Saturday, September 28, 2013

Easy Recycled Gift Bag

I was sorting through our many photos, as tonight is my monthly Scrapbooking Night Out, and came across these two pictures which I thought I'd share with you all.  The photos aren't fabulous, but the idea I believe is one worth sharing.

We were invited to a 1st birthday party for a daughter of a high school friend and then promptly forgot about the party until the morning of.  We needed to come up with a gift and fast.  Luckily, I had a gnome doll already knit up and Sam chose one of his own books, Peter in Blueberry Land by Elsa Beskow, to give to baby Erica.  Now, all that we needed was to wrap it up, but  there was our true problem.  We don't use gift wrap.  I usually make a wrapping cloth or bag to give along with the gift, but all I had on hand was Christmas themed.  I didn't have any fabric, but I did have some old jeans that I had been using to patch the knees on Sam's pants (really all his pants knees blew out at once and I sewed 9 pairs in 3 days - whew!)  It occurred to me that I could just seam up the bottom of a pant leg and would have an instant gift bag.  So, I did just that and then finger knit some bulky weight yarn (on the car ride over to their house) to tie it closed.  I was so pleased I cannot tell you!  Now, we could have just gone out and purchased a gift bag and tissue, but it really goes against our principles on waste.  This bag was reusable and best of all recycled too!  If you have any old jeans on hand I recommend you give it a try.

Joining in with Linda for Creative Friday on a Saturday!  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Yarn Along - Homeschooling and Superior Socks

So, I'm only into the 4th week of homeschooling my seven year old and already I'm thinking of changing our curriculum.  Did/does this happen to any you?  Sam has been very resistant to the Waldorf based lessons and after attending our MHA Homeschooling Conference I'm seeing that there are many, many other ways of teaching that might suit Sam better.  Individualized teaching is a major perk to home educating right?  I've started by reading this simple book called The Three R's by Harriet Beechick.  I like it, but it's a little loose for me.  I'm realizing I like lessons spelled out a bit more with flexibility for sure and Sam likes games, modeling and anything active.  We're going to head out to the only homeschool bookstore in the state, Heppner's Books, this afternoon and see what they can help us find that might be a good fit for both of us.

Knitting wise I am still working on the socks I started from our trip to Lake Superior.  I decided to step it up a bit and get them finished (usually I just keep them in my purse to fill in any down time out and about) as it is getting noticeably cooler here.  I just used Wendy D. Johnson's Gusset Heel Basic Sock pattern and added a knit three purl one rib to it.  I'm pleased and can't wait to wear them.

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lake Superior Trip With Socks

Since we are homeschooling this year, we decided to take a trip the weekend after Labor Day instead of before with the thought of less people, traffic etc.  Did it work?  A resounding YES!  We ventured north, as Minnesotans are wont to do in the summer time, to Lutsen, MN along the northern shore of Lake Superior.  It is where I went as a child with my family, where we went for our honeymoon and as a young couple and I couldn't wait to show Sam the beauty of it all.  We stayed at Cascade Lodge, which has been around since the thirties, in one of their "cabinettes" meaning 4 "cabins" in one building.  It was cheaper and still woodsey, but I think next time we will stay in a cabin with a kitchenette to save on food expenses.

 Sam and Dan at Gooseberry Falls - High Falls section on the journey north.

 Dan and Sam at Cascade Falls State Park.   
Finding a walking stick along the way is a must for this family.

Cascade Falls looking like root beer at the bottom don't you think?

 Dan and I with Lake Superior in the background.

Lake Superior coastline at Lutsen, MN.

The blazing fire Dan and Sam built on the rocks of the shore on our last night there.

Me wearing the socks I just finished on the trip and starting up another pair.  
Winter is coming soon you know.

Here's a close up of those socks.  I can't find the yarn tag to tell you what yarn/colorway it is though.  

 Here's the socks I started up north from yarn (Fortissima Colorpack 1) I purchased at Yarn Harbor in Duluth.  A little more Caribbean blue than Superior blue, but it's a nice remembrance from our trip.

 We enjoyed all the hiking, waterfalls (really can anyone have enough of seeing waterfalls?), the city of Grand Marais, The Angry Trout restaurant in said city, swimming at the community pool, playing tether ball and Foosball at the Lodge, knitting, campfires, stargazing and lastly the serene beauty of Lake Superior.  Did Sam enjoy the trip?  Why yes, yes he did.  In fact he kept saying "This is so Awesome!" so many times Dan and I couldn't stop laughing at his exuberance.  What a trip!  We loved it so much we're going back next year, that is, the weekend after Labor Day.

Oh, and I'm still working on the socks.  Just turned the heel today!

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fresh Off the Wheel - Pastel Rainbows

Hello everyone!  I was inspired last night after putting Sam to bed and spun up this mini yarn skein of about 70 yards.  Using my favorite angora/wool blended cloud roving for one ply and for the other ply some wool roving that my friend Judy of mamajudes on Etsy plant dyed in a graduated pastel rainbow colorway.  Judy uses a mixed breed roving from Brown Sheep Company which is strong and makes a firm ply, but it's not the softest.  Since I value softness, I felt that to make a pleasing yarn it really needed to be blended with the angora.  This is also a good way to make the plant dyed fiber stretch a bit farther.

  Here is the skein along with the rovings I used to create it.

 A closeup before washing.  It will "bloom" fluff out some more after having a bath.

I wish there was more yardage as I very pleased with how the skein turned out.  I still have some of both of the rovings in which to make more yarn and I think I'll sell that as yarn instead of knitting toys from it.  How many yards do you think is needed to make a useful skein of DK/Worsted weight yarn?  

Joining in with Linda for Creative Friday.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Yarn Along - First Grade and Mittens

I'd like to say I'm reading some incredibly witty totally enthralling book, but alas I cannot.  Lately, I am spending my nights reading and re-reading the curriculum we chose to educate our 7 year old son .  It comes from here and is based in the Waldorf methodology.  It is in itself a very interesting read, don't get me wrong, but sometimes I feel a bit lost in the cosmos of Waldorf schooling.  Some aspects of it come very naturally to me and other are a bit confounding.  I'm beginning to see why so many homeschoolers label themselves as "eclectic", taking bits and pieces from many sources, as it's hard to make everything in a single curriculum work for your child.   It's our first year homeschooling and there is much to learn for both Sam and I, so I think I will be spending much more time with this "book' for the foreseeable future.

On the fiber side of my life I am knitting up a pair of mittens for myself.  I just finished a pair for my mom to match her mother's day hat (photos to come soon) and I thought I would do the same for mine.  What?  You don't knit yourself hats for mother's day?  You totally should; it's a good tradition.  The pattern for the mittens is a simple one and I don't know whose it is or where I got it from, but I use it every year around this time.  I'm enjoying knitting with two circulars instead of double pointed needles as it seems to have taken care of my "ladder" problems that I was experiencing before on my first attempt.  The yarn is some handspun of my own, which I thankfully made enough of, and is a mix of BFL, alpaca, domestic wool and silk.  It's really scrumptious and squishy.

That's all for now.  Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Friday, September 13, 2013

In Search of the Perfect Bunny Rabbit and a Giveaway

Have you ever knit with angora yarn?  It's ever so lovely and soft as it passes through your fingers.  Since embarking on "The Naturals" kitty cat gang and knitting one of the cats from my gray angora hand-spun yarn, I've been a bit obsessed with angora and can't stop knitting and spinning with it.  My fiber comes from a lovely woman named Mary Lou who runs Angora Gardens along with her daughters.  I met her this past Spring at Yarnover, the annual knitting/spinning/all things fiber conference here in Minnesota, and the moment I touched the fibers she had for sale I was hooked.  I purchased her grey cloud roving, which is a blend of 60% sheep's wool with 40% angora fiber, that day to spin my own yarn.

I had plans for the freshly spun angora yarn to line mittens and hats for some extra soft warmth, but my plans took a turn to toys instead.  What better fiber to knit stuffed bunnies with but with bunny fur itself!  So, now that I knew what I wanted to knit with my yarn I embarked on finding the perfect bunny rabbit pattern.  The two I liked best was this one where the bunny is made from a simple square of stockinette knitting and this one which is knit in the round using double pointed needles.  Neither was quite right until I combined them and gave the ears of one to the body of another, thus making, in my eyes, the perfect bunny.  This bunny, along with it's predecessors, are in my shop now for purchase.  But, you can also win one in a giveaway over at Linda's blog Natural Suburbia where I am a new sponsor.  Head on over to Natural Suburbia tomorrow to learn some more about me and my business Simply Playing and of course see how you can win the sweet angora bunny pictured in the third photo below!  

Good luck everyone and have a joyous weekend!

  Bunny number one I thought the ears were too floppy.

 Bunny number two I missed having any back legs and  found the pattern a little too fussy for my taste.

  Bunny number three I just love!  All four legs, simple pattern and ears that stand up - perfect!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Yarn Along

 Fall is coming, so I'm told, although the Summer like temps tell a different story here in Minnesota it's time.  Time for what you ask?  Why school and sweaters of course!  This will be our second attempt at Homeschooling our son Sam.  The first time was when he was 4 and what can I say, I just wasn't ready for it?  Now Sam is 7 and we are starting first grade at home this year.  We're dipping our toes in slowly and taking it day by day.  So, I thought I would do some more general reading and this book "The Homeschooling Handbook" came highly recommended.  Thus far I am really enjoying it - very palatable style.

Sweaters on the other hand, I have lots of experience doing and they are my all time favorite item to knit.  I am making Sam another Wallaby sweater this year.  His modifications are no hood and extra long arms so he can stick his thumbs out of a hidden hole in the cuffs (think fingerless mitts attached to the sweater arm).  We purchased the yarn at Yarn Harbor in Duluth on our way home from a long weekend along the North Shore of Lake Superior.  Sam chose good old Cascade 220 in a the fancy Paints Blue colorway.  I was thankful for this because normally I have to talk him down from a very expensive yarn to something more reasonable on my wallet.  

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along.