Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Old Shale Shawl from March KnitCrate

I have been having so much fun with my KnitCrate subscription!  If you haven't heard of KnitCrate before, it's essentially a knitter's dream.  Each box contains two knitting patterns (one beginner and one intermediate/advanced), yarn to make the project, and a surprise extra.  I've now unboxed three different KnitCrate boxes over on my YouTube channel, but today I wanted to specifically talk about the project from my March box!  So, this month I got to make this beautiful Old Shale Shawl from Knit One Crochet Too.


In all my years of knitting, can you believe I've never made a shawl before?  I guess I just never thought I'd use one, but this one turned out so well, and it's so pretty, that I think this summer I'll be looking for any excuse to wear it!  It's knit with Knit One Crochet Too's Crock-o-Dye yarn, and I don't remember the specific colors, but I think I used Merlot and Deep Plum.  If you've been around a while, you've probably figured out that these two colors are staples in my wardrobe, and it might surprise you to know that it was completely random that I ended up with them!


This pattern was the intermediate/advanced pattern from my KnitCrate, and I really wouldn't recommend it for someone just getting into knitting.  As I'm sure you can see, there's a lot of lacework involved, and you definitely want to know how to read a chart before diving in.  That said, it was still really fun to work up, and kept my mind engaged the entire time!


Like I said earlier, though, this box does also include a beginner's pattern, so if you're looking into this box, but intimidated by a project like this, don't worry!  There are also a couple other options, including a CrochetCrate and a KnitCrate Socks!  I was able to try out the KnitCrate Socks box back in February, and I have to say, I was very impressed!  I may have to get a subscription to that box as well at some point.  For now, though, I'm going to turn my attention to my April KnitCrate!  You'll want to head over to my YouTube channel later today to see what I got in that box!

*This box is sent to me for review.  However, all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Prepping Evelyn for Walt Disney World

I know I'm planning a little far ahead, but I've mentioned before that next January my mom's entire family is going to be going down to Walt Disney World.  If you haven't heard me talk about this, then you may be wondering why on earth we would be bringing our daughter, who will be turning one at the time, all the way from Minnesota to Florida when she's not going to remember any of it.  Well, to be completely honest, it's not for her so much as it is for the rest of us.  We're going down for the 25th Anniversary Marathon Weekend, and I'm so excited to say that I will be running the marathon! 

Completing the Disney Marathon has been a dream of mine for such a long time, and the fact that I will be there for the 25th Anniversary makes it even more special!  Of course, since I've started training and preparing to fulfill this longtime goal, I've also started prepping Evelyn's closet for the occasion with a few items from the babyGap.  I doubt that these items will still be available by the time we go, so I thought I'd share them, now.


The first piece I picked up was this little Dumbo dress that I'd been eyeing long before we knew we were having a girl.  In fact, I told myself that if we did have a girl, I would allow myself to get it for her.  The morning after Evelyn was born, I was on my phone in the hospital looking at it again, but it actually took me a few more weeks to purchase it.  I love this dress so much, and not only for how pretty it is.  When Joe and I were trying to get pregnant, I had thrown around the idea of doing a Dumbo themed nursery, mostly because I love the song Baby Mine and elephants.  I ended up deciding on a minimalistic woodland theme, but you can still see elephants in her nursery, and I love singing Baby Mine to comfort her.


Fitting more with Evelyn's woodland nursery, I also picked up this sweater with Thumper from Bambi on it.  I honestly wish this sweater came in my size, and maybe sometime I can figure out how to knit one, but in the meantime, I'll just love it on her.  I think you could pair this sweater with just about any color leggings, though I'll likely go for a pair of classic black ones.  I really hope she's toddling around by the time she fits into it, but she's also in the 85th to 95th percentiles for her height and weight, so we'll see!


I also had to get her a couple of princess items.  Since the live action Beauty and the Beast came out this year, and the animated version has been my favorite Disney movie since it came out in 1991, I had to pick up this adorable little dress with a cream and navy striped bodice and navy tulle skirt.  It features a gold silhouette of Belle in her ball gown, with just a pop of hot pink for the rose in her hand.  I love the little "French" details incorporated in this dress.  For example, I always think of Parisian fashion when I see stripes like these, and the bodice is made of a French Terry - though, I don't know that French Terry is actually French.


Finally, I got her this light blue Cinderella t-shirt.  There's not much of a story behind this one - I just thought it was pretty, and it's made out of a nice cotton and polyester blend that should keep Evelyn from overheating on a particularly nice day.  There are similar shirts featuring Ariel, Elsa, or Anna, but Cinderella was the first Disney movie I watched when we brought her home, and it's a classic.


I'll probably still get her a few more things here and there, since she'll definitely be wearing these dresses and tops quite a bit even once we get home.  However, I haven't fully decided if I want to save them for our trip.  Everything is in size 12-18 months, so theoretically, Evelyn should just be growing into them, but as I mentioned before, she's big for her age.  We'll just have to play it by ear.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Our Life Forever Changed

On January 23, 2017, at 11:23pm, we were blessed with the most beautiful baby girl.  We named her Evelyn Ann, and I may be biased, but I think she's absolutely perfect.  I don't want to go into detail concerning her birth, but if you're interested, you can check out My Labor and Delivery Story on YouTube.  Instead, I want to talk about how much has changed since she's come into our world.

Obviously having a baby turns everything upside-down.  All of a sudden, I've gone from having all the freedom in the world to being a servant to this two-foot-tall human being.  It can be incredibly draining, but I have to admit - I love it!  Our house is an absolute mess with dishes piled in the sink, soiled baby clothes thrown in the corner of our living room, and I'm lucky if I can get through the day without throw up in my hair.  But, those little fingers and toes, her cuddles, and that sweet little smile she gives me every time I walk into the room makes everything completely worth it.


I think Joe and I have adjusted pretty well to being parents, but one of the hardest things we've had to do is continue to make our marriage a priority.  We're both absolutely in love with Evelyn, but it can sometimes be difficult to remember that we need to put each other first - especially when we're both running on fumes.  I know the idea of putting your spouse above your child can be polarizing, but the way I see it is that to provide Evelyn with a stable environment where she knows exactly what is and isn't acceptable, Joe and I need to be a united front. 

Continuing to go out on dates has really helped us keep this mindset, though I have to admit, leaving for our dates isn't as much fun as it used to be.  I've gotten so used to being with Evelyn all the time that even the idea of leaving her for a couple of hours is really difficult.  Luckily, I have quite a few friends and family around that remind me how necessary these nights are, and are always willing to babysit for us!  Besides, once we're out, we always have a good time!


My favorite part of parenting by far is watching her learn new things!  I still remember showing Joe when she learned she could track people with her head.  She was in her car seat, and I walked from one side to the other.  It was as if she knew she was showing off a new trick, and had the biggest smile on her face!  Then, all of a sudden she's two months old, and has learned even more new things like how to grasp things with her hands, and how to roll from her stomach to her back!

She's smiling more and more each day, and although she has moments where she definitely likes to be by herself, she seems to want to spend more time with me.  I know I'm her source of food, but it's to the point where she's almost manipulative.  For example, I've put her down in her crib for a nap, and she'll start crying as though something is wrong.  Then, as soon as she sees me, she gives me the most adorable smile, and will refuse to fall asleep unless I lie down next to her.  We're still working on getting her into her crib, but she's only little once, so I'm okay taking it slow!


She's really been an absolute doll, and every day I thank God for her.  I'm so excited to see her continue to learn about the world around her, and see what kind of person she grows up to be.  She already has such a sweet and slightly mischievous personality emerging, and while I know every stage will have its challenges, I already know this path we're on is going to be worth it!  I have been trying to vlog a little bit of our new life, and if you're interested in seeing our little family grow up, certainly head over to my second channel, Brightwood Chateau!  These days are so precious to me, and I'm glad I'll have at least some days recorded to look back on.

Monday, December 19, 2016

How to Knit: Basic Mittens

A week or two ago, I put up a Cabled Mitten Pattern, and said that I would be putting up a basic mitten pattern soon.  Well, here it is!  I love this pattern, because even though it does look like a basic mitten, it also incorporates some more advanced techniques, as well.  It's also a versatile pattern, in that it can be worn on its own, layered together for added warmth, or used as a lining for other mittens. Personally, because I live in North Central Minnesota, I would highly recommend at least doubling them up for the added warmth and wind resistance, but it's entirely up to you!

Although I don't do this with all of my patterns, I did also decide to film a video talking through each of the steps of this pattern, so if you get confused, or aren't sure about a particular abbreviation, you can see how it's done here:


Materials
  • 1 Skein Baby Bee yarn in Naked
  • Size 7 Needles (or size needed to obtain guage)
  • Yarn Needle
Guage
20sts and 24 rows = 4"/10cm over St st.

Mitten (Make 2)
Cast on 48sts.
Rows 1-10: (k2, p2) across.
Row 11 (RS): (k14, k2tog) 3 times - 45sts.
Riw 12 (and all WS rows): purl.
Work St st until piece measures 3.5"/8.5cm from beg, ending on a WS row.
Thumb Gusset
Row 1: k21, kfb, kfb, k22 - 47sts.
Row 2 (and all WS rows): purl.
Row 3: k21, kfb, k2, kfb, k22 - 49sts.
Row 5: k21, kfb, k4, kfb, k22 - 51sts.
Row 7: k21, kfb, k6, kfb, k22 - 53sts.
Row 9: k21, kfb, k8, kfb, k22 - 55sts.
Row 11: k21, kfb, k10, kfb, k22 - 57sts.
Thumb
Row 1: k21, kfb k12, kfb, turn.
Row 2: p15, turn.
Row 3: k15, turn.
Repeat Rows 2-3 4 times more.
Row 4: p2tog 7 times, p1, turn.
Row 5: k2tog 4 times.
Break yarn, and thread tail through rem sts.  Pull tight.
Hand
Join yarn and k far 22sts.  Beg with purl row, work St st until piece measures 8"/20cm from beg, ending on a WS row.
Row 1: (ssk, k18, k2tog) twice - 40sts.
Row 2 (and all WS rows): purl.
Row 3: (ssk, k16, k2tog) twice - 36sts.
Row 5: (ssk, k14, k2tog) twice - 32sts.
Row 7: (ssk, k12, k2tog) twice - 28sts.
Row 9: (ssk, k10, k2tog) twice - 24sts.
Row 10: purl.
Bind off rem 24 sts using Kitchener St.  Seam side of thumb and hand, weaving in all loose ends.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Christmas Terrarium

I love the look of the classic terrarium packed with succulents, but I'm such a terrible gardener, that I can kill even the heartiest of plants.  So, although I've looked through several tutorials on how to put them together, I've never actually tried it myself.  Now that it's winter, though, I've noticed a new trend popping up all over Pinterest - a Christmas terrarium!  These snowglobe-like scenes require very little work to put together, and absolutely no upkeep, which is perfect for my scatterbrained mind.

All you really need is a glass jar with a lid, some artificial snowflakes, a few decorations - I used a tree from Department 56 and a little red model car - and if you really want to make it look elegant, a candle pedestal.
Fill the bottom of the jar with the artificial snowflakes.
Arrange your Christmas scene.
Then add the lid to the glass jar and place on candle pedestal, if desired.
That's all there is to it.  I love how minimalistic and elegant this particular terrarium is, but as I'm sure you've guessed, you can make it as extravagant or casual as you'd like, and it's easy to fit to your d├ęcor!  This would be particularly easy if you already have a Christmas village in your home - you can use a terrarium to showcase one or two of your favorite pieces!  I think they're so pretty, and I would love to look at even more.  If you've created a Christmas terrarium in your home, please share a picture with me via Twitter or Instagram!  I'd love to see it!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

How to Knit: Cabled Mittens

I'm not sure what it is, but each winter I find myself in need of new mittens.  It's not that I get sick of my old ones - somehow they just disappear between when I store them away for the summer, and when I go to look for them again when it gets cold.  Of course, I can't complain too much, because that simply means that I get to knit a new pair, and see what kind of design I can come up with for the year.

These particular mittens are based off the Fingerless Mitts pattern from last year, but are a bit more complex, given that not only is there quite a bit of cabling, there's also a bit of shaping involved with the thumb.  On their own they're not the warmest, but next week I'll be posting a basic mitten pattern that I like to use as a lining.  The added layer makes them much warmer, and I would highly recommend doing that.  I think they've turned out beautifully, though, and I hope you agree!

Materials
  • 1 Skein Baby Bee Sweet Delight in Naked
  • Size 7 knitting needles
  • Yarn needle
  • Cable needle
Stitch Glossary
CB4: sl 2 sts to cn and hold to back, k2, then k2 from cn.
CF4: sl 2 sts to cn and hold to front, k2, then k2 from cn.

Right Mitten
Cast on 48 sts.
Rows 1-10: (k2, p2) across.
Row 11 (RS): knit.
Row 12 (and all WS rows): purl.
Row 13: k1, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, k23.
Row 15: k3, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k25.
Row 17: k5, C4B, k8, C4F, k27.
Row 19: k3, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k25.
Row 21: k1, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k23.
Thumb Gusset
Row 1: k1, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, kfb, kfb, k21.
Row 3: k3, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k2, kfb, k2, kfb, k21.
Row 5: k5, C4F, k8, C4B, k4, kfb, k4, kfb, k21.
Row 7: k3, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k2, kfb, k6, kfb, k21.
Row 9: k1, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, kfb, k8, kfb, k21.
Row 11: k1, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, kfb, k10, kfb, k21.
Thumb
Row 1: k3, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k2, kfb, k12, kfb, turn.
Row 2: p15, turn.
Row 3: k15, turn.
Repeat Rows 2-3 4 times.
Row 4: p2tog 7 times, k1, turn.
Row 5: k2tog 4 times.
Break yarn, thread tail through remaining sts and pull tight.
Hand
Row 1: k remaining 21 sts on palm of hand.
Row 2: p21, m1, p26.
Row 3: k5, C4B, k8, C4F, k27.
Row 4 (and all WS rows): purl.
Row 5: k3, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k25.
Row 7: k1, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k23.
Row 9: k1, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, k23.
Row 11: k3, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k25.
Row 13: k5, C4F, k8, C4B, k27.
Row 15: k3, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k25.
Row 17: k1, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k23.
Top of Mitten
Row 1: ssk, k7, C4B, C4F, k7, k2tog, k22.
Row 3: ssk, k4, C4B, k4, C4F, k4, k2tog, k22.
Row 5: ssk, k1, C4B, k8, C4F, k1, k2tog, ssk, k18, k2tog.
Row 7: ssk, k2, C4F, k4, C4B, k2, k2tog, ssk, k16, k2tog.
Row 9: ssk, k3, C4F, C4B, k3, k2tog, ssk, k14, k2tog.
Row 11: ssk, k2, C4B, C4F, k2, k2tog, ssk, k12, k2tog.
Row 13: ssk, k10, k2tog, ssk, k10, k2tog.
Bind off remaining 24 sts using Kitchener st.

Left Mitten
Cast on 48 sts.
Rows 1-10: (k2, p2) across.
Row 11 (RS): knit.
Row 12 (and all WS rows): purl.
Row 13: k23, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, k1.
Row 15: k25, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k3.
Row 17: k27, C4B, k8, C4F, k5.
Row 19: k25, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k3.
Row 21: k23, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k1.
Thumb Gusset
Row 1: k21, kfb, kfb, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, k1.
Row 3: k21, kfb, k2, kfb, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k2, k3.
Row 5: k21, kfb, k4, kfb, C4F, k8, C4B, k4, k5.
Row 7: k21, kfb, k6, kfb, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k2, k3.
Row 9: k21, kfb, k8, kfb, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k1.
Row 11: k21, kfb, k10, kfb, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, k1.
Thumb
Row 1: k21, kfb, k12, kfb, turn.
Row 2: p15, turn.
Row 3: k15, turn.
Repeat Rows 2-3 4 times.
Row 4: p2tog 7 times, k1, turn.
Row 5: k2tog 4 times.
Break yarn, thread tail through remaining sts and pull tight.
Hand
Row 1: k3, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k3 remaining sts.
Row 2: p26, m1, p21.
Row 3: k27, C4B, k8, C4F, k5.
Row 4 (and all WS rows): purl.
Row 5: k25, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k3.
Row 7: k23, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k1.
Row 9: k23, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, k1.
Row 11: k25, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k3.
Row 13: k27, C4F, k8, C4B, k5.
Row 15: k25, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k3.
Row 17: k23, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k1.
Top of Mitten
Row 1: k22, ssk, k7, C4B, C4F, k7, k2tog.
Row 3: k22, ssk, k4, C4B, k4, C4F, k4, k2tog.
Row 5: ssk, k18, k2tog, ssk, k1, C4B, k8, C4F, k1, k2tog.
Row 7: ssk, k16, k2tog, ssk, k2, C4F, k4, C4B, k2, k2tog.
Row 9: ssk, k14, k2tog, ssk, k3, C4F, C4B, k3, k2tog.
Row 11: ssk, k12, k2tog, ssk, k2, C4B, C4F, k2, k2tog.
Row 13: ssk, k10, k2tog, ssk, k10, k2tog.
Bind off remaining 24 sts using Kitchener st.

Finishing
Seam side of mitten and thumb.  Weave in remaining ends.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Purpose Jewelry

There's an account on Instagram that I've been following for quite some time, called Purpose Jewelry.  I love it.  The pieces are beautiful, the photos are gorgeous, and even better: they have an amazing mission.  Purpose Jewelry is a brand that works with International Sanctuary to provide professional opportunities to young women that have been rescued from sex trafficking.  Each piece of jewelry is handcrafted by one of these women, providing them with a means of supporting themselves, along with job training and experience.

I love the fact that there's such an emphasis on providing these women with a way to regain their independence, as I believe that's an important part of the healing process.  I remember the first time I was exposed to this notion while studying abroad in Oslo, Norway.  We had taken a tour of a facility in which women who had been rescued from sex trafficking were taught how to give manicures, pedicures, and other spa treatments right alongside women who had not been involved in this industry.  This not only provided the rescued women with job training and opportunities, but also helped reintegrate them into society.   

As I mentioned earlier, the pieces themselves are also stunning.  The necklace featured in today's post is my first piece from Purpose Jewelry, the Lunette Necklace in silver.  It's such a unique piece of jewelry that, while minimalistic in design, is also a bit of a statement.  Based off a traditional bar necklace, the curved elements create a beautiful crescent moon shape.  Although I hadn't realized when I picked it out, this lunar silhouette is a wonderful daily reminder to think of others in this world that may not be as fortunate as I have been, considering the moon is something everyone around the world can see.  This time of year, it can be easy to be charitable.  There are opportunities everywhere.  But, people don't just need help around Christmas.  There are people in need around the world all the time.

That being said, I do also want to point out what an amazing gift a piece from Purpose Jewelry could be for the holidays.  Not only would you be giving a beautiful piece of jewelry to someone special in your life, but you would also be supporting the International Sanctuary and letting others know about this organization.  I fully intend to pick up a few items for some of my friends and family, and maybe the Lunette Earrings for myself. 
For more information on Purpose Jewelry, check out their website, purposejewelry.org, and also the video provided below.