March 27, 2014

Birthday Nordic Beanie

My friends just seem to keep having birthdays (I'm not complaining--18 is a great milestone to celebrate!) The nice part about knitting for close female friends is that women/ladies/girls/chicks like to own and wear scarves and I like to knit them. I also know at least something about female fashion and can probably make a project work well enough with current trends.

You can probably infer that my whole reason for saying this is because I have next-to-zero experience knitting for guys older than "infant." I've never even knit anything for my father. But as "close friends" and "guys" are not mutually exclusive in my life, I knew I had to figure out something to celebrate Samir's birthday the way I know a scarf for a girl friend can. 

I didn't want to make a scarf because "man-scarves" are generally all in ribbing, which means wasting lots of time switching from knit to purl every two stitches. So I reverted to my second-most common project, the beanie.

I did some research on (also known as DROPS), the website for a Norwegian yarn company that also has great patterns like the one I used for my first sweater. Being Norwegian and awesome and all, they have some beautiful Nordic fair-isle designs amid their hat (and sweater, scarf, sock, etc.) patterns. 

I stumbled upon this one. I really liked it, but I made sure to first get approval from the gift recipient before ordering yarn to make sure it would be appreciated, even if it would ruin the surprise ahead of time. I bought some yarn from the only store in the United States that sells DROPS yarn, Nordic Mart in San Louis Obispo, and once I got the yarn, I went to town on the knitting.

I've never actually done color knitting on a formal piece, so I was really excited to try it out for the first time. Beyond having to rib with painfully small size 2 needles, the knitting went very smoothly, and I was done within 48 hours. 

Seems like it met the Samir standard. Phew.

Photo: Hope you are having a great birthday in a place where your birthday gift from me will never be necessary. Have a great day full of quintessential Samir positiveness, enthusiasm, and energy, and welcome to adulthood. :)

In case you want a better pic of the actual hat design, here's the uber-flattering photo I took to check for fit.

I used size 2 and 6 needles and DROPS Karisma 100% superwash wool in color 17 (navy) and 44 (grey). While the pattern says 100 g of navy and 50 g of grey are needed to knit the hat, I used less than half of that. Because I want to put this yarn to good use, I'll be making a second Nordic beanie once I find a pattern I like in the right gauge. If you have a suggestion, I'd love for you to share your wisdom in the comments!

I've caught the knitting bug as of late, so I am ferociously working on more projects. Stay tuned for those and other crafty shenanigans in the coming weeks!

Happy Crafting!!

March 20, 2014

Winding River Infinity Scarf

Another Olympics has now come and gone, which means that I spent more hours watching TV in the month of February then I will for the entire rest of the year. It also means I had more time to knit, because it is too easy to knit and watch TV at the same time to just do one of them separately. 

So I knit another infinity scarf for another friend's birthday. I spent quite a bit of time trying to decide on a pattern. I didn't want one that was so difficult that I couldn't watch TV at the same time, but I wanted to keep it interesting enough to look at so I wouldn't be embarrassed of its simplicity. I used another Loops and Threads Charisma yarn, this time in Aurora Borealis, and got pattern inspiration from my Knitting Stitch Patterns treasury. 

After making three scarves now with this yarn, I have learned that trying to block this 100% acrylic yarn is not worth the effort. I now accept the stockinette rolling up as an expected part of the final product.

This is likely the last infinity scarf of the season, as spring has sprung and scarfs will be in low demand until late fall. 

Winding River Infinity Scarf Pattern
Yarn: 200 m (2 skeins) Loops and Threads' Charisma in Aurora Borealis
Needles: 10.5 (6.5 mm)

Cast on 23 sts. (Pattern can be done in any multiple of 7 sts plus 2.)
Rows 1, 3, 5: K2, * yo, k1, yo, k 2 tog back, k 2 tog, k2, * repeat * to *.
Row 2 and all even rows: P all.
Rows 7, 9, 11: K2, * k 2 tog back, k 2 tog, yo, k1, yo, p2, * repeat * to *. 

Repeat rows 1-12 seventeen times or until desired length. Then bind off, sew ends together, and weave in ends.

k - knit
p - purl
yo - yarn over
k 2 tog back - knit two stitches together in the back loops
k 2 tog - knit two stitches together (in the front loops)

Enjoy the last bit of cooler weather, and happy spring!

Until next Thursday, 
Happy Crafting!!

March 13, 2014

Embroidered Pillows II

In January, I said you can expect me to make an infinity scarf for everyone's birthday present. But that wasn't the whole story. While I have given away many scarves, I have gifted far more pillows.

Pillows are just one of those things that I instantly consider as a birthday present option. I mean, who doesn't want another 14 x 14" square of fluff to clutter their living room sofa? Or bed? Or, more realistically, their dusty closet? 

So I've made a lot of pillows. I've knitted pillows. I once sewed a simple pillow and then wrote with Sharpie in slanted cursive writing "Happy Mother's Day!!!!!!!!" I've made pillow cases, and more recently I embroidered one. Fortunately, my mother, who has been the recipient of most of these embarrassing pillows, has accepted all of these "treasures" with a loving smile every time. (It helped that I was a cute elementary-schooler during the worst of it.) The pillows are all displayed in her bedroom. Whenever I go in there, it looks like an exhibit on "The Evolution of My Daughter's Pillow-Making Abilities Through the Years." Yippee.

That first embroidered pillow was so much fun that I wanted to do another one. The wildflower bouquet one took many hours, though, and the pillow part was just made to feature the embroidery. For my next project, I wanted to see what else I could do with pillow embroidery to make the entire pillow unique.

Embroidered Paintbrush Quilted Pillow, December 2013 - January 2014.
Fortunately enough, my super artsy friend Kowli's birthday was coming up, and sure enough, I had already given her a scarf in year's past, so that option wasn't available. Being the super original person I am, I took my other frequently-traveled road and made her a pillow (and a five-page card). 

Because she loves art and is a super talented artist, I embroidered a paintbrush. I also added a border of colorful solid and floral 2.5" quilt squares that matched the paintbrush color scheme. You may notice that the squares aren't perfectly configured. For one, it's artsy, and that's the point. Secondly, I can't do math to account for seam allowances. So there's that. 

I also can't do math to make my pillow fit over the 12" pillow form I bought even after double- and triple-checking, so I had to add a coral striping along the edges so the pillowcase would fit over the form. But that was a blessing disguised in frustration, because I think it looks better that way. :)

A close-up of the embroidery, which took about 3 hours. I used cross stitch, back stitch, satin stitch, and stem stitch.

My mom's birthday also happened recently. I happen to have already given her a hat, a scarf, a few lanyards, some coasters, needle points, and more than her fair share of pillows. So of course I had to give her just one more. 

When I'm searching for an embroidery design, I gaze through the machine-embroidery Redwork designs for sale until I find one that I like. Then I take a screen-shot of the pattern and print it. My family likes to tease my mother for her love of trees, and I really wanted to embroider a tree for her pillow, but I could not for life of me find a pattern of a tree that was not Christmas- or Hawaii-related. So I had to try something else.

When I was rummaging through the bird section on one of those embroidery sites, I noticed that some of the birds were sitting on tree branches. Perfect! I picked a pattern of a robin and went straight to work.

But then there was the problem of realistic coloration of a robin. When I learned that robins are mostly kind of boring-colored, I just gave up on trying to make it realistic and put in streaks of colored robin feathers. Because why not.

I made this pillow the day after I made the paintbrush one, so I learned my lesson and did my math, checked it four times, and as a result didn't severely mess up. But this time I intentionally added a second border piece because I liked the effect so much.

Embroidered Robin Pillow, January 2014.
A close-up of the embroidery, which took about 15 hours. I used back stitch, satin stitch, leaf stitch, chain stitch, and french knot.
Not-surprisingly, my mother received this gift pillow too with a loving smile, and put it right next to all the other pillows. Some things never change.

Stay tuned for next Thursday!

Happy Crafting,

March 6, 2014

A "Walk" Through Memory Lane, Part 2

I have found that postcards are a great way to keep a travel diary. For many years, I have purchased postcards during my travels and written descriptions of my adventures on the back. My inner-historian is satisfied with this method of documentation because I will be able to recollect these experiences whenever I want, and I also maintain my sanity because I won't have to write long and detailed travel logs. So I've stuck with it more or less since 2008. 

Eight months ago, I shared the first part of my postcard collection, from pre-July 2008 to June 2009. Here's the next installment! Sit back, relax, and come relive some of my traveling adventures.

Recap of organization: 
-Category 1- Mostly insignificant postcards mailed to me
-Category 2- Transfer postcard from previous collection
-Category 3- Postcard mailed to me by my parents
-Category 4- I purchased the postcard intending to send it someone but didn't
-Category 5- I purchased the postcard to add to my collection but didn't label it
-Category 6- I purchased the postcard to add to my collection and I also labeled it, elaborating on what I did at said place.  

Page 28, Top: Golden Gate Bridge, c. 1936. Category 3, October 2007. 
Bottom: A Portion of the Berlin Wall at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA. Category 6, September 2009. I went with some cousins and family to tour the Reagan Library, which was cool not because it had anything to do with Reagan, but because I got to see a part of the Berlin Wall. Being the history geek that I am, I was ecstatic to see part of one of the most important structures of the 20th century.

Page 29, Top: Burney Falls. Category 1, August 2009. 
Bottom: Air Force One at Reagan Presidential Library. Category 6, September 2009. The other notable attraction at the Reagan Library was the "retired" Air Force One aircraft, which transported several presidents during their terms.

Page 30, Top: Baikal, Russia. Category 1, July 2010
Bottom: Kiev, Ukraine. Category 1, July 2010. 

Page 31, Top: Mission San Luis Rey de Francia. Category 1, 2005. If anyone remembers doing their 4th grade California mission report, I did mine on Mission San Luis Rey, the largest and "King" of the missions, which is just north of the mission in San Diego. 
Bottom: Atlanta, Georgia. Category 1, c. 2004. I temporarily corresponded with Chelsea, a fellow elementary-school Girl Scout, who lived in Georgia. 

Page 32, Top: Ireland. Category 1, September 2009.
Bottom: Skagit Valley Bulb Farm, Mount Vernon, Washington. Category 1, 2010.

Page 33, Top: USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, O'ahu, Hawai'i. Category 5, November 2009. On December 7, 1941, "the day that lived in infamy," Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese kamikazi pilots, which promptly began the United States' involvement in World War II. During these attacks, several thousand civilians and military personnel died, including 1100 soldiers aboard the USS Arizona, which was torpedoed and subsequently sank. So this memorial was built on top of where the sunk battleship lies to this day. I rode a ferry to walk about the memorial during a visit to Pearl Harbor. 
Bottom: USS Bowfin, Pearl Harbor, O'ahu, Hawai'i. Category 5, November 2009. During my visit to Pearl Harbor, we also got to tour the USS Bowfin submarine, listen to stories of life aboard it from WWII veterans, and imagine sleeping among the torpedo reserves. It was awesome. 

Page 34, Top: de Young Museum, San Francisco. Category 2, 2009.
Bottom: Petunias by Georgia O'Keefe, de Young Museum, San Francisco. Category 2, 2009.

Page 35, Top: Jamestown Settlement Museum, Virginia. Category 5, May 2010. During my 8th grade field trip to Washington, DC, we visited colonial Jamestown. 
Left: Casket of King Tutankhamun at de Young Museum. Category 5, 2010. I went to a temporary exhibit of artifacts from the Egyptian pharaohs period.
Right: Close-up of casket, see above.

Page 36, Top: Historic Virginia Triangle. Category 5, May 2010. The "Virginia Triangle" consists of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, which were three key American places during the American colonial and Revolutionary War period. During my DC trip, I visited Williamsburg, which was one of the coolest places I have ever seen, and Jamestown.
Left: Capitol Building, Washington, DC. Category 5, May 2010. I toured the Capitol building during my DC trip. Inside, each state is represented by two statues, and I thought it was interesting that Father Junipero Serra and Ronald Reagan were the two people chosen to represent California. Other highlights I remember were King Kamehameha I and Father Damien of Hawai'i, and Helen Keller of Alabama. 
Right: King Tutankhaman statues as king of Upper and Lower Egypt, de Young Museum, San Francisco. Category 5, 2010.

Page 37, Top: US National Archives, Washington, DC. Category 5, May 2010. Copies of the Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, other historic documents, every government publication, and every national publication are either housed or affiliated with this building. A book and history lover's paradise.
Left: Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC. Category 5, May 2010. This memorial is absolutely worth visiting. I enjoyed learning about its devastating context, which also hits home. My uncles were almost drafted; one avoided going by starving himself below the acceptable BMI, the other went to college. Out of the thousands of casualties in the Vietnam War, the most were from West Virginia, who lived in such poverty that they couldn't escape the draft. 
Right: Civil War Drummer Boy, US Colored Regiment, National Archives, Washington, DC. Category 5, May 2010.

Page 38, Top: Jefferson Memorial, Washington, DC. Category 5, May 2010. Pretty cool monument.
Bottom: John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC. Category 5, May 2010. We got to go on the roof and admire the view of the Potomac River during sunset.

Page 39, Top: Mount Vernon, Virginia. Category 5, May 2010. I toured George Washington's estate and home, which elucidated why he was so anxious to retire and just hang out at home for the rest of his life.
Bottom: Washington, DC. Category 5, May 2010. Go on, see if you recognize any of these buildings. 'Murica.

Page 40, Top: Holocaust Museum, Washington, DC. Category 5, May 2010. I attended the exhibit on children in the Holocaust. It's sad and depressing, but very well done.
Bottom: Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia. Category 5, May 2010. Also sad and depressing. But I learned that I am not the only Greenfield in America, and that there are also other "-fields," including Brownfields, Whitefields, Redfields, and Blackfields who all served in the military at some point. It's comforting, I suppose. 

Page 41, Top: Korean Memorial, Washington, DC. Category 5, May 2010. This was another great war memorial, of several soldiers walking through fields of rice paddies with a dark wall of shadows behind them.
Bottom: World War II Memorial, Washington, DC. Category 5, 2010. Another beautiful war memorial, with water!

Page 42, Top: White House, Washington, DC. Category 5, May 2010. We didn't meet the President, but we saw him drive by in one hell of a security-ridden procession, helicopters and all. 
Bottom: Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC. Category 5, May 2010. 

Page 43, Top: National Cathedral, Washington, DC. Category 5, May 2010. Until I went inside, I had no idea there was a cathedral in America. It was built around the turn of the century, and is dubbed "the last cathedral." It is absolutely beautiful inside, nonsecular, and over 1/10 of a mile long. Another tidbit is that there was a children's contest for a suggestion of one of the gargoyles, and so one of them on the upper part is of Darth Vader.  
Bottom: National Cathedral cont'd.

Page 44, Top: National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian, Washington, DC. Category 5, May 2010. Planes and stuff. Pretty cool.
Left: Washington State Puzzle. Category 3, 2010.
Right: The Lone Cypress Tree, Pebble Beach, CA. Category 3, May 2010. Apparently the Loan Cypress is one of California's best known landmarks, but I've never heard of it.

Page 45, Top: Sea Otter. Category 3, 2010. 
Bottom: La Maison du Fromage, Pays-Basque, France. Category 3, 2010.

Page 46, Top: Wyoming. Category 5, 2010.
Bottom: Painted Buffalo Inn, Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Category 5, 2010.

Page 47, Top: Lower Falls, Yellowstone River. Category 5, July 2010. Yellowstone Canyon is beautiful, yellow, and totally worth visiting.
Left: Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park. Category 5, July 2010. This picture was a stamp in 1934, which happens to be during the Great Depression. FDR and his alphabet programs supported artists to make lots of National Park posters, stamps, and other art in an attempt to boost the ailing economy. 
Right: Map of Yellowstone National Park. Category 5, July 2010. My family and I had a blast here, especially at Norris, where some teen grizzlies and the resident bison kicked us out of our campground; Canyon, the various geysers, Old Faithful, which were great sites and hikes; and the La Mar Valley, where we saw hundreds of bison families and other wildlife tromping around the natural way. 

Page 48, Top: Snake River, Grand Teton National Park. Category 5, July 2010. While we didn't see any moose (meese?) the conventional way as depicted in the photo, we did learn that one was licking our tent early one morning when we were still sleeping in it.
Bottom: Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park. Category 5, July 2010. Geysers, steam, thin crust, earthquakes, and sulfur, hooray! Amazing natural colors, too. 

Page 49, Top: Grand Teton National Park. Category 5, July 2010. Beautiful mountains and fields of nitrogen-fixating lupine. My dad said that if he had a third girl he would want to name her Lupine. gag. The good news is that a third kid doesn't look too likely at this point.
Bottom: Mono Lake, California. Category 5, August 2010. The lake is east of Yosemite, and has famous Tufa Towers around it, which were formed from underwater springs back when the lake was high. 

Page 50, Top: Half Dome at Sunset, Yosemite National Park. Category 5, August 2010. 
Bottom: Tuolomne Meadows, Yosemite National Park. Category 5, August 2010. My family has spent many a delightful summer week camping in Tuolumne Meadows, hiking, relaxing in the river, singing by the campfire, and eating ice cream.

Page 51, Top: Pescadero, California. Category 5, July 2010. Gorgeous coastal town. 
Bottom: Pigeon Point, California. Category 5, July 2010. This is near Costa Noa, which is a great coastal place to enjoy nature and serenity in all its glory during a peaceful summer day.

Page 52, Top: Newburgh, Indiana. Category 1, 2010. Newburgh was the first town north of the Mason-Dixon Line to be captured by the Confederates during the Civil War. I'm sure it was one hell of a battle, especially because it is super un-well known. 
Bottom: Ohio River, Indiana. Category 1, 2010.

Page 53, Top: Newburgh, Indiana. Category 1, 2010. 
Bottom: Newburgh, Indiana. Category 1, 2010. 

Page 54, Top: Ohio River, Newburgh, Indiana. Category 1, 2010. 
Bottom: Nantucket. Category 1, 2010.

Page 55, Top: Saint Louis Zoo. Category 1, 2010.
Bottom: Baltimore, Maryland. Category 1, 2010. 

Page 56, Top: Washington, DC. Category 1, 2010.
Bottom: Washington, DC. Category 1, 2010.

Page 57, Top: Washington, DC. Category 1, 2010.
Bottom: Pennsylvania. Category 1, 2010.

Page 58, Top: Kamehameha the Great statue. Category 5, June 2010. 
Bottom: Honolulu, O'ahu, Hawai'i. Category 5, June 2010. Views include Kamehameha statue in Waikīkī, Downtown, 'Iolani Palace, Waikīkī Beach, Mauka view.

Page 59, Top: Hawai'i Snorkeling. Category 2, December 2010.
Bottom: see above.

If you're still with me, congratulations. You're awesome. Part 3 will be posted in a few months. Until then, and until next Thursday, 

Happy Crafting!!