The Good, the Bad, and the Pretty

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On Monday I had every intention of posting my living room updates.  That didn’t happen though.  Life happened instead.

Life has taken me on an interesting ride over the past few days– a crazy, roller coaster ride.  It’s been a really fun ride in certain spots, but there have also been some really scary twists and turns. There have been several moments where my heart skipped a few beats, my stomach did flip-flops, and I maybe could’ve used a paper bag in which to hyperventilate.

There has been so much going on that when Dodge hurt his arm yesterday (a minor buckle fracture…should heal up just fine), it seemed like Life’s equivalent of hitting your funny bone.

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And despite all that is presently happening, going to happen, or happened in the past, I feel blessed, proud, and encouraged.  I am so fortunate to be a part of so much love.

With all that being said, we can now get back to the regularly scheduled programming of making, painting, and knitting.

Let’s recap. The yellow flower painting looked like this:

captured_by_snapseed_749_1Out of the paint choices I gave him, Ben opted for creamy white (he probably wouldn’t have changed it at all, but I gave him no choice).  The white looked like this:

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We all agreed that this didn’t look great.  (Trust me, in person it looked weird).

So, I decided to change things up.  Mid-repainting it looked like this:

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With the “too bright” orange, the white, and the painter’s tape, we had a really awesome Broncos thing happening for a bit. (For those who don’t live in the US: the Broncos are Denver, Colorado’s professional football team).

And finally, to this:

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I might paint it again some day and change it to green or antique brass (taking the advice of foundthispaintedthat…great blog…go look), but for now it’s gold and orange.

Abraham Lincoln seemed to approve,

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He looks subtly pleased, I think.

so I forged ahead with my pillow making plan, which turned out like this:

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It’s an envelope-style pillow cover with a quilted front.

 

The back still needs some buttons though because right now it looks like this:

captured_by_snapseed_760_1And with everything that’s been going on my knitting looks like this:

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Not quite finished with the back.

So I think I’ll just go ahead and throw more into the mix.  I’m joining a Summer Sweater Knit Along.

I’ll be turning this:

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LionBrand Fisherman’s Wool. Color: Nature’s Brown

Into this:

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Image © Aliciaplum

The pattern is Wyeth by Alicia Plummer.  It’s pretty.

That is all. Happy Wednesday!

 

 

 

To Paint or Not to Paint…oops, too late

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I might be a lot a little easy to please, but I’m finding it really amusing that the placemat that I’m knitting (see yesterday’s post) looks like this when I set it down:

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It’s like a linen tiara or a tiny, linen mountain.  I didn’t know it could do tricks.  Silly linen.  It’s probably a downhill slope to crazy town to start thinking of knitting projects as pets…I should stop…really.  

Ahem. My tweedy, cabled cardigan has grown a little too.  I’ve knitted the back piece a little past the armhole shaping, and it’s looking good.  It’s soft too…and a little fluffy, and warm.  Oops…crazy town again…backing away from the sweater.

In lieu of my attitude towards my current knitting projects, it may be a healthy option for me to branch out on the craft projects this weekend.  So I’ve decided to undertake a few non-knitting crafts (not to worry; there will still be knitting).  I had a bit of a dry, crafting spell after I finished varnishing the bench back in May? June?, but today I suddenly got the urge to change some things in my living room.

I have a very random home decor style (ha…I just called “random” a style).  And I usually decorate based on the Whim Principle.  That being, I get the whim to make or paint something, so I do.  Or, on a whim, I see something I like and have to buy (within my budget, of course).

Well, this current whim is of the “make and paint” variety.  So if I have enough time, I’m going to sew one or two couch pillow covers out of these fabrics:

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Again, my style is random…this may not be to your taste.

And, I also need to finish a painting project I started this afternoon.  (Not painting a painting, but painting the frame of a painting).

I have a big, textured, flower painting I picked up at a thrift store for $10 a couple of years ago.

 

 

 

 

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Ignore the bottom right of the frame…I had already started sanding.

It’s somewhere around 3ish feet x 2ish feet (.9 meters by .6 meters).  It’s a little old-fashioned, but the flowers are gorgeous in person, and in the right light they have a very emanating, glowing nature.

When I bought this, we lived in an apartment with much more natural light in the living room, and it looked good in all the brightness.  Our current apartment (let’s call it the dungeon), has a very minimal amount of living room light.  It’s a sad place.  It’s like somewhere Eeyore might choose to live.  So I’m painting the frame.  I haven’t chosen what color to paint it yet, but I do have options (and don’t get all cheeky on me and choose “don’t change it at all”…it’s too late for that).  It looks like this right now.

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So…paint options*:

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That’s Martha Stewart Crafts™ paint in the colors: Wedding Cake (white), Mace (orange), or Scottish Highlands (green). …and no picking Scottish Highlands just b/c it sounds pretty…you have to go by looks.

Feel free to give other color suggestions if you have any; I’m a little stumped.  Just remember to think light or bright.

Well, I’m off to pet knit some more of my cardigan.  Happy Friday!

*husband’s opinion counts the most…seeing as I didn’t ask him before I started painting it. 

 

Hello Louet!

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My beautiful, free (obtained via giveaway) Louet Euroflax arrived in the mail yesterday (Thanks again Kirsten Singer!), and it. is. gorgeous.  Really lovely…so lovely that I wound it up and started knitting “Elemental Linens.”

captured_by_snapseed_747_1Elemental Linens is (and I’ve mentioned it before, but I think it deserves a second mention) up for sale over at Holla Knits.  (You can also find it on Ravelry.)

Now, some of you may already know that I’m on a “Self-Inflicted, Knit Only From Current Yarn Stash, Thing.”  (I would say ‘self-imposed’, but I think ‘self-inflicted’ lets you know that it’s a painful decision…due to space limitations)  And this is why winning a skein of luxurious, linen yarn was such a beautiful thing…you can’t not accept free yarn…even if you are on a SIKOFCYST (see above).

So I don’t yet have enough Euroflax to make the whole Elemental Linens set, but that’s one of the great things about this pattern–it’s for the home, and it can be knitted up and added to as slowly or quickly as wanted.  I’m starting with the placemats.  Then, when I’ve gone off the SIKOFCYST, I can add the coasters and the table runner.  Knitting this pattern out of 100% linen has the added advantage of being incredibly durable and beautiful and pretty much an heirloom.  I love that.  I already had one other skein of Louet Euroflax Sport in my stash in the color Mustard, so I’m gonna knit a placemat or two in that color as well as the Natural.

captured_by_snapseed_748_1I think all these linen fumes are making me giddy (you gotta watch out for that…it’s of the odorless, colorless variety…unlike wool fumes).  Seriously though– brilliant pattern, clearly written charts, and a fun way to make your life a little more lovely.

Despite being incredibly distracted by the linen today, I have managed to start one of the brown cardigans.

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Yarn: Knit Picks City Tweed HW in color Tabby. Needle size: US 7 or 8…remains a mystery because I’ve lost my needle gauge.

It’s the Augusta Cardigan from the book New England Knits.  It’s got a super-cozy look to it, but I’m altering it a bit to fit my taste.  The back of the original cardigan has ribbing on the bottom and then plain stockinette all the way up.  I’ve decided to leave my edge raw (which means it will curl up a little), but throw in some knit 4 purl 2 ribbing all the way up the back, which adds an element of interest and might also add a little shaping.  I’m also gonna switch out the cable running down the arms for a strip of ribbing (I don’t need any more bulk at my arms).  I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to alter the front, so we shall see what happens when I get there.  I like it so far, and the yarn is soft.  I may have neglected to do a proper gauge swatch (yet again), so we’ll see what size it wants to be.  Fingers crossed for my size.

Happy Thursday! :)

On a Tuesday

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How about a little splash of color to brighten your day?

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These are the Cutest Booties pattern by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.  They’re really just a down-sized version of her basic sock recipe…but with some extra cuteness thrown in by way of pompoms. (I use the Clover pompom makers).  These are not the quickest little booties to knit, so I wouldn’t attempt them if you have a baby shower to attend the same day you start them (unless you are super speedy… I’m average to quickish).  But, otherwise, they only take a couple of days with time snatched here and there to knit.  Fun and adorable…”widdle shoosies.”

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I probably should’ve waited until I was elbow deep in knitting brown cardigans before I started these, but the yarn was calling my name.

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Plymouth Yarn Happy Feet in color 7…which is probably discontinued because apparently, that’s how I roll.

I have had two skeins, but I accidentally bought different dye lots, so I’m gonna use the rest of the first skein for matching baby stuff.  The second one Tilly has already claimed because she thinks the booties are “soooo soft”.  She wants socks.

Who doesn’t?

Aim Big

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I have a deep, deep love of cardigans.  They’re cozy, they can change the look of an outfit, and they come in really handy when the temperature changes for the bazillionth time in a day.  So, I’ve decided that what I would love to do is to knit myself several cardigans (and/or pullovers) before Fall starts.  

There’s a problem though–I don’t have enough yarn to knit the sweaters I want.  

I am currently exceeding my (self-inflicted) yarn stash limit, and am thereby knitting only from stash.  The problem with this is that I often buy yarn on whims or when I find really good deals.  I have a lot of yarn, but the majority of it is in 1 to 5 skein doses.  Sadly, this means that I usually don’t have enough of the right weights (or colors or fibers) of yarn when the sweater knitting urge hits me….and it has.  Or to be more accurate, this means I can knit sweaters for myself, but they may or may not fit.

Let’s take a look at an example of this:  my finished Sandshore cardigan.  

I bought the yarn at a very discounted price, and I only purchased 5 balls with 110 yds each.  That’s 550 yards of an aran weight, cotton yarn…not really enough to knit a long, comfy cardigan.  Deep down I knew this, but I knit forth anyway.  

I finished the second sleeve yesterday and gave it a bath.

The dye in this yarn bled, but the water ran clear after the third rinse.

The dye in this yarn bled, but the water ran clear after the third rinse.

I blocked it pretty severely to see if I could make it grow; then I put it in the “car oven” to speed up the drying.  

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It was cloudy outside, and this method is best served by the sweltering heat of the mile-high sunshine, so the drying took a tad longer than usual…still worked though.

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Yarn: Louisa Harding Delphine in “Navy”

Then I tried it on.  I already knew the outcome, but I was hoping that somehow blocking would relax the cotton and maybe grow it by an inch (or six).  It didn’t.

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I paid Dodge (my 10-year-old) a dollar to take pics for me. I got what I paid for…dollar quality photos.

 

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If you look closely in this one you can see that Tilly’s making pig faces against the glass…good times.

And while it’s a nice, short, little cardigan, it’s not exactly a Sandshore…it’s more like the kind of little sweater that you might wear to the office or something.  

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I don’t know yet if I’ll keep it or find an extra small friend to give it to, but I’ll try harder on my next cardigan.  I’m aiming for comfortable and cozy.  

Over the weekend, I did find enough yarn in the stash for a couple of sweaters.  It seems though, that I only buy large amounts of yarn in brown, so get ready for brown…all brown, all the time.  

(Yeah right.  I can’t just knit brown stuff…I have something colorful to show you tomorrow.  It’s not a cardigan.)

 

 

Short and Sweet

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Happy Friday!  And it’s an especially happy one because today is my Dad’s birthday, so…

Happy Birthday, Dad!  I’m really glad you were born…a long time ago…way back in the 1900s…(oh, wait; so was I).  Anyway, love you bunches!  Enjoy some BBQ for me. 

Not much can top birthdays, but I do have something to show you.  It’s not knitting, it’s crochet (bear with me knitters,) and it’s been sitting around unfinished for several months now, just needing buttons and a flower.

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I finished it up yesterday for a friend, and I think the hat and little shoes are pretty adorable. I’ll give a look around for the patterns I used and add them later. Cute stuff. Pretty quick too.

I also managed to start a sleeve yesterday despite my aversion to the magic loop method.  It’s just so loopy….like weird, floppy, cable ears.  It’s going better than I thought it would…maybe my aversion is reverting?  Is that even possible?  Well, my odd (wrong?) context aside, I’m almost finished with one sleeve.

Terrible picture…it's cloudy today.

Terrible picture…it’s cloudy today.

Which is pretty good, considering I didn’t knit on it at all until 10pm last night.  

Well, I’m off to see a friend.  

I hope you all have lovely weekends!

Dizzy

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I should have a completed Sandshore cardigan to show you today, but I don’t; it’s in exactly the same condition as it was on Tuesday–sleeveless.  I haven’t been able to bring myself to start the sleeves.  This is because I don’t have the right size double pointed needles.  I’ll have to go with the magic loop method or something, and that seems to be stopping me in my tracks.  These are big problems, people.

I have started my second sock though, so there’s that:

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 I’m doing a little experiment where I start one sock and knit down to the heel flap, then I put the stitches on a stitch holder and start the second sock.  I’m trying to trick myself into finishing the second sock faster…although technically, now the second sock will be finished first, and then I’ll go back and finish the first sock.  I’m making it sound like a complicated scheme, but it’s simple, and I’m optimistic that my trickery will work…on myself.  

All my current projects aside though, something “knitting-ish” and fantastic happened to me yesterday.  I won Klever Knits giveaway for her new pattern “Elemental Linens”!  Forgive the excitement, but I never win anything, let alone lovely, knit-related things.  It’s up over at the Holla Knits website, and I encourage everyone to go check it out.  I also won a skein of Louet Euroflax Linen, which I am super thrilled about.  I can’t wait to get started on my own “Elemental Linens.”  My table could use a little style (okay, my table could use a lot of style…there’s probably no real hope that it will hide the acrylic paint drips from that time when Tilly went all artsy on some rocks, but I’m pretty sure the knitted beauty will steal the show).

Now if you will all excuse me, I’m going to go spin around in the style of Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music… in my kitchen while intermittently doing dishes.  

Then maybe I’ll knit some sleeves.

why Knitting=Love

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I’ve been knitting for about 9-ish years now, and people are always telling me that I should sell my knitting, or they ask me why I don’t.  Here are my answers:

Prepare yourselves for some explanations, clarifications, and a little ranting (non-knitters take special note).


Back in the day (and this still holds mostly true), I wanted to learn to knit for several reasons:

  1. I like making things.
  2. I like making things for myself.
  3. I like yarn and fabric.
  4. Because I was (and still am) a stay-at-home-mom, and babies, cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, paying bills, making and taking people to doctor and dentist appts.,  etc. are never ever ever ever complete. I needed something that could be finished…and stay finished.
  5. I like to make things for people I love…as gifts…usually on a whim.
  6. I like making things for my little family: i.e. Ben and the kids.
  7. I like being in charge.  With knitting I get to make all the decisions…even the decision to let someone else make a decision (like color preferences and what not).

Those are, mostly, the reasons I learned to knit.  And although I will, in instances of my choosing, knit things by request or sell things I’ve knitted, I prefer to knit just for fun.  Throwing money into the mix makes knitting work instead of fun.  And quite frankly, work wise, it’s usually not worth it.

Over the years, (while working around Ben’s office schedule, overtime, traveling for work, and commuting) I have given knitting lessons, made and sold earrings, done demos at a craft store, babysitted, and fixed up old furniture to sell.  I even had a little ‘odds and ends’ job for a bit where I would finish projects other people started but couldn’t finish or repair dropped stitches and snags in people’s store bought sweaters.  Out of all those jobs I can tell you that, hands down, knitting by request was the most amount of work for the least amount of profit…if there was any.  (There are exceptions to this, like selling things on Etsy,…but I’m speaking generally).

When most people (that I know) request a knitted item or suggest I make something, they have no real sense of the cost involved– namely, materials and labor.  For example, I was recently offered $20.00 (U.S.) for the Lavender Baby Shawl.  I understand the urge to offer $20.  You can find lots of lovely blankets at lots of lovely stores for $20 or less.  It seems pretty reasonable.  I am, however, not retired, a machine, or a big retail chain.  I am just one person, with a special skill set, who fits in knitting around her life.

So, just for fun, let’s do a breakdown of what it cost me to make the shawl and then compare it to $20.00:

  • Cost of yarn:  $25.00
  • Labor:  at least 30 hrs. x $2/hr  (see how that is way less than minimum wage…by a lot).

That puts the (low) cost of this blanket at $85.  That’s a $65 difference, and in my world, that’s a lot.  (That price is not including the cost or time that usually goes into traveling and locating the yarn that the person requests, the tools involved for the job, or in this case, the fact that it is one of a kind item because I designed it as I went along.)  I think, also, many people don’t realize that knitting can get very expensive.  Knitting a nice pair of socks, for example, can cost anywhere from $6 to $30 just for the yarn alone.

And that, my dears, is why I don’t sell a lot of knitted things.  I give them as gifts instead.  Giving gifts warms my heart.  And it turns the hours I spent making something into an act of love.

It is also why I get to choose when and what I knit. ;)

(rant over)

 

All I do…

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Well, the “10th Birthday Weekend Extravaganza” was both successful and eventful.

There were presents…including hand-knit wool socks, and yes, I did put a 3DS game in the toe.

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There was blue cake. (Decorations by Dodge)

 

20140711_185252_1And there were friends and a lot of noise.

There was also a lot of knitting on the Sandshore.  Just to maintain sanity.

Ignore the neon green yarn…it's just holding stitches for me.

Ignore the neon green yarn…it’s just holding sleeve stitches for me.

It’s measuring a little short for my liking, but when I’m done with the sleeves, it will get a severe blocking and, hopefully, turn out close to my measurements.  It’s still an XS, so it won’t be long and flowy, but it’ll still be good for layering.  

One of the kids at the sleepover this weekend grew concerned about how much I was knitting and asked if it was  “all I do, all the time“.  I just said yes (because I do knit more than most people).  And it seemed easier than explaining about the benefits of knitting as a stress reliever when you’re trapped in a small apartment with incredibly loud, small, messy humans who are hopped up on blue cake and apple juice.

I can tell you that I’m done with sleepovers for awhile…hopefully for the rest of my life  the summer.  I’m not sure how I come across to people, but I’m kind of a homebody and an introvert.  I like to go out and have fun, but I love when life isn’t busy all the time, and I really dig quiet, alone time.  Sleepovers really challenge “quiet, alone time.”  And so when my mother-in-law, Pammy, and my hubs offered to take the kids over to a playground last night, I jumped at the chance…true “alone time” is hard to come by in the summer with the kids at home.  I had almost a whole hour to myself; and so I finished a quick little project

20140714_203501_1I knit Pam a coaster for work.  The cup is just for size comparison.  This is basically just a mitered square.  I used this pattern but without the fringe.

We had some really good family/birthday time this weekend too.

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That’s Ben and the kids, and then Ben’s lovely mom and his youngest brother. They are a tall and funny people…you’d like them.

We all went downtown (where I started a new sock) and the kids played at the park.  Then we walked around, had a mini-party and dessert, and then Ben and the kids played mini-golf.

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The sock didn’t want to stand out in the hot sun playing mini-golf (the sock thinks mini-golf is boring…go figure), so the sock and I found some shade and some flowers and watched instead.

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I cast on 66 stitches on 2mm (US 0) needles.   The yarn is some that I’ve had in the stash for a while now, and it’s missing its ball band, but I think it was Cascade Yarns Heritage Paints in the colorway Berry.

We had a good time.  The sock has grown a little in the past couple days, and we’re still having a good time together.   It’s got a purl 1, knit 1 twisted rib cuff, but it’s still just a plain ol’ vanilla sock from Knitting Rules.  I thought I’d try really small needles this time, and my stitches are turning out very neatly but maybe a little too firm.  I like them though, so I’ll carry on.

Oh, and speaking of socks, Dodge actually likes the socks he got for his birthday.  He chose to eat at “Sonic” for lunch, which seems fitting because that’s where the socks were started.

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He calls them his “special socks” and he’s wearing them for the third day in a row.  In the hot, hot summer.  Without them being washed in between wearings.  I have a feeling that it’s gonna be difficult to maintain a hygienic 10-year-old.

 

It All Goes So Fast

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It’s hoppin’ around here today.  We’re getting ready for my son’s (wait for it)…

10th Birthday Weekend Extravaganza!!!

Okay, really it’s just a sleepover and then a small family party, but there are still things to be done.  Groceries are bought and a few presents were purchased earlier today, and so now all I have left is to bake a blue cake.  Oh, and clean…but there’s always that. He has chosen a blue cake because we are now doing some sort of Minecraft Mod theme.  Something to do with a “floating island mod” in a “Slime Biome.”  Don’t feel bad if you have no clue what any of that means…I don’t either.  Luckily, I’m not the cake decorator; I’m just the baker.  The husband is the decorator.  He posesses great and powerful skills in the frosting department.  I do not. I am a terrible, terrible cake decorator.  People don’t usually believe me when I say this because I’m crafty, but it’s completely true.  There have been a few “incidents” in the past: one involving gummy worm placement and a lack of creativity,  and another, where a fire truck almost had dark green wheels instead of black.  Very traumatic.  Seriously though, I cannot stress this enough…never, ever ask me to decorate a cake…I have no skills.

Speaking of cake decorating, I also want to give a quick (forthcoming) birthday shout out to my brother-in-law, Will.  He, like my Ben, is brilliant at cake decorating.  He’s also super funny, teaches art to children, paints and draws in his free time, helped make two of my beautiful nieces, and loves my sister…doesn’t get any better than that. Happy Birthday Will!

After all the birthday stuff is done, and if I have any time left today, I will continue to work on my Sandshore cardigan.  I’m just past the Raglan shaping, and I’m still really loving this knit.  The yarn I’m working with (Louisa Harding Delphine) has a chain construction, so it feels both like it has more give and is lighter than a standard plied cotton yarn.  Much easier on the hands.  

And finally today, though it doesn’t have a baby yet to snuggle (sorry Lolly ;)), is the finished and dry Lavender Baby Shawl (I switched it from blanket to shawl…now that it’s done, it looks more shawl-ish).

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It was knit from Cascade Yarns Pacific and a bit of Knitpicks Swish Worsted in Dove Gray.  Size US 10 (6mm) needles.  The pattern was mostly my own devising.  I started with a garter stitch square, then picked up and knit a few rounds in stockinette stitch with two increases at each corner (knit through front and back of stitch), next I threw in a diamond pattern from The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting, knit a few more rounds of plain stockinette, threw in a couple of gray purl ridges, and lastly, bound off with picots.

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I still think it will look even better with a new, little, baby wrapped inside (and no, not mine), but for now, you all will have to settle for this pretty, lavender, baby shawl wrapped around my own “baby.”

20140710_113502_1Happy Thursday! :)

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