Second Hand Jingle

jingle bear - updated

Robbie is six-months old now and inactive for about 2% of the day*. During that time I search the house for a knitting project that is nearly complete, or one where just a few rows can make some very satisfying progress.  The only problem is that it’s impossible to avoid eye-contact with the laundry to be put away, crusty dishes, cat food scattered on the floor, etc. So, there is not really a lot of knitting getting done around here.

However, back in August my mom and sister came to visit so I was able to finally cast-off a stuffed animal for Robbie. Jingle Bear is a very scrappy project: free pattern (Otso by Sophie Scott), scrap yarn, up-cycled stuffing and a thrifted jingle!

jingle progress 1 updated

The pattern itself is one I would definitely knit it all over again. You start by knitting the arms and legs, then you knit the body from the bottom up as you join the legs. There is shaping in the pattern to give the bear a rounded bottom, a proud chest and little shoulders. Very cute!

jingle progress 2 updated

Since most of  my yarn is packed away (out of Robbie’s grasp) I had to substitute a worsted weight yarn and smaller DPNs for the pattern. The orange stripes are actually a sport weight yarn, so you can see that this is definitely a scrap-friendly project.

What I love most about this project is that I used whatever I could find on hand or second hand. The stuffing is from a wonky pillow. The jingle I got from a $3 toy grab-bag at Savers. I cut open the toy and washed the little jingle canister – good as new!

second hand jingles

Despite all the love and effort that went into Mr. Jingle Bear, he’s not seeing a lot of action. Robbie likes when Jingle Bear is jingled violently, but otherwise he seems not to know that it exists. But that doesn’t get me down. Completing this project was a good reminder that you can make something really neat if you’re creative with what you already have.

*10% inactive when Robert Sr. watches him which is completely unfair since Robert Sr. won’t help with all the unfinished knitting!  


New free pattern! Windowpane French Press Cozy

It’s done! It’s up!

My first knitting pattern (Windowpane French Press Cozy) created for Knit Culture Studio is finally done! Just in time too. I beginning to avoid my knitting bag altogether. (I detailed my car, planned a new diet, did loads of extra-credit laundry. . .)

In other news, I completely caved and bought the right yarn for my Bobble-less Bobble Edge Shrug: Malabrigo Lace ‘Ravelry Red’.

And I think I will do the bobbles after all. How’s that for two-steps-back?

Yarn Crawl & Catch-up

Whew, what a weekend! While things have been silent here,  I’ve been busy blogging away over at the Culture of Crafting, in order to stir up a frenzy for Yarn Crawl L.A. County. I meant to take some pictures, but of course, I got caught up in the excitement of the weekend and have no real way of showing you how crazy I truly am. Well, except this photo:

On Thursday, after meeting with some of Robert’s buddies for pizza at Pizzeria Mozza, we managed to do some yarn crawling.  Friday was spent with lovely ladies at Knit Culture Studio including Laura Lundy of Slipped Stitch Studios whose business story is a complete inspiration to me. Next year I will definitely yarn crawl all four days!

Although we only hit three out of twenty-some-odd stores, we were awarded free goodies from Knit Culture, Wildfiber and Jennifer Knits, and got to meet some really nice knitters and small business owners like Heather Walpole of Ewe Ewe Yarn. I truly look forward to seeing their businesses grow and prosper because of this event. I picked up two skeins of Shibui  in a deep, dark green and some lofty cashmere tweed at huge discount.  As one of the only male yarn crawl attendees, Robert got lots of attention from yarny ladies. (As if he needed any more attention from yarny ladies!)

In the meantime, I’m still working on the same knitting projects:

– The Bobble Edge Shrug will probably be made sans-bobbles to save on yarn. Each bleepin’ bobble uses about eleven inches of yarn!   I know that’s not really in the spirit of hand-knitted treasures, but I don’t think I’ll be able to find another ball of this ultra-soft alpaca in the same shade of lavender.

The swatch below shows one full pattern repeat with bobbles, and one without. What do you think?

-I still need to finish the I-cord trim on my French Press cosy so I can write up a pattern.

– The back section of my green sweater is almost done. I guess. The directions were originally in Norwegian, which may account for the extreme brevity. I’m not sure if I’m doing it right, but I’m plowing ahead. (Again, not in the spirit of handknitting.) I know I’ll be so pleased to have finished it that I’ll wear it even if it looks a bit funny.

There’s no way it can be any frumpier than other things I’ve been caught wearing. . . .

Prototype: French Press Cozy

When Liz told me during the interview that one of the duties of the KnitCulture blogging position would be to design free patterns for the store, I think my heart skipped a beat. OF COURSE I WANT TO DO THAT!

Although I’m still working on the prototype, this is a little preview of a french press cozy pattern I’m working on for KnitCulture Studio.  (Can you spot the circular needle?) I want to come up with a cozy that covers the lid, but has an opening for the press mechanism. I’m still trying to figure out how to make the pattern adaptable to a variety of french press shapes. If all else fails, I’ll probably just make the cozy fit a Bodum 8-cup french press since you can buy those pretty much anywhere.

Yes, the cozy does serve a practical purpose by insulating your coffee press. But, with little accompaniments like tea cozies, potholders, or placemats, tea time seems more intentional and therefore more enjoyable.

Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace

After we watched all available episodes of Downton Abbey, Ariel and I sat down and watched BBC’s  Pride and Prejudice the one with Colin Firth. I saw it at the library on my day off, how lucky is that?! I’ve never seen it in any public library, let alone both DVDs at the same time, so I had to check it out.

Lately we’ve been feeling pretty inspired by the rich palettes and soft textures found in these British romantic sagas. So, a couple nights ago, Ariel surprised me with a wonderful birthday gift: Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace. Dreamy, delicate lace patterns inspired by Jane Austen’s leading ladies.

Right now, I’m struggling with a swatch for the Bobble Edged Shrug. My first couple rows are all funky . . . I did a few too many yarn overs on the RS (right side), which means I didn’t even know it was so screwy until I was back on the RS. This pattern is going to be a challenge for me because the only other lace I’ve done was for the Ruffled Kerchief. For that lace motif, you do all your PSSOs, K2TOGs, SL1 and whatnot on the right side, and then purl all stitches on the wrong side. So, you get a break from thinking on every other row.

Anyway, once it’s done it should look like this:

Yes, I am still working on my big, green sweater. I can already tell I’m going to need a bland, stockinette oasis when this lace project gets too complicated.

My First Sweater: DROPS 97-18 Tailored Cardigan

A couple of months ago I discovered Julie’s blog, Knitting At Large,  which offers pointers on modifying sweater patterns to fit plus-size figures. Julie is a real hoot and her plus-size knitting adventures have inspired me to finally cast on my first sweater.

First Sweater Pattern: For my first sweater I went with the  DROPS 97-18 Tailored Cardigan: a v-neck cardigan with set-in sleeves. This  pattern is sized from XS  to XXL, and it’s available for free from DROPS Design.

Here it is modeled by a robust Scandinavian co-ed.

I decided on a pieced sweater,  rather than one knitted in-the-round,  because I thought it might be easier to make modifications in the exact spots that need them.  Even though this pattern is not exactly a beginner sweater, what with all the seaming and button holes, I know I will wear it more than a knitted pullover.The set-in sleeves will add more structure to my rounded shoulders and help balance my figure. I can see it worn over a crisp collared blouse, or a floral dress.

First Sweater Yarn: For my yarn, I went with Dale of Norway ‘Daletta’. It’s a 4ply fingering weight wool that knits up with clear stitch definition. I was totally surprised by how soft it knits up, since it feels crunchy, and a little scratchy on the ball.  I found a rich olive green shade at Velona’s Needlecraft for a very reasonable price. (Color 7476)

First Sweater Modifications: If there’s one thing I’ve picked up from Julie’s blog, it’s the importance of studying the pattern schematic, and figuring out a schematic for your own body.  This particular schematic offers several points of reference which will enable me to figure out how many decreases/increases to add in to make the sweater fit just right.

I certainly don’t want a sweater with extra fabric in the wrong places, especially since I’m already certain I need to buy more yarn. (Doh!)

I just began the decreases for the waist shaping and I’m almost through the first ball of yarn.

How to Make Cascarones with Knitted Mochimochi

What do you do with a bunch of Anna Hrachovec’s knitted chickens? Make cascarones!!!


Cascarones are an awesome Easter tradition for several reasons. First and foremost, cracking an egg filled with confetti on someone else’s head is just good fun. They’re cheap: all you need are empty eggshells, confetti, food coloring and a little tissue to glue on the top. Plus, unlike plastic eggs or that synthetic easter grass, you don’t have to worry about plastic, pastel litter lingering in your yard for the rest of the year .

You can dress cascarones up like you would any other Easter eggs. Over at SpanglishBaby they used a basic Easter dye kit to color their eggs. But you can use whatever you have on hand: paint, crayons, stickers, etc. (Check out these awesome, elaborate El Luchadore Cascarones over at CraftyChica.) However you decorate your eggshells, be sure the paint or dye has completely dried before filling with confetti and prizes.

I decided to keep my cascarones simple by sticking to biodegradable materials. For these compost-friendly cascarones you will need:

Start saving your eggshells!

– empty eggshells
– Elmer’s glue
– tissue
– frugal confetti (newspaper)

Step One: Gather your eggshells. You can always crack all your eggs the day you want to make cascarones, but if you want to keep it cheap, start collecting eggshells a couple weeks out to avoid waste. When you crack your eggs, be sure to remove only the top. Rinse with water and allow to dry.

Step Two: Mix Elmer’s glue with a little bit of water in a small container.

Step Three : Put knitted chicken in egg.

Mochimochi chicky!

Step Four: Fill the egg with confetti, pinch by pinch.

Never pay for confetti!

Step Five: Take a small square of tissue and place it over the top of the egg so it covers the opening.

Step Six: Using a paintbrush, brush the glue mixture over the tissue paper. Allow to dry.

A little bit of the glue mixture goes a long way.

Once the tissue is completely coated, allow to dry.

After the cascarones have dried they’re ready to be passed and hatched!

Mochimochi Chicken!