New Hat!

I finished my new hat on my commute home yesterday (hooray for public transportation). The pattern was adapted from a pattern in the Fall/Winter 2005 issue of Knit.1 Magazine and I used Lion Brand Homespun Colonial yarn. Rather than use a circular needle this time I used double pointed needles, which made this project so much easier than it’s predecessor (the same hat made on circular needles in a different color) and I’m happier overall with the finished project.


If you look towards the top of the hat you can see that the ribs jog over instead of continuing in a straight line. I made the first hat using circular needles that were small, but apparently too big for that particular project, which made knitting hard since the stitches would get all tight and the needles’ cord would bend in weird ways. I spent so much time and energy just trying to get one stitch from one needle over to the next that I must’ve lost count when I decreased, which caused the rib lag. Not this time though!

Here’s the new hat:


As you can see the ribs don’t jog this time. We’ll see if that’s still true once I’ve worn it and stretched it out a bit, but judging by what it looks like now and what the old hat looked like when I finished it, I don’t think that will change.

Here are a few more shots of the new hat. Of course, today it’s 42 degrees, so I don’t really need to wear a hat, but temps are supposed to dip again this weekend and while I’m not looking forward to that. I am looking forward to wearing my new hat!



Keeping the Winter Blues at Bay

February is probably my least favorite month of the year. Even though it’s the shortest month it always seems to drag on forever. It’s cold, gloomy and monotonous and there isn’t a lot to look forward to besides Valentine’s Day. These days all I can think about is starting my veggie seeds indoors, enjoying temperatures above 40 degrees and taking long walks with the dogs.

I think Ian and Harlow are in the same boat:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our apartment has been so drafty the past two months that they spend a lot of time cuddling together; rather than playing, so whenever we go outside Harlow pulls like she’s competing in the Iditarod. Then she gets cold and plays “let’s see how many paws I can lift off the ground and still move”, which is both funny and heartbreaking, so our evening and weekend walks together have been very short.

Unfortunately for us it looks like this winter is going to be a long one, so in an effort to break up the monotony of life, I have 1) started playing fetch indoors with the dogs and Nick has started creating treat scavenger hunts for them, and 2) I’ve started knitting a hat.

I like hats, because they’re quick, easy and extremely useful in this weather. I’ve had my current hat for four years now and I’ve worn it every single day this winter, so I figured it’s time for a change.

Here’s my old hat:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI made this hat using Lion Brand Homespun in Blue Moon on circular needles. However, I had problems using the circular needles when I made it since they were too long and once I joined my initial stitches it was a pain to knit around ’cause everything would get too tight, so this time around I’ve decided to use double pointed needles, which I have never used before, in the hopes of making the process easier and faster.

Here’s what I started last night while watching TV:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This time around I’m using Lion Brand Homespun in Colonial, which has an indigo hue to it. I’m excited to have a new hat and will hopefully have it done by early next week. As much as I’m enjoying making the portrait of Ian, I just needed a break since it’s an involved project.

Next on my list of side projects: ZINES! Chicago Zine Fest is 29 days away (March 14 & 15 – mark your calendars) – I have so much to do, yikes!

Can’t wait!

Mini Embroidery Hoops made by The Creative Muster. Available on Etsy!

I’ve been interested in making embroidered necklace pendants for quite some time now, but hadn’t put much time or thought into it until I came across The Creative Muster Etsy shop, which sells small embroidery hoop frames made from bamboo that can either be hung on a wall or turned into jewelry.

Fortunately, they’re not very expensive, so I was able to buy a few different styles. Unfortunately, they’re made in Canberra, Australia, so it’s probably going to be a few weeks before I get my hands on them.

Oh, well, in the meantime I can work on cute embroidery designs, so I can get to work as soon as they arrive!

Monkey Face Progress

For those who don’t know, my beloved Ian MacKaynine is also known as “Monkey Face” or just “Monkey” around these parts.

Here’s where hours of watching Dexter and Scrubs have gotten me:


It’s starting to look less like a strange map and more like his face now that the eye is being defined. Nick keeps teasing that at this rate I won’t be done with this until April. I’m determined to prove him wrong.

Wish me luck! I still have 3 seasons of Dexter, 4 seasons of Scrubs and at least 2 more months of the kind of weather that makes me want to stay indoors 24/7 ahead of me. Plus, rumor has it Polar Vortex Part III is supposed to be heading our way in the near future.

Why do I live in the Midwest again?

Owl Tote #2

Since I didn’t take time off around Christmas, I decided to take last week off of work to work on hobby projects, catch up on my reading and avoid dealing with the crummy weather.

Since I took that tote bag class a few months ago, I’ve been itching to make a modified one that better suits my needs and since I had extra fabric, I did just that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI hate digging through my purse for things and since my original tote bag was pretty basic and didn’t include any pockets, I spent a lot of time fishing through it for stuff. So this time around I added a pocket, a D ring and a clasp I got from Tom Bihn to use with my modular pouches, which I also got from Tom Bihn.

I made the pocket large enough to hold my Kindle, which I got as a gift for myself this winter. From now on I won’t have to lug so many bags around when I travel since I usually like to bring 2 or more books and they take up a lot of space. Now I can comfortably carry my lunch, my reading material, my wallet, my water bottle and a small assortment of other small necessities in just one bag and it’s easier on my back!


I put the D ring and the hook on opposite ends of the bag to balance it out. Unfortunately, I forgot to change back to black thread when I sewed the strap to the hook, but since it’s inside the bag, no one should notice, but me. I also sewed the strap on the hook the wrong way onto the fabric, d’oh!


Here’s a picture of the hook with one of Tom Bihn’s Cordura Organizer pouches, which I use to hold keys to my desk at work, lip balm and a small pack of tissues. I also have a larger Cordura Organizer I use to hold pens, which isn’t pictured, but will hang with it’s partner soon.


The D ring will most likely be used to hold my house/car keys and/or if I feel like knitting on my morning commute instead of reading, it will hold the Tom Bihn Yarn Stuff Sack that Nick bought me for the solstice.

The only other mistake I made with the new version of my tote was that I messed up one of the handles, which is a bit of a bummer, but not super noticeable.


The handle on top wasn’t inserted correctly, which is why it twists, rather than laying flat like the one on the bottom. However,  I took it out for a test run this weekend and it wasn’t uncomfortable.

Oh, well – at least these mistakes will remind me to pay closer attention to what I’m doing next time. The original owl tote will most likely end up going to my sister since she was admiring it at our annual family Christmas dinner. It should serve her well for carrying all of the papers she needs to grade home from school.

Despite the errors, I’m happy with my new bag!


La Loteria, Frida, Stars and Roses!

Thanks to Sew Mama Sew, I took advantage of a couple of great fabric shops (Fabric Worm and Hawthorne Threads) year-end sales and acquired these awesome fabrics. I’m excited to oil up the sewing machine and start working on projects!

I’ve been in love with Frida Kahlo since I was in my early 20’s. Her story and her art taught me a thing or two about self-acceptance. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with this. I’m thinking of either turning it into a skirt or a tote bag. La Loteria (which is kind of like the Mexican form of Bingo) print will probably also meet a similar fate.


I’ve been wanting to get my hands on the Valentina Ramos print below for quite a while now. I plan to make it into a lovely summer dress. I have several patterns for such a thing, so it’s going to be hard to decide.


Finally, this last fabric caught my eye because it reminded me of the Chicago flag and it will probably end up getting turned into a wallet or pouch of some sort.


I probably won’t be working on any apparel items until I’m done cross-stitching Ian’s portrait, but in the meantime I may complete a few small projects like totes and placemats!

Cross-Stitch Love

As I mentioned in one of my last posts, I am currently in the midst of cross-stitching one of my photographs of Ian. I’m doing it on 28 count Aida with a palette of 100 colors, yikes!

Am I crazy? Maybe
Will it look life-like when it’s done? Hopefully
Am I having fun with this challenge? Definitely!

It will get done courtesy of Netflix. So far I’ve spent endless hours stitching and watching Parks & Recreation, Chuck and Dexter, as well as a couple of movies. 

That’s the one thing I love about winter – I feel no shame in sitting at home watching endless hours of TV so long as my hands are busy making something. I still have at least three more months of this, so I’m going to make the best of them. It may take me all three months to complete this – I’m really hoping it doesn’t, but it will be pretty cool once I’m done. So cool, I may have to frame it instead of making it into a throw pillow like I originally intended.

Here’s two weeks worth of progress:


It looks like a map for some fantasy realm at the moment, but soon I’ll reach his eye area and it will hopefully start to resemble my little monkey.

Let it Snow

As much as I hate the ice snow eventually melts into, I love the calm, quiet beauty after it’s just snowed and those cold snowy days give me an excuse to stay indoors and work on crafts! Lucky for me we’ve had a snowy December in Chicago.

Life has been a little nutty lately thanks to the upcoming holidays, but I’ve managed to finish a few projects I had in the works and start some new ones that I’m pretty excited about.

Here’s some of what I’ve been working on lately:


Sitting on my little wooden chair at my sewing machine for hours can get a little uncomfortable, so I bought some teal fabric to match the craft room’s accent wall and made myself the cushion/pillow you see above, so I can either sit on it or use it for back support depending on what I’m working on.

I made the blanket draped over the back of the chair back in early November at one of The Needle Shop’s mitered blanket classes. It’s baby blanket size, but since I wasn’t completely happy with my top stitching on it, I decided to keep it as a lap blanket for myself when I sit in the craft room since it can get pretty chilly in there, rather than having other people see my botched work. It just so happens that the fabrics in the blanket match my accent wall AND pillow and the little elephants just make me smile every time I see them. Next I’m planning on making some placemats to practice my new mitering skills.

Mitered Blanket

Here’s a shot of the blanket I took, right after completing it in class!

We’ve been dropping into negative temperatures a lot lately, so I recently bought myself these fabrics from The Needle Shop to turn into blouses and shorts for the spring/summer, as a reminder that after this weekend the days will start to get longer and warmth and sunshine are just around the corner.


Finally, since I love stitching AND photography, I recently decided to purchase WinStitch so I can turn my photos into cross-stitch patterns. First up, I’ll be stitching up this adorable picture of my dog, Ian MacKaynine.

ian pillow

I’m on the fence as to whether I should turn it into a throw pillow or frame it and hang it up somewhere – it all depends on how much time I end up putting into it and what the finished product looks like.

We’re supposed to get a big snowstorm in Chicago this weekend, so hopefully I can use it as an excuse to stitch to my heart’s content.

Hope everyone has a Happy Solstice!


Sew, Lisa, Sew

Something about fall makes me nostalgic for school, so in addition to my drawing classes, I’ve been taking a sewing class once a month at The Needle Shop to work on my skills and use up some of my fabric stash.

So far I’ve had a review sesh on how to make a pillow and I’ve learned how to make a tote bag!

My dogs, Ian and Harlow, love a comfy pillow to rest their heads on, so I made this one just for them using Peter Horjus’ Doglandia fabric in Ruff Bunch Brown.


Here they are, resting their cute little heads.


– Ian –


– Harlow –

A few years ago I fell in love with this owl fabric and bought it intending to make a messenger bag, which I never got around to, since I wasn’t sure what I was doing. It’s canvas, so it’s a great heavy duty tote bag for someone like me who’s always lugging books around and the fabric is adorable. Can’t wait to make another one!


I have some more projects in the works, so check back soon for updates!

Drawing 101


I had been itching to take a drawing class for quite a while in order to help me work on my own designs for embroidery, fabric designs and the like, so I finally signed up for a 5 week intro to drawing class this fall at Lillstreet Art Center.

It’s been at least 16 years since I took a drawing class and I’ve reverted to drawing stick figures, so I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my progress the past 4 weeks. Among topics we’ve covered are basic vine charcoal drawing and shading, perspective, pencil and detail work and drawing light/negative space. So far my favorite lesson has been the light/negative space class in which I got to try drawing with white charcoal on black paper. I can’t wait to see what we end up doing for our last lesson this week!

Hopefully this Spring I can take Lillstreet’s drawing with color class and some of their fiber arts classes.

Here’s what I’ve done in class over the last 4 weeks.