Sunday, January 24, 2016

baby baa-ble hat and newborn striped hat

It's no surprise that sheep-themed knitting patterns are super popular. This Baa-ble Hat pattern was one of the most queued projects on Ravelry in 2015! I adapted the adult-sized pattern to fit a 6-9 month old baby by using smaller needles and thinner yarn (Rowan Wool-Cotton 4-ply). I finished the hat and pom pom in just 3 days over the Christmas holidays! I'm thrilled with how it turned out, and happy to continue improving my colorwork skills. Hopefully this will fit our little girl next winter! More details on my Ravelry page.

cozy birdhouse | baby baa-ble hat

I also finished this striped newborn hat recently. This hat took 3 attempts since I wasn't happy with the size on the first two. This is the same pattern as the Penn State hat I made Dan for Christmas a few years ago, just with smaller yarn and needles. More details on my Ravelry page.

cozy birdhouse | newborn striped hat

Monday, January 18, 2016

blankets galore

I now have three baby blankets folded and waiting for shower invitations to arrive in my mailbox. These don't have a recipient in mind yet, but I wanted to get a little ahead of the curve on handmade gifts while I had some free time. All three are made from Cascade Sierra yarn, which I also used for the Leafy Baby Blanket last year. I bought several skeins of this yarn on sale when it was discontinued. I love the washable wool/cotton blend for blankets.

cozy birdhouse | blankets galore

First up is the Baby Elephants blanket (Ravelry link), made in the Caramel colorway. The stitch pattern is actually called Hourglass Eyelet from Barbara G. Walker's "A Treasury of Knitting Patterns," but she notes that the reverse side looks like little elephant faces. Cute!

cozy birdhouse | baby elephants blanket

Second is the Garter Rib blanket (Ravelry link), made with Sierra Quattro in the Summerdaze colorway. This project traveled to Wales with me last year!

cozy birdhouse | garter rib blanket

Last is the Lace Meadow blanket (Ravelry link), made with Sierra Quattro in the Pink Haze colorway. I just finished this one over the Christmas holiday!

cozy birdhouse | quatrefoil eyelet pattern

Phew... that's a lot of knitting! These 3 blankets contain about 1.3 miles of yarn! Don't worry, I do take time off from knitting to leave the house occasionally. Last weekend, Dan and I saw "Kinky Boots" with tickets we received from his parents for Christmas. I must say, drag queens and Broadway are a perfect match; the show was so colorful and sparkly and fun!

cozy birdhouse | kinky boots!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

stairs: not as seen on tv

After a few small projects on our own house, I'm starting to wonder if all those home renovation shows on TV are completely staged. I bet someone actually goes in before the filming starts, pulls up the carpet, lays down the hardwood floor, and then puts the old carpet back on top... Just so they can later reveal the perfect flooring hiding underneat the icky carpet. Or, maybe our house is just older than most of the homes that get renovated on TV. It has battle scars from over 100 years worth of questionable design choices, changing trends, and makeshift repairs. Most home reno shows focus on homes less than half as old as ours!

Knowing all this, I really shouldn't have been surprised while working on our latest project: the staircase. We have two half-staircases from the front and back of our house that meet at a landing and then continue to the upstairs as one. The half staircases were both carpeted, the landing was wood, and then the main staircase was wood with a carpet runner. When we decided to replace the upstairs carpet, I had the grand idea to remove the carpet from the stairs and then tackle refinishing of the (hopefully) beautiful hardwood hiding underneath. HA! What we actually found was one half staircase stained and painted dark brown (which matched neither the floors or the other stairs) and the other half staircase covered with at least two coats of chipping paint. Worse than that, every square inch of every surface was completely covered in sticky carpet adhesive. These carpet installers were THOROUGH. That carpet was going to disintegrate (it had already started to) before it was going to shift or wrinkle or budge one inch. I still thought the wood stairs could be salvaged after a few coats of adhesive remover, some paint stripper, and a thorough sanding, but that all sounded dusty and chemically and generally miserable. Instead we just decided to re-carpet the lower portion of the stairs. The carpet runner on the main portion of the stairs removed easily (no carpet padding), and the wood underneath was nicely finished and only slightly damaged from the staples and scratchy carpet backing.

Here's the stairs with the carpet removed (accented with some blue painters tape):

cozy birdhouse | stairs before

In order to match the carpeted half-staircases to the all-wood main staircase a bit better, I decided to paint the trim white on the main staircase. I sanded and applied a little wood filler to the damaged areas, primed, caulked and painted. This process only resulted in one frustrated tearful meltdown (caulking... ARGH!). I might add another coat of polyurethane to the wood treads, but for now I'm just enjoying the pretty trim and squishy carpet!

cozy birdhouse | stairs after