Thursday, December 17, 2009

crafts for babies

I have said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again. I love crafting for babies (and now kids, as all of my favorite babies are getting so big!)

My brother's friend and his wife had twin girls at the end of October, and I found these super-cute leggings with ruffly butts that I knew they had to have, but I wanted to also make something to go along with them. It started with a couple of little hats with knotted tops (made with Knit Picks merino yarn, leftover from the Wild Stripes baby blanket from Knitty). And then I decided they needed matching onesies embroidered with a strawberry.

Now I just need to get over there and meet these girls!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

thoughts on shopping locally

I stumbled upon the 3/50 project this morning in an email from Zeff Photo in Belmont (as a side note, I love Zeff Photo). I don't know a whole lot about it, but I looked at the website a bit this morning. More than anything, it made me think about shopping and eating locally and buying from independently-owned businesses.

Over the weekend, while at my parents' house for Thanksgiving, my mom was giving me a hard time for spending more on Christmas trees at a local garden store (Bonny's in Cambridge), and said that I should just buy a tree at a certain highly irritating home improvement store that may or may not rhyme with Dome Meepot. The conversation got me thinking. Is it really overspending? Or is it spending closer to the true price for things, rather than a price that means that Dome Meepot gets to put more small, local stores out of business? And that also means that you get to have a pleasant interaction with the owner of Bonny's as he cuts the bottom off the trunk of the tree rather than aimlessly wandering the aisles of the Meepot? The 3/50 project also tells me that for every $100 spent in independently-owned stores, $68 goes back to the community, compared with $43 through chains, and $0 online.

Given the choice, I am much happier buying produce from a farmers' market than a grocery store. I can find what I need at my neighborhood hardware store much easier than I can at the above-mentioned Meepot. And I would much rather support my favorite local yarn store (before it went out of business, that is) than buying synthetic fiber yarn at a giant, unnamed craft store that is often staffed with unfriendly and unhelpful employees. Having said all of that, I'm not a millionaire. It certainly is difficult not to order things from Amazon when they make it so easy and so inexpensive.


Friday, November 20, 2009

poinsettia wreath kit

Oh, Martha... I stumbled on a Martha Stewart poinsettia wreath kit at ACMoore last week, and debated buying it before talking myself out of it and leaving the store. I kept thinking about it, so went back to get three of them (the whole triangle needed one, obviously!) today and I'm pretty excited about it! I can't tell from the package how annoying it's going to be to make, but I'll keep you posted.

After a Greek feast of falafel, stuffed grape leaves, olives, and eggplant salad, the Knitting Triangle started working on the poinsettia wreaths. I'll be honest--there was some initial disappointment and concern when we opened the packages to find that lazy old Martha hadn't pre-cut the crepe paper for us. But baklava kept us going and we went ahead and wrapped the wreath shape with green crepe paper (while complaining that Martha could have given us a few extra inches of the paper so it wouldn't take three attempts to cover the white foam), cut out stacks of red and pink crepe paper into the poinsettia flower petals, and green leaves. For me, everything was going along fine and I was happy with the way the wreath was coming out until I got to what Martha refers to as "pips" (otherwise known as the little centers of the poinsettia flowers). These are tiny white pom poms that MS wants you to cover in crepe paper and then twist into little balls. Um. No thanks. I just went with the white pom poms and forgot about the colored centers.

Here it is hanging on the inside of my front door, looking very fun and Christmasy:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Curtains can make the room

About 4 years ago my boyfriend bought a cottage in the White Mountains region of New Hampshire. Besides being close to some great ski areas, one of the bonuses of the house for him was the fact that it was fully furnished. The woman who owned the house was leaving everything... beds, furniture, linens, and housewares. It was "move-in" ready basically.

But when I set foot in the cottage for the first time I saw it as a blank slate. In the past few years I have gotten rid of almost all of her tacky floral 70's style bedspreads and curtains and replaced them with various cottage themed linens. They were tough to find but I searched every store until I found things I liked.

But there was one room I hadn't touched and that was the upstairs bathroom. There were red gingham curtains (picture a tablecloth) and a tomato bath mat. That bath mat haunted me. I needed some inspiration and found it in some fabric scraps given to me. I decided to use the scraps and make curtains. It's a great way to use some pieces of fabric that aren't quite big enough to use for anything but you can't give them up. I just bought some cheap fabric for lining... and here's the results.

And here's another room I made curtains for. I think the curtains bring it all together.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Adventures of Apartment Decorating

Now that I'm unpacked (mostly) in my new apartment it's time to start decorating. There's much to do... hang pictures, make curtains, buy chairs for my kitchen table...

While packing I came across my wall calendar from 2008. Each month was a new vintage wine poster and I bought it with the intention of someday framing and displaying them somewhere. And that day was today.

I went to Michaels during my lunch break today and found packages of (2) 11 x 14 frames for $7. A steal. I purchased what I needed and picked out my favorite prints from the calendar.

The prints were 10 x 14 so I just cut strips from some scrapbooking paper and used my trusty glue stick to remedy the problem. I think they look pretty cool. It's a great cheap way to recycle and decorate.

Friday, October 23, 2009

freezer paper stencils, homemade mac & cheese, whoopie pies, oh my!

The knitting triangle got together last night to work on pumpkin t-shirts for this weekend's pumpkin beer pub crawl. Last year, we made felt pumpkin pins, so I can only imagine what we'll have to make next year to one-up ourselves...

After a VERY delicious dinner of crockpot mac & cheese and this salad with apples and toasted pumpkin seeds, we started working on our freezer paper pumpkin shirts.

It's a pretty quick, easy, rewarding craft. Here's what we did:

1. find a template online, print out the desired size
2. trace onto freezer paper & cut out the pieces (focusing on which are supposed to be cut out and which aren't...that part is hard for me.) shrek headband is optional for this craft.

3. iron onto t-shirt
4. paint with a sponge brush or kitchen sponge

5. let dry for a while/overnight (this part's important) and peel off the freezer paper!

Oh, and did I forget to mention that (thanks to a special request from one of our faithful readers) I did in fact come through in the end and make the pumpkin whoopie pies? They were as good as they look.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Project Completed

I'd like to start off by saying that there is nothing better than wearing a pair of handmade socks on a cold day.

With that being said, I started a pair of socks in late March that were still unfinished as of a few days ago. I went to my local yarn store looking for something that stood out and I stumbled on Noro Sock yarn. The colors are bright and the combinations are lovely. The yarn was a big pricey but I decided to treat myself.

I searched around the internet looking for a pattern and came across a few reviews of the yarn. Most people were unhappy that the yarn became chunky in areas but I must say it didn't bother me. I think it adds a bit of character and I'm far from a perfectionist (as evidenced by the sock colorway not matching). What I was disappointed in was, getting down to the last few inches of my second sock, I found the yarn was knotted. I had to cut the knots out in a few parts and tie the yarn back together. My least favorite thing is finding your yarn is all tangled, especially when you dropped $15 on a skein.

Otherwise I'm very happy with how the socks came and am even more happier to have finished the long outstanding project. I will admit that I am not rushing to make another pair anytime soon, although the technique of knitting two socks on one needle could be enough to get me back on the sock making horse.

Friday, October 9, 2009

carefree crafting with kids

crafting away
Originally uploaded by two at a time
There is something so incredibly freeing about crafting with kids. This week I joined forces with the toddlers on making Halloween cards. I set the table with blank orange cards, ghost stamps and ink, sparkly glitter glue, and plenty of stickers. The kids went wild stamping, glittering and sticking all over the place. After they went to sleep I collected the cards and added my own finishing touches - stamping Happy Halloween across the front and adding some glitter of my own. (You really never can have enough glitter)

In this collaborative process I found myself truly enjoying what I was doing, just the pure craft of it. Since the cards were already pretty crazy and messy, I wasn't worried about design or perfection, it was more about the act of making. I found myself adopting the same abandon that the kids seem to have - creating for the sake of creating, piling on the decorations, and just having fun. These cards were created not with skill or fancy materials, but really just with love for the people we are sending them to, and pure creative fun.

If you find yourself in a crafting rut where you are afraid to take on any new projects because nothing you make ever seems quite right, I highly suggest engaging in a creative project with a young child. You'll be reminded of why you ever started making things by hand in the first place.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

what we're eating

We don't have our next knitting triangle gathering planned yet, but I have to admit that I might already thinking about what delicious thing we might be eating...that probably says something about me. Anyway, whatever we end up having for dinner, I DO know what dessert I'm bringing.

New Project Vote

I finished a pair of socks last night (finally!!) and am ready to start a new project. Moebius scarves are really in for the season so I thought I'd whip on up. It's come down to two patterns:


I have some pink Patons Classic wool to make the first one and some Chunky black Rowan yarn for the second.

Anyone out there have a preference?

Monday, October 5, 2009

You know You're Addicted to Crafts When...

I was doing some cleaning at my parent's house and stumbled upon a list our friend Kira had put together years ago. Kristen and I have been crafting together since the conception of our friendship but Kira has only very recently open her mind up to crafting. So needless to say our insane need to be constantly creating wore on some people's nerves. Kristen's mother used to give us 10 dollars and send us off to Ames (we loved the Ames craft department) so we'd get out of her hair.

When I found this I was stunned at how it still rings true for me and Kris and how totally hilarious it is...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Getting organized

It seems lately that my style has morphed into wearing mostly black and white and accesorizing with the brightest earrings, necklaces, and scarves that I can find. So needless to say my accessory collections are getting way out of hand. A month or two ago I spotted this on my Google Reader and promptly hit "Add Star". I knew I wanted to make it, it was just a question of when.

The when happened this weekend when a trip to visit my parents landed me at Michaels. My mom was also interested in organizing her huge collection of earrings (we are So Good addicts) so I decided to pick up the supplies.

We put them together and were hanging my mom's earrings when we hit a snafu. She had some hoops and some with a leverback closure that didn't work with the plastic canvas. She quickly dismissed the project saying if she couldn't hang all the earrings, she didn't see the point.

Enter my dad... My dad came up from his workshop with some pieces of hanger and some pliers to create this. A little bar to hang the earrings on. It worked out great.

So we finished up my mom's and I immediately ran to my earring collection the second I got to my apartment. Here are our finished products (it's not hard to figure out who's is who's. But notice the heart obsession carries through generations).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Team Spirit

Over the years I have made many afghans for many people, working tirelessly for days and nights to neatly crochet the perfect blanket for that special someone which will keep them warm through many nights and reflect their personality in colors and texture. Choosing that perfect pattern and color combination is an essential piece of the process, and never has that been more true when creating an afghan to show team spirit. Not my team, mind you, but my rival team.

Yup, that's right, I'm crocheting an afghan in Miami Dolphins colors. During football season. Against my better judgement that it may jinx my beloved team. There is only one person I would do this for. And it must mean that I really like him.

I have to admit, at first I was turned off by this color combination - I have seen it garishly displayed in team gear both on the field and off. But we carefully chose very rich shades of the three colors (Teal, Orange and White) and selected a pattern suited to this combination. And I have to say, it's coming along nicely. I will post an update on the afghan's progress shortly, which is faring quite better than the team itself.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Too Big Toddler Hats

So in one evening I was able to quickly finish Olivia's Toque - and the next morning she tried it on but it is definitely too big - not around, but in height. I plan to take a couple rows out and try again, and then I need to find a button for the finishing touch. But all in all I'd say it was a successful project, and I plan on making a matching one for myself, although perhaps in cream.

Ethan decided that he liked the "test hat" so he might end up keeping that one if I don't get around to making one specifically for him. Because, well you know, I'm busy and all.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

baby hats

I love knitting baby hats--they are just so quick and rewarding. So when Heather emailed to ask for the pattern for a viking hat I had knit for a co-workers baby, I jumped at the chance to knit it for her. The pattern's originally from the blog Chile con Yarne, but unfortunately, it looks like it's no longer available after the author saw that people were using the pattern to make and sell the hat on Etsy. Annnnyway, it's a really cute hat.

It's coming along well so far...knitting up quickly, and I haven't even had to take out any rows yet (laugh it up, girls...I always get a hard time over what the knitting triangle thinks are crazy perfectionist tendencies). The one problem I DO see down the line is that big ball of tangled yarn sitting behind the hat. I grabbed an end and started knitting, and it just kept getting worse and worse. We'll see what happens, but I don't think it's going to end well...

Here's the last version I made...perhaps I needed to work on the sizing a bit.

In other (unrelated) news, I want to buy a good pair of sunglasses. Any suggestions?

Monday, September 21, 2009

stART on the Street: The Tammy Thorpe Edition

When you think of Worcester you probably don't think of a rich cultural art friendly city. After attending stART on the Street for the 3rd year, I'd say that stereotype is wrong.

stART on the Street is one of the more diverse craft fairs I've ever attended. Every artistic medium was represented there, including one that is near and dear to my heart, home sewn bags, aprons, and accessories. I checked out every booth and after walking around the entire fair I came upon a familiar face: Tammy Thorpe.

Tammy's booth looked the best yet... Her bold patterns and cute styles were a fair standout. She has something for everyone... yoga mat bags, totebags and handbags of all shapes and sizes, toiletry bags (and my personal fav - the wristlet) all beautifully sewn and of her own design.

Tammy is also just getting started on Etsy and you can purchase some of her great items here:

Check back in to Tammy's Etsy shop often as I have insider information that the shop will soon be growing. And trust me when I say that while using a Tammy Thorpe product, you will get nothing but compliments. I should know - I'm not only a blogger, I'm also a client.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

creative practice

As part of my thesis, I interviewed the guy who started and runs Community Music Works, a great organization that teaches kids in low-income neighborhoods how to play stringed instruments. He is the only person I have interviewed so far who seemed genuinely interested in me and my research. The interview was more of a conversation really, because he asked almost as many questions about me as I did about him. Early on, he asked if I was an artist and I sort of stumbled through the answer, because I don't consider myself an artist--I can't paint, draw, sing, sculpt, etc.--but I said something along the lines of, "well, um, I craft and I love is my creative outlet." Or something incoherent like that. And he responded by talking about cooking as my "creative practice." It was the first time I had thought about creativity in that way. I feel like it's more inclusive than the artist label, and gives everyone a chance to express themselves creatively/artistically, whether it be through baking, gardening, knitting, quilting, flower arranging, home decorating, etc.

Today's adventure is an apple pie.

Perfect apples that were
on the tree yesterday became this today:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Toque for Olivia

Last night I started, and tonight I finished, a hat for Olivia, the Cabled Button Toque.  Since I made the decision to start this at 9pm at night, I had to use some yarn from my stash. I made it with Lambs Pride worsted weight, so I had to use two strands. I think it might be a little too tall for her, and I'm not thrilled with the double strand look. So for the first time in my life I went out and bought the yarn that the pattern called for and cast on with Cascade Lana Grande. Tune in tomorrow to see how it turned out (and a test fitting).

and then there were three...

Tonight was our last night with Anna in the knitting circle. Portland Maine has proven more attractive than a bi-weekly get-together for wine and crafts. Anna is the fourth member of the knitting circle to actually move out of the state just to avoid having to hang out with the Founding Mothers.

Goodbye Anna!! We will miss you, but we will always remember your Ripplestitch Crocheted Afghans!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Project Teaser

A co-worker of mine found a picture of scarf she wanted, hung it on my wall, and then told me she wanted it as a birthday gift. Being in the middle of quite a few projects already, I was hesistant to start something new. But since I have a very strong affection for self patterning yarn and knitting needles the size of toothpicks, I went for it. Surprisingly I chose a purple and pink colorway... It's not quite knitting up as bright as I thought but it was the best out of the bunch.

Another surprise is that this is about an hour's worth of knitting... and the scarf is supposed to be 71" long. Luckily I have until November to finish. But since this project is stuffed in a bag with a pair of socks that are 75% completed, I may get distracted.

Wish me luck!