Sunday, January 8, 2012

Handmade Alpaca Wool winter hat & scarf, and a beaded faux collar

I found this beautiful beaded necklace in a box of my Omi's jewelry.  Mom had passed it on to me after Omi died.  I wasn't able to look through everything, it was just too hard.  I decided to make myself sit down and look, Omi's been in Heaven since December of 2006.  It was full of the lovely pins and things Omi loved.  As a young woman in Germany she had been a costume jewelry designer.  She loved to work with beads, needle point, cross-stitch, knitting so many creative ways to use her hands.  She still did her needle work until just before her death when her shaking hands made it difficult to yield a needle accurately.  It turns out, this beaded necklace belongs to my Mom but she never used it. I took one look and knew that I would put it to use.  What a creative way to dress up a plain sweater.  It's a necklace, but looks like a lace collar.  I just love it.  

Growing up I learned to crochet, cross-stitch and sew. I really enjoy making things, but mostly in the winter time.  I'm not very "crafty" in the spring or summer for some reason.  To me, there is nothing better than sitting in my recliner in front of a fire, with a nice cup of coffee reading or creating something.  I also like to see results pretty quickly, so crocheting was fun but it took so much time to make anything that it is a little frustrating for me.  It took me about 3-4 weeks to crochet my little boy a hat and scarf out of  Baby Alpaca wool, a little longer for the hat.  I wasn't very happy with the scarf but the hat I really like.

I have also made many Patchwork Stockings. I usually sew them by hand, but more recently I've gone to sewing them on the sewing machine.  I enjoy sewing, but with a small child it's nearly impossible to sit for any length of time in order to get anything done.  Sewing things together requires lining up the material and sewing in a straight line.  It's very hard to accomplish this when you pick it up, the put it down to do something, then pick it back up again.  Most of my time would be spent straightening it up, as well as, disentangling the thread.  Not fun.  Here are some examples of the stockings I've made.  The two on the sides I used a photo material to print off pictures and sew them into the stockings.  The middle stocking I started cross-stitching but realized 1/4 of the way through that it was off center.  My German grandmother, Omi, was the only person I knew that could fix it and enjoy the challenge of it.  Omi finished it, them my Mom completed it by sewing in a liner and the cuff.  It's very special to me, as you can imagine.

I decided to try knitting.  My friend Ana knits and makes a lot of things, quicker than I ever could crocheting.  While Mom was here, Ana came over and to everyone's surprise, Ana and Mom knit the same way.  What's so surprising about that?  Apparently there are different knitting methods, Mom referred to hers as "The German way", when she showed us, Ana told us that's the same way she knits.  The lady I now buy my Alpaca wool from knits the "American way", which looks much to complicated to me.  Between my Mom, Ana and a couple other sources, I have learned to knit.  Their method is relatively quick and easy.  I love it.  Here is one of the hats I've knitted.  I can knock out a hat in 2 to 3 days of knitting an hour or so a day.  I have found that Alpaca wool is very nice to knit with.  It seems to be easier and not so prone to knots as synthetic or blended yarns.  I have been knitting a scarf out of polyester and wool, it is taking me forever, it knots easily and doesn't seem to "flow" as nicely as the Alpaca wool.   I used a worsted weight (tan) and a sport weight (black) in this hat.  The sport weight was too fine for me to knit a hat for a man. It would have been good for a woman, but to dainty for a man's hat.  So I used them both.  It's a very soft and warm hat.  My husband has a tan one, and this one is for his co-worker who asked me to knit him one also.  They are outside a lot and these hats are so warm without being itchy.

I used circular needles to knit this hat.  A key to knitting with circular needles, use small needles with a circumference smaller than you want the hat to be.  Otherwise the yarn will stretch and the hat will be misshapen.   I wasn't sure how to finish the top of the hat, so while at the Alpaca farm I asked Mary how she did it.  She told me to use "double-pointed" needles.  I didn't want to take up any more of her time, so I went to the craft store, bought a small "learn to knit" guide, some double-pointed needles and went home.  The instructions were a little confusing, so I figured it out myself.  I kept dropping stitches trying to knit with the end of each double-pointed needle.  I found using an empty needle to knit onto is easier.  I knit this hat to the very last stitch on top then tied it off, using a crochet hook to work the tail of yarn into the hat.
No recipes today, maybe some advice.  If you feel like you don't have anything to do, find something.  Knitting, sewing, cross-stitch, puzzles.....just keep your mind active in a positive way.  If you don't know how to knit, look on "you tube" there are many very nice instructional videos to be found on there.  I found a site that shows, step-by-step, how to crochet lovely flowers....I can't wait to get started!

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