Tag Archives: hand made

Housewarming Handmade Coasters

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A great housewarming or holiday gift for somebody is some stylish handmade coasters. I made these for my sisters, picking out fabrics specific to their personal taste and living room color schemes.

This first set used fabric to not only complement the light green sofa and chaise in my sister’s living room, but also to incorporate pink which is one of her favorite colors. I used pink contrast thread for all of the stitching.

Paisley is always a great choice for an accessory. These coasters are a perfect use of your “fat quarters” or fabric remnants in your stash.

This second set used a blue fabric to bring a pop of color to my other sister’s living room. Her furniture is a nice neutral color so you could really pick anything to accessorize it. I chose blue since this is a color theme present throughout the room (crocheted blanket, pillows, vase, etc). The contrast thread is a beautiful grey color that complements the outline of the floral stems. This sister is also very patriotic so red and blue are always an appropriate choice.

What I’m listening to as I write this post: The Actual Tigers

Fall Fashion: Cable Knit Capelet

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September is here which meals Fall (my favorite season) is right around the corner! I thought I’d kick off the season with a stylish chunky cabled ‘capelet’ in some beautiful Fall colors.

I found this free pattern from Lion Brand yarn and had to make a LOT of adjustments during the knitting process to get the shape and size correct. This was not due to errors that I was making, but rather a seemingly incorrect pattern. Looking at the pattern online now, it seems they have also made a lot of corrections since originally posting it. Too bad those weren’t handy while I was knitting it! Oh well, I still figured it out on my own.

I chose a textured multi-colored yarn to suit the season.

This was knit in the round on circular needles. For an even chunkier effect it would have been great to knit with two strands at once.

This turned out so cute! Great to throw over a basic tank or tee with some jeans and head out in the crisp Fall weather!

What I’m listening to as I write this post: iTunes shuffle: The Working Title “Thoughts on Love’s Mishaps”, The Beatles “Revolution”, Patty Griffin “Flaming Red”, The Postal Service “Clark Gable”

More Blankets!

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BIG STITCH KNIT BLANKET

My friend got married a couple of weeks ago (amazing, gorgeous wedding!) and I knew I wanted to do something special for her and her husband. I took a look at their registry and saw bedding and pillows in greys and silvers so I thought it would be great to knit a blanket that complements the set.

I knit this on massive (I mean 3 feet long and super-fat) big stitch needles. It was very awkward, to be honest. These giant needles are what created the big stitches you see in the blanket.

I mostly knit this in stockinette stitch, but I added in a bunch of reverse-stockinette stitch rows at the ends and throughout to create more texture and more of a pattern. This was knit with three strands of yarn held together: 1 Cape Cod Blue and 2 Off-White. Hopefully my friends can cozy up under this blanket all winter long.
 
 
GRANNY SQUARE BABY BLANKET

I know the photos on this one are kind of awful. At the time I took a snapshot (I believe with my 35mm camera) just so I would remember the blanket. I didn’t realize I would be doing anything with it later on.

This blanket was crocheted for a friend’s baby girl at least 12 years ago. I made up the pattern for the granny squares.

This was crocheted with a multicolor yarn. After all of the squares were completed, I sewed them together then added a crochet border.
 
 
GRANNY SQUARE COLLEGE BLANKET

When a friend of mine was midway through college she moved into her first apartment. I thought it was a perfect time to make a blanket for her.

I crocheted this about 7 years ago. And randomly, I bought the yarn in Brooklyn. I chose the cream as a neutral base and added the green accent because it was her favorite color.

I wrote the pattern for this blanket, as well. It’s actually pretty big – I could have left off the outer row of cream squares. After all of the squares were made, I sewed them together then added a crochet border – two rows of cream, a row of green then one last row of cream to finish it off.
 
 
GRANNY SQUARE WINTER BLANKET

I crocheted this blanket about 7 years ago. I don’t remember why I picked these colors. It was probably getting close to winter and pine trees were on my mind. Oh gosh, I can’t wait until winter – you walk down the streets of NYC and in every neighborhood there are Christmas tree vendors on the sidewalks. It smells so good! And an added bonus: no humidity!

(Yes, that is some of my yarn stash in the background.) The accent squares consisted of multiple colors – forest green, lace and off-white, and the base squares were crocheted with a solid forest green. Both the forest green and the lace colors were integrated into the trim.

While it’s not my favorite design that I created, this is really such a warm blanket. It’s great to wrap around yourself and cozy up in a chair.

Family Blankets

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One thing I love to make for my family members is a great blanket. It will keep them warm, decorate their home, and become a keepsake they can pass on to their kids one day. Blankets take a while to create, but are always worth the effort involved.

CABLE KNIT BLANKET

Several years ago, to accompany their newly re-done living room, I knit a blanket for my parents. It is pretty large – much bigger than I usually make.

I had an idea in my head of what I wanted the blanket to look like, incorporating braided cables, ribbing, multiple colors…

I went to work first sketching, then writing out a pattern. Since the blanket was so large, I had to knit the taupe center section separately from the maroon border pieces. Circular knitting needles only come in certain lengths. This blanket became increasingly heavy the further I knit (it was just so big). My left hand turned into what I referred to as “the claw” because of the shape my hand took from the weight it held while I knit. Yes, this is even with the bulk of the weight sitting in my lap. It took a lot of time and effort to uncurl my fingers. Haha, I never thought of the Inspector Gadget reference until now!

After knitting and assembling all of the pieces, I finished the blanket with a crocheted border.
 
 
RIDGED CROCHET BLANKET

A few years ago was my brother and sister-in-law’s first Christmas as a married couple. I decided to make a blanket for them.

To achieve the desired look, I pulled several colors and strands of yarn together and knotted them up with a giant crochet hook. The blanket was made with mostly triple crochets and chains. I used a blend of forest green, taupe and off-white yarns. My brother loves earth tones.

By crocheting through the back half of the stitch on the row below, ridges were created with the front half of the stitch. In the close-up you can see how there is a ridge every-other row (and reversed on the back side).

The blanket was crocheted all in one piece, then finished off with a border consisting of a few single crochet rows.
 
 
TRIPLE CROCHET BLANKET

My older sister was next in line for a blanket. I remember making it after she bought her house.

My sister’s furniture was mostly neutral so I wanted to give her a subtle pop of color. I went to the store with her and fibbed about who I was making a blanket for because I wanted her opinion on color. The blue was her favorite out of the options that were available. I mixed the 1 strand of blue with 2 strands of taupe yarn and again used a giant crochet hook.

This blanket was similar in pattern to the one made for my brother, but there were no ridges. This is because I crocheted through the entire stitch below instead of just half of it. This blanket was also crocheted all in one piece, then finished off with a border – 1 row of single crochet then 1 row of half double crochet if I remember correctly. I chose my yarn very carefully for these blankets so despite the spaces in the pattern, anybody wrapped up in this will be quite warm.

The blue ended up being inspiration to incorporate more color into the room. Blue throw pillows, floor vase, etc. I also made my sister some coasters with blue fabric a couple of years later (stay tuned for those photos).

Cable Knit Bag

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A few years ago I made all of my sisters knit bags for Christmas. This is a pattern I wrote myself, though it was unfortunately lost due to a leak in my apartment ceiling (more like a rainstorm!).

It was a fairly simple process to knit the bag. I wrote a pattern with cables and ribbing then knit the body as a rectangle. I stitched up the sides about 3/4 of the way. The bag was fastened to the circular bamboo handles with a whip stitch. All of the hard work really went into the finishing.

I found a gorgeous silk fabric in a tiny store in NYC’s garment district. It is a cream color with beautiful cream and pink stitching. This was used to create the lining, the inside pocket, and also to cover the removable-base (made from layers of sturdy cardboard). I added a magnetic snap closure before stitching the lining to the inside of the bag.

The three bags were identical except for the brooch on the outside – my sisters each had a different color and shape cameo brooch as the finishing touch.

Bird Mobile

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I love birds and I wanted to share this with my baby niece. I really wanted to make a bird mobile to hang above her crib so I went in search of just the right knitting pattern.

I came across a Sweet Little Bird knitting pattern from the Knitted Toy Box blog. I knew this would look great in different yarn colors, sizes and textures to give my mobile some nice variety.

I told a friend about the in-progress mobile and he showed me a pattern his sister was using for a friend. This pattern from Spool Sewing blog is for hand-sewn birds that I just fell in love with. I knew I needed to incorporate the fabric & knit birds together on the mobile.

My initial plan was to hang the birds from crossed dowels, but I ended up making too many! I decided to be resourceful and see what else I could find in my craft bin. What did I come up with?

Rings! I had some great small rings that I saved from scarves I bought at Target. Perfect! The birds would hang 5 per ring x 3 rings, all birds and rings at varying heights.

But how would I hang the 3 small rings? I needed a larger ring to solve this. My mom dug into her craft bin and found an embroidery hoop of just the right size. I used the inner ring (without the hardware).

All rings were covered with a beautiful wide teal satin ribbon that I had leftover from a garter belt project (see post from June 25, 2011). I had a thin tonal dark teal satin ribbon to use for hanging the large ring from the ceiling. At the top it is finished with a loop to hang from a ceiling hook and a bow detail.

All of the birds were attached to the rings with invisible thread so they would appear to be ‘flying’.

When my 3-month-old niece came for a visit I had the mobile hanging from a ceiling fan for its unveiling. The expression on her face upon seeing the mobile was priceless; it made all of the hard work worthwhile. She was mesmerized by the birds – the colors, the movement, the shapes, the visual of birds hanging in the air. I hope she will love looking at the mobile when my brother hangs it above her crib.

I love all of these birds! There will definitely be some more bird creation for the holidays as I think they will make great Christmas tree ornaments.

Baby Hand Knits

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Leading up to my niece entering this world a few months ago I was knitting away in anticipation of her arrival.

HONEYCOMB BABY BLANKET

I loved the “honeycomb” square pattern that I found in The Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volume Two: Cables: The Ultimate Stitch Dictionary from the Editors of Vogue Knitting Magazine (Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Series) (awesome book) and thought it would be great integrated into the blanket I wanted to make.

I took the little square pattern and expanded it to a blanket size, adding a seed stitch border. Seed stitch is one of my favorite ways to create a border on a knit baby blanket. It creates a great texture that you just want to wrap around somebody.

I used two cotton blend baby yarns (very soft!) and knit them together; white and sea green colors. The blanket was made a little bigger than a baby needs – toddler size – so my niece could be wrapped up in it as an infant, use it to stay warm when she’s a few years older, or even use it as a throw when she grows up. I love how the blanket turned out!

 

BABY BOOTIES

She also needed some little booties to keep her feet warm! My go-to pattern for baby footwear is Sullivan’s Baby Booties. Moms love them because the ribbon ties I add not only prevent the booties from falling off, but also allow you to adjust the tension around the ankles.

The first pair were knit with a beautiful green thin gauge baby yarn. They were finished off with a cream satin ribbon tie.

The second pair (made after her feet started to grow) were made with an ecru color 100% cotton yarn with pink velvet ribbon ties.

See how cute they look on her feet!

Homemade Goldfish Crackers

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I posted two weeks ago about this recipe on Miss Anthropist’s blog. My sister-in-law was over for a visit and we went to work on it!
First we worked on making our little cookie cutters.

We made goldfish (of course) in three different sizes. We also created a couple of stars for the holiday.

I picked up some delicious vegeratian white cheddar from Whole Foods (uses vegetable rennet instead of animal rennet). I love the Whole Foods cheese department. The people who work in the fromagerie have a list behind the counter of which cheeses are vegetarian.

We made the dough in the food processor and it took less than 5 minutes! We added in 1 tsp of baking soda and subbed a pinch of garlic powder for the onion powder. Then I wrapped the dough and put it in the refrigerator. We didn’t roll it out until the next day.

Since this dough was made with white cheddar, it would be very easy to add a few drops of food coloring to create colorful crackers. Red and blue stars for any patriotic holiday, colorful goldfish for your kids, green Christmas trees, orange pumpkins, or anything you can imagine!

The next day we rolled the dough out to cut up the crackers. Tip: when the dough comes out of the refrigerator it will be crumbly and hard to roll out. I found that working it in your hands for a minute to soften and bring it together made for a much easier time rolling out the dough.

After cutting the crackers out, they were placed on a silpat mat on a cookie sheet and into the oven they went.

For the first tray I put the timer on for 3 minutes less than the recipe called for to check on them and they were overdone! The second tray I cooked for a minute or two less.

The crackers were very good. They were definitely crispier the first day. Stored in a ziploc bag, they were softer the next day… but still a great snack for walking around Central Park!

Independence Day Chocolate Berry Torte

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On July 4th I went to The Berry Farm to pick some fresh red and black raspberries.

This place has great fruit and everything is chemical & pesticide free!

Freshly picked black raspberries! Half of these are destined to become dessert at our family dinner.

Next time I may have to try this jam recipe. This was posted on the back of the berry stand.

Or maybe the pie recipe will come next… this was painted on the door of the berry stand.

The above photo is the final result of my Independence Day dessert! I modified the “Cherry Glazed Chocolate Torte” recipe from Hershey’s 100th Anniversary: 100 Years of Hershey’s Favorites recipe book to suit the freshly picked berries I had on hand. And check out those amazing biscotti my sister got from Del Ponte’s Bakery!

I made the following torte recipe with modifications as noted below.

HERSHEY’S CHERRY GLAZED CHOCOLATE TORTE
(ie: Independence Day Raspberry Chocolate Torte)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Cream Layer (recipe follows)
1 can (21oz) cherry pie filling, divided (I made my own berry topping instead of using the pie filling – see below.)

Heat oven to 350*F. Grease bottom of 9-inch springform pan. In large bowl, stir together butter, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs; using spoon, beat well. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes or until cake is set. (Cake will be fudgey and will not test done.) Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Prepare Cream Layer; spread over top of cake. Spread 1 cup cherry pie filling over Cream Layer; refridgerate 3 hours. With knife, loosen cake from side of pan; remove side of pan. Serve with remaining pie filling. Garnish as desired.

CREAM LAYER

1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, softened (I used the reduced fat version.)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed (I substituted 1 cup dairy whipped cream.)

In small mixer bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until well blended. Fold in whipped topping.

TRACIE’S FRESH BERRY TOPPING

1 – 1 1/2 cup raspberries
1 – 2 tsp sugar (I added this because black raspberries are a bit more tart than red. If I used red raspberries I would not have added the sugar.)

Mix items in a small pot. Heat over med-low heat until berries cook down a little, for about 10 minutes or until desired consistency. (You still want good-sized berries, but sitting in a little sauce.

The torte was delicious! The perfect ratio of chocolate, berries and cream.

We ended the day with a walk down to the boardwalk to see the Asbury Park fireworks. We were a couple of towns down, but still had a decent view. As we were getting ready to leave we saw some of the Point Pleasant fireworks going off to the South.

The Fifth Beatle

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“If anyone was the fifth Beatle, it was Brian.” -Paul McCartney

My friend Vivek is writing and producing a film about the life of Brian Epstein, The Beatles’ manager. I constructed the website for The Fifth Beatle movie. Check it out!

The Fifth Beatle Movie