Modification Monday: Theo’s Winter Body

Happy New year, everyone!! I hope you are excited for a brand new year, full of potential.  The last gasp of 2016 was a rough one for us- everyone was sick except for Lila, which was a blessing since missing Christmas as a 4 year old is pretty terrible. James has definitely been having the worst of it – he’s still on the mend, poor little thing. But on to a new year, and good things!

Original Pattern: B21-32 Litte William’s Body

Knitter Extraordinaire: Sari (Ravelry ID, Blog)

Mods: Changed the colourwork design on the onesie and changed the arm shaping to have straight sleeves instead of tapered. Details can be found on her blog post, here.

What Makes This Awesome: I’m in awe of this beautiful little onesie. What a great idea to knit a one piece! Sari loved a colourwork design from a sock KAL and decided to incorporate it in a onesie. Taking stranded designs that are meant to be on smaller items (like accessories and socks) and making them the main attraction on garments is a great way to create a knit with big impact. And the icing on the itty-bitty baby onesie cake? She knit it all with leftover yarns that she had in her stash!

Pin Ups and Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

My Favourite Articles and Links This Week

Eight indoor hobbies to get you through the winter. Of course knitting is one of them.

The holidays can be a tough time, but any time you are having a rough day, here are 4 questions to ask yourself that can turn your day around.

How meditation makes you more creative.

If you are like me and have a tendency to eat EVERYTHING through the holiday, here are seven tips for eating more mindfully.  #7 is the one I need to focus on. I find by the end of Christmas I realize I haven’t actually experienced the feeling of hunger for days.

My Favourite Pins This Week

For a fun and lighter-feeling dessert, how about these super fun reindeer ice cream cones? It’s basically any ice cream you fancy, decorated with a red m&m, and some brown m&m’s or chocolate chips. In this ‘recipe’ they use shaped gingerbread for the antler, But I say break some pretzels and use those instead. Unless you happen to have shaped gingerbread lying around your house. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

Asiago Chicken Pasta with sundried tomatoes and asiago cheese is a great weeknight supper, although the directions on this seem a bit rushed (who am I to judge, I write so many blog posts when I’m exhausted and the kids are finally in bed). My suggestion is to ignore step #1, and get the pasta on the stove to start boiling while you cook everything else. Way faster. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

AS part of the faux fur pom pom post here recently, some of you posted about how hard it is to find faux fur pom poms…. but if there is a fabric store, perhaps you can get some faux fur and make your own! Pinterest link is here, and the original post is here.

This would be such a cool January project- making your own oversized cross stitch wall art. Think of all the fair isle knitting charts you could purpose for this! Pinterest link is here, and the original DIY post is here.

As someone who loves to travel, I’m fascinated by words that explore the complex feelings that travel can bring up in us. This is a wonderful list of words from around the globe that describe all sorts of interesting aspects of travel. I had forgotten about sonder,  but I love what it means! Pinterest link is here, and the original post is here.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! For me, this means it’s Christmas weekend, so we will be spending time with family and being all Christmas-y. if you celebrate Christmas, I hope that you have a wonderful weekend full of your favourite Christmas things! And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope you have an amazing weekend of relaxation and the very best that this season has to offer! Big hugs to you all!

 

Mini Stockings! Or, How to Conquer a Big Knitting Project

 

They are done!! And Lila loves them.

Pattern: Mini Christmas Stocking Ornaments

Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label Fingering Mini Skein set

Needles: 2.75 mm (US 2)

Ravelry Project Page can be found here. 

This is my big year-long project, and the smartest thing I did was develop a clear plan with obvious results. My goal was to knit 2-3 mini stockings every month, so I would be done in time for December 1st. I didn’t quite get them all done in time for December first, but I hung up the first twelve and Lila got pretty excited about the daily treat inside! I finished the remaining 6 quickly (I got off schedule, it’s true), and completed the set.

Knitting these has been such a joy! Each sock is small enough that you can cast on and finish it up in the same evening, but there will be lots of ends to weave in. The smart move is to finish the knits as you go, so that you don’t end up with an overwhelming number of ends to weave in or buttons to sew on. You can read some of my earlier thoughts on the pattern and process here and here.

The loops are made by casting on 35 stitches using the long tail cast on method, and then casting off. I sewed one end to the inside of the stocking, and then added a button on the other side. The button loop was made by holding some yarn out while weaving in the ends of the knitted loop for the stockings to be hung. if that makes sense.

This is the first time I laid out an actual game plan for a big project, and it worked SO much better for me than just generally ‘knitting’.  I’d like to share my tips for conquering a big project on time (or on time-ish) so that if you are planning a bit knit in 2017, you will be ready for it!

How to Conquer a Big Knitting Project

Before you Begin:

– Get all the yarn together. Using a mini skein set for the colours took the guess work out of ‘matching’, but if you are going to search out yarn to match up complimentary colours, get all your yarn organized in advance.

– Figure out how many squares/socks/whatever you are going to need. For my mini stocking advent calendar, I needed 24. If you are knitting a blanket, you need to figure out approximately how many squares or shapes you need in order to make the right sized blanket. If you need 40 squares for your blanket and you want to finish in a year, then you need to knit 3.5 squares each month in order to accomplish that.

– Choose colours that you love, in yarn you are excited to work with. Because if you don’t really love the yarn, it’s going to be hard to keep up momentum.

– Put everything you need for the project into one project bag, to keep everything together. If it’s a physically big project, like a blanket comprised of knitted squares, get a big bag to corral all the squares and yarn and a smaller one that will fit inside for the current square/sock/whatever you are working on. Make sure you have everything you need in that smaller bag- stitch markers, small scissors, tapestry needle, etc.

– Figure out the timeline, and be realistic about the inevitability of getting off course. If you want to knit something for December, start in January. Don’t wait until September, the fall is always hectic and you are going to be rushed.  This way if there are setbacks, or if you need to rip back substantially in order to fix a problem, you have time. And if you finish ahead of schedule, that’s the icing on the cake!

Getting Through It

– Chip away all year long. My goal was to knit 2-3 mini stockings each month, so that I’d have them ready by December. It was way easier to knit the socks when taking a break from another project rather than trying to churn out 24 mini stockings in November.

– Make the process easy. If you know that the project requires your full attention, then look forward to times when you can knit on the train, or on road trips, or any other times when you can sit down and focus on the pattern. If it’s a fairly mindless knit, take it with you everywhere so that you can work on it whenever you find some pockets of time.  Having that smaller project bag we discussed in the first section will make this part much easier.

– Celebrate your progress as you go. Take photos! Splash it all over Instagram! Seeing how great it is looking in the middle stages and hearing great feedback from fellow crafters can be hugely motivating.

– Weave in ends as you go, so that you aren’t going to be faced with hundreds of ends to weave in at the end of your project. This not only will help keep the momentum up, but makes it easier to photograph when you are doing the previous step, of Celebrating as You Go.

– Don’t make this your only knitting project. Unless you want to. A project that has smaller parts and monthly goals provides opportunity for you to take a break here and there with the special big project, not just have it be your sole focus.

The Home Stretch

– If you are are getting near the end, don’t get cocky and think you can slow down. Keep. Going! You would be surprised how many projects stall in the last little bit, when the squares all need to be joined or the ends woven in or one more piece to go…. it can easily lead to a gigantic unfinished project.

– If you know that you have really busy times in your life – say, October is always crazy for work and December is… December, then plan around it. Push a little harder on your project in advance of those challenging times, so that your efforts don’t get derailed by the inevitable craziness that life will throw your way.

Lesser known fact- I started to knit a baby blanket for James when I was pregnant with him, after I found out it was a boy. It was a garter stitch blanket knit in rectangles with alternating, randomized stripes. As you probably have already figured out, I never finished it. Not only did I not give myself enough time to knit it (I was convinced I could do it in 3 months), I was using yarns I thought would look great together when viewing it online, but when they arrived the colours just weren’t what I had hoped. I made a few switches for different colours in similar yarn, but at best it felt like an ‘okay’ project. Needless to say, it’s languished.

Having completed this mini stocking advent calendar makes me feel so satisfied. The joy on Lila’s face every morning – and the request for her ‘little sock’ that often comes when she’s standing beside my bed before the alarm goes off and my feet have yet to hit the floor – makes me realize how I didn’t just knit 24 little socks, I knit a tradition, one that is setting the stage for all the Christmas memories she will gather in her lifetime.

One morning, I was standing near the bookcase pictured above,watching Lila reverently open her little sock to find out what treasure awaited her and Guy said to me, “You know, you are going to have to knit another set for James. Opening the sock is the best part, they can’t take turns on that. Not without a lot of fighting.”

So – January 2017, I’ll be embarking on another set of minis stockings! Are there any big knitting projects you would like to tackle in 2017?

Modification Monday: Little Striped Dress

Original Pattern: Lightweight  Pullover

Knitter Extraordinaire: Ida (Ravelry ID)

Mods: Turned the funnel neck long sleeved pullover into a short sleeved, crew neck sweater dress. Details can be found on her project page, here.

What Makes This Awesome:  It’s been a real wave of awesome sweater dresses, hasn’t it? ‘Tis the season! We have seen that it’s great to go with a top down sweater pattern so you can try it on as you go, and that you need to add in some waist shaping and then increase more than you would for a pullover to all for some ease in the skirt, but we haven’t seen This one has been modified to be a winter layering sweater dress, specifically with short sleeves, so that there’s the option to wear it over long sleeved shirts or on it’s own. Ida adjusted the neckline to a crew neck, adding k2 p2 ribbing to echo the hem. And then there are the great stripes! Each of her stripes is 20 rows, providing a great graphic look.

Pin Ups and Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

My Favourite Articles and Links This Week

An anonymous artist/guerrilla crafter has been putting up these fabulous mice-sized shops and cafes all over Malmo Sweden. I’m so smitten with them.

This is 101 ways to cheers yourself up. The entire list is so brilliant, everyone should read it.

How to be a good listener.

Choose your hard. The things that are the hardest to do are usually the most important.

My Favourite Pins This Week

Twix cookies!! Be a cookie hero and make these for whatever holiday gathering that has compelled you to bring a baked good! These look so good I want to reach through the screen and eat one right now. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe can be found here.

Chicken Fajita sweet potatoes – Healthy, delicious, and you might as well get something good into you before the overdosing on holiday food is upon us (although if the holiday party that Guy attended last night is anything to go on, the onslaught has already arrived – it was at a restaurant that had kangaroo meat hot dogs and duck fat french fries.). Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

I am in love with these mini swan succulent planters. Just looking at them makes me crazy with desire to rush out and find those swans, paint them, buy some succulents, plant them, and then gift them to everyone and anyone, because they are the perfect ‘anyone’ gift. You know the kind of crazy I mean- where you are convinced that the time it will take to fight your way through the shopping crowds and traffic to the craft store and the line ups, and then to make them at home, then wrap them in cellophane (go back out to buy cellophane because you forgot the first time) or something to protect from the actual freezing winter out there so you can gift them…. all totally doable before the holidays! Who’s with me?! Maybe for New Years. Pinterest link is here, and the original DIY post is here.

I think this might be the coolest crochet scarf I’ve ever seen! The white and pink combo here looks very summery, but you could easily work it up in neutrals or dark colours for a more wintery look. Pinterest link is here, and the original pattern can be found here.

The best thing about obscure old swear words? They make you look cool, and not uncouth. The link does how more racy terms, and a whole lot of gifs with people flipping their middle finger, so be warned. Pinterest link is here, and the original list is here.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends! I hope you are all on top of your holiday planning and shopping and feeling like you’ve got this all under control. Then maybe you can come over and tell me your secret as to how you got it all done.