Saturday, November 10, 2012

Silk/Camel Hair Scarf

The yarn from the Woolen Rabbit has finally arrived! After having one of those, Why did I even bother to get out of bed this morning?, days it was a pleasant surprise to open my mailbox and find the yarn. I wound the yarn into a ball and started to knit with the pattern that I had chosen. After knitting 10 rows I hated the result, so I chose another pattern. I kept knitting, ripping out and starting over until I finally found a pattern that gave me the results I was looking for. Woolen Rabbit Oasis is a beautiful soft yarn (70% silk and 30% camel). The high silk content gives the yarn a lot of drape which was not suitable for the patterns that I originally chose. I finally settled on a lacy pattern that isn't very open and works well with this yarn.

Woolen Rabbit Oasis yarn-Moroccan Spice color

It's always so hard to come up with unique gifts for family and friends. Two years ago, I decided to give handmade items as gifts (paintings, knitted items). I was really nervous when the recipients opened their presents. Would they like it, what if they don't? The response was overwhelmingly positive. Not only did the recipients like their gifts but they sent thank you cards telling me how much they liked them. Since it's been so cold lately, I plan to give a lot of knitted gifts.

Brittany is living in Connecticut and gets so cold there. She really could use a knitted scarf. Brittany loves camels and has a collection of stuffed camels.  I thought that she might like a camel hair scarf. I found Woolen Rabbit Oasis yarn a blend of silk and camel hair in beautiful custom dyed colors.  I chose the Moroccan Spice, a deep rich Persian red with hints of gold for the scarf. When ordering from Woolen Rabbit, you must consider dye lots (the yarn is dyed for each order) and order enough yarn to complete your project. Oasis yarn has 375 yards to 100 gram skein. I wanted to make the scarf approximately 72 inches long and 7 inches wide, so I ordered 2 skeins of yarn to be one the safe side.

Work in progress.

 Like most of my projects, this one is beginner friendly. Beginners who know how to knit, purl and do yarn overs will be able to knit this scarf with no trouble. Woolen Rabbit Oasis has good yardage, so I only needed one skein of yarn for the scarf.

Marrakesh Scarf Directions:

1 skein Woolen Rabbit Oasis yarn (70% silk/30% camel)-Moroccan Spice

Size 5 knitting needles- I am using Addi Clicks

Gauge: 5 sts = 1 inch/ 20 sts = 4 inches  The gauge doesn't have to be exact since this is a scarf.

Using size 5 knitting needles cast on 38 stitches.

Row 1 (right side of scarf): Knit all stitches.
Row 2 : Purl all stitches
Row 3:  K1 (edge stitch), * K2 together, K2, yarn over, K1, yarn over, K2, slip one stitch knit-wise onto right needle, knit the next stitch on the left needle and pass the slipped stitch over the one that you just knit *; Repeat from * to * to last stitch, K1 (edge stitch).
Row 4:  Purl all stitches
Row 5:  K1 (edge), * K1, K2 together, yarn over, K3, yarn over, slip one stitch, K1 pass slipped stitch over, K1 *; repeat from * to * to last stitch K1 (edge).
Row 6:  Purl all stitches

Repeat rows 1-6 for pattern until desired length. Bind off stitches loosely. Lightly block the scarf with steam.

Note: My finished scarf ended up being 60 inches in length. I used one skein of Woolen Rabbit Oasis and knit until I was almost out of yarn, ending on Row 6 of the pattern.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Decorated Shipping Boxes

Lately I have been doing a lot of shipping. It seems like I am always standing in line at either the Post Office or the UPS store holding a package. I always made sure the contents of the package were attractively wrapped and made a nice presentation but I never thought about the shipping box itself. I always shipped in a plain brown box. I was reading the latest issue of Somerset Studio and there was a call for decorated envelopes and shipping boxes. The magazine staff liked getting letters and art submissions in creatively decorated envelopes and boxes.

I started thinking about it and thought, why not? My philosophy has always been why does something have to be boring and mundane just because it's functional? I was getting ready to send a package of sugar cookies off to Brittany, so why not send them in a decorated box? I could just imagine the look on her face as she saw one of my artistic creations sitting on her doorstep.

I had just finished reading, the recently published, Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals by Carla Sonheim. I drew my rendition of a cat that was featured in the book. I was pleased with the way that the cat turned out and decided to use him to decorate my shipping box. I planned to ship through UPS and they do not allow the outer shipping box to be wrapped so I decided to decorate one side of the box. UPS accepted my decorated box with no problem.

My rendition of the Cat on Page 9.

Work in progress.
Close up of colored cat drawing.

Finished box.

Directions for Decorated Shipping Box:

Brown shipping box
Grey, light purple and dark purple card stock
K&Company Jubilee Printed Paper Pad- dark purple print
Martha Stewart Butterfly paper punch and Tulip paper punch
Cricut Beyond Birthdays cartridge
Stickles Glitter Glue- blue
Decorative edge scissors
Pearlescent chalk
Picture or drawing
Colored Pencils- I used Derwent Studio Colored Pencils

1.  Scan in your drawing or picture. I opened the picture with Microsoft Picture Manager and increased the contrast and the brightness to lighten the pencil shading of the drawing.

2.  Once you are satisfied with the picture, print it on white card stock. I used the wallet size option on a photo printer.

3.  Use colored pencils to color in the image. I chose two shades of blue for the cat and added dark purple for the shading and pupils and lavender for the eye itself. Once you are satisfied with the colors, trim away the excess white card stock.

4.  Cut a piece of dark purple print card stock approximately 1/4 inch larger, on all sides, than the drawing. Glue the drawing to the card stock.

5.  Cut a piece of light grey card stock slighter smaller than the box. Glue the card stock to the box. Glue the drawing to the center of the grey card stock.

6.  Use the Cricut cartridge to cut out "Thinking of You" at 1 inch out of medium blue card stock.  Glue it to the bottom of the drawing.

7.  Punch three dark purple and three light purple butterflies out of card stock, using the Martha Stewart butterfly paper punch. Position the butterflies randomly on each side of the drawing (3 on each side) and glue in place.

8.  Use the decorative scissors to make an edging out of light purple card stock. Apply this edging to the left and right edges of the grey card stock.

9.  Using scraps of card stock and the Martha Stewart Tulip paper punch, punch a green tulip and a lavender tulip. Cut the top of the lavender tulip off and glue it over the top of the green tulip. Glue the tulip that you just made, to the lower left of the "Thinking of You" phrase.

10.  Apply the chalk to the grey card stock panel. Randomly apply blue-violet around the panel. Next apply dark purple and then light purple highlights to the panel.

11.  Apply dots of glitter glue to the butterfly"s body and wings and to the decorative border on the sides of the panel. Let the glitter glue dry completely.

You may want to seal your design to prevent damage. I sealed mine with clear shipping tape.

Update: The UPS driver liked the box and said that it brightened his day. He mentioned that it was nice to see something besides plain shipping boxes.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

So Many Yarns, So Little Time

I first started knitting when I was in college. In those days the yarns were limited to wool or acrylic-no silk, cashmere, Alpaca or any other exotic fiber. Times have changed and today's knitter has a variety of yarns available- silks, cashmere, wool and fiber blends. Thank goodness knitting has lost it's stigma as being "uncool and something that only Grannies did" and younger women are beginning to see the value in knitting. It's this renewed interest in knitting that is responsible for the beautiful yarns that we have available today,

I love knitting and am inspired by the current yarns available on the market. While I try to buy from my local yarn shop whenever possible, lately I have had to turn to the internet for yarns that my local shop doesn't stock.
Recent yarn acquisitions!

My planned projects include Jared Flood's Rock Island Shawl knit in Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace (silk/wool blend) in Grand Street Ink color, a lacy mohair top from French Girl Knits in Louet's Kid 'n Linen (mohair/ linen blend), Artyarns Cashmere 1 and Ensemble Light (cashmere/silk blend) and two more pairs of socks in Mountain Colors Crazyfoot Sun River (red blend) and Mountain Twilight ( the dark purple, blue, burgundy and brown blend- shown in front left). This yarn is a beautiful dark blend that didn't photograph well.

Fabulous Yarns was the source for Artyarns. I can't say enough good things about this company. They have prompt service (they shipped during Hurricane Sandy), they discount their yarns and they offer free patterns. I found two free shawl patterns that used one skein of yarn making it very affordable to knit with cashmere.The yarns that I purchased are beautiful and luxurious. I can't wait to knit with them. 

I am waiting for one more yarn to arrive- Woolen Rabbit's Oasis , a DK weight wool and camel blend. I am designing a pattern especially for this yarn and can't wait to get started.