Wednesday, December 17, 2014

More No Sew Pillows

In September I finally got around to finishing up the last 4 now sew pillows.  Lucky's chair is going to arrive for his nursery next week, so this is the optimal time for me to finish his fish pillow and finish my pillows for our living room sofa.  I selected a fun whimsical dandelion fabric with Keith because he creates the most amazing dandelion stories for Lucky.  We paired it with a bold graphic pattern.

Rather than drive myself crazy with the cutting this time, I used a colored pencil (serioulsy, I could not find a normal #2 pencil in the whole apartment!)  and used the pieces I had remaining from the last pillow project as a pattern piece to draw lines on the new fabric.

I'm thrilled with the bold black and white fabrics we selected for the living room.  This is a thicker fabric, and should hold up well to every day where.  I love the dandelion print, it is subtle yet still whimsical.  When I started cutting pieces I wasn't sure if I wanted to do the mix and match backs like I did in Lucky's room or if I wanted them to be the same on the front and back.  This fabric is 56" wide, so I can fit one pillow across the length of the fabric.  I knew that 1.5 yards of each color would be PLENTY for all the pillows I wanted to make.  I might even be able to have an extra sham!  (Hmmm... maybe this is a good idea to do with a baby around...)

After cutting out the pieces for the fish pillow, I cut out enough pieces for 4 pillows.  I can decide if I want to stick with one pattern for each or swap the front and backs later.  (What else will I do with the fabric?  I may as well cut it when I'm in cutting mode!)  Before gluing the squares, I needed to iron the fabric.  I know that I will not be ironing them much in the future, but I at least want them to look good the first time I put them on the couch.

Two patterns per cover versus 1 pattern per cover.  If I do a single pattern it would be easier to swap out a new pattern for my decor at a later date.  If I mix and match the patterns like I did in Lucky's bedroom, then it would be harder to swap out another design if I wanted to later.  Decisions, decisions!

The glue (Dritz Unique Stitch Adhesive) was a little harder to squeeze out this time around.  I had to use a pin to open up the hole.  I have no idea if I will have enough glue to finish all 4 (+1) pillow covers.  During nap time I "hemmed" 6 of the 10 pieces.  I want to make sure to finish the fish pillow as I don't want to be stuck waiting for Monday for more glue to arrive if I run out.  One tube of Dritz Unique Stitch Adhesive was enough for 4 complete shams plus the hems for 6 other pieces.  I maybe could have finished one pillow but since I miss glued a pillow that sort of altered things a bit.

So the new glue arrived and OH MY what a difference this makes!  I think that the first tube of glue I got was defective, because it was a little hard to squeeze out of the tube.  This was MUCH worse when I was making the rest of the pillows weeks after the original two.  What a difference this made.  WOW.  This made finishing up the final 3 pillow covers go SUPER quickly.

I didn't brother pressing the shams once they were turned right side out, but I could if I wanted to get neater corners.   I was just so excited to put them on the pillows.

This project was so much fun that I'm really tempted to try to make some more now-sew shams for other holidays.  I have to be careful, or I will start acquiring quite the fabric stash.  I don't have space to store more craft things!  Good thing I have some fun creative things planned to use up my remnants from these pillows.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Winner of the Make the World Better with a Sweater Giveaway!

Thank you so much for supporting Save the Children with me and participating in Make the World Better with a Sweater yesterday.  I loved seeing all of your #elfies!

The winner of the contest is... Sabrina!  She is super festive showing off her sweater, PLUS a mini sweater ornament.  Save the Children will send you a $50 Webs yarn store gift card!

Once again, I want to thank all of my friends and followers who participated in Make the World Better with a Sweater Day.  It was really fun to work with Save the Children and I really appreciate you joining me in supporting a wonderful cause.  

Finally, I took a few more #elfies of my own with the Brown Boys in their sweaters.  

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  

Friday, December 12, 2014

It is Make the World Better with a #Sweater Day! Post your #Elfie and win a $50 gift card!

Today is the day!  Show your support for Save the Children and Make the World Better with a Sweater!  Share your #Sweater #elfie with me on the ChemKnits Facebook page and you could win a $50 gift card to Webs Yarn Store!

The Brown Family is ready with their #elfie to Make the World Better with a #Sweater.  All of us are in hand knit sweaters!  (We did take this photo ourselves with a remote shutter.)

Make the World Better with a Sweater Give Away Details

I will be giving away a $50 WEBS gift card, provided by Save the Children, to the most spirited participate in Make the World Better with a Sweater Day!  How do you enter?  TODAY December 12, wear your most festive sweater for Make the World Better with a Sweater Day and donate $5 to Save the Children (suggested amount).  Share a picture of your festive look on the ChemKnits Facebook Page today with the comment "I donated to Save the Children for Make the World Better with a #Sweater Day" and tag yourself.  Don't forget to spread the word and encourage your friends and family to participate, too!  I will select the most spirited photo on the ChemKnits Facebook Page as the winner on December 13.  If you are selected, PM me with your email and postal address and Save the Children will send you a $50 WEBS gift card.  By sharing a photo on the ChemKnits Facebook page, you are consenting to me sharing the picture here on  While handmade sweaters rock, you do not have to have created your festive sweater yourself.  Use your creativity to show your spirit in supporting Save the Children.  

You can increase your entry's holiday spirit by spreading the word on social media. Show me what you've knit (or crocheted) for the Pins and Needles Challenge. Share your photo with pride to spread the word of Make the World Better with a #Sweater Day and that you donated to Save the Children on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Make sure to tag @chemknits and @savethechildren on Instagram and @chemknitsblog and @SaveTheChildren on Twitter.

Your sweater does NOT have to be hand knit, nor does it have to be a typical "ugly" Christmas Sweater.  Use your creativity to turn your sweaters into a festive delight!  

Pins and Needles Challenge - A Success!  

I am thrilled to tell you that I succeeded at the challenge Save the Children set for me, I completed a sweater by Make the World Better with a Sweater Day, a dog sweater for Indy!  Last time I checked in with you guys I was about half way done.  Well now I am excited to show you the completed perfect fit dog sweater.

I didn't realize it at the time, but Indy's sweater contains the purples that are present in my Shalom Cardigan and Lucky's Snowy Penguin Vest.  

Indy is a 3 year old American Eskimo puppy (he still acts like a little puppy even if now he is technically an adult.)  He loves cold weather so he doesn't really need a sweater, but he looks oh so darling when I dress him up and I wanted him to support Save the Children today along with the rest of us. 

This sure is a perfect fit sweater!  I will share all of my notes from the construction at a later date, but I know that I will use these instructions to make another sweater for Indy in the future.  I"m glad to have a sweater that I can measure off of, because he might need a Snowy Penguin companion to Lucky.  (Which would require me to design a larger version of the Snowy Penguin Vest as Lucky won't be fitting it in December 2015!)

Indy is saying pretty please support Save the Children's Make the World Better with a Sweater Day.  I hope you will celebrate Make the World Better with a Sweater Day with me and donate $5 to Save the Children!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Behind the design of the Snowy Penguin Hat and Mitts!

This has been a busy month for me design wise.  I'm really excited to share with you my notes behind the Snowy Penguin Accessories (a hat and mitts for a toddler.)  You can both accessory patterns and the vest in the Snowy Penguin Set for $10, or purchase a single pattern individually: the Snowy Penguin Vest Knitting Pattern for $6.00, the Snowy Penguin Hat Knitting Pattern  for $3.00 and the Snowy Penguin Mitts Knitting Pattern for $3.00.

Snowy Penguin Accessories

Frequently I jot down my design ideas inside of my notebook.  This time I started designing the vest and then jotted it down in the notebook.  It is helpful to have paper to keep track of my notes, even if I did my doodling in Excel.

When I cast on for the Snowy Penguin Vest I had a vision.  What if I designed a hat and mittens to go along with the vest?  I knew that I would have enough yarn left over from my original balls of yarn to complete this goal.  I sat down and got to work.

I really liked the way that Lucky's Foxy hat fit his head, so I started with the same stitch number when it came to creating my chart.  I then picked out my favorite penguins and snowflakes from the vest and incorporated them around the brim of the hat.

I really wanted to get the vest into testing, but I was so excited about this hat that I took a break from finishing up the vest written pattern to create this hat.  Vogue Knitting Live Chicago was the next day, and I knew that I would have trouble keeping up with a Ravelry thread while I was at the conference in classes.  Therefore I may as well work on the next part of my design.

The hat was a simple design.  I did stranded knitting for the entire hat. There are some long floats in the hat, but I carried the yarn through the entire time.    Here is a wrong side view of this cute little hat:

When it came to the mitts, I started by looking at the Penguin Mitts I made Lucky last year before he was born.  When I tried these mitts on his 12 month old hands they fit, but slipped off easily.  The width was right, however, so I used that as a starting point for my design. Since Lucky is still a baby I didn't want to worry about a thumb to fit his hand, just little bubble mittens to keep his tiny fingers warm.

Penguin mitts from 2013 - 26 g combined.  I wasn't sure I have enough yarn left to make a pair of mitts...  Scratch that.  I 100% have enough yarn to make a pair of mitts for Lucky, but I may not have enough yarn to make them in the same Reverse color pattern as the hat.   I'll  have to mill on this as I'm at Vogue Knitting.

The first mitt
Why did I invert the colors from the vest to the hat and mitts?  I did this for two reasons.  1) I wanted them to be more coordinated and less matchy and 2) The real reason I had more purple yarn than white and I wanted to make sure I didn't run out when I was creating the set.  I realized through this that I needed to adjust the way I referred to the colors in the pattern.  I couldn't call them MC and CC if the main color for each pattern swapped.  I therefore changed it to C1 and C2.  

I worked out the mitts by laying Lucky's hand over prat of the hat design.  It looked like if I made the mitts the size of the large penguin that they would fit his hand nicely.

To make sure, I cast on the cuff and knit 7 or so rounds of ribbing.  I tried this on his hand and saw that there was plenty of room to fit, but also that maybe they  would actually stay on.  I have no pictures of this WIP because having 3 DPN's on my 12 month old's hands is a dangerous enough situation without me trying to take photos.  If I were doing these mitts without trying to keep the entire set in 2 balls of yarn, I would have knit the cuffs in purple like the brim of the hat.  But I wanted to complete everything in two balls, so let's see if that really works!

Mitt #1 is done and it weighs 17 g.  20 g remain of the yarn (11 g white, 9 g purple remain).  I should have JUST enough to finish the second mitt.  I will have to be careful in that there is not necessarily enough yarn for everyone to knit the whole set out of two balls of yarn, but it is possible.  (Note that some of my white yarn is in the Foxy hat, so there would be some extra white.)

4 rows left and I still have 2 little balls of yarn.  There is some white loose ends I can pull of of mitt 1 if I need to.  cross your fingers for me!  I did it!   7 feet of yarn remain.  Phew!

I managed to complete the ENTIRE SET out of two balls of yarn!  How is that for some stash busting?  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Knit doll Workshop with Susan B Anderson at Vogue Knitting Live Chicago

I'm so lucky to be taking 4 different classes at Vogue Knitting Live this year! Today I'm going to be telling you about the 4th and final class and second lecture I took with Susan B Anderson.  (If you need to catch up, check out my experiences in Toy Deign with Anna Hrachovec and cable design with Norah Gaughan.) 

The package I purchased for Vogue Knitting Live Chicago included 4 classes and 3 lectures.  For my 4th class I wanted to take Seamless Knit Doll Workshop taught by the famous Susan B. Anderson.  I'm taking this class mainly to meet an incredible designer and to see her talk about one of her designs as she teaches us to make it.  The doll itself is less inspiring to me than the opportunity to be in the presence of a great designer.  I have made similar types of toys and I know that I could make this doll without many issues with just the pattern, but it will be fun to do an in-person LIVE knit-a-long.

Preparing for Class

This class had more "homework" than some of the others because I needed to make sure I assembled all of the materials I needed to create my doll.  I chose shine sport yarn in a variety of colors and pre-weighed them so that I could decide exactly what colors I wanted to use while I was at the class.  I also pre-portioned some fiber fill so I could finish up my doll.

I normally don't worry about my gauge when I'm making toys, it really doesn't matter to me if they are a little bigger or smaller because ultimately you just want the fabric to be tight enough to hold the fiber fill.  However, I am going to be in the presence of Susan B. Anderson, and if she wants me to make sure I have the correct gauge I don't want to skip my homework!

I swatched the cream yarn on size 3 (3.25 mm) knitting needles.  I cast on 30 sts and knit in stockinette.  (See how proper I'm being here?  No skipping steps for me!)   25.5 sts/4".  Close enough to 6.5 sts/inch for me!  I unwound my swatch and packed up my bag for the conference.

My kit for class with Susan B. Anderson
Class with Susan B Anderson

I was later getting to class than I wanted because my train was late, but I made it JUST in time.  The Print out is an entire ebook of Mary, Millie and Morgan!  There are dozens of pages in this thing, including the doll body and many different clothes options.  There are so many patterns on display that I know I am going to fill my queue right up.  I love the Giraffe, dragon and elephant right off the bat.  Then I saw the Topsy-Turvy Inside-Out Knit Toys, oh my!  There is a boy doll available, but not part of this ebook in class.  

(After class I attended Susan's lecture.  She gave many different anecdotes and told her story about how she became a designer and how she started knitting.  Her lecture included a bunch of give aways, but I didn't win anything.  The tips she gave for toy making are similar to the ones that I'll share below, so I won't have a separate lecture part of this post.  Fun trivia: Did you know that she has a chicken pattern in each one of her published books?)

Look at the amazing eyes on this fox!  The embroidery is so simple but really gives them character.  I want to make this toy!

Susan is much younger than I had expected, I don't know why but in my head I pictured her as older.  She is full of energy (and fresh since it was her first day at the confrence..)  This is a new pattern of hers and her first time teaching this class.  

The class was very structured.  We spent the whole time knitting and she divided the room into three loosely structured groups.  She had these groups come up for small demonstrations of techniques one at a time since it is hard to show something like a french knot to a room of 20.  

It is fun to hear some design stories.  For example, she debated the color of the shoe insert on the doll.  Should it be skin colored or the color of the leggings?  Her anecdotes are as cute as she is.  She is a really vivacious woman and a true inspiration.  She started publishing books as a mother of multiple young children, and made her own opportunities not expecting the book deals to come out of them. Maybe there is some hope for my design career!  

I realized in the middle of class that the colors of yarn I'm using in this doll I used in another Susan B Anderson pattern, in the Baby Marley Hat Lucky wore.    It was fun to show her a picture of this pattern as it was one of her first designs in her first book.  

To give sitting toys some weight (not for this doll, but for other display toys), you can get poly beads/pellets. You can usually find them in the doll aisle of a big craft store. DO NOT use beans or rice.  It may be tempting but some moisture can cause you to have a rotting toy.  If you are going to use pellets in a toy for a young child, you can enclose them in a cloth bean bag or even in the end of some ruined panty hose.  Just layer some polyfill stuffing around it and you're good to go.  

I forgot to cast on under the arms, so to compensate I decided to skip the shaping in the waist.  A little girl doesn't have much shape yet, anyway.  

At the hair demonstration I took pictures of the hair and the part to see how far down the back of the neck to let the hairline go. (I don't think there were these pictures in the ebook.)  

At the end of class, Susan arranged our dolls into a group to take a picture.  Not to brag or anything (maybe a little), but my doll was one of the furthest along and Susan pronounced my stuffing as "perfect."  I am a proud little knitter!

When I left the class, I thanked Susan for the tips and being an inspiration.  She gave me a HUGE hug and told me that I was '"too cute".  This little exchange brighted my whole day and I danced the whole way home.  

It has been a month since the lecture and my doll is still in the same place it was when I left class.  Hopefully I will finish up my last few Christmas gifts so I can finish up this doll and give her a name.  

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Lucky's First Kippah

When we met Lucky's little friend LLR, his parents showed me an adorable crochet yarmulke someone made for his Bris.  Lucky didn't have a bris, but as his first High Holidays were rolling around this fall I realized that we didn't have a child sized kippah for him.  We would not be attending services this year, but I wanted to make sure that we had something on hand in case we ever needed it.

The Kippah on 11.5 month old Lucky
There is also a family history of crocheted kippot in my family.  My dad wore a crocheted kippah at my parents' wedding and my relatives made some for all of the guests.  Keith has a kippah from my cousin's wedding that my aunt made for all of the guests.  How could I NOT make Lucky his first kippah?

As soon as I came across the Keeping Kippah (Yarmulke) Star of David Version during my crochet kippah pattern search, I knew I found the winning design.  I decided to go a classic route and selected KnitPicks Pallet fingering weight yarn in Blue (actual color name, not just hue) and White.   I chose a size B crochet hook and crossed my fingers that I could get the center star correct.

I'm loving using fingering weight yarn with the B hook!  It is crocheting up like a dream and I'm having no issue keeping my stitches tight but still being able to get my hook through.  Wonderful!  (Of course, Palette is one of my favorite workhorse yarns, so are we really surprised here?)

The Star of David was much easier to construct than I thought.  I'm really proud with the way that it came out.  I think that my skills as a crocheter are really growing when I didn't really hesitate to try the trc3tog.  (It helped that the pattern had EXCELLENT written instructions for this stitch.  Well done, designer!)

After I finished the first round of color B, I'm feeling really excited.  I accomplished the star of David without a hitch and now I am ready to finish the rest of the kippah.  I know that the rest of this project will be smooth sailing.  It is just SO wonderful when everything works out, especially when I was expecting it to be a bit tricky.

After round 10 the kippah measured over 3.5 inches in diameter.  I checked it on Lucky's head, and the size was looking close to complete in my opinion.  I joined the blue yarn and followed the instructions for 11 and 12.  I then rejoined the white yarn and did the instructions for round 12 twice more. I wove in loose ends and voila, a little Lucky Kippah!

I blocked the Kippah over a balloon while the baby was asleep.  This was a gentle blocking, no pins involved!  I will need to wait for Rosh Hashanah to try it on Mr. Lucky boy.

I'm so glad that I had the balloon.  If I had tried to block this flat than it never would have fit on my little boy's blond curls.  

I finished the crocheted Kippah just in time for Erev Rosh Hashanah.  Shanah tovah!

Shanah Tovah!