Easy Throw Pillows

Though out the past year, my husband and I have been working hard to make our house feel like a home. This translates into hours of wallpaper pulling and plaster repair, as well as painting, flooring and general house up keep. We have started filling rooms with plants and our photo, as well as thought carefully about how to make the best use out of every room.

One thing that has come of this is the slow creation of built in furniture (he made me a countertop bar for crafting and other activities) and upcycling thrifted finds to add personal touches. My most recent project was to create throw pillows for a guest room we converted into a quiet room, they add a beautiful pop of color and allowed me to practice working with invisible zippers (spoiler alert: I still suck at them).

Multi colored striped throw pillow

Supplies to make ONE pillow:

  • 22×22 Pillow insert
  • 20in invisible zipper
  • 1/2 yard of of fabric or 2 fat quarters
  • Sewing machine (recommended)

Instructions:

  1. Cut the fabric into 2 20×20 squares
  2. Attach the invisible zipper to both pieces of fabric, leave the zipper slightly unzipped
  3. Sew the remaining three sides right sides together
  4. Turn the pillow case inside out
  5. Stuff the pillow case with the pillow insert
  6. Enjoy!

August Book Club: Sourdough

Cover art for Sourdough by Robin Sloan

This book was so fun and there were several points in the story that I had to remind myself that it’s a fictional story and not a biography (like when the starter took over everything). Lois is a relatable character, taking a job because she is good at it and then working hard because that’s the culture in addition to her nature. Her feelings of burnout were real, right down to the idea that eating a special diet would solve all her problems.

While reading Sourdough, I was left with feelings of yes that’s true (we totally are the children of Hogwarts) and awe at the amount of work that went into feeding the starter (like plants, you have to pay attention to its needs). What I wasn’t left with was a lot to say when the story was over. Would I recommend this book to a friend? Absolutely, it was an enjoyable read. Is it a book that has inspired a lot of discussion beyond the initial “you should read this”? Not really, it’s about a girl trying to find herself and discovering that she can along the way.

That aside, I’ve identified a couple things that we can (and probably should) discuss here. For starters, Lois brings a robotic arm to a farm to table food share and works throughout the book to teach the arm how to preform human functions. The idea that a robotic arm is learning how to crack an egg at a farmers market is both comical and interesting. On the one hand, you have an environment where people are interested in a more analog environment, one where the idea of hand crafted/organic is valued. On the other hand, the novelty of the robotic arm helping bake Sourdough is unique and exciting. This blending of future technology with craftsmanship is similar to the idea of selling machine made socks at a craft fair. True, it’s hard to handknit enough pairs of socks to sell in a booth (for context it takes me about 16 hours per pair), but can you really compare handknit socks to socks cranked out (literally) on a machine? And if the quality is similar enough, how much do we, should we, care?

The other piece of Sourdough that I’m sure no one will be surprised that I’m pointing out is the love story between Lois and her email pen-pal. I didn’t pick up on it until the end because I thought they were just becoming really good friends. Did the romance need to be there? Could she still have gone abroad if she wasn’t taking a risk on love? I’m not sure the story needed it, and in the end it felt a little forced.

September’s book will be The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids by Michael McClung and was discovered while falling down the Goodreads Fantasy suggestion rabbit hole. This book won the first ever Mark Lawrence Self Published Fantasy Blog Off and is promised to have some morally grey characters, let’s check it out together!

Cover art for The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble's Braids by Michael McClung.

Amra Thetys lives by two simple rulesโ€”take care of business, and never let it get personal. Thieves don’t last long in Lucernis otherwise. But when a fellow rogue and good friend is butchered on the street in a deal gone wrong, she turns her back on burglary and goes after something more precious than treasure: Revenge.

Revenge, however, might be hard to come by. A nightmare assortment of enemies, including an immortal assassin and a mad sorcerer, believe Amra is in possession of The Blade That Whispers Hateโ€”the legendary, powerful artifact her friend was murdered forโ€”and they’ll do anything to take it from her. Trouble is, Amra hasn’t got the least clue where the Blade might be.

She needs to find the Blade, and soon, or she’ll be joining her colleague in a cold grave instead of avenging his death. Time is running out for the small, scarred thief.

(Unofficial) Camp Loopy 2021: July Challenge

Camp Loopy July Challenge: This month we are celebrating stripes โ€“ like the stripes of the big top tent! You can do stripes of color, stripes of sections of stitches, stripes of beads, etc. Just so your project has stripes of some sort going on. (see some examples below). The July project must use 600 or more yards, single knit.

https://blog.theloopyewe.com

As a general rule, I’m not a stripes person. This may be because there was a time in my childhood where everything I owned was striped, after all I felt the same way about floral patterns for a long time as well. This isn’t to say that nothing in my closet is striped, there are several “go-to” pieces that do in fact meet the striped description. Mostly, this is to say that generally speaking I don’t enjoy knitting stripes. So when you consider the July camp challenge and what design elements are most likely missing from my queue, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that I struggled to make this one work.

After pouring over patterns on Ravelry and seriously considering a baby blanket pattern (or 3), I decided that the best thing to do was to let go of the official constraints of the challenge and focus solely on the stripes piece. This decision was made when I realized that the pattern I needed to knit I a) already had the yarn for and b) wasn’t going to hit the 600 yard limit. On the one hand, this meant that I won’t qualify for the rewards piece of the challenge. On the other hand, I’d get a head start on my holiday knitting.

In the end, I opted to knit Little Sock Arms by Stephanie Lotven in a size 2T. The sweater is knit using two different fingering weight yarns (or colors), utilizing a skein of stripped yarn to make the sleeves fancy. You work the body of the sweater in the round bottom up until the arm pit and then divide for front and back before eventually using a three needle bind-off to reconnect the front pieces to the back. The sleeve stitches are then picked up and then worked in a top down manner.

This was the simple project that my hands needed to work this month and I’m happy with the way that it turned out. For the body of the sweater, I used Knit Picks stroll in Duchess Heather which was chosen because it matched Knit Picks Felici Fingering Weight in Countess. Countess, used for the sleeves, was chosen first.

While I know that children don’t really need waist shaping in the same way that women’s sweater’s do, I feel like the body of this sweater is boxier/looser than the arms of the sweater. Maybe it’s “simply” the measurements of little bodies? That being said, I’m comforted by all of the little ones wearing their sweaters and looking cute on Ravelry. All in all, I would probably knit this one again.

Purple sweater with multi-colored purple stripes on the sleeves.
iswimlikeafish’s Little Sock Arms

The Rosie Dress

A young woman standing with her arms gently crossed across her waist wearing a white dress with a floral print.

A couple of weeks ago, we hosted a small backyard wedding to celebrate our marriage. In attendance were my parents, sister (+ her husband and my niece) and my grandparents. My husband’s is spread out across the world, everyone wished that things were different and there is an end is sight for travel restrictions.

Covid and my mother in law not being able to travel to the states without a quarantine fee aside, I don’t think we would have done things any other way. Neither one of us wanted a big wedding and we strongly believe that we made the right choice for our little family. Although, if I’m being completely honest with myself, if covid hadn’t been a limiting factor in our decisions we probably would have gotten married on a beach in New Zealand.

Since my family came in with expectations that I would be wearing a white dress, I dutifully searched the internet for something that would suit my personality and our wedding venue. The goal was to feel like a wood elf or a fairy, I wanted to be able to move rather than feel encumbered by layers of lace.

The “problem” is I didn’t want to compromise on what I wanted. I wanted something that screamed wild flower meadow and it didn’t seem to exist. A couple hours after scanning Spoonflower and a few other places later, I hopped over to my former local yarn store to look at their sewing patterns (because they’re also a fabric store!) and committed to the Rosie Dress.

In terms of fabric, I ended up deciding to use Spoonflower’s Linen Cotton Canvas. While the fabric is heavier than one of their cottons, I like the stiffer drape and the over all feel of the fabric. It feels like something that could holdup over time and seems to get softer every time I wash it.

Now I would like to think of someone who follows directions, after all I don’t have a problem following knitting patterns and I certainly didn’t have a problem working through lab procedures while getting my Biology. With this in mind, it’s “easy” to conquer new sewing patterns because it’s “just a matter of following the directions”. Except I totally missed the seam allowance requirements and ended up with a bodice that was 4 inches too big! (Note: The pattern was very beginner friendly, I simply made the dress at a time when I didn’t really understand how much seam allowance matters. Never fear friends, I totally get it now xD). Between adjusting the fit to accommodate this and needing to further shorten the straps, the back is not as clean and crisp as it was when I started.

Another learning opportunity for me occurred during the gathering stage. While I’m slowly becoming more confident with my gathers, I didn’t realize that I should have begun my basting stitches as close to the seams as possible. To compensate for this error, I manually bunched areas instead of redoing the basting stitches.

Mistakes were made and there’s a little bit of Frankensteining to make it work, but it’s the third dress I’ve ever made and I’m thrilled with how it came together. I haven’t decided whether or not I will ever make a second dress out of this pattern (in the end I’m not sure I like the pleating of the skirt, perhaps I would do a full father next time?), but I am confident that I will be reaching for another Sew Over It pattern again in the future.

A young woman twirling with her arms stretched wide wearing a white dress with a floral print.

Combo 12 Scarf

Yarn traveling from a cricket loom to a warping peg in the distance. The yarn is arranged in a rainbow of colors.

The more I work with yarn, the more I appreciate techniques that let the yarn do the talking. Sure, cables and lace are beautiful, but you loose that detail when you’re working with many indie dyed yarns. I bring this up because it’s one of the reasons that I have learned to love weaving – the finished product is something that let’s the yarn speak for itself.

Recently, I’ve had the privilege of becoming a brand ambassador Wonderland Yarns, a yarn dyer that’s just a little further than “over the river” from where we live. Honestly, I think the only disappointment I’ve ever had with Wonderland Yarns occurred during my first serious year of knitting when I was in Brattleboro and learned that they weren’t open to the public. Just under two years later, I would be enthusiastically maintaining displays at Webs Yarn Store in Northampton and gushing about the softness and colors over the phone as a customer service rep (to this day, I still miss my job and all the people I worked with!).

Cut and treaded strands of yarn on a loom.

The point of this, is really just to say, it is incredibly difficult to commit to a project when you love all the yarn and all the colors. As this is not a paid position (but they did send beautiful yarn!), I will take the time to shamelessly admit that if I could have one of everything I would (seriously, thank you to the coordinator for her patience during our emails). After a lot of hemming and hawing, I committed to Combo 12 and warped my cricket loom.

If you like the way this looks and would like to weave one yourself, I used an 8 dent reed and positioned the colors so that there are 8 strands of each (4 when you’re warping) with Red taking center stage in the middle for a total of 16 strands (8 when you’re warping). From there “simply” measure out how long you would like your scarf and add ~16inches for waste yarn (this is not a scientific number by any means).

For the most part, I wove the scarf with the main color (little bat) and not with the colors from the mini skeins (land of wonders). That being said, the beautiful thing about weaving is that there are no hard and fast rules! One combo pack is enough yarn for two scarves, or in my case a scarf and an eventual brioche hat.

I enjoyed weaving with the Mad Hatter yarn that comes in combo 12’s pack. It bloomed nicely when blocked and has just the tiniest amount of fuzz across it’s soft surface. Mum’s the word on whether or not everyone is getting a Wonderland Yarn scarf for the holidays this year.

A rainbow woven scarf laying gently crossed on green grass.