A few years ago, I knitsheep costumes for my herd. It was epic. Since then, we've been slackers in the Halloween department. We haven't had much motivation or felt inspired to get dressed up for the occasion.
This year, I decided to fun-it-up. We needed to cut loose from the stress of home buying (a short-sale is really as horrible a process as everyone says) and spend an afternoon being silly. After a bit of browsing around on Ravelry, I had a plan. It doesn't get much more fun and/or silly than unicorns! RIGHT?!?! Mike, the best sport ever, was totally on-board to make a fool of himself with me.
We didn't have any formal engagements scheduled for Halloween; however, it's become a tradition for players in our fall ultimate Frisbee league to dress in costume the weekend before the holiday.
Ultimate is the perfect venue to dress like a unicorn. We tend not to take ourselves too seriously, generally; though thisstudy (#11) suggests otherwise .
Amazingly, these things stayed on and didn't noticeably slow us down. Unfortunately, the magic of the unicorn didn't help us secure a win. But, we had fun, regardless.
I used Brittany Tyler'sunicorn hat pattern as my launching point. And, I borrowed Liopleurodonna's modifications to create a spiral horn and a much fuller mane (THANKS AGAIN!!!)
These are a CRAZY fast knit. I didn't get the idea to knit these until Wednesday evening, and Saturday morning, we were wearing them on the field.
I think the mane was the most labor intensive bit of this entire project, but that was my own fault. I could have made my own life easier by reeling things in- I'm glad I didn't. I think the fullness of the mane is the best part.
I could/should have stopped there. But, I'm not good with boundaries, and I had a little bit of yarn left over. So, I kept knitting, and this happened...
CUTEST unicorns of them all!!!
The puppy dog unicorn costumes were made possible thanks to Sarah Bouthillier's Open-Ear-Dog-Hat pattern. All of the hats are made using a combination of Lion Brand Thick-Quick, Caron Glitter and Paton's Melody yarns from Joann Fabrics.
I compensated the dogs handsomely with treats for their patience, and they forgave me for humiliating them immediately after we took the hats off. Did you DIY Halloween? Leave me a link to your costume(s) in the comments. I'd love to see. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
It's often my experience, as I'm sure it is for most who knit and/or sew, the non-crafting community holds the impression that we, as crafts(wo)men, save exorbitant amounts of money by sewing and/or knitting. This usually provokes my defensive response and a lengthy dialogue on the costs of materials vs. labor in individually produced vs. mass-produced goods... Yada, Yada. Of course, there was a point in history when it was far more economic to sew and knit at home- You know, like back when gasoline used to cost 11 cents a gallon.
TImes have changed. Inflation. All that. Still, there are exceptions to every rule and opportunities for us to have an economic leg-up over the non-knitting population. In my opinion, it all breaks down to a quality over quantity. Winter accessories, for example, are a fantastic demonstration of this. Most box stores sell an array of cotton/poly scarves/hats/gloves for bargain prices. Wool accessories, however, are another story. In our world of low-cost-mass-production, natural fibers are a luxury. For instance: this 85% wool, 15% poly Tory Burch snood is available to purchase for $175. However, a knitter could far out-luxe Ms. Burch by knitting Jill McGee's Twisted Sister Cowl with Amy Blatt Nunki (71% Wool 29% Yak) for roughly $50 material cost + time. Not bad, eh?
We have a great advantage when it comes to compiling our collections of wooly accessories, and these types of projects are especially wonderful for unselfish, gift-knitting. I'm sure there's more than a handful of knitters out there who are already thinking about their holiday knit-list. Just for fun, here's a little list of infinity scarf projects that will keep you smiling all the way to the bank:
What do you think? Would your knitting prowess out-shine the luxury knitwear market?
I've never been a fan of acrylic yarn, but is that any reason to kill it? What has it done to deserve an untimely ending? Though, death certainly does become thee, acrylic. For as stiff, curly and revolting as you are, generally; you're drapey, soft and cooperative once you've been killed...
Allow me to explain. With the prospect of moving dominating my thought processes, I'm spending increasingly more time on Pinterest fake decorating my new space. It's a welcome distraction. Among the long list of things I've pinned, I really enjoy the idea of adding a knitted "SOMETHING" to each room, and I've been searching for ways, beyond blankets, to incorporate knitted textures into our decor. I pinned these floor cushions the instant I saw them and started thinking about the best way to approach the project. I foresaw two primary obstacles: 1. Fabric Stretching & 2. The Dogs. In addressing the latter, everything in my house needs to be washable in order to combat pet hair. This majorly limited my yarn options but didn't deter me. The first obstacle was a little bit trickier. I absolutely didn't want to spend hours knitting a fitted cover that would eventually become too large for the cushion it housed and look sloppy. No bueno. By complete chance, I was at knit night and overheard a conversation about killing acrylic.
Like me, most of the knitters engaged in the conversation shuddered at the thought of knitting with acrylic. But, the leader on the topic started to say some things that caught my attention. Once you kill acrylic, it behaves like a woven fabric and doesn't have elasticity. Once you kill acrylic the fabric is very flexible and soft to the touch. Once you kill acrylic, it will hold its form and can never unravel. I decided killed acrylic is the perfect medium for my new floor cushions. I grabbed a few super-skeins from Joann and let the killing begin.
Basically, killing acrylic is steam-blocking using very high temperature and lots of steam. I'm told that, alternatively, you can press over the top of a wet cloth, but I was too nervous to take that route on my first try. Once the acrylic is exposed to high temperatures, the fibers start to melt and fuse together. It's VERY important to swatch so you know exactly how large your finished piece will measure. Once you've killed the acrylic and stretched your fabric, there's no turning back. It will have ZERO rebound. Using a tape measure and some pins, I anchored my square to a towel over my ironing board. Once my piece was in position, I steamed the snot out of it. That's all there is to it. It's surprisingly simple and very effective.
If you plan to kill some acrylic, there are a couple things to keep in mind. Most IMPORTANTly, don't allow your iron to come in contact with your knitting. You'll have a sticky icky mess and you'll be in need of a new iron if you do. Acrylic is a plastic. The melting that occurs during killing is what creates the benefit of the process; however, you can over-kill your fabric. If it starts to get shiny, you've crossed the line. The best way to avoid this is to practice on a swatch. I hate swatching as much as the next knitter, but it's a critical step in this procedure!!!
Have you killed acrylic? Did you do it on purpose?Do share in the comments. I'm not willing to admit that I like acrylic yarn after trying this, but I will gladly endorse the killing of knitted acrylic projects everywhere. Also, I'm really excited to keep working on my cushions.
Also, THANKS!!! everybody who shared their experiences and insight on our gluten experiment! I'm incredibly grateful for the thoughtful comments, shared information and reflections on the process, and it's been fun reading them! We still have tons to learn!
During the month of September, Mike and I challenged each other to go gluten free. Our goal was to see whether or not gluten contributed to our list of typical physical complaints. We're both fairly conscious about what we eat, generally. I've eaten vegetarian for nearly 11 years. Mike is an omnivore, but he eats mostly meat-free meals by proxy. We're both moderately active and consider ourselves to be "healthy". We're flawed. We snack on junk foods and eat our fair share of carry-out. There are also a number of environmental circumstances that contribute to our typical state: i.e. we both work 40+ hour work weeks, have long commute times, and exist in a constant state of mild exhaustion. Our biggest complaints are that we both have body and headaches more than we feel is acceptable, and often, struggle to get uninterrupted sleep. We consider all of these things to be our "normal", but we're certainly interested to learn ways we can improve our situations.
We know increasingly more people who have excluded gluten from their diets for a variety of reasons: wheat sensitivities, allergies, contributory side effects to other medical conditions, and volunteer exclusion, etc... The unanimous consensus has been the experience of an overall improvement in well-being. We definitely don't have a medical need to exclude gluten from our diet, but we wanted to see if there was any merit to this type of eating.
The beginning of the month was difficult. Most notably, almost all foods of convenience were suddenly off limits. I could no longer expect to grab a bagel on my way into the office. And, attempting to find menu items that are both gluten free and vegetarian proved to be a challenge at most grab-and-go restaurants. Meal planning became critical. We found ourselves waking up earlier to pack lunches and eat a couple slices of brown rice flour toast with Nutella on our way out the door.
Grocery shopping was far less challenging. We were amazed to find a large variety of gluten free products available. We found some wonderful blog resources and played with some new recipes. We easily substituted a gluten free flour blend into cookie recipes, and didn't notice much difference in preparation or taste.
After our first week of eating gluten free, I noticed that I felt less bloated. Also, Mike and I agreed that we both had decreased appetites. We were snacking less frequently between meals and eating smaller portions.
Aside from our initial responses, we had a hard time determining whether or not we experienced benefit. Unfortunately, our seasonal allergies and sinuses were active in full force during September. And, we have been experiencing unusually high volumes of stress while we continue the process of purchasing our new house. Both of these have contributed to the disruption of our sleep cycles and our stress levels.
As Mike and I continued our conversations regarding gluten throughout the month, we both agreed that the best test to determine what positive results we had experienced would be seeing whether or not we had any adverse reactions to reintroducing wheat once the month was over.
So, on September 30, when we sat down to indulge in our quinoa pasta and GF eggplant Parmesan (with from-scratch sauce, I might add) I initiated a conversation about what type of meal Mike wanted to end our fast. He dodged the question. He argued that we had already done our grocery shopping for the week and had ample supplies to make it to the weekend. He changed the pace of the conversation and mentioned what good habits we both demonstrated throughout the month by preparing and packing all our own meals. Then he pointed out all the unexpected variables that had possibly skewed our perceptions throughout the month. And, he sheepishly suggested that we might need another month of eating gluten free to gather information before we could make an educated decision regarding its benefits/detriments.
So, the conclusion is, we haven't made any conclusions. I'll let you know how October goes. Have you attempted to eat gluten free or make other dietary modifications to promote a positive response? I've linked my photos to all the recipes I used throughout the month, and I'd LOVE to hear your suggestions and resources for meal ideas!