Category Archives: Inspiration

Six More Weeks

When I was a kid, I was very convinced that the whole “Punxsutawney Phil” thing was very important.  That groundhog knew things.Now, of course, I realize it’s a little silly to get your weather forecast from a rodent, but there’s still a part of me that wants to rely on Phil’s prognostication.

And, since he saw his shadow this morning, that part of me wants to get ready for another 6 weeks of cold weather.

These cozy-looking mittens would be perfect for wearing during the extended winter.  Plus, they come in every size imaginable- perfect for the whole family!

The World’s Simplest Mittens by tincanknitsAnd these adorable hats look crazy cozy with their ear flaps and insulating garter stitch.  Plus, they have a tassel! Everyone loves tassels!

Garter Ear Flap Hat by Purl SohoAnd there’s nothing better on a cold winters’ night than snuggling up under a half-finished afghan with a cup of cocoa for an evening of crochet.

Neat Ripple by Lucky of Attic24Do you believe in Punxsutawney Phil’s predictive powers?  Or are you just using his premonitions as an excuse to start some new projects?

Inspiration: Tropical Chickens

Oof!  You guys!  I’m beat!  I had altogether too much fun last week.

I just got back from a week-long trip to Kaua’i with my family to celebrate my Mom’s birthday.  It was so much fun!  Swimming and snorkeling almost every day, delicious food, gorgeous scenery and getting to spend time with some of my favorite people.  It couldn’t have been better!

One of my favorite things about Kaua’i is… a little silly.  You’d think it was the natural splendor, or maybe the crystal-clear water.  But if I’m really being honest… it’s the chickens.Twenty or thirty years ago a bunch of local chickens escaped from their local chicken farms and managed to establish a breeding population.  Now, every inch of the island is covered in the most beautiful, colorful, shiny chickens. They’re like pigeons in the city, only pretty.  And not gross.  And kind of funny, because they’re chickens.

Let’s celebrate the Hawaiian chickens with some chicken-themed patterns.

I think the only thing cuter than an island chicken is a tiny, knit island chicken.

Tiny Chickens by Anna HrachovecThis hat is absolutely hilarious!  I love the crocheted mohawk (I’m sure there’s a more accurate word for this, but I’m coming up blank) and the cute little beak.

Rooster Hat by Shawn TorresAnd these mittens are just glorious!  The blue-and-white colorwork is gorgeous, and the chickens are so sassy and full of themselves.  Too bad it never gets cold enough to wear mittens in Hawaii!

Rooster Mittens by Natalia Moreva

What was your favorite part of your last vacation?

Inspiration: Is it just me, or is it cold out there?

It’s been dang cold here in Seattle lately.  (Yes, I know it’s January, when it’s supposed to be cold, but still.)  We even got a bunch of snow over Christmas!  It’s been in the 30s in the mornings!  I’ve been wearing my wool coat along with my big cabled sweaters!

(OK, I’m not really complaining- I love getting to wear extra-cozy sweaters and having an excuse to drink hot cocoa.)

But, it’s the time of year when people start working on their year-long temperature scarves and blankets.  Have you heard of this?  Every year I think “Great idea!  I’ll do that next year.”

The idea is that you start a simple project (usually a scarf or afghan, but I suppose you could do this with any project) on January 1st (or 10th, and then you play catch-up).  Every day you knit or crochet a single row or a single square (depending on your design), and then you repeat it every day through the entire year.  But the trick is that each row’s color is determined by the temperature outside that day.  So, if it was super cold, maybe you use a teal yarn.  But if today is in the 60s, you use lime green.  (Or whatever you decide your system is going to be.)

It’s a cute idea!  Simple, fun, and attractive to people like me who like starting long-term projects.

Some people have made cute ribbed scarves.

My Year in Temperatures Scarf by Kristen CooperAnd some people have made gorgeous afghans!

Temperature Gauge Afghan by Nancy StengelI don’t think I’ll be participating this time around, but maybe I’ll get my act together and make one next year.

Have you made any long-term projects like this?

Inspiration: Prince Philip’s Antarctic Sadness Sweater

Are you guys watching the new season of The Crown on Netflix? You know me, I’m a sucker for a costume drama- especially one about a royal family that wears a lot of fancy clothes (especially a lot of sweaters).

This season opens with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip (though I think he’s still “just” a duke at this point) in the midst of a big fight, like a if-we-weren’t-royalty-we’d-be-getting-a-divorce-right-now fight.  It turns out that Philip is being a big baby about having to play second fiddle to his wife who is literally the Queen of England.  Maybe this is just because I’m a dumb American living in 2017, but Philip’s whole argument is just a bunch of misogynistic whining in my ears.

Anyway, after the fight, there’s a big flashback where Philip goes off on a “tour of the colonies” (blech) that really turns out to be a big 5-month long bachelor party with all sorts of unsuspecting women in the south Pacific (double blech).  Near the end of his tour, his ship visits Antarctica, and he spends a lot of time brooding around the ship, being grumpy that his wife might know what he’s been up to.

While I don’t love Philip, I gotta say, I do love his Antarctican brooding sweater.It’s a crew-neck pullover with set-in sleeves worked in bulky navy blue with white accents.  It might even have been thrummed, but it’s hard to say.  I like the subtle naval stripes around the collar and cuffs, and the simple over-all pattern.I’d wear the heck out of that sweater.

Now, I couldn’t find a pattern that exactly matched Philip’s sweater, but you could easily modify a simple sweater pattern if you wanted to make your own.

This sweater has the same feel, if not the same design.  Its all-over rib and raglan shoulders really evoke an old-school sailor feel.  You could use a white-and-navy marled yarn for a similar look to Philip’s sweater.

Trent by Martin StoreyThis sweater would be a great starting point for making your own Philip sweater. It’s the right shape, and has the right shoulders and neckline.  If you worked the yoke in stockinette, and added in some stranded knitting to make the “snowflakes” on Philip’s sweater, you’d get pretty dang close.

Riley Pullover by Kristen HipskyIf you really wanted to embrace the whole “Antarctica” thing, you could even thrum your sweater (though that might be too much- I’ve never actually seen a thrummed sweater).  Thrumming adds an insane layer of warmth and thickness to garments, and is usually saved for accessories like these super-cozy mittens.

Thrummed Mittens by Jennifer L. ApplebyHave you been watching anything good lately?

Inspiration: Christmas Cookies

I mentioned on Wednesday that I’m getting ready to begin my yearly Epic Baking Adventure.  I’ve been doing my Epic Baking Adventure just about every year since college, with more or less Epicness depending on the year.  I usually make a half dozen (or more) types of cookies, give them out to friends, take them when I visit someone’s house, and (honestly) eat more of them than I should.

Every year, the menu varies slightly (usually by adding on an extra variety or two).  This year, I’m making sugar cookies (of course), chocolate crinkles, spritz, pfeffernusse (a must-do holiday tradition in my husband’s family), mocha meringues (if it doesn’t rain too much), and soft caramels.  And, maybe I’ll add on a cookie or two if I get done with those too quickly.  (We’re having a small Christmas this year, just the two of us, so I’m trying not to go too over the top.)

Let’s celebrate Christmas Cookies with some cookie-themed patterns:

This little guy is too cute!  I love the big red gumdrop buttons and the “piped” icing details.  I’m not actually a big fan of gingerbread cookies.  If I’m going to make gingerbread, I usually make a big old gingerbread cake and serve it with generous dollops of whipped cream.  Yum!

Christmas Gingerbread Boy by Teresa AlvarezI love that this designer made patterns for 5 different cookies.  I think the variety is really what makes Christmas cookies special.  When else do you get to make (and eat) dozens and dozens of different cookies without guilt?

Christmas Deco Cookies (Set of 5) by Eva PolaripopAnd how could you forget Santa?! The most fiendish of cookie fiends!  When we were kids, my brother and I would always leave out cookies and milk for Santa (even though we didn’t super believe in him, it was better to be sure… just in case).  I love these cookies- you could totally use them as super-cute coasters this winter.

Santa’s Cookies by Jessica SpencerI can’t wait to get baking this year!

What cookies are tradition in your house?

 

Inspiration: The Final Countdown

Cue the 80’s glam metal, because it’s time to start counting down (almost).

December’s right around the corner and that means it’s time to break out the advent calendars!

I love a good advent calendar.  It’s the best combination of waiting (which I am very bad at.  I get very impatient), and opening presents early (which I enjoy doing quite a lot).  The past few years, I put together a beer advent calendar for my husband, where he got a new bottle of fancy holiday beer every day.  Last year, he made me a yarn advent calendar, where I got a new mini-skein of yarn every day.  It was the best!

When I was little, we had advent calendars, too.  My brother and I each had our own tiny fake tree, and we picked out small ornaments for each day. By the end of the month, we barely had a square-inch of tree visible beneath all the ornaments.  I still have a bunch of the advent calendar ornaments, though my little tree has gotten lost along the way (though, maybe it’s at my folks’ house… I should check the next time I visit).

It might be a little late in the year to put together an advent calendar, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try!

I like this one because it includes a very cute little tree!

Christmas Tree Advent Calendar #294 by ShiFio’s PatternsThis one looks even simpler- maybe you could get it knit up by the end of the weekend, if you really put your mind to it? I particularly love the teeny tiny balls!

Advent Tree Wall Hanging by Roxanna JuneBut if you felt like getting really fancy, I kind of love this garland!  I like that each day is a totally unique ornament, and I love that they hang from all those little buttons.  If I had a million hours of free time, you’d better bet that I’d be all over this project!

Advent Garland by Frankie BrownDo you have an advent calendar tradition in your family?

Inspiration: Thanksgiving Dinner

Happy early Thanksgiving, everyone!  If you’re in the US, you’re probably already prepping for the big meal tomorrow.  (I know I am!) My whole family is coming into town first thing tomorrow, and my husband and I are doing the whole spread- turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, pie, the works.  (I’m actually roasting some pumpkin for the pie and making some candied pecans right now… my house smells very good this morning.)

I’m actually vegetarian, so I don’t really care about the turkey (that’s my husband’s thing, but I’ve been told he makes a mean turkey).  For me, the whole point of Thanksgiving dinner is the sides.  So, let’s talk about my favorite sides (with some knitting, because that’s what I do).

Stuffing might be my favorite savory side.  I use the same recipe that my dad used when I was a kid, it’s full of sage and thyme, apple bits and big, juicy raisins.  So good!  The first time I made it, I was shocked because it starts by melting a whole cup of butter, then sauteing a bunch of celery and onion, basically making butter soup.  No wonder everyone likes it!

Stuffed Mittens by TECHknitterMashed potatoes are a staple in our house- I probably make a batch of them every couple weeks (I’m from the Midwest, after all).  My usual mashed potatoes are pretty chill- un-peeled potatoes, a little butter, a little of whatever milk I have in the fridge, and salt and pepper.  For Thanksgiving, I pull out all the stops- I put in the effort to peel all the potatoes, and step up my game with sour cream and whole milk, the whole nine yards.  So creamy and tasty!

Mash Potato Socks by Verena Cohrs

One side that most people keep strictly to Thanksgiving is cranberry sauce.  I am not most people.  I’m a cranberry fiend.  The moment fresh cranberries come into season, I stock up.  I make cranberry muffins, cranberry pancakes, and generally have a bowl of home-made cranberry sauce in my fridge.  I love it on cheese sandwiches (I realize this is weird), with mashed potatoes, or just plain, eaten with a spoon.  My favorite!

Cranberry Sauce by Brittany Tyler SimmondsBut the best part of Thanksgiving might be dessert.  Specifically pumpkin pie.  I gotta say, I make a mean pumpkin pie.  I go fully from scratch- make my own crust, roast my own pumpkins (though this year I’m using Blue Hubbard Squash, because my grocery store was out of sugar pie pumpkins!  The horror!) and garnish with homemade candied pecans and bourbon whipped cream.  I mean what’s not to love?

Pumpkin-Pie by jo columbineDo you celebrate Thanksgiving?  What are your favorite Thanksgiving foods?

Inspiration: Stormy Weather

When we moved to Seattle, I knew what I signed up for.  Rain (often, but not a lot), cloudy skies (a good excuse to stay in the house and read), and cool weather (perfect for wearing sweaters).

This year, that has not been the case.

We had warm weather (in the sixties) almost all the way through September with sun (SUN!!) nearly every day.  Then the weekend before last, we had snow (SNOW!!) for several days in a row.  It didn’t really stick, but, still!  And the last three days we’ve had pouring rain and whipping winds.  (My yard is a disaster- leaves and branches everywhere!  But I figure I should wait to clean it up until the storms have passed, so I’m just sitting here looking out the window at the mess outside.) It’s like being back in the Midwest!  It’s bananas!

I guess there’s just one thing to do.  Knit.

(What, you can’t really be surprised that that’s my response?)

I love this cowl.  I know the lace pattern is supposed to be waves, but I think it looks like my big pine trees whipping back and forth in the wind.

Storm Water Cowl by Kim McBrien Evans

And this little pullover is too cute (and too cozy) for words.  It’s exactly what I’d want to wear on a stormy day if I was a cute little kid.  Ah, who am I kidding, I’d wear this today, if it was big enough!

Stormy Day Jacket by Hannah FettigAnd this shrug is so perfect- I might actually need it.  It would bring me one step closer to my goal of wearing nothing but blankets all day.

Stormy Shrug by Charm KnitsI’ll keep my fingers crossed that the weather breaks soon, but in case it doesn’t, at least I have some cute knitting to think about.

How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

Inspiration: Candy Hangover

Happy “Half-Price Candy Day,” everybody!

I think yesterday’s Halloween celebrations were a success, at least in my neck of the woods.  I dressed up as a spooky witch for work, then put out candy and jack-o-lanterns for trick-or-treaters, and left to hang out with friends, watch spooky movies, and hand out candy (their neighborhood gets a lot more kids than mine.

I ate a bunch of candy (oops), a slice of delicious pumpkin cake, and more cheese and crackers than is strictly necessary.  It was all delicious.

But this morning I’m feeling a little like I need to spend my morning munching on something a little healthier.  And maybe my knitting should be a little healthier, too.

I’m not sure if it’s true, but “they” say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.  This hat might not have any healing properties, but, dang it’s cute!

Lil’ Apple Hat by Iryna BoehlandAnd there’s nothing better for a nice healthy breakfast than a big bowl of fiber-rich oatmeal.

Oatmeal Pullover by Jane RichmondI’m not a huge fan of kale, but I make myself eat it anyway, since I know it’s super good for me.  I’d make this shawl in a heartbeat- what a pretty way to get your kale!

Baby Kale Shawl by Celeste YoungDid you overindulge last night, too?

Inspiration: Halloween Candy

Halloween is next week, and all my students are going bananas.  They’ve all sewn extra-big trick-or-treat bags for themselves, and are talking about nothing but their plans for Halloween costumes (so far it seems like there are going to be a lot of Princess Leias and a lot of very creative “slash” costumes:  Vampire-slash-witch, dragon-slash-kitten, mummy-slash-bride).

But, when you’re a grown-up without kids, you don’t do much for Halloween, except make sure that your house is well-stocked with candy for the trick-or-treaters.  So far, I’ve not picked out my candy yet (I have very little self-control when there’s a massive bag of Almond Joys and Snickers bars in the house, so I try to buy it last-minute).  Maybe I could knit my candy instead of buying it?

I could go classic with candy corn.  People pretend like it’s some weird old-fashioned candy that no one admits to liking.  But, I call bull on that.  It’s candy!  It’s made of sugar!  Of course it’s delicious!

Candy Corns by Purl SohoOr I could be fancy, with these delicate little striped bonbons.  How cute are they?!  I bet they’d be a great way to use up tiny little leftovers, too.

Sweet Stripes by Tricia McDonaldBut I think if you’re looking to make Halloween candy you can’t get any more appropriate than this flipping adorable zombie candies.  I mean, honestly, could they be any more perfect?

Creepy Halloween Candy-Zombie by Dawn Finney(Don’t worry, I’ll give out real candy on Tuesday.  I imagine that giving out knit candy would be a great way to get our house TP’d.)

What are you doing to celebrate Halloween?