Sunday, 30 October 2011

Quick Knitting and Halloween Update

It's been a long time since my last post. Has been a busy fall so far around here and last week I caught the horrible cold that is going around. Spent lots of time curled up with Lola in bed knitting and reading. I finally got some of the Yarn Harlot's books from the library and she has had me in hysterics all week. She also writes a wonderful blog which is great for knitter's and non-knitter's alike (link above). After reading her chapters about her yarn stash I was inspired to do a organization of my stash which at least felt like a productive thing to do while I was at home with this nasty cold. I'm also happy to report that my stash has not yet grown so large that I am hiding knitting projects down the sleeves of my jackets. Matt says it is only a matter of time. I also finished a few pieces of knitting that have been on the needles for a while.

Lola loved this bulky cowl I was making out of baby alpaca. This is supposed to be a Christmas present but I have been wearing it all week. I'm just test driving it... yeah that's it... test driving. 

Another cowl I have made with a simple eyelet pattern and gorgeous Waterloo Wools. 

The Kaie Beanie, a diagonal slip stitch hat out of bright orange. This photo doesn't do it justice, this colourway from Waterloo Wools is gorgeous.  

A Forest Queen Hat out of super soft Malabrigo. See the tiny trees and bobbles?

My 5-hour baby sweater, that took a bit longer than 5 hours. Don't know who this sweet cardi is destined for yet but it is made of yummy Dream in Colour Classy in a fantastic colourway called "Flamingo Pie". 

Over the past few weeks I also had the opportunities to take 2 knitting classes, one to learn toe-up socks and another to make gloves. Toe-up socks were a breeze and I love not having to graft or pick up stitches. Gloves on the other hand were a bit trickier; knitting all of those finger's can be a bit fiddly.

So far I have made one toe-up sock and this toe-up slipper which I love. I don't have a case of second sock/slipper syndrome at all...
Lastly, the guy and I went to friend's Stag and Doe last night. It was a Halloween party, and we came up with an awesome costume. We lucked out and won some great prizes including a Keurig coffee machine!

My guy and me as a swiffer duster and a piece of dirt. 

Starting a list of Christmas knitting, so will try to update soon on more WIPs and FOs. Also, a new ornament tutorial next weekend which is super cute!


Thursday, 20 October 2011

Photo Tutorial: Felt Gnomes

Every winter my grandmother and I have gone to the Gardiner Museum's "12 Trees of Christmas". If you have never been, or even heard of this event, the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art showcases 12 different Holiday trees decorated by local designers. Each one has a theme, and they range from traditional to abstract. It is a great tradition for my family and if you are in the Toronto area around the holidays I would highly recommend a visit.

Since I decided that I wanted to make all the ornaments for my tree this year I decided that I wanted a theme to help me decide on the ornaments I would craft. I choose "Winter Woodland" and have been happily "pinning" ideas on Pinterest ever since. The decision to have a woodsy theme - combined with the fact that I recently watched Gnomeo and Juliet - inspired me to look for gnome patterns.

For last weekend's ornament craft, I was inspired by this Ravelry pattern. I decided that instead of knitting these little guys I would re-create them with felt. Me, NOT knit something? Shocking I know! Not to worry though, I have lots of knitting Christmas ideas :) I hope you enjoy this Felted Gnome recipe!


Toilet Paper Rolls
Felt in assorted colours
Yarn in beardy colours: white, grey and tan
Polyfill Stuffing
Optional: Embellishments, such as buttons

You will also need sharp scissors, a glue gun and a medium circle shaped object to trace (I used a bowl)


1. Make the body: Cut your toilet paper roll so that it is about 3" long. Mark a piece of felt in desired colour at the rolls height and cut out a long strip. Put a line of glue down one of the short edges of the felt strip. Attach the TP roll. Adding more glue, roll the TP roll along until completely covered in felt. Snip felt to the correct size and glue down. Trim the felt if there is excess along the top or bottom.

2: Make and attach the beard: Take the yarn and wrap it around the span of your hand loosely until you have enough to make a busy beard. Then cut at the top and bottom of the yarn loop. Use a longer piece of pre-cut yarn to tie the beard strands together near the top. Make sure to knot this tightly and multiple times so that your beard doesn't fall apart.

Next, put a large dollop of hot glue on the inside of the TP roll on the opposite side of the roll from the felt seam. This will ensure that the seam is on the back of your gnome. Quickly press the top end of your beard (where it is knotted) into the glue. Hold in place until completely dry. At this point your beard will look rather long and shaggy. Don't worry, you will give him a trim later on.

3. Make the nose: Take a small circular piece of felt in a skin tone for the nose of your gnome. Put a tiny bit of polyfill stuffing in the centre. At this point you can either fiddle with the glue gun to close the nose, or you can sew it shut so that it makes a small felt ball. Don't worry about making this perfect. As long as it looks roughly like the one in the picture it will be a good gnome nose.

4. Make the gnome hat: Trace a medium sized bowl onto your felt. I used a bowl that is approximately 6" in diameter. From your circle cut out 1/4. Cut the remaining 3/4 into 2 roughly equal pieces. This will make 2 gnome hats.

Once you have your hat piece run a line of glue along one of the straight edges and then fold the hat in towards the middle. Do the same with the other side to create a cone shape. 

5. Attach the gnome's hat: The first place you want to attach the gnome's hat is at the back. Line up the seam on the body with the seam on the hat and glue them together. Next run a line of glue along the top of the roll on the right or left side and attach the hat, then repeat for the other side. Make sure the glue dries before you move to the next area or the hat will slide around.

Once you have attached the back and sides of the gnome's hat, its time to add the nose. Spread the gnome's beard in the middle, put a dollop of glue on the back of the nose and push it into the beard, so that it will be partially obscured by the hat. You may also want to add a small dab of glue to the top of the nose to affix the hat at the front.

To finish the hat, stuff it will polyfill stuffing to get the desired shape. You can use the blunt end of a pen or pencil to help you move the stuffing up into the top of the hat and to make sure it is stuffed evenly.

6. Finishing you gnome: At this point you will want to trim your gnome's beard. I suggest doing this over a bowl so that you don't get little yarny bits everywhere. You can stop here if you like, or you can add embellishments, such as buttons, or small stars or snowflakes to give your gnome a fancier look.

Repeat this process and before you know it, you will have an entire Gnome army to take over any holiday gathering. You can use these gnomes as a table decoration, or you can string yarn through the top if their hats to make ornaments for the tree. Enjoy your new gnome friends!

Happy Crafting!


Saturday, 15 October 2011

Photo Tutorial: DIY Beaded Star Ornaments

As promised here is the photo tutorial for my first holiday ornament, Beaded Stars. I was inspired by this post on Crafty Mummy, but I was unable to find pre-made wire shapes so I decided to make my own.

If you are in Toronto, the best deal on beads I have found is Chaton Beads near Queen West and Palmerston. It is on the south side of Queen just east of Palmerston. They also have shops in Quebec and I believe you might be able to order online. If you get on their email list, they will send you coupons for great deals. Occasionally they will have a coupon for 50% off everything in store. I went on one such day and got enough materials to make at least 30 stars for $20. What a steal!


1.0 mm aluminium wire
A selection of beads (ensure that the wire will fit through the hole of your bead, I used beads in the 4-8 mm range)
Hot glue gun and glue
A variety of sequins

In addition you will need a measuring tape or ruler, a pair of wire cutters and round-nose jewelry pliers.


1. Straighten out a section of your wire and cut roughly even lengths. I used 4", 5" and 6" to get three different sizes of star. You might find it helpful to use a spare piece of fabric to run along the wire as you straighten it out.

2. Decide how you want your star to look. Lay the pieces down in a shape that is pleasing to you and make sure that the angles are wide enough to make a relatively even looking star.

Once you know how you want the finished product to look lay one of your wire pieces on a surface you don't mind getting glue on and put a drop of hot glue in the center. Quickly press in another piece of wire into the glue spot at the predetermined angle. I am a bit fearless about burning my fingers, but do exercise caution. You want the glue to wrap around the second piece of wire. Also, be careful not to glue the pieces to the surface of the table. Lift the star off the surface before it dries. Once this dries, repeat with the third piece of wire. I tend to make a bunch of the star forms first and let them dry completely before beading. Don't worry at this stage, they will look ugly, but the magic is about to happen.

3. Slide the beads onto the spokes of the stars. Because the lengths are unlikely to be perfect, slide beads onto the shortest spoke first. It is also a good idea to use smaller beads for the center. Make sure you bead one spoke at a time or the beads will fall off and you will have a huge mess. Play with colour combinations until you find one you like. Leave at least a half centimeter at the end of the spoke unbeaded. With the round nose pliers, gently bend and loop the end so the beads will not fall off. If you have excess, trim with the wire cutters. This loop will also provide a place that you can slip a ribbon or string through for hanging. Repeat on the other spokes.

4. Once all of the spokes are beaded, choose a sequin for the middle of your star. Put a drop of glue in the middle and attach the sequin. Repeat for both sides. This not only finishes the star by hiding the ugly glue spot, but will also help to strengthen the connection. For a less sparkly look you could also use a button,or a more dimensional look you could use a bead, but I liked the combination of the flatness and bling provided by the sequins.

Voila!  A beautiful ornament for the tree or for a gift topper.

Happy Crafting!


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

This post is a day late, but Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians.  This weekend was jam-packed with seasonal fun and visiting with friends and family. We decided to have our feast on Saturday because K's parents were still in town and we wanted to celebrate with them before their flight back to Alberta on Saturday evening. So ten of us gathered at our comparatively small apartment on Saturday afternoon to indulge in the season's finest and freshest foods. I made the traditional turkey, something I have done multiple holidays before, but this was the first time I did it from start to completion without my mom's help and was definitely the largest bird I have ever cooked. At 19 pounds it barely fit in my apartment sized oven!

For decorations, I had my Pom Pom Tom's stashed away, but I also wanted to do something with flowers. I went to the nearby florist and got flowers in seasonal red, orange and white. For the vases, I decided to take my inspiration from this picture on the Martha Stewart website and carve out various gourds. I picked out a selection last week in Kensington Market and set to work. If you are trying this yourself, make sure you pick gourds that sit sturdily on a flat surface or you will have problems with tippage.

My gourds waiting to be turned into vases. 
They were fun and easy to make, although I carved them on Friday night when my guy had some friends over for a game night. I think the three of them thought I was surely going to cut some fingers off, because gourds are really hard! Who knew? Anyway, I managed the carving with no injury and they are still water tight and displayed on the dining room table.

Gourds in the middle of carving. I used the giant knife to cut off the top (much harder than it sounds!), the smaller knife to carve out the flesh at the top, and the mellon baller to scoop out the goo and seeds. 
With my gourds, PPT's (which I used for place cards and a take-away for guests), and owl candles the table looked very autumnal.

Pom Pom Tom's used as name cards. Everyone got to take home their Thanksgiving friend. 
One of my favourite bumpy gourd vases. 

A view of the table. 
Lola wanted in on the action and decided that if we couldn't see her then no one would dismiss her from the dinner table.


For the meal, I regrettably forgot to take pictures. Frankly, by the time it went on the table I was ready for a nap, but this is what we prepared.
All of the veggies were local, either from my mom and K's garden or the Aurora Farmer's Market. My mom, the baker, made not one, but 2 pies for dessert. Pumpkin Pie Delight (a cross between Pumpkin Pie and Cheesecake), and her famous Apple Pie with apples she picked herself from a local orchard. With the addition of whipped cream and a sprinkle of peanut brittle, it was heavenly.

My Mom's famous pumpkin and apple pies. Yummy!!

After dinner K's parents headed to the airport for their flight home and the rest of us engaged in a lively game of Apples to Apples. My cousin, Shannon, was also able to join us from Montreal. It was great to catch up with her as well!

Lola was very thankful for a snack of turkey and a nice nap on Matt's blanket. 

Dishes done and apartment cleaned up, my guy and I had a wonderful date day on Sunday. We went out for brunch and then meandered through the St. Lawrence Antique Market for a couple of hours, where I got some awesome vintage buttons for my collection. Afterwards we headed to Queen West to pick up some supplies from my favourite beading store, Chaton Beads, as they were having one of their famous 50% off days. I used these supplies to make Beaded Stars on the holiday Monday. I have decided that this year I want to get a full sized Christmas tree and I want to decorate it completely with handmade ornaments. So I figure I better get started ASAP. Between now and Christmas I will be making a new ornament every weekend and either posting a tutorial or the link to a tutorial here. I will post pictures and instructions for the beaded stars soon. They are gorgeous and very simple to make.

I hope you all have a tummy full of turkey and have had time this lovely weekend to contemplate the things you are thankful for. I for one am thankful for my amazing guy, family and friends who made the weekend memorable.