Saturday, December 20, 2014

Knitted striped scrap yarn blanket (with instructions and tips)

The moment I saw Elise's beautiful knitted blankets I knew I wanted to make something similar. Then, going through my yarn stash before the big move, I knew I had to downsize. As I was sorting, I noticed I had a lot of neutral-colored half-finished skeins left over form other projects. A lot of black, white, tan, brown, and some grey. And then it hit me - why not use up those left-overs to knit a blanket? I loved the idea! It had all the elements I love most - a simple pattern, because knitting for me is more of a meditative craft, it uses up left-overs, which is always a huge plus in my book, and it goes perfectly with the design I had envisioned for our future living room in Leverkusen.
I actually started knitting this at 1 a.m. in the morning one night I couldn't fall asleep. I was tossing and turning, and then decided to just start with the pile of yarn on my floor. I knitted until about 3 in the morning. I continued to knit throughout my last 2 weeks in Estonia and I finished on the car ride to Leverkusen. It's the first thing I made for our new home.

It's been almost a month now and we're both in love with the blanket. It's just the right size, super cozy and warm (I had a lot of wool fibers in that stash). It's the perfect stash-buster project.
 Here are the instructions in case you got an itch to try it yourself:

Supplies:
  • A lot of yarn - I used the ones left-over from different projects so they varied in size, gauge and fiber content. I have no idea about how much yarn I used up, but I would guess you need at least 15-20 skeins (50g each). The finished thing weighs about 1kg.
  • 7mm circle needles (that would be a size 11 in the US system)
  • a crochet hook to hide the ends when you're done
  • scissors
To make the yarn an even gauge all the way through, I almost always knitted with multiple strands of yarn at the same time. So I would simply gather as many ends of the same color as was needed to get the equivalent of a yarn that was meant to be knit with 7mm needles. Oftentimes it was 2 or 3 strands, but there were a couple of really thin yarns, and then I went with 4 strands. If you have one yarn as an example, you can easily feel the correct thickness in your hands. By the 3rd stripe you won't even think about it anymore.

First, I took my first color and cast on 120 stitches. Then I knit back and forth in knit stitch until I finished one of the skeins I was knitting with. This was my plan all the way through. Each stripe was as long as it's smallest skein, but not more than 10 rows. I used circular needles because straight ones would never fit this amount of stitches, and I actually love using circular needles more than straight ones. You just have to turn the piece after each row, just like with straight needles.

I knit the whole thing simply in knit stitch, and alternated between the colors pretty randomly. I took the color I fancied next. I did however take into account how much of each color I had. I had the most black, so I made more black stripes than the other colors, meaning they were also closer together to each other than some of the other colors. Similarly, I had only a little of grey, so I had to knit a lot between grey stripes.

Since I didn't know how big of a blanket I would get with the yarn I had, I simply kept on knitting until I had only black and brown color, which meant I couldn't alternate the color anymore, so I finished the blanket.

The finished measurements are about 130x130cm, but it stretches to a little bit more.

Once it was done, I hid the yarn ends with a crochet hook, and made 4 tassels from the yarn ends to embellish the corners. My knit tip here: hold on to all the small bits of yarn that might be left over while knitting. You might need them later. I think the tassels are a nice touch to add to the blanket.
This just might be my favorite knitting project ever made. Right after the cardigan I knitted for my Mom many years back. Plus, it was so therapeutic. This is just the type of project to make when you want to knit something, but don't want to worry about following the pattern sheet all the time. It got me in the mood to knit something else. I might go for a sweater next just because I lack them. Funny thing is, I have all my needles in Leverkusen, and all my yarn in Estonia.

If you have any questions about this project, let me know in the comments.

xo. Hanna

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Last-minute handmade Christmas cards

I'm so late with all my Christmas preparations this year. Well, actually, when I think about it I'm always late with my Christmas preparations. This year, I decided last minute to send out some Christmas cards, plus I always love to add a handmade card to any gifts I give out, so I sat down yesterday evening, gathered all my card supplies (which I fortunately left here in Estonia), and got to work.
For the first set of cards, I used some Christmas-themed patterned paper I had, glued a piece of that to the blank card. Then, I sewed a piece of plastic over that paper, leaving the top open, and poured some star confetti into the pocket, then sewed the top shut. Last, just trimmed the edges of the plastic around the seams. I love this card, because it's like playing with a snowball - you can make a snowstorm or some shooting stars by tilting it.
For the second set of cards, I used some patterned paper as the background again, but this time I added a holiday wish using wire. First, I wrote the word on paper without lifting the pencil in the size I wanted the wire word to be, and then used that as a template to write the words with a crafting wire. It's actually way easier than I had thought. I think it's all about using a soft wire, which can be easily manipulated. I sewed them onto the card by hand, just a stitch in 4 places to secure it.
And, then I made some gift tags from the left-overs. I'm sort of obsessed with using every little scrap I have left, whether it's paper or fabric. I keep everything that I think can be used in a future project. It's a curse and a blessing - on the one hand, I always have something I can make last minute cards/gifts from, but on the other hand, I simply have too much stuff I'm not sure I'll ever use.

I hope you got some ideas for your own last minute card making. Now I'm off to make my room a livable place before hubby gets here.

xo. Hanna
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cardboard Magazine Folder Restyle

Hey, guys! You know the feeling of excitement when you first start decorating a new apartment or house? Man, all the possibilities! It's like staring at a blank canvas before starting to paint. Not that I've ever done that, I don't have a clue about painting. The point is, you can choose whatever you like. But, ay, there's the rub, ha? Every tiny decision suddenly becomes this big thing. Do we leave the colors white or repaint? If we paint, what color? Oh, that opens up another Bandora's box. Then there's furniture to pick out, curtains, throw pillows, wall art. Too. Many. Possibilities.

And what do I do? I choose black and white. Every. Single. Time. It's become my biggest obsession lately. Black and white pictures. Black and white (and gold) decor. Black and white outfits (wanna guess what colors I'm wearing at the moment?). So, there's no need to act all surprised when I tell you I restyled some white cardboard files with black watercolor. Apparently it's genetic, because my Mom just told me my Dad used to me obsessed with black and white when he was my age. Wanted to do our whole house in black and white (you go, Dad!).
 Despite my mild worry about this new obsession, I love how these magazine folders turned out. Way better than expected. At first I thought about doing gold polka dots on all of them, but then I channeled my inner Elsie Larson, and just went with black watercolor and a different simple pattern for each. And, I'm so glad I did. I like how there's variety in patterns, but how the color scheme binds them together. Plus, of course I had to add a touch of gold.

Here's my process in case you want to repeat:
 1. I started with the IKEA Flyt magazine files (my first IKEA hack!). They are super cheap, so right up our alley, and they are just the perfect white canvas I needed. Also, really easy to paint on. For the paint I just bought some black watercolor. I wanted to buy a cheap kids watercolor set, but then I found these colors that you can buy one by one, and I bought just the one, because I honestly don't know when I'll be using watercolors again, so buying a whole lot seemed unnecessary.
 2. Then, I played around with the patterns on a scrap piece of paper. I tried to find patterns that would be easy to draw (cause I suck at drawing), and easy to repeat. Something I could easily repeat during the whole process.
I settled on different formations of single brush-strokes. Shorter and longer ones, at different angles, and I had to do one with dots as well.
 3. When I had my patterns selected, the only thing to do was to paint. When I was done with one side, I let it dry, and painted the other ones in the mean time, then came back to the other side of the first one. Rinse. Repeat. Let dry. Fold. All done.

I also added some gold tags which I made by painting regular white sticker tags gold with a marker.
All of my Burdas almost fit in the 5 folders, but I think I need to make one more set. These would make great storage for our sheet music and documents as well.

My little sewing corner is coming together nicely. Now, all I need is a couple of shelves to put all my crafting tools on and pretty storage for those as well. I'm sure I can figure something out. It will probably involve some recycled packaging and a gold and a black marker. Really, gold and black AGAIN? Well, what can I say...

xo. Hanna