Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Sneak Peek and a Finish

Coming up from Gift-Making Cave to do a quick blog post. My daily to-do lists are crazy. There is so much to do but it will be over soon and then I can knit things for me and spend days reading. January will be great. I'm not really complaining about making gifts. I do enjoy it and I'm still hopeful that I'll get the main gifts made. I've started to cross off the little extra gifts I wanted to make off my list as I accept the reality of the time I actually have before Christmas. We are opening here Saturday morning so the priority this week has been my gifts for the kids and wrapping presents. I'm almost done Floyd's sweater and hope to have pictures of a finished sweater tomorrow. Here's a bit of what I've been working on this week.

I finally decided how to quilt the last quilt for my mom. You can see the quilt top here, and if the weather improves, I'll have pictures of the finished quilt to share tomorrow. Above is the back of the quilt. I kind of love it. A little different than my usual free-motion but all quilting was done with my free-motion foot. I think my mom will love it.

What the?
I had planned on knitting my older son, Nova a sweater for Christmas. Knitting each of my kids a sweater for Christmas was a tradition I started for Floyd's first Christmas 3 years ago. However, Nova never wears the sweaters I make him. I decided not to make him a sweater this year - I could use my time better - but I still wanted to make him something. I thought of crocheting him an afghan as he likes having lots of blankets on his bed but I didn't really have the time for that (maybe for his birthday next month?). Anyway, last week on someone else's blog (sorry, can't remember who), I saw she was making pajama monsters for her kids and I thought that was a great idea. I didn't want to pay $5 for the pattern she was using so I decided to wing it.

Here it is. Not perfect but good enough to hold pajamas. His room is so messy and he just throws his pajamas on the floor every morning. Maybe this will help?

The back is a fat quarter from the stash. Rough measurement is 16 x 18. A bit big but I didn't want putting the pajamas in to be a struggle, or he wouldn't use it.

Pajamas on the floor.

Pajamas being stuffed into the Pajama Monster.

Sitting on the bed with a full tummy.
I'm trying to think of a funny saying or little poem to go with it.

Now, I have to get back to knitting. I'm halfway done the second sleeve of Floyd's sweater. Then I have a kazillion ends to weave in (only a slight exaggeration). Oh, and there's the sweater for my nephew and the socks for my SIL. And another quilt I'd like to finish but I haven't started sewing yet. At least all the fabric is cut. The next few days should be fun. I'm sure my family won't mind if I sleep through Christmas.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Little Finishes for Friday

I've been making such good progress on my gift knitting this week that I'm forcing myself to put down the needles and share some of the little finishes I've had this past week.

A Minecraft hat for a nephew. This was the only request I had this year for something knitted. I made one for my nephew a few years ago and he's asked for a second one. I think I originally made it for his father but my nephew took it. Used this free pattern.

Got my son to try it on saying I wouldn't post his picture. He agreed I could post it since I didn't show his face.

My next finish happened so quickly that I haven't shared any progress pictures here. I started it last Thursday evening and by Friday morning I had 4 limbs.

Over the weekend I finished a tail, 2 ears and a nose I decided not to use. And started the body - not shown.

Monday afternoon I finished Aiko, the Ninja Cat. Made for one of my niece's who takes Kung Fu lessons. She can rename it. If I'm able, I'd like to get the different colour belts made for Christmas too - not part of the pattern, just something I wanted to do.

I tried to get Floyd to hold it still to show how big it is. But it's a ninja, and ninja cats don't stay still. Or so I was told.

I put her to work guarding our house.

Floyd helped me with another finish last week. I tried two different recipes to make birdseed shapes. The first one was this recipe. The difference between this one and the other recipe I tried is that the unflavored gelatin isn't activated with boiling water so the recipe has corn syrup and flour in it. But with no boiling water, this was toddler friendly. 

He liked putting the straw pieces in to make the string hole.

And here is my tray of crap, as I came to think of it. This recipe gets a thumbs down. Partly my fault for using cookie cutters that had small, thin parts but even the bigger ones fell apart. Only a few turned out.

I laid in bed that night trying to think how I could make better molds and remembered the donut tray my mother gave me for Christmas last year. Hey mom, I finally found a use for it.

So I used the second recipe, found here. Only alteration was adding 3 cups of birdseed instead of 2 since there was a lot of liquid left. I filled the molds in myself this time but my older kids could have helped but I think they were busy.

I let them dry overnight in the mold before flipping them over. They all popped out perfect.

I doubled up some of the birdseed donuts on the string. Only had 4 from the first batch that were good enough and we kept 2 of them. Every time you pick one up, birdseed falls off so I don't think they will travel well. I put the birdseed donuts we are gifting in ziplock baggies to prevent making a mess under the tree. I think I'm going to make another batch of the birdseed donuts so there is enough to give aunts and uncles. The ones above are going to grandparents.

One from the first recipe hanging outside.

Birdseed donuts.

And one last little finish. I saw this on pinterest last December but it was too late for me to start collecting yarn bits. I saved all my yarn ends this year and....

... had enough to fill 4 suet feeders. These three are gifts. The fourth we are keeping.

I really hope the birds take some of the yarn to make their nests when we put it back outside in the spring.

Lots of little finishes done. Now I'm left with sweater knitting and quilting quilts. 
Have you been making gifts that aren't knit, crocheted or quilted? It feels like my pinterest boards are finally being of some use this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Quilt WIP's

Yesterday's post was all about my knitting WIP's. Today's is all about the quilt WIP's. I don't quilt as much as I used to but I have a lot of quilty projects this year for Christmas. 

My first WIP is for us to keep. During last year's after Christmas sales I picked up some buttons that looked like carrots and black buttons planning to make a snowman quilt. Of course I waited until this December to start it. Since the quilt isn't really Christmasy, I'll be able to keep it up for January and February. Above is the quilt top. Each block is 6 inches finished. I made the white centers different sizes based on the variety of carrot buttons.

I'm quilting all the white with mini snowballs. And it's taking forever. 

Have 5 of 20 blocks done. 

I laid the buttons on top of the quilted blocks. Looks okay but still needs something.

Better. I'll have to buy more little buttons to give the big blocks smiles. I don't know yet about the little blocks. That's a lot of buttons. It would be nice to have the quilting done before going out of town for the holidays. I could bring it with me and put on buttons while hanging out with family but I don't think that's going to happen.

I finished the third quilt top for my mom on Sunday. You can see the first quilt here. And the second quilt here. I admit I didn't really like this fabric when my mom picked it out but I like it now. I fussy cut 30, 9.5" squares for the middles. The red and green stripes are 2.5" wide, giving me 13.5" blocks. And very little fabric left over.

Made for a double/full bed but not meant to be tucked in. Just an extra blanket. This quilt is for a guest bed at my parents house. I pieced the back and batting yesterday. Just need to baste and I can start quilting. Although I'm not sure how I want to quilt it or what colour thread. Any ideas?

Here it is lying on our double bed. Just goes over the sides. Hope you like it mom.

And I have a finish to share, too. I started this quilt 4 years ago. It's so nice to have it finished. Fabric is Kate Spain's Terrain - which I still love. 

On our bed. Goes over each side and has enough length to be tucked it.

I did free-motion stippling over the whole thing. 

The back. When I made the quilt top in 2011, it was suppose to be for us to keep. Then I thought of giving it to a niece earlier this year before I settled on giving it to my SIL, Michelle, for Christmas. She gifted my two older kids with quilts last year and I think she deserves it. I admit I was in a hurry quilting this and thought I had done an okay job in basting and holding the quilt taunt while quilting until I looked at the back when it was done.

And saw this.

And this.

And this. I was disappointed and sad. I don't feel like I can give this as a gift anymore. I still love it and might keep it. Or I'll donate it. Or maybe I will end up giving it as a gift. I'm unsure. I still need to wash it. Maybe that will help the puckers look less obvious?

I do love the bright yellow I used for the binding.

What quilty projects are you trying to finish up for Christmas?
Linking up at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Knitting WIP's

Like most knitters at this time of year, I have several gifts on the needles. I have 3 things on the needles for me but 2 of them are in hibernation until the gift knitting is done.  Here's what I've been working on.

Pleasantville cowl for me. Another pattern by Jen from her latest book, Sock Yarn Accessories. I cast on last week, finished the border and one pattern repeat before I set it aside to finish up some gifts. I bought the yarn (or picked it out for my mom to buy me) at the local yarn store in my hometown last Christmas. I loved it then and love it now and didn't want it to sit around any longer. I know the lace pattern will be lost in the variegated yarn but I don't care. I just want to finish and wear it. If I make some good progress on my other WIP's I'll be treating myself to a few more rounds of this.

Playground Pullover for my toddler, Floyd. It has sat untouched for a couple weeks but I picked it up this weekend and got to work. I finished the body, separated the front and back to make the sleeve openings and finished the back on the weekend. Yesterday, I started the front and all that remains to knit is the right front. Oh, and two sleeves. This works up fast when I make it a priority. There will be lots of ends to weave in when I'm done the knitting, even though I have been carrying the colours up the side while I knit. Floyd loves wearing the sweaters I knit him - often wearing his Owlet sweater as an extra layer when he doesn't want to wear a coat.

The beginning of a Flax for a nephew. I'm knitting size XS (smallest grown-up size). This should knit up fast and will become priority number one once Floyd's sweater is finished. This is my 4th Flax sweater and probably not my last.

The start of a pair of Koda socks for my SIL. Yes, another of Jen's patterns. I can't help myself. Almost done the first cuff. Since this is a pattern with cables, I will mainly work on this when Floyd is sleeping. 

What have you been knitting for gifts or yourself? 
Tomorrow I'll be sharing some quilted WIP's. And maybe a finish, if I can get pictures taken - so far today is wet and cloudy but I'm hoping it clears up this afternoon.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Yarn Misbehavin'

Last week, I wound the last of the yarn needed to knit Christmas presents. I had 5 hanks for a sweater and 1 for a pair of socks. I threw in 2 more hanks of fingering weight yarn to make something for myself once the gift knitting slowed down. The first 3 hanks went well and I had 3 beautiful cakes sitting on my desk. The fourth one... not so much.

For non-knitters, when you open up a hank of yarn, it's suppose to be tied together like the hank seen above. This hank only had one, the one I was working on (not pictured above) was tied three times. I opened it up, put it on my swift and undid the ties, only to have a big loop that hadn't been tied with the others fall. I tried to fix it but...

... I ended up with a tangled mess. What should have taken me just a few minutes took me hours to untangle and wind. I was up until midnight finishing it. My daily to-do lists are still trying to catch up.

Here is the naughty hank all caked up. Had to make a few cuts. One by accident. The yarn really pilled as I untangled it and trying to get a big one out, I cut the yarn. Lucky for me, I shouldn't need it to finish the sweater, it's my safety, just in case I need it yarn.

The rest of my winding went fine the next day. Grey is for the sweater. Purple is for the socks. Green is my second hank for the Mystery KAL I started last month but have had to ignore to get some gift knitting done. And the variegated yarn is for a cowl, for me. Progress pics tomorrow.

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