Monday, August 25, 2008

Creative and Beneficial Uses of Lavender Essential Oil

Because I own a shop that sells fragrances, including essential oils, I get asked a lot of questions about them, specifically lavender. If you were to make a starter kit of aromatherapy and home remedy essential oils, this would definitely be in your top 6. The other five would be Tea Tree Oil, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Grapefruit. But their stories are for another day. Please use caution when using essential oils around infants, children, pets and while pregnant.

While many people are aware that lavender has relaxing properties, it is very useful in a lot of other ways as well.

Lavender has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.
  • If you use cloth diapers, put a few drops in the final rinse to disinfect diapers.
  • To make homemade baby wipe solution, add 2-3 drops of lavender to a pint of water and a dash of baby shampoo. Put in squirt bottle and apply to wipes or use it in a wipe warmer.
  • It's often added to Chamomile to treat Excema.
  • It's an effective treatment of lice.
  • It heals burns, wounds, cuts and sunburns rapidly.
Lavender is a natural pest repellent.
  • Place lavender sachets wherever you want to prevent moth attacks. Especially in wool yarn storage bins. No need to buy expensive ones, just use knee-high stocking stuffed with dried lavender.
  • Toss a lavender sachet in the dryer for a clean smell and to keep bugs away from blankets, etc. When the sachet starts to lose it's strength, freshen it up with a few drops of the essential oil. If you don't have dried lavender, use small facecloth and put about 10 drops per load of lavender oil and toss it in with the rest.
  • Hang lavender holders outside to deter mosquitoes. Apparently, they hate lavender. You can even add some lavender oil to your favorite unscented body oil or lotion for a natural mosquito repellent.
  • Spiders don't like lavender, either. Especially when it's mixed with eucalyptus. Take about 5 drops of each and apply it along sliding glass door tracks, window ledges and other places they enter the house to deter them. You can apply it directly to a cotton ball and wipe it along those openings or create a spray solution using 5 ounces of distilled water. Shake well and spray.
Lavender by itself is a pretty amazing product. By tapping into the synergy of blending it with other oils, it's even better. Have fun experimenting with all of the things lavender can do.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Row and Stitch Markers

I just am not creative person. I may have mentioned that I am extremely good at following directions, though. So, I just stumbled upon (well sort of, I read her blog regularly) Turtlegirl's generous posting of how to make stitch and row markers in a very easy to read Word document format. Now, all I need are pliers, beads and some wire to make this cute little row marker:

Here is a link to her site with the free download.

Photo courtesy of TurtleGirl at

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Ok, this sock scrap blanket is taking over my life! What started as a fun little project to use up some extra yarn, has turned into a full blown addiction. I know I'm not alone. There is a whole forum on Ravelry dedicated to this deceptively simple yet obsessive project. It's right here if you want to see how many people just on Ravelry have been sucked in to Shelly Kang's delightful blankie. I am posting a link to her free pattern here with a strong warning to proceed at your own risk.

I even have my 1 1/2 year old daughter helping me with squares! This is bad. Very, very bad. I have a lace shaw to finish for my BFF's wedding in October and oodles of Christmas presents to get done. If only I could put down the squares! I can quit anytime, really.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Paying it Forward

I'm SO EXCITED to be a involved in the Pay It Forward Exchange! I found out about it from the Pay it Forward group on Ravelry!

Let me tell you about it, these are the instructions: It’s the Pay It Forward Exchange. It’s based of the concept of the movie “Pay it Forward” where acts or deeds of kindness are done without expecting something in return, just passing it on, with hope that the recipients of the acts of kindness are passed on.

So here’s how it works. I will make and send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment to this post on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I do not know what that gift will be yet, and it won’t be sent this month, probably not next month, but it will be sent (within 6 months) and that’s a promise! What YOU have to do in return, then, is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

I will now Pay It Forward to you THREE, I wonder who you will be?! Please, be a PIF! You will enjoy it just as much as we do!

And, have 6 months to get your gifts done! Come on, you know you would love to be one of my angels. Then, one day, but you don't know will get a gift that I have made especially for YOU!

Please remember, you don't have to knit or crochet to participate, anyone who can make a nice handmade gift is welcome to join :)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Who Doesn't Like Free?

1,000 posts. I think with all my blogs, I'm up to 20. Here is a link to a contest a woman is doing as a 1,000 post celebration with a chance to win something.

Good luck to everyone!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cables Really Aren't That Hard

For such a pretty end product, I was surprised at how easy doing cables can really be. I didn't have a cable needle so I used the tip of one of my interchangeable needles. It was ok for shorter cables but to do more than two criss crosses, I'll need to invest in the type with the little dip to hold the stitches.

I was looking for a pattern to make a thank you scarf for a nice man that owns the store next to ours. I found the Double Cable Scarf out of my One Skein book and was very pleased with the outcome.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Never Underestimate the Importance of Gauge!

After spending hours working on a pair of shorties (a wool diaper cover) for Bit and using a nice yarn for the first time, I discovered the importance of gauge. Up until this point, I either did something that didn't require a fit or just plain lucked out. While Bit can wear these with a ribbon cinch, the end product was basically an unfitted square. Hubby calls them my "Pink Bit Square Pants". If Sponge Bob were a girl, he'd probably love them (see pic at bottom of page).

Here are a couple helpful links on determining gauge and and a pic of my finished project (for a "what not to do" reference).

Yarn Forward has this to say about gauge. has a long article about the importance of gauge, here says this says this says gives a chart for calculating gauge, here

And of course there are scores of blogs and other websites full of advice but the bottom line, if size and shape is important, knit at least a 4x4 swatch and measure it to make sure you have the size. Everything from weight of the yarn, size of needle, fiber of the yarn and your individual knitting style can affect the end result. It's a small investment of time to take to make your project worth your time and effort!

An example of what not to do:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Distraction Knitting Solution: Using Stitch Markers to Mark Rows

Once again, I'm indebted to the people of Ravelry, who's ideas inspire me and save me tons of money. Well maybe not the latter (more on that later).

I'm an ok knitter in my book. My stuff comes out looking sort of like it's supposed to and the few clothing items I've made even fit. But, when I get distracted, kids, TV, pets, visitors, et. al. I'm usually not good enough to figure out where I am in a pattern.

Case in point: I'm knitting a pair of baby shorts in the round. After frogging because of numerous interruptions, I'm finally to the body of the pants. At this point, it says make a short row then knit 5 rows. Do that a couple times until you get your desired length. Oh, Kudos to Pear at Yarny_Bits for the great free pattern. One of my problems is that I seldom have time to sit and knit 5 rows and lose my place (sometimes even while I'm knitting) and can't recall which row I'm on.

Enter Ravelry knitters! I'm reading on the Etsy forum about these great things to help me with this very problem. Use stitch markers linked together and each time you complete a round, slip to the next one on the loop to mark what row you're on! Genius!

Turtlegirl76 makes some really pretty ones, here, at her shop on Etsy. Not being creative, but great at following directions, I google "how to use row markers" just to see that I understand this concept before spending money. Lo and behold, Karen at KarenJoSeattle has not only an easy to understand tutorial of this process, but shows me how to make them myself out of some markers I have on hand! So, I learned something new and saved money.

Oh, yeah, about that. I think I'm still going to go buy Turtlegirl's markers because they are so darned pretty and I try to be a supporter of the people that support me and may not even know it.

Thank you's to Pear, TurtleGirl and Karen.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Finished the Peep; Or is it a duck?

I finished one before Easter. I guess it kind of looks like a peep. I think I'll do the wings up and down instead of side to side next time.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Fuzzy Pink Pear aka: Peep

I found the cutest knit project on Ravelry the other day and being the over ambitious non-achiever that I sometimes am, immediately cast on with hopes of finishing it by Easter (4 days away). Kat Lewinski posted it on her blog, here, and I am once again in awe of people who can make this stuff up and indebted to her for graciously sharing it for those of us who are "creativity challenged". Thank you, Kat.

I just sewed on the beak and am working on the eyes. I tried to do a couple wings last night but I guess it was a little late for me. Who ever heard of casting on 2?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Center Pull Ball of Yarn

Here is another seemingly self explanatory yarn thing but I had to do some research to find an easy way to do it that 1) didn't end up in a tangled mess and 2) wasn't so complicated I'd have to bookmark the link and boot up my computer every time to relearn the process.

Here is what I came up with:

Start by holding your winding hand open with your thumb and forefinger extended. Take the yarn to be wound and drape it over the open hand from back to front between the thumb and finger leaving about a 6 inch tail behind your hand.

Loosely wind the yarn around the thumb and finger in a figure eight pattern about 30 times, the exact amount isn't important but you don't want to do it too much or when you're finished that part will pull out of the ball and leave a large hallow space.

Pull the figure eight winding off your thumb and finger and pinch it together leaving the tail still trailing down behind your hand.

Now, simply start winding and turning like this: Wind at an angel from the lower part of your thumb to the top of your thumb about 20 times (again, the exact number isn't important) turning the ball on your thumb about a quarter each time after wrapping. Be sure to keep the tail positioned behind your hand.

When you are done, tuck the end into the last few wraps. Pull from the inside string to start. The figure eight part will loosen up pretty quickly and may pull out in a little yarn blob. Now you see why you don't want to make that part too big. But, too small may not leave enough room inside the ball to pull the rest. You can play around with the amounts.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Slip the Marker???

Sure, I've been knitting for a good few years and am pretty familiar with basic terminology. But I recently did my first project in the round, a pair of knit pants, and struggled through both legs with the stitch markers. The terminology was simple enough "slip the marker and stitch to the next marker". However, the only markers I have are the plastic lobster claw like gadgets which I later learned are for crochet. I thought I was supposed to clip one on to the last stitch and then remove it and attach it to next stitch above when I came back around. I was confusing myself trying to line up the lower stitches and needless to say, had to correct a lot of errors.

Then I found a post on the Ravelry forums that changed my life! Someone actually asked what "slip the marker" means! Can you believe it? I didn't even think of asking but she did and I thanked her for asking because the simple response made all of the difference in the pinwheel blanket I'm making that currently has 11 stitch markers. I'm flying through this project thanks to her.

For all of you that don't know what it means and didn't think to ask, slipping the marker is an easy way to mark a certain spot. First you "place" the circular stitch marker directly on the right needle when the pattern says so. When you come back around, knit/purl the stitch before the marker and then "slip" the marker from the left needle to the right and continue knitting/purling the row. So simple yet it's made a world of difference in my technique.

One of the infinite purls of wisdom I've learned from everyone on (pun intended).

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

How to stiffen a project

I found there are mainly 4 ways to stiffen a project. All four can be applied by a soft clean paint brush. The homemade stiffeners can be washed out, so if you make a mistake, wash it and start over. For any shaped product, find a similarly shaped object, cover it so it won't get wet and insert it in the bowl, basket, box, etc. to obtain the desired shape.

The first is specifically meant for using on clothes as a spray starch but can be used for fabric projects. It's a simple process:

Heat 3/4 cup of water in the microwave until very hot (boiling if you're doing it on the stove). Mix 1/4 cup cool tap water with a tablespoon of corn starch and mix well. Slowly add the corn starch mixture to the hot water. Wait until it cools and pour it in to a spray bottle to use while ironing. Cautions on this method: Solution will only stay good for a couple of days. Don't use it on items you intend to store since it may attract mildew or bugs. To combat those problems, I may try to mix a few drops of Tea Tree Oil in the hot water prior to mixing. Tea Tree Oil is a natural germicide, fungicide, and bactericide.

Then there is the old fashioned sugar based starch a lot of grandmas used when ironing or making lace work. It's basically the same process but different ingredients: Mix equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a slow boil being careful not to burn the sugar. Immediately remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Dampen your project and remove all excess water with an absorbent towel. Cautions on this method: Should not be used for permanent stiffening. Will likely yellow over time and may attract mildew and/or bugs. May get sticky in humid conditions.

Mixing equal parts white glue and water (use more water for more pliable projects) is another simple, quick way to stiffen projects.

The most permanent and durable method is to use one of the commercial fabric stiffeners on the market. Mix it according to the manufacturers directions. Caution with this method: It is permanent so follow the directions.  Check your local craft store for brands.

Crochet Basket

The other day I was organizing my craft closet and found tons of unused crochet hooks and needles. I also found a bunch of yarn, completely unidentifiable in amount, fabric or specific color. So, I found this neat little pattern on for making little crochet baskets. It's by Bernat and the free pattern can be found here.

I'm just now finishing attaching the base to the sides and realize it needs to be "stiffened" by starch or "fabric stiffener". Of course, I don't have any here. So, I looked online and found numerous recipes for making your own fabric stiffener. It looks like the best option is to use the real stuff so I'll have to save saying it's completely done until I get a trip to Michaels.

Here's a picture of it unstarched but with some DVD's holding it's shape. It turned out pretty good.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008

Tiramisu is done!

I'm so excited to have this done in time to give to Terry when I see her this weekend for the first time since Michael was born. I have so many other projects on hooks and needles, it feels sooo good to cross one off the list.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tiramisu - Ready for Blocking

I've never blocked anything before. But then again, I've never made something that was supposed to be square and I wanted to look "finished" before I gave it as a gift. Here's the blanket prior to soaking. I'm following the wet blocking tips previously mentioned and it's in the water right now with a little baby shampoo. Hopefully it straightens out!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tiramisu - The Best Baby Blanket

I never did finish Taylor's baby blanket. Probably because it couldn't be as pretty and nice as the one I'm working on for Baby Fitzgibbons. This blanket, beautifully made, simply designed, and generously distributed for free by Alicia Paulson is called the Tiramisu Blanket. When I saw this, I knew it was perfect for Terry and James and their soon to arrive little boy.

Although it's a very easy pattern, it has been a challenge for this inexperienced crocheter. This is by no means a reflection on the author of the pattern, simply my impatience, lack of focus and inexperience.

My first problem, that I didn't notice until I finished the body, is that I chain on very tight. Not a good thing when I went around the blanket with the single crochet required for the first row of the trim.

My second problem, I discovered I cannot crochet a repetitive stitch and watch TV, listen to music, talk to my hubby or think about anything other than crocheting.

Which led to my third problem and why I had to start over numerous times. I'm not good enough to not count my stitches in a row. 1/3 of the way up the second time, I took a couple minutes and counted the stitches and discovered I'd somehow added a few here and there and my square blanket was looking more like a trapezoid.

My fourth problem, I don't know enough about crocheting to be modifying a pattern. At least, not on one I am on a tight schedule to complete as a gift. Frogging takes time and I've spent my share doing that. But, I'm not giving up. I really like the look of one of the completed blankets with 8 rows of SS around the trim. I'm just trying to figure out many SS's go in the corners each row.

I did do something right, right off the bat. I read other reader's posts and carefully checked my gauge, increased my hook size to size K USA and it appears to have worked well.

Now I just have to finish the trim, wash it, block it and add the ribbon!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How to block a knitted/crocheted project

Ok, so I haven't blocked yet, but when I do, I'm following the best blocking instructions I've ever found at Eunny Jang's Blog. Here's the direct link to her blog . It is very helpful!