Baby J’s Jacket

I finished the baby’s jacket this Labor Day weekend. Whew! The pattern is free and available from the Exercise Before Knitting site. Even though for once in my life I actually checked the gauge, it’s a bit bigger than I thought it would be (and required SEVEN skeins of yarn instead of the four I planned to use), but that just means that it will last for months!

It’s hooded for chilly days:

The yarn is a cashmere and wool blend called Cashsoft Aran, made by Rowan yarns. Because the jacket is knit in a thick seed stitch, it required more yarn than I thought, but the resulting warmth is worth it!

A size comparison:

The sweater on the left is the Debbie Bliss design I finished last month (size 3 months).

I think Baby J will be cute in his preppy little hooded peacoat!

StitchMinder: an iPhone Application for Knitters!

I started a new sweater project last night: the classic Double-Breasted Seed Stitch Jacket designed by Elinor Brown (the pattern is free!). So far, it’s been a pretty straight-forward seed stitch rectangle, but I’m about to divide for the fronts and sleeves, which will require some counting.

StitchMinder is an iPhone application that lets you count completed rows, pattern rows, pattern repeats, and increase rows, with just a quick tap to keep score. It’s pretty basic, but that’s what makes it useful (and better than tally marks). You could probably touch the row count with your pinky without ever putting down your project!

Via Craftzine.

Blue & White Baby Sweater

I finished this sweater a few weeks ago and am now finishing up matching sock #2. I had never attempted such a difficult pattern (what got me was the border for the button holes and collar), but am so pleased with the results!

The pattern is by Debbie Bliss and is knit in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, the perfect, washable blend of cashmere, wool, and a touch of microfiber. I picked up the pattern and the yarn in London (at John Lewis, in case you’re in the area). I’ve got a lot more, and in a darker blue also, so we’ll see what that will all become in the coming weeks! Isn’t there some law that babies can’t be born until their sweaters are finished?

Patchwork Progress and the Eiffel Tower Stitch

I’ve collected a lot of cotton yarn over the last couple of years, and I decided to try to use it up by making a knit patchwork blanket.

It’s a great excuse to try out some new stitches as well. One of my favorites is the Eiffel Tower stitch (far right, second row from the bottom).

Eiffel Tower Stitch

Row 1: [k4, yo, k2 tog] until the end of the row.
Rows 2-6: k4, p1, [k5, p1] to last stitch, k1
Row 7: k1, yo, k2 tog, [k4, yo, k2 tog] to last 2 sts, k3
Rows 8-12: k1, p1, [k5, p1] to last 4 sts, k4

I think I’m probably about half done with this blanket. Right now, it could pass for a crib-sized baby blanket, but I think I’d like it to be bigger and more useful past the baby stage. I certainly have enough yarn to keep expanding!

Marie Claire Idées Spring Issue

We are back from a wonderful trip in Barcelona, and I have a lot of blogging to do about that. But first, look what came in the mail today! Probably one of the best ever issues of my favorite magazine, Marie Claire Idées.

Marie Claire Idées Spring Cover

Why is this one so awesome? For starters, there is a whole section on crafts inspired by cabbage and broccoli. Who would’ve thought of that? A crochet cabbage purse? Awesome.

Marie Claire Idées Spring 1

French samplers always seem to look cooler than the ones I grew up with. While I am not as ready as my friend Julie is to take on one of these, I do think the cross-stitch looks chic, and quite lovely over the beige fabric.

Marie Claire Idées Spring ABC

Maybe I’m getting a little excited for nothing big, but as some of you know, I have been collecting teacups from all over the world for the last 15 years. This issue devotes eight pages to English teacup-inspired crafts, from candelabras to mosaic dressers to a lamp made of stacked teacups and pots. Heaven!

Marie Claire Idées Spring Teacups

As always, the photography is very inspiring and makes me want to paint the walls pink and embroider every cloth in sight. I’m looking forward to reading the article on organic and natural cosmetics, as well as turning your kitchen “green” (literally and figuratively), with lots of crafts using recyclables. But first, I should really get back into organizing my Barcelona photos!

Toe Warmers!

 Toe Warmers

What an invention! My sister received these as a gift from her best friend, who’s mother-in-law makes these from scratch. When I say from scratch, I mean she raises rabbits, spins their hair into yarn, and then knits these up. They feel divine and I love the idea: you just place them over your socks when you wear your winter shoes or boots, and your toes stay warm and cozy.

This is definitely something to think about for next year’s handmade gifts list, although we don’t quite have enough room for a rabbit farm yet…

Grandma’s Mittens

Grandma Wearing Mittens

I knit fuzzy mittens as a Christmas present for my grandmother. My sister, Monica, attached the appliqué patch for an added festive sparkle. She wore them to the Christmas Eve service and Christmas dinner the next day. I’m so proud of how they turned out!

Grandma??s Mittens
A fuzzy close-up. Just imagine it’s a Seurat painting and squint!

Vintage Crafts: Winter Edition

 Mon Ouvrage Jan 1950 p1
As you may remember, I have a stack of old craft magazines that date from the 19th century to the 1950s, thanks to a friend of mine saving them from a garbage pile. Last May this post featured the June 1949 issue of Mon Ouvrage. Now that there’s a chill in the air, I thought I’d share with you one of the winter editions. Today, excerpts from the January 1950 issue.

While some of the crafts and decorating projects are so dated they’re kitschy, I find that others are still useful and could be updated in today’s materials and colors. The caplet, especially, is tempting me at the moment.

Each issue of Mon Ouvrage usually has 24 pages, but unfortunately the middle section of this particular issue is missing. Judging by the page just before the missing ones, my guess is that it was about lingerie. Not the most charming of styles anyway, so no matter!

If you’d like me to send you the full-size scan of any of these pages, just let me know by e-mail or in the comments section.

Mon Ouvrage Jan 1950 p2
Going on a ski trip? Don’t forget to make your own sleeping bag first.

Mon Ouvrage Jan 1950 p3
Decorating project: a modern living room!

Mon Ouvrage Jan 1950 p4
This is the caplet pattern I’m talking about. Without that ribbon and a little less baggy, and this could be the perfect cover-up for a holiday party. Here’s a close-up:

Mon Ouvrage Jan 1950 p4 Detail

Mon Ouvrage Jan 1950 p7
Smocking

Mon Ouvrage Jan 1950 p16
An embroidered collar.

Mon Ouvrage Jan 1950 p18
Ski Sweaters (from the cover)

Mon Ouvrage Jan 1950 p22
Knit dresses for girls

Mon Ouvrage Jan 1950 p24
Detail from the back cover: embroidered coasters

Better Than Bunnies: Handmade Gifts

Christmas Story Bunny

Remember the bunny costume Ralphie’s aunt so lovingly imposed on him? This is the image many people picture when thinking about handmade gifts. So now that I’ve pledged to have a 100% handmade holiday season, how can I avoid being that relative?

I’ve spent a bit of this chilly Sunday gleaning my favorite crafty sites for some tutorials and simple gift ideas for everyone on my list. Here goes…

For Crafty Hipsters
Star-Shaped Books Tutorial on Craftster ~a little paper book you make yourself that folds out into a star; a great stocking stuffer for anyone, really, just pick graphics and papers that correspond to the receiver. I will be making dozens of these with my leftover papers.
Coffee and Hand Warmer ~think tea cozy for your coffee mug. Keeps coffee hot and hands from being scalded.
Funky Travel Bag ~tutorial for a travel bag that could also be used for groceries or as a gym bag.
Thin Credit Card Wallets ~who uses checkbooks anymore? cut out the bulk and try out this little sewing project.
Crafty Tool Belt ~for fixing, gardening, and general DIY

Wearables
Heather Bailey’s Headbands ~a sweet and stylish accessory for girls aged 4-104
Felted Gifts out of Old Sweaters ~make stuffed things or wearables out of sweaters you no longer wear by felting them in the washing machine
Mittens ~these are still one of my quickest “wow” projects, but still require a few hours to make one pair.

Edibles
Rock Candy ~make the candy to give away, or create a do-it-yourself kit for a kid to make it on their own.
Candied Citrus Peels ~winter is actually citrus season, so enjoy your Florida oranges and save the peels!
Peppermint Marshmallows ~Heather Bailey tried it using this recipe.
Recipes in a Jar ~They look cool if you layer the ingredients and make a cute little label to go along. If you live abroad, give a recipe for a cultural favorite, like pancake mix, chocolate chip cookies, or muffins.

For the Wee Ones
Homemade Playdough ~the smell that I will forever associate with my childhood. It’s simple and children will have fun helping. The cooked version will last the longest.
Basic Bib ~get festive with fabrics to make it fun.
“Taggie” Blanket ~little ribbons for little fingers to play with.

And Others
Felt Bird Ornament ~birds are popping up allover in fabric and graphic arts. This pattern has the look of a Scandinavian Christmas. Leave out the embroidery and opt for a simple embellishment (one bead eye?) and they should be quick.
Beaded Snowflake Ornaments ~see my (as mlle_rachelmarie) 2003 version on page 3 of this link.
Circuit Board Art ~for the geeks on your list (or if you are the geek in the family), make shapes or get creative to make lampshades and coasters.
Knit Dishclothes ~this reminds one of housework (such a downer), but you can make them fun by knitting a shape into the cloth. Just chart it out on graph paper and switch from knit to purl (or purl to knit) to create a bump for every square. Your pattern can range from the sweet to the obscene, but it’s always subtle.
Washclothes ~Similar to the dishclothes, but for exfoliating properties, my favorite pattern is just using a simple basket weave stitch and two strands of cotton yarn.
Snowman Pencils ~they look cooler than they sound, I promise.
DIY Digital Photo Frame ~a project only the ultimate crafter should take on. Have an extra old laptop laying around?