Pointy things and then more pointy things.

When last I posted, I was pondering whether or not to add the border to the Mariposa throw. In the end, I did–but true to form, I did not follow the recipe.

Oh, I mostly did, at least for the first row, building the border bit by bit as it wove its way up one point and down another, skipping over the valley to make a little point of its own. But when it came time for the second round, I decided to do things a little differently and worked a back post stitch instead, giving the border the same lush thickness found on the rest of the throw’s squares.

I still have doubts about how sturdy the little toe-catching loops are going to be, but it’s done now, for better or worse.

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And with the Mariposa finished, something else covered in points found itself flying off my hook:

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Isn’t he the sweetest little toothy guy?

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He’s done in a combination of super bulky and worsted weight yarns, and the pattern is a mish-mash of things I’ve seen elsewhere combined with quite a few modifications of my own.

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Everyone keeps commenting on his eyes and I must say, I am terribly pleased with how they turned out.

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I’ve documented what I did on Ravelry (more or less – it’s not a formal pattern per se, just enough notes so I could duplicate what I did should I choose to in the future). It’s meant to be a preschooler/child size, but it could easily be made smaller or larger by adjusting the number of increase rounds in the crown of the hat before beginning to work straight.

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A finished Mariposa

Sometime last night, this happened:

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It’s my Mariposa throw, sewn together and tails woven in (except for one random green one, I see, that managed to sneak past me). Forgive the terrible photo – it was taken late at night using my phone instead of getting a proper photo shoot.

Within minutes of finishing, this blanket found itself wrapped around our girl B. She still proclaims loudly to anyone who will listen that she simply does not understand why this blanket is a family blanket and not a blanket just for her.

And then she announces–also loudly–that I have to make her one of her own.

I have pointed out that she knows how to crochet and could make herself one, but judging from the scandalized look I got in return, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

In the meantime, I’m going to sew in that last green tail and contemplate some more whether or not I want to put the green border on that the pattern calls for.

The border is bothering me, you see. It’s perfect, matching the stems as it does. It’s a lovely pop of colour, too.  But the Mariposa throw has an irregular border that zigs and zags all the way around, and the border includes a funny little zig and zag of its own, leaving little triangular loops in the inside edges of the zigs and zags.

I have visions of people catching fingers and toes in the little loops and damaging the blanket. (Not their toes. Why would I worry about their toes? Let’s be serious here.)

You can see the loops I’m talking about on the pattern page at the Felted Button; just scroll down to the last picture in the post for a really clear look.

So I think I’m going to let it sit for a day or two while I ponder the border. Maybe I’ll leave off the loops, or maybe fill them in with double and treble stitches to make them solid bits instead of loops. Or maybe I’ll do them just as prescribed and see what happens.

What do you think?

A stocking is the thing

It dawns on me that in all the pre-Christmas crafting craziness, I never did show off all the stockings I managed to finish this year.

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The cookie stocking is the one you saw in bits and pieces in November. Bit by bit, it came together until…

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…a finished stocking was ready to head off to it’s new home.

Just in time, too, as there were a few more stockings yet to do before the big day.

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One with a sweet little reindeer…

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…one with Santa about to hop down the chimney. These two were destined for two little girls, sisters, who apparently loved them very much.

And then there was this one, simple and plain, but so much fun. The embroidery at the top was done using a couching technique, which gave it much more elegant curves than I usually manage with stem stitch and I am thrilled with how it turned out.

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But the one that captured my heart this year was a custom design that took many hours of back-and-forth discussion before we settled on a final plan, and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

It started with a wolf.

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A few trees and some snowy hills filled out the body of the design.

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And a generous helping of embroidery and beading made the snow sparkle.

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The trees were embroidered, too. They were stuffed lightly first so that when the embroidery stitches went in, the green felt took on a life of its own with branches and twigs, full and leafy, coming to life in more than just my imagination. A sweet little owl made its home in the branches, too.

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And finally, the top cuff was put on in layers, embroidered, and beaded.

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It was based on a traditional First Nations design and together with the feather dangle, adds a huge amount of character to the stocking.

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All in all, I am so very pleased with the final result.

Old faithful

One of the things I have learned about myself over the years is that when it comes to crafting, I am not a very loyal person. Some crafters choose a project, get their materials, and then work on that project–and only that project–until they are done.

I am not one of those people.

Instead, at any given moment, you can find works in progress in practically every room of the house.

(Though not the bathroom. Or the kitchen. Knitting and cooking does not mix. Neither does crocheting and cooking. Though both are perfectly acceptable when keeping an eye on something going on in the kitchen from a nearby room without looking like you’re keeping an eye on anything at all.)

(Have I mentioned my children have been cooking a lot lately?)

(Like, a lot a lot?)

An acquaintance of mine announced a couple weeks ago that she was on a tremendous push to finish up all her WIPs and UFOs so that she could be one of those crafters. You know, the ones who always finish what they’ve started before they start something new.

My mother-in-law is one of those crafters, I suspect, as I’ve only ever seen her with a single knitting project on the go at any given time in all the years I’ve known her.

But one look around my house will only serve to confirm what you might have suspected: staying faithful to a single project until it’s finished is just not my cup of tea.

Case in point: I hooked the first chains of the Mariposa throw in 2013.

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A few squares finished, it then took a back seat to more urgent projects for friends who keep insisting on having babies. A few more squares finished and it took a back seat to friends having second babies or celebrating momentous first birthdays.

And so on and so on until, sometime before Christmas, I realized I had not worked on it for a very long time.

It’s a classic case of the cobbler’s children not having any shoes — the Mariposa throw is, after all, destined to belong to me.

But with Christmas crafting finished for the year, it came out of the cupboard once more and with a surprising little bit of faithful crafting on my part and only one emergency run to the yarn shop for more green wool, the squares are entirely done.

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(There are more than these – this is just a small sampling.)

It’s astonishing how faithfully I managed to work away at it. Well, except for the times I was working on little hearts.

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And making little tags for little hearts.

And then of course there’s the times I wasn’t at home crafting, so had to work on the traveling-in-my-purse project instead.

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(It’s Adrienne Lash’s lovely windowpane scarf)

And then there’s those moments when I need a break from work but don’t feel like going all the way upstairs, so I work on a little taking-a-break-at-my-desk project, the Globetrotter shawl.

I would show you pictures, but I haven’t been taking very many breaks at my desk lately and am only about 17 rows in. It uses a new-to-me technique, Bruges lace, and I’m still figuring out exactly how that works, so those 17 finished rows are actually more like 2,986,248,563 rows ripped out and 17 put back in again, but I think I’ve finally figured out how it all works and I am hopeful that I’ll have a finished shawl before I’m a grandmother.

But overall, I’ve been astonishingly faithful to the Mariposa throw. I’ve even resisted an almost overwhelmingly infectious case of New Year startitis (whereby you look at all the yarn you were gifted at Christmas, and all the yarn you never did use from last Christmas, and all the yarn you bought when you were just browsing, and you start 92 new projects with grand ambitions of finishing them all immediately).

Looking back on things, I’ve actually been pretty good at avoiding New Year startitis in January most years. But February? February is an entirely different story. February is the month where I typically either finish up something or get really, really close to being finished something I’ve been meaning to get to…and then I cast on every pretty thing I’ve been wanting to do for ages.

This February, I’m about 3 hours away from being done with the Mariposa throw. All that remains is finishing sewing the squares together and then sewing in all the tails.

(There are a lot of tails.)

So naturally, this happened:

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It’s an adaptation of a women’s cabled headband pattern. I worked it up in a super bulky yarn and made it into a close-fitting cowl instead.

I worked on it in bits and pieces over the past 3 days, feeling terribly guilty for being unfaithful to my Mariposa throw will all it’s nine gazillion ends to be sewn in, and before I could blink, it was done.

And then it was around one of the kids’ necks, and then around the other kid’s neck, and now I have to start two more of them lickety split so that everyone has one of their own instead of everyone fighting over this one. So I cast another on.

And then I was wondering if, instead of doing cables, I could make one with a diamond-shaped front-post double crochet stitch, so I grabbed yet another hook and another hank of yarn and started playing around with stitches, trying to figure it out. And then I remembered I had bought the most luciously soft yarn in a delicate cream and gorgeously rich turquoise to make the mittens I saw in the knitting magazine B bought me for Christmas, and I remembered I needed to work up a gauge swatch to make sure I had the right needles, and so I cast that on instead of reading just before bed.

And I liked how the swatch felt so very, very much that on an emergency run to the yarn store for more white yarn to finish sewing together the Mariposa squares (because really, if I’m working hard at staying faithful to the Mariposa, it really helps if I actually have the amount of yarn required for sewing together so very many squares), and upon seeing the “Buy 2 get 1 free” sign on the shelf, I immediately threw another ball of white and one of softest gray into my basket for a second pair of the same mittens, just in a different colour.

So much for being loyally devoted to the Mariposa throw until it’s finished, though I’ve learned something about myself in the process (or maybe just remembered it):

I don’t suffer from New Year startitis like so many others do. Instead, I get it in February, every single year, sure as rain. Or Old Faithful.

 

 

What the heart needs…

A sweet little heart needs a sweet little presentation tag, don’t you think?

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(And yes, I am still crushing on making little hearts.)

So which do you prefer, the black marker version of the tag (on the left) or the brown marker version (on the right)? I rather like the darker ink, though my baby sister tells me she likes the brown version better.

If you would like a little heart of your own, come find me at my favourite local artisans group on Facebook or drop me a line via email.

I {heart} hearts

I’ve had Valentines on the mind lately. We’re taking our Girl Guide unit on a 2-day sleepaway on Valentines weekend in February, for one thing. I’m currently trying to decide whether or not I dare attempt to have them sleep in snow coffins for part of our weekend (I confess I’ve never built a snow coffin that I can remember, despite my love of snow forts and snow castles).

But that’s not why I’ve been obsessing over hearts.

This is:

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Isn’t it the sweetest little crocheted thing you’ve ever seen?

Little being the key word here. These are crocheted in a fine mercerized cotton thread with a teeny tiny hook. Seriously, it’s miniature.

To put it in perspective, the afghan I’m working on takes a 5.0 mm hook. These little hearts are worked in a 1.5 mm hook. It’s so tiny, I need to wear my reading glasses to see the stitches, and even then, sometimes I stitch into the wrong spot because the stitches are just that tiny.

I’ve wondered more than a few times while making these if heart surgeons have these problems too.

I’ve made quite a few of them now, in several different variations. Some are solid instead of lacy. Others have had beads or swarovski crystals added to them.

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Some of them are made of larger thread with a slightly larger hook — a 2.0 mm or 3.0 mm hook is lovely for the fatter threads and thinner yarns.

Once finished, I back my little hearts in felt for stability, then add a bar pin so you can wear it as a brooch, and finally add my label so you know who made it.

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They take a little while to do, but they’re perfect for keeping your hands busy for an hour or so.

I do love crafting so very, very much. And I absolutely {heart} my little hearts.

Hours five, six, and seven

The hours between 5 and 8 o’clock in the morning are a study in extremes around here. At 5, the house is wrapped in stillness. Nothing is stirring, not even the birds, and certainly not the teenagers, nor The Man We Call Dad.

By 6 o’clock (and certainly by 6:30 at the lastest), at least one of the teenagers has come to life, often in a frantic flurry of clothes finding and breakfast making and schoolbook packing. The birds have unpiled themselves from their funny little sleeping pile (they sleep together in one tiny birdhouse, all piled atop one another in a cuddly heap). The moment a human sets foot on the main floor, the birds start calling out their hellos, making sure you’ve noticed that they, too, are awake and hungry for breakfast.

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By 8 o’clock, with the birds fed and content, and both kids out the door, I find myself settling in at my desk to begin my day’s work in a house gone quiet once more.

It feels different though, the 8 a.m. silence. Unlike the utter stillness of the world a few short hours earlier, 8 a.m. hums with movement as the world outside intrudes with its determination to seize the day. At 8 a.m., you can hear the washing machine churning away in the corner, the animals outside socializing as they visit our feeders, the kids waiting for the schoolbus, and the adults roaring off to work in their cars.

You can also smell the sausages and maple syrup from breakfast, and the remnants of autumn in the crisp smell of leaves and cold air that wafted in when the door was opened.

The 8 o’clock house may be quiet, but it is anything but still.

Likewise, the 8-hour-old stocking has undergone a radical change. What started as a single element has now become merely part of a larger whole sitting on the arm of the couch in the morning sunlight.

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A small hand lies ready to hold the gingerbread cookie tightly in its grasp…

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A bearded face is taking shape…

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And an apron is slowly aquiring some embroidered elements before it takes its final place somewhere above the boots.

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The gingerbread man with all his embroidery took shape so very slowly. By comparison, the past few hours of work on the stocking have been a veritable explosion of activity not unlike that I see most weekday mornings around here. Yet now, with so many pieces cut and waiting for embellishment before being attached to the stocking itself, there’s a new kind of pause taking shape as I sit and embroider and bead and fuss. Progress will feel slow again until these pieces have been fancied up, though like the 8 a.m. house, there’s definitely a feeling of movement in the quiet.