Friday, December 30, 2011

Grandma's mittens

Grandma got a pair of mittens for christmas, too. She wanted useful things, and this should work, I hope. The pattern is, again, the same as the photographer's mittens, this time without any finger holes or flaps or anything. I couldn't resist doing a tiny little snowflake pattern in duplicate stitch, even though I really didn't have time. It could have been nicer, time permitting, but they'll have to do.
-Clean and simple! My grandma is a teeny tiny woman, so they are too small for me to model. You'll have to settle for these boring pictures, but you get the point. ;) The details are, as usual, on my Ravelry page.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kleks shawlette

Some time before christmas I was fishing for hints on what I might knit for my mother for christmas. The information I gathered was: a shawl in a neutral colour, not too big, and it should be able to double as a scarf. So I went hunting on Ravelry and came up with one shawl after another, each recipe more detailed than the next. And then along came Kleks. :) I knew instantly that this clean and simple design would be perfect.
-The shawl isn't very big, but then neither is the recipient... It measures ca 55 cm from the neck down including the point), but a full 140 cm from end to end - the original recipe yields a semi-circle, but I've adjusted it to make a more stretched-out shape. This shape makes it suitable for both a displayed shawl and a rolled-up scarf version. (Also, please excuse these blurry photos. Daylight is sparse, even during the day. Oh where is the sun hiding?)
-Now, this design is simple, but curious. The lace sections are actually inside out - what you're seeing is the reverse side of a stitch pattern I've seen referred to as the raspberry stitch. I really like how this creates a striking contrast between the smooth stockinette sections and the rough, knobbly lace sections. The image above is the best I can do in trying to show you the effect. It's one of those details that provides that little extra kick to a simple design, elevating it over the rest.
On the other hand, the pattern has major flaws. There are mistakes that clearly came during its translation from Polish to English, as well as other inaccuracies, especially concerning increasing the stitch count. Even with the helpful tips from other Ravelry users, I haven't been able to achieve a clean line with the perfect amount of increases. I'd think twice about doing this shawl again, even though I like the general design.
-The edge has several points, each center point has a bead. Wow, what a relief to block an entire shawl using only 40 or so pins, instead of the 250-300 I've used on the last few projects! :)
-The technique I used to elongate the shawl gives some dramatic effects at the corners. When the shawl is worn, this part hangs in pretty folds.
Details are on my Ravelry page as usual.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Mommy's mittens

Time to start revealing some christmas gifts, now that the recipients have torn away the paper and hopefully enjoyed what they found. :) First out is this pair of mittens I made for my cousin. She's a mommy to two little ones and I hope this will be a practical thing to have around this winter. Now, she can fold the flaps back and to fiddly little things like retying shoelaces and so on, and then just pop the fingers back in to keep them warm.
-They started out being based on my photographer's mittens, but instead of a hole for the index fingers I made a flap that covers the four finger group. It might not look like it, but the flap was knitted first and the "inner tube" picked up from live stitches (palm side) and knitted into purl bumps (back of the hand) afterwards. The result isn't too bad! There are probably some great recipes for this flap thing out there, but I was in the swing of things and just winged it. Details on my Ravelry page as usual.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry christmas to all and to all a good night

Just stopping by to wish you all a joyful christmas celebration!
May your days be merry and bright. :)
In the following days, I'll post my handmade gifts here on this little blog. Today I'm just showing you how I've wrapped most of the gifts this year. The old-fashioned, rustic way! Well, my version of it anyway. ;) I have to admit I like giving the wrapping some attention. Somehow, it makes me feel that every gift is special - that the giving itself matters, not just the contents of the gift.
I've used ordinary kraft wrapping paper, kraft and red stripe paper, christmas themed washi tape, and kraft tags with inked edges and a piece of washi tape, all tied together with black and white baker's twine made from paper. It may look much, but it's actually mostly really cheap materials so I have no guilty feelings about it.
My mom is probably going to ask where's the gold, because that's her quintessential ingredient of christmas decoration... So for one of her gifts, I've stamped the kraft wrapping paper with two snowflake designs in white ink, sprayed gold Glimmermist on top, and used white and gold paper raffia ribbon to tie it. You can see the ingredients of her wrapping in the picture. ;)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Breezy baby blanket

If you're looking for a quick knit baby blanket, I highly recommend this one. It knits up really fast - although you'll have a fair amount of ends to weave in after all those colour changes. Choose a yarn that looks good on its own and doesn't split, or all those dropped yarnovers will look cheap and weak. I went for the always wonderful DROPS Merino Extra Fine, while the original recipe uses a brilliant one that's spun from one thick and one thin strand. This isn't your thick and super warm winter blanket. As the name suggests, it's not only a quick knit, but also a light and airy blanket more suited for slightly warmer days, or for inside use.
It's been ages since I finished this blanket and it's still lying in my closet waiting for a recipient... So I decided it was high time to blog it anyway. I've been wanting to take better photos of it, but I've had seven months to do it and it seems clear that's not going to happen, so here it is! It's not really blocked, but I did soak it and let it dry flat and it did even out the shape a bit. I started and ended with a white section, and did a row (or two?) of single crochets around the edge for better definintion and finished look. More details on my Ravelry page.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The world of imagination is boundless

For the longest time, I was adamant on sticking to Norwegian sentiment stamps... But lately, I've given in to temptation and bought a whole heap of English ones. I just couldn't resist! They are sooo wonderful. There's so much more to choose from too, especially in the cool/grungy/quirky genres. On my last shopping spree at Scrapmagasinet and Bikuben along with my partner in crime Kristin, I came home with way too many of them. The only problem is, I have trouble selling them, so I'll have to keep them for my own friends, I guess.
That pattern paper, can you see it's supposed to be books in a bookshelf? It comes from Basic Grey's Oxford pad and goes perfectly with that sentiment stamp. As a dedicated bookworm, I can certainly appreciate that. :)
-I usually keep the insides of my cards fairly simple, but I just wanted you to see this. One of the stamps in this set is this really really long one, much too long to fit on a 15 cm long card. I inked the first part of it and stamped it in one of the inside corners, and the rest on the back (photo below). Some Oxford paper scraps decorate the opposite side.
-"Our heart captures photos of your life, notes that create a timeless story of everyday, a journal of memories we cherish, hopes and dreams, the thoughts or secret wishes we treasure, the moments you live to embrace love. XOXO" It just so happened that there was a natural place to divide this stamp, and the longest part fits perfectly inside the 15x15 cm cards. Brilliant. :)
(That distressed typewriter font is just gorgeous, by the way.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Live the life you've imagined

This wonderful Stempelglede stamp reads something like this: "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined." The Alla-Prima papers are in action again, this with less emphasis on teal, more on mossy green. I love it when the same paper pad offers many possibilities. The card is for a colleague who is (reluctantly) retiring soon, and I think the quote suits such a busy and energetic woman.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New supplies

New supplies always does wonders for the creativity, don't you think? These papers are wonderfully bright and interesting. The yellow/teal combo is new to me, but deserves repeating. The papers, in case you wondered, are Alla-Prima.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

100% boy

The request for this card was a baby card that wasn't too cute, maybe something water related, and sort of cool. Well, I think this qualifies. I had at least a month to make it, but don't you think I started it near midnight before the last day?? Ah, so typical. For that reason, I was very sceptical about the possible result, but even the day after, I still like it. The paper is, as you might see, very shiny and with some sort of holographic effect - do you see the colourful shine near the charms? Let's just say that finding matching cardstock was tricky. ;)
When stamping on such glossy paper, there are few types of ink pads that do the job properly. I could have used my StazOns, but I really wanted to use white ink to keep the card on the light side. Now, white ink pads are tricky little things... Most of them are just rubbish. My good friend Kristin suggested I tried the ElzyBells ink pads and I'm so pleased to say they are excellent! I have a pigment ink pad called Sugar Candy and it has superb coverage, even on dark cardstock. I love it. In this case, however, it would have smudged badly because of the glossy paper, so the hybrid ink pad called Whipped Cream stepped in. The hybrid ink pad has ever so slightly poorer opacity and coverage, but can be used on nearly all surfaces, and as you can see from my card, does the job pretty well. Just give it a little time to dry.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Photographer's mittens

The temperatures are falling and we've just had a few nights with real frost. Last year we had already been buried in snow for weeks by the time December came around... That's what it felt like anyway. ;) It's undoubtedly more practical this year, but I'm still hoping for some snow for christmas. And on that note, I'm now well prepared for my wintertime photo safaries! I've knitted these mittens, specially designed for photographers, you'll soon see why. This flash photo shows the dramatic effect of the reflective thread I used on the back of the mittens. It's a good thing to be visible - the cold weather is, after all, usually accompanied by terribly dark afternoons...
-On the other hand, this photo shows how subtle the reflective yarn is in full sunlight. I made a little grid in Excel and just improvised the snowflake design there. Actually, I first tried holding the reflective thread along with the merino yarn when knitting the body of the mitten, but as the thread has absolutely no stretch, the tension got all wrong and the thread was hardly visible most of the time. In the end I frogged it and reproduced my design using duplicate stitches. It was easier to control the tension, but still a bit tricky. I like the results very much though!
-And here's the photographer's secret for comfortable shooting in freezing winter weather! Each mitten has holes for the thumb and index fingers so the focus ring and all the buttons can be easily worked and most of the hand still remains protected from the elements. When the camera rests for a while, just pop the fingers back in with the rest and warm them up again. I was afraid the holes would let in a lot of cold air, but with a row of single crochet stitches around the opening, they actually close up fairly well.
-Photographer's mittens in use! They are a snug fit so I have a fairly good grip despite the smooth wool. As usual, you can find the details on my Ravelry page.
Thanks for reading - and finally, a tip for anyone who intends to go photographing in cold weather: Remember to bring a plasic bag and seal your camera in it before going inside, and leave it inside the sealed bag until it has reached room temperature, to avvoid damaging condensation inside your precious camera. You might want to upload your pictures right away, but be patient! Your camera will thank you. :)