Mt Kilauea in Hawaii has been constantly erupting since 1983, and was the absolute highlight of our trip. We took a boat ride out at 3 in the morning so we could see the volcano by dawn. The waves were 20ft, the lava was hot, and I lost a lens to salt water erosion after I got home. I am not ashamed to say that I was shaking as I shot this, because the combination of the high waves and the deep troughs made for one harrowing ride! To witness such a majestic sight, new land as it’s being created, was truly one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had :) I’ve added these pics to my Smugmug site, so if you’re interested in prints, check it out!
Tito and I bought a shoe rack/bench from IKEA for our front hall a few months ago. It’s a nice rack, but it was missing that element of quirky creativity that defines our home, and last night we decided it would be fun to add a customized, cushioned seat cover. It’s super easy, here’s how we did it!
Here’s our shoe rack.
I removed the top of the bench,
and also removed the side panels underneath it, to leave behind just the bench.
This is quilt batting, and it’s what I used to create a nice cushy seat. I lay the bench down on top
and used it as a template to create 4 identical stencils.
After cutting out the 4 stencils, I stacked them on top of each other and set them aside.
Then I chose my fabric cover. This is an adorable Edward Gorey’esque print that I purchased at Log Cabin Yardage last summer, and it’s been sitting in my stash waiting for just the right project. I lay the cover down on top, being careful to keep it level with the artwork in the print.
I used a straight edge to create an outline that was offset from the bench by 2 inches.
And then I moved my straight edge and created a 2nd outline, offset by 2 more inches. There is probably an easier way to do this, but this worked for me. The marker was not going to be visible in the final piece and I needed the extra fabric to make a secure join to the bench.
I cut out my fabric stencil, and laid it face down. Then I layered my quilt batting on top.
And finally, the bench itself.
I folded the sides so they were double thick, and used a staple gun to secure them in place. It’s helpful if you remember to mark where the hardware holes are as you go along so you don’t need to hunt for them when you’re adding the side panels back on.
I didn’t need to be very neat about this next bit. I folded, and stapled, and added staples where things looked messy and when I got to the corners I treated them like a clumsy-but-serviceable gift-wrapping job and added more staples to hold it all down.
Lastly, I screwed back on the side panels, and reassembled the bench.
And here is our finished result! It’s adorable, and I’m so glad I finally used that fabric.
You can see that it looks neat and tidy even at the corners, because once the bench is reassembled all the messy staple work is hidden.
Definitely an improvement ;)
One more quickie tutorial to highlight a stitch variation that I use in my Sencilla Cowl Pattern. This is a modified version of the KFB (Knit front and back) increase. The regular KFB involves knitting the same stitch twice, once through the front leg and once through the back leg. This works great, but it leaves a little purl bump on the second stitch that can really detract from a pattern that relies on clean lines and fine detail to work!
Here is the slight (and super easy!) modification.
Knit the first stitch on the left hand needle the way you normally would
but don’t slide that stitch off the needle.
Insert your right hand needle as if to knit through the back loop
but instead of knitting it, simply slide it off onto the right hand needle.
Voila! Increased by one stitch without the purl bump!
My new pattern, Sencilla utilizes a few special stitches to really finess the look and firm up the little details. In the pattern I include photo tutorials for each one, and I thought I’d include them here on the blog as well because they’re very handy to know!
The Eastern Purl creates a shorter, tighter purl than its western cousin. Have you ever worked a cable project and noticed that the first purl after a knit stitch has an ugly, loose little ladder of excess yarn? Or that the last knitted stitch is loose and sloppy looking compared to its cousins? This method of purling eliminates all that. It was critical to the design of my Sencilla cowl because I wanted a really sharp definition along the edging cables, to really frame in the centre panel.
It’s super easy, here you go!
1. Insert your right needle as if to purl
2. Bring the working yarn to the left of the needle….
3. And wrap it clockwise around the left needle (normal purls are done counter-clock-wise)
4. Slide the stitch onto the right hand needle just like you normally would.
5. When you come to that same stitch on the following row, it will be twisted.
6. Work that stitch as a regular purl or knit, but work it through the back loop.
7. This tightens the stitch and twists it into place.
New pattern today! I am so excited about this one, it’s squishy and comfy and easy to wear. Promise.
Thank you so much to Tanis Fiber Arts for supporting my pattern!
Sencilla (pronounced sen-SEE-ah) is Spanish for simple. Not simple, as in plain, but simple as in elegant. This cowl is just that; a simple, elegant cross between a bandana and a traditional cowl that’s easy to knit, wear and accessorize.
Using just one skein of a luxury DK weight yarn, the cowl knits up quickly and feels delicious against your skin. Its unique shape provides warmth without bulk both at the back of the neck and at that awkward triangle where your jacket opens.
Sencilla is begun at the bottom point and worked upwards in a triangle until it’s wide enough to go around your neck comfortably, at which point you join in the round to continue working upwards. A delicate little 4-stitch cable combined with a slip-stitch edging gives the piece a beautiful finish on the sides, while a single row of crisply defined stockinette stitches frames the textural centre panel. All-over patterning means this cowl will work equally well with variegated and tonal yarns. The cables join to form a beautiful detail behind the neck. Finally, an i-cord bind-off defines the top edge.
All these little details come together to create a comfortable, sencilla cowl.
Small: 22 inches at the shoulders, 19 inches at the chin
Large: 24 inches at the shoulders, 21 inches at the chin
2 special stitches are used, and step-by-step photo tutorials are provided for each one. The reference to grafting, I-cord and provisional cast-on are for the optional I-cord bind off at the top of the cowl, and step-by-step photo tutorials are provided for this as well.
The rest of the cowl is a comfortable knit, mindless in the middle with just enough detail on the edges to keep you interested :) Because of the special stitches however, I recommend that a novice knitter consider getting assistance at their LYS with the first and second charts of the pattern.
For years sock knitting mystified me. You’re heard the argument before; why would you spend so much effort, thousands of tiny stitches, expensive hand-dyed yarn, and countless hours, why would you combine all those things and put the results on your feet?
To answer the question, all you’ve got to do is dedicate enough time to knit yourself a pair, just one pair. Even better, knit someone else a pair. Because hand-knit socks feel like heaven on your feet and fit like nothing that you’ll ever buy in a store. And gifted hand-knit socks? There’s nothing better!
When my mom put these on she immediately started gushing about how comfortable and warm they were. She loves them so much, that when I was only half way through she insisted on wearing her singular sock around the house. That level of delight is enough to inspire a daughter to knit many, many more pairs of socks (even if mom does want her next pair to be all black).
If you are new to sock knitting, and looking to see what the rest of us are raving about, I totally recommend the pattern Shireen, designed by Rayna. While I confess that I’m a little biased (you know, because Ray is the best sock knitter EVER (ok, maybe more than a little biased)) I can also tell you that this is a great beginner pattern because it’s easy to follow, straight-forward stockinette and it’s an ankle sock, which means that you work only a little bit of leg before getting into the fun part. After that it’s a cruise down the foot, and before you know it you’re done.
Best of all, these socks take only one skein of koigu for the small size, and you can get a pair of large sized ones out of a single skein of Rhichard Devrieze. Have I sold you yet? Who doesn’t have a gorgeous, variegated single 50g skein of lonely sock yarn?
And for the more experienced sock knitters out there, Rayna just released a new pattern called Signal Hill and it’s next up on my list for socks. It features gorgeous cables down the front, and it’s written for DK weight yarn. Mmm…. DK weight socks… winter is coming!
I’ve decided to add some of my favourite shots from my black and white study of New York City to my smugmug photography site. I love the vibe of NYC, and, though it’s impossible to capture more than a tiny percentage of everything this city has to offer, I felt that these were worth sharing :)