Saturday, August 27, 2011

Starting New Baby Gift Set

Here is the start of my next baby gift set: a blue baby hat and socks -

I will work on the blanket and post that as well, but I'm curious to see what kind of box I can find to put the gift set in. There really aren't a lot of choices that I've found for a baby boy gift box. Anyone know of where I might find something suitable?

I am also going to put a different design on this blanket instead of the one I used for the baby girl blankie. New pictures to follow soon!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Up Up and Away!!

In my beautiful, my beautiful hot air balloon!

Out here in Hunterdon County, NJ it is not an uncommon sight to see a multicolored hot air balloon drifting by on a summer's day.So I thought, why can't I knit a sculptural balloon to "float" on the wall inside the house?

I will have the directions on how to make this one in my upcoming book, but I basically used the yellow round loom with 5 Red Heart yarns. It was a challenge keeping them all tangle free, but I was able to do it with a little bit of practice. The basket was knit using Hometown USA yarn on the flower loom.

Once I completed the knitting, I covered one of my daughter's toy balls in a plastic bag. Next I stretched the balloon over the ball.

Then, using Sta-Flo liquid starch straight from the bottle, I painted the balloon.

I had never used liquid starch on yarn before and wasn't sure how it was going to turn out. All I knew is that I wanted the yarn to be very stiff so it would look take the shape of the ball once it dried. I coated it until I thought the balloon was drenched in starch, and then let it dry overnight. The next day the outside of the balloon was stiff, but the inside was still flexible. So I coated the inside and outside with starch and set it aside to dry overnight. This stiffened it up very well, but something I hadn't counted on was that the starch would not dry 100% clear. Something else I realized after I was done was that I could have just as well dunked the balloon in the starch and then stretched it over the ball to dry. Maybe I'll try that for the next one. Anyhow, every coat of starch was making the yarn a bit duller, so I decided to stop, even though it was still not strong enough to be hung without it sagging. So I thought, why not weave some jewelry wire around the edge of the inside of the balloon? I bought 3 yards of Jewelry Essentials Stringing 12 gauge blue aluminum jewelry wire,

and carefully poked it through the outer loops of the balloon.

This worked perfectly, and I could now hang the balloon on the wall without a problem! But first, I attached the basket to the balloon by weaving the yarn through the inner loops of the balloon flap at the bottom. If you don't weave the yarn through the inner loops, it will show through on the front part of the ballon and won't look as attractive (to me anyway).

You can add your child (or grandchild) to the basket by cutting out a photo and taping it inside the front of the basket.

Or, perhaps your child might want to put a favorite action figure or doll in the basket!

This one is a miniature doll Christmas ornament that fit just perfectly.

Personalize your balloon with any color combination you want, limited only by your skill, imagination and patience!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cutest Cupcake!

Here's a cupcake that I whipped up from scratch in a jiffy, and it didn't even make the kitchen hot!

With a delicious dollop of frosting and a cherry on top, it looks good enough to eat! You can make it too! You will need your flower loom, blue round loom, spool loom, hook, yarn needle, pen, scissors, cardboard, batting, and various yarns. All stockinette 1 over 2 stitches.

To make the cup: Drawstring cast on with a light brown yarn (I used Caron Simply Soft Bone). Knit 8 rows, then cinch bottom shut. Knit 12 more rows then bind off with yarn needle. On cardboard, trace the inside of the flower loom with a pen:

Then cut out the circle on the cardboard, and put the circle inside the cup (to make the bottom of the cup stand. If the cup seems a little wobbly, you may consider taping a heavyweight metal washer to the cardboard circle. Set aside.

To make the cake: Drawstring cast on the blue round loom using a medium brown yarn (I used Loops & Threads ImpeccableTopaz).Knit off 13 rows, then cinch bottom shut. Knit off 12 more rows then bind off with yarn needle. Turn piece inside out. Trace the inside of the blue round loom onto cardboard and cut out.

You may want to cut off more from the edges if the cake overlaps the cup too much (that's what I did). Place the cardboard circle inside the cake

stuff with batting, cinch the top shut and knot. Set aside.

Next, stuff the cup with batting,

center the cake over the top of the cup, and sew the bottom of the cake onto the top of the cup:

For the frosting dollop: Regular cast on the flower loom with white yarn (I used Bernat Baby Coordinates white).Knit 15 rows, bind off, turn inside out. Carefully stretch one end and sew it onto the top of the cupcake. Stuff with batting, then cich the top of the frosting shut and knot.

For the cherry: Regular cast on the 5 peg end of the spool loom, 1 over 1, with red yarn (I used Red Heart Cherry Red - how appropriate!). Knit off 5 rows then bind off. Turn inside out and cinch one end. Instead of batting, cut some red yarn and stuff it inside the cherry. Then bind off. Braid three strands of red yarn to make the cherry stem, and sew the cherry stem to the cherry.
Sew the cherry on top of the cupcake, and voila! You're done! It took me about 2.5 hours to complete. Great for simple party favors, give as a gift, or keep it as your first no-calorie cupcake!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Great Glowing Fireflies, Knitters!

Here is one of my favorite bugs of the summer: the firefly!

The back:

I had been mulling over this idea for some time, wondering how I would do it. I looked at photos of fireflies, chased a few and caught them to study them. I learned that there are several varieties around the world, some famous for their synchronized display! While they are complex little creatures indeed, I decided to keep it simple and made the following drawing as a guide for what I would knit:

To make the body: Using Red Heart Cherry Red and Black yarn, and the pink straight loom, starting with a drawstring cast on I knit 9 rows of 1 over 1 stockinette stitches on 14 pegs (including loom clip and corner peg). For the black yarn, I knit 24 rows. The white yarn I knit 14 rows (more details on the white yarn later). The white yarn was a thinner gauge than the Red Heart, so I had to double strand it. The body measures 12".

For the wings I used the Red Heart Black yarn and Caron Simply Soft Bone yarn, knitting a flat panel 1 over 1 stockinette stitch on 6 pegs for 33 rows. Then, by switching to all Bone yarn and moving the yarn from the outer pegs to the inner pegs 1 row at a time, I made the tapered end of the wing. Each wing measures 7.5 inches. I knew I didn't want to knit the wings so long that they covered the white yarn completely, so that's why they are a little short.

For the eyes I simply sewed the yarn 3 times over and underneath one stitch on the head., and knotted the black yarn on the inside of the head.

Fireflies are more flat than round, so instead of regular batting I cut 2 pieces of foam batting and stuffed them inside. After that I cinched the firefly's head shut.

The antennae and legs are simply braided bits of black yarn that I sewed on in the appropriate places. And I also sewed the wings on at the top under the head, and all the way down his back until I reached the white yarn, where I wanted the wings to flap freely a little bit. And voila! It's done! Here's a closeup of the bottom part of the firefly:

Oh, I almost "forgot"... it wouldn't be a firefly if it didn't GLOW!!!

The "white" yarn is actually Bernat Glow in the Dark Glow White yarn! You place it under a light for 5 minutes, and it will glow for 5 minutes in the dark! Imagine having a few fireflies hanging in your child's room! Perhaps it would be just enough of a distraction to keep him/her in bed after you turn the lights off at bedtime!