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Vacation, Socks, and More

We’ve been on vacation. It was great to get away from home for a bit. Mostly, I did this.

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While the boys did this.

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It wasn’t long before I had this.

And this.

Lest you think all I did was knit on vacation, we also did a lot of this.

There was ice cream almost every day. But, I also ate this.

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And this.

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Now that we are back, we are enjoying a more relaxed summer pace of life. It’s given me a chance to update my etsy shop with lots of new stitch marker sets, including a unique design for a removable marker.

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This design came about from frustration, mostly. All the removable markers I had ever tried either fell out easily or were fiddly to use or so heavy that they tended to distort the stitch it was marking. This is not a locking stitch marker, so it is possible that it could fall out. However, I have been using one on a shawl for the past few weeks. It’s lace weight and it has been dragged around and scrunched in a bag and shaken and it has clung faithfully to its stitch.

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I have looked around a bit and have not seen anything like these being sold anywhere. The boys love the idea that no one else has these for sale. We are having a special offer in the shop for the rest of July. Any order of $20 or more will include 2 free removable spirals of our choice. We are excited about these and hope everyone will love them.

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As you can see, we’re ready!

How is your summer going?

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Summer Happenings

Summer has officially arrived here. School is done for now (well, except for a couple of things that we year round). To celebrate, we took the boys to Hershey Park for a day of stand-in-line-for-an-hour followed by a minute-of-excitement. The husband and I seemed to be the only ones who minded this imbalance.

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I actually got a little bit of knitting done while we were at the park. The boys went to play at the water playground by themselves, much to the anxiety of my mother’s heart. They are really growing up fast!

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Back at home, I have been making good progress on my ruby red test knit. I am quite loving this breathless dk yarn by Shalimar and am really looking forward to being finished with this project. We’ve had some days over 90 degrees recently and that’s just too hot to have a pile of wool in my lap!

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In other summery news, I have decided to take the plunge and open an etsy shop! For now, I am selling stitch markers. In my first few days, thanks to my loyal Ravelry friends in the ThreeBagsFull group, I sold almost the entire stock I had prepared, which was really surprising and exciting and scary to me.

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The shop is called 1514Homemade, a name that the older son came up with years ago. I can’t remember how it came about, but we were discussing some baked yumminess that I had made and how we could sell them. That lead to a discussion on what we would name the shop and he suggested 1514Homemade, which incorporates our house number. I considered naming it after myself or the blog, but really, every one here in this house has a hand in the things that get made. The boys have helped me a lot with the stitch markers by threading beads and helping with organization. The husband is an invaluable resource on all things related to materials science and production processes. Any venture that happens is truly a group effort here.

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Right now, the shop has a few items left, but if you look at the sold items and see something that you want, you can always submit a custom order request. For now, I am thinking of updating the shop once a month or so. Eventually, I may try selling other things besides stitch markers as well. Quilts or pillows, maybe? Or the odd knitted item. We’ll just have to see where this leads me. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

So, how is your summer going? What new things are you trying?

More DIY Stitch Markers

Ever since I started making my own stitch markers, I can’t seem to stop making them. This week, I got tired of the boring silver colored rings and went looking for other colors. All I found were gold and copper ones, which were nice, but I was craving color with a capital C. I found some great colored wire and decided to get some to play with it and see if I could make my own jump rings.

After a little bit of trial and error, mostly with tools, I ended up raiding the husband’s tool set and found just the thing I needed. To do this, you will need wire cutters like you see below, (basically ones that let you cut wire right at the tip) and 20 gauge wire in whatever color you want. Make sure you get something that won’t tarnish, though. Begin by getting a pencil and wrapping your wire around the barrel of the pencil in a coil-like fashion, like so.

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Then, take your wire cutters and position them so that the end of the coil is right next to the blade (this is to make sure you get a nice ring), and then cut one ring from your coil.

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Keep going until your coil is all cut up into little rings. You may have to stretch the coil a bit to be able to cut just one ring at a time. I found that I could slip on a bead and close the loop by hand since the wire was more malleable than the jump rings I bought. For gluing and more detailed instructions on how to finish, go to my previous post about making stitch markers.

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Aren’t they fun? I am already making plans to go back to the store to get more colors. Pretty soon I am going to be swimming in stitch markers! I wonder, would anyone be willing to buy some? If there is enough interest, I may look into opening an etsy store, if it isn’t too much trouble. So fun!

A Winner

As promised, today I am picking a winner for a set of stitch markers made by me. Using a very scientific method that involved one child and having him pick a number randomly, the winning comment was made by Mary Ann. Congratulations, Mary Ann!

Oh, and just because those stitch markers are so easy to make by the dozens, I’ve decided to give away a second set of stitch markers! This time, I asked the other child to pick a random number. He picked Smithwickstudios. I will be emailing you both and will get your stitch markers made and delivered as soon as possible!

Last week, I was really happy to have finished off two big projects, but sadly, I cannot share them with you as they are secret projects. I will be able to share them in time, though. While we are waiting, I can show you a couple of new things I started.

Here’s a new shawl project to join my herd of shawls in progress. The thing about most of my shawls in progress is that they are all very lacey and have charts that require attention. I wanted something with an easy pattern that could be memorized, but still be fun to knit. The new Hap Shawl pattern by Kate Davies is just right.

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I am using my latest installment of yarn from the Bare Naked Knitspot Club, a mohair and wool blend called Chebris. After the first few repeats, I had the pattern memorized and was able to knit on it in the car on the way to Hershey Park on Saturday. I started the shawl on Friday night and by yesterday I was finished with the increase portion of the shawl, which makes it about 30% done.

Now the shawl will have to be put aside, though, because I got this in the mail yesterday. It’s five skeins of Shalimar Yarns, Breathless DK, and it is fantastic.

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This is for another secret project. Yes, yes, I know you want details. Well, all I can say is that I am doing some test knitting for Baby Cocktails and when she releases the pattern, I will tell you all about it! Anyway, back to the yarn. It is soft and silky, but not fragile at all. The yarn has a nice weight and drape and it just feels great in the hands. I can tell already that I am going to love knitting this project and it will not be my last time using this yarn.

DIY Stitch Markers

When I started knitting 12 years ago, I tried using stitch markers. They were the plastic rings that you get at big box craft stores and I hated them. They seemed to get in the way sometimes and make the stitches around it wonky. So, I stopped using them and used little bits of yarn instead. They worked pretty well and did not get in the way of my knitting, and were cheap and always available.

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A couple of years ago, I got a set of metal ring stitch markers in a swap. I did not use them at first, but little by little, I did begin using them and found them quite handy. The rings are thin and they are easier to move from one needle to the next than a piece of yarn. Plus, there’s no way that you will miss it when you are knitting without looking. I now have a few sets of these stitch markers and they are indispensable to me now, especially in complicated lace projects. In one project alone, I had 13 stitch markers in use. A sweater knit in one piece will often take at least 5 or six or more. Pretty soon, I had run out of stitch markers.

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Instead of going to etsy and buying more, I decided to try to make my own. I had a bunch of beads leftover from shawls that I had knit, so my purchases to try were really minimal. It turned out to be pretty easy, quick, and inexpensive, so I thought I would share with you what I did.

Here’s what you will need:

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The beads are glass and are 6/0 size, which is the size commonly used in fingering weight knitted beading projects. They come in strands or in tubes. If you get the ones from Japan, the holes will be more uniform. Why use beads? Well, I suppose you don’t have to, but it does cover up the gap in the ring and you can make them all different colors to designate different things in your knitting. A green one can mean make a stitch here, while a red one can mean decrease a stitch, for example.

I used 10mm jump rings, which fit up to a size 6-8 needle comfortably, depending on your yarn. Right now, I am knitting a chunky sweater on size 8 needles and I found that the markers were getting a little stuck on the yarn, so I am using bigger, dangly ones for that project instead. Since I used up the 10mm ones, I got some 9mm rings which is not a huge difference in size, I know, but the package came with more rings for the same price, making the markers even cheaper!

The hypo cement, the tool, the beads, and rings can all be found in the beading section of your local big box craft store. The tool is just your basic wire cutting pliers. I think I paid less than $5 for this pair.

Got everything? It’s easy from here. The first step is to take a ring and use your tool to gently open it enough to slip a bead on the ring. Just insert the tips of your tools inside the ring and gently pull on the handles.

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Slip a bead on. Then, place the ring in that little notched part of the tool like this:

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The notch holds the ring in place while you squeeze the opening closed. Be gentle here. Too much force can cause the ring to break or get out of shape.

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I do a whole bunch of these at once before I get out the glue. It helps to make the gluing process go more quickly and then you don’t have to smell the fumes as long. Before you begin gluing, make sure you are in a place with pretty good ventilation. The glue is quite smelly! Also, be sure to work over a surface that you don’t mind getting glue on. I used a plastic tray from the grocery store. The top of a salad greens container would work perfectly, especially for drying the rings.

Take a ring and apply a tiny bit of glue over the seam of the ring.

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Then, slide the bead so that it is situated over the seam and the glue. Don’t worry if the glue makes hairs or gets in your fingers.

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The tube takes a little getting used to since it is heat sensitive. I had a lot of glue oozing out at one point, but I just left it in my container and let it pool there. That allowed me to dip the rings in the pool of glue, but it was a bit messier that way. Anyway, just be sure you are working over something plastic, preferably. Paper will stick to the glue.

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Place the beads on a spare piece of plastic tray or lid and let them dry. When they are dry, it will be easy to pull off any stray glue hairs or globs. Incidentally, I did try making these without glue at first, but I found that the beads slid around too much and left the gap in the ring exposed. That gap can get snagged on your yarn; something that is most definitely not desirable!

Check your rings when you are done. I jiggle the beads a bit to see if they will move, which they should not. Sometimes, the gap in the ring will still be open if the bead has moved. I just discard those. I think out of about 150, I only found one or two that needed to be thrown away. Pretty easy, right?

Well, I will hope you will try making your own, but in the meantime, I’ll give you a chance to win a set. Leave a comment and I will enter you in a drawing to win a set of 20 stitch markers of varying colors. If you want to give me some fun ideas for cheap activities to do with the boys this summer, that would be fabulous, too! Drawing will be next Wednesday, June 11, at 10:00am, EST. I will ship anywhere, so comment away!