Monday, December 31, 2012

Finishing Up 2012...

Back on the first of the year, I posted some goals for 2012. Time to take stock and see how I did...

1. Enjoy life more...I want to make sure we have at least one new travel adventure this year. I love to see the world and you only have so many years to do it! RESULT: Sort of...we spent the majority of June in Florida and explored some new adventures.

2. Read more. Read more. Read more. RESULT: It was later in the year than I intended, but I did get this one done. The key for me was two-fold...iPad mini and making the time away from knitting to sit and read. I really didn't use the full-size iPad as much, but the smaller mini doesn't leave my side and I've already knocked out lots of reading on it in the last few months. Best reads of 2012: Gone Girl and The Sherlockian. LOVED it! Currently reading The Big Sleep and Whose Body. Also on the reading front, I've become re-addicted to magazines. Having the electronic download is perfect and makes for entertaining time on the treadmill.

3. Finish that damn Babette blanket that has been in the works for what like 4 years? RESULT: 2012 was the magic year!!!! It is finished AND so are two other afghans. SO happy with the final blanket and the fact that I stuck with it over the years. It will feel like a big gap is missing from the 2013 goals not to have this one on the list.

4. Continue knitting out of my stash to use what I have! RESULT: Better than I expected. Yes, I still bought more than I should have, but I used up a lot of my stash on projects. Off the top of my head, I can think of three sweaters and two new Brownie Knits designs that developed out of stash yarn. Additionally, I gave away three large bins of yarn to charity knitting/crocheting groups.

Patrick wearing his "stash sweater" on Christmas.

5. out, eat healthy, drop weight... RESULT: Well, I did join a gym and walked 2 5Ks and 4.6 mile walk. I also dropped and gained the same 5 pounds about 5 times over the year. Argh.

6. Knit more finished items for the Etsy store. RESULT: This one I did not do, but that was an active decision. I found that made and posted items didn't do that well in the shop. What DID do well was posting pictures of my patterns in action and stating on various sites that the finished item was available for purchase or custom order. This resulted in my highest number of made orders and the best ROI yet. Getting just a tiny bit smarter about this business of mine!

7. Knit more finished items for myself. RESULT: I am calling this one a success. I still knitted for the business a lot, test knitted, and made a few items for the kids and Patrick. However, I also managed to knit three sweaters for myself this year. Not bad at all and a good thing given the winter we are having. All of my knit sweaters are getting heavy rotation.

Being silly around Halloween in my Central Park Hoodie knitted out of stash yarn.

8. Get my pattern collection into electronic format on my iPad. RESULT: DONE!!! All those single patterns are scanned into PDF form and on my iPad and computer. This is SO the way to have these organized. I've put them in iBooks and whenever I want to knit from them, I can use either my iPad mini or my iPhone wherever I go. I've also started only buying pattern books electronically. This sometimes limits me, but that's not so bad either as I spend less and I am VERY selective about purchases.

9. Get old photos scanned into electronic format so that I can use them in my electronic photo frame. RESULT: 50% done. I managed to scan in a lot of photos early in 2012 and then I moved to other activities and never got back to that big box of photos that is staring at me. This is the new "Babette Blanket" goal that will continue each year until accomplished.

10. Watch all the knitting DVDs I have and LEARN something from them. :) RESULT: Fail...didn't even put them in the DVD player.

All in all, I don't think I did too bad. I accomplished many of the things I set out to do on this list and many things that I didn't even have planned. As always, there is more to be done in 2013!

Friday, December 28, 2012

When You Miss Crochet...

I've been knitting up a storm since September with orders, designs, test/tech knits, and fun knitting. Although I love knitting and probably do end up preferring it over crochet, I miss crochet when I'm not doing it. What's a yarnie to do but start a new project! For me, that means a new blanket!

Pattern: Great Grandma's Square from The Granny Square Book
Yarn: Cream is KPPM (Koigu) and teal is Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock
Hook: US C
Mods: Added an extra DC round in the cream section to make the square larger.

My plan is to use up lots of my sock yarn stash in this afghan. I want to crochet up the majority of the squares in The Granny Square book. Where needed, I'll add rounds and alterations to get 6x6 squares. Along with my Beekeeper's Quilt, this will be my ongoing afghan for the next year. Fun!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Traditions....

Of course, there are more dinner parties and family time and gifts and stockings and on and on... But, one of my favorite things we do each year is driving around to look at Christmas lights. The first year we were together, I remember driving around with a 6-month-old Riley dog who LOVED riding in the car.

Over the years, we've invited various family and friends along. I was telling Patrick about one year that I went out with Carol, Tonya, and Greg to see lights. We spotted a HUGE glow off in the distance. After driving for what seemed like forever, we came upon it and cars were streaming along. It was the craziest amount of lights I've ever seen in person. After thinking about that night, we set up an evening to go out with G and T. Although I didn't get any pictures of the evening, we enjoyed ourselves! OMG. I laughed so hard at two different points that I thought I was going to crack a rib. I'll forever remember confusion over what was a pig and what was a polar bear...still making me chuckle out loud all these days later.

I've been pretty bad about photos during all our festivities and only managed a picture of the table before a small family gathering last weekend. (Can you tell I'm getting the most out of all these dishes that fill up the house throughout the rest of the year!?! Why not? Other than all that hand washing...) I guess my lack of photos could be put down to the fact that I'm too busy enjoying myself to think about the camera!

Do you have a holiday tradition that you share with family and friends?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Headband for Katie

Earlier this year I promised Katie that I would knit her a Central Park Hoodie. That was probably WAY ambitious of me so although she will get one at some point in the next five years :), I went ahead and whipped up a headband that she mentioned wanting for her late December birthday. There are lots of headband patterns out there as these are SO popular right now. I thought I'd share what I did on the blog in case you are in the last minute holiday rush and need something FAST.

Headband pattern: Free Morning Walk Headband (thanks to T. Matthew Fine Art for sharing it with all of us!); Flower pattern: I used a flower from a free pattern in my archives and I'm not sure it is available everywhere. However, it is a crocheted flower. You could use any crocheted or knitted flower you like.

Yarn: 1 skein of Berroco Peruvia Quick
Needles: US 10

Hook: US H
Notions: 2 buttons

Mods: I followed the headband pattern as written, but my decrease section measured longer than the designer's did with her yarn. I didn't worry about this and just knitted the even section to the inches she said and then followed the decrease instructions as written. It came out perfect. On the crocheted buttonhole, I only did 2 chains instead of the 4-6 recommended. All depends on the button you use.

I decided to put a fun sparkle button in the center of this flower because I know Katie loves some bling like I do! I casted on this project at the start of the IU/Central Conn State game. It was all finished up before the final buzzer. The designer also offers the pattern for a thinner weight yarn, too. Great last minute projects if you are trying to get something together before the 25th!

Happy birthday, Katie!!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Gingerbread House

For years now, we have been saying that we would put together a gingerbread house. Neither of us ever did one as kids, so we thought we'd give it a shot. Nothing fancy...just the cheap kit from Michael's with a 40% off coupon. So, on one of Patrick's days off, we plopped down at the kitchen table to put it together.

Word of warning to parents who are doing this with kids, you need to do the green pieces on the roof a few days before and you need to set up the gingerbread pieces and let them sit for hours before doing the candy portion. I would suggest those first two steps be mom and dad only and then tell the kids about it when it is actually ready for them to ice up and put on the candy.

It wasn't super clear what you were supposed to do on the back of the house, so we added our own K touch with icing and candy. I also used up the rest of the green to make some shrubs in the back.

Patrick patiently flattened and cut all the diamond shapes for the roof while I tried to create something that looked reasonable with the icing. I would NOT make it on the Cake Boss, that's for sure!

I pulled out a silver platter and tossed some white doilies on it as the base for the house. Added on some batting for some extra snow. Ta Da! I didn't think it was too bad for our first try. Then, I saw a competition on the Today show and felt like it looks like a 3-year-old did it in comparison!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Finished Ravi Sweater

Back in September a group of us set out on a knit-along adventure...some making the Ravi sweater and some the Iced sweater (both by the talented Carol Feller). After lots of distractions (that little thing called work), I finally got back to mine last week and whipped up the sleeves over a few days. With my green colorway, it is perfect for the holidays.

Pattern: Ravi
Needles: US 6
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Mediumweight
Color: Mossay

Mods: I added some extra stitches to the body below the yoke and then knitted it straight down with no side shaping and I left off the short row section at the bottom of the sweater. I also picked up more stitches under the arms (due to my extra stitches on the body), but I decreased these right away to then get back to the pattern stitch count on the sleeves. I followed the rest of her decreases as written on the sleeves, but knitted full-length sleeves. I'm really happy with the end result and think it will get lots of wear. It is REALLY warm. Oh...and so that I could be lazy and knit in garter during basketball games, I knit the sleeves flat and seamed them (versus knitting them in the round and having to purl half the rows). The other thing I would note is that although it looked a little short in the back when I bound off, it blocked out to the desired length due to the garter (and doing a gauge swatch first :). If you plan to make this sweater, you should also check out her free short-row class at

Monday, December 17, 2012

Yarnie Holiday Party

Every few weeks a few knitter friends get together on Tuesday nights to knit and get away from life for a few hours. I treasure these nights SO much because of the friendship and the chance to talk all things yarn and knitting/crocheting. I decided for our December knit to have the girls up to the house for some good eats, knitting, and a little stash exchange. I so enjoy planning small events (large groups stress me out big time) and I went to work on the menu and such.

As I told the ladies, I don't break out the china and crystal for just anybody! HA! 
It was fun to be all fancy for the evening.

Aren't these napkins so pretty? They were a gift for our wedding from a co-worker/friend and he got them on a trip to Belgium. I felt all Downton Abbey..."downstairs" while I set it up and cleaned it up and "upstairs" while we enjoyed it all! (Given my addiction to cleaning, I would have most definitely have been a "downstairs" in a past life!)

Our Menu:
Baked Brie with Raspberry Red Pepper Jelly
(served with Gluten Free Savory Rice Crackers)
Lettuce Wedge Blue Cheese Salad
Butternut Squash Soup
Creme Brulee garnished with Blackberries
French Lick Blackberry Wine

I didn't really get good pictures of our food, but I did take a few of the soup during prep. I used the Oakley's Butternut Squash recipe that you can find here. Oakley's Bistro is a local restaurant in Indianapolis. If you are ever in the area and want a very special meal, it is SO good. To find his recipe online was a treasure. I made it the day before to make sure it turned out and I had time for a back up. (As I mentioned after dinner, "I don't often cook well!") IT WAS AMAZING! There is a fair amount of prep work so I would suggest making it the day before. I served it and added a touch of cream and maple syrup table side. Oh la la! It is also a great recipe for vegetarian or gluten-free eaters. (Actually, our entire meal fit that bill.)

Christina got a few photos of us knitting and hanging out, but I totally spaced it by that point! I think they all figured out why I knit and crochet so many blankets...because we keep the house so cold. Everybody got to cuddle up in their own afghan. (As a point of explanation, I am both cheap and our upstairs is boiling if we keep the downstairs warm.) 

We enjoyed a little bit of The Voice while knitting and chatting and then did a little yarnie swap. The plan was to swap from your stash. We'll just say that we don't all follow direction to a T! :) It was a fun little exchange and to make it random, we swapped in order of arrival. I ended up receiving from Christina and boy was I lucky! She is such a good crafter and SO inventive.

A LOVELY skein of Madelinetosh that will most likely go into another crocheted granny square blanket I have planned.  Sheep cards from her mom's shop you can find here. (I had looked at these the day before to order them!) A felted handmade tree ornament (Isn't that cute? She is constantly creating pillows, mittens, etc with felted wool. I love the way her mind sees the world.) Stitch markers with little crocheted sections and an attached bead. These were also handmade and she put them in a gift-wrapped matchbox. How fun is that! Super cute way to give a small gift. There were also some truffles in there, but those have already been tucked into the pantry to be put out for some upcoming holiday get togethers we have planned.

Here is the sweet little felted ornament on the tree. I plan to frame the sheep cards and sit them out with my snowman drawings that I have framed from a friend who is also an artist. It is so fun and special to decorate with art from those you know and appreciate.

I hope all the ladies had a good time. It is so nice to have people to share in your crafting passion who both inspire and encourage you. As it happened, the morning of this event I was out running some errands and stopped in to my old company. I got to see friends I hadn't in years. It was as if no time had gone by and I really loved catching up with them and seeing all their happy faces. Then, I came home to an email from a dear college friend. After having such a bad few days last week, being blessed with so many friends and happiness in one day was just what I needed. I went to bed that night full and happy with dreams of what I was going to knit and crochet over the next week flying before my eyes.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

When Pinterest Projects Go Bad

Remember those great super hero ornaments we were going to make for PK and the nephews. We had the glass ornaments and poured in the paint...we thought we were good to go. UGH! No matter how much I tried to drain the extra paint out of the those things, it wouldn't come out and I wasn't about to give paint-filled balls to people for their tree. But, I kept trying and trying. Even went on to the next step of making the logo stickers. Those looked like s$*t and curled and creased on the balls. So, we went and bought stickers, still a disaster and by this point I had paint on everything. After two weeks, I gave up and they got tossed in their own special trash bag. EPIC FAIL! I'm sure that there must be ways to make this project work given that the original poster had wonderful ornaments. It just wasn't meant to be for me!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mitten Pair Number, Oh I Don't Know Anymore!

I think I might have to refer to 2012 as the year of the mitten! I've completely lost track of how many I've made. They are super popular items for the Etsy store, plus I've worked up several for us. In the last two weeks I've knitted 8 pairs! Here is the latest pair...

Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh DK
Needles: US 6 DPNs
Pattern: Well...just casted on and went for it. 
At this point, I think I could make them in my sleep!

These are a men's small but are modeled on my tiny hands. They fell awesome! One trick to help make sure your mittens fit the receiver is to put rib at the top and bottom. Allows for the various sizes of hands...I also HATE the mitten patterns that have you increase for the thumb section. I much prefer to leave X stitches on a holder and cast on that amount on the next row. You then pick those up, plus the corner stitches for the thumb section. This, imo, allows the knitter to keep up the rhythm of the mitten without all the fiddling. I also think it ends up a nicer finished product as the thumb section pulls less. Just my two cents...I guess I could also remember 2012 for all the projects on which I knitted using DPNs. All the mittens, the beekeepers quilt, and all the farm animals for E were knitted on double points. I don't think I've knitted on DPNs that much in my entire knitting career combined. Do you have a knitting memory for 2012?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Tree 2012...

A few pictures of our tree this year...

And DH added this ornament after his sci-fi conference. Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Churchmouse Wreaths

So, funny story...every year I exchange a knitter-related gift with one of my dear dear friends. We learned to knit together and have been friends for ages and ages now. Well, I suppose it was going to happen one of these years that we would get each other the same thing! Before going out of town last week, I went out and purchased a small Churchmouse wreath kit for each of us. I dropped it off at the house with the intention of mailing it when we got back from a short trip. We arrived home to find a large box from Churchmouse on the porch. Very confused and thinking that I might have ordered it online during some insomnia or something, I opened it to find the large wreath kit from said friend. Well, we both had some good laughs about it and in the end, it all worked out well because we had the different sizes (I had included the sweater made ornament in her gift, thus the smaller wreath).

Here is the small one. It used two balls of yarn and is on a 12 inch wire wreath. I knitted it up and did the finishing work in about 4 hours total. This one is adorning our guest bath door to welcome some of our holiday visitors. I plan to keep it up until the spring as it reminds me of snow/winter, not just the holidays.

The large one is supposed to use 4 skeins, but for me it only took under 3. It is on a 18 inch wire wreath and it worked up for me in about 5 hours. At some point, I'll try to get an evening picture of the house because the cream wreath with our green wreaths and red bows on the windows really pops out. I'm thinking this one will stay on the door until spring as well...and isn't it just screaming for an IU ribbon to be added during basketball season? One I can pin on and remove when I want just the plain wreath. I just love the wreaths and I took the extras from the third ball and made a yarn ornament for the Christmas tree. The fourth ball will be knitted into garland that is also included in the pattern. Here is the link in case you want to order a kit of your own.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Creativity with Old Sweaters

At the recent trip to the Vintage Marketplace, one of the fun things to see was how creative artists turned old items into new uses. The stack of old tea cups and plates into a candle holder, the printed insides of books sprinkled with glitter and mounted to candle holders to be Christmas trees, and old sweaters tied and embellished to find a new life as an ornament. I kept myself mostly to just looking, but I did grab these little sweater guys. The snowman is living on our tree, but the big button ball went to a dear friend as part of her holiday gift. The next time I have an old sweater, I just might have to make a few of these to add to our decor.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Decorating with Handmade Items

This past Saturday I was doing some work while waiting for a customer. I looked around the house to see what the dogs were doing and noticed just how many handmade items I have incorporated into our holiday decor. It was a gradual thing that sort of crept up on me.

Our kitchen table with a doily I got at an antique store years ago. 

The recently finished alpaca blanket.

The nephews and niece holiday stockings that Santa fills at our house.

A shawl I knitted this past year is adorning the dining room table. Goes great with candlesticks that I pull out each year...they were from my favorite teacher for our wedding. I always think of her when I see them. More than any other person in my life, she taught me how valuable creativity is.

Made during my cross stitch obsession. 
Reminds me of my east coast aunts and Grandma, as they all love to stitch.

My glitter tree skirt made last year with lots of hot glue and burnt fingers.

A few knitted ornaments made years ago...I love the glitter in the yarn.

Very special crocheted snowflakes adorn our tree and they were all made by my MIL.

This year, I'll be whipping up some knitted wreaths to live on the door throughout the holiday and winter months. All of these handmade items make the house feel warm and cozy. Do you have a favorite handmade item you bring out for the holidays?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Flossie and Sunflower Wreath Hit Knit Picks!

We are super excited to announce that our Brownie Knits Flossie Hat pattern and Brownie Knits Sunflower Wreath pattern are both available for purchase on Knit Picks! For all you knitters who LOVE Knit Picks, check them out here. As always, they make it super easy to purchase the pattern and necessary needles/hooks and yarn. All are ready there for you to click Add to Cart. You know what this means...if you need to send a holiday gift idea to someone, they can easily get you exactly what you need and want.

Happy Knitting and Crocheting!

In addition to these two patterns, you can also get the patterns and all you need to make them for:
  • What a Slouch Hat
  • Little Piggy Hat
  • Choo Choo Train Blanket
  • Petal Baby Afghan
  • Beachband