About a Doll, a Baby, and a Naughty Kitty

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been a bit lacking in my blogging mojo lately… but I HAVE been saving up some photos of some finished projects that I’ve had fun making during the last couple of months:

1. About a Doll.
For my niece’s Pixie Doll, I made a few accessories: a combination flannel/knitted nightgown, a crocheted ballet tutu, a flower crown (I made a big version for her as well) and a pet bunny.

knitted doll accessories

I probably should have shared this bunny pattern before Easter, because I think it’s way too cute…

knitted bunny

2. About a Baby.
I finally got the chance to make something for a baby again! I was excited to be invited to my Cousin’s baby shower… and even more excited that he is expecting a girl, because I’ve wanted to make this sweet dress ever since I bought this book, Easy Baby Knits by Claire Montgomerie. I love this book so much… I’ve made many of the items in here, but not this one yet. It was a joy to knit in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran.

knitted baby dress

Her nursery theme has elephants in it, so of course I had to make her a crocheted baby elephant as well. This pattern was very quick and easy… relatively.

crochet baby elephant

3. About a Naughty Kitty.
From the very first moment we brought our kittens home, I knew that under NO circumstances could I ever let them play with yarn, because then it would be GAME OVER for my knitting. And they’ve actually done admirably well with leaving it alone. Every once in awhile they will bat at a strand as I’m knitting, and have even bit through it a time or two… but I always quickly break up the game, and I’ve had very little issues. However, ever since I started spinning and bringing home fiber, it’s been a different story. I’m not really sure why… I think it started when Butterfly got her paws on a roving braid… cashmere mix of course, (she has good taste) and it responded a bit like one of their cat toys, so she started dragging it around. It could also be that raw fiber is SO soft, and they are drawn to anything soft and warm like a magnet. Whatever the cause, the result is that now I can’t leave ANY fiber out EVER, or both cats (but especially Butterfly) will be tearing into it. And I mean literally TEARING. I started keeping it in ziplock bags, but they quickly figured out how to tear those open and it’s become part of the game. I then got a big tupperware box to keep it in, but Butterfly figured out how to push open the edge enough to get her claws in and pull it out. So now it has to be in the laundry room… the only room they aren’t allowed in… unless I am currently spinning it. Even then, I can’t step out of the room for even a minute or they will be all over it. So annoying!!! At least they can’t completely destroy it… usually nothing a little carding can’t fix. Here is the bandit (or should I say vandal), caught in the act:

naughty kitty

This is some lovely kid mohair. She’s almost as obsessed with it as I am! If I can keep her out of the fiber long enough to share about my latest spinning experiments, I plan to post about that next. I’ve been doing some fun things with silk… blending it and plying it with woolen spun singles of other fibers, and I’m really enjoying working with it. Worms really don’t get enough respect!

pixie’s knitted heidi dress and cat

Mae’s surprise knitted birthday doll’s wardrobe is expanding. I absolutely LOVE this pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/pixies-favourite-heidi-dress-and-little-red-winter-hood

Claire Garland is a knitting genius, even if she does have quite a few small errors in her patterns, I don’t care, geniuses are like that sometimes… they can’t be bothered with the details.

And now Pixie has a friend as well… modeled after our sweet Lola cat. This pattern can be found in this book (I borrowed it from the library) : Knit and Purl Pets

The cats love her too, and the white pillow they are sitting against in the photos was made by Mae. 🙂

In chicken land (was that what this blog was supposed to be all about?) we are all loving the warmer weather and longer days. It still surprises me how much the hens enjoy sitting with us on the hammock. They really can’t stand more than a quick pet when they’re running around the yard, but on the hammock they let us pet and hug them to the contentment of all. Cleo almost fell asleep the other evening while Mae was rocking us, cuddled up against my side. I wonder why the difference? Is it perhaps because we are at eye level, instead of descending from above… like a potential predator? And maybe because it feels like we are roosting with them, fellow chickens swaying together in the branches of a tree?

free range easter eggs

This was our first year making Easter eggs from our backyard chicken eggs. Since they are fresh, we steam cooked them, hearing that this makes them easier to peel. We shall see.

free-range-eggs-steam

I was also uncertain how their brown color would look with the Easter egg dyes applied. We totally LOVED the colors we got. Such rich jewel tones, I’m never going back to plain old pastel white eggs. The kids didn’t even want to add any extra decorations to them (ie. stickers) they liked how they turned out so much. We did get our colors leftover from our neighbors, who had put a bit of glitter in, and lot’s of vinegar, so that helped as well.

brown free range colored easter eggs

Then, while the kids weren’t watching, I sneaked all of the tiny knitted animals I made for them into the basket to see how they looked. I really like how they turned out. I made chickens and baby bunnies, but then I had to branch out to a few more exotic animals: a lion, penguin & polar bear.

easter-basket-knitted-animals

Of course, Lola always gets a sneak peek of everything I make for the kids.

cat peeking in easter basket

It was such a gorgeous day today… 75 degrees, sunny and warm. This never happens here on Easter weekend. Usually it’s cold and rainy. So we had to celebrate by breaking out the hammock in the backyard. The hens even enjoyed sitting on it with us.

hammock-hens

Happy Easter To All!!!

mama hen egg cosy… free pattern

What I originally set out to make before I became thoroughly distracted by the tiny chicken pattern was an egg cosy for my kids’ Easter eggs. I couldn’t find exactly what I was envisioning, nothing nearly cute enough to match the cuteness of the tiny chickens, so I looked to some of the other patterns for inspiration and then created my own. Of course I had to match the style of my tiny chickens as closely as possible. I’m now planning to put the tiny chickens in plastic easter eggs under the egg cosies, so the kids can let them hatch again and again.

knitted egg cosy

egg-cosies5

I’ve never publicly published a pattern I’ve created before, so this will probably not come across as completely professional, but it was so fun to make and I liked how it turned out, so I wanted to share it.

Yarn: A small amount of Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift (or similar) 100% wool in whatever colors you want for body, comb & beak (I used a pale yellow & light turquoise for the bodies, deep red for the combs, and dark orange for the beaks, with a bit of black silk/alpaca mix yarn for the eyes)
Needles: size 2 (2.75 mm) double points or long circular using magic loop method (my personal preference)

Body:
CO 40 stitches with the main color.
K4, P4 (5 times) and join in the round.
Continue pattern for 8 rows.
Change to K all the way around for 16 rows (I did 12 rows here for the yellow hen, but I found I liked a little more egg coverage).
Bind off 24 stitches
.
K 16 stitches and join these in the round for neck
.
K 8 rows.
K2tog 8 times (8 stitches)
.
K2tog 4 times (4 stitches)
.
Break yarn and thread through 4 stitches, pull closed.

Finishing body:
Mattress stitch at base of neck along the back for 8 stitches with edges tucked in, then pull edges up to be visible and lightly close by sewing a running stitch back and forth underneath the edges. This gives a slightly raised look to the tail.

Wings: (make 2)
With the main color, starting 5 stitches down from the top of the back, and 6 stitches from the tail end, pick up and knit 8 stitches.
Row 2: Knit (starting a garter stitch).
Row 3: K2tog, K 4, K2tog (6 stitches).
Row 4: Knit.
Row 5: K2tog, K 2, K2tog (4 stitches.)
Row 6: Knit
Break yarn and thread through 4 stitches and pull closed. Weave in loose ends.

Comb:
Pick up and knit 4 stitches along the top of head with red yarn.

comb1

Row 2: Knit
.
Row 3: Knit
.
Bind off.

On one side of the head there will be stitches of the body color showing through, so cover these with the red yarn by looping over them when you weave the ends in.

comb2

Eyes:
About 3 stitches from comb and 4 stitches from front of head, wrap one stitch with black yarn 3 times. Repeat on the other side of the head.

Beak:
With orange yarn, starting 1 stitch below eyes at the front of the head, pick up and knit 2 stitches down vertically.

beak1

Using iCord method knit 3 rows.

beak
Break yarn, thread through 2 stitches and pull closed.
Weave in loose ends back toward head, and weave a couple more times around the base of the beak to make it a bit triangular.

Wattle:
Just below beak, pick up and knit 2 stitches down vertically.
Using iCord method, Knit 2 rows.
Break yarn, thread through 2 stitches and weave in loose ends back to head.

wattle

Finish head by lightly stuffing it, and weave some of the loose ends from the embroidery underneath the stuffing back and forth lightly to secure it.

Place cozy over plastic egg or hard-boiled egg. It looks best with the pointy end toward the tail. This would also work well to keep a cooked egg warm and cozy.

egg-cosies2

egg-cosies3

egg-cosies4

Hopefully they will make it to Easter. My cats seem to have adopted them:

cosies-butterfly cosies-lola

hexipuff madness

I went a little crazy designing and embroidering hexipuffs for my Beekeeper’s Quilt this week, so I wanted to add these patterns to my growing collection. Feel free to use them and customize them as desired! First off, the bees. I couldn’t decide which pattern I liked best, and the kids had differing opinions, so I did up both of them, and put them on my yummiest looking hand-painted lavender yarn puffs. These were inspired by Laura Rittenhouse’s bee photos, so there you go Laura.. your bees have now been immortalized into my quilt!

bee hexipuff pattern

Then I had to do our chickens how they looked as chicks:

hexipuff pattern chicks

Then I did one of our cockerels, how they would have looked as full grown barred rock roosters, and added him to my chicken collection. I used thinner black yarn on top of a white background to achieve the speckled look.

hexipuff patterns chickens

Then I did the guinea pigs:

guinea pigs hexipuff

and the kids:

kids hexipuff pattern

and our chocolate lab of 11 years:

hexipuff pattern dog chocolate lab puppy

and Mae really wanted me to do her hibernating wooly bear caterpillar (at least we hope it’s hibernating).

catepillar

So here are all of the hexipuffs I’ve embroidered so far:

all-embroidered

And when I tie them all together I’ll probably scatter them around like this. I’m up to 63 hexipuffs now!

beekeeper quilt hexipuffs

Here are the embroidery charts for anyone interested. Notes: I added my ideal Cleo chick pattern, with an additional medium brown shade, which I didn’t have at the time. And the larger bee should be embroidered with the hexipuff upside down if you want it to come out centered:

hexipuff hens

A few months ago I started working on the Beekeeper’s Quilt by Tiny Owl Knits. Normally I shy away from huge knitting projects like blankets, but this was way too cute and interesting not to attempt it. You just knit these little hexagon shaped pillows with whatever spare sock yarn you have on hand, then you get a nice sense of completion and you can tuck them away until you get enough to tie them together into a patchwork quilt, no lining necessary, since you stuff them as you go. So far I have just over 50 finished, and the pattern estimates around 400 are needed for a lap quilt, so… it’s going to take some time. But that’s OK, the joy is definitely in the journey for this project, and I have the feeling it’s going to end up being a sort of family heirloom. There are many people around the world working on it and coming up with interesting ways to embellish and embroider them, and this gave me the idea to make it even more personal by embroidering things into them that mean something to our family. I started with our hens, of course, and I even included Fluffy, our pullet that we lost to a predator. It was fun to imagine what she’d look like all grown up with Gloria and Cleo:

hexipuff-hens

Then I made a couple for our cats as well. Butterfly turned out more like a Tiger, but my husband says that’s appropriate:

hexipuff-cats

Here they are all piled together:

hexipuff-animals-pile

And here’s what they’ll start looking like when it’s all put together:

beekeepers-quilt-animals

beekeepers-quilt-hexipuff-animals

Just like a beehive! So I’ll probably have to include a bee or two, and our guinea pigs, and now the kids say they want to be included, so that should be interesting. I’m having a lot of fun making up these embroidery patterns, so I thought I’d share them in case anyone else would like to use them for this project or a different one. I think they would also work well for cross-stitch. I’ll add more as I go!