Pin Ups and Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

My Favourite Articles and Links This Week

Feeling tired is no fun, so here are some tips on getting your energy back.

12 habits that are bringing your mood down.

In defense of messiness. Conversely, 4 little tricks to keep your space a bit cleaner.

So apparently someone has invented a device that deciphers cat’s meows, and then let’s you hear what they are saying in a human voice. It’s called the Catterbox, and I don’t know if I love the idea or think it’s creepy. Possibly both?

My Favourite Pins This Week

Pin Ups and Link Love: Heathy Turtle Brownies | knittedbliss.com

These brownies are the healthed-up version of the decadent treat. There’s still chocolate chips and a fudgey texture, but with lots of fiber and protein, and no refined sugar (I tend not to have much luck with ‘no-sugar’ recipes, so I put in sugar anyway. I have a major sweet tooth). Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

vPin Ups and Link Love: Veggie Tortilla Roll Ups | knittedbliss.com

These veggie tortilla roll ups are such a great idea- they would work great for lunches, for a party tray, or even for a quick addition to the dinner plate. Plus you really could put just about any kind of veggies in there- great for using up what’s in your crisper! Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: DIY Pyramid Earring HOlder | knittedbliss.com

I love this DIY pyramid earring holder! It looks so chic and easy to assemble, and a beautiful way to store your earrings (I keep mine in a dish on the bathroom counter, they don’t look nearly as good as this). Pinterest link is here, and the original DIY post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: Cables 101| knittedbliss.com

If you haven’t tried cabling knitting yet, here is a great little guide on getting started. Pinterest link is here, original post is here. 

Pin Ups and Link Love: Easy Flannel Baby Blanket| knittedbliss.com

Even for beginner sewers, this 10 minute flannel baby blanket is a great gift idea. And no matter when the baby is born, you can’t go wrong with cotton flannel for softness and durability. Pinterest link is here, and the original tutorial is here.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! I hope you have some sunshine and warm weather.

A Trio of Awesome: Cowl, Book, and Project Bag

Knittedbliss.com

That is my lovely new project bag from Madbird. Remember when I asked for feedback on the vote? The one with the top votes sold out (no doubt some people saw it, agreed it would be a great choice, and picked one up for themselves!), but the second one was waiting for me- and it turned out to be my favourite. Sometimes when I am trying to decide something and leave it up to chance, thinking I really don’t know which I would prefer, once the decision is made (vote, coin toss, etc.) I can see more clearly which option I most wanted (whether or not I got it is another story!). Fortunately in this case, it worked out great! I’ve been using it a lot lately, on my current knit in progress:

knittedbliss.com

That is the Starshower Cowl by Hilary Smith Callis, and I’m using ‘Golden Rose’ Ombre from The Blue Brick, which is a beautiful gradient in a fingering weight. I know that right now we are looking at an unblocked pile of knitting, but if you look closely you’ll see that the gradients seem to shift right around each band of the mesh lace, so it’s lining up perfectly. The Starshower cowl is a very different pattern from a typical cowl pattern; it has a lot more shaping, and actually begins with a shawl-style construction before joining in the round. It’s so addictive to watch the colours shift as the cowl grows. I especially love this unusual bright and citrusy gradient, which has so much depth that I don’t feel the photos do it justice. But that probably also has to do with the fact that I took these photos with my cell phone thinking I was only going to use them for Instagram. I should have known better!

The project bag is a good size, comfortably holding everything in the photos- including the book! Speaking of which, this is the book I’ve been recommending to friends lately- When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi. It’s difficult not to be deeply moved by the author’s account of being at the brink of finishing up his student residency and embarking on a brilliant career as a neurosurgeon when he is faced with a terminal diagnosis of his own. And so, fighting the cancer, he sets about writing this book. It talks about his struggles coming to grips with being both the patient and a doctor, of he and his wife deciding to have a baby even though how long he will be alive to see that baby grow is uncertain, and throughout it all he talks about what makes a life worth living when you thought you had decades ahead of you and find that number is greatly diminished. The afterward, written by his wife, is as eloquent and beautifully told as the book.

I finished reading it one weekend morning, and as I was wiping away tears, Lila asked me what I was reading. I told her it was a book about a doctor, and that it was a bit sad. She paused for a moment, and then said, “Because the doctor says ‘no more monkeys jumping on the bed’?” And I laughed and cried and hugged her and felt so freaking fortunate to be alive and watching her grow. So…. if you like books that give you that sort of feeling, then I highly recommend.

Lila’s Birthday Party: Michael’s Superhero Craft Party

Michaels Superhero Craft Party | knittedbliss.com

Please forgive the photos. the party room is painted a bizarre bright yellow/green, and it messed with the colours in all the photos, it seems! I also didn’t want to put any photos of the blogs that contained photos of other people’s children, so they are pretty cropped. 

After asking you guys for birthday party ideas for Lila (thank you so much! So many great ideas, including this one!) I went with a Michael’s superhero craft party. Michael’s (a popular craft store chain in North America, for my wonderful international readers) has prepackaged craft party ideas, geared to different ages. They supply the invitations, crafts materials, thank-you cards and a staff person to facilitate the craft, and you provide the food, drinks, and kids. They generally gear the parties to about 8 children, so we invited 7 other kids to Lila’s party.

When I first called to set it up, they assumed that for a 4 year old girl I would want the princess party, which I flat out turned down. Not that I have anything against princesses, but little kids often have mixed boy/girl parties, and Lila isn’t interested in princesses at all (and no matter how many times I offer, she doesn’t want to watch Frozen). I went with the superhero theme, as the crafts seemed the most fun- they would make capes, masks, power cuffs, and decorate a photo frame. And Lila loves tying on a baby blanket and being ‘Super Lila’ at home.

Guy and I decided that since a photo frame was part of the package, we would send the kids home with a photo. I created a photo backdrop of the city to use for the kids to pose in front of:

backdrop for party

I used Picmonkey, which is what I use to edit my blog photos (I might learn how to use Photoshop one day, but my kids are going to have to be bigger so I have more time!). Picmonkey has some theme bundles, and I used the Comic Heroes theme, using the ‘Graphic Novel’ overlay (Guy is such a great photographer, right?!), and I designed the posters using themed overlays- they are below in the photo collages, with ‘Kaboom! and ‘Wow!’.

We brought a digital camera, laptop, and a printer to the party- Once the kids finished making their superhero costume crafts, we took a photo of each child against the back drop, then Guy transferred the images to his laptop, plugged them into the template, and we printed on site and put them into the frames. The results were super cute:

Michaels Superhero Craft Party | knittedbliss.com

You can see a quick video of Lila trying to blow out her candles on Guy’s Instagram, here

I made a chocolate cake,  and covered the whole thing in rainbow sprinkles and added some little printouts of  some of sound effect bubbles for a cake topper. I am always surprised at how hard I find cake decorating-  there is a big disconnect between my Pinterest cake dreams and my actual abilities.  I need to take a cake decorating class!

Michaels Superhero Craft Party | knittedbliss.com

The staff liked the posters so much they asked if they could keep them! 

To get all the party supplies on theme, I got a birthday-in-a-box set from Birthday Express. I am really impressed with the wide variety of party themes they have (even the superhero theme had 15 different types of superhero party-in-a-box themes) and I found exactly what we wanted– a generic comic superhero theme, complete with balloons, plates, cups, cutlery, decorations, etc. I think it’s really good value (the quality is great) and it is a huge relief to just get everything I need shipped to my front door in one box.

When Lila plays ‘Super Lila’ at home, she says James is Super Baby. So for the party, I put his bib on backwards and sewed a little felt star to a onesie. Instant Super Baby! If we had a bit more forethought (and less general birthday party chaos) I would have liked to take a photo of James in front of the city back drop, I wish we had thought of it at the time.

Michaels Superhero Craft Party | knittedbliss.com

What Worked Great:

  • We went in a couple weeks in advance and picked out the colour scheme for the crafts, choosing red and turquoise blue felt. I did this to ensure that both colour options were unisex, and it was worth it.
  • We took measurements for the frames in the party room, for the printout ‘POW!’ signs.
  • We also took measurements of the photo frames they use for the parties, so Guy could create a pre-sized frame template so he could drag-and-drop the photos of the kids easily.
  • My parents came in from out of town, and it was a huge help- extra sets of hands to help with James and Lila, especially at the end when Lila was exhausted from all the fun and started crying that she wanted to go home (this was about 20 minutes after she had declared that it was the Best. Birthday. EVER!). Guy and my dad took the kids back home while my mom and I cleaned up.

What I Would Do Differently:

  • The capes were a bit long for the 4 year old set, I wish I had asked them to make the capes about a foot shorter than normal (capes come presized).
  • There was also a clearance bin just outside the door of the party room, and the kids pillaged it and it got awkward- tears were shed over who was or wasn’t ‘sharing’. I wish I had moved the bin before the kids arrived. You definitely want the area clear of distractions.
  • This next part sounds a little crazy, but I wish we had a ‘photo list’ of the photos we wanted to take that day- I wish we had got a family photo, I wish we had taken a photo of James as Super Baby in front of the photo back drop. I wish we had got a group shot of all the kids in their costumes together. Next time, I’ll know it’s worth putting a list together so we don’t forget.

And that was Lila’s 4th birthday party!

Note: I’m sure it goes without saying, but none of this content is sponsored. This is just what I chose to use, and I have zero contacts at Michael’s, Picmonkey or Birthday Express.  

Modification Monday: Crescent Swallowtail

Modification Monday: Swallowtail Crescent | knittedbliss.com

Original Pattern: Swallowtail Shawl

Knitter Extraordinaire: Susan (Ravelry ID, blog)

Mods: Modified this classic triangular shawl pattern into a crescent shape, and then very thoughtfully wrote up a great 4 page pdf on how to do just that, including adding a picot bind off. Full details and a link to the pdf can be found on her project page, here.

What Makes This Awesome: A crescent shaped shawl has a lot more versatility than a classic triangular shawl, as well as often looks a bit more modern. The trick for changing it up has to do with the increases, which Susan has beautifully mapped out in her pdf to include a how-to guide for both the classic shawl and  stockinette version (pictured below). I love the added detail of the picot bind off, it’s so beautiful!  Susan’s great guide could be used as a template for figuring out how to turn other triangular shawls into crescents, with some additional tweaks for the pattern repeat of your choice. Thanks to Susan for putting together such a comprehensive modification!

Modification Monday: Swallowtail Crescent | knittedbliss.com

Pin Ups and Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

My Favourite Articles and Links This Week

The librarian who saved Timbuktu’s cultural treasures from Al-Qaeda is a wonderful, fascinating article- that guy is a hero, and this should be a movie.

You’ve heard of Mixed Martial Arts, right? Here’s Mixed Martial Arts & Crafts. So. Damn. Funny.

A museum in Russia tried to play an April Fool’s Day joke, and ended up employing a cat.

I loved these quotes from women on love, life, and being the person you are meant to be.

My Favourite Pins This Week

You guys know how I adore grilled cheese in all it’s various forms, so you’ll have to forgive me two different takes on this treat this week!

Pin Ups and Link Love: Cinnamon Grilled Toast with Chocolate | knittedbliss.com

I absolutely love buttered toast with cinnamon sugar, and this decadent treat takes all of 5 mins to put together and is better and more satisfying than any chocolate bar. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: Bacon Mac and Cheese Melt | knittedbliss.com

This bacon Macaroni and cheese melt is utterly decadent, and the perfect solution to leftover mac and cheese. I haven’t had this yet, but man oh man, do I ever want to try it! Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: DIY Holographic Vase | knittedbliss.com

 I love this holographic vase DIY- it reminds me of that similar glaze effect you see on some old decorative ceramics. This looks so pretty and fresh for spring! Pinterest link is here, and the original DIY post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: Easy Knitted Sock | knittedbliss.com

The dynamic duo of Arne & Carlos have a great tutorial on how to knit a super easy sock with an afterthought heel. Have you tried a sock with an afterthought heel before? If you like your knitting on the mindless/zen side, then this is perfect. Pinterest link is here, and the original post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: Japanese Cat Cards | knittedbliss.com

I’m completely smitten with these adorable Japanese cat playing card letterpress illustrations, and after much hunting, it turns out these are a desk of playing cards- they are postcards! The illustrations are so sweet, if they did make them as a deck of playing cards, I would definitely order them in a heartbeat. Pinterest link is here, and the original post is here (but in Japanese).

This week passed by in a blink for me- how is it already Friday? I could have sworn it was only Tuesday. Oh well. Don’t forget that today is the start of the Instagram #craftyblisschallenge!  Even if you don’t have Instagram, you can click that link any time and check out the photos people are posting. I hope you’ll join us!