Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Making Pom Poms...

There are a lot of people who have issues with pom-poms. I used to be one of them. Frustration each time I tried to make one of the stupid things, throwing scissors across the room, tossing the little plastic circles like ninja stars, you know, the usual. But, I liked the idea of using them as Christmas ornaments because the kids couldn’t break them.

I think my problem was the little disks that you can buy weren’t thick enough, nor were they big enough. Sure, they make great little bitty poms, but really big, substantial ones? Nope. So, here is my way to make the little buggers…

You will need: Yarn (I like using a chunky one – Homespun from Lion Brand works really well. It’s chunky, and frays really nicely when you are done), a big yarn needle, cardboard, scissors.

Step one: Cut your cardboard into circles… any size you want, but remember, this will determine the size of your pom. I make various sizes, anywhere from two inches across to five inches across for super big poms. Cut a second circle in the center. I usually stab the scissors right through the center and cut around. These don’t have to be perfect. This is a very forgiving project.

Step two: Thread your yarn needle with about 12 feet of yarn… pull straight through so you have two equal lengths of 6 feet on either side of your needle. You will have to repeat this process several times, but any longer, the yarn gets really tangled.

Step three: Holding your two cardboard circles together, push your needle down through the center hole – all the way through until the end. Grab hold of the end of the yarn, and wrap your needle around the outside of the cardboard circles, and push it back down through the hole. Repeat this process around the cardboard circles until you run out of yarn. Then, repeat steps two and three until your center hole is “full”. Don’t worry about stray ends; they become part of the pom.

Step four: Cutting. Take your scissors and around the outside of the pom, cut your strands. I recommend holding the pom tightly during this process. Mine don’t usually go anywhere, but you never know.

Step five: Taking a strand (I usually make mine pretty long), carefully pull apart your cardboard disks – SLIGHTLY. Wrap your strand of yarn around the center of the pom, between the disks. Tie very tightly (but don’t snap your yarn!)

Step six: Gently pull the cardboard disks off. This takes some working, and if need be, don’t be afraid to carefully make a cut from the outside of the disk to the center. That’s the nice thing about using cardboard.

Step seven: Fluff and trim! Using your scissors, give your pom a hair cut to make it even.

Step eight: If you used a long strand of yarn, then make a little knot near the end and you can hang it on your tree, tie it on your package, or do whatever you like, as is! Or, if you’re using them for a different type of project, simply trim the strands even with the ball! These are terrific for households with little kids - no ornament breakage.

Whoo hooo! Do a happy dance because…. YOU’RE DONE!

Other Projects... Non Christmas (i.e. FOR ME!)

Since the holiday rush is done and over at our house... I got everything done a week before Christmas!  Yippee for me!  Now, I've decided to take the rest of December and make things for me (and maybe a couple Etsy quickies... the shop is pretty bare).  There are a few things that I have been planning for a while that I just haven't gotten to.  I have a few custom orders waiting in the wings, but they know I'm taking two weeks for me.  :)  It helps when they are your aunt and a friend you've had for almost a decade!

Okay, so I needed some new jammies pretty badly. I usually buy them about once every five years or so... yeah, really.  This time though, instead of blowing $30 on one set of the Nick and Nora ones that I love, I went and found these two AWESOME fabrics at JoAnn's.  Not the gnomies I was trying to replace, but I am totally okay with Superman and  some little owls.  This way I have either Super awesome dreams about being a superhero... or I pay homage to my favorite owl, Hedwig!  :)

And now the exciting news:  MY FIRST PAIR OF SOCKS!  I've been knitting for almost ten years, but only seriously for about the last three or four. I've been really impressed with how far I've come along, but for some reason, socks just seemed really daunting to me.  I'm glad I found the pattern I did.  It made sense, was simple, and was also forgiving.  It called for a size two needle, I only had a three, and it came out just fine.  :)  (I, of course, then promptly went out and got the twos for my next sock project, that is currently in progress)

Rarely do I actually use the yarn that the pattern calls for, let alone in the same colorway, but this one actually turned out to be an easy pattern that was advertised on the label... go figure.  Anyway, these were done with the Red Heart Heart and Sole with Aloe in Razzle Dazzle.  A self striping and self patterning yarn, these went a lot faster than I was expecting and I am thrilled with the results... I love funsie socks.  :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lion Brand Projects

So, as much as I love shopping at my LYS (any one of the 6 that I frequent) there is a Michaels about 3 minutes away from my house and, well, they have coupons.  One of the ways I keep my prices low is that, well, I'm kind of... cheap.  Okay, let's rephrase that.  How about thrifty?  I am always on the look out for a great deal - even when I am shopping at an LYS.  (I can say that all of my Christmas presents are either handmade or from local merchants).  The reason that I like the Lion Brand line of products is because while on the inexpensive side, they are also good quality.  That allows me to create some pretty cool stuff, while not breaking the bank.

Two of the projects that I have been working on this week have been a set of French Press Knit's Felted slippers and also a scarf for a repeat client who I went to Junior High and High School with.

Project number one... French Press' felted slippers.  Very rarely do I pay for individual patterns - I'll go and get a book that has something similar in it instead, but this one (and it's great reviews) got me.  It's super fast to knit up, and looks like it took forever!  I'm not the world's greatest (or most experienced) felter, but even for me, these came out pretty good!  Unfortunately, I'm a dingbat and forgot to take a "All the way done, with the button, and non-slip stuff on the bottoms" picture... but, here's the process shots!

Strings tied to the front, and a different one tied to the left slipper
I used the Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool in the solid brown, but I think that any of those colors would have looked great.  I really like how this particular product felts up, and really, the whole felting process only took about 20 minutes.  Total estimated time on this project?  About three and a half hours.  TOTALLY worth the seven dollars I paid for the pattern!

The second project of this week (so far - welcome to Christmas crafting, right?) is this totally cute scarf.  I had a version of this up on Etsy last winter with a portion of the proceeds being donated to Autism Speaks.  This year, I'm doing something a little bit different and making a bunch of goodies for an organization called "Warmth for All".  In any event, these particular scarves are made from the Lion Brand Homespun collection.  I like this particular yarn because it is soft, and because it is a synthetic, it has very easy care guidelines.  This scarf is created using a seed/moss stitch as the base and has a cable running along one side to give it an asymmetrical detail.  Slightly cooler than just your basic scarf, but not crazy difficult to accomplish either.  I will be putting this up as a pattern later this week.

Cable detailing

So, in the meantime... I still have several knit projects left to finish before the big day.... however, right now, I'm off to spend some time with my sewing machine making some bags for another sister in law's family...