I Made Up My Mind…

to make the Make Up Your Mind tank by Julie of Knitted Bliss. I fell in love with the Mr. McGregor’s Garden comfy sampler from Knit Picks (unfortunately not available anymore) and decided I would find a pattern for it once I got it. I tried to make my own first, but that didn’t work out quickly enough because I wanted this to be my project on vacation.

After a little searching and swatching, I decided Make Up Your Mind was what I wanted. I cast on provisionally for the 40 in size since my gauge was a bit smaller and I wanted it to be a little more flowy since it would be going over another shirt. I did mostly stick with length measurements from the 34 in size, except when it came to how many times to repeat decreases. Actually, I fudged a lot of the numbers because I kept getting off with the stitch patterns and would just decrease until I had an ok amount for the pattern. I was on vacation; I didn’t want to have to actually count my stitches.

This pattern was fairly easy to work, and very easy to follow. I’d say it’s a good bridge between beginner and intermediate skill sets.If you can knit, purl, yarnover, increase and decrease, you can make this pattern, too. Best of all, no sewing seams! You just graft the shoulders together and weave in the ends and you have a ready-to-wear shirt.

Birthday Shirts!

I’ve mentioned before how June is a busy month for birthdays around here. Well, we have two of them. Now that I think about it, that describes every month March through June. Anyway, I decided to make t-shirts for both birthday boys. One asked me for a Baymax shirt and the other was having a cooking party so I made him a cupcake shirt.

I used my contact paper masking method to create stnecils for some fabric spray paint. I made the basic picture using the paint, then added the details in a couple of different ways.

For the cupcake shirt, I went back in with some embroidery thread to create outlines and details.

The other one being a cartoon character, I thought drawn details would fit better with the style. For that I used my trusty Sharpie pens I found on my trip to the closing Office Depot.

They both turned out really well. Well enough to say definitively that the contact paper method really works for creating stencils for the spray paint. It just takes a lot of light coats of paint to prevent bleeding and pooling at the edges of the sticker.

Cleaning Out The Closet

I once read somewhere that, when cleaning out your closet, you should get rid of clothes you haven’t worn in the past three months. I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember what I wore yesterday. I would never be able to determine what I’ve worn in three months time. So I’ve come up with a system to keep my closet from being overstuffed.

Each day I take a picture of every piece of clothing I’ve worn during the day, with a few exceptions. Anything I wouldn’t buy second-hand, I’m not going to donate either. Meaning, I don’t apply this system to underwear, socks, or leggings.

After three months, I organize all of the pictures by categories of clothes. I also include sub-categories like tank tops, t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, etc. Then, going by category, I take out anything that doesn’t have a picture. Again, with a few exceptions. I have to have worn at least half of the items in the category for it to be included in the clean-out. That ensures I don’t get rid of all my sandals in the winter or my jackets in the summer.

I’ve been keeping track since October, so today I did a big clean-out

The pile on the left is to donate, the one on the right is to be placed on top of the trash cans for anyone who may be in desperate enough need to take shoes that are falling apart or t-shirts with pit stains. Again, these are things that I would never donate to an actual thrift store.

Two grocery bags to donate and two to toss. I’ve actually cleared off about half a shelf in my closet by doing this. If you ever feel like you have too much in your closet, I’d suggest taking the time to track your outfits somehow for three months or so and see what you really wear. I bet it’s not as much of your closet as you think.

Souvenirs For The Feet

Remember way back in June/July when I went to France? Well, in the small town we stayed in for our second week, there was a yarn shop, Au Fil et a Mesure, just a few blocks down from the house. Since I had much more down time there than in Paris (because there aren’t so many places you just HAVE to see in a small town), I decided to pick up some yarn and needles.

Sixteen balls of DMC Natura and a set of sock needles, to be exact. I decided my souvenirs would be socks made of French yarn on French needles. I had already picked up some wool to make Cassy’s Zooey hats for my mom and I while I was in Paris, but that project would have been a bit involved to pick up and put down whenever I had a few free moments.

So I set about making Cassy’s Earlybirds (btw, Cassy blogs atKnit the Hell Out and designs some amazing things that I just happen to be mildly obsessed with.) for four different people in four different colors. Not all at the same time of course.

I made mine in green:

Reddish-purplish for Mama:

Blue for Terry:

And purple for Gaga:

(Clicking on the pictures will take you to their respective project pages. Which should eventually be all updated with the specifics of each sock.)

It’s been a long time since I had made socks before I decided to do this. These were also the first time I had made socks in actual sock-weight yarn. Before they were out of some awful acrylic stuff like I was using to make everything at that point because ALL my yarn came from Wal-Mart. Not like there was much of anywhere else to get it where I started knitting anyway.

Even the heels are cute in this yarn. The only thing I did majorly different from the pattern is using a cable needle on the cables. I knit pretty tightly and was having a terrible time trying not to pull the stitch out while it was dropped. I still like making gloves better, because they seem to take less time, but I think I may be warming up to sock-making in general.

Pretty Little Butterfly (A Review)

I had seen a bit about needle felting before, but this video from Bubzbeauty got me really interested. (In fact, I think her Totoro design is going to be the first 3D piece I try next.) I was wandering the aisles of Michael’s with a 50% off coupon one day and saw the Dimensions Feltworks Butterfly “learn needle felting kit”.

The kit comes with pre-printed felt, two colors of roving (unspun wool), yarn and embroidery thread, felting and embroidery needles. The first thing I would suggest is to get something better than the foam block included with the kit to felt on. The foam deflates very quickly, especially as much as you have to stab the needle into the felt to get it to hold. You can buy a special “felting mat”, but I went with a plastic-bristled scrub brush from the cleaning supplies aisle at Target.

The felting instructions are really easy to understand, as are the instructions on how to create the butterfly and use the finished butterfly. The embroidery instructions may be a little difficult to understand if you have never done embroidery before, but there are always great instruction videos on YouTube. All in all, this is a great little kit to get started felting, and a great project for beginning felters. Plus, it’s an adorable butterfly. What more convincing do you need?

Another thing, besides the felting mat I mentioned before, that might make it easier to learn is the Clover Pen-Style Felting Tool. You can use 1, 2, or 3 needles at a time, and it extends to two different lengths. Let me tell you, three needles at a time makes the whole process go a lot faster, at least when you are working flat.

Light and Breezy

I love layering. So much so that I have a drawer’s worth of plain colored t-shirts and tank tops that exist solely to be worn underneath other shirts or vests. I mean, I could wear them by themselves, but that would be boring.

One thing my dresser has been missing for a while in the layering department is what I like to call a “mesh shirt.” I’m sure it has another name, but I am too lazy to actually look it up. I had one for a long time that was pastel tie-dye, but it had a few holes that were bigger than they should be because they got snagged or torn in the wash.

Browsing for projects (because I never have enough projects lined up, right?) I came across the Breezy T pattern by Brenda Bourg on the Red Heart website. It was so perfect I even matched the color of the sample.

It turned out extremely well. This was my first attempt at crocheting a garment. Many hats before, and a couple of arm bands, but never a shirt. That kind of thing I tend to reserve for knitting. Because (for those who don’t know) knitted fabric tends to have more drape and be more suited for clothing than stiffer, crocheted fabric.

Because of the mesh structure, though, this shirt is quite nice and soft. The one thing I changed from the pattern was the sleeve edging. What was written does not seem like the edging in the sample picture, plus it was way too wavy. Instead I used a simple edging that would give me a similar shape to the picture (details here if you want to know, along with all details for the project).

This may become my favorite layering piece of the summer if the temperatures stay where they are. Turn a tank top into a work-appropriate look without making me feel like I’m boiling in my skin when we are outside.

Works in Progress

I usually write about my projects once I’ve finished them, but I constantly have many different things going at once. Kind of a creativity ADD, if you will. At the moment I have three different things on the needles, plus a sewing project in the “pile of fabric stage”, and some painting projects in various stages of completion/planning.

My carry-along project this week is the same one I was working on at the Hollywood Bowl. I’ve been naming this series of Earlybirds after appropriately colored birds, but I can’t think of a purple bird name. Any ideas?

My big project for this month is this little guy, a panda bear lovie for a certain Little Bear’s birthday on Labor Day. I’m just about an inch from the halfway point, where I will be able to start decreasing to make it go faster again. Don’t worry, once I’ve finished the body this little guy is getting black eyes and a nose.

Remember how I said I was going to remake these bags from the Hollywood Bowl night? They are currently my fabric pile. I’m also going to make some snack-sized bags to go along with them. If you want a tutorial to make your own, I got my general idea from this site. I made my own pattern based on the measurements listed on my plastic bags in the kitchen, though.

There are a few other things lying around my room that I am not currently actively working on, but I think this is going to keep me busy at least for this week.