Sunday, January 29, 2012

Magic Loop Method

I began knitting a pair of leg warmers a couple of weeks ago. Did you know they are back in style? Then our power went out for 4 days with that bad storm and I found myself done with #1 and wishing I could begin #2! I thought I only needed one skein of yarn for both so when I finished the first one with only a few yards of yarn to spare, I was left with the task of going back to Michaels to find another skein. ACK! They didn't have any in the right color at my nearest Michaels! Then yesterday I drove over to another Michaels and was fortunate enough to find a skein of Loops and Threads brand Chrisma yarn in the color Ashes. Phew. I'm now on my way to finishing the second leg warmer.

One down, one to go.

Some of you may be reluctant to begin knitting in the round. With smaller circles I have knit using 4 or 5 double point needles and it is cumbersome, but if I can do it SO CAN YOU! Then I discovered the Magic Loop Method! Let me tell you, this is much easier. You can find a video on this technique here:

First I cast on the 44 stitches needed (onto size 9 circular needles,) slid them all to the center of the flexible cord, found the center (22 on each side) and pulled the plastic "cord" through. Watch the video. It really is simple. Here is a close up of how it looks:
I used 29" circular needles instead of the 36" size since that is what I already owned!

Here is a link to the Clover brand needles:

I have loads of knitting needles and some are bamboo and others are metal (mostly aluminum.) What is the difference? The bamboo needles hold the yarn in place a bit more. Loops are not as likely to slip off! However, I can knit faster on aluminum needles. Which do I prefer? I don't know! I wish I could say that I see a big improvement in my knitting with one particular style, but I don't. I do like to rock and roll and knit as quickly as I can so for less intricate pieces I suppose I would say that aluminum is the winner. But for these leg warmers, I'm happy with bamboo. Whatever you do, don't bother buying plastic needles! Although, I suppose things have improved over some of my ancient flexible plastic knitting needles. I never use those! In that case, new is better.

Why leg warmers? I was inspired by one of the blogs I follow:   Scroll down until you see her legwarmers. Aren't they cute? I would rather have made my leg warmers with a better quality yarn. Usually I find that cheap yarn yields in less than desired results. Amy (Miss Angry Chicken) used Cascade brand yarn Eco Duo, which is $13 per skein at Jimmy Beans (one of my favorite yarn suppliers.)  AND, her leg warmers use only ONE skein of yarn which is likely why I figured I could get away with one skein for the legwarmers I made. (Check out the pattern that she used.) While the Michael's yarn is 100% acrylic, the Cascade yarn is a blend of baby alpaca and merino wool. Aaahhhhh. Sounds soft and comfy!! So for about the same cost, I could have used better yarn.

I do have another knitting project going. I always have several craft projects in process at any one time. I am making an afgahn using simple 6.5" x 6.5" knit blocks in a variety of colors. I will post a photo when I get that done, but it won't be anytime soon! This is a great project to work on in the car. Quick and simple squares that prove to be very portable.

Hope you learned something new here and HAPPY KNITTING!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sewing and Knitting projects

Christmas is long past but I did want to post some photos of the gifts I created. I really struggled to get my knitting projects done in time for unwrapping! I decided a few months prior to Christmas that I should knit dresses for each of the granddaughters and a vest for Saben. I finished Charlotte's dress 2 days before Christmas! That was a close call. Unfortunately, even though I followed the instructions for size 12-18 months and Charlotte is 15 months, her dress was way too big. She will grow! I had wanted to get a portrait of all the grandkids in their new clothes, but so far that hasn't happened. Perhaps these will have to suffice for any type of formal picture.  :(   Sure wish I had one photo of them together in their clothes. I also goofed on Saben's shirt size, so the size 7 dress shirt is huge on him and won't work out for use with his vest. Drat!

Annika's dress is made from Plymouth Select 100% worsted merino superwash wool in color 21

Close up of detail work on bodice

This is the only decent photo of Miss Annika (age 3) in her dress

This was the first project completed of the 4. LOVE how it turned out. I used Madelinetosh Vintage worsted weight superwash merino wool yarn in the color Cove.

Kari trying to roll up a sleeve on this much too large shirt
Saben was mesmerized with his new Star Wars game

Hailey's 2 piece outfit. Dress and bolero made from Cascade Yarns 40% Superwash Merino Wool/60% Acrylic in color #1 for the body and #12 for the trim

It was quite time consuming to put all these hand embroidered designs on both the front and back of the dress, especially since they began untying on the inside! Repairs needed.

This is the front of Charlotte's dress made from Stacy charles brand 100% Mercerized Cotton, color #3814

And here is the back with a button closure

I guess this is as formal as it gets as far as photos go

Here was another fun project for the older girls. Paper dolls made out of fabric. I found this paper doll fabric online and backed the whole cloth with white flannel using Steam-a-Seam to hold the layers together. Then I painstakingly cut out all the dolls and clothes, cutting off the tabs that were part of the dolls and clothes. I bought 2 artist canvases and using staples I covered them with pieces of white heavy weight felt. Now it is a flannel board! I hope they are having fun with their dollies.

OK, parents....when can we get all 4 grandkids together for a formal protrait?? Someday when they are 30 or so and I'm long dead and gone, I want them to have a visual reminder of how much their grandma loved them! And Annika looking down, Hailey with her jeans on, both Hailey & Charlotte looking sad and Saben glued to the TV screen just doesn't cut it!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

I'm back in my craft room!

I'm so happy to get past the Christmas rush. I spent some time tidying up my craft room on Saturday and had enough extra time to make this necklace and earring set. I have tons of pretty gemstone beads and am hoping to get back to that craft.

The main bead is white magnesite, although they are really creme with brown veining. I used some small brown beads in between but can't remember what they are. I made this necklace 18" long.

Shauna (daughter) called me yesterday and asked if I could make her some fabric bread bags. Hmm. That sounded simple enough! I had some new very large, medium weight dish towels that I had wanted to embroider so I simply cut them to what I thought might be the right size, 10" by 15" or thereabouts and began looking for an appropriate embroidery design. I could only find one design that had a bread basket on it so I used it for one and just did a very simple design under the word "BREAD" on each of them. The embroidery took the most time. I used my serger to sew up the edges, turned under the top and slipped some cording through and VIOLA! I made 3 and still have enough fabric for at least 6 more. That was a fun project. I hope you like these, Shauna!

I love all my machines! I own a Baby Lock Ellegante which I used for the embroidery designs, a Baby Lock Imagine serger with jet air threading which makes it a snap to thread, and I even used my 12 pound Baby Lock Audrey sewing machine to put in the buttonhole and stitch down the top casing. I am fortunate to have this extra machine so I don't have to stop everything to wait for the embroidery work to finish up.

I do have a busy week ahead, but my creative juices are raring to go!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


I guess I've always been into volunteering. During grade school I volunteered to be hall monitor, in junior high I was editor of our school newspaper, and in high school I spent many hours helping on committees; fire patrol, bulletin boards, parking monitor, as yearbook editor, etc. etc. etc. I have continued this tradition in many different ways as an adult. Volunteering is good for my soul, so to speak. I have found the type of volunteer work that is most rewarding to me is when I help others, and have always felt that if I didn't have such an aversion to blood and guts, I should have been a nurse! But then, it would have been a job and perhaps some of the joy that I get would be replaced by fatigue.

I remember back in my early 20's I volunteered at Providence Hospital in Portland, Oregon. I was one happy camper as I was able to push around a "craft cart" and go into patients rooms and teach them how do a simple project. I also had magazines on board so could share them with anyone who wanted one. What fun to combine my love for crafts with brightening someone's day, even for just a few minutes. Back then people stayed in the hospital for much longer than they do now so it was important to provide some sort of diversion in their day. Now, people are in and out so quickly that there is little need for amusement. If they are there for more than a day or two, they are probably too sick to concentrate anyway! And the knowledge about the spread of germs has definitely changed things too. We have to "foam in, foam out" whenever we enter a patient's room. That means we sterilize our hands. And that magazine cart that I used way back when wouldn't pass muster today! Germs on the cart, germs on the magazines. If a patient handled a magazine it couldn't go back on the cart because of germs! Who knew!!

I've done lots of volunteering since my 20's! I volunteer to make seasonal flower arrangements (through our garden club) at one of the local nursing homes. I have helped do craft projects at this same nursing home, as well as making personal visits to several of the patients I got to know. I also brought my dog, Frodo, with me to some of these visits. He's not a good "therapy" dog, so quit bringing him! For years I volunteered with the Reach to Recovery program with is part of the American Cancer Society. I visited newly diagnosed breast cancer patients, which I found VERY rewarding. I also trained new volunteers as well as headed up the program for South King County. I was very involved but then a strange thing happened. Ladies didn't seem to need information and visits anymore. It got so that everyone seemed to have a friend, relative or acquaintance who had dealt with breast cancer. Isn't that sad? I wasn't so busy anymore, so I decided to shift gears and find something else to do with my time.

I am one of the fortunate ones who enjoys being at the hospital. Many people are fearful about even setting foot inside the doors, but I don't view the hospital as a place of death but rather a place where people have a chance to get well. I find it a comforting place to be. I have volunteered at Valley Medical Center (which is now UW at VMC) on Wednesdays in the gift shop for a year and a half. That changed when I had the opportunity to work with the hospital chaplain. I am thrilled! I can now go and visit patients. My role is to basically sit and talk with people. Well, actually, LISTEN to people! Thursday was my first day in this new role and I LOVE it! I know this is not for everyone because it can be very depressing as you listen to people talk about their lives. And my natural tendance is to help, which in reality there isn't much I can do to help! I wish I had a magic wand to wave and make their troubles disappear. Three of the patients I visited on Thursday (I must have visited at least 20) said they had been healthy all their life and them BOOM! Heart attack, stroke, blood clot. Just like that they were thrown into a life and death situation.

What a good reminder to me that we can't take our life and good health for granted! It is sad to see that so many patients don't have a relationship with the Lord. How do they cope with these serious issues? It is my faith in God that keeps me on an even keel. When the bad times come, I know there is a reason. I may not know the reason, but I know that God does and that is enough for me. I can find peace as I trust the Lord with my life. Several of the people I visited on Thursday don't have any religious involvement and have no family or friend support. It broke my heart a bit to listen to these stories. The one thing I can do is pray. My job is an anonymous job! I am not to write down any names because of confidentiality laws. The Lord knows who they are and I can pray anonymously. I know there will always be new patients to visit each week and as time goes on I won't remember most of these folks. I'm just as happy not knowing their outcome! I can just trust that they are all getting better and will be released back home.

What do you do with your extra time? You might want to spend some time thinking about your giftedness and what gives you pleasure and try sharing that as a volunteer. Of course, when I was young and had children at home, I was busy enough caring for my family and felt that was plenty! Now I'm footloose and fancy free. How can you serve God and your community??