Spring 2016 #craftblisschallenge Wrap Up

The #CraftyBlissChallenge on Instagram wrapped up on May 1st, and Melissa and I had so much fun hosting the spring challenge. I loved scrolling through the hashtag and seeing all the great photos, the interesting interpretations of the prompts, and getting to know some new people.  There were 1000+ photos tagged, and 83 people made it all the way through all 10 days! Melissa and I agreed we would each do a random number from the list of those who completed all the prompts, and send a little gift to that person as a thank you for participating. This year, the amazing Caterpillargreen Yarns and The Blue Brick have each offered a skein of something special to two lucky challenge participants – @spirittrailfiberworks was my lucky winner, and @k_express was the winner for Melissa!

 Here is a very small sampling of some of the awesome photos shared– and if you’d like to see more, click on the #CraftyBlissChallenge and see all the wonderful photos!

#craftyblisschallenge | knittedbliss.com

It was a great feeling of community, sharing our posts every day, checking out everyone’s photos. People posted at all sorts of different times, and in different time zones, so there was always something new to see. I also felt that so many people shared real moments and truths about their lives and how they felt about certain things, because of the prompts. Things that people treasured, and why. Or reflections on certain aspects of their life and craft. It was amazing.

As for myself, I had some challenges with truly grey and dreadful weather for days and days and days, and we all know how hard it is to get good photos when natural light has gone to play in someone else’s timezone.  These were my contributing photos to the prompts:

#craftyblisschallenge | knittedbliss.com

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I don’t usually post every day (and there are way more photos of my kidlets there than on the blog), so it was fun to stretch myself a bit. I’m actually terrible for forgetting to take photos of things, I don’t live my day-to-day life thinking, ‘I need photos to post on social media!’. What I found most interesting with doing the Instagram challenge is that I felt more alert, more tuned-in to my surroundings and how I could interpret the daily prompt. A fun way to flex some creativity!

Modification Monday: Crazed Scandinavian Leggings

Modification Monday: Crazed Scandinavian Leggings | knittedbliss.com

Original Patterns: Crazed Scandinavian Cowl  and Fair Isle Pants

Knitter Extraordinaire: Tanya (Ravelry ID)

Mods: Combining the pattern for the fair isle pants with the stranded design from the crazed Scandinavian cowl,  changed the gauge from worsted weight to fingering. Details can be found on her project page, here.

What Makes This Awesome: Hands up who would love to have these amazing leggings in their wardrobe right now?! I am crazy in love with these crazed Scandinavian leggings (couldn’t resist!). Tanya set about using the fair isle pants pattern for her guide, and swatched with her fingering weight yarn to figure out which size of the pants she would need to make to account for the difference in gauge. She picked great neutral colours so that she could maximize the wearability of these leggings (I’m pretty sure they go with just about everything), and I recommend checking out her project page for the great detailed notes as well as loads of pictures, including the great contrasting waistband and the side ‘seam’ details. I’m completely blown away by these leggings, and so inspired!

Modification Monday: Crazed Scandinavian Leggings | knittedbliss.com

P.s- this isn’t Tanya’s first showing on Modification Monday, she also did this incredible Laika mod here!

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.