Independence Day

Happy Fourth of July!  Did you see the July treasury I put together?  If not, you'll want to check it out here

Or you can check out this fantastic blog right here where my treasury list and one of my items were featured today!  Sweet!  By the way, I LOVE the "Treasury Tuesday" idea...maybe I'll do that myself sometime too!

Today, I listed a couple of long-tailed patriotic newborn hats (photo props) that I had been fighting with working on for quite some time.  They knitted up just fine.  So what took me so long?  Well, the plan was to go back and stitch stars onto the blue to give them the U.S. flag look.  I thought it would be a ton easier to do than it actually was.  After many failed attempts (on a swatch of the blue yarn that I had knitted for testing my embroidery ideas), I finally had the solution.

Waste fabric.
I knew there was a reason I bought that waste canvas stuff ages ago. It was just sitting there, patiently waiting for the day when I realized what I needed it for. I'd never used waste fabric before, but I have done a bit of cross-stitch in the past.  The instructions on using the waste cloth were clear and so I tested it out on my knitted swatch to see how it would look.  Both my husband and eldest son agreed with me that it looked good, and so my cross-stitched stars came to be.  Although my initial design had multiple stars stitched on the blue background, I decided to just stitch one star on each hat since the cross-stitching technique is rather time-consuming and I really wanted to get these hats finished before the Fourth of July.  I'm pleased with the results and like the "lone star" look.

my cross-stitched star!
These hats will make a special addition to any photographer's newborn prop bag--especially considering that besides the Fourth of July holiday season, there are a lot of wonderful military families who would truly appreciate having a patriotic hat used for their newborn's first photos.

patriotic hat #1
patriotic hat #2
These two hats are basically the same, but I noticed they do have a few minor variances.  They're a couple inches different in overall length and the blue portions are just a row or two different in height as well.  I've listed them as the individuals that they are.

More hats are in the works!  I have two new long-tailed elf hats in bright summer colors--that are going to be listed either tomorrow or the next day!  And here are a couple sneak peeks of a newsboy set--I have plans to make more of these soon!


shawlette blocking

The following questions were posted in the comments to my last post.  I thought I'd go ahead and answer by writing up a new post!
So I have a technical question for you...how do you block something that large? Where do you find a space big enough to spread it out, where you can leave it pinned until it dries? Or is there some other magical method of blocking that I'm not familiar with that allows you to block it instantly in small sections? Blocking is one of the things that keeps me from certain projects and fibers. 

No, there's no magical method of blocking that I know of.  I suppose you could try steam block it in smaller sections, but you'd still need to pin it and it would ultimately take more time and effort.  Not sure if you could get the sides evenly stretched either.  So I think it'd be near impossible to make a shawl like this look right any other way than wet blocking.  That being said, don't be afraid of projects that require blocking!!!
This shawlette is only the second project I've had to properly block.  Most of the time I will just wash and then shape the item, laying it flat or hanging it to dry.  But when it comes to a lace project where you really want to open up the lacework, the best way to accomplish this is wet blocking.  For any non-knitters reading this, that basically means you need to get the item wet, remove excess water (you don't want it dripping!), carefully shape it, pin it in place, and leave it until it's dry.  When you take the pins out, the item will keep its new {stretched} shape and you can see the lovely lace you knitted.

The first project I wet blocked was this lace scarf that I finished back in January 2010. 

Pattern: Haruha scarf by Mari Muinonen  
Yarn: Winterside Farm 100% wool sport   
Needle size: US 8

I have a large enough house that's it's not too difficult to find a corner for blocking. To block the shawlette, I put down a couple towels in a corner of our living room/computer room and just started pinning it, shaping and stretching it as I did so.  The towels keep the carpet from getting wet and the carpet and its foam backing are easy to push the pins down into--sort of like pinning into a cushion.   I should have taken a photo of this so I could show you what I mean!  I'll try and remember to the next time I block an item.

Pattern: Summer Mystery Shawlette by Wendy D. Johnson
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy {sock/fingering weight}
Needle Size:  US 6

It took some time to get it blocked just right--I think I re-pinned and/or adjusted it at least 2 or 3 times to stretch it a little more or shape it a little more evenly, but it was worth it to get it to look as nice as I did.

I had only to leave it overnight to dry, so I just told the kids to stay away from it and I sort of blockaded the area too.  The next day I checked to see if it was dry {it was!}, unpinned it and took some photos!

If I had a small house or apartment with limited space, I'd block a project like this on a bed first thing in the morning.  Most projects like this one would be dry by bedtime.  However, an item made with thicker/heavier yarn would take longer to dry.  A fan in the room would help circulate the air and might quicken the evaporation process a tad too.

I did find the process a bit trying because I have such a tendency towards perfection!  For a perfectionist like myself, I think I'd recommend getting a blocking board with grid-lines and maybe blocking wires too. Here's a blocking cloth that might be made into a DIY blocking board!  These blocking mats look useful too! Someday I will invest in these tools and blocking will {hopefully!} be a bit easier and the end result even more perfectly beautiful!

Hope this answers your questions! 


mystery knit along--shawlette complete!

I've been taking [some] photos of my shawl's progress, but haven't been online enough to post updates. 

Part 2 is done!
I seem to be missing photos--did I forget to take them or are they on our other camera?  I did complete Part 3.  And I was sure I had taken photos too!  But since they weren't on my camera, here's a photo from my Memorial Day weekend trip--a late anniversary getaway for my hubby and me.
Split Rock Lighthouse on the North Shore of Lake Superior

Part four completed! Only a little bit to go!



Drum roll, please!!!!!

Blocked and beautiful!
Lovely lace!

At 54" wide, it's difficult to get a decent photo of the whole shawl. I'll have to wear it someday and get a photo of it so you can see how it looks when worn too.  It's truly a gorgeous piece and I've totally fallen in love with lace shawl knitting.  It's my dream to someday be skilled enough that I might be able to design items like this myself.