Friday, June 14, 2013

Tree of Life

My other main project in May was also a present, for two friends who were getting married over Memorial Day weekend. They are both lifelong fantasy/sci-fi nerds (like me, and most of the people I hang out with), and were having a Middle Earth-themed wedding. I thought something knitted with a cabled Tree of Life motif would be a perfect gift for them.

I picked Nicky Epstein's Tree of Life Afghan, which is a free pattern available through Lion Brand. Rather than doing a whole blanket, I wanted to use just one tree motif on a pillow. Many other people have done the same, and I used some of their projects as inspiration, especially Karen1959 and franconia.

I first mentioned this project back back in March, when I started making a prototype so that I would know what I was doing. I'm not really a fan of that kind of preliminary work, but at that point, I had never knitted cables or a pillow so I decided the practice was worth it. I didn't actually go through making an entire practice pillow, which I should have done - in hindsight, I could have left a little more selvage for sewing together the front and back panels. I'm very happy with how it turned out, though!

I used Berroco Comfort again for this project, so that the pillow would be easy to clean (they have a couple of messy kitties). The front panel is the tree motif surrounded by a two-inch border of seed stitch, and the back panels are plain seed stitch, overlapping in the middle - more notes on my Ravelry project page if you're interested.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Elephant blankies

It's been quiet on my blog again, partly because in May, most of my projects were presents (and partly because I'm lazy). But now that all the presents have been given away, I have quite a few posts to catch up on.

Two of my friends from grad school had babies within a few weeks of each other this spring, and I thought it would be nice to make them matching presents. Since I'm not that confident with baby sizing, I wanted to avoid sweaters, and I get the impression that most booties don't stay on that well. I was searching for something cute and cuddly, that the babies wouldn't instantly grow out of - and look what I found!

The pattern is Grace - Elephant Comfort Blanket by Dedri Uys and is available for free on Ravelry. I would happily have paid for it, though, because it's detailed and well written. The construction of the head and ears is slightly complicated, but every stitch is explained, and the result is super cute! The only change I made was to crochet a few more decreasing rounds at the back of the elephant heads before sewing them on to the blankets, to help keep the stuffing secure inside. I also sewed on black pieces of felt for the eyes rather than using safety eyes. I think opinion is mixed on whether safety eyes are really baby-safe, but I didn't want to take any chances.

I used Berroco Comfort DK in alternating colors, and each blankie took about one and a half skeins, which makes this a very affordable project!

Both babies have received their elephants now and I've enjoyed seeing the pictures of them with their new buddies. I hope they can enjoy them for several years.