Category Archives: Patterns & Tutorials

Completed Project: Easy Knitted Baby Blanket

Knitted baby blanket folded over-titleWhen I found out I was pregnant I first thought, yay!, but my next thought was oooooh….what am I going to make?? So many choices! I did know though that I would have to start a baby blanket soon since I’m a pretty slow knitter and I wanted to complete it before the baby came.

Also, I wanted to knit a baby blanket that was gender-neutral since I’m not a fan of gendered colors and patterns. Since then, we’ve found out that Munchkin is a girl, which brings up for me a whole host of issues on raising a daughter. Like the current Disney princess culture  (don’t get me started). If Munchkin wants to dress up like Belle from Beauty and the Beast, that’s great, but I don’t want to unintentionally foist that on her. What if she thinks Peter Pan or Han Solo (totally) is cooler? I don’t want to suppress her creativity or imagination.

So all of this over what kind of blanket to knit. I was totally over thinking it, I know.

Knitted baby blanket-drapedAnyhow, I loooove the knitting patterns at Purl Soho and I came across their free Super Easy Baby Blanket pattern. And it’s stripes! Love stripes…The pattern is so easy, you only use the garter stitch (knitting only). That’s it! Instead of using the merino wool that the pattern recommended, I chose colors from Caron’s Simply Soft line since the colors won’t bleed, the yarn is very soft and I can throw it in the washer/dryer. Why waste fancy yarn on something that is just going to be covered in spit up?

Easy Knitted Baby Blanket Pattern

Adapted from the Super Easy Baby Blanket pattern, The Purl Bee

Materials

  • US #8, 24 or 32-inch circulars
  •  7 skeins of Caron Simply Soft Solids (1 each in Persimmon, Pumpkin, Off White, Sunshine, Soft Blue, Light Country Blue and Ocean)
  • Darning needle

Finished Size

Approximately 30 inches x 45 inches

Directions

Like the original pattern, loosely cast on 120 stitches using your first color. Knit 40 rows in that color before switching to the next color. Make sure to switch colors on the same side each time. Repeat with each color. After you’ve completed all of the stripes, bind off and weave in any loose ends.

You should refer to the original pattern as well– there is a good tip on creating a nice edge on the blanket. I completely missed it and recommend it anyone knitting this pattern–it would have made my blanket a little more professional looking.

P.S– I just made it under the wire with this project. My due date has come and gone, but I’ve finished the baby blanket before Munchkin’s arrival!

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DIY Stenciled Gothic Raven Mug

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered – not a feather then he fluttered
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.’
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.’

Excerpt from “The Raven,” by Edgar Allan Poe

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. It’s multifaceted. On one hand, you have the Disneyfied cuteness of dressing up and going trick-or-treating — a great American childhood ritual. On the other, you have the dark gothic tales of yore. I prefer the latter. Now, I don’t really care for horror movies (except Hitchcock!), but give me a creepy book from the Victorian era anytime. I’m thinking of stories like Uncle Silas, Frankenstein and A Rose for Emily

So what could be better than to curl up and read a dark tale with a steaming cup of tea? I know — how about a cup with a stenciled raven that you made yourself?

I’ve been seeing some really cute, Anthropologie-looking, stenciled mugs on Pinterest lately, (like this one from The 36th Avenue) and it inspired me to give it a try. However, I didn’t really like the stencils I found in craft stores. So, how do you make your own custom stencil? Not that long ago, I found a video from Lowe’s (below) that shows a step-by-step tutorial on how to create your own stencil using contact paper. Genius!

I found that using contact paper to stencil on a mug was especially great since the stencil could mold around the curve of the mug. Below are directions on how to make your own stenciled mug. If you’d like to use the raven stencil that I created, you can download it for free here.

DIY Mug Stencil Tutorial

Materials

  • mug
  • peel and stick contact paper
  • tape
  • craft knife
  • stencil brush
  • acrylic paint made for ceramics (I used Plaid Folk Art Enamel)
  • small dish
  • toothpick

Directions

Lay contact paper down with the shiny side up and tape to a cutting mat or board. Tape image or drawing that you want to stencil on top of the contact paper. Carefully, using the craft knife, cut out the outline of the image and then delicately punch out the contact paper. This may require some practice.

Clean the mug and wipe down with rubbing alcohol. Next, peel off the contact paper backing and stick on mug, making sure that the stencil is stuck to the mug securely.

In a small dish, squirt a small amount of acrylic paint. Before painting the mug, you may want to practice painting a stencil on a piece of paper first. Lightly dip brush into paint and tap off any excess. Then paint the stencil by pouncing, or tapping the flat top of the brush, on the mug. This will give you an even finish.

Carefully peel the stencil from the mug.

Don’t worry if the stencil outline isn’t completely crisp. You can use a toothpick to even out the edges while the paint is still wet.

When you have finished tidying up the stencil, let the paint air-dry for an hour. Follow the directions on the acrylic paint bottle to cure the mug. If you are using Folk Art Enamel, place mug on a cookie sheet in a cool oven that is not pre-heated. Turn on the oven and heat to 350 degrees. After the oven has reached 350, bake mug for 30 minutes. Then turn off heat and keep the mug in the oven until it has cooled completely. Now the mug is microwaveable and dishwasher safe (top rack).

You know what I’ll be doing tonight? Making an apple cinnamon hot toddy in my raven mug and watching the season premiere of American Horror Story. How perfect is that?

Again, you can download a free raven stencil printable here.

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On the Needles: Clapotis Scarf

Along with practically every knitter in the known knitterverse, I’ve jumped on the Clapotis (pronounced “clap-o-tee”) bandwagon. This wildly popular free scarf/pattern was originally published on Knitty in Fall 2004 and it’s still going strong nearly 8 years later. Some fun stats:

  • Google “Knitty Clapotis” and it comes up in 366,000 search results
  • The Craftster knitalong of the Clapotis has 178 pages
  • On Ravelry, 15,388 users have completed the scarf, 1,975 are currently knitting it and there are 2,252 blog posts devoted to the topic

So why is this pattern so darn popular? For one, it’s gorgeous. For another, it’s a pretty straightforward pattern. The recommended yarn is multicolored wool/silk blend from Lorna’s Laces, however the skeins are pricey at $32-$40/skein (pattern calls for 4 skeins). But, many knitters have found other yarns at a lower price that are just as nice, like Noro Silk Garden (which I’m using) or Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend.

I originally printed out the pattern in late 2006 and added it to my pile of future knitting projects. Finally this March I bought the yarn and started to knit. Woo-hoo! I got a little tripped up on a couple of knitting terms though, but now that I’m halfway through the pattern, I’m pretty comfortable.  Here’s my little tutorial so you don’t have to look them up.

K tbl (Knit through back of loop)

This stitch is used before and after each knit stitch that will eventually be dropped to create the lace effect of the scarf. It twists the stitches so that the scarf keeps its body. Instead of knitting into the stitch through the front loop as you usually would (see picture above left), you insert the needle into the back of the loop instead (see picture above right).

Kfb (Knit into front and back of stitch)

This term comes up a lot in the pattern. It also appears in the beginning of the pattern as “Pfb,” or purl into front and back of stitch.  Both stitches are used as an increase method.

  1. Knit into the stitch
  2. Before lifting the knitted stitch off the needle, insert needle into the back of the original stitch and knit that as well — just like k tbl.

Now you have increased by one stitch. For Pfb, use the same technique, except purl instead of knit.

Yarn Choice

As far as the yarn I’m using, Noro Silk Garden 320, it’s OK. There’s a lot of very dark sections and for some reason I thought the color would be more pastel-colored. The transition from light to dark is pretty drastic, but that could be because the pattern is so wide. I’m sure it will look fine to wear in the fall though.

Also, dropping stitches with this yarn is difficult. The mohair in the yarn makes the stitches “stick” and I have to pull the yarn a lot to get the stitch to drop to the bottom of the wrap. It’s a little irritating, to say the least. If I were to knit pattern again, I’d probably choose a silky blend without any mohair. Kind of missed that little detail!

All in all though, it’s a fun pattern. Using the multicolored yarn makes the pattern look interesting while I’m knitting and I’m finding that it knits up pretty quickly. I’m now in the middle of the pattern in the dreaded “straight rows” section.  Six more repeats to go and I’ll be onto the decrease section. Yay! Maybe I’ll complete this in the next couple weeks…before I get distracted with another knitting project!

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On the Needles: Fair Isle Fingerless Gloves

Last weekend I went up to Boston to visit my sister, Lucinda, who is also a craft blogger.  We attempted a tour of the Harpoon Brewery, but it was sold out – argh! But, it was such a lovely day, so we decided to walk around Cambridge and Harvard Square.

The draw in Cambridge though was Lucinda’s favorite yarn and fabric store, Gather Here. It’s kind of like Boston’s answer to Purl Soho in New York. Well Gather Here had such a great selection of specialty yarns, that I was inspired to impulse buy some yarn. Continue reading

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Baby Hat with Intertwined Cables

On Sunday I went to the baptism of my friend’s baby, Chase. I hadn’t seen her in a while and needed to bring a baby gift. I had already bought two cute outfits from baby Gap and some crib toys, but I needed to add a personal touch. How about a hat?

I went on Ravelry to find a pattern that had more to it than just a boring stockinette stitch or rib. I also needed something that I could complete in two nights—I’m an awful procrastinator. Could this be a mission impossible? Well, I chose to accept it.

I found a pattern by Gretchen Chan on the MeiMing Design Ravelry store (it’s a free download). I’m a sucker for cables and I liked how the cables in this pattern intertwined.

Of course since I didn’t plan this out, I  didn’t have the right size needles (size 7). I ended up raiding my craft chest and found a set of  size 6 double-pointed needles. I know dpns are a necessary evil, but I prefer to use circular needles. AND, I  probably would have been able to finish the hat in half the time on circulars, but what can you do?

Regardless,  since it’s a baby hat, I would have needed a very short set of circulars. What’s wrong with me? I’m a baby about making a baby hat! Wah.

Luckily, I also have a large stash of Caron Simply Soft yarn from earlier or scrapped projects (all in afore-mentioned craft chest). I ended up using a small part of a pretty navy blue skein. So at 11:30 on Saturday night, just before Zooey Deschanel was about to do her monologue on SNL, I finished the hat. Pretty snazzy too.

Mission accomplished!

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Tote Bag with Felt Dahlia

I recently participated in a craft swap on Craftster.org. It was my first swap and had a lot of fun doing it. In this swap, everyone had to make their partner a grocery tote bag from a pattern found here. However, I found that Leslie’s Art and Sew blog had a better tutorial on her site.

My partner had said that she liked different greens ranging from an India green to a Kelly green.  I couldn’t find anything quite right in my fabric stash, so I took a trip to Mood Fabrics and found this gorgeous Vera Wang cotton. I loved it so much I got enough for two tote bags – one for her and one for me!

The fabric alone was beautiful, but something was missing. Not too long ago I came across a tutorial on making a felt dahlia on Craftiness is Not Optional. So, with glue gun in hand, I went to town and an hour later had a completed dahlia.

Not too bad for a glue gun novice! I think I burned my fingers more than a couple of times though and kept getting things tangled in hot glue cobwebs. Over all I’m pretty pleased with the project. Hope my partner likes it!

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Rose Byrne’s Knitted Hat in “X-Men: First Class”

X-Men: First Class — Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne and James McAvoy

Last night, Mike and I were watching X-Men: First Class on Netflix. We had such high expectations for the movie, having loved the previous movies, but wow, what a snoozer. The story was all over the place, but it was nice to watch Michael Fassbender (Mike: “Wow, he makes a receding hairline look good) and James McAvoy (sigh…).

I perked up though when I saw the hat Rose Byrne was wearing in one scene (pictured above).  Looks like a basic hat with a little rib around the brim and a moss or raspberry stitch for the hat body. I wish I were skilled enough to come up with my own pattern, but alas. So far I can only do scarf patterns – but I will master drafting a hat pattern! I found this free hat and scarf pattern online that was first published in the British magazine, Prima. It looks perfect! Just a little leery of adapting a British pattern, but I think it will be manageable. Project!

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Knitted Slouchy Hat with Cables

slouchy hat

You know what I love about knitting hats? You get the payoff of a completed project incredibly fast– it’s instant craftification! Check out this free slouchy hat knitting pattern from Azure Knits.

I casted on on Thursday night before Christmas and kind of worked on it here and there over the holiday. Then on Monday night I devoted some serious time to it and finished it that night. Awesome! I did notice that as I was decreasing that I made a couple of mistakes, but I think once I wear the hat it won’t be that noticeable. Also, I don’t have a small head, so the hat is not that slouchy on me. That’s OK though — I prefer more of a beanie over a really baggy look anyway.

I followed the tip of using size 11 needles to make the hat a little slouchier. I also used the recommended yarn in the pattern — Cascade Yarns Baby Alpaca Chunky in Ecru. It was so unbelievably soft…Like a kitty, as my mom would say.

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