Tarn and other knitty-ness.

My knitting obsession continues. Seriously, I’ve barely slept this week and there are definitely yarn scraps in my bed. But that’s really beside the point, the point being the fruits of my tireless labor.

First:

The best bow ever.

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I’m just really obsessed with the hot pink worsted weight yarn. And it’s a bow, so duh it’s awesome. Also, I used this little project to learn the moss stitch. I really like the results, but don’t necessarily love how time consuming it is.

I’ve been reading up on knitting the past few days and heard that knitting Continental style is much faster. I’m right-handed so English feels pretty natural. Thoughts my more experienced yarn-minded compatriots?

Second:

Another awesome bow, this time in headband form.

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I used some really lovely black worsted weight Red Heart yarn. It’s a different line that’s much softer than the Super Saver I’ve used thus far.

I knitted this on US 13 needles, doubled stranded. As I’ve said before, I’m impatient. I also wanted something with a little more body that would both stand out against my hair and also be able to hold up to it. I have a lot of hair.

Both pieces are just a simple garter stitch, but they get this really great knobby texture when knitted with two strands held together on these fat needles.

I’m enjoying these little projects, just to see how different needle size, weight and stitch styles can change the look of something. The experimentation will continue!

And a lot of it will be with this:

TARN!

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If you are unfamiliar, Tarn is t-shirt yarn. Made from t-shirts cut into continuous strips and then just essentially stretched out into long tubes, this stuff is awesome. And seriously, so easy.

Which leads me to ask: HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS SOONER?!

Perhaps because I wasn’t knitting until now. Anywho, better late than never.

I made these three “skeins” last night out of some old/oversized t-shirts I had around the apartment. I have intentions on thrifting some more material this weekend though.

If you’re interested in making some yourself, here and here are a couple of great resources. I won’t bother reinventing the wheel with so many good tutorials out there already. And seriously, it couldn’t be easier.

My only word of warning: near seams, on thin strips or on particularly fragile material, be careful not too tug TOO hard. You risk ripping your tarn!

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I’m not sure exactly what I’ll do with the tarn yet, but there are tons of great ideas on Pinterest. First up will probably be this Lion Brand pattern though, which calls for their Zpagetti yarn. Which, from what I can tell, is fancy tarn.

Anyone out there have experience working with tarn? Project ideas welcome!

 

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Knitting: It’s so knotty!

So, I taught myself to knit this weekend!

It’s great fun, but after practicing for two straight days (and unraveling it all) I decided to hunt for a quick and easy (super easy) project to keep me energized.

Enter: The “It’s a Cinch” headband.

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I’m a little obsessed. I stayed up way too late last night to finish it, but I’m glad I did. I’ll definitely be making quite a few more (in EVERY color). I’m envisioning them in different yarn weights and needle sizes. This one was knitted in Super Saver 4 worsted (sorry if this doesn’t make sense – I don’t really know the lingo yet) in this AWESOME hot pink on size 11 (US) needles. It’s a larger size than the pattern called for, but I’m impatient and wanted it to go quicker. I really like using the bigger needles. Easier for a newbie! Next time I’ll probably make it a little thinner and leave the tails longer to be able to wrap the center better.

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Cozy ears.

But I do like how I can pull it over my ears to keep warm now that its becoming rather frigid and then fold it back and keep it on as a normal headband all day. Yes, I realize it probably looks a little odd as a normal headband (in the office) but that’s never stopped me before.

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“Normal” headband

And please excuse my dour expression. The photos were taken quite early.

 

 

 

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So I saw this dress on a blog a while back. It is the SUPER cute Mclain Tunic Dress from Devon Baer. She has her own website and is on Etsy with gorgeous dresses, tops, accessories, etc.

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If I could afford it I’d be ALL OVER her stuff, but unfortunately $250 for this dress was just a little (ha) outside my price range. But I had recently made a dress with a similar cut and knew JoAnn’s had a Lisette fabric that looked a lot like it. Thus, my first attempt at a knockoff professionally inspired recreation was born.

The results:

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I wore the dress Saturday to the “Taste of the Garden” event at Elkhart’s Wellfield Botanical Garden. The gardens are just spectacular and one of our family’s favorite places to take a walk. It’s become a tradition now for my mom, grandma (right) and younger cousin (right) to go to this event together each year.

Sidenote: I LOOK SO TALL IN THIS PICTURE! Fact: I’m 5’2″. My cousin just happens to be TINY (she’s almost 16!) and Nana shrunk down below 5′ years ago so they are two of my favorite people to photographed with. Seriously, this NEVER happens.

Back to the dress: I stayed up all night Friday finishing this dress so I could wear it to the garden Saturday. So do you think there was anyway I’d change into something else when I realized temperatures were going to top 90 that afternoon? Of course not. It was definitely too hot for a longish sleeve twill dress, but I’m so thrilled with how it turned out. It got a ton of compliments and I even heard a few people saying things about it as we walked around  – kind of a statement piece I suppose but I think I can still throw a jacket over it and get away with it at work.

I honestly love this dress and love the Lisette pattern (the Diplomat dress). I’ve made it twice now, the first time from this great nautical quilting cotton on sale at Crimson Tate (the BEST fabric shop I’ve been to, though they only carry cottons). This time I tapered in the skirt some, so instead of continuing out from the hip its more straight. I like the shape better on me and its more true to the McLain tunic dress I was copying  inspired by.

 

Here are closer front and back views, though you’ll have to forgive the heinous wrinkling. This is post-90 degree three-hour jaunt through the park and pre-wash and iron.

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The front is two pieces instead of one like the Devon Baer dress, but that doesn’t bother me at all. I also went without the collar, but I didn’t want to mess up what was shaping up to be a great dress by trying to draft my own collar. Maybe I’ll give that a go next time, as I’ll definitely be making this again. I actually bought the same fabric in yellow, though it might be a bit extreme to have two of the same dress in the same fabric… We’ll see!

 

Have you ever tried to recreate an item you’ve seen before? How did it work out?

Just call me Ken Perenyi!

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Tapas Night!

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So I will preface this post by apologizing. I FORGOT TO TAKE PHOTOS!

I kindly borrowed these photos (see credits at bottom of post) so the rest will be a rather dull post, visually. But if you will bare with me, the food was really good. 

 

I had a few upstairs neighbors over (down?) for a tapas-style dinner. If you’re not familiar with tapas, get familiar. It’s amazing! The concept is basically eating/tasting several small dishes in place of one large entree or meal. It’s a fun way to eat, try new things and I think makes for a more social meal. 

 

The menu:

Salad: spring greens with fresh green beans, water chestnuts, grated pepper jack and sunflower seeds – dressed lightly in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, red pepper flake and lemon zest.

Light, easy and delicious way to start a meal!

Three-part tapas:

1) Egg in purgatory: Single egg baked in individual ramekin with tomato sauce.

I use store bought (Newman’s Own Sockarooni – yum!) but it’d be great with homemade. Just pour about 1/2 cup tomato sauce in a dish and then crack on egg on top. Pop it in HOT oven for 10-15 minutes. Also good topped with a little cheese, but I skipped that tonight since there was cheese elsewhere.

2) Kebabs: Shrimp, halved new potatoes and a variety bell pepper chunks marinated overnight in roasted red pepper Italian salad dressing. 

So easy. These are great on the grill, but as I don’t have one I just popped them under the broiler for a few minutes (until the peppers started to get that roasted look). The dressing is a great marinade – something my mom always did – and you can put just about anything on the kebabs. I used these ingredients because my guests don’t eat meat but chicken is also good. My parents like mushrooms too. If you’re doing things that cook at different times, be sure to put that ingredient all on its own skewer. It’s not as pretty but you don’t want some things underdone and other burnt.

3) Stuffed poblanos: Peppers stuffed with black bean, onion, pepper jack and corn meal mix, baked in spicy tomato sauce.

I followed this recipe from Martha Stewart pretty closely and was really pleased how it turned out.

The only thing I did different was cut it down to serve three and just cut out the top of the pepper instead of halving them. That way we each got one but it was a little more full than they would have been otherwise. The filling looked flipping disgusting when I mixed it up (especially the corn meal/water combination) but it really cooked up beautifully. The peppers were nice and tender and the cornmeal had a great texture, even though I made it the night before and the peppers sat stuffed in my refrigerator overnight. The sauce is essentially a basic salsa and was good too, although this recipe makes A TON. 

Dessert: Individual blueberry lemon snack cakes, served with a side of vanilla bean ice cream and topped with blueberry compote. 

I used the following recipe for an America’s Test Kitchen cookbook I have from the library right now. It’s called “Cooking for Two” and its the 2011 edition. The recipe is just for a blueberry snack cake, but I added lemon zest and subbed half the milk for lemon juice. I also adjusted the recipe to make three instead of two cakes and cooked them in loaf pans instead of mini bundt cake pans. That would have been adorable but I couldn’t find any in time. The cake baked up great. It was nice and springy, still moist but not gooey. It was absolutely delicious and I’ll make it again soon.

I served it with a side of vanilla bean ice cream, which was delicious but I think it would have been even better with lemon ice cream or sorbet. The whole thing was topped with a blueberry compote, which was AWESOME. It’s the first time I’ve made a compote and was shocked at how easy it was. Recipe follows.

Blueberry Snack Cake (makes 2 individual cakes)

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons whole milk, room temperature

1/2 cup ripe blueberries

Modifications I made: Adjusted all amounts to make 3 cakes. Also, I used almond milk and subbed half for fresh-squeezed lemon juice. I also added a generous amount of lemon zest.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in egg and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla (and zest, if using).

Beat in one third flour mix, then half milk (juice). Repeat with half remaining flour, then rest of milk (juice). Add in remaining flour until just incorporated – batter will be quite thick. Fold in blueberries.

Divide batter evenly among greased pans and smooth tops to settle batter. Bake at 350 until toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. 

Blueberry compote:

2 cups fresh blueberries

3 tablespoons water

1/4 sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Add half the blueberries to a small sauce pan with the other ingredients. Cook for a few minutes, until skins burst. Add remaining berries, cook for a few minutes longer and serve warm.

 

So there you have it, folks! I great meal, shared with new friends and good wine. A lot of the prep can be done beforehand, so it only took about an hour for everything to come together tonight and a great time was had by all. 

Have you ever tried tapas at home? What do you like to cook for dinner guests?

ALSO!

I have actually been sewing a lot. I’ve made a few things, which I’ve yet to get pictures of and I’m close on another dress which I’m very excited about. Post to come soon. Until then though, here is a photo where you can kind of see a top I recently made and have been wearing to death. It’s Simplicity 1886 and though I struggled with part of it, as blogged about here, it turned out great and I really like it. The fabric is a Project Runway sale bin grab at Joann’s and I’m really pleased. I’ve worn this two work several times and out for happy hour as well! Though I didn’t understand some of the pattern directions, I’ll make it again (probably with the same make-shift neckline finishing).

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Our photographer, Tom Russo, caught this when I was interviewing Bill Murphy, director of the USDA’s RIsk Management Agency. He’s been touring the Midwest to talk to farmers devastated by the drought, which nearly all in Hancock County are. He stopped by a farm in Shirley, Ind., a couple weeks ago.

Food photo credits: NY Times, DukanItOutMartha Stewart

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Weekly Pin Win

Good morning all! I was having trouble getting to sleep tonight, so instead of tossing about in bed I figured catching up on my blogging was a better use of this new found time than most. It’s giving me a chance to get up a post I’ve been meaning to do for some time now.

I’m starting a weekly feature called “Weekly Pin Win,” in which I will attempt something that I have pinned on Pinterest and show the results here. As you can probably guess based off the title of this post, I’m hoping most of these will go well.

OH, and the name is totally up for discussion. It was really this first thing I could come up with (it is 5 am and I haven’t slept yet afterall) but I’m totally open to suggestions.

I’m just hoping that a weekly feature will encourage me to try some of the cool things I’m constantly pinning. So each week I will pick one, link to the pin and then show my attempt at it. The types of pins will vary  from crafts, to hair to recipes to sewing. This first one is kind of cheating since this is actually the second time I’ve done this project and blogged about it, but I didn’t include the original pin before.

Pin: http://pinterest.com/pin/35325178297484679/

Results:

and

Ta-da! This pin is just as easy and cute and it looks and sounds. You simply take two old dishes and a candlestick holder – I thrifted mine from Goodwill – and glue them together. The pin suggests using craft glue made for ceramics, but I honestly just used some dollar store craft glue and it worked great. Just be sure and give everything a good 24 hours to dry and set. This one is smaller than the one I made previously. A shorter candlestick holder is placed between a salad plate and a saucer. It’s a super easy, super cute project that is also an attractive, space-saving storage item. I’m not sure where this guy will go yet – the show on here is clearly just for show – but I’m excited about it and will probably make more. My mom has already requested one :-)

Has anyone else begun to tackle the Pinterest projects they’ve fallen in love with? Please share some that have (or haven’t) worked out for you!

This also gives me a chance to show off my latest Etsy creation!

This adorable wristlet is actually a phone case and wallet folded up into one. I was gifted something similar last year (and LOVE it) but they are waaaaay expensive. I made this (and am now selling it) for a fraction of the normally $80+ price tag and it’s just as cute and functional, I think. There are card slots and pockets for cash and whatnot on one side and then the other is for your phone (this one is made for the iPhone). Two elastic bands keep the phone in place and allow you full access to the touch screen and buttons without having to take it out. Handy, right?!

I’d love for you all to head on over to my shop and check it out!

And please feel free to follow me on both Etsy and Pinterest!

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Project in Progress: Simplicity 1886

Well I figured it was about time for an update on the project to which I’ve been mysteriously hinting at: Simplicity 1886!

I’m making view D/F essentially, but without any of the wonky shoulder ruffles or tabs. Mostly because I was very limited on the amount of fabric and also because I just don’t really like those details. I’m a big fan of the center ruffle (or flounce, as Simplicity calls it).

I bought this great fabric WAY on sale – I’m talking like less than $1.50/yd. And it was the last of it so I’m pretty sure all I had was 1 yd, but I can’t remember for certain. Either way, it was just enough to squeak the pattern out of. Then, as you may have seen in the last post, I burnt half the flounce. SO I had to recut that piece, but out of two separate scraps that are seamed together in the middle. I was pretty disappointed about it at first but you can’t really tell, which is nice.

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Obviously, there is still work to be done, as the sides are still open. I’ve skipped that shot for you all as it was a bit more risque than I like to get over here at CraftybyNight. I’ve since got the side seams sewn together, but I’m at a kind of standstill. I just totally don’t get one section of the directions…

So if anyone has made this pattern and can explain why there are two facings around the neckline and how to properly attach the front/back facing over the neck facing, I’d be forever grateful. I’m at a total loss. If I can’t figure it out, I’ll probably just skip it all together. I’m not sure why I need it to begin with and I’m pretty sure I can figure out how to finish the thing without that piece.

Sorry for the poor photo quality. I promise some better shots after it’s completed, which will hopefully be this weekend if I can get enough time away from covering the Hancock County 4-H Fair to get some sewing in.

What are you working on right now?!

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And this is why you should always use a press cloth…

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Scorched.

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Crafty@Night is coming to a store new you…

…if you happen to live in or around Elkhart, Ind., that is.

That’s right! The Crafty@Night wallets and keychains will be sold at Innovations Hair Design in Elkhart starting tomorrow! I’m excited and nervous but we’ll just have to see how it goes.

Here’s a peek at the display I made for the items:

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As you can see, my collection of both wallets and keychains has grown considerably…

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Making the stand was actually incredibly easy. I found the idea on Pinterest (of course) but the original post is from Better Homes and Garden.

Just got to your local thrift or antique store and pick out a dinner plate, candlestick holder and either a salad plate or shallow bowl. I found a these two matching dishes and a TON of other pretty items at Goodwill for hella cheap.

Then, just glue them together! I used a dollar store craft glue and it worked beautifully. Just make sure and give it a good 24 hours to dry. For a grand total of less than $5, I think it’s pretty darn cute. This one will sit in the salon as the display for my items, but I’ll be making another for my apartment. I think it’ll be great jewelry, knick-knack or bathroom storage.

I’m itching for more ideas, so what are some of the clever Pinterest projects you have found?!

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Try this!

Quick tip for all the sewists out there:
When a project calls for you to press under a raw edge a certain distance, instead of painstakingly hovering over your ironing board balancing your iron and a ruler, simply use the guides on your machine to machine baste in a line of stitches at the distance it needs to be pressed under! Then just press at the basting line; no more measuring!

It’s as easy as…

1.
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2.
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3.
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B-E-A-UTIFUL!
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It could be one of the oldest tricks in the book, but I just learned it from Colette’s “Snippets” emails. If you don’t already get them, I highly recommend signing up! Tons of helpful tips and tricks like this one, which is both a time and sanity saver.

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Ch-ch-ch-changes

So Francis and I are finally getting settled in from the move! He loves the new place because there’s SO much more space for him to roll around (he even has his own room!) and I love the new place because there’s so much more space for me to roll around! Ok, I don’t really roll around but coming from a studio to an apartment with doors and actual rooms and closets is pretty sweet.

But the best part: I have a sewing room! I no longer have to hunch over my coffee to work and I don’t even have to move all my furniture to lay out fabric larger than 1 yard. It’s really quite exciting.

That, combined with some new tools…

…got me all sorts of energized to get back to sewing. So sew I did for nights and nights, until I finally had enough completed projects to…

OPEN MY ETSY SHOP!

I’m so very excited about this.

The whole thing was born from the wallet I made my mom for Mother’s Day. She couldn’t stop raving about it and when she started showing it to her clients, neither could they. She suggested I make a few more and put them up for sale in the salon – which will start next week!

But it also got me thinking about Etsy and ways that I can help supplement my modest income…

-I’ll get real with you all for a minute -

I love my job.

I absolutely love it. I am a reporter at a daily community newspaper. It’s crazy; it’s stressful but it’s also wonderful. Every single day is different. Some days go exactly as planned and other days you’re rushing out early from an interview with the Lieutenant Governor of Indiana at a hog farm to a house fire and hugging a grieving mother who’s watching everything her family owns burn in front of her. I meet amazing people, learn something new every day.

Most importantly though, this job is literally a dream coming true. I decided I wanted to be a journalist when I was 12 years old; I even wrote my seventh grade final paper on it. So for the next 10 years I did everything I could to make that happen. I worked incredibly hard in high school to get into an outstanding journalism program. When I entered that program at Butler University, I took advantage of every single opportunity I could. I completed four internships and held three different positions on the school paper, including editor-in-chief my senior year. Then during finals week last May, I interviewed at the Greenfield Daily Reporter and was offered a job as a staff writer.

So here I am, loving every second of it and being so very grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve been afforded to get here. Some days I still can’t believe I get to do exactly what I want for a living.

But my love for journalism and my job has nothing to do with the money. I knew it would pay poorly going into and that was just fine with me. It still is.

But if there is a way to turn another one of my passions – sewing – into a way to a) be self-sustaining (it’s not a cheap hobby, am I right?) and b) afford a little extra income that will allow me to take some of the financial burden of my schooling off of my parents, then I’m going to do everything I can to make that happen too.

-So excuse all my realness if that’s not your thang-

Back to the sewing:

Check out my shop: Crafty@Night on Etsy.

Here’s just a taste:

And get excited for more sewing projects to come – both are clothing! Here’s a sneak peek of two: The first I just finished but cannot fully reveal until after Father’s Day. The second is still in the works!

Pour mon pere:

New fashion project, in the works:

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