Monthly Archives: March 2017

I’ve Come Down With Startitis

I have had a serious bout of startitis the last week! I keep finding all these cool, short projects that I want to do and I apparently think I should start them all at once. They would all be really quick to make, if I wasn’t making them all at once! I have a bunch of WIPs to show you today.

This is one I’ve had on my mind for a while. It’s so adorable and is so much fun to work on.

Elephant Doily

Elephant Doily. Obviously it needs to be blocked, but that will happen when it’s all been put together.

The pattern is Josefina and Jeffrey Elephant Rug by Ira Rott. It’s intended to be made with three strands of worsted weight yarn held together to make a sturdy rug, but I saw a couple of other people had used crochet thread and made a doily instead. I thought that would be perfect for Lollypop’s room.

I love, love, love crocheting doilies, but they are sometimes difficult to stop working on! I worked on this one every free moment for 4 days and I had to put it down for a little while. I woke up with migraines for 4 days in a row before I realized that crocheting was causing them. Working with the slick cotton thread and the tiny hook makes me tense up and really hurts my hands if I don’t take it slow. I’m waiting on my wrist and shoulder to stop hurting before I pick this up again and finish the other ear. When I do pick it back up, I will only work a little bit at a time.

While I’m waiting to heal from the crochet, I started another block for the Knitterati Afghan. The last I showed you of these blocks was number 5. There have been three more blocks released and they are more my style.

 

I forgot about block 5 and started in on block 6. If it wasn’t for running out of yarn, I’d be finished with block 6. I picked out yarn for blocks 5 and 7, and then decided these would be my colors for the entire afghan. I was going to try to use all stash yarn, but I think I would like it to be more uniform. Plus, these balls of yarn are only 50g and I’m not sure most the blocks will be able to be made with just one ball. In fact, block 6 up there will definitely not make it with just one ball, so I need more, anyway. While I am waiting on yarn to finish block 6, I think I’ll go ahead and start block 5.

I showed my color choices to my husband and he said I needed another color. I had considered that, but I couldn’t find a color that I really liked in my first dig through my stash. He suggested an orange. Hm. I thought about that and decided I agreed.  So dug again, consulted the color chart for Knit Picks Wool of the Andes and decided on one I think will work. I like that all the colors have a gray undertone. It’s almost pastel, but not quite.

Knitterati Colors

I also started a Sockhead Hat. This is one I heard about on the Very Pink Knits Podcast. They discuss it in episode 38: Moths! and I thought it sounded like a wonderful, simple pattern. I have plenty of sock yarns in my stash and I immediately knew which yarn I was going to use when I decided to make the hat. However, as I was digging, I found another one that I liked even better. This yarn is Three Irish Girls McClellan Fingering in colorway Zephyr (this colorway has been discontinued). The yarn base is 25% bamboo, which gives it a very nice sheen and silky feel, but bamboo is very bad for stretching and not springing back into shape and it’s not very warm. The wool content (85% for this particular skein) will help it keep its shape, but I felt like the bamboo content would make this yarn a poor choice for socks. I think it will be perfect for a slouchy hat, though, and it will be really awesome for bad hair days that are just slightly cool.

Sockhead Hat

Sockhead Hat in a perfect blue-green.

In all the startitis, I did finish a thing. I’ve been working on these socks since June of last year. They’ve been my car project – the project I work on while I’m riding in the car – and I did take them with me when I traveled for work. I used 3mm needles (US2.5 or US3, depending on your reference) and discovered I don’t like the fabric that needle makes for socks. It’s just a little too loose for my liking, but I will wear the socks anyway, because they’re very pretty.

Crazy Zauberball Socks Finished

I love finishing a new pair of hand-knit socks. My sock drawer looks so colorful and is threatening to overflow soon. I still wear commercial socks – especially for hiking or walking – but for cozy, unique comfort, nothing beats a well made pair of hand knits.

So, I needed some new car socks to work on. I bought this yarn on impulse after seeing it as an advertisement on my Facebook feed. It just grabbed me and spoke to me. It said, “Please let me come live with you!” and I kindly obliged. 😀

Haute Knit Yarns Bonfire Sock

This is HauteKnit Yarns Jimmy Sock in Grey Bonfire. The colors will show much better when I get more of the socks knitted, but here’s the photo from the Etsy Listing. You really gotta see the vibrant colors in this one.

Jimmy Sock HauteKnit Yarn Grey Bonfire

Image borrowed from Etsy shop HauteKnitYarn

 

One more (or maybe two) more things I want to start are crocheted doily coasters for my desk at work; I’ve been exploring Pinterest for ideas. I’m starting to think about Christmas, too, and plan projects for my giftees. I guess my startitis isn’t quite in remission yet. I tend to just go with it, though, and I’ll get into a finishing mode again before too long.

The sad part about my startitis is that I haven’t touched my Anni sweater in a couple of weeks. I’ve been thinking about it being lonely in my knitting basket, so I’ll pull it out again soon. It’s getting warmer around these parts, so a long-sleeved wool sweater isn’t going to be a best choice, but that will be the perfect time to finish the sweater so its ready to wear in the fall.

I’ll be taking all my new projects slowly, trying to heal up my wrist from the crochet stress. I have to take frequent breaks right now and stretch my wrist and hand, but I feel like it’s getting better. I’m so glad, too, because I really want to finish that elephant!

So here’s to finishing and healing and many beautiful projects in the next few weeks! Talk to you next week, my friends!

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Planner Crazy

So here’s a little update on my journey to get myself organized.

I wrote a few weeks ago that I was feeling overwhelmed with everything that needed doing. I spent some time to get myself organized. I’m so glad I did because it’s working.

I spent several evenings searching for printable pages for a planner. I found some that I thought would work for me from Scattered Squirrel. I wanted a full-page planner because I can read my writing better when I don’t have to write tiny. I bought a 1/2″ binder to put my planner in as well as some pocket dividers and tabbed dividers.

Most of the printables I found weren’t really right for me. I don’t have that many appointments on a daily basis, even when things are busy at work. At most, I have three places to be at any certain time, and most days I have zero appointments. Having half the page taken up with appointment schedules was a waste for me. What I really needed was a prioritized to-do list.

I considered doing a weekly list, because most of the things I need to do aren’t critically time-sensitive, but I went with a daily format to keep myself focused. I’ve been using the Daily To-Do and Monthly pages quite successfully so far. They’re bright and colorful, if you choose to print them in color, but the Cobalt color prints well in black & white. I like the “Top Three” idea for things that MUST get done that day/month. I don’t always have three things that are super duper important, but that helps me keep focused. I use the “Daily Focus” block to write what we’re having for dinner that night, and that helps me with the meal planning. (I do think it’s hilarious that dinner is my daily focus.)

Planner Daily Page

Daily To Do Page

For the weekends, I’ve enjoyed using the Sunday Checklist from Emily Lea. I love the style of these printables; they’re so simple and clean. I also used the Brain Dump Checklist for just listing things as I think of them, the Month of Gratitude for a positivity journal, Party Planning Page to plan birthday parties and the Blog Planner to help me organize my ideas for this blog. I’ve found the Meeting Notes page to be super helpful in meetings at work.

On the monthly pages, I’m keeping up with birthdays, large tasks, meetings and Dr. appointments. I punch the right hand side of the daily pages so they can lay flat next to the monthly page and I can quickly see big projects and daily tasks to work on.

For overall planning, I’ve made a weekly Master To-Do list. There are things I need to do each week, some that I want to do every other week and some that I need to do monthly. This page helps me keep up with things I need to do and remember to put them on my daily pages.

Master ToDo List

Master ToDo List

I printed out a week at a time on Sunday evening and got myself ready for the coming week. Using those pages still tends to leave a lot of wasted space for me. I don’t make a lot of calls, I don’t usually have 24 things to get done in a day and if I have something to do on a different day, I write it on that day’s sheet. Most of the right hand side of those daily sheets go unused on a regular basis. I tried playing around with a format that would have two days to a page, but have each day in a separate column so it could be folded in the binder, but that didn’t really work well for me, either. (And its time consuming to customize all these planner pages.)

I started finding more and more posts about Bullet Journals. There’s tons of information on pinterest about it. I saw some ideas and thought it might be a useful addition to my planner.

I bought a notebook. At first, it was really just a book of lists. My lists get indexed on the front pages and categorized using washi tape. The washi tape is really fun and brings some color to the pages. I’ve printed out different little coloring pages to tape into my journal for when I need a break from all the craziness.

Then I decided to try out a daily planner format in my journal for a week. With a bullet journal, you hand-draw your “spreads” as you need them. Some of them can be pretty elaborate, and I think it would be very easy to spend so much time drawing the layout that you don’t have time (or inclination) to actually do the planning. My daily spread is pretty simple.

bullet journal daily and weekend planner pages

Daily and Weekend Planner pages in my bullet journal

 

I have a place for the dinner plan, my top three for the day and two columns of task lists for home and work. This format is actually working *really* well for me. Since I did the daily spreads for one week, I found I was using my bullet journal every day while my planner notebook sat untouched in my laptop bag. I went ahead and made my daily spreads for the entire month of March. I even rewrote my Monthly Master Todo List and my important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) in my little journal.

It was at about this point in the process that I found this blog post. It was an eye opener. Suddenly, not being able to draw elaborate spreads every week was ok. The bullet journal is intended to be a minimalist system. Use the parts of it that you need, don’t worry about the other parts, and don’t make it harder than it needs to be. If you find yourself having to search for ideas to fill up your bullet journal, you’re probably overthinking it.

I do like a few ideas I’ve seen around, though. Such as this Recipe Bank and Master Grocery List. Many times, as we’re planning meals for the week, my husband and I look at each other and ask, “What do we eat?” Thanks to the three- four-year-old getting picky, and us not wanting to make two meals every night, we try to plan for things he will eat and that’s limited our choices and put us into a bit of a rut. Having the recipe bank would put all our favorite meals in front of me and have ideas for new things to try.

It’s taken some time for me to get my planning and organizing right, and I am still tweaking things as I go along. I like the idea of using a three-ring binder because I know I’ll want to move things around and I can use full-size pages without fussing with cutting special sizes. The binder is large, though, so I can’t carry it in my purse and it’s stiff, so it takes up more space than I really want it to in my laptop bag. I also had a separate binder at home for household stuff, such as home improvement project plans, our address book, insurance information, etc. Yes, I had a separate binder for this so I wouldn’t have all that stuff taking up space in my 1/2″ binder. Crazy!

I like the bullet journal idea because I can use a smaller notebook that will fit in my purse and the notebook I have is flexible so it seems to fit better. I am using a 5 x 8.5 inch journal right now, so that may not be ideal for some purses, but the purse I’m currently carrying is ridiculously huge (and I love it!) I have everything I need in my bullet journal. For example, when Jellybean and I started seeds for the garden, I wrote the list of planted in my journal. While shopping at a garden center, I saw marjoram plants, but couldn’t remember if I had planted marjoram seeds. I pulled out my bujo, flipped to the appropriate page and had hard evidence that I had NOT planted marjoram seeds and could go ahead and buy the plant. That moment really cemented it for me.

Anyway, I seem to have gone off the deep end a little bit with the planning. It does take some time to get things organized and if you’re starting from scratch, that process can seem overwhelming. I do admire the people who can keep up with things they need to do and not get bogged down with needing to plan everything (ahem, I’m looking at you, dear husband.) I am just not able to keep everything in my head and when I get inspired with new ideas, I’ve found that they (and everything else) are quickly lost if I don’t put them somewhere. Plus, there are things that just have to get done. Somebody’s got to remember to scrub a toilet every now and then and if I have it written in a schedule, it’s more likely to get done. I get more satisfaction by checking that item off my list than I feel dread about doing the job.

Now that I’ve settled on the bujo, I can do my planning in a few minutes each week. I am keeping up with the household tasks, while still working full time. I know that if I look at my day and just can’t get everything done, I know which tasks are critical, which I need to ask for help with and which can be put off to another day. I’m still very busy, but now I also feel productive, which makes the busy-ness not so bad.

And on that note, I should really go scrub a toilet. Have a great week, my friends!

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Five Ideas for Handmade Gifts

This week, I’m bringing you 5 hand-made gift ideas to consider for your friends and family.

1 – Hats

Hats are quick and easy projects and make great gifts. These are some of my favorites that I made so far. The first is a hat I made for my husband several years ago. It is still the most favorite hat I have ever made. Second is a hat I made for my friend Chelsea. She wanted a couple of fun berets for summer. This one has a purple companion and was really fun to make. Number three is a fair isle hat. I love doing color work and since you’re using two yarns for the colorwork part, it’s double-thick and cozy. Finally, a little baby dinosaur hat that’s a mixture crochet (for the base of the hat) and knit (for the spikes). This one can be made in any size from newborn to adult.

2 – Mittens and Gloves

Gloves, fingerless and otherwise, as well as mittens are great warm gifts to give. They take a little more time than a hat to make, but that’s only because there’s some shaping involved.

3 – For the Kiddos

For welcoming baby to the world, what could be better than a sweet layette set? A coordinating hat, sweater, diaper cover and booties go together to make an adorable little outfit, suitable for the newborn photo shoot. Soft toys with sewn-on eyes are perfect for littles ones of all ages. For older kids, who haven’t outgrown the love of stuffed toys, getting the perfect gift that matches their interests is easy.

4 – Christmas Stocking

These things are so much fun to design and make! I really enjoy getting to know my clients and designing a pattern that fits their personality perfectly. Did you realize that each of these stockings was designed especially for the person I made it for? The designing process is as much fun for me as the knitting process, especially with Christmas stockings! We can work together to make a design that fits your style and decor perfectly.

5 – Housewares

Knitted items can be functional as will as fanciful. There are practical things such as dish cloths, swifter mop covers and bath mats. Then there are fun decorations such as doilies and knitted flowers. Then there are the bonus combo items, like a pretty knitted afghan with wonderful cabled texture or a bright baby blanket. If you’re a beer lover, you can keep that growler nice and cool with a felted cozy – the possibilities are endless with the design of that one!

Have you thought about having something handmade for a special someone on your gift list? Maybe a hat or mittens, just in case we get cold weather again. Does your family need a matching set of knit stockings, or have you added a family member (or two?) but haven’t gotten them one yet? Are there little ones in your life that would love a little softie? I know it’s only March, but it’s not a bad idea to start thinking about what you might like to do for Christmas. If you have an idea, let’s talk about it and see if we can work together!

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Happy Baby Throw

I’ve had lots of big projects on the needles (or hook, as the case may be) lately. I recently finished a baby blanket for my sweet friend Alicja.

Alicja is a friend I met in a Friday night knitting group I attended religiously before Jellybean was born. The group changed and shifted as time went on, but the core people became some of my closest friends. When Alicja started visiting, she fit right in and became a pillar of the group.

When she told me she was pregnant, I was thrilled for her. Her due date ended up being the same as Jellybean’s – how fun! So I decided to make a bright blanket for her new little guy.

Happy Baby Throw Crocheted Blanket

Happy Throw for Alicja

The pattern is Happy Throw by Mamachee designs. I wanted it to be easy-care and be used, so I crocheted it with Knit Picks Mighty Stitch yarn. I know that Alicja can appreciate and care for a handmade item, but I also know from experience that if baby things are washable, they’re more likely to get used. The yarn is a wool and acrylic blend, so it’s machine washable and machine dryable. The yarn is a little slippery, so I tied all those ends in as securely as I possibly could. I want this blanket to take all manner of little baby messes and keep him warm for years.

Congratulations, Alicja!

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