Thursday, January 24, 2013

Simple Baby Blanket [Tutorial]

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I had the opportunity to make another baby shower gift basket last week (one of my fave projects to put together),
and I couldn't resist including some super cuddly fabrics.
I had some fleece and cozy flannel in my stock that were going really well with the colors of the basket,
so I put together a quick and simple blanket.
And since it was so gosh darn quick and so gosh darn simple,
I couldn't resist passing the steps along to you all (see below for tutorial/measurements).
While I love to challenge myself, I think it's good for me to remember that more time and more effort is NOT always better, yes? Simple is good, Meg. Simple is good.
Side note: this would be a perfect project for an older sibling to make for a new baby, especially if they're learning how to sew. It's that easy/kid friendly. :)

You'll Need:
about 1 yard fleece (or other cozy fabric)
about 1 yard flannel
regular sewing implements
Tip: you can sub the fleece for minky or other super soft knits, just beware that many of them are EXTREMELY stretchy and can give you some problems when sewing them together especially if you're a beginner.

Step One:
Cut your flannel.
Mine is is about the size of a typical receiving blanket, measuring at 30"x34".

I also used a circle template to round my corners.
I like the look of the rounded corners,
and *added bonus* if you're not a big sewist or you're using this as a kid-friendly project, it's nice to not have to tackle corners just yet. :)

Step Two:
Lay your flannel on your fleece with right sides facing and pin together. 
Tip: I find it easier to pin, sew, then trim the fleece as opposed to cutting your flannel and fleece to the same size and matching up the sides.

Step Three:
Sew the pieces together using the pressure foot as a guide
and leaving about 6 inches open to turn right side out.

Step Four:
Trim the excess fleece.

Score your rounded corners, being careful not to cut through your seam allowance.
This will help the blanket lay nicer at the corners.

Unpin, turn right side out, and iron flat, spending extra time at the seams so they lay as flat as possible.

Step Five:
Top stitch around the edge of the blanket.
At the 6 inch opening, make sure that you catch both fabrics to sew them together.

Step Six:
"Quilt" the blanket together.
I just sewed straight lines across the blanket from one side (at the top stitch seam) to the other,
and then again across in the other direction (perpendicular).

Done! See? I told you it was simple.

I like to wrap it up like a little bundle for the "little bundle."
See what I did there?

What are your favorite baby shower gifts?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Quilting Goal for 2013

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Like many of you, I've been setting my goals for 2013 over the past few weeks.
It's only January and already the calendar is starting to fill up
which can be completely overwhelming.
So I'm determined to set realistic goals for the year.
One of those goals was to make one quilt.
If I got to more, great, but the goal is just the one.
And for that one quilt, I was going to finally get around to making a queen size for our master bed,
a project which I have been intending to do since Chris and I got married (almost 4 years ago).

That was my intention.
You see, one of my favorite local ministries expressed a need.
And it was a need I felt like I could should meet,
and one that, frankly, I'm thrilled to meet.
After years of borrowing space from local churches,
they are finally in the process of building a brand new facility.
And it's huge and amazing and will allow them to grow and achieve even more than they already do.
The East End Cooperative Ministry is one that I've written about before.
Among other things
they feed the hungry,
they clothe the naked,
they mentor children,
and as I sit in my warm house right now, I am especially grateful that they shelter (including serving dinner and breakfast to) the homeless.
Pittsburgh is beautiful in the winter, is it not? :)
With this new facility they will be able to expand that shelter to house more men,
more women and children,
and more of the sick and elderly who have been discharged from the hospital and need respite care but cannot receive it in their prior housing.
And I really could go on and on... but you can check it for yourself.
So here's the fun part:
The shelter's designer had the idea to have a handmade quilt for each of the shelter beds.

My first reaction when I heard this was one of shock (that's a lot of beds! they house over 650!!!).
My second reaction (the one that should have been my first reaction) was one of conviction.
For those of you who may not have made a quilt before,
it is a labor of love.
It takes time and patience.
It take vision and skill.
And often it takes some money. Supplies aren't cheap!
And who is more deserving of a handmade, loved over, and hopefully prayed over quilt, than those without a home, those with whom most people avoid eye contact, those who all too often are the forgotten ones?
So I'm once again putting my master bedroom quilt on hold,
and I'm diving in to cut, piece, stitch, iron, baste, quilt, and bind what will hopefully be a beautiful blanket but more inportantly be a labor of love from me to them, even though they will most likely not even realize it.
So why am I telling you this?
It's certainly not to toot my own horn, although I will be sharing pictures of my progress as I go for funsies.
It's to get the word out about this awesome place.
If you feel inclined to donate money, prayer, or even a quilt, I encourage you wholeheartedly.
And if you don't live in the Pittsburgh area, I encourage you to check out shelters in your area and ask what their needs are. There all always needs.

If you are in the area, I'm going to be collecting non perishable food items over the next few weeks to stock their food pantry.
If you would like to donate some food, please let me know!
I'm even willing to pick it up.

As for the quilt, my mom (who is the greatest as I've mentioned before) has gratiously donated the batting and the muslin.
And I'm hoping that this quilt will be a total scrap buster.
If I need more fabric, I'm shopping from my own stock with the hope that I don't have to buy anything new.
Do any of you have shelters/ministries in your area that you love?
I would love to hear about it. :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ben's Play Kitchen {The Roundup}

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I'm about as excited as Jesse Spano on study pills right now.
Over the weekend I was able to hit up some of my fave places
and gather supplies for Ben's play kitchen,
a project that I've been wanting to tackle since... I don't even know... the age of 5?

First Stop:
Construction Junction.
I've mentioned it before, so I won't go on and on,
but basically it's a super fantastic architectural salvage warehouse
that specializes in recycling all the unwanteds from old Pittsburgh houses and then offering them to the public on the cheap.
They have everything from doors to church pews to toilets to paint to tile to columns to mantles
and I could just go on...
but I won't. They have cabinets and that's where I found these gems.

My saint of a husband even came with me and stood there gratiously as I checked out every.single.cabinet in the place to be sure I was getting the best ones.
What a dear.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner
(the matching ones on the far left and far right)

After a long while, I could tell that he, not having the same vision as me, was about to lose his marbles.
So I settled on these.
and picked up a small older faucet to boot for the play sink.

Second Stop:

This I did solo, and that was most definitely the right decision as I was there for approximately 8 million hours.

I got my "knobs" for the play stovetop,
some cutting boards for the "butcher block" countertop,
a stainless steel bowl for the play sink,
and of course a lot of other doo dads.
So much fun.

I'm not letting myself really get to work on this sucker until I catch up on some orders,
but my goal is to have it completed by Ben's birthday in February.
It is a birthday gift, after all.

The only task we've tackled is removing the crazy weird and old jar opener that was screwed into the upper cabinet.
So wish me luck!
and keep checking back in for my progress. 

Wanna see some progress pics in somewhat real time?
You can play along on Instagram (@handmadebymegk)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Crocheted Newborn Slipper Update

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Hello everyone!
I've gotten comments, emails, face to face convos, and smoke signals that some of you are having a difficult time with the crocheted newborn slippers.
Because I am a benevolent ruler (of this blog, anyway),
I've added some step-by-step pictures to the pattern
as well as instructions for making a HDCD (half double crochet decrease).
My guess is that many of you were not crocheting down the back of the chain in the first round so you were getting a big loop or tube instead of an oval for the sole.
I'm also guessing that some of you were doing a HDC (half double crochet) and not a HDCD (half double crochet decrease).
These are guesses as I can't really tell from your (some VERY detailed) descriptions.
So hopefully these pictures help! :)
To go to the pattern for the slippers (with pics! yay!), click here.
To go to the pattern for the hat, click here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Downton Abbey Knit Along {and Pattern Review}

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I saw the teaser for Luv In the Mommyhood's
a couple of weeks ago, and I wasn't going to do it.
I really wasn't.
Too much going on....

But then on TOP of the teaser,
Shannon posted (via a Pinterest board) many a Downton inspired knit and crocheted projects,
and I saw this:

I die.

Here's my finished product
Soooooo..... I'm in.
Put Meg down for one crocheted cowl, please.
because, yes, I need another cowl.
I have to be competely honest with you all, though...
We're only one episode in, and in my excitement...
I already finished.
In my defense, it was a 2 hour ep... sooo....
I know, I know. Less of a "knit along" and more of an "I just knit that".
Oh well. What are you gonna do?
The good news is
I. Love. This.
Love the yarn.
Love the pattern.
Very very simple and quick thanks to all of the negative space that makes this cowl look lacey.
It's a less than one skein project (hooray!)
The one con I can think of:
not exactly practical for Pittsburgh winter... but Spring Still Winter is just around the corner, right?

I believe that the yarn in the pattern is an acrylic.
I chose a natural wool because I don't always like how some acrylics are "slippery" when you're working with them.
You'll see right off the bat that there are some pros to working with an acrylic yarn for this pattern.
Because it's smoother, it lays a little more nicely (see pattern pic above).
You can also see the stitches more clearly, giving the pattern a more gentile, lacey look.

And here's some pics from the unintentionally
patriotic photo shoot

The wool is stiffer, which I don't mind at all.
It also has a rougher feel, which I also don't mind.
While I love the look of the pattern's pic, I don't know that I'll be wearing mine with a tank, so the wool will not really be against my skin.
To get this crochet pattern, click here.
Highly recommend.
To check in to the knit along and see what everyone else is up to, click this there button below.

downton abbey knit along

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Flower Newborn Hat {Crochet Pattern}

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Wow! A lot of you have been trying out the newborn slippers,
and I'm so glad to hear it.
Always nice to know that I'm not typing all this out for my own sake
(although I guess that would be fine too).
And many of you have asked for the pattern for the matching hat.
Welp! Here it is!
If you've made the slippers, you'll find this hat super easy.
This is the size of hat that I give for moms-to-be at showers,
and I call it a "newborn" hat,
but those of you that know anything about newborn heads
know that they can vary greatly,
but no worries!
I think you'll find that this pattern is easy to add/subtract stitches to make the size you need.
So here we go:
I use a medium weight 100% cotton yarn and a 5 mm (size J) crochet hook.
*This one is Bernat 'Cottontots' in White and Pretty in Pink
I like the cotton because it's good for sensitive skin and it's nice and soft.
Cotton fibers don't stretch quite as much as some others, but if you've not worked with 100% cotton before, you'll acclimate quickly. I promise.
st- stitch
ch- chain
sc- single crochet
hdc- half double crochet
dc- double crochet
bpsc- back post single crochet
sl st- slip stitch
With Color A (mine was white), chain 3 and join to make a loop.
*you'll be making the hat by working around and around this loop.
Round 1: ch 2, 10 hdc in loop, sl st to join. (10 st)
Round 2: ch 2, 2 hdc in each st around, sl st to join. (20 st)
Round 3: ch 2, 2 hdc in next st, hdc in next st, continue in this manner around, sl st to join. (30 st)
Round 4: ch 2, 2 hdc in next st, hdc in next 2 st, continue in this manner around, sl st to join. (40 st)
Rounds 5 through 10- ch 2, hdc in each st around, sl st to join.
Rounds 11 through 12- switch to Color B (mine was pink), ch 2, hdc in each st around, sl st to join. bind off.
With Color B (for flower), chain 3, join making a loop.
*you'll also be working in the round for the flower.
Round 1: ch 1, 10 sc in the loop, sl st to join to your first sc.
Round 2: ch 1, sc in same st, ch 3, skip 1 sc, sc in the next st (one petal), continue around in this manner to make 5 petals total. For your last petal, after you ch 3, sl st to the first sc to join.
Round 3: ch 1, 5 dc in loop, ch 1, sl st in next sc, continue in this manner around for all 5 petals.
Round 4: ch 1, bpsc around the post of the sc from round 2, ch 5, continue in this manner around for 5 back petals. sl st to join.
Round 5: ch 1, 8 dc in the loop, ch 1, sl st in the next sc, continue in this manner around for all 5 back petals. bind off.
Attach your flower to your hat and weave in your ends.
Done and done!