The Mad Rush of Holiday Crafting

It’s that time of year where fiber artists make the mad rush to finish off handmade gifts for family and friends, and even to those less fortunate. Where does the time go and how do we get everything finished in time to mail off the packages? Lets start by making a list of what we want to make.

The Mad Rush seems to happen right about now. Every arts and crafts website sending out emails letting you know about some new pattern, new yarn, new crochet hook (or knitting needle). How many emails do you have just sitting there waiting to be opened?

If you are short on time and The Mad Rush has got you pulling your hair out, here are a few of my favorite items to knit or crochet. These items are quick to make, and you can mark them off your list.

  Fingerless Mitts. My mitts are easy for the new knitter, can be modified depending on yarn & techniques you want to add to it. The original pattern uses thick yarn, big needles and just garter (knit) stitch. These mitts are great at keeping your hands warm, and you can still text, you can email and you can drive without taking them off. It is not safe to text and drive at the same time, wear the mitts but leave the phone in your pocket or purse.

Crochet Beanie Style Hat. There are many hat patterns out there, and this is one of my favorite designers to use for her hats. It’s a quick and easy pattern. From infant to adult, you can crochet a hat in less than 4 hours. Worsted weight yarn and a 5.00mm hook (H hook), one skein of about 200 yards of yarn. Add a cute pompom to the top, add earflaps and tassles to accessorize it. Sarah’s patterns are easy to follow, with size changes, additional rows, her cute animal hats are fun to crochet.

  Knit Hat. I cannot leave out knitters when it comes to hats. The As Good As Gold hat uses a chunky yarn like Lion Brand Hometown yarn or Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick yarn, size US 15 circular needles in 16 inch length. With knit and purl stitches and some decreases to close the hat, you will have a big chunky hat just like snowboarders wear on the slopes.

  Crochet Scarf. Rolling Along scarf is a quick pattern that uses 1 cake of Sweet Roll yarn, 245 yds, worsted weight and 5.50mm I crochet hook. The V Stitch pattern is easy to memorize, and in no time, you have finished a scarf. The pattern states it is an infinity scarf, no ends to weave in. Modified if you want to add fringe to the ends of the scarf.

  Knit Scarf. For knitters, if you do not want to use worsted weight or heavier yarn, the Light and Lacy scarf will work for you. Knit with #3 weight yarn, YO and K2tog are the stitches used to make a pretty scarf. Cast on more stitches, more yarn and you can have a lovely knitted wrap to wear. Add sparkly yarn to dress up an outfit.

Crochet Animals. What child does not like stuffed animals. I like to give stuffed animals to new moms as part of their baby shower gift. Bright colors, soft to the touch, machine washable. Elephant is my favorite animal to make. One of the first animals I learned to crochet in the round (amigurumi).

 Water Bottle Carrier. This is a fun cozy to crochet for those that do not like to hold a bottle of water. One of the first patterns I designed over 8 years ago. Made with cotton yarn, it will hold a bottle up to 24 ounces, even those metal bottles will fit. Using less than 1 skein of cotton yarn, an H hook and in a few hours you will have finished another gift to give.

The Mad Rush is on, by showing you that there are items that can be made quickly, you will in no time have your list finished. Enjoy your crocheting and knitting, but remember to always take time for yourself. Happy Holidays to you and your family far and near.

Thanksgiving Memories of Family Past and Present

Memories of  Thanksgiving flood me today, the day where people have traveled to their family homes far and near. The airport running to catch that flight, the gassing up the vehicles to start that long drive to family far away, the hustle and bustle of grocery shopping to get all those ingredients for hours upon hours of cooking ahead.

Memories spring back to life when Thanksgiving props its head every November. I remember waking up early to see my grandfather boiling the onions, mincing the parsley, roasting the chestnuts in the oven, taking the Jimmy Dean sausage roll and inserting it into the back end of the birdl all for his own recipe for stuffing the bird.

The chopping of the onions, the oversized bowl to fit not 1, but 2 packages of Mrs. Cubbison’s stuffing. The 3 slices of bacon placed on top of the bird once the bird was stuffed and was about to go into the oven. The butter strategically placed between the wing and thigh, seasoning the bird, placing the 2 large pieces of foil on top of the bird. Those overwhelming smells got me salivating for turkey, but that was hours away.

Memories as a kid jumping out at me. My mom always made the pumpkin pies the day before. I liked to help beat the filling with the mixer, I was never good at cracking the eggs. I can still smell the spices that went into the filling, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger. Those pre-made frozen pie crusts never really could pour all the filling into them, slowing sliding the pies into the oven, hoping the rack did not jump and pie filling spill into the oven.

Once the pies were done, chilled in the refrigerator, the next morning it was time to whip the whipping cream. In our home, we did not use aerosol whipped cream. My mother liked to decorate the top of the pies with real whipping cream. It was my job. She would add sugar and a little vanilla extract while I was holding the hand mixer, watching the cream turn into whipped cream. Of course, I got to lick the beaters.

That was my life as a kid, someone else doing all the work to make Thanksgiving memorable. As an adult, I was able to replicate my grandfather’s turkey stuffing recipe, I did not roast chestnuts, but did chop walnuts. I boiled the onions, minced the parsley, even stuffed the back end with sausage.

Memories fill me today. Thanksgiving will be with Lee’s dad, brother, sister in law, nephew, sister in law’s parents and dad’s girlfriend. I will be in the kitchen shortly prepping all the side dishes. I will not be stuffing the bird, his dad prefers the bird NOT to be stuffed. Lee’s brother is bringing the “deep fried” turkey along with pies. Plenty of eating to be done today.

I will be crocheting a hat or 2 while visiting, one never leaves home without some sort of project to work on.

May your day be filled with memories and a full belly

The kitties were nestled all snug in their chair?

Sharing momma’s new chair, it fits us

The Year of WIPs continues, Valentine’s Day Crafting Suggestions

As the year of WIPs continues, I have completed 3 projects that were started last year. Take a look at the lovely Tunisian Crochet scarf that I made with 2 hanks of hand dyed yarn. It is from Expression Fiber Arts, and it’s their Dewy DK yarn. As their website states: a mix of superwash merino wool (70%), nylon (20%) and silk (10%). It is super soft, lots of bounce and with the majority of it wool, it will definitely keep you warm. Thanks goes out to fellow knitting guild member, Merilyn Burnside, for teaching this class.

The other WIPs is the South Bay Shawlette, a Lion Brand pattern. As you can see, it is a nice size for cooler days and nights. When I picked up the cake, the first thing that came to my mind was sunsets.

   

And finally the Knit Shawl, Take Cover! By Katarzyna Baranska, a paid pattern on Ravelry. I used 1 hank of Malabrigo Mechita. I just need to block it as the top edge does curl and I want all the beautiful lace work to show through.

Now on to some fun projects for Valentine’s Day

Cute Little Hearts are the perfect start on projects. This heart can be crocheted quickly and added to all sorts of items. It takes just some scraps of yarn and a H – 5mm crochet hook. In just a few minutes you can crochet a little heart. Here is the instructions for the little heart:

Scraps of Yarn: red, pink, lilac, purple, white

H (5mm) Crochet Hook

Darning Needle and Scissors

Stitches Used: CH-chain; DC-double crochet; Treble Crochet; SS-slip stitch

Leave a long Tail, with the Magic Loop, do the following in the loop:

Chain 3

                                                                                                         Treble Crochet 3 times, Chain 1

                                                                                                       Double Crochet 3 times, Chain 1

                                                                 Treble Crochet 1 time, Chain 1; Double Crochet 3 times, Chain 1

                                                                                  Treble Crochet 3 times, Chain 3; Slipt Stitch into loop

                                                                                                        Pull loop tight and your heart is done

With this little heart, you can make all kinds of fun items. Just take a look at these gems:

 

                                                                                      Sew them to hair clips; Attach them to hoop earrings

 

                                                                                                                         Make a necklace

For the necklace, the sample shown just make a chain of at least 140 stitches, slip stitch each chain, add a 2nd color, slip stitch those stitches, cut yarn, take another color or use first color, and slip stitch across. Sew both ends to back of hearts, and you have a cute necklace.

How about coffee cup cozies, 2 versions, one to wrap around your coffee mug and 1 to take with you for your favorite brew from the local coffee house.

For the coffee cup cozy with handle, chain between 30 and 40 stitches. The length of the chain should wrap around the cup, but meet up to both sides of the handle, without touching.

Half double crochet in 2nd chain from hook, hdc in each remaining chain.

Turn, hdc in each stitch for 8 rows. Chain 1, single crochet along side of cozy, until you get half way up, about 3-5 stitches, chain 16, slip stitch into same space as the chain stitch, single crochet to the end and bind off. Add a cute button, I got this heart shaped button at JoAnn’s.

For paper cup cozy, chain 30, slip stitch to first chain to form a circle, being careful not to twist chains. *Chain 1, hdc in each chain around, ending with a slip stitch in top of beginning chain 1. Repeat from *, for a total of 10 rounds. Bind off, weave in ends on inside. Attach heart and you are ready to go.

A couple more ideas (sorry no, photos) you can do with the little heart:

  1. Stitch 2 hearts together from the top, leaving the bottom point open and, add a little fiberfill stuffing, and place on top of a Valentine pencil and either glue it shut or tie it closed so the eraser can be used.
  2. Seam 2 hearts together, add some catnip, and it becomes a kitty toy
  3. Attach 2 hearts together, add crushed lavender and herbs and it becomes a sachet.
  4. Add hearts to handmade or store bought headband
  5. Sew hearts together to create a cute bracelet.

One Little Valentine Heart, many ways to accessorize just for Valentines Day. What will you come up with? See you soon, when I will have a review on a new product I found at my local JoAnn’s store.