Friday, December 31, 2010

His and his Man Cowls

For Mr. Wonderful and Wild Thing, I knit these Man Cowls from This Boy Knits blog.  I used a Cascade 220 Superwash Quattro yarn - just over 1 skein for the Man Cowl and then another half or more for the Man-child Cowl.  If I were to do it again, I'd cast on 10 fewer stitches for the grown up version - otherwise these turned out great.  For the boy version, I cast on 65 stitches and did the repeats in sets of 8 stitches rather than 10 so that the spiral would be more to scale.

They've both been wearing these everyday since Christmas! Makes my heart all warm and mushy...

yes - my son also wears the sweater I knit for him!! yay!
(This photo does not do Mr. Wonderful justice at all - or the Man Cowl for that matter...)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Finn Hat - not really a tutorial...

So, I mentioned in my last post that Wild Thing wanted a Finn Hat for Christmas. Okay - seems like something that should be reasonably easy to achieve, although risky since I'm a novice and don't know what I'm doing.  First thing any novice does? I checked the internet for an existing tutorial of course!

There is actually an officially sanctioned Finn Hat tutorial out there, and it looks pretty nifty too. But 1) I couldn't get the .pdf pattern to print out on my printer to scale for some reason and 2) we were looking for the more square version of Finn's hat that goes to his shoulders like a bag over his head with ears sort of. So... I measured Wild Thing's head in all directions and sketched out the look:

Then I drafted a pattern (took several attempts...)

cut the pattern out...and cut 2 pieces from basic white polar fleece...

Marked the face cutout on the front piece and cut out

At this point I forgot to take photos - I stitched front and back together right sides facing, clipped corners of the ears and turned.  At this point I hadn't decided whether to line the hat yet. I guess I was hoping I could get away with just one layer and raw edges of the fleece.  But the face opening was too big and the hat seemed floppy even on my adult sized head. So, I decided to make a lining.  

For this I made another hat just like the first to be the outside and used this first one for the lining.  I cut a smaller face opening for this new outer layer, so that I could turn and stitch the edge to the lining to finish the edges and hopefully make the opening a little smaller.  So below you can see my new opening markings inside the cutout for the front of the hat.

After stitching the second (outer) hat, I put the inner hat inside the outer hat with right sides together and stitched the bottom closed - just like you would do with a lined tote bag or zipper pouch. The face holes provide the opening for turning the whole thing right side out. One nice aside - I didn't need to put any stuffing in the ears with the extra lining ears tucked inside the outer ears.  Once it was all turned and tucked, I finger-pressed and top-stitched the bottom for a more finished look. 

The trickiest part of this project was the face opening for which the front edge had to be turned over the raw edges and stitched in place to the back (hence the smaller opening in the front). 

I used a lot of pins.  

A narrow zigzag stitch seems to work best at a very slow speed.  It also works better if you turn it inside out and stitch from the back, otherwise it is tricky to cover the raw edges consistently.  I know all of this especially because I made a second hat yesterday with a smaller overall face opening since Wild Thing was asking if I could make the opening smaller (not complaining though, just asking). Teen Wonder wanted a Finn Hat too, so she got to have the first draft with the bigger face hole. 

Here is the FO on the table (first try)

And here is how difficult it is to get a Wild Thing to model a Finn Hat!

Overall, a pretty successful project judging by the reaction of the recipient.  I think there are still some dimensional issues that need to be addressed if this were to be a real "tutorial" or pattern - the ears are a little to tall on this version, and a little too square on my second try.  Also it bulges out just below the ears instead of lying nice and flat...though no one else seems to notice besides me.  So I won't personally be making any more Finn hats in the foreseeable future.  If perchance someone out there is interested in the dimensions on my pattern, just leave me a comment and I'll jot them down for you.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ho! Ho! Ho! - why having a crafty stash is so important...

Merry Christmas everyone!

Just a quick post to illustrate why stashing is such a life-saver during the holiday last minute, I can't stand the idea of going out shopping, wouldn't a project be fun times.

First, Wild Thing wasn't wild about shopping for his grandparents since we usually make something for them every year. But we had only gotten through the teacher/caregiver set of gifts before my fateful trip. So we needed a plan B fast!  I have boxes of various crafty things - not only fabric, not only yarn, not only thread and interfacing and all that jazz...but also glues, paints, glitter, wire, foil of many colors, beads and beading supplies, ribbon, shiny bits of confetti like things - snowflakes, stars, pointsettas, etc.  Also I had on hand some clear glass ornaments. So... I set Wild Thing loose with empty glass ornaments and ribbons, beads, shiny confetti like things...and he quickly whipped out half a dozen beauties. There were only 2 left unwrapped before I thought to take a photo, but you get the idea:

Example #2: Quick patchwork scarf gift - I had leftover fleece from the Finn Hat project (more on that later), and happen to have a bunch of little pre-cut Moda prints in their "candy bar" size (2.5" x 5").  So I stitched 31 of these in Bliss prints together in a long strip, pressed the seams, and stitched it to the fleece, wrong sides together, leaving one short end open. Turn, press, and topstitch the opening closed and around the entire periphery and voila!  A sweet scarf!  The Bliss prints have a holiday sort of color combination, but aren't Christmas-y, so it's pretty versatile. I hope the recipient will like it!  This took me maybe an hour to put together, but only because I already had everything sitting right there on my cutting table and the machine all threaded with white thread and ready to go!

(modeled by Wild Thing - but he is not the recipient of this one!)
Stash on!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Yikes! Blogs can suffer when life gets in the way...

I actually do have some crafty things to post about, but need to photo the couple of gifts I've managed to finish up in the past few weeks.  Since December started I've been crazy busy, not least with a serious bout of a stomach flu thing that started while I was overseas for a business trip. After a week in a Swiss hospital/clinic I had to be transported home via a private air ambulance service or I would probably still be stuck in Europe! It's a long story, but suffice to say I am on back home now and on the mend.  Sadly, along with other casualties of lost time (like Christmas shopping, cookie making, caroling with the kids, holiday parties...) has been my lofty plans for quilts and other handmade gifts this year. So I'll have another post or two to make when I finish some of the unfinished projects later.

As a side note: On the plus side, I'm about halfway back down to my WW Lifetime goal weight. I've been putting off actually losing any weight for a few years (and slowly gaining more each year) with the excuse of being too busy to diet. I like to eat too.  So, not eating much for a week and now eating only the same 5 foods until my tummy recovers sort of forced that issue. Not a recommended way to get back to goal weight. It's my own personal holiday weight-loss plan - don't try this at home!  Too bad a high percent is probably muscle mass too, but what would a New Year be without some good old-fashioned resolutions?

Preview list of FOs to post in next few days: Heather Hoodie Vest for Teen Wonder (knit), also knit - Man Cowl for Mr. Wonderful + Man-child version for Wild Thing (so match-y!), and for Wild Thing a Finn Hat. This last one is not really not an FO yet - taking a little longer since it's made up and I had to draft a pattern for it. There is actually a pattern and tutorial for a Finn Hat online.  You can even buy them on Etsy already made.  It's cute, but it's different from what I envisioned in my head so I'm trying my own version.  After the pattern drafting, my planned version is much simpler to whip-up - but of course I haven't seen the result yet so it could be a disaster first attempt only that I'll need to refine after Christmas. If successful, maybe I'll try a semi-tutorial...but let's see.

Since most of you probably don't know what the heck a "Finn Hat" is - Finn is a character in a hi-larious cartoon called Adventure Time (along with Jake the Dog) and he always wears this hat.

Well - in the event that I don't actually manage to post tomorrow I won't have time until after Christmas so happy happy holidays to you all (my five or so readers)! I hope you feel as blessed as I do!