Brain Dump

Maybe photo dump would be a better title. Either way, this post is going to be a bit of a rambler, so hopefully you can follow along!

First off, happy Earth Day! I'm amazed every day at how beautiful this Earth is, so I especially love this day. Our wonderful planet gives us so much - it's important to take a day to slow down and remember that. And maybe even do something a little extra to help save all those wonderful things it provides us with.

Now, on to the knitting. I've got a few WIPs going right now (and even a couple of more stowed away out of sight). Only one is new - the others you've seen before. This week I cast on for another household knitting project. We've all seen those poufs all over the Internet - they were all the rage for a while. I even made one as a wedding gift a few years ago.  Since rearranging our furniture a few weeks ago, we're left without something to prop feet onto in the living room, so I figured some sort of pouf would work perfectly.

I searched through my library to see if I could find anything different from the standard poufs I was seeing, and stumbled upon this great pattern from Knit Green (how appropriate for Earth Day!).  The thing I like about this cushion is the neat history behind it. A zafu is traditionally used as a meditation cushion, and is usually sewn, not knitted. And while I don't plan on using this for meditation, I hope it'll bring some sense of calm to our living room. Because who doesn't need a little calming at the end of a long day?

I'm making mine a little larger than the pattern, using 3 strands of super cheap Red Heart acrylic and size 15 needles - perfect for something feet will be resting on. Plus, the bulky yarn has been a nice break from the sock yarn and lace yarn from my other two projects. Speaking of...

These guys. They're killing me, and I'm not totally sure why. I beginning to think it's just because I feel like I'm making no progress. I'll knit on them for a while, try them on, and seems like they haven't grown one bit. I don't know if it's because the seed stitch part is just slow going, or if it's because I'm doing them two at a time. I so wish I was one of those people who can just knock out a pair of socks in a couple of days, but they always seem to drag on. I think I'm going to switch from working them at the same time to working them one at a time - that way I'll be able to see them grow at a faster rate, which will hopefully help my mental block.

Because I do love these socks, and at this rate, it'll be next fall before I finish them, but I want to wear them on our trip to Colorado this summer.

My spring top has made a bit of progress since the last time I blogged about it, even though it may not look like it. I'm only 7 rows away from joining the front and back, at which point it will be smooth sailing knitting-in-the-round joy. I had originally planned on striping the body with grey, but now I'm leaning towards making the whole thing pink. This is a photo from right after I started, and the grey yarn is in the background. My concern is that they don't contrast enough, and will sort of just blend in with each other. Thoughts?

And, that, is the end of my brain/photo dump.



A few snapshots of my week. Happy Friday, and Happy Easter!

gorgeous blooming cherry tree by our downtown farmer's market 

enjoying a nice view from our porch swing

the view from an afternoon spent hammock-ing in the front yard

we had one more cold/snow blast... but the bright side meant enjoying the woodstove!

my handsome date

we got to see Nickel Creek - one of my favorite bands of all time!

i may be overdoing it with plants in the bathroom (is there even such a thing as overdoing it in this situation?)

sunny enjoys hiding in our long grass... probably time to cut it...

pretty blooming tulips at my office

I'm going to make this a weekly thing - it's really fun to look back at my photos from the week, and relive the enjoyable moments. All photos from my Instagram.

Have a great weekend!


Construction Mystery

Since I first wrote about starting my spring top, it's snowed. Twice.

I really shouldn't be complaining. These snows have been, at most, an inch, and have melted within a couple of days, and I know there are plenty of people who are dealing with much, much worse. I especially shouldn't be complaining because last week, it was in the 70s every day, and things started flowering, and grass started growing, and birds are singing... and I feel like it's safe to say that Spring is here to stay.

I've been surrounding my office and our home with fresh cut flowers, and it's amazing what a mood-booster they are.

And even though life has been hectic with work, school, and house projects, I've been able to squeeze in some time working on my spring top.

I'm pretty much just winging it on this one. Other than a basic design, the construction of this one is still a little bit of a mystery. I'm working it top down, the front and back separate until the underarms, and then it'll be joined together for the body. The section you see on the stitch holder is the front, and I'm currently halfway to the underarms on the back.

Will I add waist shaping? Who knows. Will I pick up around the arm and add on to the short sleeve that will be there? Only time will tell. When I was sketching out a basic design and thinking of how to start this top, working it top-down won because I wanted to be able to try it on as I went, so I could make any adjustments I wanted.

So even though there's a lot of mystery surrounding the construction, I really think this is going to be a great top when it's all said and done, and I'm hoping I'll learn a little more about construction, and myself as a knitter.


DIY Succulent Cedar Root

A couple of months ago, Jake and I decided we wanted to change up the layout of our little house. We came to the realization that since our house is small (1,000 sq. ft. - small for conventional houses, the perfect amount of room for us!), we need make sure each room is being used to it's full potential, which we weren't doing. While it was amazing to have our bedroom in the same room as the woodstove, the only time we got to enjoy the woodstove is when we were falling asleep. So we decided to get rid of our guest room, use it for our bedroom, and turn our old bedroom into what we're calling "The Parlor".

This weekend, Jake's dad came up to help us with our yard (lots of photos to come of that soon!), and help us rearrange the furniture. It's mostly still a jumbled mess, but the big pieces of furniture are in the right place. Since we were moving everything around, I figured this was the perfect time to tackle some projects I've had on my to-do list for a while. I'm working on bringing in more plants to the house - they just add so much. The main problem we have are The Cats Who Eat Everything (and why are so many plants toxic to cats?), so most plants will have to be hanging or mounted on the walls. I saw somewhere on the Internet a while ago where someone took a piece of driftwood and planted succulents in it, and knew I wanted something similar. Jake's dad is a contractor, so I asked him if he could be on the lookout for some tree roots (for another project), thinking they would be hard to come across. So, imagine my surprise when he sent me a text saying he found 6 in just a matter of hours! And all cedar, at that - I was so excited. I knew immediately that one of those roots would be perfect for succulents, so he brought them down when he came this weekend. And I got to work!

This was so easy. I wish I had taken step by step photos to share, but they're really not needed. As long as you have the right tools, this project can be finished in just a few hours. Jake's dad had already pressure washed the root for me, but if you have a dirty root, that should be your first step. Then, you just decide where you want your succulents to go. I chose to follow the natural crevices, but that's not necessary.

The crevices just needed a little work (drill or chisel) to make them a little deeper and wider. I then filled the holes with soil, stuck my succulents in, and we mounted it on the wall. Easy! I love the natural, organic look of it.

I keep trying to pick a favorite succulent, but it's hard. I love them all so much! I wish I could add some moss to it too, but since moss prefers a moist environment, and succulents don't, they just don't mix.

Here's a shot to help give it a little perspective, size-wise.

Such a great addition to our room! I'll be sharing more photos from the house (and yard!) after everything's found it's new home. In the meantime, anyone have any good plant recommendations for a house with kitties that eat everything green?


DIY Lace Window Panes

I think I've mentioned before that we live in an old house - 98 years old, to be exact. I love so many things about our house. It holds so much history and charm, and has so many vintage touches to it. One thing it lacked when we moved in was more modern security and privacy. Aside from turn locks on the door handles, the only other lock in the house was operated by a very old and rusty skeleton key.

While I love skeleton keys (we still use it!), and am not particularly worried about anyone breaking into our house, it's better to be safe than sorry. So we installed deadbolts.

Another thing that's bothered me a little are our front & back doors. They're these amazing vintage 15 pane glass doors, and I wouldn't trade them for anything, but sometimes a girl wants to walk around the house in underwear and not be too paranoid that someone's looking in. The dilemma was that the doors let in so much amazing light, and we didn't want to lose that, so a curtain was out of the question.

I should also say that it would be really hard for someone to see in, because although we live in the middle of the city, we're a little off the beaten path, and are really very secluded with a lot of privacy. But still.

I had the idea a couple of months ago to adhere lace fabric to a few of the panes, but I wasn't really sure about the best way to adhere it. I knew I wanted it to be easy to remove, in case we ever want to take it down, or for reselling purposes. A quick google search showed me that I was definitely not the first person to have this idea, and provided me with a great tutorial on creating a sort of paste using cornstarch and water - easy to apply, easy to remove. 

I just purchased some vintage lace curtains at a thrift shop, and they came with two curtain panes, as well as two valances. I'm going to be honest here - I despise valances. I don't know why, but I just can't get behind them. So, I traced a template of the window panes, and cut up the valences.

I think one of my favorite parts of this project is now my doors match my living room curtains. 

Anyway, I mixed my cornstarch paste (2 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons cold water + 1.5 cups boiling water), and I got to work. All in all, this whole project took about an hour.

First, apply the paste to the pane. Don't be afraid to be generous. You could also soak your fabric in the paste, if you prefer.

Then, position the fabric on the frame, and generously apply more paste. I found that the more paste you applied, the more opaque the ending result was.

Repeat the process for as many panes as you want! I chose to do the three in the middle - it adds a little privacy, still allows the wonderful light to come through, and the vintage cottage feel fits right in with our little house. I did this to both the front and back door.

This is the view from the outside, through the screen door, and the below photo is from the back door, with the screen door open.

It's an understatement to say that I love it (and it's Jake-approved, too!).


Spring Fever

Like most people in the US, I'm ready for some warm weather. I keep hoping if I do warm weather activities, Spring weather will arrive. We've had a few teaser days, but all in all it's been colder than usual. To try and will the warm weather to come, I've: planted vegetables (peas and beets are up!), put up a bluebird box, purchased cute warm weather dresses, started shaving my legs on a regular basis again (let's not fool ourselves... no one does this during cold weather), brought forsythia in the house, started eating more fruit, and started wearing brighter colors.

Since those aren't really working, I decided to go ahead and cast on for the spring top I've been planning to make this year - can't hurt, right? I've planned out how I want my top to look - light and airy, a bit oversized, but still fashionable. I even did a gauge swatch!

I ran the numbers last night, and cast on.

The yarn I'm using is the same yarn I used for my Stripe Study Shawl I made a few years ago. It's a lace weight silk/linen blend that I purchased from an Italian Etsy shop. I'm knitting with two strands held together, and will be using both the grey and the pink, just like I did in the shawl. 

Sidenote: we picked up a couple of these faux sheepskin rugs at Ikea a few weeks ago, and they make such a great backdrop for my knitting photos. Not to mention, they're super soft.

I plan on spending the majority of the weekend working on this top while watching my favorite sporting event ever, March Madness.


Peer Pressure

At the beginning of the year, I made a list of all the knits I wanted to knit, and a general time during the year that I wanted to work on them. Thanks to Michelle, Cassy, and all the other gorgeous versions of Antrorse, I've already strayed from that list. I was planning on knitting this sweater this year, just not this early in the year. Peer pressure. Gets me every time.

But I don't regret it one bit. I could live in this sweater.

I knit this using trusty Cascade 220, which is such a great yarn. It's affordable, durable, and comes in so many amazing colors. My camera had a hard time picking up the real color of this yarn, though. It's not as blue as it looks - it's very purple. 

I used the recommended US 10 needles because I liked the look of the looser fabric, which made my gauge a little off because Cascade is worsted, instead of aran. But to work around that, I made the size 34, to get about a 33. It's the perfect amount of over-sized for me.

It's a great sweater for this time of year. It's warming up, but still cool, and Antrorse is great for layering.

Even though it may be a small detail, I really love the garter stitch hem on the body and sleeves. Sometimes I forget how much I love garter stitch. It was the first thing I learned to knit, so it's easy for me to dismiss it as "beginner", but it really has a simplistic beauty to it.

I will probably go back and add a crochet chain to the backside of the funnel neck to help avoid "droopy neck syndrome". Mine is holding up pretty well, but the buttons are a bit heavy, which causes it to droop just a little.

Now, to focus on getting these socks off the needles so I can cast on my tights!

 {see more photos on my instagram}