Posted by: mick | July 27, 2012

FO: Pi Shawl Baby Blanket

Pattern:  Pi Shawl by Elizabeth Zimmerman

Yarn:  Cascade 220 Superwash Paints, 2 skeins, plus about 1/2 a skein of brown leftovers of regular 220 Superwash for the edging

Needles: US 10  Circulars

Began:  June 11, 2012 ; Completed:  July 5, 2012  (Raveled here.)

Notes:  I always feel badly for the second born in the gift department; the first baby gets a whole shower’s worth of stuff, but the second baby has to do with hand-me-downs.  There’s just as much love and excitement, but I think each baby deserves a handknit, too.  When I found out my brother-in-law and sister-in-law were expecting our second nephew, I knew I wanted to knit him a blankie.  There’s just something sweet about a newborn baby wrapped in something snuggly and woolly, and I thought this yarn would be nice and sophisticated instead of sugary sweet.  The yarn, while lovely in color, drove me crazy; I tried several patterns before deciding to try the shawl out.

Boy, am I glad I did; I just knitted until I ran out of yarn, then added a garter stitch knitted-on border.  The border was a bit of a pain; I had to rip back three times and make it narrower because I kept running out of yarn.  Eventually, I sucked it up and bought another skein in a different dye lot, and though the colors are slightly different, I doubt the baby will notice.  As usual, Elizabeth Zimmerman knows her stuff, and I think this will become my go-to baby blanket pattern.  Next time, I may add some lace or more YOs, but I’m happy with the simplicity of this one.

Our newest nephew was born about a month ago at the whopping size of 10 pounds and 11 ounces, which means I’m pretty pleased I blocked the blanket out before sending it.  That is one big baby!  He sure is cute, though, and J and I can’t wait to meet him.  I hope you enjoy your blankie from Auntie Mickles, not-so-little one!  It is filled with love to hold you over until I get to snuggle you in person.

Posted by: mick | July 20, 2012

Another person’s treasure

It’s been a little over a year since we bought our house, which I still can’t believe.  One thing that surprised me when we moved in was just how much space there is to furnish and decorate; there really is a huge difference between a one bedroom apartment and a three bedroom house.  Our new house is actually pretty modest by contemporary standards at about 1300 square feet, but it’s still a huge shift up for us.

I’ve been doing my best to be patient about the spaciousness of the house, and to be honest, I prefer decorating this way.  I don’t like homes that, though lovely, look very new; I prefer an eclectic style with lots of vintage touches.  I feel much more at home in a space that feels as if each piece has a history and a meaning, and it’s much easier to cultivate a space like that over time.  This is fortuitous if, like us, you’re limited to one full-time salary.

Though I tend to read my fair share of design blogs and peruse Craigslist regularly (which scored us our living room rug, our vintage porch set, and our fantastic vintage bedroom dressers), I try to sleep on a purchase before making it…unless, of course, it’s too good to last long.  A few months ago, while visiting my mom and walking Angus, we stumbled upon an estate sale.  While J stayed outside with the puggle, who charmed the homeowners into some water and some crackers, I stumbled upon these treasures inside.

There are about twenty various pieces of vintage glass containers, all with cork lids and some with scoops.  They were on shelves with a sign requesting people to make  an offer, and my mom, ever the bargain hunter, offered 4 beans.  I was floored when it was accepted!  Right now they’re on the mantel, but I plan to fill them with our bulk, dry grains and beans and arrange them in our kitchen once we finish painting and updating it.

The crewel work looks vintage to me, but it had recently been framed at Michael’s and was still in the case.  It makes me happy to see it sitting on our mantel and being loved after someone took the time to create it and have it framed.  (That silhouette on the end is actually me in preschool!)  All told, we left with a bunch of vintage decor and spent under $20.  That’s one of the untold benefits of living in a small town: vintage treasures for reasonable prices.

Then, last month while walking the pups, we spotted this adorable little plant stand in someone’s garbage.  Yes, I am the crazy lady who carries vintage housewares around while walking her big dog.  I put some of my succulents on it for the photo, but it’s now holding tissues and toilet paper in our bathroom.  Slightly less glamorous, but it’s very useful.

So what’s your best vintage score?  Where do you draw the line when it comes to vintage?  I’m rather obsessed with anything in tufted velvet, but I’m terrified of bed bugs.

Posted by: mick | July 8, 2012

FO: Northern Loop

Pattern:  Northern Loop by Tante Ehm

Yarn:  Juniper Moon Farm Chadwick, about 1.5 skeins

Needles: US 8 Denise circulars.  (I remembered!  In your face!)

Began:  May 29, 2012 ; Completed: June 7, 2012 (Raveled here.)

Notes:  I know it’s hard to think about the impending winter when it’s this hot out, but I tend to have the opposite reaction during the summer.  Instead of working on summer knits, all I want to do in the summer is enjoy the a.c., do some knitting with some really woolly yarn, and dream of colder temps.  For my MIL’s birthday (yes, this was really late; I’m kind of the worst), I knew I wanted to use this yarn.  It is just wonderful: super soft, very lofty, and the colors are gorgeous.  My MIL rocks a bright color like nobody’s business, so I knew this pink was perfect.

I wanted an infinity scarf pattern with a tiny bit of lace, and this pattern was perfect.  The YOs and K2TOGs look almost sculptural in this yarn, and the pattern was really easy and fun to knit.  My only complaint is the kitchener at the end; it doesn’t look right with the lace stitches, so if I had it to do over again, I’d start and end with a plain knit or purl row.  It would make the seam a bit more visible, but it’s worth it to have it line up correctly.

This was sent off after Jakey and I had a modeling session, and my MIL texted me photos the night she received it of her wearing it by the fire.  Ah, the joys of living in the far north.  I can’t wait for chillier weather here, but I’ll probably have to wait until November.  Until then, it’s all about the air conditioning.

Posted by: mick | June 29, 2012

And Jakey makes five. Er, six. I can’t count.

As some of you may know, I occasionally volunteer for a few bully breed rescues doing transports.  This means that I spend a few hours every once in a while picking up a deserving pittie from one driver and driving the pup a few hours to another driver; after the many legs and a long day in the car, the pup is delivered safely into the arms of its wonderful foster parents.  One day in January, on a day I wasn’t particularly looking forward to driving, I headed out for a transport for a black pit mix named Jake.  His life was in danger in a shelter in Ohio due to bogus BSL (breed specific legislation), and Karuna Bully Rescue, an unbelievable group of fantastic volunteers, was taking him in as a foster.  All I knew about him was that he had a giant Staffy head and matching grin, was a little over a year old, and was feeling very shy and unsure during transport.  They told me to just be patient and give him his space since he was nervous, so imagine my surprise when, as soon as I met him, he greeted me by wagging his tail and climbing into my lap, all 65 pounds of him, to lick my face.  During the drive, his little leg got tangled in his leash in the backseat, and I had to pull off the highway and untangle him.  I was really nervous; this dog was scared and didn’t know me, and he was possibly in pain with his leg caught.  Again, he just licked my face the whole time I fixed his leg; I swear he knew I was helping him.  He spent the rest of the 2+ hour ride sitting in the back seat with his head on my shoulder, sighing into my ear and occassionally giving me the tiniest, gentlest kiss.  To say I was smitten was an understatement; I almost cried dropping him off to the next driver.

Since I help Karuna out occasionally, I was able to get tons of updates from his amazing foster family on Jake’s transformation.  He was a little shy at first with new people, but with lots of socialization, his personality really came through.  It was clear to J and me that this gentle, sweet, silly soul would make the perfect addition to our family, and we applied to adopt him and made it official a month ago.

So please welcome Jake, the newest (and final, except for maybe some barnyard animals some day) addition to our furry family.  He is the sweetest and most loving pup ever; he is so good with the kitties and with Angus, as well as with all people and animals he meets.  He and his puggle brother love playing bitey face and chasing each other around the sofa, and Jake never gets too rough despite the fact that he’s got 25 pounds on his little big brother.  He is a great napping partner, he loves playing fetch, and he sounds like chewbaca when he whines.  He is a total mama’s boy, following me everywhere around the house (which means I’ve got two shadows since Anjanka is never far behind), and he has completely stolen my heart.  I couldn’t imagine a better ambassador for his breed; his looks are intimidating, but anyone who spends even just a few minutes with him quickly realizes just how sweet, gentle, and silly he is.

Oh, and one of the best parts?  He makes a pretty good knitwear model.

Posted by: mick | May 27, 2012

All Babies, All The Time

No, not my babies (though we do have a new furry edition I’ll be introducing you all to shortly), but they are everywhere.  My cousin, who was one of my bridesmaids and whom I abolutely adore, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl last month, and I ventured south a month earlier for her shower.  Baby shower + knitter = knitted baby gifts!

Pattern:  Chevron Baby Blanket by Purl Soho

Yarn: KnitPicks Simply Cotton Organic Worsted in a bunch of different colors

Needles:  Giant ones.  Maybe 11s?

Began:  February 11, 2012; Completed:  March 8, 2012 (Raveled here.)

Notes:  Loved this pattern!  It was easy, quick, and fun.  Definitely good movie knitting, as the pattern was super easy to memorize.  The resulting blanket could probably be a bit bigger; if I made it again, I’d add another repeat to make it wider.  However, it’s a great size for a nap, lying on the floor, or for use in a stroller.  My cousin seemed to love it, and I’ve seen many photos of the baby with it, so I’m pumped.

I really liked the yarn; it’s soft, easy on the hands compared to mercerized cotton, and the colors are lovely.  I tried to choose colors that are outside the typical baby colors, and I think it worked.  I actually bought a bunch of the sport weight for a blanket for us.  Fun!

Pattern:  Baby Bib O’Love by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne

Yarn: same as above

Needles: 😦

Began:  March 8, 2012; Completed:  March 9, 2012 (Raveled here.)

Notes:  Super quick and easy, and I love the result.  This makes a good sized bib, so it should protect the many cute little outfits the baby got at the shower.  This is a great, quick gift, and I love the result.  I definitely want to play with it more to practice some embroidery.  Super cute, and love that it’s washable!

And last but not least, I taught a Chrisopher class at my LYS (Did I tell you guys that I’m teaching there now?  It’s awesome!), and I knitted a baby version for my wee nephew (same number of stitches, but made it shorter) for Christmas out of some of my Swish Worsted leftovers, stopping the stripes when I ran out of yarn.  He apparently doesn’t love it, but instead insists that his dad wears it.  So, win?  Toddlers are such prima donas 🙂

Posted by: mick | February 21, 2012

FO: Dog Walking Mitts

Pattern: My own, inspired by Man Paws by Chelsea Fabrizio

Yarn: My handspun Wensleydale

Needles:  Blurgh.  I need to start taking note of these things.

Began:  November 20, 2011 ; Completed:  December 6, 2011 (Raveled here.)

Notes:  When we brought home this chubby little dude, our daily walking increased a lot.  Angus was really overweight, so we started taking him for two walks (between .5-1 mile each) twice a day.  It was rather warm at first, but it didn’t take long for J’s hands to get chilly as autumn progressed.  He requested some handknitted fingerless mitts, preferably to match his favorite hat, so that he could grip the leash and pick up poo (gross reality) but still keep his fingers warm.

I scoured Ravelry for some ideas, and J liked Man Paws best.  It’s a great simple pattern, but I changed it to fit my yarn, J’s hands, and my needs.  My project notes say what I did differently exactly, but I basically just did my own fingerless mitt pattern (different CO number, different cuff/hand length, different increases, different bind-off, etc.) with 2×2 ribbing like the pattern suggested.  I lengthened the mitt part, so J can fold them back when doing puggle business but keep them long to keep his fingers warm while walking.

It took me forever to photograph them because he’s been wearing them non-stop since I finished them two months ago.  I call that a win.

Posted by: mick | February 12, 2012

FO: Pinchy String Art!

My J and I love Christmas.  We get ridiculously excited about singing Christmas carols; we love setting up the tree and all of our decorations around the house; we walk gleefully hand in hand around our small town, admiring all of the lights.  We do enjoy getting each other gifts since we don’t really buy for ourselves or each other for other holidays, but it’s a lot less about spending money (we have a very small budget) than it is about seeing one another open something that we specifically sought out because we knew it would make the other person smile.  This year, I found some really fun things for J: this amazing puginator shirt, a stuffed Cthulu head, and some tickets to see the Scottish play at our campus.

I wanted to make him something, too, but it’s really tough to do that.  I can never surprise J with knitted items; they take too long to knit, and he works primarily from home, so he’s always around to see what I’m knitting!  I’ve been admiring the string art I’ve seen on design blogs and pinterest, so I thought that might be fun.  One afternoon, while he was out running errands, I got my giant piece of wood, sanded the edges smooth, printed out my letters, and tacked the nails in.  I used this tutorial as a guide, and I used various shades of thread for each letter.  If I had it to do again, I’d choose thicker thread.  At some point, I’ll go through and wrap the nails one more time to make the words stand out a bit more, but J seems to really like it either way.

The word I chose, “Pinchy,” is a little something that J and I say to one another.  Neither of us really remembers how it started, but it’s been going on since the beginning of our relationship.  We’ll hug each other and say, “Pinchy of love!” or “Pinchy of have a good day!”  Yes, we’re really really weird; however, hanging this on the wall in our bedroom means we wake up to it every day, and we both end up smiling.

Posted by: mick | January 26, 2012

A little bit of paint.

House hunting last year was a real whirlwind.  We looked at houses one night (granted, there were many houses), fell in love with the last one, and put in an offer.  We didn’t really intend to buy a house, but it all fell into place, and we were really lucky.  When we walked into our house for the first time, we both audibly gasped.  It’s not the style I thought I’d go for (I love a boxy, modern ranch with lots of windows or an arts and crafts space with a big porch), but it spoke to both of us.  The previous owners hadn’t really updated the space since they bought it, but we could see that it had a ton of potential.  The place is technically a split level, but not your typical 1970s variety.  Instead, you walk into a large living room with high ceilings, with the kitchen to the right and stairs right in front of you.  Those four stairs go into the hallway, but it’s actually open on one end, so it’s more of a landing.  Tough to explain and picture, but it’s a really unique layout, and we love the openness.

The house’s woodwork and trim was all taupe when we moved in.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  Observe the before pictures of the living room and master bedroom.  As you can see, lots of potential, but lots of work.

Over the summer after moving in, we spent a few weeks time prepping, sanding, patching holes, and painting.  Afterward, the living room looked thusly (the angle is from the hallway landing, if that helps you picture it better):

We’ve since rearranged the living room furniture and added some bright yellow chevron-patterned curtains I sewed.  The tables and rug are all either thrifted or from Craigslist, and the chairs and couch are hand-me-downs from my Mom.  They’re so so comfy.  The walls are Olympic’s Thin Ice, and I forget the color of the fireplace.  Womp womp.

And here’s the painted master bedroom:

The walls in here are Bermuda by Olympic.  The bed frame and reversible duvet cover (it’s now on the white side) are from    We also bought some vintage, awesome dressers from Craigslist and put a pretty gold ombre rug on the floors to keep my toes warm in the morning.

The spaces are nowhere near finished, but we’re both amazed at what a little paint can do.  Coming soon, we’re moving on to the kitchen!

Posted by: mick | January 17, 2012

FO: Ribbed Giftie Cowl

Pattern:  Ribbed for your Warmth by Sonia Ruyts

Yarn:  My own BFL handspun (the very last of this batch)

Needles: ?  I really need to start keeping better records.

Began:  October 10th, 2011; Completed:  October 17th, 2011 (Raveled here.)

Notes:  A few years ago, I designed and knitted some flip-top mitts for my mom’s birthday.  Last year, I knitted her a cute little cloche for Christmas.  This year, I wanted to complete the set, so I thought a cowl was in order.

There’s really not much to say about this project, which illustrates how smoothly it went.  It was easy as pie, and I just blocked it out gently (you can see the unblocked version around Angus’s neck in the Christmas photo on my previous post).  It was really fun to knit in that mindless, zen sort of way, and I think the simple broken ribbing pattern keeps you interested but is simple enough to display and not compete with the yarn.  

The  yarn bloomed nicely as it did with my other projects, but it’s even more noticeable because the gauge is a bit looser.  It has solidified my love of BFL; it is such fantastic fiber to spin, and it knits up just as well.  I used up every last bit of this yarn to the point that I had to sub in a different yarn for half of the bind-off.  Mom seems to love it, as you can see above.  She looks lovely in it, doesn’t she?


Posted by: mick | December 24, 2011

Fa La La

Happy Holidays to you and yours.  I hope this holiday is filled with love, light, and wrinkly faced dogs wearing handknits.  Thanks for reading, as always.

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