Skein Winder and Umbrella

I am so happy to share one of my all time favorite gifts: a skein winder and  wooden umbrella! I looked into purchasing one last year, but was not sure if it was worth the money. The yarn shop I go to most often usually winds skeins into balls for me. After watching me wind a few skeins into a ball by hand, my husband surprised me with the winder and umbrella at Christmas. Here it is in action:

yarn skein umbrella in action /

I have to say that if you knit or crochet a lot, it is definitely worth it to purchase a skein winder...or ask for one as a gift. This skein winder and umbrella are both made by Stanwood Needlecraft, but there are plenty of other options. The system is incredibly easy to set up and use.  

beautifully wound skein of yarn /

All you have to do is make sure you put the entire skein around the umbrella, carefully cut the ties on the skein, put one end through the loops as well as top of the ball winder, and then turn the handle at a steady rate. It's super fun and satisfying to have well wound balls of yarn.

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Brown Bear Knit Toy

Over the holidays, my friend visited from Philadelphia and wanted to knit a bear for her nephew, so I offered to help her. To make it easier to teach her and because stuffed animals are adorable, I decided to make one, too. I had not fully knit a stuffed animal before, but I took a phenomenal class on toy knitting from Susan B. Anderson in 2013 that was really informative, so we got out the needles and went to work. 

Brown Bear Knit Toy /

My bear was knit with Cascade Eco Duo, which is incredibly soft as it is made from 70% undyed baby alpaca and 30% undyed merino wool. It turned out pretty cute (apparently I need to practice face embroidery for the future though). If you are looking for a similar bear pattern, check out Susan's book "Itty-Bitty Toys: How to Knit Animals, Dolls and Other Play Things for Kids".  I would not hesitate to buy the book if you give gifts to kids. There are tons of really cute animals and giving a hand knit stuffed animal that the child will keep for years beats spending a ton of time on a blanket or sweater that they will quickly out grow - in my opinion. Susan also has a great video about anchoring and embroidering eyes.  

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2/2 Extended Point Twill

Happy New Year! It was a bit of a rough December with our cat having surgery early in the month and me coming down with the worst cold I've had in at least two and a half years later in the month. The only good thing about being stuck at home was that I got to work on a bunch of projects, including weaving. 

2/2 Extended Point Twill /

This is my first attempt at 2/2 extended point twill. It was easier to weave than I thought it would be and it turned out lovely. I am starting weaving lessons Thursday. I am really looking forward to learning more. Here's to a great 2015!

Another Easy Ornament

When my niece was younger, we had an annual tradition where she would come to my house to make Christmas presents for her family. The year she was seven years old, we made these bell ornaments out of small clay pots. We used two layers (1 3/4" for the outside and 1 1/2" for the inside), but a single layer would work as well. It is super easy: 1) Paint the pots and let them dry a bit; 2) tie a bell to one end of a 12" to 14" piece of twine; 3) fold the twine in half (make sure the twine you have fits through the hole at the top of the pot when doubled); 4) make a knot on the inside of the pot at a length that keeps the bell inside the pot (if you use two pots, repeat this step for each pot); 5) add a bit of glue to the knot to keep it firm and prevent it from slipping through the hole in the pot; 6) add any extra decorations to the outside of the pot. We used Santa and snowman stickers, but you could also use sparkles or glitter if you prefer. 

Easy Christmas Ornament /

The last step is to tie a bow around the top of the pot to hide the inner workings. We used ribbon that had "Merry Christmas" printed on it, but there are endless options. Paper Source has some really cute tinsel ribbon that could work well depending on the color of the bell. I hope you all have a happy and safe holiday week! 

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Homemade Christmas Ornament

I love the holidays! This was the first year that we purchased a full size tree and the first time I did so since I moved out of my parents house many years ago. We had it cut fresh and hand delivered by the farmer from Silver Star Tree Farm near Mt. Rainier. You cannot beat the smell of a freshly cut tree. 

DIY Christmas Ornament /

I recently learned how to make Baumschmuck, which is traditional German tree jewelry. This is a super easy ornament for older children to make. All you have to do is: 1) glue a piece of yarn around the outside of the ornament (enough to cover the outside and also have a loop to hang the ornament at the top); 2) wait a minute or two until the yarn is somewhat secure and then put glue all over the top of the the wood piece (you can use a paint brush or qtip, etc) and then add any seeds or other decorations that you like. You may have to add more glue if it dries too quickly. I recommend adding cloves so the project smells good.  

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Learning to Warp

Somehow I twisted the warp after I removed it (or as I removed it) from the warp board and did not realize it until I threaded the heddles. What a frustrating situation. It is often hard to admit that I messed up especially because it takes me hours to warp a loom. I feel like I am from a generation where you act as if you know what you are doing at all times. Fake it til you make it. Unfortunately, that's not how it works with weaving.    

twisted warp /

I realize that it is more important in weaving to correctly warp the loom so that there are no problems with twisting and tension, so I undid the threading, straightened out each warp strand and then re-thread the heddles. The warp is much smoother now and the tension is even. I am finally ready to start weaving.

Warp /

An advanced weaver told me it would take two years to get to a place where I can weave at a steady place and without major complications. I can't wait for that day.  

PS - Did I tell you that I bought a table loom so I have a loom to take to classes? It's a well cared for, used, 25 inch Rasmussen. The company was based in Seattle, but is no longer in business (sold to Montana Looms, which went out of business). It seems really dependable and was much easier to figure out how to warp than the floor loom.   

Pink Pillow Progress

We recently purchased a new gray couch and I am making a pillow to go with it. Working with this pink, sparkly yarn is a delightful treat. It is Aura by Trendsetter Yarns combined with Cascade 220. This is my first brand new couch and it is super exciting to create an item to go with it.

Pink Pillow /

I am keeping track of the pattern and will let you know when it is ready. I was never a huge fan of pink until my niece was about five years old and she influenced me to appreciate how great a color it really is. I have to admit that it brightens my day to work with such a bright color yarn and I am happy to be able to have it in our living room year round. 

Embroidery and Temari Ball Classes

Over the summer, I came up with an idea for something that I want to make in the future (when my weaving skills improve!) which involves embroidery. Now, I have to share that other than basic chain stitch on a laptop case I made for my husband, I have not embroidered anythings since I was about 12 years old. Fast forward to last month: my friend, Kate, signed us up for an embroidery class at Stitches in Seattle. After two sessions with Kelly, I feel confident that I have the basics down. I definitely need a lot more practice (I almost did not share my wonky circles and uneven stitches), but I am on my way.  I am waiting for her to schedule an intermediate class, so I can continue to learn and go forward with the project that I have in mind.  

First embroidery attempt /

Last week, I took a class on how to make Japanese Temari balls with Marilyn Romatka of Taproot Folkarts at The Weaving Works. Marilyn is well-known in the Folk Arts community and the class was a lot of fun. Can you believe that the ball is entirely, and I mean entirely, made from yarn and thread? We spent a little over an hour making the core of ball - it seemed like endless winding, but was also pleasant at the same time - and then moved on to the decoration. One of my favorite parts was that she encouraged us to add a little sparkle to our projects. In case you haven't already noticed, I love sparkle!   

Japanese Temari Ball /

I would am planning to make another ball and it is also a great project for children. Marilyn teaches all over the United States, so check out her website for information on class and the other crafts that she teaches. 

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Atomic Laptop Cover

Here is the Atomic Laptop Cover that my husband requested. He hardly ever asks me to make him anything, but was super excited about this when he saw the Knits of Tomorrow book by Sue Culligan at a local yarn store. I used Cascade 220 even though the pattern calls for Rowan Creative Focus yarn. 

Atomic Laptop Cover

I had to modify the pattern to fit his much smaller laptop, but since the base is mostly knit, it wasn't hard to do once I measured my gauge. It ended up a little large after blocking, so I sectioned off a pocket down the side (you can see the line about two inches from the end on the left in the picture) where he stores his mouse. If I made it again, I may not block the finished pocket or I would try to felt the case before adding the embroidery on top so there was more structure. I used Word to make templates for the circle and oval, then pinned them on and stitched around them for the embroidery. 

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Warp Board Maintenance

Now that our wedding and the guild sale are over, I was finally able to pull out the warp board and get back to weaving. You may remember that I purchased it in a bundle with the loom and other supplies from a lovely woman in Bellevue, Washington. The warp board was handmade by her husband many years ago and had some loose pegs, so I glued them into place earlier this week and started warping last night.

warp on warp board /

I learned that it is problematic to have a loose warp peg because it will mess up the tension on your warp, which is never good. I used tacky glue to stabilize the pegs. For some reason, tacky glue is my go to for fixing things around the house. 

the cross of a warp /

Now the cross on the warp lines up perfectly. This is half of the warp for a pillow pattern that I am going to try to weave. It will be my first project on my 40 inch Macomber. I'll post more photos of this project soon. I hope you have a great Halloween! 

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Cowl Scarf in the Making

Halfway through this reversible cowl scarf. I went pattern-less and am trying a few different things for shape, size, know, the whole thing! I love how it is knitting up. One side has separated ridges and the other has connected ridges.

reversible black cowl scarf /

We had to take our cat to the emergency room last week and I grabbed this for something to do while we waited. It turned out to be perfect because it is an easy knit and the thick yarn is a bonus. I am so glad to get back to working on it after working on the sweater for so long because it is for me, and I rarely knit for myself these days. 

Seattle Weavers' Guild Sale

The 2014 Seattle Weavers' Guild Sale is not to be missed! With over 3,500 locally handmade pieces, it's great for early holiday shopping, finding a treasure for yourself or your home, or finding a bit of inspiration.  It's this weekend in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. I hope to see you there!

Seattle Weavers' Guild Annual Sale

Locally handmade and unique:

scarves ● jewelry ● garments ● hats ● tapestries ● rugs ● blankets ● art

children's items ● yarn ● pillows 
 linens ● fiber ● gifts
and more 

Parking and entrance to the sale are free. Proceed to the back of the parking lot for entry. 

Check out more items on the Seattle Weavers' Guild Facebook page

Work on Photo: Scarf by Teresa Ruch; Basket by Marilyn Moore; Waterside by Gay Jensen