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

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The importance of dyelots

My mother-in-law asked me to make her a cardigan. After some searching she settled on the Ecuador Design by Joji Locatelli. It was in part the design that won her over, but also the colour of the yarn that was used in that design. That yarn is Malabrigo sock yarn in colourway Indecieta.

In a not-so-smart moment, I decided to source said yarn from Ravelry destashes - 1 skein here, 1 skein there... you get the picture. Here's the result :)

Ecuador - Indecieta

In fairness I knew exactly what I was purchasing. It just struck me as fascinating that one colourway could have radically different skeins. There will be some serious alternating of skeins, to get something that looks similar to the original design :)))

Have you experienced anything similar with your knits?

Anyhoo, I started the back panel with the skein that was a closest match to the picture on the pattern. It turned out really nice. Next up, I'll be knitting around, while juggling my Indecieta family of skeins :)

Ecuador - Back

This first step was the perfect knit in what has been an exhausting week at work. Stocking stitch... can't beat it for some winding down and relaxation at the end of a day. The other project that has been keeping me entertained this week is the Christmas stocking that I mentioned in my last post. The colours in this are glorious.

Shepherd's Bush Stocking

Hope you are have had a lovely (and restful) weekend.
Sam x

Saturday, September 06, 2014

It is feeling like fall

Is it feeling like summer is over in your neck of the woods?  It was certainly chillier in Colorado this morning than it has been for some time.  Autumn is my favourite season:  it is so pretty, and the temps have cooled down just a touch so that you can get out and enjoy it.  I think subconsciously I've been thinking about this season for a few weeks now, as it seems to influence the colours I've been drawn to.  I finished the Tiger Feet socks, for example.  Joe is a happy cookie and Naomi has proclaimed that she needs a pair.  These were knit using some Opal sock yarn, using my standard plain vanilla sock recipe.

Tiger feet

With a pair finished it was time to cast on for a new pair.  I haven't fallen in love with these yet... but it is early days, so I'll do some more knitting before I determine whether to rip back or not.  I love the colours in the yarn... they feel like Halloween.  I'm just not sure about my pattern selection.

close up

Speaking of Halloween, I've been thinking about what to do with the Frankenstein cross stitch.  Maybe a little pin cushion/ornament with this purple shot cotton for the backing.

Frankenstein bride
And finally, I started a Christmas stocking for Naomi.  Such pretty colours in this one.

Christmas stocking
Hope you are having a lovely weekend.
Sam x

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Summer hols

We just returned from our summer hols - visiting family and friends back in the UK.  It was so good to be back.  And Naomi, well, she had the best time ever:  "I love England, Mama".

My family live in a coastal town in the north of England, not too far from the Lake district.  It was nice to be back by the sea, and also spend time in the beautiful countryside.  The highlight of this trip was a hike to where my Dad's ashes were scattered.  My Mum, sister and I all took the walk up there.  It was beautiful, with a funny story thrown in - my mum had lent me some hiking shoes that she'd had stored in her closet.  We'd barely started the hike when both soles fell off the walking boots!  :))  Well, did we laugh!  Thankfully my sister had a spare pair of sneakers with her, otherwise I would have been making the hike in my ballet flats!  I know Dad would have rolled his eyes and had a good laugh at that one.  

Nicky Nook
Sheep at Nicky Nook

We also took a trip down to London to visit friends there.  My little trooper did amazingly well walking her little feet off, and navigating the underground with me.  We got to visit some of the major sites including Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster... before spending a fun afternoon in St James park with friends.

Buckingham Palace Guard

I also visited Liberty London. Oh my!  I could have spent the entire day here.  Naomi of course had other ideas.  But the store is oh so lovely and well worth the visit.   (I made it up to Naomi with a trip to Hamleys which was just down the street - so we both got to visit magical stores filled to the brim with things we love :)

Liberty London

Liberty London

Needlepoint kits
No trip is complete without some crafting.  On this trip I was working on some 'tiger feet' socks, and a Halloween cross stitch from the gals at the frosted pumpkin.

Tiger Feet


I hope you have had the chance to do something fun this summer, and spend time with loved ones.
Sam x

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Quilt Retreat

I recently attended a quilt retreat with the lovely ladies from the Denver Modern Quilt Guild.  It was a fabulous weekend that gave me the opportunity to work on the Stained quilt.

My station
This quilt started as a quilt swap with the ladies from the quilt guild. We used the Stained quilt as the inspiration for the blocks, and the fabric I provided came from the Sarah Jane at Play range. I've since added fabrics from the same designer's Wee Wander line.

In progress
I'd received a good number of squares from the swap but still needed a good bunch more to make it large enough for Naomi's new big girl bed. Over the retreat I was able to remedy that and the quilt top is almost complete now... just needs a border to bring it to the desired size.
I am really excited to have this one near completion and looking forward to sharing a finished project soon.

Stained glass quilt top
I hope you have had a lovely weekend,
Sam x

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Stitchy stuff

The other weekend I had the good fortune to spend time up in the mountains with some knitty friends.  It's an annual get together and always a lot of fun.  I feel thoroughly spoiled by the end of the weekend - time with good friends, picturesque surroundings, fabulous food, and dedicated craft time.

This year I worked on a pair of felted slippers and my Once Upon a Time cross stitch.

OUAT: 3 little pigs
Isn't this pattern just darling! I wish there were more hours in a day to work on it. I think its going to be beautiful when complete (and a nice addition to Naomi's room).
Speaking of cross stitch, I'm also making slow-but-steady progress on the frosty forest pattern, with the snowman recently completed:

Frosty forest snowman
The felted slippers I worked on over the knitty weekend were for Joe.  His current pair are worn out - big old holes in the bottom of them as a result of much love and wear.  I found some camo yarn in my stash which I thought would be perfect.  Turns out it was anything but... after putting the completed slippers through the wash a few times, the darn things wouldn't felt down to the right size.  It was only at that point that I checked the yarn label to find out that it was not 100% wool.  Doh!  (It wouldn't be so bad, except this is the 2nd time I have done this, this year!  shaking my head... I should know better)  So I went back to the old faithful Brown Sheep lambswool (this is by far my favourite yarn for the felted slippers) and whipped up a second, feltable pair, out of leftovers.  The end results are a little goofy looking, but Joe is pleased with them.  Job done!

Scrappy slippers

These slippers will never win any beauty contests.  But I tell you this... once you've tried a pair there's no turning back.  And be careful who you gift them to - they'll be return customers for life :)))

Speaking of which, my brother had requested a pair with the cross of Saint George (erm, yes, maybe the oddest looking cross of Saint George you've ever seen... but 10 out of 10 for effort though, right?).  And my Sis has requested a pair for her fella.  Finishing those up now.

St George slippers
Ok, back to the weekend at hand.
Have a good one, Sam x

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Quilty gifts

One of the really cool birthday gifts that I received this year was a mini quilt from Terrie:

S for Sam - fabby gift from Terrie

Isn't it pretty! This is going to take pride of place in my craft room.

I was really touched that Terrie had made this for me.  Her work is impeccable and fabric selection couldn't be more perfect. I am one very lucky girl.

Terrie shared this with me at last month's quilt guild meeting and there was much oohing and aahing from the quilt guild members, and the decision was made that we should have a swap of similar mini quilts using the initial of the first name of our swap partner. My swap partner is Wendy, and she shared that her favourite colour is green.  Here is W for Wendy. Front:

W for Wendy

The W fabric is from a line called sewing box, of which I had a layer cake. The design on this one is tape measures. I quilted along the tape measure lines to give them a little definition. The W template is from a Moda blog hop, called Spell it with Fabric, where each blogger is assigned a letter of the alphabet. The end result is pretty cool, and the templates are available for download in pdf format. Imagine the possibilities with this one - a child's name on a quilt, or a fun crafty statement on a mini quilt... Since I already have my initial letter, my swap partner will be making a letter for Naomi. I think Naomi is going to be so happy to have one of her very own as she is big into letters right now, especially those letters that form her name. I'll post a piccy next month, after the swap.

Since I'm rambling about quilty gifts, here's one that I made for another friend's birthday.  A reversible fabric bucket:

Reversible storage basket

Storage basket

Reversible storage basket

Isn't that cat fabric adorable!  It is catnap from Lizzie House.  The pattern is on the Birch Fabrics site: fabric buckets.  I made the large size, with a couple of modifications: instead of interfacing I used batting, and I added a pocket for storage of nik naks - scissors, dpns, you name it...

I need to make some of these for myself - so cute and extremely handy. I know that someone's toy cupboard might also benefit from better organization too :)

Hope you are having a lovely weekend,
Sam xxx

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Zauberball Man Socks

Between road trips and work trips I've been able to whip out another pair of socks. This time for Joe (although the pic below is modeled on my feet):
Man socks
Quite the dazzlers aren't they :)))
The yarn is Zauberball and is dyed to gradually progress through the colours.
While this is a really nice effect, I thought I'd make them stripey by knitting one row from one end of the skein and the following row from the other end of the skein. Typically I make my stripes thicker. But this has a fun effect with the single rows of each colour. For the cuff, heels and toes, I stick with working from one end of the skein so that they appear as a solid(ish) colour, instead of continuing the stripes.
Man sock

I like that the socks don't match exactly... but clearly belong together.
Another pair to tuck away in the Winter Woollies box.

Oh yes, I didn't follow a published pattern for these. Just winging it using my basic sock approach and a size 2 needle. I like the simplicity of the basic sock for travel projects - my hands can stay busy, while I can zone out and relax.

Have you been taking any fun trips?
What are your projects of choice when you are travelling?

Wishing you a lovely summer,
Sam x

Monday, June 09, 2014

Road Trips!

I've been absent from the blog. Mainly because Mum was here and we've been spending the precious time hanging out, including taking a couple of fun road trips!

The first road trip was to celebrate my birthday. I consider all birthdays to be special... but this year was a milestone one: The big 40! Which is why Mum had come over to celebrate. Seemed only right that we mark the occasion by doing something fun - and that was our first road trip to Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico.

The day started off with a Grandparent's tea party at school. Talk about perfect timing of Mum's trip! I'd joked with Naomi that it was really nice of her school to throw me a birthday party. At which point she went over to the teacher and told them it was my birthday and asked if it would be ok if she could sing happy birthday to me. Little girl has more confidence than me to get up on stage, grab a microphone and sing in front of an audience. To say I was touched would be an understatement. Best birthday gift ever!

Anyhoo... Santa Fe is a really great place to go visit especially if you love southwestern art .  What appeals to me is the beauty of the town, the numerous galleries and the laid back European vibe. Needless to say I stopped at a couple of my favourite knit and fabric stores that I had identified from my last visit. :)  In Tutto knitting store I picked up a couple of skeins of yarn that they had custom dyed. A sock yarn and some lace weight. In pretty autumnal earthy tones. If you are in the area I encourage you to go check out this store. The owner is a real darling and he even recognized me from Ravelry (I'd knit a scarf he had designed). How cool is that!
Tutto Santa Fe Tutto Santa Fe
While we were in Santa Fe there was a very interesting street art market with a couple of booths showing handspun or hand dyed yarns. I did pick up a skein of this bulky angora goat yarn that was spun straight from the fleece. It has a rustic quality to it that appealed to me. I'm thinking maybe I'll use it for a small cowl, or a hat... I am open to suggestions if any of you have pattern ideas?

Handspun goat
In Taos I went back to the Uncommon Threads fabric store and purchased some woven fabric to make placemats, and some cool skully fabric to make... erm, no clue yet (but I am sure if my sis spies this she'll think of some way to put it to good use).
New placemat fabric Taos fabric
Toward the end of Mum's visit we went to Mount Rushmore, South Dakota. It was something that was on Mum's wish list and was thoroughly enjoyable. The drive up from Denver was relaxing and beautiful. The black hills area of South Dakota is spectacular. Mount Rushmore is really impressive and nestled in this stunning location.

Mount Rushmore
While we were in the area we drove through Hill City, where I found a wonderful quilt store - Hill City Mercantile. Aside from the wide array of fabrics, impressive display quilts, unique designs from local artists and super friendly staff, the thing I loved most was the attention to detail in this store. The owners had completely renovated the building and all the fixtures and fittings were in keeping with the style of the renovations. I was really thankful that I had the good fortune to stumble across this store.

Hill City Merchant Quilt Store

Loved how they renovated this building
During the Mount Rushmore trip I started another plain sock - the perfect road trip companion if you are looking to keep busy but want something simple to work on. These beauties are going to be for Joe.

Man sock
That's all from me for now.
Hope you are well and wishing you a great week,
Sam xxx

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Handspun Handknit socks

This is my first time knitting socks with a handspun yarn... and I love the end result!  The color shifts in each sock and the subtle changes in the thickness of the yarn make these interesting to knit, even though the pattern is a straightforward one.

Handknit socks

Now to tuck these away in a winter woollies box...  I think this Colorado weather might have finally turned into summer!

Handknit socks
Lots to share in a future post.  Mum has been here for the last month or so, so we've been out and about...  I have some blogland catching up to do!
Handknit socks
Yarn: Crown Mountain Farms Sock Hop in American Pie
Pattern: Simple Handspun Socks by Simone Van Iderstine - toe up pattern on dpns
(I really liked the simplicity of this pattern to let the sock yarn stand out)

Handknit socks
Hope you are well, and have fun plans this Memorial weekend,
Sam xxx