Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Knitted Mini Purse

I have finally finished another of my knitted gifts! What a relief as Christmas is just over a week away now. I am making two of these purses for my nieces (in different colours); the second one is not quite finished yet - I still need to do all the seaming and crochet edging. I am planning to tuck a few goodies in the purses as well - lip gloss, hair accessories, etc.

This was a fairly quick project but a lot more involved than the lace bookmark! I think most people would need to spend a couple of evenings on this to get it completed. I am pretty slow at sewing seams and crocheting so if you are speedy with both of those you might be able to get the whole thing done in one afternoon or evening. This is another gift that was practically free to make - the yarn had been in my stash for a long time and the button came out of my rather full button box!

Here are the basic directions for making the purse:

Yarn: I used Bernat Handicrafter Cotton; any worsted weight yarn would work. If you use a wool yarn, you could knit the purse up in a bit larger size then felt it.

Needles: 4 mm (size 6 US), 1 pair straight needles plus 2 dpns (for i-cord), 4 mm crochet hook for edging

Other: 1 decorative button

Cast on 24 stitches. Knit in stockinette stitch for 11", ending with a purl row. Starting on the next row, K2tog at the beginning and end of every knit row until you have one stitch remaining on the needle. Pull yarn through the last stitch to finish off.

To make the strap, knit a length of 3-stitch i-cord using the dpns (mine is about 20" long but you can make it however long you want!) There are instructions here on how to knit i-cord if you haven't done this before. It's super easy and a really handy thing to know how to do, I use it often in my little projects.

Weave in yarn ends and sew the side seams of the purse together, attaching the i-cord at the top on both sides (make sure the i-cord's not twisted before you sew it into the second side!)

I decided to do a picot edging around the flap and the top (inside) edge of the purse. You could just leave it plain if you want but I like the little something "extra" it gives the project. I am NOT a crocheter so don't let that scare you off, it's really easy! There are some basic directions on how to crochet a picot edge here if you need some help. I chained a few stitches down at the end point of the flap to create a little loop for the button. If you're not going to do a picot edging, you will need to make a little loop of either single chain crochet or i-cord to attach for a button loop.

Now, sew the button in place and you're done!

If these directions are as clear as mud, email me and I'll try and help you out!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cookies & Chaos

It's that time of year again. Exactly 2 weeks left until Christmas. No matter how carefully I plan, no matter how many lists I make, no matter how ahead of the game I think I am this time, right about now I am always suppressing the urge to panic. You know it's a bad sign when your husband asks you at breakfast if you think he can teach the dog to warp the time/space continuum in your favour.

Despite the vast amount of evidence pointing to the fact that I better get my butt in high gear sometime real soon, I spent the afternoon baking and decorating cookies with the kids. Hubby was even around to help with the finishing touches! This is, of course, one of the most important family Christmas traditions (right up there with going out to cut down a tree, which we haven't done yet, but let's not go there...) So I felt entirely justified devoting an entire afternoon to this endeavour. Now if only I could teach the dog (or anyone else in the house for that matter) to knit, we might really start to get somewhere...

Oh, by the way, the cookies we made are White Velvet Cutouts and this is the very best roll-and-cut cookie dough ever. It stays soft and pliable to the bitter end, even when repeatedly mangled, kneaded and otherwise abused by small children. And in case you're wondering, the brightly coloured icing colours are achieved by using the paste-type food colouring (not those little bottles of liquid stuff).

On the making-stuff-from-scratch note, I would like to mention that I'm in this week's Make it From Scratch blog carnival. There are always some great ideas there, so go check it out!

Finally, for everyone else who's starting to feel their stress levels creeping up a bit (or, okay, a lot) here is something that I guarantee will give you a good laugh! Please go check out The Cavalcade of Bad Nativities and its sequel, The Cavalcade of Bad Nativities II. Don't you feel better now?

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Quick Knitted Gift

I was wracking my brain for an inexpensive yet "nice" gift to send to my Grandma. I had already selected a book to send to her, and eventually I realized I could knit her up a lacy bookmark as an accompaniment.

This turned out to be a "practically free" gift. I had some crochet cotton in my stash (which was either donated by a non-crafty friend or purchased for next to nothing at a yard sale; I'm not sure!) The lace pattern I used is from the book A Creative Guide to Knitted Lace; the "Evening Wrap" pattern on page 30. You could really use just about any lace pattern you like as long as the pattern repeat is fairly narrow. After I finished knitting the bookmark I decided it was too stark white so I threw it into a bowl with some leftover coffee and let it soak for a couple of hours. I then gave it a good rinse, blocked it out on a towel and let it dry overnight. I gave it a quick press with the iron the next day. You can see the difference the dye job made in the photo - the final product has a much "softer" antique look to it.

This was a very quick project and I'm pleased with the results. I think this would make a great gift for a teacher or any book-loving friend or family member. A knitter with a reasonable amount of experience could churn out several of these in a couple of evenings of TV viewing.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Winter Wonderland

We finally have a serious amount of snow! It started falling late Saturday night, and by Sunday morning there was lots of shovelling to do. The boys put on their snowpants as soon as they woke up yesterday and ran outside to romp around in it with their friends.

They hit the toboggan hill with their dad later in the afternoon. Unfortunately, it had started to rain by then and everyone got really messy and wet. I took the dog for a nice hour long walk in the rainy sludge so we were both soaked too! I thought the snow was going to end up disappearing but thankfully the temperature dropped later in the day so there's still lots of white stuff on the ground.

After we came in and dried ourselves off, it was time for some hot chocolate. We go through a LOT of hot chocolate during the winter, so I'm thankful I know how to make it cheaply. I use skim milk powder, with a teaspoon of cocoa powder and 2 teaspoons of sugar for each mug. A pinch of cinnamon adds that little "extra". I top each mug off with a few mini-marshmallows if we happen to have some around.

We all snuggled under blankets and thawed out watching Back to the Future II - it's been quite a while since I'd watched the BttF movies so I thoroughly enjoyed myself. We took a break from the movie long enough to get some bread in the oven (thank goodness I had made up a batch of Refrigerator Bread Dough late last week) and a batch of lentil soup bubbling on the stove. Hot soup and bread fresh from the oven - the perfect meal after a day spend outside frolicking in the snow!

The boys burned off so much energy playing outside all day that they are still sleeping right now at 10:20 a.m.! I'm sure when they do finally wake up they'll be ready to head right back out to the toboggan hill.