Quick, Easy & Beautiful!

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Sometimes, when I am browsing my favorite blogs, Pinterest or Etsy, I come across some cool stuff I would love to be able to own. But, with me being a stay at home mom, money is tight – especially around Christmas. So, I do without.

One of the things I immediately fell in love with were lovely little “bird’s nest” pendants. They had beads or pearls in the middle of a wire bird’s nest. They are usually sold for mothers, with the number of beads equaling the number of kids a mom has. I would look at them for the longest time, longing for one of my own. And then I found this post on Pinterest! I was so darn excited and had to run to Michael’s right away! And then remembered I didn’t get jump rings and had to go back! LOL! The hardest part of this project was picking the perfect beads. I thought about pink and blue (for my kids) but I don’t wear pastels. I searched and searched, until I came across an assortment from Michael’s, simply called Autumn. They were perfect!!

I ended up using 22 gauge gold wire since it was all I could find. I had the tools and have worked with jewelry making before so didn’t need to buy anything beyond the basic supplies, but you definitely need a wire cutter at least to make these. I strung two beads of my choosing and proceeded to have a sweet little nest made in just minutes. I added a jump ring, put it on a gold chain (purchased at Michael’s) and added a clasp. I will say my clasp is too big for my liking, but that is easy enough to correct.

After all was said and done, I am THRILLED with what I have! See???

I wore it today for the first time and LOVE it! It is so lightweight I can barely tell I have it on! And I think it cost me under $10 to make it, too! Beats paying $15 – $20 and not getting to personalize it exactly the way I want! I highly recommend trying this one yourself! It’s a great intro to jewelry making!

Christmas Is Coming!

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OK, I love Christmas! No, I LOOOOOVE Christmas! This is my favorite time of year, hands down. I love the cold weather, the lights, the decorations, the music, the gift buying and giving (although I don’t like wrapping!), the crafting, the baking and cooking, the times with family and friends, and the whole meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate. So, I usually start early in the year thinking of new things for my house or for gifts. I already showed some needle felted snowmen I made. And I have more!

In August (on my birthday!), Knitpicks had a big warehouse sale. I am lucky enough to life 30 minutes away, so I dropped the kids off with my Dad and Stepmom (who live 3 minutes away!) and headed over for the craziness. I actually went for the yarn, but ended up enjoying it more for the fabric (from their sister site, Connecting Threads.) While I was standing in the long line to pay, I happened to see a fabric kit that caught my eye. It was in Christmas colors and, although I couldn’t see what it was, there was a pattern included. I grabbed it and was THRILLED! It was my favorite find of the whole trip! I can’t tell you how much I paid because you paid for fabric and yarn by the pound, but I am sure it was ridiculously little for the actual kit. I couldn’t wait to dive in!

I finally got a chance to do some crafting recently – and found the inspiration! The kit I bought was a wall hanging. It included everything except the thread and the batting, so it was easy to do. I appliques on the lettering and the rest was pretty straight quilting stuff. I even hand-sewed the binding on, which I have discovered it one of my all time favorite things! And this is the little gem I ended up with:

I LOVE IT! I love snowmen and snow anyway. The letters and snowflakes are all hand sewn, as is the snowman’s face. It took me just a few days with an hour or two a day to get it all finished. Can’t wait to decorate for Christmas now!

Oh, and because I had lots of scraps left over, and I didn’t want them to go to waste, I made a cute little scrappy wreath. It was super simple and easy. I had it done in about an hour. I got the idea from here for the wreath, but used some wire I already had since we don’t keep metal hangers on hand. I ended up using a double circle of wire so I could get it extra fluffy with scraps. This is what I ended up with:

I’ll add some red ribbon to hang it from the wall. It is really lightweight, but so cute! It is going to be perfect for the season! Super simple! And it was a bit cathartic, too! Instead of cutting all of the strips, I just cut small notches in the fabric and ripped it the rest of the way. Very easy to do, but that ripping of fabric sure felt good! LOL!

By the way, if you haven’t discovered it yet, I highly recommend you check out Pinterest. I am so addicted! It is an amazing site and more and more people are signing up every day. I love it because I can find a recipe or a craft or anything else I am interested in, pin it to my board and no longer will I have to sort through my bookmarks to find something I once saw online. Now, I have pictures and categories. And you can make friends, follow other boards, pin and like other things people post, and lots more. I love to use it to keep track of everything I want to do and wish I could do. You can find me here. And if you sign up, feel free to follow my boards or leave me a note on my blog or on Pinterest to say hello! Hope to see you pinning soon!

Spike Strikes Again!

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This is a story about a beloved scarf. Several years ago (pre-blog) my sister put in a request. She wanted a bright pink scarf. That was all she requested. The design was up to me. I purchased two skeins of KnitPicks Bare in worsted weight, along with some pink dye. I hand dyed the yarn and got a gorgeous bright pink with just slight color variations throughout the yarn. Then I held the yarn doubled and knit a scarf with a drop stitch pattern, adding tassels to each end. I ended up with a nice, thick scarf that was still open and let some air circulate. It was nice and long, too. In fact, this is a close up picture of the final product:

My sister has continued to wear this scarf each winter (I gave it to her Christmas of 2007) and she reports often that someone stops her and asks where she got her scarf or comments on it.

In early spring, my sister and mom moved back in together. Last week, they decided to go on vacation today to Florida. I fed their cats while they were gone. A few days after they got back from their trip, I got a call from my sister telling me about her beloved scarf. Seems Spike found an end of it. It was hanging in a spare closet with her winter coat and they weren’t aware that it was hanging down enough to be in danger.

Now, for those of you unaware of what danger I am talking about, let me point you to this post. Take a moment to read that post and you will start to understand that a hand knit, wool scarf could be in danger.

This weekend I visited my mom and sister. And my sister brought me the scarf, wondering what the heck we could do with it. The first several feet were fine, but the last foot and a half or so? It almost brought me to tears. See? (Sorry about the crappy cell phone pictures.)

You can click to make the picture bigger to get the scope of the damage.

So, we put the scarf in a bag and I brought it home to see what I could salvage. I was able to unravel the scarf, although I had a lot to throw away at the end. I did felt the ends together on several longer pieces to minimize waste, but some of the pieces were just tiny and not worth even trying. I am now hunting for a cowl pattern to see if I can give my sister something else she will love just as much but with a bit less yarn. And my sister is on the hunt for a safer storage space for her scarf!

It Almost Killed Me!

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For the last few years, I have made an annual pilgrimage to a nearby fiber festival, A Wool Gathering. The first year was when I was pregnant with my son and my daughter was very young. It was HOT and being in the tents was miserable! The second year, my husband stayed with my daughter and I brought my sister along, along with my son, who was still a nursling and was easy enough to wear in a sling around the festival. The two years past, the kids have stayed with Grandma and it has been a great outing for my husband and I. We had planned to continue that tradition, but Mom had foot surgery 2 weeks ago and still has a pin sticking out of a toe. So, the babysitter was out. We almost skipped the festival altogether, but, at the last minute, I brought it up. I thought the kids would enjoy it and it was going to be a gorgeous fall day.

We decided to get going around lunch. We all piled in the van, buckled up and… nothing. The battery was dead! There was enough power to open the power door and for the warning chime to sound that I had the keys in the ignition while the door was open, but that was it. Thankfully I have a great husband who knows enough about vehicles that he could remove the old battery and install a new one without calling AAA. So, we removed the dead battery, stuck it in the trunk of the car and moved the kids boosters over and headed to the festival!

It was GORGEOUS! Young’s Jersey Dairy is huge, so even with the parking lots packed, you never felt overwhelmed by the crowd. And I was so excited to see that the festival has expanded! Now there were three huge tents, plus the outside vendors. We had talked about eating first, but the tram we caught in from the parking lot dropped us off at the doors of the festival.

We spent some time watching a sheep being sheared (Australian method – so funny to watch!) We checked out some sheep and had one stick his nose right up to the kids to be petted. The kids got to pet an angora bunny (if anyone is curious, angora bunnies produce angora, but angora goats produce mohair.) Then we wandered around the festival. I had my hands in many types of fibers, looking longingly at all of the beautiful hand-dyed roving and even the raw fleeces. My daughter and I fell in love with the cutest pink and brown HitchHiker spinning wheel (my husband marveled at it’s tiny size.) After wandering, we finally headed over to the kids’ area where my kids made their own jump rope with yarn and twine on a cool contraption that twisted 12 strands into one. And we topped it off with a yummy dinner at The Golden Jersey Inn. It is wonderful comfort food! Then we headed home, stopping to buy that new battery first.

Normally at this point in my blog post, I would showing pictures of all my treasures from the festival. So, here it is:

Yea. Nothing. I came home empty handed. And it nearly killed me!!! I usually use some money I get for my birthday in August to pay for my shopping trip. But we have a family vacation coming up early next year and I chose instead to put that money towards bills so we can actually afford that vacation. I promised to not buy anything today. And I kept to my word. But I didn’t like it ONE BIT!

The hardest part for me was that my daughter was going crazy of some of the yarn and a lot of the roving. I had pictures popping into my head of the yarn I would spin and the items I would knit for her. She was in love with the purples. I also loved the bright pink and green and the mixed bag of gold, green and orange. I love looking at colors like that and trying to imagine what it would look like spun up. But, this year, I will continue to just imagine!

I have vowed to come back next year (without the kids – they whined too much!) and finally get my hands on some of those great colors! And even though I didn’t bring home anything to show for our day except some jump ropes, I did bring home some inspiration. I hope to pull my wheel out, dust her off and do some spinning soon. I have tons of fiber from fiber festivals past, so I am certainly not short of materials. And maybe I can spend a few dollars and buy some dye in those great colors and dye some roving of my own. Maybe one of my next creations will be some handspun yarn. Only time will tell!

Welcome Autumn!!!

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Consider this post a bit of CPR for my blog! Time to revive the blog, get her off the ground and humming again!

We here in Central Ohio, as many others across the country, have had a long, hot summer. I think we were being paid back for our very cold, very snowy winter and then our non-existent, very rainy spring. And I hated it! I am a cool weather, jeans and sweater wearing kinda girl. That is why I love knitting!

Unfortunately, being faced with such hot weather, my crafting comes to a stop. I can’t bear to pick up any yarn, especially wool! Even fabric seems too hot to handle. I even had a difficult time thinking about craft projects I might want to do when the weather cooled down! My kids and I spent the summer days inside many days, just trying to stay cool, or outside enjoying the sun. I have the best tan I have had in 10 years! There were visits to the zoo, the local parks and lots of days at the pool. I managed to get a lot of reading done.

And then the last week has brought us a wonderful respite from the heat. After 97 degrees with 85% humidity on the first two days of September, we settled into a much cooler weather pattern. And by the end of this week, we are supposed to have highs in just the 60’s! And amazingly, I am starting to plan projects again!

While I want to do some knitting, most of my projects for now are focused on sewing. I have a ton of items on my to-sew list. I have everything from hats to American Girl clothes to PJs for the kids. I am actually just starting to work on a rather large project this week, but I will reveal more once I get something more to show for it. It is a special, heartfelt project that I want to make sure gets done right. In the end, the project should help a lot of people I love in a very special way.

So, consider me back from the brink. I am going to aim to post much more often – perhaps aiming for once a week, if not more – as I get back into crafting. And since everyone loves pictures, I will show the only items I made this summer. This used very little wool, was fast and easy and not something that required dealing with amounts of material that covered my lap. Sometimes, needle felting is just the ticket! And yes, I was dreaming of wintery weather when making these!

A pair of sweet snowmen with their little pine tree!

And Mr. Frosty!

These were all needle felted. I used wool I had on hand. I got the idea for the first two from the Better Homes & Gardens Holiday Crafts magazine. (This is a great issue, by the way! Some great stuff in here! You may see more from me using the ideas in here soon!)

Now, time to get crafting!

So…

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I know, I know. My poor blog is looking rather neglected lately. After my end of the year crafting, things sort of went south. My apologies.

We have had a rough winter in the Momknitter household. We have had the flu, strep, bronchitis, the stomach bug and numerous colds make their way through the house. With two kids in school, it is nonstop. And just as we were looking forward to the promise of spring and opening windows, we got snow yesterday. And did I tell you the kids are on spring break this week? Yea, Mother Nature missed the whole “spring” part!

So, I’ve done a whole lot of this over the last few long, snowy winter months:

A cup of tea and my knitting – so cozy!

So, what have I been doing crafty? Well, because of all of the illness, not much. I have managed to do a bit of knitting. I knit a pair of socks for myself. I really love them, although I bought this yarn a long time ago and can’t remember the name of it. Sorry! Here they are:

I used the book Socks a la Carte 2, Toes Up! for the pattern. This is a great book for toe up sock knitters since it gives you several cast-ons, toe options and heel options. Even if the patterns themselves were less than inspiring, the rest is great to have. These used the Turkish cast-on, a standard toe, a simple yarn-over heel and a Perle De Cotes cuff. The stitch pattern is the I Be-Leaf stitch pattern.

My other knitting came in the form of very tiny knitting. My daughter got her American Girl doll for Christmas. I made her a winter coat and my daughter asked for a pair of mittens. I had to oblige! I used a free pattern from Hazel Rose Looms. I also knit her a scarf. It was a basic knit two, purl two scarf. I will admit it got rather boring, but the end result was cute!

(And yes, I still need to do a post on all of the American Girl clothes I have made! Hopefully we will get better weather so I can take some proper pictures soon!)

So, that is about the extent of the crafting I have done this year. I am hoping things will pick up soon. In fact, I am feeling rather inspired to head to the sewing machine right now.

Now, does anyone have any ideas on how to photograph feet without them looking like stuffed sausages? Still haven’t figure out how to make feet with knit socks look “right”!

Something Worse Then The “M” Word?

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As a knitter and someone that loves working mainly with natural fibers, one of the scariest words that can be uttered around a yarn or hand-knit stash is the “M word” – Moth! They are well known for their love of wool, eating through fibers, leaving small holes in the fabric or spots in the yarn where it is either broken or weakened enough knitting becomes nearly impossible. Knitters have dedicated time and research into what to do if they take in acquired stash to keep their own stash clean, how to eradicate the pesky things and what to look for to make sure their stash is safe.

I have been lucky so far and have avoided having the “M word” show up in my house. And I was feeling pretty good about it. Until I found something far worse than the “M word”! It is the “S word” – Spike!!!

No, I am not talking about spikes that may catch your knitting. Yes, those cause issues, but I am referencing one Spike in particular:

Yep, that little guy there. Now, don’t let that cute face fool you! He is a cutey. He is my mom’s baby, in fact. A year ago, he was born under a hosta and abandoned by his mom because she was scared off by workers around the house. My mom and her husband picked him up and took him in. He was hand raised by them – even bottle fed. He is spunky and silly. And he has a thing for my knitting!

Our first clue was the day I brought a bag of knitting to the house when I came to visit. My mom and I walked out of the house to do something and when we came back in, a ball of my yarn was strung clear across the house, from one side to the other. It was wrapped around chair legs, under the couch and we finally found it under the bed. We laughed and thought it was hysterical.

Then it warmed up and I didn’t knit much, so I didn’t bring much to the house. But then fall hit again. My son wore his hand-knit sweater to their house and Spike would often be found dragging it off, or the sweater would be in a strange place when I finally located it. One day, at home, my son put the sweater on and I noticed a large hole in the sleeve. It covered 4 rows and 4 columns of stitches! I couldn’t figure out what my son had caught it on to cause such a large hole, but I patched it up and forgot about it.

Then I decided to wear my hand-knit sweater when we visited. I took it off and left it in a dining room chair. Suddenly, we heard a noise and my sister started laughing. Spike was attempting to drag off my thigh length wool sweater! He managed to get a sleeve under a bed before we rescued it. But, it was too late. In the cabled cuff of one of the sleeves, he managed to make a hole. In the picture below, you may notice that the hole is right at the intersection of the cables. Yea, right at the crossover.  The sweater came home with me and was put away. I have yet to deal with the hole. I’m not really sure how to deal with the hole!

Of course, I didn’t learn my lesson. I wore a hand-spun, hand-dyed, hand-knit scarf over one day. My mom walked in the dining room where the scarf had been stuffed in the sleeve of my coat and found Spike trying to drag off my scarf! He had managed to get into the coat and pull it out, even though the heavy coat was folded over and the sleeve was hidden. I walked in and he was walking down the table with the scarf in his mouth. I tried to get it away from him and he gave me a warning cry. He was determined to keep that scarf! My mom finally managed to get it away from him, but he was NOT happy about giving it up! We immediately inspected it and found a hole in the bottom. It was about then that I realized what actually caused the hole in my son’s sweater.

I have yet to mend the scarf. It is a different stitch pattern that also would prove difficult to mend. Since the damage is near the cast on edge, I am thinking of simply frogging the whole thing and starting over (one of the perks of being a knitter!) I wish I could reknit the cuff of my sweater, but that just won’t work. So, I will try to mend it and keep hand knits away from Spike!

(Oh, and in case you are not aware of it, giving cats yarn is NOT safe! I know we often see those images of a cute kitten with a ball of yarn, but cats can eat the yarn and get long strands tangled in their intestines. It can be deadly for the little ones! I have only tried knitting at my mom’s once since she got the cat. Since then, I leave my yarn at home! Don’t want to mess with my knitting or put her baby at risk!)

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