Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm Still Alive

Wow, I haven't posted in awhile. Yes, I am still alive. I just haven't had much to say, I guess, and I've spent most of my blogging time updating the Knits For Needs blog. Also, I have been terrible about taking pictures of my knitting, unless it is for Knits For Needs, in which case those pics go on the KFN site.

I just started working on my first ever blanket/afghan!! Since I'm not great at following a pattern, unless it is amigurumi, I am just knitting 15 inch x 15 inch squares and sewing them together. I knit like I cook: no recipes needed, just throw it together :) Before I sew, or is it knit(?), them together, I need to do some research about how this is done. I did watch one YouTube video this morning and I think I found out how I'm going to attempt it. Here's the video: The method I think I'll use is called "Weaving". It looks simple enough.

I recently did a craft fair at my kids' school and it did not go so well. I displayed about 15 hats, 15 scarves, and a multitude of cell phone cozies, purses, and coinpurses. To see a pic of these items, scroll down to the previous post.. they're all pictured there. In previous years, I have done well at this craft fair, but this year I think, with all of the economic hardship people are having to deal with, people just did not want to part with their money. I think they were looking for cheap trinkets, and that is not what I specialize in. Oh well, there is always next year. I really should look for other craft fairs in which to participate, but I'm not sure what holds me back. I mean, I've got a bin full of beautiful items.. I should sell them. Should I open an Etsy shop? Food for thought.

Another item on my needles is an amigurumi monkey. I found it at this site that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE: Another GREAT shop for knit amigurumi is Jelly Bums.

My husband has this week off for Thanksgiving, so do the kids, and I happen to have today off so we're all piling into the car in a few minutes to eat at IHOP... Yum!! I think I'll go see if everyone is ready...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Butterflies and Trees

This is a pretty random posting, but I'd like to share a couple pictures. The first one is of a beautiful Tiger Swallowtail butterfly I took yesterday in my backyard. Isn't it pretty? It took a couple shots because it kept moving around (expletives did escape my mouth more than once), but I finally got this perfect shot. My husband is pretty knowledgeable about different flora and has landscaped our entire yard with his bare hands. Apparently many of the plants and flowers growing in our yard attract butterflies because they are all over the place... these gorgeous Tiger Swallowtails as well as the black version of them, which I will attempt to capture a picture of as well.
The second picture I'm sharing is a painting that I painted with acrylic paints on canvas a couple years ago. I love the starkness of the black and white, and, for me, it sort of signifies my struggle with Bipolar Disorder, the black and whites being the polar opposites of one another, just like the highs and lows that I experience. This painting hangs in our dining room and matches perfectly. The whole dining room is black and white, very simplistic and modern. I love to paint and I am blessed with periods of extreme creative energy. I didn't say I was any good :), just that I love painting and that it is such a great expression of who I am as a person. I will share more of my paintings soon.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fiber Arts Friday

Please visit and read Fiber Arts Friday on Alpacafarmgirl's blog... Merf's Turf and Knits For Needs are listed there today!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Knitting Fun

I've been up to lots of knitting, but barely any blogging, so I have lots to post today! I recently went on a girl's trip with my three best buds from high school. Three of us drove up to St. Louis to visit the fourth of our high school gang. Just to give you an idea of how long ago that was, we graduated from Lassiter High School in Marietta, GA in 1991. Time flies! Here is a picture of us, all grown up :) That's me, Merf, all the way to the left, the one blinding you with her shiny chin.

As a souvenier of our 2009 girl's trip, which was a big deal to me because I have been married for 11 years (Aug 8!) and NEVER been on a girl's only trip, to the horror of my friends, I knit cell phone cozies for each of us. None of my friends knit, so they probably don't appreciate them as much as I do, but I think these cozies are pretty cool. I have made a couple for my new blackberry, which I also love so much I've given it a gender and a name. Her name is Pippy. (I'm half joking, ok? I'm not crazy :))

So I'm about to post pictures of all the things I've been knitting over the past few months, for all of you wondering if I ever get off Twitter long enough to do anything else, and you will probably wonder how I manage to raise three kids, manage a knitting charity as well as knit a lot of items for the charity, and still manage to knit all these things for an upcoming craft fair. The answer is, I have no idea. I always wish there was more time in a day so I can do more, and knit more, but when I dragged out all the items I've finished to take pictures, I realized I HAVE knit quite a bit! I should open up an Etsy shop. I am seriously thinking of it. What do you think? Someone wants to profile me on their blog, so I thought maybe I should have a shop in place when that is published. Hhhmm.. food for thought.

Meet Mr. Bean! My son loved him so much he sleeps with him, which is the ultimate compliment to a crafter, of course. I am currently working on another Mr. Bean for my other son, who insists on having one. I think I'll make one ear blue on this second rendition so we can tell the two apart, although that probably is not necessary since I made one small boo boo and there is a tiny hole in this one. As I've mentioned before, I'm still a novice so I don't know how to fix mistakes in knitting! I just try not to make them. Mr. Bean comes from a pattern by the great Amy Gaines. Here is her shop:

I have a craft fair coming up in November. It is at the kids' school and I love to participate in it every year. I have knit about 15 scarves, mostly long, fluffy ones, for it so far. By November I will have about 20 to display. The pic of the scarves really does not do the scarves justice at all... they are much prettier in person :) I need one of those dress forms or something so I can display them better. Where can I get one?

I have knit many purses, small coinpurses, and cell phone sock/cozies as well. Some of these are knit with wool that I obtained from frogging sweaters from Goodwill, which I LOVE to do and can't wait till the sweaters come back this Fall so I can frog to my heart's content. I also used jute for one of the purses. Can you guess which one? It is the orange/brown one on the bottom. I used jute and beautiful orange wool to knit that particular purse. It appears reddish in the pic, but it is actually more orange in person.

Also, I have knit some hats, some of which have a matching scarf.

Thanks for visiting my blog and reading about the knitting I've been up to! Comments/questions/suggestions/etc. welcomed!
**Please note that all donations for Knits For Needs are used for the charity only. I use my personal yarn for everything non-charity related**

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Amigurumi Fun - Jelly Bean

I finished my second amigurumi, Jelly Bean, and feel like I think this is something I'm really going to enjoy doing. It is a bit tedious, but there is a lot of fun within the tediousness :) It is pretty cool to see some ordinary looking yarn turn into something so cute, especially knowing that I'm the one who did it.

The pattern for Jelly Bean is by Amy Gaines:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Here is my very first knit amigurumi!! I'm not actually sure what the definition of amigurumi is, so I'm not sure if this is one or just a knit toy, but whatever it is, I'm so proud of it! I didn't think I'd be able to knit something like this because I'm a novice knitter and have always stuck to hats and scarves, but I did it! It is a bit rough around the edges, as you can see, but not bad for a first try.

It is a bit bigger than I thought it would be, which is good. I took a pic of my youngest son holding it to demonstrate the size.
I'm so proud of this cute owl that I have named him... his name is Jorje - ha!
Here is the original pattern by Amy Gaines:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tea Cup Candles

For Mother's Day gifts, I decided I'd use a great "green" idea I saw in a Martha Stewart "

Green Crafts" link. The idea was to use old tea cups and fill them with candles. I started by sifting through old teacups at Goodwill and other thrift stores and ended up with these cups and one adorable teapot.

Then I melted old wax from unused or partially used candles lying around the house, and I also used some new votives that I bought and took the wick out of before melting. I melted the wax within a smaller pan that was submerged in hot water. The directions said to use a wax or candy thermometer but I did not to this, and we will consider that decision in a bit. So, I melted the wax completely and, meanwhile, I set up my teacups. I cut wicking and put them through the small metal wick stabilizers.... all available at any craft store. I used plyers to close the metal hole of the stabilizers onto the wicks. Then I used bamboo skewers to tie the wick onto so that the wick would stay centered within the cup.

Then, just pour the wax in! You'll want to leave a little space at the top so you'll have a wick. Don't fill it all the way to the top. I made sure the wick was centered before leaving it to dry. Most of the candles dried very well, but the ones in the white teacups dried strangely, very bumpy, and I'm wondering if this is because I did not have the wax at the correct temperature. I just figured melted wax is melted wax, ya know?

Here is a finished pic of some of them, for some reason I can't find the pics of the other ones completed. These green ones dried great, but the other ones dried bumpy and I think you can catch a glimpse of that on the above pics.

Needless to say, Grandma, Mom, and Mother-in-Law loved their Mother's Day gifts!

Look at our beautiful azaleas! The pictures don't do them justice. They are simply stunning this year.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Adventures With Old Jeans

I've been saving the kids' old jeans for awhile, waiting to be inspired to make something with them, and the other day I got it in my head that I was going to cut them into strips and knit with the denim. I didn't know what I was going to make just yet, but once I get it in my head that I'm going to do something, I have to follow through with it right then, which is a bit tricky because I have three kids and I take care of my friend's baby. Don't ask me how I find the time, because I will not have an answer for you.

So I immediately drug out the old jeans and started cutting. I cut them into strips about 1/2 - 1/4 inch wide... varying widths because I just wanted to mix things up a bit. I knotted the strips together and ended up leaving the ends hanging out, thinking that this might make the object look kinda shaggy and unique-looking. Here is a pic of the beginnings of what would turn into a bag/purse. It was a bit tough knitting with the denim strips, especially since they had knots throughout them, but it was fun, nonetheless. I did not know what size needles to use, so I started with 11s, which ended up being way to small. Then I started over with 17s, which ended up being too big. So I ended up with 15s, which were perfect! This project was also a little messy. I'm still finding denim lint and strands everywhere.

So all I did was knit a rectangle and stitch up the sides. I stitched the sides with denim, which was a real pain, again because of the knots, but I didn't want to use yarn or thread, just because I wanted it to be completely made of denim.

For the strap, I just braided three strands of denim together and sewed them to the purse, again with denim.

When I finished with the bag, I found that I could do something useful with the pockets of the jeans, and I had heard about people making "pocket purses" with pockets. So my daughter and I started making a purse for her. She braided some strips like I had done for my purse and we are going to sew a flower onto it with embroidery floss.. I just need to find the time to do that, hopefully today and then I'll add the final picture.

I still have lots of denim scraps, which I plan on using to decorate other crafts, such as some felt things I like to make, like drink coozies and coinpurses. If anyone has further ideas on what to do with old jeans, I'd love to hear them! I did find this link awhile back and found it interesting: 13 things you can do with old jeans: I plan on doing some of these projects pronto, but I think I will scavenge some thrift stores for MEN'S jeans instead of kid's jeans :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Well yesterday I took a break from charity knitting and knit up this cute little coinpurse. It is knit from 100% wool I acquired from a sweater I frogged, so I guess it is a green purse, in more ways than one :) (I suppose you can't really tell from the pic, but it is a greenish-grayish-brownish color)

Spreadin the Knittin Love

I began knitting because of my grandmother, who is now 92 and has been knitting for about 50 years. This is a picture of me with her today... we're holding up an afghan she just finished after spending months on it. It is made up of 20 squares, each a different pattern. She is quite proud of it! Over what she guesses is the last 50 years, she has knitted sweaters, tons of afghans, lap robes, socks, slippers, dish clothes, and doll clothes for my mom's dolls when she was little. My grandmother, who has 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren, says she taught herself to both knit and crochet by using a book. She says she's just like me... she just can't sit and do nothing!

One day about 5 years ago, I was saddened by the thought of, when she passes away, her knowledge and love of knitting will not be passed on because my mother never learned to knit. I mentioned in passing that I might want to learn to knit and ended up getting a "Learn to Knit" book for Christmas. So shortly after that I sat down and, although it seemed pretty overwhelming, I gave it a go and right away knit a long, skinny, and pretty plain looking scarf (that my son still wears!).

Here is that first scarf I attempted. Not bad for a first try, right ?

For years, about 5, I knit and knit and knit scarf after scarf after scarf, because I quickly learned that knitting is addicting and yarn is like delicious candy. Since I first learned, I've always made time to knit. I started doing a craft fair at my kids' school every November and I usually sell about 13 scarves, out of about 30 that I usually have on display. I give the others as Christmas gifts to the kids' teachers and coaches.

In January of this year, 2009, I found a super easy pattern for a hat (just knit a rectangle, cinch up the top, and sew down one side) and then began making tons of hats. I've probably made over 80 since January. All but about 3 of those have gone to charity.

I love to knit easy, quick things because I lack the patience for anything that takes too long or requires thinking :) I see patterns all the time that I wish I could make, but I just say to myself "maybe later" or "I can't knit that. No way!". I'm hoping one day soon I'll bite the bullet and sit down, read a bunch more about more advanced knitting techniques, and practice with needles and yarn until I can knit anything I want! I'd LOVE to knit stuffed animals - imagine how happy that would make kids in a hospital or a homeless shelter! Until I do bite the bullet, though, I am perfectly content with what I'm doing now. I absolutely LOVE to knit, whatever it may be, and especially if it is for someone else.

I am pretty much always knitting when I'm sitting at my daughter's swim practice. She swims every night because she's on a swim team. Sometimes I drop her off because I have two younger boys that have a hard time sitting for an hour and a half every day :). But, about 3 days a week, we sit and watch her and I knit. People watch me all the time and seem to be in awe that I can actually make something. They find it fascinating. One day a little girl watched me make a hat in utter disbelief and, when I was done, I stuck it on her head and said, "Here ya go!" Her smile went on for miles :) And here's the exciting part: I've actually caused two people to learn to knit!! One has made several hats for Knits For Needs, and one lady came in yesterday with needles and yarn and was excited to see me, saying, "I taught myself to knit!". I helped her with her cast on because, apparently, she was doing it incorrectly.

I have also taught my 11-yr-old daughter to knit, and, every now and then we go hang out with Grandma and knit with her. My daughter has been working on the same scarf for over a year.. hey, she's busy with school and swimming, ok? I plan to teach her my easy hats and maybe she'll like to make some for herself, her friends, and others. We'll see.

Passing on the art of knitting is something that I feel good about doing and I hope others take the time to do it. Being "caught" in public, doctor's offices, ERs (yes, I knit for two hours the other night in the ER when my son was getting stitches. Don't worry, I put it down to hold his hand as the stitches were actually happening), swimming, libraries, coffee shops, book stores, the car (when parked!), and all the other places you find yourself in, really reminds people that knitting is making a comeback and that knitting is NOT just for old farts (sorry Grandma)! Take the time to learn or teach someone knitting today!

I just found this Pledge Bank where you can promise you'll teach someone to knit:

Here are some tips on teaching someone to knit:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I love this cute little coinpurse I knit a couple weeks ago. I'll save it and many others for the craft fair I do at my kids' school in November. The flash sure did make that button shiny, though, didn't it? It is sort of an orangy button. I love making things like this because they are fast and I can knit them up in an hour or so. I love things that are fast.. not much patience for things that take too long. If it is on the needles for more than a couple days, it will probably just stay on the needles and never be completed. Guess I won't start a sweater any time soon!

Here's a not-so-great pic that my 5-yr-old took of me knitting yesterday. Obviously not trying to win any fashion contests here.. and that hair.. geez... dark roots and everything! Ha!

So Excited About the Charity

I've been really busy lately with Knits for Needs. It is really growing and the interest is amazing. I get emails and messages every day about "Where can I send my yarn?" and "What project are you working on now? What do you need?". I am very excited and happy about this project that seems to be taking over my life.. love it! I feel a new sense of purpose and importance and I love the feeling of helping others. I have always been like that, and now I feel like I really found what I'm supposed to be doing. I look forward to also getting monetary donations to help with the costs, too, such as shipping costs and such. Also, I have a ton of yarn from donations and I'd like to get it out to people knitting for charity, but I can't afford all that shipping yet! But.. its growing and I think donations will be coming in soon. I just got a PO Box for us yesterday. Also, I was interviewed about Knits for Needs!! By Loose Thread Stitchers. I can't wait till that is published. That was exciting! I've never been interviewed before.. kinda feel important :) Go Knits for Needs!

Welcome to Merf's Turf

Merf's Turf is brand new! Still working on it. I started the blog for my charity, Knits for Needs, and few days ago and found that blogging can be quite addictive! I look forward to being more personal in this one and letting out my creative and passionate spirit a bit more than I do in my regular life :) This blog will probably mostly be about my knitting and crafting, but I don't want to limit it to just that, so I think other aspects of my life will also make an appearance from time to time. Thank you for visiting my space and I look forward to sharing it with you!