Thursday, August 30, 2012


I wanted my kids to have a good reusable drink container to take to school. I saw a recommendation for the 'Funtainer' from Thermos and since I didn't find anything else even remotely as usable (it is both stainless steel, seals and is easy for kids to use) I decided on getting one for each of my two girls. Unfortunately The store (Walmart is the only store around here) only had three varieties: Dora the Explorer, Thomas the Tank Engine and Tinkerbell. First of, I'm not a huge fan of children's products that have cartoon or movie characters on them, and second, my children are a bit old for the ones that were available.

I figured the younger one would still be able to use the Tinkerbell one, but there is no way the older one would have used the Dora or the Thomas ones. Fortunately, I recently saw a blog post where the person was using novelty Duct tape to upcycle boots. I thought to myself that I could do the same with the thermos'. So I picked out the Thomas the Tank engine thermos (since it had a blue top and bottom - my older daughter favorite color) and headed to the home repair part of the store. You gotta love Walmart - they have everything there!

Low and behold, they did have colorful duct tape. Actually it was Duck Tape. So I took Kamilla's thermos and covered it in tape.

When her sister Ása saw what I did with Kamilla's thermos, she wanted it done to hers to. Kamilla wanted hers from side to side. I thought it would be easier to match the pattern on the tape going up and down, which I did on Ása's, but I was wrong. It was harder, mainly because I didn´t have a handy craft knive to cut the tape. I only had my knitting scissors. While they are sharp, they were not optimal for cutting the duct tape on a round surface! It all worked out in the end and the kids are super happy!

Here they are, side by side:

Who knew duct tape could be so fun to use. Kamilla grabbed some and made her flip flops more colorful. I think they look a lot better now!

*New-cycling is a play on words drawing from the expression 'upcycling' when you take a used item and make it into something new. I on the other hand took something new and commercial and made it into something that's unique.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Kamilla sews too.

My daughter Kamilla will turn 9 in a week's time. When I was sewing she and her 7 year old sister were very interested and wanted to help me. They did help by pressing on the foot pedal to make the sewing machine go. They've never been this interested in knitting, but then again, knitting doesn't have cool machinery involved in it.

So after I finished my project. Kamilla wanted to do her own project. She picked out a fabric, cut it and pinned it together (right sides together). Then she sewed the pieces together as she had seen me do previously.

After she was done stitching the pieces together, she turned the piece inside out (she left a small opening).

And stuffed it with polyfill.

After mom helping with decorations (closing up the hole, sewing on buttons as eyes and gluing the mouth on with ribbon using stitch witchery) Kamilla was one very proud owner of a brand new stuffed animal!

Her sister has a design all drawn up for a boat! I guess we know what our next project will be.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Unpaper towels!

The name of the blog 'Handavinnublogg' means something like 'crafty blog'. Handavinna is an Icelandic word which literally means 'handwork'. It is used to group together all sorts of activities you do with your hands: stitching, knitting, crocheting, lacework, etc. I chose this name because I was interested in cross stitching, knitting and crocheting so I figured 'handavinna' was kind of all encompassing.

There is one handavinna I've always wanted to do more of, but been having a hard time getting into. It's machine sewing. I did some last summer, when my daughters were in Iceland, but not much since then. I was having an issue with my machine (it kept breaking the needles). But I've resolved that now, so no excuses. One of my problems is that I don't have a good place to do it. I was totally charmed by these 'unpaper towels', i.e. paper towels (eldhúsrúlla) made out of fabric. Here is a tutorial, and if you search the web for 'unpaper towels' you can find many examples. I just had to try and finally whipped out my sewing machine again. :)

I found the tutorial above on Friday, and instead of saving the link, I sent it to my email with the title: must make this wknd. I guess it worked since on Sunday I started picking out fabric, cutting out a whole bunch of 10x10 inch squares (enough to make 10 towels) and even starting to sew them together. Then I realized we were getting late for a dinner party and had to run out of the door (forgetting bunch of stuff and looking fairly casual).

Well, I kept at it. I worked on them some more after I came back home and then Monday after work and 4H (program the kids are in) I kept going still, and finished after the kids were in bed.

I finally found a nice comfy place to sew. The coffee table! (sófaborð). I could sit comfortably on the sofa and even have the Olympics play in the background. The kids could sit next to me and even help (pushing the pedal was a favorite). My husband fusses about having to watch the olympics (he's an anti-sport kind of person), but secretly he enjoys watching it and awwws and owwws at nice performances. (p.s. we were watching the men's synchronized diving and these men have the best sport outfits ever!!!)

So I finished the 10 towels (or almost). You can put snaps (or velcro, but I´m worried that the velcro will become full of fuss in no time with these towels) so you can roll them up like a real paper towel. I was planning to do that, and earlier this evening I got the snap kit out only to discover that I had but 5 snaps (gasp!), but I need more like 20 of each kind (male/female). So for now these towels have no snaps. I was even in Joann's this Sunday looking at snap stuff, but I didn't think of buying extra snaps (I was wanting to see if they had a good tool/machine to make snaps with). Since the nearest Joann is 45 min away, I don't go there very often, but perhaps Walmart has snaps now that they have their fabric department back (yay!).

The fabric I used was a terry cloth I got when my mom was visiting about 5 years ago and the cloth is vintage fabric my friend gave me after she help clean out stuff for someone else. I picked it because it was kind of cute and whimsical and now I'm really glad I did because this fabric gives the unpaper towels a certain character, don't you think?

My kids (two girls, almost 9 (in a week) and 7) were fascinated by the sewing, much more than they are ever with my other crafts (except maybe stitching). It prompted them to want to make their own projects, but more about that later. Until then, here are couple of pictures, one of them helping me iron and the other of their 'littlest pet shop' characters, which profited from the fabric scraps.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Power outage

From about 6 PM on June 29th to 6 PM on July 1st, out electricity was out (or our 'electric' as people around here say). We were actually lucky to be only out for 48 hours, compared to other people who were out for 5-10 days, and that in the middle of a heat wave - days and days of 100F temperature (38C).

While the electricity was out I did some knitting. I finished the bath towel I was working on.

When I was done I didn't quite know what to do. It's not like I could go online to find a new pattern to knit.

The electricity went out at the same time point as I was leaving work on a Friday evening, the last day of work before a week long holiday (vacation for people in the US). I was planning to stay home for this week long holiday and hand out with my family and work on organizing the house.

The electricity being out kick started the cleaning/organizing efforts. Since there was limited amount of activity possible, cleaning kind of happened naturally. So I wanted to clean up and I needed a knitting project. So what did I do? I went into my closet and pulled out a bunch of projects that had been hibernating for a while.

Some of the projects are never going to happen and I frogged them. Others got worked on. The towel here below is one of them. I worked on it almost 3 years ago from a pattern for garterlac dishcloth (garterlac is the same as entrelac, except in garter stitch).

All I had left of this towel was a little triangle on top and the strip it hangs from. That's it! And it took me almost 3 years to finish it!!!! At least it's done.

I also pulled out a blanket I had made and then decided to make it bigger. But it turned out to be too warm for me to work on it. It is also simple and not very pretty and hard to photograph. If you don't believe me check out this flickr photo.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Not done yet!

In the last post I wrote about a hat I made out of leftover worsted weight yarn. When I finished the hat, I still had a bunch left of three of the colors. It was perfect to make Kate from Knitty. The pattern is old, from 2005 and I have to say that it's not as well edited as more recent patterns. There's nothing really wrong with the pattern. There is not an error per se, but there are differences between the instructions and how the item looks.

You start at the bottom of the body and increase. The increases don't look like the increases in the pictures. The increases in the pattern are 'knit in front and back - kfb' while in the pictures you can see that the increases are directional and they don't look like 'kfb'. So I just made up the increases as I went. I didn't know which way they were supposed to be but I more or less made the increases on the first half of the stitches one way and the other half of the stitches the other way and that worked out all right.

The decreases at the top of the body were directional. It would have looked funky if the bottom half all increased in one direction and the top half had some of the decreases in one direction and some in another.

It was by no means a bad pattern. The rest of it was a smooth sailing and I did learn a great way to attach extremities.

Friend of mine is having a baby in November. Actually a friend and a co-worker's wife. Plus couple of other people I know, but I don't know them enough to knit them anything major. Maybe a bib? So anyways, Kate (whom I call Kata rokkar in Ravelry - Icelandic for Kate rocks) will be a present for my friend's baby.

Kata rokkar is also a name of a song Björk recorded on the jazz record Gling Gló in 1990.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Clearing out leftover stash

Last month (May) I have been in the mood of clearing out my leftover stash. In particular the worsted weight leftovers (I organize my leftover stash by weight). The leftover stash was taking up too much space, in most parts because it was kept in too large of a bags. Some of it I moved to a plastic box, but the worsted weight I started to use up.

It started because of a rather large skein (large for leftover yarn) of bright green yarn that I always wanted to make a hat out of, preferably patterned hat.

When I was looking around Ravelry for a good pattern I came across the fish hat from Knitty.

It wasn't quite what I had in mind, but it was the perfect hat to use up the leftover yarn. I only used the bright green yarn as the tails and fins. I finished up knitting him at the very beginning of June, but only put the eyes on him and blocked him yesterday (June 23rd). I needed to buy white felt and black buttons for his eyes. The pattern has the fish being dead (eyes are crossed out), but knowing my kids, that would not do. I was right. They were horrified with the thought of making the fish dead.

I didn't really make it with anyone in particular in mind. But after I had finished putting the eyes on it, my older daughter (who's 8 almost 9) took a big fancy to him so now he's hers I guess.

It shouldn't be so surprising to me that she liked it (she wasn't so interested before I put the eyes on) since she's taken up a liking to fish lately. This spring she wanted to get a fish tank really bad. She started to save up some money and we borrowed a tank from my friend, but it was just the tank. We still needed a pump and filter and a lid, and these things add up!

Then a few weeks ago, she went fishing with her dad and younger sister in a lake next to our little village. She brought a terrarium and scooped up two tiny little catfish, very newly hatched! So she got her wish! Her dad fitted the fish tank with blue pebbles (blue is her favorite color) and put a large rock from our garden in it. The catfish love to stay under the rock. We needed a pump/filter and pretty soon we got an aerator too, as well as a sucker fish and couple of live plants. We still need to get a proper lid and maybe a few more fish.

Here are couple of more photos of me and Kamilla wearing that silly fish hat

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bathmat for me!

I've made this bathmat twice before. This is my third one. The first two were both made with one string white and one ecru, and were both given as a part of a wedding present (in a spa basket). My bathmat is sage and ecru.

The pattern is from a well beloved book - One Skein by Leigh Radford. I've made a few of the pattern and I tend to make them more than once, which is very unusual for me. I made the bowls, the bib and the bathmat, as far as I remember. I'd love to make the cupcake too!

The yarn is Peaches'n creme from a cone and although the V shaped pattern is a bit hard to see because of the two different colors used. All in all, I like the colors though and the bathmat looks great in the bathroom.

I started with an already used cone of the ecru and I ended up running out of yarn with only 3 and 1/2 rows to do. Then I found a small ball of ecru among the leftover kitchen cotton yarn and I continued to make the bathmat. Unfortunately I ran out again and this time with only 14 single crochet (fastalykkjur) left!!!!! My knitting friends came to the rescue and let me use some of their leftover ecru - thanks Steph!

It was a very rewarding project and I'm glad I finally made it!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Now with photos

This morning I posted a little update (which ended up being not so little and I got late for my Mommy breakfast (a group of mom who meet every month during the school year).

I took some photos after I came home from work today. Here is the blanket (unwashed and unblocked):

Here is the dishcloth I finished last night. Lavender the cat was too adorable not to be included in the photo.

The pattern is Honeycomb Check Dishcloth (you need to log in to get the pattern) by Sugar n' cream. That's the name of the kitchen cotton I used to make the dishcloth and the color is 'Country Red'. The pattern was hard to do because of two things. First it contained mistakes (notice the deliberate use of the plural from of that word), one of which is actually visible because since I followed the pattern blindly for the first repeat I was at the second or third repeat when I discovered it and decided it was not worth it to go back and fix it (although I was thinking about giving it away but the mistake makes me want to keep it for myself). The other reason it was hard to do was because you had to maneuver stitches from two rows down once in a while and pull them up to the needle. It was tight!

Other than that, I'm very happy with the finished product. I like the texture and the look of the pattern.

Quick update

Three out of the 5 babies have been born. They are all well and adorable, and ... I've heard of two more that will be born in November. Yay! More baby knitting!

Yesterday (Wednesday) I finished a crochet baby blanket at knitting. It's the Baby M Blanket by the Knitting TV star Vickie Howell. It has a interesting pinwheel pattern called the Harlequin Stitch (also called Catherine Wheel). The wheels were easier to make than I thought, they are really just increases and decreases. However, I could not learn how to begin each row so I had to constantly refer to the pattern and keep track of which one of the four alternating rows I was on. The way the yarn and the pattern came together was serendipitous. After my daughter´s field trip to the Columbus Zoo, we took the rare chance of shopping seriously (there's not a lot of shopping possible within 45 min driving distance from where we live) and we went to an art supply store. The main purpose was to get some tempura paint for the kids, but in the same aisle they had a bit of yarn! Mostly kitchen cotton but also 5 skeins of superwash wool. The wool was regularly priced at $4.99 per skein but was on sale for $1.39!!!!!!!!! Score!!!!!!!!!!!

I bought up all of the remaining yarn. It was 'Washable Ewe' by Debbie Stoller, the author of Stitch Nation, the book that helped launch the knitting craze few years back. I didn't have a plan for this yarn. The colors were good, white, yellow and cyan, very modern. Shortly after I got the yarn the idea of using it in a baby blanket and this baby blanket in particular struck me out of nowhere (divine intervention?). Anyways, it was a perfect combination of yarn and pattern, I had enough to make a nice border as well. I can't wait to show you a picture. Soon, I promise.

Last night (Wednesday) I also finished a dishcloth, which was quite a challenge to make. It feels great to finish two things in one day! Yay! But I tell you about it later when I have more time.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Another baby shower!

This time it was three-in-one
Three of the graduate students I work with are expecting. Two women and the wife of one of the men. One from China, one from Malaysia, and one from Libya. Here are the sweaters,
And of course they came with the corresponding hats:
The cake was adorable

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Knitter´s baby shower

Knitter's baby showers are the best. In the US it is customary to hold a party for the mother to be before the baby is born and giver her stuff for the baby as opposed to visit her after the baby is born. We had two pregnant members of the knitting group, one due in May and the other in June so today we had a baby shower for them.

I had two cardigans and two matching hats for the expecting mothers.

Here is one of the mom, Krystal. This is her second (and a second boy).

Here is the other momma-to-be, Jess, who is expecting her first.

And an extra photo of the adorable Oscar, who´s mom just recently joined the knitting group hanging out with Jin, knitter extraordinaire.

I've been trying to learn to make marengs cakes. They're always too thin and chewy, but I tried and brought the 'delicious disaster' to the shower (aptly named by Stephanie - who else).

The first sweater can be found on Ravelry here, and the second here.

The yarn for these two sweaters (and the matching hats) was obtained in Salt Lake City so it is extra special souvenir yarn. The pattern for the cardigans was a really good one. I made it 5 times and I never changed a thing. However, none of the hats ended up the same way. I'll make this pattern again if I need a baby gift. It's a free pattern on Ravelry, just saying :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

5 little cardigans and 5 little hats

5 little cardigans and 5 little hats
have been knit
waiting for buttons
waiting to give a lil'un a hug

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I just finished the third sweater (minus buttons) and started the third hat out of the leftover yarn. I'm still not tired of the pattern, but I'm starting to daydream about other projects.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Current project(s)

Currently, I've undertook a massive project. Knit 5 sweaters in less than 2 months. The project seems a little less massive when revealed that the sweaters are all 6 month size. The pattern is called Little Coffee Bean, and is a nice pattern. It is knit from top-down, with raglan increases. It's completely seamless and made in worsted weight.

The reason why I took on this 'massive' project is because I know 5 babies that will be born in May and June, all here in Athens, OH. Two of those babies will be born to knitters, whom I've gotten to know through my stitch'n'bitch group (first babies since I joined the group almost 5 years ago!) and the remainder to grad students whom I work with.

I have already knit almost two sweaters. The yarn for both of them was acquired in Salt Lake City, Utah, when I was there for a conference. They consist of a solid colored yarn and a varigated/multicolored yarn. I'll post pictures soon, perhaps after the baby shower 4 weeks from now, so stay tuned!

The reason why I say 'already knit almost two sweaters' instead of saying 'almost knit two sweaters' is that when I balled up the yarn for the second sweater, the band broke when I had just started, so I had two balls of yarn. One small and the other much larger. I finished the larger ball and all I have left is to knit the second button band, but I can't find the smaller ball! The two of them were in my project bag, but the little one must have fallen out at some time! I hope it's still here and that I'll find it because it will not be easy to replace it.

Last Thursday I got yarn for two more sweaters. I ran to Nelsonville to the Little Yarn Shop while my daughter had a soccer practice. I got Encore yarn, which is 75% acrylic and 25% wool. I normally would stay away from acrylic, especially for babies, but the parents of the babies I have in mind are from warm countries and I think it would be good to have a very washable garment, because I'm not so sure they have a lot experience in washing wool. My husband is from California and it took him a while to learn to wash wool, so I speak from experience.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Peysa for me!

Peysa is Icelandic for a sweater/cardigan and I finished one even before I finished the big green thing. The pattern is the ever so popular Var from Lopi 29. I was inspired by my Stepmother to make a sweater out of Einband. Einband is a laceweight Icelandic wool and Var is normally knit out of léttlopi (worsted weight Icelandic wool). My stepmother makes very beautiful and stylish designs of sweaters/cardigans out of Einband. She sells them, but now they are handknit in China! My sweater (or a hoodie) came out very nicely. I've been using it a lot.
It is lightweight but warm at the same time. I washed it with conditioner to make it softer and I can wear it against my skin (i.e., wear a t-shirt underneath).
This picture above is taken at the Athens (OH) library with my friend Stephanie. She made a Freyja out of plötulopi (unspun Icleandic wool) I brought from Iceland for her. I actually started Var two years ago, March 1, 2010 according to Ravelry. I attempted makeing both the sleeves at the same time using 'magic loop'. I found out I didn't like making two things at the same time with the magic loop. Magic loop can be a very useful technique, but I think I'll stick to making one thing at a time using it from now one. I remember watching Lost at the same time as I was knitting the sweater, and it seems to have distracted me according to this blog post from June 2010. I made a mistake and had to restart the body, but it never materialized. I did the cast-on, and then the project languished until September last year (2011)! I finally finished the sweater at the end of January 2012.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The big green thing - finished.

In my last post I showed a photo of some big green thing all bunched up in my sewing machine.

Well, I finished it, washed it and wore it to my bi-annual advisory board meeting. I'm super happy in the pictures, not just because of the nice jacket, but also because my board meeting was over. It is the end point of a lot of hard work.

The jacket is knit with Álafoss Lopi (Bulky weight Icelandic wool) on size 10.5 needle. The actual knitting only took 3 weeks as I worked on nothing else. For a few weeks I couldn't do the actual finishing since I was working late and on the weekend, but I got a little break right before the meeting and was able to finish it just in time and wash it (in the washing machine on handwash). I've wanted to make this jacket for over 3 years. I got the yarn three years ago and I finally have it ;) I'm really happy with it.