Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy New Year, My Year in Sweaters 2014

As the year is winding down and we are gearing up to ring in the new year, I (like so many others) am taking time to look back at all I have accomplished.  I've had many highs in my personal life and a lot of first time experiences. Along with some lows with medical problems and employment.  But that is life, you got to take the good with the bad and put the positives in to focus and let the negatives fade and blur in to the background.  As I look back over my year, there is one thing that has remained constant throughout the year.  I am now a sweater knitter.  I started off the year strong and continued to cast on and cast off sweater after sweater. Right to the very end; they just keep coming off my needles. So, I'd like to end the year with a look back at all of the sweaters I've made and shared with you.

40's sweater - She Knits in Pearls
Although I must admit I started this sweater last December, I finished it in January, which makes this my first finished sweater of 2014.  This sweater was knit during the Knit for Victory KAL hosted by Tasha of By Gum By Golly.  You can read more about it here on the original post.  Not only was this my first vintage knit, but the experience introduced me to a whole new world of vintage loving knitters and bloggers.  I had no online presence and didn't read other blogs at all before this experience, I am so thankful for stumbling on to that Knit-A-Long.  It truly changed my life, for the better.
Maude Sweater - She Knits in Pearls

I apologize for the out of focus picture of this one, but as I knit this one during the Olympics in less than 2 weeks, I am really proud of it.  To make that even more impressive, this is made with a sock weight yarn and size 2 needles.  Here is the original post from last February.

Ginny Cardigan - She Knits in Pearls

I love this sweater so much I've blogged about it twice.  The first post was last winter/spring and then again last fall when I declared that is was my favorite fall sweater.   This was among the few hand knits that actually made the move with me to the new apartment.  Most of the rest on the list are waiting patiently for spring to roll around to come out of hiding (in storage).

Lovely Lace Cardigan - She Knits in Pearls

This lovely lace cardigan was knit last spring, just in time for the warmer summer weather.  The stitch pattern threatened to be too much for me, but I managed to make it all work and am very happy with the outcome.

Peggy Sue Cardigan - She Knits in Pearls

This Peggy Sue Cardigan was part of a fun little Knit-a-Long that I found on Ravelry.  I love joining KALs; it is so fun to be 'meeting' new people who are working on the same project as you.

This was probably my most favorite outfit of the summer.  Even if we didn't have enough nice weather to wear it much.  This Que Sera cardigan was my first all over lace pattern with set in sleeves.   It may not have been a smooth knit, but it sure did come out lovely.

She Knits in Pears Myrna Cardigan

This fall I whipped up the Myrna cardigan,  It is more of a summer sweater, but it'll be ready for me when next summer rolls around.

Next came my Marion Cardigan that was part of an Andi Satterlund KAL.  This was the sweater that had to be put on hold due to the infestation and subsequent move last October.  I really did not think this one was going to be done before the end of the year.  It has spent the last 2 months in a Ziploc bag in the freezer and right before my trip to Nevada, I thawed it out.  I'm now very happy to share with you my final sweater of 2014. 

She Knits in Pearls - Marion Cardigan

It still needs to be blocked and I have to wait till I get home to put on the buttons but the knitting is done.  So far, I couldn't be happier with it; it so soft and comfy and really looked great with the navy blue shirt under it.  I look forward to wearing it into the New Year and years to come.

Happy New Year, dear readers.  May 2015 be the best year of our lives. 


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays

Vintage holiday outfit - She Knits in Pearls

I don't do many outfit posts, but I just love this one so much, I just had to share it.  Not only is it holiday appropriate, but it is entirely thrifted and handmade, with maybe the exception of the faux pearl necklace (I don't remember where/when/how I acquired that).  I made this cherry and polka-dot circle skirt last summer with only 2 1/2 yards of fabric.  Thanks to their not being an obvious directionality of the fabric, I was able to cut out 8 panels of fabric in all different directions and construct them into this beautiful skirt.  It took a lot more work (and imagination) than your usual full skirt, so I'm really proud of it.  Although you don't normally think of cherries as being festive, the overall red and green in the print makes it fit in nicely. 

I paired the skirt with an amazingly luxurious, cream colored, angora sweater that I bought at Bishops Attic on my last trip to Anchorage.  It was an absolute steal for only $3, how can you beat that?  The fitted waist and puffy shoulders gives in a wonderful vintage vibe.  I will admit that it does shed quite a bit though and by the end of the evening, I had little white fuzz all over my skirt (next time, I'll pack a little lint brush in my purse). 
She Knits in Pearls
I accessorized it with some sparkly bangle bracelets and a faux leather woven belt that have all been thrifted from one place or another throughout the years. 
Victory rolls - She Knits in Pearls
I topped it all off with a faux pearl necklace and earrings and some antique crystal earrings given to my by my Aunt Marilyn.  With some victory rolls and my favorite red lipstick, I was ready to go.
I spend a wonderful evening with some lovely gals how also happen to be vintage addicts.  We ate amazing food, including a Yule log cake, cream cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon, and a warm mulled wine.  After we stuffed our faces and reapplied our lipstick we opened our hand made gifts.  I received a linen embroidered with an adorable Chihuahua and some delicious hand made candies.  I have some gifted friends for sure.
After presents we watched the 1942 classic "Holiday Inn" with Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby. Then took some impromptu photos, with Deanna's son as our photographer.
I'm thankful to have a great group of gals to spend some of this holiday season with.  Speaking of spending time with our loved ones, I am so happy to announce that I will be spending some time with my mother here soon.  On Christmas night I will be flying down to Nevada to spend almost 2 weeks with her and my step dad.  I'm so excited to go thrifting and yarn shopping with Mom followed by evenings spent knitting and Netflix marathons.  I will also be spending some time at the shooting range with my step dad.  He's an amazing shot and a great teacher so I am looking forward to improving my skills while spending some time with him.  My Christmas wish, right now, is that my back will cooperate with all of my plans.  It's been acting up since last night and making it difficult to walk.  I'll be bringing my cane, just in case and try to take it easy as much as I can.  Thankfully, my mom and I are perfectly happy to spend as much time as possible in our recliners knitting or drinking wine (or both if were feeling daring). 
In knitting news, I'm so happy to report that as of last night I am officially done with all my holiday knitting.  This evening will be spent thawing out my Marion Cardigan that has been tucked away in my freezer since the dreaded bug infestation and subsequent move back in October.  I hate having hibernating projects or ignored WIP's so I'm absolutely giddy to continue working on this and hope to finished it on my trip.
Happy holidays to you all.  I envision being able to blog during my trip, but if I don't, Happy New year.  I don't know about you but I'm happy to put this one behind me and start a new one with new and exciting things.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Steinway Hat - A Quick Gift Knit

Quick Knit Gift - She Knits in Pearls
I haven't been able to share much knitting lately as most (ALL) that I have been knitting lately has been gifts for people who read my blog.  Well, at least I hope they do.  This is really killing me cause there are some doozies that I am just dying to share.  One really, but as my mum is my biggest fan and number 1 supporter, I can't share it until after she opens it up on Christmas morning.  And, hopefully, sends me a few pictures of her with it.  *Hint, Hint Mom*
However, from all that I gather, there is absolutely NO evidence that my boyfriends dad has ever set eyes on my little corner of the internet.  So I feel safe that I can share this one with you guys.  This is the Steinway Hat designed by Heidi Marie Robinson and is a FREE pattern over on Ravelry (you don't need to be a member to get the pattern).  This was pretty quickly knit up using a fluffy yarn and size 8 needles.  I used a wonderful skein of MANOS wool clasica in Hunter.  This is a single ply, handspun pure wool that has been kettle dyed.  The single ply and large needles coupled with an extremely springy stitch pattern make up this super squishy, insanely warm and quick gift hat. 
A few things to note about this pattern.  First off, it calls for a cable cast on, which is not one of my favorites.  Not because it's particularly hard, but it's a bit time consuming compared to the long tail cast on.  It is also insanely twisted.  I mean that literally!  I always laugh when any pattern cautions to "make sure stitches aren't twisted when joining in the round".  Well, no shit!  Unless you are doing a Mobius pattern, that should be a no brainer.  Why do you need to state the obvious?  I stand corrected, when doing the cable cast on you SERIOUSLY must be careful.  These cast on stitches twist around your needle like the stripes on a candy cane and do not like to straiten out.  With a little help from Cupcake (sarcasm) I got it all worked out and away we went.
Knitting Helper - She Knits in Pearls
The second issue I had with this pattern is the chart for the decrease section.  Thankfully the pattern is also written out because the chart version is absolute bullshit.  Seriously, I appreciate that this was a free pattern and a pretty simple one at that, but if you don't know how to chart a pattern, then DON'T DO IT!!  There were too many issues with it to name them all, so I won't.  I'm no chart writer but I am a decent chart reader and on the very first row of the chart I realized that it made no since.  After, of course, I tried to follow it for half a row.  It took me a while to realize that it was the chart and not me.  I keep trying to revert to the chart (I prefer working from a chart) thinking I was past the problems but, nope, they just kept coming.  In the end, just ignore the chart for the decreases and work from the written pattern.
All in all, this was a quick (1 day) knit that makes a perfect gift for that guy who is impossible to shop for but could always use a warm hat, made with love, on a cold winter day.  I'd love to model it for you but it's a little big on me.  Plus, I'm getting ready for a holiday gathering tonight and there is no way in hell I'm putting this on over these victory rolls.
Victory Rolls - She Knits in Pearls
I have 1 more knit I should be able to share in the next week leading up to the big day.  If, fingers crossed, I get it done in time.  It's the last of my knitted gifts and with 6 days left I remain hopeful that it will be done in time.  I, as always, am very happy to be able to hand make my gifts.  However, I will also be very happy when it is over and I can again knit for myself without deadlines. 
Happy Holidays,

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Vintage Pajama Party - Part 2

Vintage sewing She Knitsw in Pearls
Well, I may not have completed the whole pajama set, but I did finish the pants (and that was no small feat).  I mentioned previously how much of a royal pain in the arse this fabric was to work with and from that last post, things didn't get much easier.  Not only did I have to use 110 pins on each little seam or the fabric would slip and slide all over the damn place, but I must not have had the right needle for the job in my machine because every 6-8 inches it would snag the fabric causing an ugly run. 
Vintage sewing She Knits in Pearls
This waist band was an interesting detail and a total surprise.  The top of the pants wasn't visible on the pattern envelope so I had no idea what I was in for.  I love the way the finish product looks but I did alter the way it all went together quite a bit.  First off, they were going to be WAY too tight.  Oh, they would have fit, but not comfortable at all.  What's the point of P.J.s being too tight.  Considering there is no stretch to this fabric, I knew I'd never wear them if I didn't try to fix that issue.  I ended up taking 2 out of the 4 pleats on the back out.  This would have messed with the waist bands original construction so I knew I'd have to improvise.  Considering the original construction called for 2 button holes on each side, with one flap being drawn through 1 button hole before being buttoned, I was A-OK with changing that.  I ended up sewing up one side completely and using snaps on the other side for closure.  It's a little bit strange, but snaps are a whole lot easier than that crazy button closure.  There's no way in hell I could get in and out of those during the mid-night trip to the bathroom!
She Knits in Pearls
These are perfect for Cupcake and I lounging by the tree while I work on my Christmas knitting.  Although Cupcake was a bit nervous at first.  This fabric is a bit too slippery for her liking as well.  All in all I'm happy with the final result, but currently, I have absolutely NO desire to make up the top!  I can tell you I do not have the skills to work up such an intense pattern in THIS fabric.  Maybe after the holiday season I'll feel differently.
Thanks again to Carla from Tiny Angry Crafters for hosting The Vintage Pajama Party.  I had a lot of fun and stepped out of my sewing comfort zone to work from my first vintage pattern.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Top 10 Christmas Kitsch on Etsy

On my last post, I talked about my love of hand made Christmas stuff and shared a few of the ornaments I've made.  I also mentioned what an absolute time suck that Pinterest can be.  I'm not complaining, mind you, it's just a fact.  I spent hours scouring that addictive site looking for inspiration but that's not the only site that can completely eat an entire day.  Etsy is just as addictive, if not worse.  I say worse because everything on Etsy has a price tag, you aren't just shopping for ideas and information, you can actually shop, buy and spend.  I could easily spend a years salary in an afternoon if I'm not careful.  Plus, this is the season of giving, right?  I'm not supposed to be shopping for me, right?  Maybe just one or 2 things?  That wouldn't be so bad now would it? Well, I didn't actually buy anything (from this list, yet), I'm trying like hell to be a good little girl and hoping that Santa will treat me right. 

If I could spend like there was no tomorrow, I would be buying all the kitsch.  I absolute love the gaudy Christmas d├ęcor of the past and spent many hours trying to decide what was my favorite.  Santa's, reindeer, elves, I love them all.  But there were some that stood out amongst the masses and I thought I'd share my top 10 favorites with my lovely readers.  And if you'd like to know my mailing address so you can send any of them to my home, I'd be more than happy to share it with you (in private). 

Lets start of with some reindeer.  I think the reindeer on my list are really my favorite.  I envision some day having a collection of hundreds of reindeer that I can scatter around my house all winter long, not just for the month of December. 
reindeer christmas kitsch
Image source and etsy listing
1) This adorable, angry looking fellow is just too damn cute.  That look on his face is the same one I have when ever I go to the mail box and don't find anything good.  I can just see the caption bubble reading, "Where's my presents?"  This ornament is courtesy of VintagebyJade and is $15.99.  WANT!

vintage deer kitsch
Image and Etsy listing
2) Here's another one from Vintagebyjade.  Although this is seriously out of my price range at $95 it would be so worth it to have 3 deer to adorn a windowsill or fireplace mantel.  I must admit the main reason I love this so much is the way in which they are arranged in this picture.  The one on the right is sniffing the middle ones butt and has been totally busted by the one in front.  Yes, I know I'm immature and I've made peace with that.  I would love invite people over and see if anybody else thinks it is as funny as I do.  I can't be the only one, right?

Image source and Etsy listing
3) Who doesn't love a Rudolf creamer? I know this gal does!  I can't imagine that I'd actually use it but, as sure as our Alaskan Christmases are white, it would bring a smile to my face every time I saw it.  This little vintage treasure comes from Fannypippin for a reasonable $19.95.

Image source and Etsy listing
4) This velvet plush daring comes from SweetPeaVignettes for $21.00.  This makes me wish I were that little girl I once was who slept with her favorite stuffed animal every night.  Although, given it's vintage standing, I would no longer cuddle up with him.  I would, instead, prop him up on the pillows every morning when making the bed so he could bring holiday joy and innocent wonderment into the one room in our place that is lacking in festive decorations.

angry deer kitsch
Image source and Etsy listing
5) Ok, this is the last of the deer, I promise.  Look at this grumpy little dude.  How can you not love that face? Like this guy is just totally pissed that Rudolf is getting all the attention.  I want him guarding the freshly baked cookies warning that there will be hell to pay if you touch them before it's time. This feisty little guy comes from SkyWayVintage for $14.00.

Photo source and Etsy Listing
6) There is something magical about the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Clause.  In my head they are forever together and forever in love.  If the beaded suits and hats weren't enough for me, Mrs. Clauses creepy little face makes this pair a win.  This awesome pair comes from JulieandJadeVintage for a mere $24.00.

Christmas Kitsch
Photo source and Etsy Listing
7) I'm more of a silver girl for 11 months out of the year, but during this holiday season, the more gold and glimmer the better.  Again, this pair of ornaments celebrates the one marriage that is sure to never end.  The home made feel of the glitter and pipe cleaners mixed with the mass production little faces is wonderful and brought to us from AtomicDog67 for $18.99.

Girl Elf Vintage Kitsch
Photo Source and Etsy Listing
8) I'm glad that the old tradition of Elves on Shelves has been brought back into our generation, however the mass production of these elves leaves me a bit sad.  Hand made elves, particularly vintage ones on the other hand, make my heard sing.  This crocheted girl elf is the true embodiment of what I think they should be.  I may be a knitters by trade, but if I can find some elf faces, I'd love to make some of these.  For now, I'm glad to find this lovely little lady at JERummages for only $11.25.  Seriously, this one just might find her forever home with me.

Kitsch Angel
Photo Source and Etsy Listing
9) What's Christmas without an angel and who doesn't want one with a little piggy nose, angry eyebrows and beady little eyes?  Maybe a better question is, why do I love all the angry and creep figurines?  What ever the reason, this heavenly, disgruntled darling is available from PinkPickerParty for only $3.95.

Photo Source and Etsy Listing
10) No Christmas Kitsch roundup would be complete with out a few kewpie doll figurines.  Although not the traditional dolls, these adorable ceramic candle holders fill the bill quite nicely.  Angelic faces complete with bows on their heads and a message of NOEL, this small pair are sure to bring joy and cheer to a holiday feast.  These little cuties are from BlueJeanJulie for $32.00.

I could fill 10 posts with all of the charming, cheerful and down right silly holiday goodness that I fell in love with over on Etsy but I'll leave the list at an even ten.  I must note that I am in no way being compensated for writing this list and sharing it with you.  In fact, these sellers have no idea I've written it.  I merely wanted to share with you some of the things that make me smile.  I hope these bring you as much joy as they do me.  If you are a fan of Christmas Kitsch, Etsy is the place for you this season.

Do you have any favorites?  Would any of these or others find their way into your virtual shopping cart?  If they do, please let me know, so I can be properly jealous of you.  Just one more question, if you accidentally buy yourself a Christmas present (hypothetically, of course) do you have to wait till Christmas to wear/use it?  Do you wrap it up and slip it into your stocking?  Just curious?


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Oops, I Got Distracted

I've been busy working feverishly on all my holiday knitting lately.  Which stinks for my blog as I cannot share it with you until after the holidays.  I thought I wouldn't have a darn thing to write about but as it seems, I get distracted easily.  Yesterday is a perfect example.  I woke up with all great intentions.  I had a goal.  That goal was to finish the gusset increases and turn the heels of a particular pair of socks that are to be a gift.  Oops, that didn't happen, not even close.  Maybe it was because the night before I cast off my biggest Christmas knit and needed to take a break for a day.  Maybe it was because Pinterest is an amazingly inspiring time suck.  Maybe it was all my talk of hand made Christmas ornaments in my last post.  What ever the reason (mainly Pinterest), I spent a large part of my day making these cute little felt ornaments.
vintage felt deer ornament
This one is by far my most favorite, and the one that got me so inspired.  I came across similar ones on both Pinterest and Etsy.  I love the vintage feel to the little deer head, it reminds me of a paper deer I made as a child that hung above the fireplace at my grandparents house every Christmas.  I spent a good while free-handing the design and am so happy with the outcome.  I wish I had more time to make a dozen of them for all my 'deer' friends.  Maybe, if I get all my knitting done......

felt bird ornament
I also free-handed this little bird.  My daughter and I were exploring a local gift shop the other day and found a bunch of little fake birds.  I thought how lovely it would be to have a tree covered in them.  Then again, with the tiny little tree I have, that wouldn't leave much room for all my hand made and sentimental ornaments (which is the best part of the tree).  So, here is my little tribute to those birds.  She's missing a hanger.  Oops, darn Hallmark channel Holiday movies distracting my attention.  That's ok, she's small enough to tuck into a branch with out a hanger.  Added bonus, her eye is another recycled button from my grandmothers button tin.

little felt mittens ornament
I had already made 2 ornaments, I just had to squeeze out one more.  So at about midnight, I drew up these ones.  Quick and simple, with such a classic Christmas feel.  I absolutely adore the little embroidered design on them, even if my embroidery skills are a bit lacking.  Plus, they are the fastest mittens I've ever made.

Are you making any ornaments this year?  Or other decorations?  Do you sometimes need to take a break from your main hobby, maybe for a crafting quick fix?  Are you like me and get easily distracted, especially by Pinterest and Etsy?  I spent hours the other day on Etsy looking at Christmas kitsch, I'll be sharing some of that on my next post.  All in the Holiday spirit.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas Decorating

She Knits in Pearls

Dear Santa,  can I please have a new digital camera so I can take some decent pictures?  I promise to be a much better blogger if I get one.  Well anyways.  I've spent most of my day today hanging stockings and decorating our little tree while listening to the Pandora rockabilly Christmas station.  This is the first year in way too long that we have had a proper tree.  By proper, I mean not the tiny little ceramic tree that my mother made in the mid 70's.

1970's ceramic christmas tree
This has been my only tree at Christmas for the past 6 years.  I love it very much and every year send my Mom a picture of me decorating it or of it all decorated with the rest of my very small collection of Christmas stuff around it.  This year as I was going through the one small plastic tote of Christmas stuff I have and I realized that almost all of the things I have were hand made by family members or given to me by family members.  I may not have much, but I'm glad to see that what I do have has meaning.

Honestly, in the past I have been incredibly un-thrilled by these things that have been given to me.  I'm ashamed and embarrassed to say that I did not appreciate these gifts at the time.  I felt they were some sort of cop out.  Why would you give me something that only gets used for 1 month a year?  Is this the only thing in the store that you felt I would like?  Even the hand made things I didn't appreciate,  how many plastic canvas tree ornaments do I need?  Especially when I don't even have a proper tree?  Oh, I can't believe that I'm admitting this.  I'm so sorry Aunty Merry and Aunty Peggy, I was such a rude girl.  But this year, and I suspect that every year for the rest of my life, I am thankful.  I appreciate!  I love my hand made ornaments hanging on this years tree.  I love the silly little nik-nak's of squirrels, bears and Santa's sitting on my windowsill.  They make me happy and remind me of the family who gave them to me and all the wonderful Christmases that we have shared.  Thank you for making my holiday brighter. 

As I said, this year I have a tree.  Our downstairs neighbor is out of town for the winter and mentioned earlier that his Christmas tree was in the attic and if we wished, we could use it.  I dug it out yesterday and discovered that although the lights on it didn't work, it was covered in the cutest little wooden ornaments.
wooden christmas ornaments
Aren't these just the cutest?  I don't know their story, but they look vintage and I'm in love with them.
wood christmas ornaments
I think these 2 are my favorites.  I feared that the wooden ornaments and the small hand full of ornaments I already had wouldn't be enough to cover the tree so in the true sense of  'make do and mend' I made some little bows for the tree out of ribbon that I saved from last year that had been wrapped around a present I received.  (This is exactly the sort of reason I save such things, you never know when it'll come in handy)
bows for christmas

On a tree that is only 4 feet tall, that's all it took to decorate.  I couldn't fit anything else on it if I tried.  Except that I was still missing a topper.  I have no angel or star.  What I did have is more ribbon.  Last year I bought some ribbon after Christmas when it was something like 70% off.  I'm sure glad I did as that ribbon is now my tree topper (pictured above). 

Seriously, why is it so damn hard to take a picture of a tree?  I couldn't get a single shot of the whole thing that didn't look like I had dropped the camera in mid action. Ugh, I digress.  The tree makes me happy, even if the pictures of it don't.  I remember years ago decorating a very large tree on a budget.  It was filled with bows of all kinds of ribbon.  I don't remember where I heard it, but I had heard that the first Christmas trees were decorated with ribbons and bows.  Each ribbon tied in a bow was meant to represent our Christmas wishes and dreams.  I'm not sure if it's true or not (maybe I just made it up when my daughter asked why we had bows instead of normal ornaments) but it's a nice thought.  As I placed each bow on the tree, I though about this years wishes and how they've changed over the years.  Although I could fill up 10 trees with bows for all the material things that I'd like to have, my wishes, this year, are not for material possessions.  This year I wish for good health, healing and peace for my friends and family.  Not that I wouldn't use the hell out of a new camera *hint hint* Santa.
So, your favorite Christmas decorations, are they hand made or store bought?  Do they have a story or are they just so pretty that they make you smile? 

01 09 10