Oscar’s Monster Hat

October 25, 2011 in Crocheting, Finished Project

I typically cycle through my various crafting hobbies, and when the weather gets cooler, I bust out the knitting needles and start knitting up hats. However, this time around I busted out a crochet hook! (well, I had to buy one since I didn’t have the right size) Initially, I was going to knit Oscar a Stella Pixie Hat by Kristen Rengren (I actually made Zoe one), but one day browsing through my blog reader, I had come across a post on The Boy Trifecta where Emily did a guest post/tutorial on The Train To Crazy for the Handmade Dress Up Series that’s being done over there. Initially, Emily only had the tutorial on The Train To Crazy; however as of today it can now be found on her blog.

Here’s the hat she made:

Image by Emily of The Boy Trifecta. She gives permission for usage of her photos with links back to her site. The image links back to the specific tutorial on her blog.

Now here’s the thing. I learned how to crochet first, but I typically prefer knitting, mostly because I like the tightness of knitting. One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing knitted and crocheted projects with open spaces.. now this is permissible with lacework but not with your typical knit/purling or various crochets. Besides, I was inspired to pick up the crochet hook since watching the Crochet School series by craftyminx. Man I’m sure namedropping today! Now, I have to say this about Dana (craftyminx) she’s dedicated. She’s not only taken the time to make her videos, she’s taking the extra mile and flipping them so lefties can learn how to crochet too. As a leftie myself, this is Uh-may-zing. I wanted to learn how to crochet initially when I was 9, unfortunately the only person I knew that could crochet was my Aunt Mary who’s right handed. She couldn’t do anything more than teach me how to chain stitch, and I had to wait another 6 years before I was in my sophomore year of High School and I got a book out of the school library that was dated back to the early 60′s and figured out how to crochet at that point. So, even though I already know how to crochet, it’s still refreshing and fun to watch Dana’s videos. It inspired me to crochet the monster hat instead of  knit it!

So back to Oscar’s hat. Emily in her tutorial called for a Worsted Weight yarn; however since I had purchased the yarn for Oscar’s hat with the intention of making a different hat, I had bought a thinner yarn that’s more of a Sport weight yarn (look here if you want to know what I’m talking about) Instead of buying a different yarn, I just used what I had! I went back to my favorite yarn shop and bought more colors as well, since I didn’t have any other yarn in the proper weight.. gotta keep it proportional. Because of the thinner yarn, I ended up not being able to follow the exact tutorial for crocheting up the actual beanie but I was able to follow the same concept. In addition, I decided to make the pupil of the monster eye a bit differently.. since you know monsters have weird eyes*. I did the same number of spikes, but because I wanted them to retain their shape I stuffed them with wool roving. And I made an eyebrow! I love the eyebrow, since I shaped it to look a bit grumpy. His name is Oscar after all. And I also did not make the mouth.

Oscar's monster hat. Sorry there's no better pics!

From what I can tell, the hat’s been a huge hit! I’ve gotten a request to make a hat for someone who wants to pay me for it, but I need to get permission from Emily before I do that. Even though it’s not exactly following her tutorial, it is close enough and based off of her tutorial that I’m not comfortable with doing it nilly-willy. I think the thinner yarn was actually perfect for Oscar.. in my opinion you kind of need to scale your yarn choices to the person you’re making the item for. A super bulky yarn I don’t think is ideal for a baby item! I made the hat slightly large; however it’s going to be his winter hat so it needs to grow with his head.’

*yeah, I know that monsters aren’t real, but who gives a crap?

Oscar’s Finished Quilt

March 24, 2011 in Finished Project, Sewing

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored or paid endorsement of a product; I purchased a book and I’m discussing how I used it. Nothing more, nothing less.

Sometime back in January, I had come across a post written by Julie (who blogs at Jaybird Quilts) that was featured on the Swatch & Stitch blog; she was doing a review for a book called “Dare to be Square Quilting” written by Boo Davis. I saw the robot in the book and FELL IN LOVE with it. I then of course asked Jeff if I could buy the book and he said yes of course. I got the book, and sat down and over the course of a few days, I looked and stared and made notes on how to make it uniquely mine with different fabrics -something the writer encouraged in the book- and then once I was done with that, and I figured out my fabric requirements, I went and purchased the needed fabric for the top. I then prewashed it and then it sat aside for a while in my sewing room, while I pursued other projects; particularly, my 3×6 bee block swap. Then, as the first part of March rolled around along with the impending end of my pregnancy -At the time I had 6 weeks left, I’ve now got about 3 weeks or so left- it dawned on me.. I haven’t started Oscar’s quilt! *Hits the panic mode button*

As much as I loved the Robot Quilt, the finished size is something around 60 by 72 inches; which is a twin sized quilt. It also has a ton of pieces, and I realized with the constraints of pregnancy and also time, I would not have it finished by the time he’s born. So I thumbed through the book to find a quilt top that I could modify without doing any complicated math or figuring to bring down to a more manageable size and came across her Blockhead quilt. This quilt was also one that had a finished size of 60 by 72 (and also has little faces you put on the centers). However because of the way it’s pieced together, it was VERY easy to reduce down in size which would result in 18 inches taken off of the width and length.

Page showing how to piece the quilt

It’s kind of hard to see -I did that on purpose- but you should at least be able to make out the words “Group 3″ above Blockheads and then “Group 4″ to the right side of the quilt; these are the two sections that I decided to use for the smaller sized quilt.  The next part after deciding what quilt to do instead of the robot, I had to sit down and figure out fabric.. again. Which was super easy. I wasn’t entirely sold on the white, blue black and orange color; so once again, I also decided to do it in different colors. For some reason, I’ve been particularly obsessed with using green, so what i decided to do is pick out 5 different shades of green for the outside of the blocks, and then for the centers I was planning on using one color, and probably something patterned; but I ended up going with neutral solids instead. This ended up saving me quite a bit of money, since the cost of cotton fabric is on the rise, and I wanted to try to keep the cost down to a minimum without sacrificing quality of fabric. Solids are cheaper than printed fabric, so of course, I purchased Kona Cotton by Robert Kaufman. I LOVE KONA COTTON. I could go on and on about it, but that’s for another post. ;)

I already had Peridot and Cactus on hand from when I had originally planned on doing the robot quilt, so I figured all I needed to do was find 3 more shades of green for it to work, and then pick the center colors. I ended up selecting Artichoke, Lime and Forest. I know it probably looks like an odd assortment of colors; however there’s a reason behind it… A) they didn’t have very many greens at the store so I was limited, and B) I’m very specific on how I audition colors. The best thing about having a phone with a decent camera on it is so I can take pictures on it. It also allows me to change the camera to black and white, so I can properly see how colors go together.

Order from top to bottom: Cactus, Artichoke, Lime, Peridot (not seen) & Forest.

After picking out my greens, I moved on to picking the neutrals for my centers. There’s a rule of thumb when creating either with sewing or papercrafting or even digital scrapbooking that I’ve always lived by; and that’s working in threes. I ended up purchasing Snow, Sand and Khaki for my centers.

Well, I came home, washed my fabrics and got to work. Unfortunately, I’ve seemed to have misplaced my notebook with all my notes in it so I can’t show you my notes; but I sat down and paired up the blocks with the center colors. The wonderful thing about the blockhead pattern is that all of the blocks are numbered, so it was easy to make notes to put ‘shade of green’ with ‘shade of neutral’. Working over the course of 3 days, I was able to iron, cut out my fabrics and sew up the quilt top.

The pieced together quilt top

It wasn’t pieced perfectly corner to corner; my Juki is slightly off centered and needs to be serviced; something I realized halfway to piecing the top, but at the same time, I realized that if I got it serviced midway through piecing, half of the blocks would be slightly off, and the rest would be perfect or near perfect anyway. So I just plowed on. At this point, I could take a deep breath and relax.. until I measured the quilt and realized it was 44.5 inches wide; and I would have to piece some yardage together to do the back. I was going to go back to the fabric store and buy more yardage, until I had a “V-8 smack a forehead” moment.. I had quite a bit of fabric left over from the front; why not just piece them together and make a scrappy back? So that’s what I did. I then went to my local craft store and bought a twin sized package of Warm & Natural needle punch 100% Cotton Batting. BTW, it’s wonderful stuff; low loft, dense yet warm and quilts like a dream. Grabbed a coupon (yay coupons!) and got it for $8 and some change.

So, the next day, I pieced together my back, trimmed down my batting to size, and at the advice of Cherry House via twitter, I did not square off my back or front. There’s honestly NO point in squaring a quilt off twice; that was our logic. Skipping the first squaring off ended up saving me a ton of aggravation and time. The next hiccup that I came across was how to baste the quilt together. Being pregnant, I could NOT use any type of adhesive spray, and I did not have fusible batting, and I lost all my basting safety pins in the blackhole and void of a mess called my sewing room. I could have loaded it up into my quilting frame; however my sewing room is VERY cramped and when your belly sticks out a foot.. there was NO WAY I was going to be able to fit in there around my frame. Plus I’m too chicken to use my quilting frame despite having it for over a year now. So I did the only thing that I could think of… I took all three layers into the only room with enough clear space; Oscar’s bedroom and I laid out the back -seams up of course- then the batting and then my top. The wonderful part of basting on a carpeted floor is that there’s enough grip and friction between the carpet and fabric to keep it smooth without having to tape it down… however the downside is my only option for basting was to do it the old fashioned way with some thread and a needle and time. The entire process took me about 4 hours. Sitting on a floor cross legged hunching over and basting while around 35 weeks pregnant IS NOT FUN. You get stiff, you get sore and you get bored. Luckily I had twitter to keep me company.

After all was said and done, here was the end result:

This is the front of the quilt after the basting was done. The top is indicated in the image.

Here's the pieced back of the quilt. Top end of the quilt indicated in the image.

 

At this point, I ran it through the machine to quilt it. I decided to just do improvisational quilting.. the lines weren’t straight, and they did not intersect each other at perfect 90 degrees. The actual quilting took me something around an hour, and I was very happy with the end result. At this point, it was time to square up the quilt! That ended up being a chore in itself, and I wasn’t able to square it up 100% perfectly but it was close enough.  The last part of the quilt of course was to bind it. Normally, I would have made my own binding, but I was just tired of sewing and ironing and starching, so I cheated and sent Jeff to the craft store to buy two packages of Wright’s 1/4 inch double fold bias tape in lime, and some matching Gutermann thread.. I love that stuff as much as I love Kona Cotton. I then carefully machine sewed the binding on the front, and then I spent about a week and a half hand sewing the other half of the binding down. This was the most time consuming part of the quilt, but it gives you a beautiful finish, and there’s no machine stitches showing.

 

Jeff holding up the completed project. Ignore the wind.

Jefff holding up the quilt to show the back.

And there you have it. The improvisational quilting really shows up in the natural light. It was quite windy outside yesterday when these pictures were taken, but at least I was able to get these pictures! All I have to do now is just wash it up and it’ll be all ready for Oscar’s arrival. Which should be sometime in the next three weeks.. finished just in time!

Just a few notes to add.. the quilt was pieced together with Gutermann thread; and the actual quilting was done in variegated green thread; I believe the brand is called YNI.. I’m not 100% sure though.

 

EDIT 04/01/2011: I’ve added this button to the post, since I’m entering it into Lily’s Quilts Fresh Sewing day. Basically, it’s a showcase on the first of every month that we worked on in -I assume- the previous month that made us happy. Enjoy!

Fresh Sewing Day @ Lily's Quilts

Throwback Sunday #1

March 20, 2011 in Finished Project, Gift, Throwback Sunday

Initially, when I planned the blog transfer over from blogspot, I was going to transfer and archive my old blog posts. I plan on doing this with most of my posts; however there are some of my favorites that I think I’m going to share via something I’m going to call Throwback Sunday.. hence the blog title.  There’s probably not going to be a ton of these, considering I’ve only got a finite number of posts over on my old blog, and some of them are not worth bringing over. I don’t plan on bringing them over in any particular order, just whatever strikes my fancy.  So, in the spirit of my pending delivery, I will go ahead and post the first diaper cake I ever made with the help of my friend Kacy W.. it was a joint gift, and she had previous experience with making diaper cakes, so she came over and helped me make one.  So here goes..

Ngaire’s Diaper Cake

(originally posted 10/12/08)

 

Well, my friend Kacy and I decided as a joint gift to create a diaper cake for Ngaire (see previous post).  We each contributed towards it and this past Friday, she and her husband and their two cute kids came over for dinner, and while the guys gamed, us ladies did a diaper cake!  Kacy had experience in making them previously -as well as towel cakes- but this was my first time attempting one. Together our powers combined, we created an awesome cake (if I have to say so myself).

Here’s the cake before any decorations were added.

Diaper cake without embellishments

There’s three layers.  Obviously.

Diaper cake with embellishments

Here’s the cake with the ‘topper’.  We couldn’t think of anything creative, so it’s just a few baby toys and nail clippers inside of tissue paper.  You’ll notice tags, which I used with the New Arrivals [Cricut] cartridge, and I also used the print paper that I had left over from the invitations. The red isn’t the cardstock I bought for the invitations, but it’s red paper I had previously.  It works!

Closeup of the topper

Here’s a closeup of the topper of the cake.  The tag in case you can’t see it very well says “for you” with a heart instead of an ‘o’.  These tags were cut out at the 2.5″ selection’ however that’s referring to the size of the printed circle; the actual size is 3.75″.

Closeup of the bottom two tags

The tag for the top layer says “It’s a Girl”.  The top layer consists of a diaper rash ointment tube stuck into the middle layer, then it has a layer of rolled diapers around it, and then the outermost layer consists of washcloths folded in half and rolled and taped.  On the other side of the tag, it’s just a silhouette of a baby head with a bow over the head, indicating a girl. Th[e bottom] tag says “congratulations” and on the back side it’s just two baby feet.  This layer’s core is the top half of the baby products that form the core of the bottom layer.  The diapers are all a size two, and the bottles are tall, so the core is essentially the same for the bottom and middle layers. However because the bottles are not flat at the top, we did two layers of diapers and to stablize the middle layer for the top one, we squished bibs inside.  And of course the tube of ointment is pushed into it for stability.  There’s just one layer of diapers around the center, and the outermost layers are the two burpies I made out of the fabric for her baby bedding -to be featured at a later time- and [Gerber birdseye flat] cloth diapers.  I found the directions on the internet on a blog for a local quilt and fabric store, and followed the directions.  I went off a tangent and did not add ribbon on the edges like the blog indicated, but instead chose a decorative stitch to accent the edge of the added fabric.

The bottom layer’s core has assorted baby bath care products. Then around that, we put a circle of rolled diapers. Then there’s a second layer of rolled diapers, and the outermost layer is fanned diapers. We placed them inside of each other for better visual appeal and for stability. The bow on this layer is the red satin ribbon, only because we ran out of the leopard print ribbon. Clever cover up huh?

The red ribbon is 1.5″ and the leopard print is 1″.  You want to avoid using thinner ribbon, especially because it’s not quite as stable and the diaper cake can fall apart.  I’ve seen some diaper cakes that were made with thinner ribbon and they looked sloppy simply due to the ribbon width.  We used size two diapers, but I think if you want to use larger diapers, it’s probably best to use a wider ribbon.  You could get away with smaller width ribbon if you were using newborn diapers.  Our reasoning behind using the size two diapers, is because we wanted to pick a size that her daughter would be in sooner rather than later, and would be in them for a reasonable length of time.  This diaper cake took about 60 diapers, and we had to buy two packages of 48 to make sure we had enough diapers for it.  We concluded that size two was best based on our own experience in diapering our four children collectively (she has two and so do I).

I want to extend a personal and warm thank you to my friend Kacy W.  She lended her knowledge and experience in creating the diaper cake.  I can follow directions just fine; however, I find that it’s easier to learn if someone shows me personally.

Off the Needles!

February 24, 2011 in Finished Project, Knitting

Well, I finished the leggings on Saturday night.. both of them! However, I wasn’t paying attention too closely to the pattern, and instead of having the top 2 inches ribbed, there’s only 1.5 inches ribbed -since they are knitted from the bottom up- but i don’t think there’s anything wrong with this. They are so cute an super soft! I don’t have much longer to have a little baby to put into them, so I’m pretty excited.

Legwarmers I made for my baby boy that's due in April.

Anyway, the nice part about the leggings is that due to their size, they do not take up a lot of yarn. The skein of yarn comes in 175 yard lengths. I’m not entirely sure how many yards total that the leggings actually took but I know I could have gotten another pair out of the skein, and POSSIBLY a third pair.

Instead of making a ton of leggings from one skein of yarn, I decided to make a hat instead. I didn’t want to use a pattern that would take up too much yarn in the event that I would run out before I could finish it, so I searched around on Ravelry, and came across a pattern called “Easy Peasy Newborn Sock Hat”. I gotta say, it really was easy peasy! The reason why it’s called Sock Hat is because you use your sock weight yarn to knit it up. I actually learned a lot about sizing my gauge with this pattern, and so hopefully, the hat will actually fit Oscar when he’s born. Granted, he’s due in April, and so I don’t know how long he’ll actually wear it, but at the very least he’ll wear it in the hospital to keep his head warm, and maybe when he gets home.

Hat I made for my baby due to arrive in April

I also learned how to make I cords.. and I was shocked at how super easy they actually are! You really just need double pointed needles and that’s it. Which, truth be told are not all that difficult to knit witih; I find them easier to use than the other kind.  Of course, I ended up with a bit of yarn left, so it’s stashed away for now. But I’m tremendously pleased with myself that I finished TWO knitting projects  within a week (and an extra day) and I used up most of the yarn!  My next goal is to learn how to knit socks.. but I think that’s something I’m going to need to have someone show me how to do.

Of course, I have to end the post with everything together!

Hat and legwarmers together!

On the Needles…

February 15, 2011 in Knitting, Work In Progress

image

One of the many things I know how to do is knit. So, I decided to share a knitting project. I’m knitting legwarmers for my little guy that’s due in April. I started them a few weeks back and actually had one done, but I was very unhappy with it, so I took it apart and started over. And now I’m almost done with the first one again! I think the reason why I was so unhappy with it is because I deviated from the pattern, and my stitch marker was so thick, it caused laddering. In addition, I didn’t transfer stitches around so it ended up being very spiralled looking, something that bugged me quite a bit.

With that said, let me post info about them (currently an it, but I’m making a pair of course). The yarn is 100% merino wool, and it’s Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium in the P 136 colorway. It’s considered a fingering yarn and is 4 ply.  The needles I’m using are made by Takumi and are size 3 US (3.25 mm) and are bamboo. I LOVE the feel of the bamboo needles, and while I have an array of metal knitting needles, I can see myself phasing them out and replacing them with bamboo. What’s so awesome about the yarn and the project in general is that the leggings take up so little yarn, I will have enough left over to make a newborn sized hat to match! But my most favorite thing is the color.. it totally reminds me of an avacado, since it has every color you’d find in one in all stages of ripeness and yes even when it starts to go bad and turn brown.

Oh, almost forgot.. here’s a link to the pattern I’m following.