Monday, December 19, 2016

How to Knit: Basic Mittens

A week or two ago, I put up a Cabled Mitten Pattern, and said that I would be putting up a basic mitten pattern soon.  Well, here it is!  I love this pattern, because even though it does look like a basic mitten, it also incorporates some more advanced techniques, as well.  It's also a versatile pattern, in that it can be worn on its own, layered together for added warmth, or used as a lining for other mittens. Personally, because I live in North Central Minnesota, I would highly recommend at least doubling them up for the added warmth and wind resistance, but it's entirely up to you!

Although I don't do this with all of my patterns, I did also decide to film a video talking through each of the steps of this pattern, so if you get confused, or aren't sure about a particular abbreviation, you can see how it's done here:


Materials
  • 1 Skein Baby Bee yarn in Naked
  • Size 7 Needles (or size needed to obtain guage)
  • Yarn Needle
Guage
20sts and 24 rows = 4"/10cm over St st.

Mitten (Make 2)
Cast on 48sts.
Rows 1-10: (k2, p2) across.
Row 11 (RS): (k14, k2tog) 3 times - 45sts.
Riw 12 (and all WS rows): purl.
Work St st until piece measures 3.5"/8.5cm from beg, ending on a WS row.
Thumb Gusset
Row 1: k21, kfb, kfb, k22 - 47sts.
Row 2 (and all WS rows): purl.
Row 3: k21, kfb, k2, kfb, k22 - 49sts.
Row 5: k21, kfb, k4, kfb, k22 - 51sts.
Row 7: k21, kfb, k6, kfb, k22 - 53sts.
Row 9: k21, kfb, k8, kfb, k22 - 55sts.
Row 11: k21, kfb, k10, kfb, k22 - 57sts.
Thumb
Row 1: k21, kfb k12, kfb, turn.
Row 2: p15, turn.
Row 3: k15, turn.
Repeat Rows 2-3 4 times more.
Row 4: p2tog 7 times, p1, turn.
Row 5: k2tog 4 times.
Break yarn, and thread tail through rem sts.  Pull tight.
Hand
Join yarn and k far 22sts.  Beg with purl row, work St st until piece measures 8"/20cm from beg, ending on a WS row.
Row 1: (ssk, k18, k2tog) twice - 40sts.
Row 2 (and all WS rows): purl.
Row 3: (ssk, k16, k2tog) twice - 36sts.
Row 5: (ssk, k14, k2tog) twice - 32sts.
Row 7: (ssk, k12, k2tog) twice - 28sts.
Row 9: (ssk, k10, k2tog) twice - 24sts.
Row 10: purl.
Bind off rem 24 sts using Kitchener St.  Seam side of thumb and hand, weaving in all loose ends.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Christmas Terrarium

I love the look of the classic terrarium packed with succulents, but I'm such a terrible gardener, that I can kill even the heartiest of plants.  So, although I've looked through several tutorials on how to put them together, I've never actually tried it myself.  Now that it's winter, though, I've noticed a new trend popping up all over Pinterest - a Christmas terrarium!  These snowglobe-like scenes require very little work to put together, and absolutely no upkeep, which is perfect for my scatterbrained mind.

All you really need is a glass jar with a lid, some artificial snowflakes, a few decorations - I used a tree from Department 56 and a little red model car - and if you really want to make it look elegant, a candle pedestal.
Fill the bottom of the jar with the artificial snowflakes.
Arrange your Christmas scene.
Then add the lid to the glass jar and place on candle pedestal, if desired.
That's all there is to it.  I love how minimalistic and elegant this particular terrarium is, but as I'm sure you've guessed, you can make it as extravagant or casual as you'd like, and it's easy to fit to your d├ęcor!  This would be particularly easy if you already have a Christmas village in your home - you can use a terrarium to showcase one or two of your favorite pieces!  I think they're so pretty, and I would love to look at even more.  If you've created a Christmas terrarium in your home, please share a picture with me via Twitter or Instagram!  I'd love to see it!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

How to Knit: Cabled Mittens

I'm not sure what it is, but each winter I find myself in need of new mittens.  It's not that I get sick of my old ones - somehow they just disappear between when I store them away for the summer, and when I go to look for them again when it gets cold.  Of course, I can't complain too much, because that simply means that I get to knit a new pair, and see what kind of design I can come up with for the year.

These particular mittens are based off the Fingerless Mitts pattern from last year, but are a bit more complex, given that not only is there quite a bit of cabling, there's also a bit of shaping involved with the thumb.  On their own they're not the warmest, but next week I'll be posting a basic mitten pattern that I like to use as a lining.  The added layer makes them much warmer, and I would highly recommend doing that.  I think they've turned out beautifully, though, and I hope you agree!

Materials
  • 1 Skein Baby Bee Sweet Delight in Naked
  • Size 7 knitting needles
  • Yarn needle
  • Cable needle
Stitch Glossary
CB4: sl 2 sts to cn and hold to back, k2, then k2 from cn.
CF4: sl 2 sts to cn and hold to front, k2, then k2 from cn.

Right Mitten
Cast on 48 sts.
Rows 1-10: (k2, p2) across.
Row 11 (RS): knit.
Row 12 (and all WS rows): purl.
Row 13: k1, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, k23.
Row 15: k3, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k25.
Row 17: k5, C4B, k8, C4F, k27.
Row 19: k3, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k25.
Row 21: k1, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k23.
Thumb Gusset
Row 1: k1, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, kfb, kfb, k21.
Row 3: k3, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k2, kfb, k2, kfb, k21.
Row 5: k5, C4F, k8, C4B, k4, kfb, k4, kfb, k21.
Row 7: k3, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k2, kfb, k6, kfb, k21.
Row 9: k1, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, kfb, k8, kfb, k21.
Row 11: k1, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, kfb, k10, kfb, k21.
Thumb
Row 1: k3, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k2, kfb, k12, kfb, turn.
Row 2: p15, turn.
Row 3: k15, turn.
Repeat Rows 2-3 4 times.
Row 4: p2tog 7 times, k1, turn.
Row 5: k2tog 4 times.
Break yarn, thread tail through remaining sts and pull tight.
Hand
Row 1: k remaining 21 sts on palm of hand.
Row 2: p21, m1, p26.
Row 3: k5, C4B, k8, C4F, k27.
Row 4 (and all WS rows): purl.
Row 5: k3, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k25.
Row 7: k1, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k23.
Row 9: k1, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, k23.
Row 11: k3, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k25.
Row 13: k5, C4F, k8, C4B, k27.
Row 15: k3, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k25.
Row 17: k1, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k23.
Top of Mitten
Row 1: ssk, k7, C4B, C4F, k7, k2tog, k22.
Row 3: ssk, k4, C4B, k4, C4F, k4, k2tog, k22.
Row 5: ssk, k1, C4B, k8, C4F, k1, k2tog, ssk, k18, k2tog.
Row 7: ssk, k2, C4F, k4, C4B, k2, k2tog, ssk, k16, k2tog.
Row 9: ssk, k3, C4F, C4B, k3, k2tog, ssk, k14, k2tog.
Row 11: ssk, k2, C4B, C4F, k2, k2tog, ssk, k12, k2tog.
Row 13: ssk, k10, k2tog, ssk, k10, k2tog.
Bind off remaining 24 sts using Kitchener st.

Left Mitten
Cast on 48 sts.
Rows 1-10: (k2, p2) across.
Row 11 (RS): knit.
Row 12 (and all WS rows): purl.
Row 13: k23, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, k1.
Row 15: k25, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k3.
Row 17: k27, C4B, k8, C4F, k5.
Row 19: k25, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k3.
Row 21: k23, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k1.
Thumb Gusset
Row 1: k21, kfb, kfb, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, k1.
Row 3: k21, kfb, k2, kfb, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k2, k3.
Row 5: k21, kfb, k4, kfb, C4F, k8, C4B, k4, k5.
Row 7: k21, kfb, k6, kfb, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k2, k3.
Row 9: k21, kfb, k8, kfb, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k1.
Row 11: k21, kfb, k10, kfb, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, k1.
Thumb
Row 1: k21, kfb, k12, kfb, turn.
Row 2: p15, turn.
Row 3: k15, turn.
Repeat Rows 2-3 4 times.
Row 4: p2tog 7 times, k1, turn.
Row 5: k2tog 4 times.
Break yarn, thread tail through remaining sts and pull tight.
Hand
Row 1: k3, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k3 remaining sts.
Row 2: p26, m1, p21.
Row 3: k27, C4B, k8, C4F, k5.
Row 4 (and all WS rows): purl.
Row 5: k25, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k3.
Row 7: k23, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k1.
Row 9: k23, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, k1.
Row 11: k25, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k3.
Row 13: k27, C4F, k8, C4B, k5.
Row 15: k25, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k3.
Row 17: k23, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k1.
Top of Mitten
Row 1: k22, ssk, k7, C4B, C4F, k7, k2tog.
Row 3: k22, ssk, k4, C4B, k4, C4F, k4, k2tog.
Row 5: ssk, k18, k2tog, ssk, k1, C4B, k8, C4F, k1, k2tog.
Row 7: ssk, k16, k2tog, ssk, k2, C4F, k4, C4B, k2, k2tog.
Row 9: ssk, k14, k2tog, ssk, k3, C4F, C4B, k3, k2tog.
Row 11: ssk, k12, k2tog, ssk, k2, C4B, C4F, k2, k2tog.
Row 13: ssk, k10, k2tog, ssk, k10, k2tog.
Bind off remaining 24 sts using Kitchener st.

Finishing
Seam side of mitten and thumb.  Weave in remaining ends.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Purpose Jewelry

There's an account on Instagram that I've been following for quite some time, called Purpose Jewelry.  I love it.  The pieces are beautiful, the photos are gorgeous, and even better: they have an amazing mission.  Purpose Jewelry is a brand that works with International Sanctuary to provide professional opportunities to young women that have been rescued from sex trafficking.  Each piece of jewelry is handcrafted by one of these women, providing them with a means of supporting themselves, along with job training and experience.

I love the fact that there's such an emphasis on providing these women with a way to regain their independence, as I believe that's an important part of the healing process.  I remember the first time I was exposed to this notion while studying abroad in Oslo, Norway.  We had taken a tour of a facility in which women who had been rescued from sex trafficking were taught how to give manicures, pedicures, and other spa treatments right alongside women who had not been involved in this industry.  This not only provided the rescued women with job training and opportunities, but also helped reintegrate them into society.   

As I mentioned earlier, the pieces themselves are also stunning.  The necklace featured in today's post is my first piece from Purpose Jewelry, the Lunette Necklace in silver.  It's such a unique piece of jewelry that, while minimalistic in design, is also a bit of a statement.  Based off a traditional bar necklace, the curved elements create a beautiful crescent moon shape.  Although I hadn't realized when I picked it out, this lunar silhouette is a wonderful daily reminder to think of others in this world that may not be as fortunate as I have been, considering the moon is something everyone around the world can see.  This time of year, it can be easy to be charitable.  There are opportunities everywhere.  But, people don't just need help around Christmas.  There are people in need around the world all the time.

That being said, I do also want to point out what an amazing gift a piece from Purpose Jewelry could be for the holidays.  Not only would you be giving a beautiful piece of jewelry to someone special in your life, but you would also be supporting the International Sanctuary and letting others know about this organization.  I fully intend to pick up a few items for some of my friends and family, and maybe the Lunette Earrings for myself. 
For more information on Purpose Jewelry, check out their website, purposejewelry.org, and also the video provided below. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

We're Almost There!

I know everyone says it, but I can't believe how fast this pregnancy has gone!  In just a month and a half or so, we'll be meeting Baby Brightwood, and I think I can speak for both Joe and I when I say we couldn't be more excited! 

Compared to other pregnant ladies I've talked to, we've had it pretty easy.  I never had any morning sickness, have yet to see any stretch marks, and Baby already seems to be able to keep up with our fairly active lifestyle!  He or she is constantly moving, and this past summer we were able to complete a 5K, 10K, and our very first half marathon.  Hopefully we'll be able to continue this trend, as I plan to start training for a full marathon once the snow melts!

Joe and I still don't know if the baby is a boy or a girl, and I'm so glad that we've been able to avoid finding out!  There seem to be so few surprises left in today's world, and it's been so much fun to hear guesses from those around us - as of now, I believe the votes are tied.  Speaking of surprises, we do have baby names picked out, and have told several friends and family members, but we've decided to wait until Baby is here to share it online. 

That being said, I am getting a bit uncomfortable, and I don't just mean that it's harder to sleep or find a comfortable resting position - I'm also not as confident as I usually am.  I'm worried that I won't be a good mom.  I'm worried I'll neglect my husband who has been my biggest support through all this.  I'm worried I'll make the wrong choices.  I'm just worried in general.  And, on a superficial note, no matter how dolled up I get, I still feel frumpy and unkempt.

Thankfully, I know that I'm not alone in this.  A friend of mine, Dana, is due just a week after me with her second child, and had expressed that she wasn't feeling quite as confident as usual either.  As this is her second, she doesn't have as many of the same fears I do, but told me she did during her first pregnancy. 

I also have to thank her for giving me a little bit of my self-esteem back!  She is the one that took all of the pictures in today's post, and I have to say, I was not feeling my best the day they were taken.  I felt bloated and just kind of gross in general, but they turned out so well!  We even used the top photo in our very first Christmas cards!
It's amazes me how much our lives have changed in just the past few years.  We met in 2011, got engaged in 2013, married in 2014, and this week we'll be packing our hospital bag to meet our first child!  I can't adequately express how blessed we feel to be at this point in our lives, and while some days are and will be harder than others, we are so thankful for everything God has provided us.  I hope you've enjoyed this little update, and we look forward to introducing you to our little one!

*Photos by Dana Johnson

Thursday, October 20, 2016

White Hot Chocolate Recipe


Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • whipped cream
  • mini marshmallows
Directions
Stir together milk, vanilla, and white chocolate chips in a saucepan.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring until it comes to a simmer without boiling.  Pour into a mug and top with whipped cream.  Garnish with miniature marshmallows.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Chai Tea Latte Recipe


Ingredients
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp minced cardamom pod
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seed
  • 1" piece vanilla pod, split lengthwise
  • 2 star anise
  • 3-4 saffron threads
  • 1/4 tsp anise seed
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 tsp ginger
  • 2 black tea bags
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups milk
Directions
Boil water, spices, and teabags together in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Partially cover pan and simmer about 20 minutes.  Strain chai into a second saucepan and add milk and sugar.  Whisk vigorously and pour into a mug.  Garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg.