What I’m Knitting: Knit Pillow Changes

Remember those pillows I was working on last winter?  Well, surprise surprise, I’m nowhere near finished.  This may have something to do with the fact that we bought a house, or maybe it’s because I completely changed the project and started over…

I chose to do a cable pattern because I didn’t have any extra thick yarn to satisfy my chunky pillow desires.  Well, one day I was at Michael’s and they had some chunky yarn on sale, and before I knew it my cart was filled with like 10 skeins.  Does this happen to anyone besides me?

I’m using Loops & Threads Phat in White, and this yarn is very interesting.  It sort of looks like long thin tubes of nylon mesh stuffed with batting (you know, the fluffy white stuff you fill pillows and stuffed animals with).  It’s a strange texture, but pretty fun to work with.

This does mean that my finished pillows will look a lot more like the inspiration photos I shared, plus there is the added bonus that I can work in a much simpler pattern thus reducing the time that these should take.  I’ve started the first one in a simple 1 x 1 rib.  In all honesty, they should be done by now but did you realize how hot it was this summer?  Not ideal knitting weather, so I took a break to work on settling in to the new house.  Plus, as always there’s research to be done.  The data for my thesis project isn’t going to collect itself!

Has anyone else started a project over in the middle of it?

-Steph

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What I’m Knitting: Cabled Pillows

I love curling up on the couch in the winter, watching some Netflix (ok, a lot of Netflix) and doing a bit of knitting.  I haven’t had a lot of time for it this winter, but a knitting blog binge over the holiday break got me back in the mood.  I’ve recently been coveting a pair of knitted pillows for our couch because I love the cozy look they give to a livingroom. Just look at how good they look in these spaces!

I love the colors of the pillows on this couch.  Plus, how cute is that penguin pillow!?

I like the idea of a knit body pillow.  It sounds extra cuddly!  This picture also makes me want to make a pallet couch.

After seeing this I want to make some extra large pillows, along with some flat poofs.

Our couch does have a pair of pillows already, though I have some issues with them.  Scott’s lovely mother made them out of some of his old Wisconsin t-shirts, and as much as I love a good clothing recycle, my Gopher pride makes them a bit tough to look at every day.  I’m planning on recovering them with a cable knit, maybe with a zipper or a button on them so I can take the cover off again if we ever want to.  These are my inspiration patterns:

Since I don’t have any extra thick yarn in my stash I decided to get the chunky vibe with cables. I love cable knitting because it is so gratifying to see the pattern take shape after a couple rows.  But I forgot how much more time and concentration these patterns require!  So maybe I’ll have these pillows done by July?

What have you been knitting lately?

– Steph

DIY Clay Agate Plant Tag

DIY Clay Agate Plant Tag

I have a bit of a plant obsession.  Sometime soon I’ll have to show you all the collection of green things growing on my windowsills.  But until that time, let me share with you a little project that brings some earthiness to a modern white planter.

I got this planter as a gift in the form of an Edible Arrangements bouquet.  After I had munched away on all the yummy fruit I noticed how pretty and simple the leftover pot was.  I was recently at Home Depot picking up some LED bulbs for my bedside lamp when I noticed the fantastic selection of succulents and cacti.  Ok, “noticed” is a bit of an understatement.  I’m sure my eyes became twice their normal size as I made a beeline straight for the display.  It was so hard not to roll the entire cart up to the register.  But I limited myself to an aloe plant (a replacement for one that I accidentally left in my car and froze…) and two other tiny succulents.  Anyways, the aloe was the perfect size to fit in my white pot.  It looked all modern and minimalistic, but that’s really not my style.  So I decided to warm it up with an agate tag made out of clay.  You know, since agates and other crystals and gems are so hot right now.

Ok, so on to the tutorial!

1.  Collect your supplies.  You will need:

  • Sculpy ΙΙΙ Craft Clay.  Side note, this was my medium of choice when I was a child.  I made countless little animal figurines based off my favorite book series, Redwall by Brian Jaques.
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Chalk pen
  • Paintbrush
  • Ribbon, yarn, or string
  • Clear nail polish (optional)
  • Wax paper (optional).  While the clay cleans up nicely from my parents’ laminate countertop, if you’re working on a fancier surface I would recommend putting down some wax paper to ensure some of the colors (like red) don’t stain your table.
  • Rolling pin (or some type of smooth tubular object)
  • Oven or toaster oven

2.  You will need a variety of earthy colors for this project, but you don’t need to buy every color.  The great thing about Sculpy is that you can mix colors to create you own unique shade.  Simply grab a chunk of each color you want to mix, then twist, squish, and roll the colors together until they become a new uniform shade.  For this project I would recommend purchasing a square of black, white, red, brown, orange, and blue.  From there you can make any color you like!  Don’t worry that you’ll have too much clay for just this one project.  When wrapped up and put in an airtight container Sculpy lasts pretty much indefinitely.  The stuff I used for this project had been sitting in my parents’ craft closet for probably 10 years.  While it wasn’t quite as soft and pliable as when it was new, it still worked.  But it was kind of a pain and I would recommend using up your Sculpy well before it becomes that, um, aged.

3.  Make a tiny ball for the center of your agate.  Then roll thin ropes of clay to wrap around it, using a variety of thicknesses and colors.  You don’t need your ropes to be perfect because the agate will look more realistic if they have some variation to them.

4.  Continue adding colors, and start to shape your agate to look the way you like.  This picture shows an agate my mom had that I used as inspiration.

5.  When you’re happy with the size of your agate, roll it flat with the rolling pin,

6.  If you’re wanting to hang your plant tag, use something small and round to punch a hole for threading your string through later.  You can use the end of your paintbrush if you wish.  I used some random thing I found in the junk drawer.  Make sure you do this before you bake!  Once the hole is punched, lay your agate on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 275ºF for 15 minutes per 1/4 inch thickness.  It helps to have the oven or toaster oven preheated beforehand.  This prevents burning.

7.  After the agate has baked and cooled down to room temp, paint a swatch of chalkboard paint on one side.  I did two thin layers, allowing them to dry between coats.

8.  Once the paint is dry and cured (directions for my brand said to wait three days, but for this tiny amount I only waited one day) you’re ready to label your plant!  I like to use chalk pens because they write cleaner than regular chalk sticks.

Notes:  I decided that I wanted the shiny look of a polished rock, so I added a coat of clear nail polish to my tag.  Just avoid the painted part or it won’t work as a chalkboard anymore!  Also, if I were to make one of these again (which I’m thinking I will)  I would do a thin rectangular section of chalk paint rather than a large circle.  That way I would cover up less of the agate pattern on the side that’s going to be displayed most.

Looks pretty good doesn’t it?  I hope you enjoy it, and let me know if you try making one yourself!

– Steph

 

Slouchy Cable Hat with Pom-Pom

As promised, today I’m bringing you the pattern for the hat I debuted in this post.  This was my first time trying cables and they were a lot easier than I expected!  If any of you knitters out there have been intimidated by cables then try out this hat as a simple way to start learning the technique.

Materials:

  • 16″ size US 6 circular needle
  • 16″ size US 8 circular needle
  • Size US 8 double pointed needles
  • About 180 yards chunky weight yarn.  I used Kathmandu Queensland Collection Chunky in Rust (color 103)  and needed just a bit more than one skein
  • Tapestry needle
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Strong thread or string

I will admit that I messed up my count for my pattern repeat when I made this hat.  So I have a bit of an awkward strip of purl stitches down the back.  But luckily I learned from the mistake and can give you the improved pattern!

  1. Using the size 6 needle cast on 92 stitches.  Join ends
  2. Work 2 x 2 rib (K2, P2) for 8 rows
  3. Switch to the size 8 needles
  4. Cable pattern:
    1. Row 1:  *P1, K4, P2, K9, P2, K4, P1* repeat 4 times.
    2. Row 2:  Repeat row 1
    3. Row 3:  *P1, slip 2 stitches on cable needle and hold in back, K2, K2 off cable needle, P2, slip 3 stitches on cable needle and hold in front, K3, K3 off cable needle, K3, P2, slip 2 stitches on cable needle and hold in front, K2, K2 off cable needle, P1* repeat 4 times
    4. Rows 4-6:  Repeat row 1
    5. Row 7:  *P1, slip 2 stitches on cable needle and hold in back, K2, K2 off cable needle, P2, K3, slip 3 stitches on cable needle and hold in back, K3, K3 off cable needle, P2, slip 2 stitches on cable needle and hold in front, K2, K2 off cable needle, P1* repeat 4 times
    6. Rows 8-10:  Repeat row 1
    7. Repeat Rows 3-10 until hat measures 11″.  Make it longer for a slouchier hat
    8. Decrease rounds
      1. *K2, P2, K2 together* repeat to the end of the round
      2. *K2, P1, K2 together* repeat to the end of the round
      3. Work onto double‐pointed needles
      4. *K2, P2 together* repeat to the end of the round
      5. *K1, P2 together* repeat to the end of the round
      6. *K1, P1* repeat to the end of the round
      7. K2 together, repeat to the end of the round
      8. K all stitches
      9. K2 together, repeat to the end of the round.  If you have an extra stitch at the end of the round just knit it.
      10. If you have a hat decrease you prefer, feel free to use it.  It will be covered by the pom-pom anyway

I know the cable rows sound confusing.  The pattern is basically a repeat of cable right, braid cable, cable left.  But I taught myself to do it and you can too!  Below are the links I used to help me learn:

  1. This link explains how to cable left.  Follow the picture under Step 5 using 2 stitches instead of 3 for our pattern.  To cable right simply hold the cable needle in back of the work
  2. This link was what I used to figure out the braided cables.  It’s written for flat work rather than work knitted in the round, but I felt the picture helped me visualize a bit more what I was doing
  3. Practice!  If you’re still a bit nervous about starting out with the cable on your hat just make a practice piece first

Now it’s time to make the pom-pom!  I followed these instructions for a giant pom-pom garland from A Beautiful Mess.  I will warn you that this takes a loooooooong time.  To make it faster, cut a slit in the cardboard circles so you can just slip the yarn in that way rather than pulling a super long piece of yarn through the center hole a million times.  Like I did.  Again, learn from my mistakes, people!  The cardboard circles I used had an outer diameter of 5″ and an inner diameter of 1 1/4″.  You could draw the circles using a protractor if you have one or by finding objects of roughly the same size.  Just try to keep the difference between the inner and outer diameter about the same as mine as this is what determines the size of the pom-pom.  Also, when pulling the center of the pom-pom together use either thread or some extra sturdy string material.  I tried just using the yarn and it broke while I tried pulling it tight.  You have a lot of my mistakes to learn from in this post!  Last, just sew the pom pom to the top of your hat and you’re done!

I hope you enjoy it!  And stay warm my friends, real spring weather is almost here!

– Steph

Depth of Field

A few weeks back I took a trip to my favorite Minneapolis yarn shop, Depth of Field.  I first mentioned my fondness for this store in my post about my Mistake Rib Cowl.  The shop has a wonderfully cozy feel and the woman who works there is always super helpful.

Who knows why there's a swordfish on the wall but I like it!

Who knows why there’s a swordfish on the wall but I like it!

Such pretty yarn hanging in the window

Such pretty yarn hanging in the window

I love walking around this shop and getting inspiration for new projects.  During this visit I picked up a couple sets of needles as well as some gloriously soft grey yarn for a pair of gloves.  I found out they also host little knitting parties on Sundays so I’ll hopefully get a chance to stop by one of those soon to get help on a sweater I’ve been working on all winter.

cardigan : Delia's / pants : Delia's / shoes: purchased in France / shirt : my grandma's closet / purse : Fossil

cardigan : Delia’s / pants : Delia’s / shoes: purchased in France / shirt : my grandma’s closet / purse : Fossil

How cute is this little felted hedgehog?

How cute is this little felted hedgehog?

Do you have a favorite yarn shop where you live?  I hope you do, because CNN recently posted an article about how knitting improves brain health.  And not just knitting, but any other crafty activity as well!  One more reason I’m happy I enjoy being creative :)

– Steph