FO: Peanut vest and hat

I’ve had this FO done since the end of 2017, but I was waiting for it to arrive with the intended recipient. He got it yesterday, so now I’m free to show you!

My very dear friend has a little boy who just turned a year old. I have been drooling over this Peanut vest since she told me she was having a boy, but I ended up picking several other projects for him, and this one went on the back burner. This fall, I decided it was time. I checked with her first to make sure she thought it would be useful for his wardrobe, and she said yes, so I was off!

I chose Simplicity by HiKoo for this project. The main color is First Press Olive, and I can’t seem to find the ball band for the gold! I used 2 skeins of the green, and one of the gold.

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When I got done, I still had plenty of yarn leftover, so I decided this little vest needed a coordinating hat! I was inspired by the smaller motif on this project, but it didn’t have a reference for where that design came from. So I looked at the picture on maximum zoom and charted it from there. I then improvised around it to make it feel inspired by Peanut, but not a direct copy. I used the free Clayoquot Toque pattern to get an idea of how many to cast on, and also for the crown decreases. I went for 90 stitches, in between toddler and child, to make my colorwork chart work out evenly.

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Then I put my yarn in my new yarn bowl, a lovely Christmas gift from my brother-in-law and his wife, and went to town! It’s a really beautiful bowl (I believe it’s this one), and I love that it’s wooden instead of ceramic. It’s lighter and it also seems less “break-y” if you know what I mean. 🙂

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So here’s the completed set. I’m very happy with it and can’t wait to see a picture of the little dude in it!

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Three things: How I got my reading groove back in 2017

Some books I read in 2017 that were not on my Kindle

A selection of books I read in 2017 that were *not* on my Kindle

When I was in elementary school, I went to the school library every morning before the bell rang and checked out a new book. I would read it that night, return it the next morning, and repeat. I was the first person ever in first grade to read 100 books at my school (you used to have to read the book at home, and then bring it into school and the teacher would pick a random page and make you read a few sentences to prove you really *could* read it). I was a very, very voracious reader as a child.

Since then, my reading life has basically gone in fits and starts. I did tons of reading in school, and minored in English Lit in college, but I wasn’t choosing many books on my own. My peak was the year I worked at the library – for obvious reasons.

But, at the end of 2016, I started gaining some momentum, after I discovered Maggie Stiefvater through one of my librarian friends. I devoured the Raven Boys series, and to my delight, after finishing Book 3, I found out she was coming to speak at my local library. I signed myself right up, got my books signed, and told Maggie how many hours of sleep I’d lost staying up very late to find out what happened next. Because that’s basically what I was doing – staying up super late 2-3 nights every couple of months to plow through a book. I wasn’t yet back in the habit.

And finally, finally, finally, in 2017, got my groove back. I read 34 books. Now, I know for many bookish people, this is not a big amount. But for someone who’d lost her reading way for a while, this is fantastic for me!

There are a few things that really fueled this revival. Since my biggest issue was figuring out WHAT to read next, I had to find some ways to find new stuff that wasn’t just wandering through a book store. I would recommend all of these to someone who is trying to get back in the habit:

  • My husband gave me a new Kindle (with the most beautiful cover) for my birthday. This means I upped my Kindle book consumption, which meant that the book I was reading was also always available on my phone via the Kindle app. I’ve never been great about keeping knitting in my purse, which means when I was at a loose end waiting for something, I was scrolling through my phone. Now that the books I actually want to read are on my phone, I’m making much better use of those spare minutes.
  • I started pursuing ideas of what to read. I started listening to the What Should I Read Next? podcast (thanks to my husband). Though not all books recommended here are my taste, I have gotten some really great recommendations out of it. The Golem and the Jinni (which was ABSOLUTELY SPOT-ON PERFECT in every way for me), and The Sun is Also a Star were two books I picked up due to this podcast, and they were definitely stand-outs in my reading year. I also first heard about Louise Penny here, and now I’ve read the first 11 Gamache books (also very good!). I also signed up for BookBub emails, and I’ve picked up several through there. Not all have been winners (there are a couple I abandoned), but I did manage to get the two books mentioned above on a deal through these emails. So… definitely worth it.  I also read the “100 Books” lists on Amazon. They have a lot of different categories: books to read in a lifetime, YA books to read in a lifetime, sci fi and fantasy to read in a lifetime, etc.). I believe I found A Darker Shade of Magic on one of these lists (though I can’t find it there now! They must switch it up.), which took me into a 3-book series that I thoroughly enjoyed. Magic AND pirates? Sign me up.
  • Reading while traveling. Mr. Snips and I went on a solo vacation (no kiddo) and I cannot tell you how much I plowed through here, including the massive 11/22/63. That’s not always going to be possible, but I have been doing a lot more reading even just in the car, picking up a few minutes here and there while we’re on the way to somewhere else.

So, that’s it! 2017 was finally a really solid reading year for me, when I managed to read consistently through the year. I plan to keep it up in 2018, and up that number even more!

What are you reading this year? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

Challenge complete

Hello and happy holidays to you all! I meant to get back here before Christmas to give you an update on the advent calendar, but I was so consumed with that, and then with a wee sweater for my friend’s little boy, and the Christmas preparations that it just didn’t happen. But what I will tell you is that I completed the advent calendar very late on December 18. I’m very pleased with it.

First of all, a few close-ups.

The bunny is the first animal I completed, because I was trying to dip my toe in gradually, and he didn’t require any embroidery for his face. He just has this adorable (magnetic!) fluffy felt ball tail.

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Then, I made the fox. I did have to have a couple of goes on the eyes, but I got there OK in the end.

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The owl is perhaps what I am most pleased with it. I finished him according to the pattern. My daughter named him “Harold MacCaw.”

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But I just kept looking at him, and felt he needed a little more sparkle. And because after I had finished handsewing the border of the snow globe with white, my daughter asked for more gold, I decided more gold was what he needed. So I decided to try to layer them a bit like feathers to make him both more bling-tastic, and to add some feathery texture.

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I then moved no to the deer, which gave me no troubles. I was getting into the swing of it.

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And the sweet little hedgehog.

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And then the skunk last, because he was BK’s least favorite. Though I love his little face.

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But the piece-de-resistance is the star – outlined in gold sequins. I *love* this one.

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So here it is, all together — the grand ta-da!!!

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This was a fantastic project and I loved making it! There were a few minutes of stress, mostly due to my compressed timeline, but overall it was really great. So great that I’ve already purchased the materials to make the birthday countdown (though thankfully I have a few months to finish that one!).

I only had the one little hiccup with the instructions, but Jennifer was fantastic, and made it right for me immediately. The instructions were very clear, and good enough for a sewing novice for me. I also found the sewing of tiny things to be more enjoyable than the knitting of tiny things.

I hope all of you have had time to spend time with your family and friends, and that you’ve found a little craft time for yourself in amongst the festivities. The new year is rapidly approaching and I hope to see you here to talk crafting some more in 2018!

I just couldn’t resist

Well, my friends, the siren song of the snow globe advent calendar was just tooooooo strong. And 2 weeks before December 1, I found myself teaching myself how to hand embroider numbers and how to add seed beads and sequins to my hand sewing. I definitely had to do some practice runs, because the extent of my hand stitching repertoire is sewing on buttons… but I think it turned out all right.

I spent one whole week of evenings embroidering all of the numbers. I really struggled with this step. I had never used an iron-on transfer pen, so I practiced. It turned out OK. I did it for real, doing all of the numbers at once as the instructions said, and I thought it worked really well. For about 15 minutes. But I felt that even though I bought a “permanent” pen, the outlines started fading almost immediately! I would be upset with how it looked and have to walk away and give myself some space to see if I was going to tear it out or be OK with it. I cringed to even take a picture of the numbers for you, because every area I considered taking a close-up photo of had something in it that bothered me. I’ve instead decided to approach this from the “galloping horse” theory – if it looks good from a galloping horse, it’s fine! And I think, even though I don’t have a horse, that from a distance the overall impression of the embroidery is acceptable.

Over the next weekend, I cut out all of the pieces. Then I spent a few nights after BK’s bedtime doing the handsewing and beading. The beading took FOREVER the first day, as I was trying to get the hang of it. I really struggled holding onto those little seed beads, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to be finding them in the folds of my couch forever! After the first night, however, I really got into the swing of it.

I finished it just in time! It wasn’t yet on the dowel rod or hung, but the sewing was done on December 1, and I had two snowballs completed.

I’ve now completed all of the days that require the felt balls – snow and ornaments. However, I realized as I was triumphantly testing the magnets, that I am missing a magnet behind the tree and I was one short! I had a lot of trouble falling asleep that night while thinking over how best to do this rework. After talking to my mom and Mr Snips, I decided on a small incision in the back, glueing the magnet on, and then sewing the small slit. It worked out very well.

Advent Calendar in progress

I now have 19 days worth of the pieces done, and am working along on the animals. We’ll see how long it takes to do these final pieces with so many little details! But really, it’s all about completing a personal challenge. Especially since after I started working on this frantically, BK told me she didn’t need it for this year, because she already had an advent calendar, and what she really wanted was a pink and red striped stocking. Never mind that she has this beautiful one. Sigh.

 

Three things: Recently

Book with tissue paper flower (made by BK)

  1. Reading: Last night I stayed up waaaaaay too late reading a book. And the kicker is I still quit at only 88%, according to my Kindle. So many questions unanswered! There was just no way to stay up any later and make it to work this morning. (I was reading “How the light gets in” by Louise Penny.)
  2. Dreaming: I also fell down the rabbit hole last night when I came across these amazing advent calendars on Etsy. I looooove them. I am so tempted to scrap my knitted countdown (whatever holiday that ends up being for) and just make a ton of these. I initially saw the reindeer one, but BK said she really liked the snow globe one, and after reading about it, I like the snow globe one, too – because a lot of the days use pre-made pom poms! I’ve almost even convinced myself I could pull off the snow globe one before December 1 (yikes! my delusion is strong). Regardless, I would also love to make the birthday one (what a fun idea!) and maybe just the ornaments that go on the Halloween one. She also has a free heart pattern you can sign up for, and I’m tempted to scrap all the little knitted ones and make 14 hearts for Valentine’s Day. But then again, BK has been after me to knit this little superhero girl.  So that one will have to get done one way or the other.
  3. Planning: to knit this Peanut vest for a dear friend’s little boy. This pattern is so darling, and am looking forward to purchasing some yarn for it this weekend!

Three things: Hawaii

As I mentioned last week, Mr Snips and I recently came back from Hawaii. I wanted to share a few things we did while there.

  1. We hiked out to the active lava flow. This was the coolest thing we did. It took a 30-minute bicycle ride and then an hour out walk to find it, but it was totally worth it. How many opportunities do you get to see new earth being made? Incredible. Below are some snaps from our hike and of the lava flow. In the first, I have helpfully circled where the active lava was, because I had to zoom out quite a bit to also get the rainbow in the frame! 
  2. We ate lunch by a volcano crater. I promise the crater is out this window in the picture, but it was drizzly and difficult to see. Photo credit: Mr Snips, because I did not take a picture of my food. 🙂
  3. We saw lots of rainbows and sunsets. One of my favorite shots is from Volcanoes National Park where I captured one in the side mirror of our car. 

My favorite sunset shot was this one – the beautiful light shooting through the clouds – again captured from our car. The benefit of a convertible is you can just turn around and snap a photo, without worrying about trying to focus through a window. 


Of course, we also did tons of lounging by the pool and the ocean, often while reading. It was very relaxing and simply fantastic. 

Halloween: A knitting odyssey

Yesterday at lunch, we were talking about how cold it was going to be for trick-or-treating (much colder than usual), and Mr Snips said we’d need to take a hat for BK. A hat. And I thought, why didn’t I think of that? Because BK was going as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and I have a fabulous skein of Cowabunga from BAH Yarns in the stash… and she NEEDS THAT HAT IMMEDIATELY for trick-or-treating. I felt like this was a major oversight for a knitter. I also loved the idea of the challenge.

So I zoomed home after work and cast on.

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I did as much knitting as possible while trying to eat a quick dinner and putting several layers of clothes on my kid. I took any chance I could to knit even a stitch. I knew I couldn’t get it done before trick-or-treating started, but I thought maybe I could get it finished before dark. So I packed everything I needed, including a Knit Kit and DPNs, threw it in my cute Telephone Box bag, and started walking and knitting as we began trick-or-treating. (Mitts are October Leaves Fingerless Mitts)

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Eventually, my fingertips started going numb and I decided to pack it away. I was sad to admit defeat.

I picked it up again after we were very snugly back in our warm house. By bedtime, I had done the first row of decreases.

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My hope is to finish it up today! Even though it’s too late for trick-or-treating, she still loves TMNT, and she will need it for all of the chilly days ahead. It was good motivation to knock out so much of it in one go, and it’s all decreases from here.

I hope you all had a fabulous Halloween! I’ll leave you with a spooky moon shot from last night!

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