Tuesday, July 28, 2015


There is nothing worse than wanting something so simple, and not being able to find it.  Like stitch markers, which I need for a new shawl pattern I'd like to try.  Any that I've been able to find, both in my travels or online, have been either not my style or out of my price range.  Then I came across a set of adorable beaded markers that struck me...and I realized I had the exact same beads sitting in one of my craft drawers, with my jewelry-making gear.  Time to make jewelry for my knitting!
I've had these kicking around for a while
As I'm itching to get started on my new shawl, I decided to just whip up something simple.  Some fishing line, a couple of beads, and about ten minutes later, ta da!  Instant stitch markers.
Perfectly pretty purple pearls in progress
They were so quick and easy, I just had to make another set.  Also, this is probably prudent, given the number of on-the-go projects I have, multiplied by the number of yarns calling to me to make them into something pretty...carry the one...
Making pretty things is addictive!
I honestly had to stop myself before I went through my whole collection of beads.  The colored-glass markers I made to fit up to a size US11 needles, since I most often work with 9 or 10.  The purple pearls are a bit bigger, up to US15, since I've got something special in mind for them.  I made a set of 8 for each of them, which should be enough for most patterns I've come across.  I do plan on making a set for smaller needles, but I'll work on that later.  I'm almost out of the metal clamp beads, and what I have will do me just fine for now.
Gotta love DIY!
This was super quick and super easy, and definitely cost me a lot less than I would have paid for basically the same item in-store.  Alright, now that I've got the markers ready, onwards to tackle that shawl!  I'll let you know soon how it goes.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


Well, it's time to tackle something new and challenging.  I've been playing a lot of Final Fantasy X-2 lately (or, as I like to call it, Final Fantasy - Pretty-Princess-Dress-Me-Up -- those who've played it will understand).  Anyways, I've always loved some of the costumes, and I really like the way that even though the basic form is the same (warrior, thief, mage, etc.) each girl brings her own personal style to it.  Yuna in particular tends to have a lot of lacy bits and -- you guessed it, it's right in the title of this post -- ruffles!

So, having found my muse, I've finally got a project for that lovely, frilly yarn I've had tucked away.  As a big fan of creative styles that can be worn multiple ways, this Yuna-inspired demi-skirt could also double as a shawlette -- wear it however you want!  The best part about designing something is getting inventive and making it your own.

Alrighty then, let's get started; I'll walk you through the process first, and post the pattern at the end.  The yarn I'm using for this is Red Heart Boutique Sashay Sparkle in Emerald, and I'm using my trusty US9 needles...though the needle size doesn't really matter and there's no gauge to speak of, since you're knitting with the pre-made holes in the mesh.  So use whatever you've got to hand.
Casting on has got to be the easiest process I've ever seen...you literally just poke your needle through the hole in the mesh, from back to front.  We're using the second row of holes at the top, away from the sparkly edge, which gives us two strands to work with.  You could use whatever row you'd like, if you want a shorter fringe, but I wouldn't recommend using the top row, as a single strand might not hold up to regular wear-and-tear -- I always like to err on the cautious side.  I started by casting on two stitches, and you simply knit every row, making sure that you loop the yarn twice in the first and last stitch of each row (so row 2 is four stitches, row 3 is six, row 4 is eight, etc).  This will give you a nice smooth increase.
You can see the ruffles starting to take shape.  Keep knitting, always looping the next hole in the mesh over your needle, never the same one you just used.  This will keep the fabric loose and flowy, and avoid any bunching in your ruffles.  No-one wants a ruffly bunch (...of coconuts?  Sorry, that joke was bad, even for me!  That's what writing at 4 am gets you...).
Knitting with mesh is definitely a new experience.
Caius is always willing to "help" mommy knit.  He may or may not have ended up wearing this piece as a cape at one point.  He's asked me not to tell.

Keep going until the piece is the desired length -- you can make it longer or shorter simply by knitting more or fewer rows.  I knit 50 rows (100 stitches), then bound off.  I've decided to add a tie to my demi-skirt, so with a large yarn needle, just weave a length of the same yarn mesh through the top edge of the piece, tie a knot at either end, and voila!  A fancy, frilly fashion accessory that would make Yuna proud!  This'll go great over my pair of black tights.
Simplified pattern:

CO 2 stitches
Kw2, Kw2 (knit with 2 loops)
*Kw2, knit to last stitch, Kw2*
Repeat * until piece is desired length, BO
Lace ties through finished edge

Feel free to leave comments, I'd love to know if this was helpful (or not!) and to hear your own creative ideas!  Share your own take on my designs, and let me know if there's anything you think I can improve!

Monday, July 20, 2015


"What does S.H.I.E.L.D. stand for, Agent Ward?"
"Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division."
"And what does that mean to you?"
"It means someone really wanted our initials to spell out 'SHIELD'."

This is the first square in what will become the most epic blanket in my home.  Coming across this pattern is what got me started on this little adventure of a project, so naturally it's the one I started with.
While the SHIELD logo brings to mind several great characters -- Maria Hill, Skye, Peggy Carter, and the Head Badass himself, Nick Fury -- my absolute favorite and the inspiration for this square is Agent Phil "His-First-Name-is-Agent" Coulson.  Coulson is a great SHIELD Agent, willing to do whatever it takes and even (*literally*) give his life for the cause, and yet he still manages to see the good in people and treat his team like family.  I love his playful sense of humor -- even in the face of danger -- and his adorable, ever-present smile.  I heart this man.
As this was my first real experience with double-sided knitting (again, there's an awesome tutorial here) it did take some time to get used to dealing with two strands of yarn and keeping them straight.  Also, since you're basically alternating knits and purls, the most important thing to remember is to make sure you bring both strands forward or back.  You do eventually get into a nice rhythm, and then the only thing you have to worry about is keeping track of where you are on the color chart, and whether the row you're on is 'front' or 'back' (the chart runs from right-to-left, then left-to-right for the next row, and so on).  It was actually a lot easier than I was first expecting.

Since the square is worked from the bottom up, I was about three-quarters of the way through before my husband guessed the design...I think he's a bit disappointed in himself, considering we watch the show almost religiously.  We'll see how he does next time.  Now, I just need to decide which side I want as the "right" side for my blanket...
You end up with a nice reversible design
Original pattern can be found here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Tapestry of Nerd-dom!

Alright, so this here is one of my long-term projects that I've got going on, so I'll be posting progress updates from time to time.  The original idea (as well as a few of the patterns) came from Lattes and Llamas, another great blog run by folks who are after my own geeky heart.  They're hosting a geek-a-long (a knit-a-long, but for geeks) in which each week they release a pattern for a particular square, and at the end of the year, you stitch the squares together to form a blanket.  This is their second year running it, and I give them serious kudos for the creativity of some of their designs.
Arthur keeps a close eye on my projects.
Going through their list of patterns made my inner nerd squeal with delight, but -- as unfortunately happens to all nerds at some point -- I found some of my favorite fandoms hadn't made the list.  Mind you, there were some that I had never even heard of before, but that's what happens in the geek world...everyone's got their own thing, and that's okay.  Well, what do we do when we can't find the pattern we're looking for?  We make it up, of course!

So, I've decided that this is going to be my big project for the year.  Not just for me, but about me.  It's going to be a showcase of the things I'm passionate about -- I'm nerdy and proud of it!  Of course, as soon as I told my husband about it, he immediately started listing squares that he wants included (*go learn to knit your own darn squares!*).  I'm already working on his Christmas gift though, so he'll just have to be happy with that.  But that's a story for another post.
Got a designated blanket stash.
Anyhow, I started it -- as I often do -- without really having a clear idea of the finished work, and formulated my plan as I went.  Here's what I decided:
1) Given the epicness of this work, plus the fact that we have four cats who leave everything they come into contact with covered in fur, I'm actually going to hang this blanket on the wall over our bed, like a tapestry.  Hence the name.
2) Each square is going to be made with not just the particular fandom (which can sometimes be a little broad) but a specific character or person in mind.  That way, it becomes sort of an homage to some of my heroes and, let's face it...some of my favorite sci-fi hotties.
3) As I work on each piece, I'm refusing to tell my inquisitive husband what the finished image will be, and seeing how long it takes for him to guess.  This is purely for my own evil amusement, as not knowing the answer makes him twitchy.

The designs of the squares are made for double-sided knitting (which makes them reversible), which despite how intimidating it sounds at first, is really not all that difficult.  Lattes and Llamas made a great how-to video here that I used to figure out just what I was doing.  The same patterns, however, can also be used if you wanted to simply knit a single-sided piece in multiple colors, crochet, or even cross-stitch.  Whenever I use a pattern that rightfully belongs to someone else, I will post the link back to their site.  Any of the patterns I create myself will be included in my post.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Fuzzy Shrug!

So my sister is throwing me a meet-the-baby-bbq baby shower next Saturday.  Or, as she calls it, a "baby-q".  Yes, I'm not the only wordsmith in the family.  Now, I'm not too big on huge social gatherings, especially those that put me at the center of attention, but this will be my first time seeing most of my friends -- especially the girls from work -- in a couple of months.  Also, free food, and maybe a couple of beers.  I'm hesitant to admit it, but I'm almost looking forward to this.  Almost...

Anyways, I need to find something to wear.  Despite the fact that it's July, this is Canada, and the temperature can change faster than you can say "Hey, the temperature's changing, eh?"  Full sleeves would get too hot during the day, no sleeves might leave me too cold in the evening.  The solution: *shrug*.  No really, a shrug!  I've been kicking this idea around for a while, since my company's dress code did not allow sleeveless garments, and I have a bunch of otherwise adorable dresses, alas, with no sleeves. Perfect solution!

Since I'm short on time, this will be a fairly quick, simple piece.  I've picked out an eyelash yarn with a bit of metallic shimmer to it (you'll find I'm a sucker for anything sparkly).  The fuzzy finish will hide any mistakes or imperfections, and you can afford to be a little looser with your stitches so it has a bit of give.  I'm using slightly bigger needles than my norm, too, US10.

I knit this piece sideways, from one sleeve to the other.  Simply cast on 50 stitches, and knit every row until the piece reaches from one shoulder to the other (for me, I knit 100 rows).  After binding off, simply sew the two long edges together roughly three inches on either end to form the sleeves, and presto!  You've got a shrug!  (Mine only took a single ball of yarn, and a few episodes of Supernatural -- it is a really quick piece!)  The only problem I encountered was that the eyelashes make it a little more difficult to see the stitch you're working with, so you need to rely on your fingertips to tell you exactly where it is.  Once you get used to it, though, it's pretty smooth sailing.  Also, the yarn I used tends to shed the little metallic fibers, so my work area (read: the couch) tends to end up looking a little...festive.
This pattern is easily adaptable, too: for wider, looser sleeves, increase the number of stitches you cast on.  for longer sleeves, knit more rows, and stitch further in on either side.  You can even knit some for the kids, by using fewer stitches and rows.  Basically, the only measurement you need to know is the distance from shoulder to shoulder, so you can make sure the sleeves start in the right place.  Below, you can see (or not, since the yarn is so fuzzy) the seam for my sleeve.

If you want to get really creative, you can even mix up the colors, like I did for this piece below.  Simply knit 20 rows or so for the first sleeve in one color, switch to your second color for the body, and finish off with the last 20 rows of your other sleeve.  I have a feeling I'm about to see a sudden influx of shrugs in my wardrobe...
Simplified pattern:

CO 50 stitches
Knit 100 rows (or length required for size)
Sew long sides together 2-3" on either side for sleeves

Feel free to share any questions, comments, or ideas you may have!

Friday, July 10, 2015

New Delivery!

So, as those of you who have read about me will know, I recently had a baby, girl number two for me. Relax, that's not the delivery I'm talking about here, although she is freakin' adorable.  Look.  Bask in her cuteness, you have no choice.
Anyways, being now a stay-at-home mom with an infant, getting out has become a bit more difficult. Basically, I've pretty much become a hermit.  Thank goodness I recently discovered a magical device that allows me to buy things without ever having to leave my lair home -- the internet!

So, after two weeks of eager anticipation, my first package arrived.  Behold its glory!
So soft and squishy, I just want to rip it open and feast on its innards -- or at least make them into something interesting.  Let's see what it looks like on the inside...
...oh yeah, that's the good stuff!  Twelve balls of Red Heart Boutique Sashay Sparkle!  (Try saying that five times fast...)  A gorgeous mesh yarn that will work up something fancy; not quite sure what yet.  Also, I'll have to figure out just how to knit with it...thankfully, it comes with instructions and a free pattern on the inside of the label.  Too bad the pattern is for a scarf -- I think we've established that the last thing I need is more scarves!  I'll have to get creative with this one.  Got some great colors, though.
Aaaaand, a couple of days later, I get another surprise: my second order -- which had been unable to ship because they were out of stock -- suddenly appeared at my door!  In the hands of my mail-man, of course...no sorcery or black arts involved.  I guess they re-stocked just in time to get my order out.  A wonderful selection of colors and weights, it's definitely a great stash-builder.
Well, now that I've got the supplies, I suppose it's time to start putting those needles to work!  After all, that's why you're here, right?  Now to scour my folder of patterns, to find some inspiration!

Thursday, July 9, 2015


Greetings to all of you who have stumbled across my humble blog, I hope you enjoy it.  I've decided to take the leap into blog-dom because 1) I have a bit more time on my hands lately; b) I'd like to share my ideas with all of you; III) I may even be able to learn a thing or two from you out there; and 5) I couldn't think of a decent #4.

Allow me to start off by letting you know a little about me:

My friends have been calling me Dizzy since high school.  For those of you who have seen Starship Troopers in all of it's horrible glory, you may understand.  For those that haven't, imagine your typical red-head with attitude, extra guts-and-glory on the side -- you'll start to get the picture.  Also, go watch Starship Troopers.

My grandmother taught me to knit when I was maybe seven?  Just simple garter stitch, nothing fancy -- I'm not sure if I was a bad student, or she was a bad teacher, but I never quite got past the basics.  Pretty much the only thing I could make was scarves, as evidenced by my collection.
I honestly own more scarves than any normal, sane person should.  Maybe that tells you something else about me...

My foster-Mom used to do needlepoint, and I remember she used to let me "help" when I was little by organizing her threads by color.  I used to watch her work, but I don't remember ever really learning.  In fact, I never even thought about taking it up myself.

So basically, growing up, I was a non-skilled knitter with no other real crafty-like inclinations.  Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked...or no, wait, that was something else.  Actually, a couple of years ago I discovered a few of my friends were really into knitting, and it prompted me to pick up the needles again.  Suddenly, knitting isn't just for grannies anymore!  (Okay, I may have thought this at one point...)

When I found out last fall that I was expecting, I suddenly had an excuse to get crafty.  I finally moved past the basics, thanks to a good friend of mine -- and a stranger on the train, who taught me to purl.  I learned some new stitches and skills -- and made up what I couldn't find a how-to guide for on Google -- and managed to knit up a darling blanket for my little girl.  And it turned out pretty awesome, if I do say so.
Since then, I just can't get enough.  It's become an addiction.  I'm constantly trying new things with my knitting, pushing myself to pick up new skills.  When I found some super-cute crochet patterns online, I taught myself to crochet, too.  And, I even picked up needlepoint, because it reminds me so much of my foster-Mom (she passed away a couple of years ago).  Suddenly, I'm a crafting fiend!  Nothing in the 'verse can stop me!

Anyways, the reason I've started this blog is not just to show off what I've made (which would be rather self-centered, in my opinion), but to walk through how it was made -- any difficulties I had, any tips and tricks I picked up -- to pass on to someone else who might be trying to learn, too.  I'm still figuring a lot of this out for myself, and learning is always more fun when you share it with others.

Enjoy, and safe stitching!