A Lovely Homemade Life

A Lovely Homemade Life

Saturday, April 25

Yarn Along--Well, Today it's Cross Stitch

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog, on Instagram (#yarnalong), or on Flickr.  ~Ginny of Small Things

Last year I started a Once Upon a Time Mystery Stitch Along by The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery.  It was my first cross stitch work on linen cloth (and this one is beautifully stranded with metallic thread!) and each month a new story book scene was be released.  Suffice it to say, I'm a little behind, but I figured, hey, a year later is better than never, right?

So I give you April (2014)'s Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  Up next for May?  Jack and the Bean Stalk.  This pattern is still available if case you're like me and seeing adorable crafts just makes you long to do them yourself.  ;)

A Tale of Two Sweaters--Tips for Caring for Your Handknits

Acrylic yarn gets kind of a bad rap, doesn't it?  Many "real" knitters prefer natural fibers--angora, silk, cotton, merino wool at the very least.  I know I can be a bit of a fiber snob at times, discounting certain materials to work with because of their fiber content.

And while it's true, if you're going to sacrifice hours and hours to create a beautiful knitted item, especially if it's a gift, you want to end up with a great result that you're happy with.  But you should also sit back and think about the functionality of the item.  While it's heavenly to work with a luscious, natural fiber yarn, if it's too delicate or difficult to care for all that hard work can be for naught.

That's why I love to use a super soft, easy to care for acrylic yarn for the Baby Cardigans I make for my shop.  I know from experience that new moms and dads don't always have time for special care instructions for those tiny garments and nothing makes me happier than when I can provide a piece that will actually be used and well loved and washed over and over instead of just admired in the closet or dresser drawer but not put on baby for fear of ruining it.

Since I use the same acrylic yarn for all of these sweaters, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to demonstrate just how washable these cardigans really are.  With that said, I give you A Tale of Two Sweaters:

For this demonstration, I chose two pink sweaters knit in 100% acrylic yarn.  While acrylic yarn is a man-made fiber, it is hypoallergenic, vegan-friendly and machine washable and dryable--all good attributes for baby clothing.  One sweater will be tossed in with the regular washing and the other will be "babied" one it's laundering journey.

The sweater on the left is destined for the regular cycle, the sweater on the right, placed in a zippered delicates bag to prevent any snagging, is going through the gentle cycle.  I use a front load washer which is said to be gentler on clothes to start with (as it lacks a central agitator) and these sweaters were both washed on a cold wash/cold rinse setting with like colors.  I use my own recipe for Homemade Laundry Detergent.  You can make your own batch very easily with just a few easy to find and inexpensive ingredients! 

Here the sweaters are after their respective wash cycles.  They get a little crumpled up during the spin cycle, and the fabric feels a little stiff while still wet.

The "babied" sweater is gently laid out flat to dry on a bath towel.  I straighten the shape of it and give it a gentle tug here and there to square it up again and to ensure the two sides are lined up in the front.

The other sweater gets tossed in the dryer on Normal cycle with a medium heat setting.

 My assistant inspects the merch.  She felt them both, but gravitated towards the sweater that had been dryed!  It comes out of the dryer softer and fluffier than when it went in.

Friday, April 24

Week in Review--Family Pics!

 I got our family pictures back this week!  With as difficult as the kiddos were acting during the shoot, I'm pleased with the photos we ended up with. Thank you Nicole Martin Photography!

Wednesday, April 22

Yarn Along--Alexandra

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog, on Instagram (#yarnalong), or on Flickr. ~Ginny of Small Things

I've been doing so much sample knitting and designing lately.  It's good--don't get me wrong--but knitting the same item over and over in 5 different sizes isn't all that exciting really.   

I think it all comes down to me not trusting my own "designer instincts" and needing to obsessively check my math and techniques before letting a design out into the world.  In related news...does anyone know a great tech editor?  That might alleviate some of my designer anxiety...

So, after I realized my fantastic stash of Classic Elite Lush angora blend yarn wasn't wanting to become a Lady Wren sample for me, I was casting about for something to take my mind off of the disappointment.

Enter Alexandra and gorgeous Dream in Color Everlasting Sock in Sangria to save the day.  I've knit an Alexandra before, and it's a pattern I'm sure I'll go back to again.  It's just complicated enough to keep your brain on without being so hard it's not fun anymore.

Ah...so relaxing...

Monday, April 20

Downton Abbey Quilt

I've been sharing my plans to update the kid's rooms this year.  The furniture situation is just about finished, and we still have some time until Isla is crawling out of the crib, so I think I'm pretty well set to finish "on time".

One of the projects I've been working on a few times a week in the evening is hand quilting Isla's new "Downton Abbey Quilt".  If you're a Downton Abbey fan, you may (or may not) have noticed the quilt on Mary's hospital bed in the episode when she delivered George--very subtly colored, very simple piecing, very intricate hand quilting designs.  It's pretty much all I noticed.  I was only able to find one still image of that scene that showed any detail, so I watched and rewatched that episode, studying the design as best I could.

I finally decided there was no way I could recreate it exactly, there just wasn't enough footage to go off of, so I used it as an inspiration and made up my own design.

Once the design was sketched and I had calculated the yardages, I took a big leap and ordered fabric online.  I knew I wanted a high quality, solid-color cotton, so I chose JoAnn Fabric's Kona Cotton Solids in Ice Peach and Ash.  I would not recommend ordering fabric online...the colors never come out like you're expecting, but it's finally starting to grow on me after a few months.  The fabric itself is exactly what I wanted feel-wise, I just wish the colors had been softer.  If I ever do another one, I'll choose two colors that look like they're almost white, like Bone and Ivory.

The quilt top piecing took less than an hour--the big time investment was ironing each length of fabric after washing it.  Once it was ironed though, I used my rotary cutter and mat to create long strips that I sewed together on my machine.  I used plain muslin cloth for the backing and I sandwiched the whole thing together with the batting that same day (when does that ever happen?)  I tried a spray adhesive to hold the layers together this time instead of basting with large stitches, and I'm happy with how that has held up, so I definitely appreciated the time I saved on that step.

After the layers were stuck together, I got out my water soluble marking pen and, with the help of a yardstick to draw out just a few dividing marks, I sketched the center design on by hand.  The outer edges are more geometric, so the yardstick came in handy to get those lines evenly drawn.

I started in the middle of the quilt and have been working from there outwards a little bit at a time.  I have some pink antique quilting thread that I'm using and I'm trying to make my stitches tiny and even.  This seems to be the only way I know how to hand quilt (the way that takes forever) but I might try to branch out a bit for Luca's quilt (more info on that coming soon!) and use some larger, more time-efficient stitching techniques.

So far, I have made it through the second to last border--all that's left is the 9" or so of cross-hatching all around the outside.  I even made the quilt binding today, in preparation for finishing the quilt soon.  The binding is my absolute favorite part of a quilt--the end is near!  It's almost done!  Pretty soon I won't have little pieces of batting all over my clothes!

I'm excited to share it with you in all of its finished glory soon! 

Friday, April 17

Stolen Moment--Dessert Party

This is from our recent "Dessert Party" that Luca has begged us to do for weeks and weeks.  I put a bunch of fun dessert recipes on a Pinterest Board and let him choose his 4 favorites.  Talk about a sugar overdose!  He loved it so much though and we had a nice time making the desserts together.  

He's even requested a repeat performance for his birthday...Sure Buddy, that seems like a pretty great way to celebrate 5.

In case you're curious, the dessert depicted above is Cake Batter Dip.  We also made Cookie Dough Truffles, Homemade Reese's Eggs and this AMAZING Japanese Cheesecake.  Seriously...try it.  So good, and the only thing that wasn't sugary sweet.  

Wednesday, April 15


~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it on your blog, on Instagram (#yarnalong), or on Flickr. ~Ginny of Small Things

I've been working on a new pattern to release in conjunction with my best friend Bibi of both The Conscious Doer and My Cloth Diapers 101.  If you're in the mood to make some 100% wool soakers for your own babies or for a good friend, stay tuned for the pattern release, which should be ready in about a month!  Samples are knit, the pattern is written and we're working on the finishing touches to be able to launch it May 20th!

Thank you to all of the wonderful knitters who volunteered to test the design!  I'm still looking for a second tester for the newborn, 12-18 month and 18-24 month size if you have a spare skein of Cascade 220 wool (or another similar ~100g/220yard 100% wool yarn in your stash!) and would like to join in!  Deadline for completion is May 6 and you can find all the details and express your interest on my Rav group.  Thank you!