Wednesday, December 30, 2009

in which I brag on my dad

I'm super preoccupied with planning my son's 6th birthday party.  What with this and Christmas there's not been a lot of crafting going on around here.  I have definitely been neglecting this blog, so I thought I'd take a minute to share with you my favorite Christmas craft this year... and it wasn't made by me!

This is my dad.  Well it was my dad in High School.  What a handsome guy!

Ok, this is really my dad now... still a handsome guy!  He is a man of many talents. He can do anything mechanical or building-related that he puts his mind to... literally.  He constantly surprises me at the things he is willing to undertake, and he never fails to surpass my expectations in the end.  For example, he has single-handedly:  added on to the upper story of my parents barn; dug the basement for their home with his very own bulldozer; designed and built a unit that burns industrial waste with almost no toxic emissions; designed his dream home and built it;.... the  list could go on but you get the idea.  So this Christmas I'm not sure which was more amazing - that he managed to shock me with one of his talents, or the actual outcome of this talent.  As I said, my dad is very mechanically inclined, but it turns out he's got some serious artistic ability as well!  My mom asked my dad to paint her a background for her nativity scene.  Paint it.  Like with paints.  My dad doesn't know how to paint.  He's never painted in his life.  Or he hadn't yet.  My mom left him with 2 canvases, some oil paints and the supplies to make a home-made easel.  8 hours later she had this:

(click 'em for detail!)

Now this may not be a van Gogh, but tell me that's not amazing!  When we went to visit my parents house to drop something off before Christmas my mom casually mentioned that I should check out dad's new painting.  I asked her where he bought it.  I thought it was FOR him, not BY him.  I think my mouth hung open for a couple minutes after she pointed out the signature.  I always assumed I inherited my crafty talents from my mom, who ran her own craft store when I was little, but it turns out it must come from both sides!  I'm so proud of my Daddy :)

(oh, and the mantle in the photo... that's the hand-hewn beam from an old barn that my parents tore down in order to use the wood for both the interior and exterior of their home.  Seriously.  No wonder I like to make stuff)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Little Monkey

Sorry to have been MIA for so long.  I really am here, but holiday preparations for home and work are keeping me too busy to blog much!

My friend Cristi wanted to keep her baby girl warm and in style this holiday season, so she ordered a divine baby hat with interchangeable flowers (yes another - I think that makes 7 or 8 I've made so far this winter) and a DARLING monkey hat.  I previously didn't have a hat pattern with ear flaps, so it is a nice addition to my pattern repertoire!   The best part was the photos she sent me of her daughter wearing the hats that were small enough to fit, but large enough to last the season and into spring :)  I hope to post the photos when I get her permission - I'm not into putting other people's babies on the internet without parental consent!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cute Kangaroo

photo courtesy of VintagePatternHouse on Etsy

I found this sweet vintage pattern on Etsy to make for a friend who requested a Kangaroo for her expected baby girl.  She wanted a standard Kangaroo color.  The pattern was interesting, my first knitted ami.  I think if I were to make it again I might make a few changes, but it was a pretty good pattern.  One of the cutest things was that the little Joey is removable so as the baby grows she'll get to play with a baby of her own :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009


The Advent season is a little different for us this year.  The kids both know the true meaning of Christmas and are happy to celebrate that, but struggle with knowing there is a day coming soon where we get presents.  I figured this year was finally time to do an advent calendar.  It helps the kids easily know when Christmas is coming without having to ask mommy!  I also wanted it to be a reminder of what the season was about - Jesus' birth and a season of giving.  I went cruising craft blogs to find an idea that would be easy to do but didn't involve candy.  My favorite idea was the simple paper chain.  Easy to do, and the kids could help make it.  I also took another idea I'd seen a lot - including a simple activity or game that is winter/Christmas related.  We ended up with this:

25 paper chains made from Christmas wrapping paper, each with a game or activity glued inside that the kids get to "discover" when they tear the chain off.  Unfortunately I didn't think about the fact that Eli can read, so he's done a little looking ahead :)  I think next year we'll have to fold the papers over or glue them backwards so there's a little more suspense!

So far we've done these:
Make gingerbread houses
Make a gift for your teacher
Play "guess what's inside" (trying to guess what's inside a wrapped box)
Make paper snowflakes

giftcard holder for Eli's teacher

giftcard holder for Anna's teacher



We've got these left:
Read a Christmas story
Write a letter to someone and mail it
Make an ornament
Watch a Christmas movie
Read the story of Jesus’ birth
Make cookies
Make snowman pancakes
Drink hot chocolate
Take a walk outside
Write down things we’re thankful for and thank Jesus for them
Help someone else
Draw a nativity scene
Make snowmen (craft)
Sing Christmas songs
Light a fire
Bring a treat to a neighbor
Call a relative to tell them we love them
Draw and decorate a Christmas tree
Act out the 3 wise men following the star
Play “guess the song” (hum a song and have people guess)
Make Christmas wrapping paper

As you can see, its a lot of crafts, but Eli and Anna just love that type of thing.  I threw in some snacks and games to mix it up, but we're a crafty household for sure!  Not all of it is related to giving and Jesus, but the Christmas season is also about celebrating with family.  This is helping connect with my children in a real, meaningful way, and hopefully building in them the anticipation of the Christmas celebration that will carry on into their own families some day!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ooooh Shiny!

I've recently started looking around at all the crafty blogs there are out there, and boy are there a lot!  To keep myself from being overwhelmed by craftiness I only look when I've got time.  I can easily waste hours in front of the computer screen jumping from one to the next, so I try to limit myself!  I came across this tutorial for a sequined Christmas tree and fell in love!   I figured this cheap craft turned super-cute decoration had to be a part of my decor this year.

I used turquoise and bright green to make the sequin tree, and then, since I can't just have one of any decoration, I decided to make two other coordinating trees.  It took hours to make the one sequined tree, so that wasn't going to happen again!  I decided instead to get some matching fabric to cover the other two.  The little one is covered in turquoise fabric with a "garland" of green fabric, and the big one is covered in the green fabric, with a swirl of turquoise then accented with sequin "ornaments".   I love the set and can see them being a favorite decoration for years to come!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Just another Gina Giraffe.  This time in pink and brown for a darling little baby girl.  I get to make her 2 cute little hats too :)  I love what I do!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Doubly Divine

After the post about mine and Anna's Divine Hats, my friend Anne requested some for her girls.  She wanted a neutral hat with some interchangeable bright flowers.  She figured this way she could make the hat coordinate with whatever she bought for her girls' winter coats.

We decided to go with a white hat.  I had a huge cone of Lion Brand Kitchen Cotton.  I wasn't sure how this would work up for a hat, but it is gorgeous!  Its warm, its soft, and best of all it won't make the girls' foreheads itch like wool or acrylic might.

I made 2 different types of flowers, the Picot Flower and the 5-Petal Flower (two of my favorites!).  Anne gave me some color preferences and I was able to use scraps leftover from other projects to make her the 4 flowers.

I sewed a large button on the back of each flower.  It fits perfectly in the shell spaces from the pattern but doesn't stick out much on the backside of the hat.  This way the flowers can be easily and quickly changed on the hats, or even left off if my friend needs to bleach the hats (little girls and white fabric typically lead to a good soak in bleach now and again!).  Anna modeled both hats for me and didn't complain about the button on her head at all :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Twin Blankets

A friend commissioned me to make 2 more baby quilts for her dear friend who is expecting twin girls in January.  This time I FINALLY figured out how to do that silky blanket binding without it slipping all around and getting bunchy.  This was a major accomplishment for me - it only took making 4 blankets to get it right!  She wanted pink and brown, but she didn't want the blankets to be identical.

Using the pink and brown color scheme, I made these two blankets with the same pattern, but opposite colors.  I used the same pink and brown butterfly fabric to tie them together.  Backed with the softest minky fabric, I hope these blankets will be treasured for years by their soon-to-be owners!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Simply Divine

Saturday afternoon, between a fundraiser for our neighbor with leukemia and the traditional trick-or-treating I was able to squeeze a couple hours of crocheting in.  I realized that my winter gear was severely lacking (as in I have about 30 scarves and no hats or gloves) and decided it was time to break down and make something.  Central Indiana can be frigid mid-winter, and I'm notorious for not drying my hair before I go out, so a hat is an absolute must!  I used the Divine Hat pattern, which has been a favorite of mine.  Its simple, quick, stylish, and super warm (and it matches my scarf - bonus!).

After seeing mine Anna decided that she wanted one too, so today after church we picked out the colors (the multi-colored and orange yarns are leftover from the Fiddlehead Mittens I made last year).  She requested a little flower for hers.  She really wanted to wear that flower right up front "like a soldier" (her words, not mine), but I convinced her to wear it on the side for me for at least one or two shots.  We took a walk around the neighborhood this afternoon looking for a place to take some pics of her new hat, and Anna took the shots of me above - not bad for 4 years old!

If you're interested in the changes to the pattern, check out the details on my Ravelry page

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Little Something For Me

As most crafters I rarely make something for me.  I may make things that benefit me (like clothes for my little girl) but I rarely craft something simply for me to use.  I found this amazing yarn a few months ago at a sale in a LYS in Indy (Stitches and Scones).  I couldn't resist buying it simply for the colors.  Isn't it gorgeous?!  Its also amazingly soft and a dream to work with.  It is Skacel Zauberball Crazy, a sock yarn that is fairly new.

this photo from the Webs website

I wanted a simple pattern for this yarn to show off the colors.  It was a fine gauge and I figured it would make a perfect airy scarf for fall.  I chose the Clapoits pattern.  I had been eyeing this pattern for a while, just not sure when or whom to make it for.

 In my opinion it turned out perfectly.  The colors are very striking and perfect to wear in fall.   The pattern shows off the yarn without dominating it with too much pattern, but still adding visual interest with the ladders.  I will most definitely make this scarf again.  The pattern is easy to memorize and its the perfect type of project to stick in my purse and work on while I wait in the line to pick up or drop my kids off at school!  I don't have a picture of me wearing it yet, but I have had it on almost every day since its completion :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dino Baby Set

Here is another burp cloth/rattle set (for the same client as the giraffe set - she's got lots of pregnant friends!).  We chose this darling dino fabric (Oh Boy! by David Walker for Free Spirit) and coordinating stripes from My Needle and Thread.  The backing is a blue flannel.

The dinosaur is the Oliver pattern.  I love the spines down the back and the cute little nostrils on his nose!  This pattern has some cleaver construction, but is a little difficult to interpret.  I'd say the pattern is for an advanced crocheter. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Giraffe Baby Set

My most recent custom order was a burp cloth and rattle set for a friend's baby.  She wanted a giraffe theme and non-traditional colors.  I found these gorgeous animal print and coordinating polka dot fabrics on Sew and Sew Fabric and bought a lovely leaf-green flannel for the backing.  There is cotton batting as the middle layer to make these cloths nice and absorbent.

My friend chose the Gina the Giraffe pattern for the rattle and I matched the colors to the animal fabric.  I just love the way this set turned out!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Now Starring...

Baby gifts!  A friend just hired me to make 4 different baby gifts for her 4 friends who are due at various times over the next 6 months.  It was so much fun going through the process of deciding what she wanted made for each one and tailoring the gift to their preferences!
The first of the four I finished in record time in order to make it before the baby arrived (I think yesterday was the due date).  The gift was another Chromium Star Blanket done up in the colors of the nursery:  brown, teal and white.  I love the way these turn out and have heard they're excellent for wrapping up a baby in.  Unfortunately I only got this one not so great shot of it before I sent it off to its new home.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Space

Slowly over the last few months the busyness of summer has worn away and the routine of the school year has returned, allowing me to take seriously the creative part of me that longs for experssion each morning.  Some day I hope to make Knits and Knots a full part-time job; that is I hope that when the kids are in school full-time that I can earn enough from doing what I love that I don't have to find work outside of the home, and that that can all happen in the time span the kids are gone so that when they're home, I'm available to them.  While I can't do that just yet, my "business" (I still can't quite bring myself to not use quotes when describing KAK) has started to take off in the last month or so.  Honestly I think a big impact on this is that about 2 months ago, my husband and I decided to create some space in our home - to make room for the things we love.

We live in a 4 bedroom home with 2 kids.  Our little guys share a room (by choice) and use another as a playroom (that will morph into a nursery when the adoption is finalized), but that left us with the final bedroom as our office.  Since it was full of things we didn't want the kids touching it became the room with the door always shut, and eventually the dumping ground for anything we didn't know what to do with.    It also meant that any time we wanted to use the computer we had to shut the door to keep the kids out.  Last spring we decided to change that and move the computer downstairs and to make some space for it, we moved the sewing machine upstairs.  For several months I would lock myself in that room whenever I wanted to craft, but it was so crowded and messy it definitely didn't provide a comfortable creative spot.

Two months ago I just couldn't take the mess and disarray of it all and at about 10 at night I suggested an all out clean-up and swap around with some furniture from our bedroom.  My sweet husband obliged and we spent the next 90 minutes switching and moving and stacking till we settled with the sewing machine next to the bed, our bedroom chairs moved to the office and a lovely little spot in our room that was just for me!  It was wonderful... until I tried to sleep.  I could hear all of the unfinished projects whispering at me from the table next to me and found it completely impossible to sleep.  First thing the next morning I told my husband I just couldn't stand it and that, with his permission, I would switch and swap all day till I got it right.   Which I did.  In the end, I pretty much settled back with everything the way it had started, except for switching some bookshelves from the office with the chairs from the bedroom.  I did a lot of organization and cleanup and ended up with this:

I love it!  I've got a whole side of a room for my things: a storage shelf to house all my yarn, books, and accessories; a board to keep all my current and future projects in mind; a large desk for all my sewing needs; and not pictured: crates for storing fabric and batting and even some chairs to sit in and knit or crochet, or read a story to the kids.  Now its still not perfectly clean, but it is a room the kids can enter.  They love to help me put pins back in the pincushion as I pull them out while sewing or look through my button stash while I search for the right one for a project.  Its a room that invites me to come, create, and leave a mess if I need to go be with my kids in the middle of a task.  I can still just close the door and clean up later.

This is the site I ran into yesterday morning when I entered what I have lovingly come to think of as "my space".  I left this quilt top partially finished yesterday because my little sweeties needed some time with mommy and it just couldn't wait.  This is proof - evidence that this crafting thing I do is no longer a hobby, but is actually forming into part of my daily life and someday maybe a sustainable living.  On the machine you can see one quilt top, and on the chair another.  These two will become baby quilts (like this one) to given by a friend to a lovely woman expecting twins.  On the little table to the right is my bluebird and one of the burp cloths from the matching set.  Under the chair is a bag of yarn waiting to be turned into another baby wrap sweater, this one being a commissioned baby gift.  On the chair is a box of yarn and patterns for Christmas presents.  

Now I said we decided to make room for the things WE love, not just me.  So the other side of this space is partially taken up with my hubby's hobby, home recording and music.  The rest of the space is for our books; we're a family that loves to read!  I hope as the kids age that this will become a special room for us - a place to create, to imagine, to express ourselves. (I also hope its a room I can figure out how to organize a little better as time goes on!)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Little Elephanty

This post will be a little elephanty today :)

The little elephant ami has a cat ball inside to give it that little tinkly sound all kids love. The blanket is all flannel with a silky red binding. By the end of the day I hope to have this set up on my Etsy store!