Saturday, January 24, 2015

Handspun Balaclava

"Have you seen this man?"
Do you know this man
Yup, looks like something off one of those wanted/CCTV deals, doesn't it. Although the person in question is normally wearing a subdued colour, not turquoise :)

I'd picked up this yarn last year. I can't remember what we'd gone out for, but we were headed downtown when I spotted some neon signs highlighting a yarn store that I had no idea even existed. So Joe, being the good hubby that he is, insisted that I go check it out. For local Colorado folks, it was the Blazing Star Ranch, and it is located inside a Vacuum store, which probably accounts for why I hadn't noticed it before. 


I'm kicking myself because I can't seem to lay my hands on the label for this. All I recall is that it was an alpaca handspun yarn, and I'm thinking there was less than 200 yards of it's aran-weight goodness!. The yarn is fabulous - so very squishy.

Yarn bowl and handspun

I looked through ravelry for something to make (such a handy site for plugging in yarn weight and yardage to figure out what your options are). When I showed Joe the various options and asked what he thought, he suggested that maybe I could make him another balaclava out of it. Erm, yes, of course. I'd knit him a balaclava a while back and he gets good use of that when he's out walking the dogs in the colder Colorado weather.

I made the pattern up as I went along... which translates as knitting, ripping out and knitting some more :) The final version was knit using a US10 circular needle.  I knit from the crown down to the neck.  Starting by casting on 6 stitches and working in the round in a K2, P2 rib, with increases every row until there were 84 stitches on the needles.  Once it measured about 6 inches, I cast off 20 for the peek-a-boo section (I'm pretty sure that is the correct balaclava terminology!) and then worked back and forth in the rib pattern for 1.5 inches, before casting those 20 stitches back on and resuming knitting in the round until the balaclava measured a total of 16 inches.


Joe likes the strangest things!  He's worn the balaclava a few times already.  I'll give him this, it is super soft and extremely warm.  Attractive...?  Well, I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder :)))

Hope you are having a good weekend,
Sam x

Monday, January 19, 2015

Active projects - January

How many active projects do you have on the go at any given time? I typically have a variety of projects that I am actively working on (and this doesn't include the projects that are tucked away in hibernation).   But here's my big 3:

Only yesterday I cast on some 'secret socks'... it is valentines day coming up after all :)

secret socks

Joe has been working this weekend so that has allowed me to get these underway while he is out of the house. My goal is to complete by Valentines day without him suspecting a thing. I think he's going to be really touched as he really appreciates handmade items, and all his hand knit socks to date.

secret socks

Not to leave the other man in my life out, I am also working on a hand knit for Bruno. He doesn't have much of a coat himself, and it gets pretty darn cold here. So what does every large, masculine dog need? Why yes a striped hand knit sweater :) He looks quite severe in this picture, and that couldn't be further from the truth. In the words of Robert Palmer he's 'addicted to love'!  Bella and Buster liked a lot of attention, but this guy... he just wants to be in constant contact with someone. His favourite spot in the world - my lap. Yup all 90+lbs of him!

Dog sweater

And now my other furry fam, Bella, is giving me that look like 'where's mine?'. She really doesn't need one - this old girl has sooooo much fur. Bella is also a sweetheart, but can be a proper little madam too: We took her for her regular vet checkup the other day, only to find that she'd pulled her best Houdini moves and escaped 3 times from the dog crate they were keeping her in. In the end they decided why fight it, and they just let her find herself a comfy spot where she happily waited until it was her turn to be seen.

Hey, what about me

To finish the knitty update, look at this lovely yarn that I purchased from Phydeaux yarns. It is cachemire in North Pole colorway. Mmmm... aaahhhh... so very pretty. Must think of a suitable project for this one. Thoughts anyone?  I can't even decide if it should be a shawl or socks...

Cashmire sock - north pole

I'm also cross stitching. This is the Once Upon a Time sampler from the frosted pumpkin stitchery. It was last year's sampler - each month you'd receive a new fairytale to stitch. Seeing the finished versions online inspired me to pick this up again.

OUAT January WIP

I'm going to go check out the fun projects that you have underway.

Take care and happy crafting,

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Rustic Cowl

Last summer we took a trip to Santa Fe, NM. During that trip we visited an open air art market where there was a gentleman spinning directly from a Navajo Angora Goat fleece. I'd only ever seen spinning done from pristine, fluffy clouds of fiber, so it was fascinating to watch this fella work straight from the fleece. The outcome was this delightfully rustic yarn.  Of course I needed a skein :)

Handspun goat

Side note:  Does anyone else find spinning mesmerizing?  I could have pulled up a chair and spent the afternoon quite happily watching this man work his crafty magic, and watching the world go by.

This particular skein of Oasis fibers yarn comes courtesy of Hermione... just look at her golden fleece:



I didn't know the yardage on this, but figured there was enough to make myself a cowl.  Using some chunky 15mm needles I cast on 45 stitches and started knitting back and forth until I ran out of yarn.  There's really not much to it, but a perfect instant gratification project.

I like how the end result is a little unusual, as well as being versatile - cowl, capelet, scarf...  All this and it is delightfully soft too.

Rustic cowl

Rustic cowl

The buttons are handmade by Phydeaux yarns.  The buttons came from my stash, but couldn't have been more perfect - their colour picked up on some of the subtle bronze tones in the fleece. 

Rustic cowl

Phydeaux buttons

Wishing you a lovely weekend,
Sam xxx

Friday, January 09, 2015

Kidsilk Cowl

Happy New Year!

Did you do anything fun to bring in the new year? Ours was pretty low key. We celebrated the New Year for the East coast time zone with Naomi, and then the real deal at midnight Colorado time for us big kids. We've had some snow and pretty cold weather over the Christmas and New Year, so it was nice to stay huddled indoors with some of my loved ones.

All this huddling indoors has resulted in crafty goodies to share! I was able to start and finish a lovely cowl in Rowan kidsilk haze. This is extremely light and airy, and  super soft to the touch.

kidsilk haze cowl

It was my Mum who had spotted something similar in a local yarn store, when she was visiting with us over the holidays. I was trying to complete while she was here, but was just a bit too slow, so it will be going out in the mail to her this weekend.

kidsilk haze cowl

I have kidsilk haze in my stash, and Mum selected the solid purple. I'd also recently picked up some seed beads that were a perfect complement to the yarn and decided it might add a nice touch to randomly knit those into the cowl - a touch of sparkle.  The result is subtle, but I think it was worth the effort. (Man, those beads are teeny tiny... it took me a couple of evenings to get them all threaded before knitting could commence).

seed beads

seed beads

Here's my little knitwear model, modeling the end result for me. Do you love the forced grin she is also modeling :)))

forced grin model shot

The knit is really straightforward, only takes one ball of kidsilk haze and works up relatively quickly.  Here are the details:
***Edited to add details of the seed beads***

Seed beads

I used sized 15 seed beads for the cowl.  I don't have the number of the seed beads used, but to gauge quantity, this is a 2-inch-tall pot of the beads and you can see that there are still some left.  To start, I threaded all the beads onto the yarn  using a wire loop made out of very fine wire (see this site for a picture of how to do this).  I'd move the beads down the yarn as I was knitting and randomly add them in:  Knitting somewhere between 5" to 10" of the yarn and then adding in a bead.***

Wishing you good health and much happiness for the year ahead,
Sam xxx

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Did you have a wonderful Christmas?

Ours was lovely. Mum was over since Thanksgiving and only left yesterday. We had a great time, and created lots of fond memories - ice skating, pottery painting, movie visits etc... and good Grammy time for Naomi.

I've been slow on the crafting front. I started a new job on October 1st and it consumes a lot of my free time. I'm thinking that as I get up to speed I should regain some of my work/life balance. Until then, it may be a little slow and sporadic here at sticks and strings. We have however been on a shut down from work this last week. Which was AWESOME! Quality time with family, as well as some craft time too. A girl could get used to this :)))

I created a few quick projects: First is an elf pillow for Naomi, to go with her elf pjs.

Elf pillow

Happy Elf

There are some really good instructions for this on the smashed peas and carrots blog.  It seems like some sort of construction magic when you make these for the first time... but it works beautifully! 

Anyhoo, while Naomi was fast asleep I snuck this new pillowcase onto her pillow and when she woke up she was all giddy about what the elves had made for her :)))

The next set of projects was a variety of gift bags - some for the teacher gifts, some for friends... you get the idea. I was able to use some of my stash for these beauties.

Gift bags

The pattern and instructions for these drawstring pouches can be found on the In Color Order blog.  PS - these also make great knitty project bags - and are straightforward to make.

Finally I had my 'Trevor tree' ornament finished so that it could go home with Mum yesterday.

Trevor tree

Hope you are enjoying a relaxing Sunday, and wishing you wonderful New Year celebrations this coming week.
Sam xxx

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Christmas Tree Ornament

November. How did that happen?

Less than 2 months to Christmas. Which is still a good chunk of time... unless you have grand designs for hand making gifts. I had such grand designs: There's the cardigan for my mother-in-law and another wild idea that I would make my family some Christmas tree ornaments.

The cardigan is underway... photo update to follow in another post. With my work schedule the way it has been, it will be nothing short of a Christmas miracle if I pull this off. Going to give it the good college try...
For the Christmas tree ornaments, I had stumbled across a site that creates personalized Christmas tree cross stitch designs:

My idea was to make some of these, in memory of my Dad, for my family. The designs are subtle - squint at the side of the tree and you will see his name 'Trevor'.  I am thinking this is a nice gesture. Or is it morbid? I have also questioned whether this make me a little odd.
Trevor wip
Anyhoo, I have one completed:

Trevor tree
It is on Picture this Plus 36 count sparkly linen, in the colourway gingerbread. The thread is a cream silk. My big plans were to make Mum, Sis, Brother and I one each. Overambitious? Yes. Realistic... not this year! So, dear family, if you are reading this, know that I had good intentions :)

As for all my crafty friends out there - are you well underway on your Christmas crafting?
What do you have on the go?

Love, Sam xxx

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Are you ready for Halloween?
We are a work in progress... pumpkins are decorated and some Halloween cushions have been made. A pinkie pie (my little pony) costume is under assembly. But my favourite item so far is the finished Frankenstein cross stitch:
Frankenstein bride finished
Wishing you a Happy Halloween,
Sam xxx