Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wallaby Love

After all my whining these past few months about the wallaby that ate all my yarn and the wee wallaby I thought I had better show you all what makes it worth it.

My guy and nephew in their matching wallabies on Christmas Eve. Coincidental, the wallaby is the ideal sweater to wear to a supper stuff meal.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Wee Bit of Snow

Brooklyn is under a blanket of snow right now and I feel a bit like a little kid on a snow day. It seems to be all I think about. Of course I am thinking about some adult snow issues like will my street ever be plowed and will the F train manage to get me home tonight but rest assured I am also thinking about fun romping in the snow. And my guy and I had a lovely mandatory snow day on Monday where we snuggled up on the couch and drank hot coco.

I hope everyone had a warm safe week. Here are a few photo's of the wilds of Brooklyn.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Last Minute Handmade Gift: the mini sweater

This is the first year in a very long time that I will be spending the holidays in the city. It will also be the first year that I will be spending the holidays with my in-laws. To mark this occasion I decided to break my only one handmade gift a year rule (you all knew I was going to do that anyway, didn’t you?)

The mini sweater ornament is one of my all time favorite holiday handmade gifts. I loosely based the pattern off of ornaments we had growing up. Because I hate sewing in ends with a passion I designed it to be made with no thread breaks and the ends can be used to sew up the sides. My families original mini sweater ornaments all have their initials beaded on the front which make them very sophisticated. But you can leave them plan or embroider something too.

As a little holiday gift to you I thought I would give you all the pattern. Once you get the hang of the pattern each sweater takes about 30 minutes. There is no gauge for this project, I use up the bit and pieces left over from other projects. I usually use a worsted weight yarn and about a size 6 needle. But Bulky is fine too or you can double DK weight. WARNING: this is an oddly addictive project!

Row 1: Cast on 14sts
Row 2: knit
Row 3: knit
Row 4: knit
Row 5: purl
Row 6: knit
Row 7: purl
Row 8: knit
Row 9: purl
Row 10: knit
Row 11: add 7 stitches with loop method, purl across 21 sts
Row 12: add 7 stitches with loop method, knit across 28 sts
Row 13: purl
Row 14: knit
Row 15: purl 10 sts cast off eight purl 10 sts
Row 16: (right arm) knit 10
Row 17: turn purl 10
Row 18: knit 10 jump over to other sleeve and knit 10 sts for left arm (leave approximately 1 ½ worth of yarn between the two arms, this will become the hanger for the sweater- see photo below)
Row 19: purl 10
Row 20: turn knit 10
Row 21: purl 10 add 8 sts with the loop method purl 10 sts of other arm
Row 22: knit across 28 sts
Row 23: purl
Row 24: knit
Row 25: purl
Row 26: cast off 7 sts knit to end (21 sts total)
Row 27: cast off 7 sts purl to end (14 sts total)
Row 28: knit
Row 29: purl
Row 30: knit
Row 31: purl
Row 32: knit
Row 33: purl
Row 34: knit
Row 35: knit
Row 36: knit
Row 37: cast off

the one tricky bit to the mini sweater is the jump over in the middle (row 18). Basically you have created two sleeves with a neck whole in the center of the sweater, by jumping over the neck whole from the right sleeve to the left you are creating the hanger for the mini sweater.

In order to assure that you have enough yarn as you hanger I usually wrap the yarn over my right hand an then pick up the sts on the left needle creating a long loop in between the two sleeves.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

CraftSanity Magazine Review

I have found myself on a quest for a new craft magazine. Recently, I have found myself staring longingly into the whole where Craft magazine once was. Don’t get me wrong, I am always excited to see Ready Made in my mailbox but it’s not quite the same. For one thing, although I enjoy reading about the projects in Ready Made I rarely want to actually go buy the table saw or other special piece of equipment required to make them. I have been looking for a craft magazine that has a wide range of projects from knitting to ukulele making with a trend towards the do-it-youselfer practical gal/guy.

Along this quest I stumbled upon CraftSanity out of Grand Rapids, MI. You can find the first edition here. The cover promises to be “a magazine for those who love all things handmade” and includes patterns, recipes interviews and other assorted goodies. It is created by the loving hands of Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood who some of you might know from her CraftSanity podcasts. It is currently sold in both print edition and PDF format.

I love that she is offering a print edition, I see the merits to selling izines but I have to say for me there is nothing quite as good as getting a lovely piece of craftiness sent to me in the mail. Plus the print version comes with an extra special bonus hexagon template and fabric.

I am excited to see how CraftSanity grows. Compared with some other indie craft zines this has a solid professional feel. The patterns have clearly been proof read and the photographs are well done. It has a little something for everyone, knitters, crocheters, paper doll lovers, bakers, quilters and even old school pot holder makers. The interviews are well done and not from the same list of crafter that you have heard from before, although she does have a bit from Debbie Bliss which is quite fun. I think it is solid choice for a beginner crafter, the projects are small and manageable, well laid out and easy to follow.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Slow and Steady Progress

I had some time this week for a moment of crafting bliss: I sat at the sewing machine for several hours and worked on my holiday quilting project while listening to an audio book. Really is there anything better than being read to while crafting?

By now you have glazed you eyes on the picture of the quilting in action and had a moments pause wondering when all those blue lines got added. Ahh painter’s tape: a crafters best friend. I really can’t begin to tell you how useful the stuff is. It is sticky without being too sticky. It is great for tacking a stencil down to a shirt, creating a clean paint line and as a quilting grid.

This is my first large scale quilting project and I needed a bit more handholding then a fading line of wash-away fabric makers. I set the grid of painters tape using my ruler and have been following the line to the end. So far so good. I know I am not the first person to use this technique and it is so easy that I know I won’t be the last.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holiday Etsy Giving

The holiday season is upon us again. What could be better than some handmade goodness? Even though I don't make everything by my hands anymore i do try to buy handmade things from crafters for my loved ones.
Here are some etsy ideas:

recycled licence plate earrings by wearwolf found here:

linen reusable sandwich bags lined with nylon from country life naturals found here

hand printed linen napkins by madder root found here

mustache pints (I own two) by bread and badger found here

darling necklace by foundling found here

upcycled skateboard necklace (i heart these, hint hint) by seven ply found here

rigmarole's lovely star ornament found here

and lastly for that cook in your life fork tshirt by xeno tees found here

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Quilt Top for *****

Several exciting things happened in my world over the long weekend post thanksgiving. 1) I caught up on sleep, not so exciting for you but really needed in my world. 2) My guy managed to straighten out our ongoing home internet problem which had left us with intermittent phone, internet/wifi (hence no blogging) for a week. 3) I finished the Wallaby to end all Wallaby’s. 4) I got started on a quilt.
For many years I spent Fall cursing my loved ones under my breath as I madly tried to make them all handmade goodies. Depending on your point of view, in the last few years, I either wised up or bailed out. I made the general decision that I would only make things for those who would appreciate it or for those who were so supper special to me that I wanted to make things for no matter what. Of course this didn’t really cut down on Mahka’s little sweat shop pre holidays because most of my loved ones fall into one if not both of the categories above.

But truth be told I wasn’t having that much fun making so many super special things in such a short time. So I stopped. Now I only make one thing per holiday season, sometimes I make more but mostly I stick to it. So far so good, I don’t lose my mind pre holidays and I get to put extra attention into the project I do pick to make. As for my other gifts, I try to buy things only from small crafters via shows or etsy so everyone in my life still gets something made with love and my money goes to supporting people that do good stuff.

This year the gift is for: ***** Okay, I am not going to tell you yet. I am going to do what I can, while still blogging about it, to keep it a secret. Thank you in advance for being understanding.

Last weekend in an afternoon of the great crafting stars ailing just right I managed to make the top and with the extremely appreciated help of super crafter Molly I got it sandwiched an pinned too. I followed Oh Fransson’s advice on making a quilt sandwich, which can be found here. Her technique for rolling the top and batting onto the back is fabulous. It went a lot smoother than usual.

Next up: machine quilting!