Sunday, December 29, 2013

Day 1: Partridge in a Pear Tree

This is the 12 days of Christmas pattern from the frosted pumpkin stitchery. Border and day one now complete.

I adore this project: the traditonal inspiration with a more modern design, the glittery linen, the gorgeous colours... so very pretty

Hope you are enjoying the festive season.
Love Sam xxx

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas

I wanted to take a moment to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

I hope you have fun plans for this holiday season and are surrounded by friends and family.

It has been quiet on the blog front, but there has been much productivity behind the scenes: I've been running my own little Santa's workshop as I have been spending a good deal of time working on Christmas gifts.

If you have been visiting here for a while you will know that I produce a batch of felted slippers each year. The pattern is Felted Clogs by Bev Galeskas. And while these slippers are not the most beautiful things you may have laid your eyes on :) they are super cosy. Which brings an ever-growing list of family and friends returning with requests each year. And I love it! It's fun to work on something that you know will be well loved.

Collage Plitters, originally uploaded by samjoepics.

The other thing I'd been working on are teacher gifts. As in previous years, I decided to make cowls for the lovely teachers at Naomi's school. My go-to pattern is Phydeaux Designs' Twist Cowl. The pattern is written for a super bulky yarn and US 15 needles - they work up quickly! In previous years I had worked these in Malabrigo Rasta (soooo soft) but I also love Phydeaux Designs bulky yarns (and had a bunch of these in my stash). I figured out that if I go down to a US 12, and add about 4 extra stitches to the width of the cowl that the cowl works up beautifully in the Phydeaux bulky mousse yarn (vs the super bulky that the pattern is written for) and takes exactly one skein. I'd also bought some of her handmade buttons and think that they add a lovely touch to the finished cowl.

Collage cowls, originally uploaded by samjoepics.

And then there were a couple of stocking stuffers for some of the other helpers at school: A pot of chocolate fondue with some pretty decorated forks; A 'for your mistletoes' bundle of nail polish and nail file (this one got a bonus matching lip gloss); A box of Hershey's kisses.  All very simple... but a token of gratitude nonetheless.

Collage gifts, originally uploaded by samjoepics.

Then there is a gnome pillow for a dear friend that just loooves gnomes. This a paper piecing pattern that is available for free online. It was a little tricky for me (I consider myself a beginner when it comes to sewing) as there were a lot of little pieces in this, but well worth the effort (and persistence :o))) The cushion is a simple envelope fold back, with interfacing and french seams. I am over the moon with how this turned out.

Collage gnome, originally uploaded by samjoepics.

Finally I made a couple of quick and easy ornaments. The first were these adorable christmas tree baubles. (Simply take clear glass baubles, bottle brush trees and glitter... I used a hot glue gun to add glue to the bottom of the trees, and using tweezers put them in the bottom of the glass bauble. Once the glue had dried, just add glitter and you are done. It's a bit of a fiddle to get the trees in the bauble, but other than that it doesn't get much simpler). Naomi and I also made a snow globe. Also very simple - bottle brush trees, glitter, distilled water and glycerin and of course a jar. Hot glue the bottle brush trees to the inside of the jar lid and let set. To the jar add the distilled water, glitter and glycerin (glycerin not vital... it just makes the water a little viscous). Once set, just put the lid back on the jar, shake and marvel :o))) I actually love the one we created... so simple and yet effective.

Collage Ornaments

Hope all is going well with your Christmas plans.
Wishing you the very best for the festive season.
Much love,
Sam xxx

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Random Updates

I should have posted this sooner... do you remember that I was part of Andi's KAL/CAL? Goal was to complete WIPs, and for every WIP you were entered into a drawing for some yarny loot. Well, I was one of the very fortunate winners. Andi sent me a gorgeous skein of Araucania in a dusky pink. Yum! And if that wasn't loot enough, she also sent me a couple of sock squares for Bertie's Blankets. This was graciously received as I am still plugging away on the sock yarn blanket. What an absolute sweetheart! Thanks so much Andi!

Gift from Andi

Other than that, I've started the Christmas gift knitting... starting with the annual batch of felted slippers. Love those things - they look a little goofy, but wow they are so warm and comfy. I have various family members that ask for a fresh pair each year (and a pair typically takes 2-3 evenings to crank out). Also birthday knitting: I used some of the wonderful Phydeaux Yarn in a bulky weight, and made a little moebius cowl:

Moebius Cowl for Marsha

I really like how this turned out and will probably make myself one to go under my winter coat to add a pop of colour. The moebius cowl is a fun knit and here's a great YouTube video for how you cast on:

And finally I seem to be a cross stitch mood these days. I am back working on the princess castle that was gifted to me before Naomi was born. In fact before we even knew our little babe was going to be a girl. The fun thing is that Naomi likes to work on this with me - I locate the cross stitch hole and she likes to pull the needle and thread through. It's the little things, but it tickles me no end when she takes an interest in crafts.


I've also subscribed to a couple of stitchalongs from the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery - 12 Days Of Christmas Sampler, and Gingerbread Lane. These are adorable and I'm really looking forward to getting started. One of the girls behind The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery has a fabulous blog - Hey PorkChop - I'd recommend you check it out. There is knitting, quilting, stitching... so many stunningly beautiful projects.

I hope you had a fun Halloween... little Miss thoroughly enjoyed hers. She was batgirl this year :) Such a cutie pie. I think she was as excited to dole out candy as she was to receive it!

Well, that's all I have for this evening.
Wishing you a lovely weekend,
Sam xxx

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Curio Quilt

Well, here it is folks... one year in the making and the King Size Curio Quilt is finally finished :)

Curio Quilt

Mum and I started this one year ago - Mum had asked if I would make her a quilt to match her new bedroom (my brother had kindly redecorated for her). Sure, I said. I was a brand new quilter, full of optimism and false confidence. I'd happily make you a quilt, Mum. So after much Pinterest searching we agreed on the Curio Quilt from Fat Quarterly Issue 7, and went shopping for a variety of Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

Curio Quilt

That first year, while Mum was visiting from the UK, she would spend her days fussy cutting the big flower squares and cutting the fabric strips for the little plus signs. I'd come home after work and help with the cutting as well as start the sewing while Mum would iron open all those teeny tiny seams.

I've read differing arguments for sewing seams open vs to one side. In hindsight, ironing to the dark side would have been much quicker, and stronger. But those little open seams did look so very neat.

sea of seams

This quilt would have taken much longer if it wasn't for all the help that Mum provided - I'm trying to talk Joe into being my ironing helper now Mum has gone, but he is having none of it!  By the end of her visit last year we had the big squares completed and a good portion of the plus signs.

Layout - wip

Over the course of the next few months I would slowly plug away at finishing the plus signs and then the little one inch 'fish scale' squares. It was quite the task. I was soo excited when they were all complete.

Lots of +'s

row1 sewn together: 100

It felt like a major achievement. The next job was to sew it all together. I sewed the first row, then the second, only to find that rows 1 and 2 did not align well. Harrumph. I put it on one side for a bit...

To be unpicked and reassembled

With renewed enthusiasm I decided that instead of sewing the big long strips together that I would put together in blocks. This way I could match up the rows and columns as I went along. This worked well for me.

Be gone seam ripper

I set myself a goal of trying to complete for Christmas... erm, there was no way.

Mum's Curio Quilt - Row G WIP

Then Mum's 60th in April, yup that wasn't happening either.

Mum's Curio Quilt: Row G Finished

But for sure it WAS going to be finished during my Mum's trip this year.

Curio Row F

And sure enough it WAS :)
It's on it's way back to the UK as I type. Mum has been here for the last 2 months, and over the course of that time we slowly put together the pieced blocks, and then sewed it all together.

next... borders

Again, I cannot tell you how mush faster this process goes with someone doing the ironing :) I almost couldn't believe it when the quilt top was completely pieced together given how long we had been working on it. Next up we added a border so that the quilt was the desired size for Mum's bed back home. Picked out some backing and added that.

with border

One of the kind ladies - Amy Wade - at Quilt Guild offered to quilt it for us so that Mum could take it back with her (beautiful work with a super fast turnaround, thank you Amy).  Here is a great 'in progress' shots that she shared:

Amy Wade quilting Mum's quilt

She had recommended a big swirly stich which has a very nice modern feel to it, and helps soften out all the corners on the squares and plus signs.

Big swirls quilt stitch

We got to show off the quilted piece at quilt guild.


All that was left now was to trim up and add the binding. I like to machine stitch the binding to the top, and then hand sew the back. Quite the job on a quilt that measures 112x112 inches!



Mum actually did the majority of the hand sewing of the binding. Thanks Mum! Final touch was a turn in the washing machine, when all those lovely crinkles start to appear as a result of a little shrinkage - I just love those crinkles. And now it is done.

Curio Quilt

Amy had actually sent me this on Pinterest, and yes I do feel a little bit this way :)

I cannot tell you how happy Mum and I are with the finished quilt. It is truly beautiful and I feel soo proud to have been able to make this. It is my 3rd actual quilt (first one baby size strip quilt, 2nd one a simple design for Naomi's bed... so this was quite the leap in both size and difficulty). But what's probably the very best thing is that it was such a great experience to work on this together with Mum. xxx Sam

Friday, October 18, 2013

Catch up

I've been absent from blogland for a few weeks now. All for a good reason - my Mum has been visiting and so we've been out and about enjoying ourselves. :)

Some of the fun things have included a concert - Earth, WInd and Fire - at Red Rocks (amazing venue in Colorado... crazy to think that after all this time here, this was my first time seeing a concert at Red Rocks amphitheatre).

A trip to Disney world, where Halloween celebrations were in full effect! Naomi thoroughly loved the rides, and the bigger the better!

Dumbo Ride

Pumpkin patch visiting:  If you are in the Denver area, we went to the Botanical Gardens at Chatfield and I highly recommend it.  In addition to the pumpkin patch there were hay rides, pony rides, children's fairground, food and craft stalls...  all in a beautiful location.

Pumpkin Patch

Checking out the Denver Art Museum and the textile exhibit.

Denver Art Museum - Spun

Not to mention a quilt exhibit that was hosted at the central Denver library and Capitol building.  This was amazing to see 250 quilts in such stunning settings. 

Quilt show

Trips to the zoo and the aquarium....
It has been fun and busy couple of months!

I've been able to do some crafting too. Major focus has been on finishing Mum's quilt - more to share on that in an upcoming post. (I am soooooooo excited!)  Then there are the quilt guild squares that I've made for Stacey's quilt. I only made the 2 on the bottom row: middle and right hand side square.  But look how great this looks all put together.

 Stacey Quilt

Plus this novelty scarf for Naomi, using Ella Rae Pompe yarn and a ruffle scarf pattern from Interweave knits.

Novelty scarf 1

I'm hoping to catch up with your blogs in the next week or so.
Hope you are well and having fun too,
Sam xxx

Sunday, September 15, 2013

If you go down to the woods today...

If you go down to the woods today you're sure of a big surprise,

Bear hood

If you go down to the woods today you'd better go in disguise,

Bear hood

For every bear that ever there was will gather there for certain, because today's the day the Teddy Bears have their picnic!

Bear hood

Pattern: The Burton Bear Cowl by Heidi May
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick
Made by: My Mum, for Naomi

And for kicks and giggles, here are 2 additional teddy bear outfits that Mum made for my sister and I when we were kiddos :o)))

The Originals

Hope you are having a lovely weekend,
Sam xxx

Monday, September 09, 2013

Colourblock Fingerless Mittens

Another one bites the dust,
Another one bites the dust,
And another one's done,
And another one's done,
Another one bites the dust...

Colorblock mittens

Can you tell I'm a little excited that another WIP pile project is now complete? :)))
These are the colour block mittens that I started at our annual knitty retreat with a couple of my knitty friends.

Colorblock mittens

Pattern: Colorblock Hand Warmers from Purl Bee
Yarn: MadelineTosh Merino Light (Mmmmmmm love this stuff)
Mods: Instead of the stocking stitch, I used a K4,P1 ribbing to help make the gloves a little more form fitting (instead of slouchy).

These are a great knit. Simple and fairly quick. I'm thinking they'd make great teacher gifts.

In other good news, we also completed the first 2 Bertie's Blankets - blankets for folks in hospice care, in memory of my Dad.
The first one, was led by my Mum in the UK with help from friends and family back there.
The 2nd was an effort I led with your help, and contributions from all over the US, and Australia too!.

Thank you soo much xxx
Hope you are having a productive week.
Sam xxx

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Slouchy Flower Hat

I just finished up this lovely slouchy flower hat:

Flower hat

Flower hat - back

This started as a travel knit - I wanted something small and portable to take back to the UK with me at the beginning of the year. I found the pattern online, printed it out, threw it in a project bag with the recommended needles and some deliciously soft alpaca yarn...

En route I read the pattern for the first time and realised that the flower is knit after the hat is completed. Boo.  I thought the flower would be knit into the design of the hat. You see, I do not love fiddly knitting where there are little bits and pieces to crank out and assemble later. So I knit the hat on my trip, started the first flower petal and then cast it aside. That is until Andi started the KAL that spurs folks to finish up their projects!

I'm soo thankful for the motivation. And the crazy part is that the petals really weren't a big deal and took me no time at all. (Although sewing them onto the hat kept me occupied during a good portion of a movie last night!!)

The hat was originally intended for me. But I asked Naomi to model for me, and wow it looks pretty on her! Aside from her being a prettier model :o))), I think that certain hats just look better when there are long locks cascading out from underneath. So sweet girl has a new winter hat!

Pattern: Flower Hat by Rebecca Lenox
Yarn: A handspun alapaca that I picked up at a local craft fair (good grief this stuff was lovely to work with)
Needles: As recommended in the pattern
Modifications: None

Ooh and Naomi started preschool this last week. What a bag of emotions that was for the pair of us. Nerves and excitement before starting and wondering how the transition would be. Relief and overwhelming joy to see her integrate soo well and love the new school!

Hope you are having a lovely weekend,
Sam xxx

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Kid Silk Haze Airy Scarf

I am in love with this scarf. It is light, fluffy, cosy and fabulously PINK!
I shouldn't get too attached though - this is actually a gift knit.

Airy scarf

The Airy Scarf pattern is a free one (always a bonus):

Airy scarf

It is an extremely straightforward pattern and was perfect plane knitting on a recent business trip.

Airy scarf

I used the recommended Kid Silk Haze yarn and knit on size 10 needles. The pattern recommends knitting 1.5 balls, but I always think it's better for scarves to be super long and so I knit 2 complete balls of the kid silk haze. The resulting scarf is 74 inches long.

I'd read that some folks didn't enjoy knitting with the fine yarn on larger needles. I really didn't mind at all... but I do think it helped that I was using lightweight needles - the old-fashioned plastic kind.

Not a lot else to say about this one except that I want one too :o)))
Ooh and it also gets entered into Andi's KAL.

On an entirely different note, last weekend we all went to visit an alpaca farm. It was SOOOOO much fun. There were some yearlings and some that were only a month or 2 old.

naomi feeding the alpaca

I thoroughly enjoyed being able to be up close with the alpaca and pet them. (I don't think the alpaca were anywhere near as excited as I was :o)))

the alpaca isn't so sure

And Naomi enjoyed feeding them. Such a fun little outing.

Hope you are having a lovely weekend,
Sam xxx

Thursday, August 01, 2013

My Sister's Knitter KAL - WIPS

Yesterday was the last day to cast on new projects that would be eligible for Andi's Kal.

The intent of the KAL is to finish up Works-In-Progress by end September. The caveat being that they had to have been started prior to August 1st. But, how did August 1st get here soo fast? You see, I had in the back of my mind that I was going to cast on some new projects before today :))

This is a good thing though. With my WIP project count in the double digits it is time to whittle some of these down! Now, which to choose:


For sure: Airy Kid Silk Haze Scarf:

Airy scarf

Airy scarf 

And the Colour Block Mittens:
CWKK Colour block mittens

Colour block, colour 4

Anything after this is a bonus.
Maybe the Poinsettia hat because I only have the Poinsettia to go. It's a quick finish if I just knuckle down.

Poinsettia hat 

This is going to be fun :)
What plans do you have to finish works in progress?

Hope you are having a good week,
Sam xxx