handspun cowl

My first handspun project is now complete: a cowl that just happens to fit Mae perfectly, so it should keep her cozy this winter. I used this Ells pattern on Ravelry, which seemed to work well with the “character” of my first spinning attempt, but I modified it to be narrower and shorter, and it can also double as a headband. She had fun modeling it for me, and the chickens had fun photo-bombing her:

mae-cowl-neck

mae-cowl-cleo mae-cowl-head

Both Jonah and Mae helped me to knit a bit of it, and they enjoyed working with the super-bulky merino yarn and big needles as much as I did. 🙂

too much twist

One of my favorite Beatrix Potter tales growing up was The Tailor of Gloucester, a story about some mice who help a tailor during the night. They finish everything but one button-hole, so they leave a note that says “no more twist.” I’m not even sure what they meant by twist (anyone know? was it thread?), but I found out the hard way that the opposite can definitely happen with a drop spindle. I was feeling much more confident after my first attempt with my handspun yarn… I guess a little too confident… assuming I was only going to get better from here on out, so I started going faster, moving on from the “park and draft” method to actually letting my drop spindle do it’s “drop spinning.” It was exhilarating, so I was being much less careful, and I guess I also wasn’t taking as much time to make sure my drafting thickness was even. Along the way, I started seeing these little kinks at the thinner yarn, but I assumed they would work themselves out in the end… not so. Once they were plied together, they were there to stay. I was very bummed, and had to keep telling myself that I got this roving for free, I’m still learning, etc… but I decided to make it up into a cowl anyway to see how it knits overall. It’s pretty fun to use these size 15 needles for the first time.

hand spun yarn with too much twist

I knew I had to redeem myself quickly before I gave up spinning entirely, so I started on a little bit of much thinner yarn, and spent more time making sure there were no kinks, and that the ply was more even. I’m much happier with the results… it looks much better, and it’s a fairly even dk weight… so I’m back to being excited about spinning again.

handspun drop spindle dk yarn

I also took a break during my spinning attempts to make this little hedgehog (free pattern by Amy Gaines… the same designer as the penguin) for Mae’s friend’s birthday gift. She wanted to give her a pet (of course), but I told her that wasn’t the best gift coming from a friend, but she could give her a stuffed animal pet. I asked her what she thought her friend would like… maybe a dog or a cat? But she said “a hedgehog”, so I got excited because I had this cute hedgehog pattern in my library. It reminds me of my other favorite Beatrix Potter story, The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle. It was meant to be a joint effort… Mae made the scarf… mostly. 🙂

knitted hedgehog pattern by Amy Gaines

Thrum pum pum pum…

Thrumming is so fun! As someone who LOVES her Ugg boots and LLBean Wicked Good slippers, I was ecstatic to find a knitting technique that can produce the same sort of cozy warm wool lining, at a fraction of the price, and no animals even need be harmed in the process. So I took a break from all of the toys I’ve been making as gifts to make something for myself… some nice cozy knitted slippers for the winter. I used this Thrumbelina pattern from a local designer, Michele Bernstein, and I picked up the Madelintosh worsted yarn and Knitted Wit merino roving from my LYS Twisted... thanks to a birthday gift card from a wonderful friend.

thrumbelina knitted slipper and thrums

The thrums were super fun to make, tearing off the roving into small strips, then forming them into cute little “bows” (Mae stole one to wear in her hair!), then wrapping them with the stitches when the pattern called for it. I have to admit that it took some time to get them the right size, my first batch was way too big, so I ended up having to ration the rest for the second slipper, making them all ahead of time so I was sure to have enough.

thrums from merino wool roving

They are simply heavenly to slip my feet into, and are sure to keep my toes toasty warm this winter!

thrumbelina thrummed knitted slippers

Now, of course, my kids want me to make them some as well. Maybe I’ll try this cute bunny slipper pattern for them, with needles and yarn sized down to fit. And this pattern could be modified to look like any animal (or Pokemon?) character… the possibilities are endless!

Also, working with roving has revived my craving to learn to spin my own yarn! I just purchased my first drop spindle, so I’m sure I’ll be posting about my adventures in spinning soon. I hope it’s as magical as I imagine it will be. 🙂 If I really get into it, I might just have to get this t-shirt.

Winter Penguin

Not that I’m ready for Winter (although it’s threatening to come early here with crazy rain and wind storms the last few days), but I made this super cute knitted penguin for my nephew’s birthday this past weekend. He’s a big fan of penguins, and they tend to go with snow, so why not knit him a hat and scarf to keep him warm? The pattern is by Amy Gaines and I think it turned out pretty well, except the hat is too big. It’s supposed to be oversized, but I think it’s my own fault that it won’t stay on, because I used two different types of yarn. I added a magnet at the top of his head, and under the brim of his hat to help keep it on… it sorta helped, I think. Oh well, I guess he looks pretty cute without it also.

Knitted penguin : pattern by Amy Gaines knitted penguin : pattern by Amy Gaines knitted penguin : pattern by Amy Gaines uin : pattern by Amy Gaines

star wars, musical instruments and sushi

What do all of these things have in common? They can all be knitted in miniature! I recently attended a family reunion, and I wanted to create little gifts for each of my nieces and nephews… things that symbolized something of interest for each of them. Some of these were inspired by other people’s projects I found on the internet, but all of the final patterns are basically original. I’m hoping I took good enough notes to someday write legible patterns I can share, but for now, here are some photos to spark your imagination. Let me know if there is one in particular that you would like to see posted as a pattern, and I can prioritize.

By the way, this is my 100th post! It’s been so fun to talk about my adventures with chickens and knitting over the past 15 months, and to get support and encouragement from so many friends around the world in return! Thank you all! 🙂

tiny knitted star wars characters: yoda, R2D2, chewbacca, C3PO, ewok

Star Wars Lineup: Yoda, R2D2, Chewbacca carrying C3PO (from The Empire Strikes Back), and an Ewok

tiny knitted R2D2

R2D2

tiny knitted Yoda

Yoda

tiny knitted Ewok

Ewok (complete with toothpick spear)

tiny knitted C3PO and R2D2

R2D2 and C3PO (limbs and head attached with snaps)

knitted C3PO in a fishnet bag (from The Empire Strikes Back)

C3PO (with limbs unsnapped) in a fishnet bag

knitted chewbacca and C3PO in a bag

Chewbacca carrying C3PO in a backpack

knitted chewbacca with sash and bag

Chewbacca (complete with sash and real bag)

knitted trombone

trombone

knitted clarinet on pendant

clarinet

knitted viola

viola

knitted shrimp sushi nigiri pendant

shrimp sushi

cat in a sweater

Sounds a little crazy, right? Especially in the middle of Summer. But this little knitted cat has “special needs”. I used a pattern from the “Knit Your Own Cat” book, but modified the black and white areas to match my friend’s cat… for her birthday. And I used a modified, miniaturized version of this dog sweater pattern from Drops for the sweater. I think she turned out pretty sweet.

In Memoriam: Holstein : 2008-2013

knitted black and white cat in a purple sweater

knitted black and white cat in a purple sweater

knitted black and white cat in a purple sweater

It’s also my sweet son’s birthday today! He’s hit the double digits, I can’t believe it! Happy 10th birthday, Jonah!!!

jonah-is-10

Knitted Boston Bull Terrier

Continuing with my knitted toy obsession… I made this puppy for my Dad for Father’s Day. He grew up with Boston Bull Terriers… they’re his favorite dog breed. I used the French Bulldog pattern in the book “Knit Your Own Dog”  by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne and modified it to look more “Boston”. I posted the details on how to do this on my Ravelry page, in case anyone is interested. Ruff!

knitted boston bull terrier puppy knitted boston bull terrier puppy

Chloe Hearts Pixie

My niece Chloe’s woodland birthday party was a great success! She absolutely loved her Pixie doll (now named Princess Sparkle) and the pink poodle (Princess Doggy), and she and Mae had a blast playing with their dollies together. They also looked adorable and cool and cozy in their matching hand-made dresses from my super-talented sister. They didn’t even plan to wear them on the same day!

chloe-opening-pixie

girls-walking girls-in-netgirls-from-backknitted pixie dolls

And check out these gorgeous butterfly wings my sister made for all of the girls! (the boys got bat wings) She’s thinking of selling them someday soon… so patent pending 🙂 … they are so beautiful and comfy, the kids loved wearing them all day long!

girls butterfly wings costume girls butterfly wings costume

Pixie’s Cousin

… or I should say “Original Pixie”, since she is a blondie like Claire Garland’s original pattern, for my tow-headed niece. I was more than a little obsessed with the hair for this doll. I started with the same Drops Lima that I used on Mae’s Pixie, but in beige. However, I didn’t order enough, and I decided that I wanted to try a different yarn, something softer, but still with alpaca content. So I bought a different, alpaca/bamboo yarn at my local yarn store. It was much thinner, which I thought might be nice as well, to make the head less heavy, but it ended up looking too lacy. I tried doubling it, which worked pretty well, but then I realized I would have to buy more… yet again. I finally found this gorgeous yarn, Cascade Eco Highland Duo (70% Undyed Baby Alpaca / 30% Undyed Merino Wool) which is very soft and has a beautiful variegated undyed color to it. It’s also single-ply, which I’ve never worked with before, so that was a fun experience. I’m IN LOVE with it. It’s so incredibly soft, I just want to bury my face in it whenever I’m working with Pixie.

pixie moon new knitted doll by claire garland

I also had fun creating some of Claire Garland’s other Pixie clothes from her Bumper Pixie Wardrobe Package. The tank dress with the embroidered hearts was my absolute favorite. And it was super easy to make, so I would recommend it for any newbie knitter who wants to try making Pixie. With this Pixie’s lighter skin and hair color, and her bright turquoise eyes, she really needed a different color palette than Mae’s Pixie. So I used lot’s of pinks, greys, & blues that seemed to suit her well.

I can’t wait to give her to my niece next month!!! She seemed pretty interested in Mae’s doll at her birthday party, so I think she’ll like it. Mae’s friend Erica, on the right, is also getting a Pixie made for her by her Mom:

mae-6-bday25

For now, she’s having fun hanging out with her Pixie cousin:

pixie-cousins

Mae is having fun playing with both dolls:

mae-both-pixies1

And so is Jonah:pixies-jonah

But their favorite is still Mae’s Pixie (also because I’m not REALLY letting them play with Chloe’s): mae-pixie    pixie-jonah2

Jonah would prefer that this picture doesn’t get widespread exposure among his peers… note sure why… boys shouldn’t get guff for playing with dolls too, methinks! 😉