Happy (homemade) Halloween!
I’ve been wanting to try knooking something with a very thin yarn, like socks, but I don’t have a hook small enough. My kit came with a 3.5 mm hook but I’ve been finding that my gauge when knooking is consistently bigger than the knitting gauge you’d expect with the same size hook, so 3.5 just isn’t going to be small enough for a project such as socks. I read a terrific idea for making a sock knooking hook out of beading cord and a crochet hook, but I didn’t think that would work for me for a couple reasons. First, I tried something similar with cord before I bought the eBay hooks and I didn’t like the feel of the yarn on the cord or the way it kind of snagged getting on to the cord–working with a lifeline of ribbon works much better for me. Second, I wasn’t sure of my ability to file a point at the end of the hook. Something about two children, one puppy and tiny metal shards was just making me nervous. I thought if I had a regular yarn needle long enough to use comfortably maybe I could just bend the point into a hook. A little googling lead me to discover that tatting needles are just that–long needles with a hole in the end just the right size for a small cord or ribbon. I ordered a couple online. My idea started to fall apart when I confidently grabbed my needle-nosed pliers and realized that the needle was too rigid; it was going to snap before it bent. At this point my idea starts to be just as kid- and puppy-unfriendly as filing metal. I turned on my gas stove and heated the end of the needle until it was red and hot. (I held the needle with a silicone mitt!) This actually worked pretty well, but my first hook turned out oddly shaped and uncomfortable to use. I switched to using my jewelry pliers, which are small and strong, and they worked perfectly. I reheated several times while tweaking the shape of the hook, but I finally got it just right. I’m pleased with my tatting needle turned knooking hook and I think I’m now fully knooking-empowered, in any gauge. (Shew! I know you are as relieved as I am. Grin.)
This is not crafty, just cute. My sweet kiddos in a pumpkin patch yesterday. Worth wanted to take home every single pumpkin and Dorothy was primarily concerned with selecting a pumpkin for herself that was at least one obvious step up in size from her brother’s.This is a headband/earwarmer thing I knooked for a friend’s daughter. The little girl loves wearing headbands so I was thinking that headband-like winterwear might make her a nice birthday gift. I used some of my leftover Chroma yarn from my recent hat project and this pattern, which was quick and easy. I started it Saturday morning and gifted it Sunday afternoon! I didn’t have time to block it, but I’m hoping that on an active six-year-old no one will notice.
It has been my goal to have the unfinished, storage part of our basement clean and organized before the time came to put out Halloween decorations this year. I adore Halloween decorations and have blogged about a couple of my favorites in the past. We moved right before Christmas last year, which was nuts, and unpacking and reorganizing for this house has been a long and gradual task. The basement had finally climbed up on my priority list and I was making good progress on it right before Rob’s injury, but now it has taken a back seat. I think I’m going to mostly let the Halloween decorating go this year because I just can’t stomach the task of locating and dragging up boxes of decorations from a messy, disorganized space and plopping them back down there the same way. But I still can’t let my favorite season go by without a little festively spooky fun. I made cushions for my front porch chairs over the summer but the floral fabric no longer seemed appropriate to the season. I sewed these new Halloween pillow covers (only one is pictured) in a neutral fabric, then used fabric glue to attach a black felt bat cutout to the front and made stitching around the bat with white embroidery floss. The shams were a quick but satisfying project made with inexpensive materials and a design that is strong enough to be noticed from the street. Now all I have to do after Halloween is launder them and tuck them into the right box downstairs–not such a bad job.Rob’s injury has increased the time I’ve been able to spend knooking and crocheting. Waiting rooms are really the perfect spots for yarn crafts. I knooked this hat, but modified to have a fold-up brim like this one. I love the classic look of the Irish cable pattern and it was surprisingly simple to do. In my head knitted cables have always been swathed in some sort of unapproachable crafty mystic, but some basic internet instructions explained the process quite clearly and it didn’t end up being any more difficult than regular ribbing. I think this hat might want to be finished off with a faux-fur pom-pom kind of like this one but I’m not sure where to buy one. Maybe I will just make a trip to Claire’s and purchase an inexpensive accessory that includes a fur pom-pom and use that. Seems kind of wasteful but I’ve not seen them for sale on their own. I used this yarn from Joann and it’s okay. Soft but unexciting. The hat turned out a bit big, either because my gauge was off with such lofty yarn (I didn’t check) or because I have a small head, but I kind of like it that way–it won’t squish my curls.
And my knooking set came in! I’m thrilled. It was totally worth the wait to order this set from China via eBay. The price was terrific and I now have all the basic sizes. The quality seems good, the holes are just the right width and the sizes all clearly labeled. Plus it was just fun to get a parcel sent directly from China. Dorothy studied all the unfamiliar characters on the customs sheet and we traced the path the package traveled around the globe.
This cowl is for Nana but I didn’t think I’d get her to pose for a blog photo. It’ll look sweet with her green eyes. This is the first pattern I’ve finished from the awesome book Crochet So Fine by Kristin Omdahl. I love the patterns in this book because they are all beautiful items that look crocheted. Sometimes crochet patterns look like they are trying to be knit patterns, which just doesn’t work. These lovely, lacey items show off the best of what crochet can do, in my humble opinion. Rob did have to laugh at me a bit for making a neckwarmer because it is the kind of thing that is only worn by people who knit or crochet. You don’t often go to the mall and see a display of neckwarmers. Maybe some day they’ll catch on–it is nice to have a warm neck, no? In the meantime, I hope Nana likes it.
This is my Very Expensive Fairy. We had a bit of an adventure regarding this year’s Halloween costume for Dorothy. I don’t make the kids’ costumes. Store-bought costumes have been, up to this point, cute and affordable, and I don’t like to toil over a project that will only get worn once. I’m all about seeing my kids in their homemades on a regular basis. My favorite Halloween tactic has been to purchase once-used Old Navy costumes on eBay for a just a couple dollars. The Old Navy big-belly costumes are cute and warm and comfortable for the trick-or-treater. Dorothy sized out of them this year, however, and declared that only a “pretty” costume would do. No more fuzzy purple dragons around here. I showed Dorothy some very cool costume ideas from the Family Fun magazine, which I love. She vetoed them all. I pulled up a Halloween website and let her browse the selection to get ideas. What I hadn’t realized yet is that costumes marketed for 5-year-old girls would look more appropriate on a Bourbon Street call girl than on my kindergartner. After lengthy searching and the input of her (older) neighbor girl, Dorothy announced that she found the costume she wanted. I looked. It was a $48 Barbie costume with a slutty vibe and wings. Wow. I told her (switching plans on the fly!) that we weren’t actually going to buy online, but I’d take her shopping to buy her costume in person. I remembered seeing some very cute costumes at the Gymboree outlet on my recent shopping trip. Rob needed something from the mall anyway. I figured that once we were there in person she’d fall in love with an age-appropriate “pretty” costume and the whole thing would end happily. When we went into Gymboree, 36 days before Halloween, the costume selection was already very picked over. The peacock costume I’d admired at the outlet mall was only available at this point without the tail (what’s the point?) and many of the costumes were only left in one or two sizes. There was, however, this adorable fairy princess costume. It fit the bill for her–pink, fluffy, “pretty,” and it involved wings like the neighbor’s costume. It fit my bill (so I thought) because there were matching warm tights available, it seemed to be of good quality, and it didn’t make her look like a 5-year-old floozy. I thought we’d really found the solution until the saleslady asked me for $69.91. What?! I’d not even looked at the price, never dreaming we’d be paying so much for tiny bit of tulle and some plastic accessories. Yikes. But as memories of the Budding Buxom Barbie costume flitted through my mind I paid it. Dorothy never even saw me flinch. And it’s cute. Adorable, even. She’s as sweet as can be in it.
Dorothy got a new pair of ruby slippers last week and I couldn’t resist a snapshot of the old with the new. She’s worn these little ballet-style shoes from Target ever since she was old enough to wear hard-soled shoes, and they have become a signature fashion item for her. To the yellow brick road, anyone?
Yesterday I finished crocheting a sweater I started last fall. I was pregnant, and I was pretty sure the style of this cardigan would work hanging open over a baby bump. The further I got on the sweater, though, the bigger my belly got, and I finally decided it was going to look stupid and I quit. It was fun to pull it out this fall, though, a nearly-finished sweater, and just complete it and wear it. I haven’t blocked it yet, and I definitely think blocking will help the shape a bit, but I’m still really pleased with it. The wool is nice and warm, too, so even though today was chilly I felt comfortably warm out in the air but not overly bundled inside the car and house. The pattern is available here, though I didn’t follow it exactly.
Today I wore my new sweater on a lovely walk down Hillcrest Avenue in Louisville, a pretty street in any season, but particularly nice before Halloween. The street has become known locally as a Halloween destination, with many of the homes decorating exuberantly. We’ve taken walks down Hillcrest on sunny mornings before Halloween each year since Dorothy has been old enough to care, and it’s become a fun tradition. Some of the decorations could be gruesome (especially for my small ones) by night but are funny and interesting by day.
Another busy week around here. Lots of fall fun, including a trip to the pumpkin patch. We’ve had several house-showings, which is driving us a little crazy at this point. I think we’ve given up hope of actually selling, and just wish people would leave us alone. Why do we keep giving free tours of our home to people who will just say things like “oh, it’s so cute! We just love it! But we needed an extra bathroom.” Or first-floor bedroom, or extra square footage, or garage…it’s always something that we clearly didn’t have based on the information in our listing, but for some reason people want to come see it (and not buy it) anyway.
Today we made cookies, without boys. (Except Worth, I guess, who was kept happy with pea crisps while we baked.) The last few years I have tried several different recipes for pumpkin cookies, but to be frank they all sort of suck. I mean, the are edible, they made from butter and sugar after all. But they aren’t good like pumpkin-bread-in-cookie-form or anything. Today I thought I’d try a different route and make a recipe for applesauce cookies, but sub in pumpkin. I also added pumpkin pie spice, and substituted chocolate chips for the recommended raisins. They taste good but are too chewy, and the bottoms basically scraped right off when I severed them from the cookie sheet they were stuck to. Parchment might have helped with the release, but not the texture. I think it must be hard to develop a pumpkin cookie recipe because of all the moisture in cooked pumpkin. If anyone has one, please let me know!
In between house-showings and pumpkin patches this week I did something that makes me feel really smug and obnoxious–I ordered my Christmas cards! I know it’s early, but it was this gorgeous afternoon, the kids were playing out front, and from the basement I’d just unearthed the holiday dress I’d purchased on clearance last year for Dorothy. It has a matching dress for her doll, which is always extra special. Dorothy saw it and had herself and her dolly dressed in no time, so I popped the baby into this little fleece Santa suit left from Dorothy’s babyhood, and clicked away. I got adorable photos of both kids in their holiday get-ups, so I figured I might as well finish the task while I was on it and selected a pretty photo card online. Now bring it on, season-accelerating commercial world, I’m ready for you! Before you even change your displays from spooky to Santa, my holiday cards are done. Pow!
I am a dork, but you are reading my blog–please love me anyway.
Think back twenty or thirty years and imagine your grandmother’s refrigerator. It has a little crocheted yarn shape of some sort attached to it with a magnet, doesn’t it? Fridgies are a bit of an art that time has forgotten (and maybe that’s for the best), but I revived it for this little project as one of the details to finish of my camper’s interior. My camper doesn’t have an actual fridge, but I’ve attached this one to the galvanized metal backsplash I glued up over the propane range. Very appropriately campy, I think.
All four sides of the camper are now painted and it’s mostly ready to go. I hooked up the water as a test, and it works. The propane range does not work but I’m hoping it’s just because the tank is empty. I’ve been stashing bedding and kitchen essentials in it (a camper quilt is forthcoming but not done), and today I completed the very important task of putting together a camper art bag, with supplies for sketching or painting scenes, rubbing bark, collecting leaves, and gluing googly eyes and fake hair to acorns. I foresee many hours of mother/daughter fun at picnic tables, stringing nature finds on fishing wire and creating little woodland whimsies with the help of glitter pom-poms! I also found an old notebook, filled it with lined paper, and tucked a pen inside. I hope to keep a camper journal with as much or little as we care to log, as a record of our travels.