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Category: Tutorial.

Bats (but of a much cozier variety than those in my last post titled “Bats”)

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I couldn’t resist this pattern for cozy, plush bats (of course I couldn’t). Adorable. Ridiculous. Relatively quick. My kind of knitting project. I love that the feet have holes for dangling upside down, and that the wings can be secured lovingly around their bodies for sleeping. Courtland delights in buttoning and unbuttoning the wings. “Mama, the bats are cold. I have to make them snug and warm and cozy!”

They are an awesome Halloween present, indeed. And far more adorable than the bat in this post from last summer.

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Details on the project and pattern on Ravelry here

Henrietta

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Meet Henrietta. She briefly visited our flock up at the barn before heading to the home of one beloved one year old (Kaki’s FGP’s 2nd daughter, Lila). We celebrated Lila’s 1st birthday on Sunday, and I realized that I had yet to gift that sweet child something handmade from her Auntie Ashley (whereas her older sister, Brie, has received a number of hand knit sweaters from your truly). It was time for Lila Bean to have something especially made for her. I decided to avoid a sized item, as I know she’ll get to wear the hand-me-down sweaters I made for Brie, so I thought a barnyard plush with love from the critters of Cartwheel Farm might be an appropriate (albeit ridiculous) choice.

One of my wedding clients this summer gifted me this amazing Barnyard Knit pattern book, and so Henrietta was a great excuse to dive into that book and give one of the patterns a try. Admittedly, it does appear that Henrietta is sporting testicles on her face, but when taken on the whole, it is a fairly accurate representation of a chicken’s wattle. I’m looking forward to creating a whole flock of silly knit farm animals to compliment our live brood.

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For more details on the project visit my Ravelry page here

Rainbow Party

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Sunny’s birthday was indeed a rainbow-a-palooza. This is the kid who asked for a rainbow as her gift from Santa two Christmas’s ago, and who answers “rainbow” when asked her favorite color. All one need do is peek at her The Sunny Side series for proof of her love of all things Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple.

It was admittedly a really really fun party theme to put together. Though Auntie Kimmy couldn’t attend the party, she helped with many a party idea, including this perfect free-printable Rainbow invitation. Sunny and I had fun assembling those for her five guests. (We expanded the guest list a bit for our closest friends and family, but Sunny had five friends from her preschool classroom in the mix, which was such a brilliant, manageable size. My mother has always said that the best rule of thumb is to invite the number of kids equivalent to your child’s age. Smart woman, that one.)

We were very fortunate to have a gorgeous spring day for the festivities, so we set up everything outside in our backyard where our swing set and other outdoor toys were easily accessible for play.

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The party began with “The Rainbow Station.” We hired a local facepainter and had rainbow tattoos from Tattly and rainbow pony bead necklaces that Sunny made for each of her friends up on the rainbow picnic table. As guests arrived, they headed to the Rainbow Station for rainbow facepaint and tattoos and necklaces. I was so so impressed by each of the girls’ facepaint designs. And totally bummed when Kaki refused to join in the fun. That kid has strong, unchangeable feelings these days.

Everyone was transformed into a Rainbow Explosion of Awesome.

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I’m completely bummed that I failed at documenting our food/drink spread on our back deck. Sunny and Kaki woke up from their naps just before the party (when I thought I’d be running around snapping a few “before” pix, but instead was drawing rainbow chalk into my daughters’ hair. We used this hair chalk and it was messy but just right for the occasion.)

We’d strung a slew of Sunny’s rainbow paintings across the deck with rainbow lanterns. We had a big bowl of rainbow goldfish and Skittles that we’d arranged in rainbow order. My favorite touch was the rainbow fruit skewers: Raspberry (red), Clementine slice (orange), Pineapple (yellow), Green Grape (green), Blueberry (blue) and Purple Grape (purple). Loved those so. We had a cooler of juice boxes alongside a cooler of beer for the parents, and big pitchers of fresh squeezed mint lemonade. We picked up simple rainbow cups, plates, napkins and straws from the local Dollar Store.  And we decorated with the rainbow colored wooden stacking blocks from when the girls were babies, including one that was in the shape of a rainbow (alas, no picture to show for it).

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I even braved baking a six layer rainbow cake. Many a Dark n’Stormy and some moral support from friends late Friday night are perhaps the only reason I saw it through. Sure, it was lopsided, and I used enough food coloring that everyone pooped rainbow for days, but the reaction from the kids when we sliced it open was priceless. Well worth the leaning tower of rainbow and technicolor shits.

Also, how great are those ombré rainbow candles? Found here.

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And there was present opening… and people definitely got the memo. Sunny is our artist, and she now has enough art supplies to last her all year long.

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Ghillie and Ranger couldn’t come to the party so they sent rainbow ribbon dancers as party favors for all of the girls…

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And, a rainbow bounce house… which, as you saw, was truly the heart of the party and entertainment. So much fun for the kids, and made socializing with the grown-ups far simpler.

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After everyone departed, Sunny coped with the post-party low (WHY DID EVERYONE HAVE TO LEAVE! I FEEL SO SAD INSIDE!) by coloring in the sunshine in her rainbow butterfly flower fairy costume on the S.S. Rainboat, a beloved gift from Kaki’s FGPs.

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Five sure started out with a bang. It’s going to be quite an exciting year. Holding on to our hats and our hearts!

Jellyfish Lanterns

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It’s been quite some time since I showcased a DIY project here. Admittedly, it’s because it’s been quite some time since I’ve done one. I did many knitting projects for Christmas presents and documented exactly none of them (#fail), and have been on a craft/diy hiatus most of 2014.

But the girls’ preschool has their annual fundraiser this coming weekend, and I volunteered to be on the decor committee for the dance on Saturday night. The theme is “Under the Sea,” so I offered to create some spirited albeit elegant jellyfish lanterns for the occasion. I am quite pleased with the result. I made up six of them, and will try to capture some photographs of them hanging in the space for the dance. In the meantime, they’ve taken up residence in our guest room to keep small human and canine paws alike away from them. They are a pain in the butt to transport, so I’ve been ferrying them over to the school one at a time this week.

Here’s how I put them together…

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White lanterns, 16″ – $22 for 10 

– I followed the directions included in package and assembled each lantern, tying a piece of clear fishing line to the top to hang them while I assembled the jellyfish tentacles.

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White crepe paper streamers, 500ft – $4.50

- I rolled out the streamers and cut the roll every four feet (or so) to use as tentacles.

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Wavy foil door curtain – $13

– I cut off the top of the curtain that kept the strips of foil attached to one another. I then folded and cut all the strips in half to use as tentacles.

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White plastic table covers – $3

– I cut the table covers into 2-3 inch strips, approximately four feet in length. I then pulled at either side of the strips, along the length of the strip, to create the wavy, uneven effect. These were the final material I used for tentacles.

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Scissors
Glue gun and sticks
Clear fishing line

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I then strung the various tentacles around the bottom third of the lantern, following the row of seams to keep them evenly hung. I used a glue gun to hold them in place, and then covered up the tops of all the materials with one of the strips of wavy plastic.

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I also tied some of the streamers to the inner bar of the lantern to give the tentacles some depth.

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They’re really quite attractive and fun. And they’ve inspired the kids to reenact the jellyfish scene from “Nemo” on the regular.

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Alas, I have to work this weekend so I’ll miss their debut, but I am hoping that they’re a hit!

Cardigan Nation

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Once again, my girls are benefiting from the talents of my dear friends. Ann Mae gifted the girls these gorgeous hand knit cardigans this Christmas, and they love them so. Namely, because of the EXCELLENT button choices.

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^^LADY BUGS for Kaki!^^

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^^Wild Jungle animals for Sunny.^^

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^^They are showing you what a Lion looks like when she ROARS!!!^^

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^^I love the detail under the arm for the sides of the sweaters. What a wonderful pattern. You can find it here if you’d like to give it a try.^^

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Pattern: “In Threes: A Baby Cardigan” 

Charles

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I’ve admired Marimekko’s fabric selection for some time now. I’ve particularly swooned for this amazing cow fabric (alas, no walls in our home are tall enough for it!). I’m fortunate that the one and only Marimekko outlet is located just 40 minutes north of my home. I was in Manchester during the winter break and was thrilled to find this Rooster print for sale in the outlet. Feeling empowered after making Elias’ quilt and Momar’s quilt, I scooped up Charles (allegedly the name of said rooster) and brought him home to make a wall quilt. It was a straightforward project, but still time consuming, as is the way with quilting. I used Martha Stewart’s velcro suggestion for mounting the piece on our wall (her tutorial here). I’m quite pleased with the warmth and color it adds to our stairwell. My first quilting project for our family!

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^^CHARLES! Perhaps the only rooster that will survive life on Cartwheel Farm.^^

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^^Our itty bitty stairwell makes it difficult to photograph the piece straight on. Thank goodness for wide angle lenses!^^

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^^Charles is becoming acquainted with The Blue Fairy (a painting I purchased for Kimmy when we lived in Southern California at a street fair and that we’re holding for her until she has a home suitable for her magic).^^

Rainbow Kid

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Sunny’s request of me this Christmas was her very own Rainbow Dress. She knew that I was going to knit her a dress, as she chose the yarn herself, but she knew nothing about the style, and oh, the twirly-factor. I was so happy to find this pattern on Ravelry.

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I had leftover yarn, so decided to also make a dress for her Bitty Baby.

On Christmas morning she happily, but without much surprise, opened the dress for her and instantly put it on and began spinning around the room. I told her that there was a second part of the present, and the look of shock and awe on her face when she pulled out the dress for her doll made all those hours of twiddling, knitting fingers and morphing into our couch cushion worth it.

Well THIS is a surprise, she whispered with wide eyes.

That reaction was all I needed, the best form of thanks.

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Sunny’s Dress pattern here. Doll dress pattern here

Suzani Love

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Last weekend while James was out galavanting at a friend’s birthday (re: a group of dudes shooting skeet, drinking beer, and lighting burn piles aflame. I done married myself a country boy), the kids and I tackled reupholstering this pair of beat up old folding chairs. I purchased that purple, Suzani-esque fabric over two years ago. At least it FINALLY got some use! (I am a fool for Suzani and have been slowly accumulating more original Suzani pieces. But this fabric was far more affordable than those investments.)

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The kids were bored about 2 seconds in, but fortunately it was a beautiful day, so they played outside on the swing set while I tore the fabric off and scrubbed the chairs down. The girls were highly intrigued by the spray painting process (I gave the chairs a fresh coat of black paint). And while they napped, I covered the seats with the new fabric. Voila! Totally awesome new chairs.

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So much better. These may be my favorite pieces of furniture in the house now. And just in time for holiday entertaining! My sister and parents arrive tonight for Turkey Day festivities, and we’ll host Christmas as well, so hooray for happy chairs around the table!

Scrap Hats

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I love these two people so very much. And boy, they sure do love each other. I asked them to be my hat models during Auntie Kimmy’s visit last weekend.

I whipped up these two hats using a bunch of scrap yarn and my favorite Bubble Hat pattern. It was a great way to put those stashes of yarn from previous projects to use. Donna, Kaki’s nanny when she was a wee babe and now the woman responsible for keeping my marriage together (she is our housekeeper, organizer, all around super hero), saw the hats and fell in love with them, so BOOM early Christmas present for Donna!

Now bask in the Auntie/Niece affection.

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More details about the yarns I used for these hats and a link to the pattern in my Ravelry here

Garden Sweater

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It would seem that we grow the teeny, tiniest vegetables around. Exhibit A. Exhibit B. And now check out that itty, bitty singular pumpkin our garden was able to produce. *sigh* Better luck next year!

The size of the pumpkin in no way dampened Sunny’s enthusiasm for this wee gourd. She was thrilled when it was finally ready for picking, and it has been on display in our home all month. We’ll be decorating it in googley-eyes this evening, a last minute Halloween DIY (inspired by last year).

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Meanwhile, Miss Brie Brie’s family has produced an entire patch of impressively sized pumpkins. We’ll have to learn some tricks of the gourd-growing trade from them next year.

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However, I’m not here to showcase the pumpkins, so much as the two finished Garden Sweaters being worn by their respective recepients. I snapped some photos of Courtland wearing Brie’s this spring, but now I’ve (finally) finished Sunny’s – and Brie fits hers! And I’m thrilled to think about another photo shoot in a year or so with Courtland and Lila then rocking the look. The joys of sisterly hand-me-downs!

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To create the sweater I adapted this pattern, Tasia’s Cardigan, by Dana Gibbons. I made the 1-2 years size for Brie (currently aged 18 months) and the size 3-4 year size for Sunny (currently 4.5 years). To make both sweaters, I used three skeins of the Dream in Color Classy in SOME SUMMER SKY, and one skein of the Dream in Color Classy in SPRING TICKLE. For the garden beds, I used two skeins of Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran in RUST. I worked on a US7 circular needle.

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I ordered the crazy adorable pewter barnyard animal buttons from Morehouse Farm here.

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I adapted the pattern as follows (being sure to follow the original pattern for the button/center area of the cardigan throughout).

I knit in the Dream in Color, “Summer Sky” until 2 inches below the armpit, following the original pattern as is.

I then worked for 2 inches in the Dream in Color, “Spring Tickle.” I knit six rows in a garter stitch, then worked six more rows in a garter stitch, but on the knit rows I did a wave stitch:

  • k5, wrap1, k1, wrap2, k1, wrap3, k1, wrap4, k1, wrap3, k1, wrap2, k5, repeat….
  • Purl rows in between knit wave rows
  • k1, wrap1, k1, wrap2, k1, wrap 3, k1 wrap4, k1, wrap 3, k1, wrap2, k5, repeat Alternate between those two knit wave rows with purls in between for as long as desired.

Finally, I worked in the Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran, “Rust.”

Knit 2 rows
Purl 4 rows
Knit 4 rows
Repeat 4 purl rows, 4 knit rows for long as desired.

I finished the sweater with 5 rows of ribbed stitching, 2k, 2p, 2k, 2p, repeat.

For the details, I used scrap yarn and did a combination of sewing on top of the finished sweater to create the clouds, trees, chickens, etc. For the vegetables, I crocheted pieces of scrap in various ways, and tied them into the knit rows (or ditches of the garden bed). For the rolling hills area, I did French knots in pink yarn to create the flowers. A good tutorial about how to make French Knots here.

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There is no right or wrong way to approach adding details to this sweater. It is a whimsical, arty piece indeed, but lots of fun if you’re comfortable getting creative and experimental with a project.

Further details on my Ravelry page here.