pattern to the tip of the toe, but I think they still look ok. I'm happy I got them done in time to wear during what little cold weather we have left. It is not easy taking pictures of yourself in knee socks!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

63x53 = awesome

I finished this Granny Stripes blanket a few weeks ago. I started it around Thanksgiving. It was meant to be 45" x 45", but due to a newbie mistake I made the chain way too long, so I just hooked until I ran out of yarn. It's a great size for snuggling under on the couch and it is definitely my largest fiber project to date. I used the Debbie Stoller Washable Ewe. It's soft and while I haven't tired washing it yet, it's nice to know I can. I learned a lesson about why blankets are usually done in acrylic. Not only is it cheaper, but the static that this thing generates is epic!

Crochet is so much faster than knitting, I'm having a hard time picking up my needles again. There are so many WIPs at this point I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. That coupled with my usual late winter blues leaves me with little motivation to knit and even less to blog. But I'm daydreaming of Spring and planning my garden and I know that this is all temporary!