Owl is fine – I’ve been busy!

I know I haven’t posted lately but it is because I have been spending every waking moment knitting for a baby shower. With just one weeks notice I knocked out two stroller blankets and designed this great little baby sweater for my friends twins. I based this pattern on an old pattern from Leisure Arts
and Designed by Joan Beebe although it was heavily modified.
 
 
I chose a 2×2 ribbing and shifted the little owls down so they would sit out on a nice chubby belly. I added some buttons on one shoulder to make access easier and then also improvised an owl from one I had a picture of but no pattern. It was easy enough to figure out that the owl was made from C2B/C2F combinations. The wings were smaller versions of the birdie wings featured in the Beebe pattern.

I specifically knit on the purl side when joining the blue and then the brown again because I really like that “stitching” effect that you get seeing the purl side of a new color.

 

The blue color was a slightly thinner yarn so I jumped up two sizes for my needles but that area does pull a little. I think it still works although in the future I plan to ONLY use yarns that are the same weight.

Each owl has his own set of button eyes and each are different. First because I was using stash buttons and I couldn’t find six the same and secondly it gives each owl his own personality!!

I had fun with this project and am working on another version for the little girl that is on the way. Lets hope I have more than one week’s notice to get the next one finished.

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How to Leave a New Salon Smiling – Your PCS should make your life a mess but not your hair.

I was stressed-out for weeks before my latest PCS. Not because my son was changing schools, my belongings were changing houses and my whole life was about to be turned upside down. I was horribly concerned that I would not be able to find a good hairdresser at our next location. Hey – I think my worries were perfectly valid. It took me three years to find a gal who could provide the perfect “Pink meets Ellen Degeneres” look without making me look like Roxette or Annie Lennox. I also knew we would only be at our next location for 6 months, so you can appreciate my concerns.

I decided to take my hair into my own hands. No I did not cut or color my own hair. I’m slightly more advanced than that. I didn’t have that figured out at age 6 or 16 but those are funny pictures in my parents’ photo albums and not the point of this story. I did, however, take an opportunity to quiz my hairstylist before my last appointment. I plopped myself into the chair of Amber Beronio at Blonde Salon and Spa in Killeen Texas (insert shameless plug here) and asked her just what information her incoming military spouses should bring with them for their first appointment. She said it is all about the color. The cut is important too but if you don’t share with a new hairdresser what color has been used or when it was last applied you are increasing your chances of a disaster.

“That happens a lot,” she said. “They say they have no color and the color lifts beautifully at the roots where there really wasn’t any color but the rest is a mess and then you have to start at square one and sometimes that means a lot of processes that really aren’t good for the hair.”

So honesty really is the best policy when it comes to hair color, at least at the salon. And she says don’t be shy when meeting your new stylist. They WANT to get it right and they need the info from you to do that. Typically it can take 1-3 visits for her to really understand what a client wants. But together we came up with a list of things to ask your stylist before you leave that can help your next salon meet your expectations the first time. And don’t be shy about asking. I was at first but Amber told me that most stylists that work near military communities should understand.

“I would never get offended because being in a military town I’m used to my clients leaving,” says Beronio. “I do that a lot for my clients that are moving out of town and even go so far as to find a new stylist. You may not do everything the same way but the more information you have the better you can satisfy them.”

If you are preparing for a PCS be sure to take this list of questions to your last appointment. Again – don’t be shy. A good salon will be happy to help you.

1. What brand and formula of color was last applied and when?

2. How does this client like her hair to look afterwards?

3. How does she like it texturized?

4. How does the hair lift (if lightened) or how porous is the hair (if darkened)?

5. Any other special notes.

For example the card Amber wrote for me said things like:

Client has extremely thick hair and needs double the bleach than you would assume. She likes it to look platinum and not brassy. Thinning shears work better than razor thinning. It also contained the exact brand and formula of powdered lightener, AKA Bleach, so a salon using the same brand can replicate her “recipe.”
When you get to your next duty station you can use websites like Yelp.com to research salons or put the work out on Facebook.com that you are looking for a new stylist but there is one tried and true method that I like to employ. Find someone with a killer haircut/color and ask them who does their hair. Works every time. From there you can go to that salon’s website and research the types of products they use and whether they provide regular training opportunities to their stylists.

With these tips you should have more control over the success of your first visit to a new salon without having to literally take your hair into your own hands. Trust me the pictures in my parents’ photo album are not pretty.

Ninjago Lunch Bag Challenge

My obsession is knitting but my son’s obsession is Ninjago. Lego Ninjago from Cartoon network with new episodes every Wednesday night. OK maybe I’m a little excited about these five ninjas and their quest to defeat Lord Garmadon. “What’s the best way to defeat your enemy? Make him your friend.” Ahh who wouldn’t love it with great messages like that.

Well it’s a little harder to love when your 6 year old is asking for a Ninjago lunch bag for school and there are none to be found. No that’s a lie – search on EBay and you’ll find them. For $20-30 bucks. I’ll do a lot for my kid but I am NOT spending $30 or even $20 on a lunch bag.

Not gonna happen when I have a stash of red and yellow yarn left over from the angry bird I crocheted for him last year. No he was going to have a Ninjago lunch bag – it just wasn’t coming from Ebay..

Now I can do a lot of crafty things but I am no artist. Not as far as my drawing is concerned anyway. I did not inherit that gene from my Mom. I did inherit the gene of collecting project materials and never actually finishing (or starting) any of the projects that I have such good intentions of completing some day. But that’s the topic of a different post.

This post is about how this mom found a way to make a pattern without the ability to draw. It is called Photoshop. Well a free copycat version from the Internet that is actually called Pixlr.

 

I used their pointinize filter to turn my picture into a series of dots. First i took out all the shading and colored all the red-red and yellow-yellow instead of shades of yellow and red. I did the same with the black and the white until my final picture was just black yellow or red dots.

Unfortunately a knitting stitch is not the same dimensions as one of these dots so when I made my first set of ninja eyes they were twice as wide as I wanted. I adjusted my size by taking out a few columns from either side and in the middle and transferred my pattern onto some graph paper.

My new pattern is available for purchase from my ravelry store buy now

I decided to make my bag out of a circular tube. I thought I could just knit along happily on circular needles and life would be grand. Guess I missed the chapter in my Knit ‘n Bitch book that talked about why it is an awful and terrible decision to knit in the round when you are doing Intarsia or stranded knitting. That chapter is there by the way – I have now read it.
 
You can’t possibly carry your yarn around to the back side of your project for every row and I ended up with about 300 strands needing to be sewn in or – yes I’ll admit it – tied off with a knot. Next time I will knit two sides and sew them up with a mattress stitch and save myself at least a couple hours worth of tying up ends.
 
To make the bottom of my bag I found the sides and pinched about an inch on either side and sewed it together to give the bag a bit of a flat bottom. Doing this first made it easier to center my handles later. I knitted up in the round until past the pattern and then found the center of my bag above my ninja eyes.

I estimated about 15 stitches to make a good handle and on my next pass I bound-off those stitches on the front and the back. On my next pass I cast on those stitches and then went on knitting on the other side of the new “hole” I had just made. I bound off after about another 8 rows and had just 2 feet of red yarn left. Talk about a stash buster.
 
 
 
It’s about 18 hours until school starts so I just made my deadline but I guarantee my kid will be the only kid in school with a Ninjago lunch bag. Well unless their parents were willing to pay the $30 to order one from EBay. Me – I prefer the free yarn in my stash and a good challenge. I’m still putting off that black angry bird he has ordered though.
 
To get a chart of these eyes you can click on the link below and finish your purchase at my Ravelry store.