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}


Planning Ahead

Things are coming along nicely with my Antrorse. I'm not as far along as I'd like, but I'm about to finish the body and start the sleeves. If I can finish it by next weekend, I will have finished it in less than a month, which is still pretty great.

This is going to be so comfy to wear - I just love the funnel neck.

A few Knitmases ago, I posted about an awesome wooden button maker on Etsy, Field Hands. I just love Erik's buttons. So natural and beautiful. So when I saw these beauties, I knew they'd be perfect for my Antrorse. 

With my Antrorse nearing completion, I've started to plan out my next projects. With Spring nearing, I know I want to make a spring top with some linen/silk blend I have in my stash, so I know that will be one of my next garments. Something else I want to do this year is knit a pair of tights, and I'm really excited to cast on. I ordered Stroll Sock yarn from Knit Picks in Firecracker Heather, and I'll be using Mel Clark's Tangerine Tights pattern.

The yarn keeps staring at me, tempting me to abandon everything else and cast on, but I'm doing my best to restrain. The needles I'll use are also wrapped up in these socks I started back in October, and I'm going to make myself finish them before I start the tights. I'm at the point where I need to start the heel, so the finish isn't too far off.

Also tempting me is this yarn I ordered from Brooklyn Tweed during their sale. I mean, it's just so pretty.

My mom is waiting patiently for an Aidez that I promised her, and I also want to make Jake a hat. I know I'm not alone in this feeling: too many projects I want to make, not enough time to make them. But the planning ahead sure is a lot of fun.


Sweater Surgery

For this post, we're going to take a trip back in time. All the way back to 2010.

2010 was the year this sweater was born.

And, at the time, I really loved it. I still do love it. The problem is that it's just not that comfortable to wear. The sleeves are so big that they just kinda get in the way. 

2010 was also the year this sweater was born.

Look at those seams. They make me cringe, as does the neckline. Yikes. I guess at this point in time my motto was "get it over with", because had I taken any time to actually look at what I was doing, I think this sweater would look a lot better.

(Judging from the these photos, I basically lived in those jeans. They also had surgery and are now jean shorts.)

Now, we'll jump forward a bit to 2012, which is the year this sweater was born.

I just adore the color of this sweater. Unfortunately, it had a bad run through the wash and now it looks like this.

(Side note: look at that Forsythia. Ahhhh, Spring. Also, not sure who told me bangs were a good idea...)

(Surprisingly, Pearl had nothing to do with the holes. Although given the chance, she'd love to do some damage.)

There are a few other holes in it due to the washing mishap, and I wasn't crazy about the sleeve length, which deterred me from wearing it as much as I could have.

So here we are. February 19, 2014. And these three sweaters currently are stored away, awaiting surgery.

Don't see the oatmeal colored sweater in this pile? That's because she's (yes, she) already gone through her pre-surgical appointment with the dye bath, and is now a great shade of red, with hints of yellow and orange. She will soon be completely dismantled and become a Beatnik, where she will be worn with much more pride, instead of always with a vest so her seams wouldn't show.

The orange batwing sweater will be a bit trickier. My initial plan is to rip back to the bottom of sleeves, make the body longer, and the sleeves not as wide. I may make the sleeves a little longer too.

As for the blue sweater, I think she will be dismantled as well, and probably re-knit with smaller needles and longer sleeves.

Who knows when I'll get to all these sweaters. Much like people here in the US, they're going to have to wait a while before they have the surgeries they need. But eventually I'll get to them, and I'll have three great new sweaters to wear.

PSA: Folks, make sure your sweaters are signed up to be donors. You never know when their life will end, and they could donate some or all of themselves to become something even more wonderful.