5/10: Red & Grey Checkered Blanket

Finally.

For better or for worse, that was the first thought I had once I was finished stitching together the last few rows of this blanket. That’s not to suggest I don’t love it with all my heart – because I do, trust me – but I was ready for this project to be finished. My sewing machine arrived the other day, and summer is fast approaching, which means it’s time to set my sights on other projects! Summery ones. As much as I have grown to love knitting, and as much as it entertained me during this cold winter, I’m ready to learn something new and come back to knitting when the weather gets cold again.

This blanket was not only a labour of love, it is a physical representation of how I learned to knit. Which means it’s totally imperfect. You can literally trace my progress: the first few squares I knitted separately, because I was afraid of messing it up if I did more than one at a time; one of the squares is slightly bigger than the others because I forgot to count my stitches before casting on; there are wonky lines from switching colours and forgetting to keep track of where I was before I switched. I love that I can look at it and go “here’s where I learned how to cast on! And here’s where I learned to switch colours!” It’s beautiful for that.

And it does the trick. All my friends love it, because it’s so soft and comforting. They don’t see its imperfections, and I’m starting not to either. I’ll never consider it a waste of time – it kept me occupied for several months, it taught me how to knit, and it keeps me warm. No, it probably won’t last forever. But don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good enough. I’m so proud and happy to have done this project and learned a great new skill in the process. It doesn’t bother me that it’s not an ‘expert job’.

I got my inspiration from Elise’s black-and-white blanket, but I think I went about it a lot differently than she did. Hers is a good deal more clean-looking than mine, by the way, so maybe go with her method! As for me, like I said I started quite slowly. I just did one square at a time, lining them up to make sure they were roughly the same size. The beauty of this blanket is that it’s so stretchy and cozy that it’s not too big a deal if all the squares are the same. I stitched the squares together with a darning needle. Then once I was more confident, I started switching colours (my favourite way is described here) – be careful to always switch colours on the same side! I made that mistake. Once I had a row of 4 squares, I cast off and stitched it to the previous rows.

My blanket is 3×4 squares, and it’s the perfect size for me. It’s big enough to comfortably cover a back, pair of legs, or a curled up napping body. It looks lovely draped on my bed. But it’s not huge, I didn’t want huge.

I used Bernat Softee Chunky yarn. It’s a pretty cheap, and comes in a whole bunch of colours. I’ve used it for most of my knitting projects, but only because I don’t have much selection at my local crafts store! I knit this whole blanket exclusively in garter stitch, aka plain old knitting.

I love it. I’m thrilled it’s done. I can’t wait to move onto other projects. You can see the rest of my 2012 DIY projects so far here.

4/10: Colourblock Hats

I’ve been itching to write this post for weeks now! Over reading week, I spent a lot of time learning how to knit. In the span of a few days, I learned how to properly cast-on (I’d been doing it in an unnecessarily difficult manner), knit on circular needles, knit on double-pointed needles (that one was a mind-bender), and change colours properly. I unravelled things, a lot. I started over, a lot. I had a ton of help from my mom and my knitting-whiz of a Grandma – I realized that it’s much easier to learn from real people than it is from videos. (Duh.) I also got to borrow my Grandma’s entire collection of bamboo knitting needles and some hot pink double-pointed needles. Sexy.

I was originally planning to gift the hat above to my best friend for her birthday (which is today! Happy Birthday S! xo) but, at the risk of sounding like a fashion snob, they just weren’t her colours. So I vowed to knit her another one, and started wearing this one myself (because they were my colours). Luckily, the second hat I made was a lot cleaner, less mistakes. Plus, I not-so-inconspicuously asked her which colours of yarn she liked best and knit those into the hat. Problem solved! Here she is in her hat:

Altogether now: d’aww.

To make the hats, I used this pattern for His + Her Knit Hats from the purl bee. I love that website. It’s like knitting, for young hipsters. Like me. Kind of. The pink yarn was a no-name brand on sale at Michael’s, it was really soft and fuzzy. The orange was Softee Chunky by Bernat. The cream was from a giant skein I found in the basement at my mom’s house, label long since lost.

I gifted the hat yesterday, on one of the warmest days of the year so far. Today, too, has been incredibly beautiful. I even went running, if you can believe it. So maybe it’s practically Spring…but it’s the thought that counts! Worst case scenario, we can save these hats til next winter and wear them like twins. My plan all along, of course.

And thus wraps up 4 of 10 DIY projects for 2012! (I’m counting both hats as one, because they were virtually identical, using the same skills.) See the rest of the DIY projects here.

3/10: Circle Scarf

I made a scarf! With my own two hands.

I’ve learned to knit a handful of times in my life, but I think this is the time that’ll stick. My Grandma’s going to be so proud (hi Grandma!). I re-taught myself from Knitting Help videos, but it’s a tricky thing to learn from videos. I had several false starts, especially with casting on. I’m using a very basic casting on technique because I simply could not get any of the other ways to work for me. It ended up being fine.

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2/10: Hanging Plant

I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to jump on the DIY bandwagon – I’m having so much fun! For me, every stage of the process is exciting: scrolling through Pinterest for inspiration, going in search of the materials at various stores, sitting down and completing something that’s pretty, and finally seeing it around me in its finished state! It’s such a simple idea, to take some basic materials and recombine them into something beautiful. I love that.

I’ve been collecting lots of DIY ideas lately (see the board here), but one that really stood out to me was the simple hanging plant. I immediately loved the look of it (simple yet colourful) and it didn’t look too hard either – bonus!

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