Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Yarn Along 2016.13: Wednesday Again

I surely didn't intend to go a week between blog posts, but here it is Wednesday again all ready.  It's been a busy week, especially since Thursday evening.  DD1 was in a car accident on her way home from work on Thursday, and while she is okay (with the exception of a banged up wrist necessitating a wrist brace),  her car was not okay.  DH and I have been dealing with the towing and disposal of said car an hour and a half away from this little place here, plus trying to figure out what to replace it with and how to finance that.  In the meantime,  DD1 took the pick-up truck back to school with her after visiting us over Easter (big thank you to Honorary Son for rescuing her the evening of the accident and driving her to this little place here after school on Friday!).  Being that the pick-up is 18 years old, and not well suited for city driving or college parking (including parking ramps) it can only be a short-term fix for her need for transportation.

So, here it is Wednesday again before I know it. I'm joining in with Ginny for this week's Yarn Along before I forget!

I finished my March dish cloth (the garterlac pattern) sometime before the weekend.  At this point I don't remember if it was Wednesday night, or Thursday after getting the phone call about DD1's accident.  Anyway, it's completed.

I've worked a bit on sock #2 of DS1's extra large sized Vanilla Latte socks.  There hasn't been a whole lot of knitting going on in the past five or six days, honestly.  I'm roughly halfway through the leg portion of the sock.

As predicted last week, when we got together at my parents' place for Easter my Mom gave me a skein of yarn that she would like me to make her some socks with.  She had bought it last October while she and I were doing the yarn shop hop.  Funny thing, it's the same brand of yarn that I am doing DS1's socks in, also self-striping but in a different colorway.  His is Opal Forester, and Mom's is Opal Potpourri. The striped socks I made for her last year I used the Vanilla Latte pattern, but truth be told, since I'm using that pattern for DS1's socks, I'm not really feeling like doing another pair of those right now.  I think I will try the Hermoine's Everyday Sock pattern instead.  That one has been in my queue for a while.

Thankfully Mom said 'no hurry' on getting her socks made, because my only set of 2.5mm needles is currently employed in DS1's socks.  So now I will have to finish those before starting on Mom's socks.  I might have to do my April dish cloth early in the month in order to get a breather from sock knitting if I get tired of  bored  restless working on DS1's ginormous sock. ;0)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Yarn Along 2016.12: One (or More) Done

It's that time again--joining Ginny for this week's Yarn Along.

I finished my dressage hat last Thursday.  Haven't blocked it; was kind of hoping just sticking it on my head and wearing it around the house would do the trick.  But the edge kind of wants to roll, and part of the hat is a little tight, so I think I'm going to wet it down good and block it.  Although I have the sneaking suspicion that part of the tightness is just me and that I knit it a little too tightly.  But, other than that, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, being my first color work project and all.

I also finished sock #1 of DS1's gigantic vanilla latte socks!  Woo hoo!  It wasn't as painful to knit a huge sock as I thought it was going to be.  So now I can start on sock #2 and know that I will get it done in plenty of time for his birthday (in November).

In addition to my two finishes, I have a 'start' to talk about this week.  Being that March is rushing past so quickly, I figured I probably should go ahead and cast on my dish cloth for this month.  I decided to just do my favorite dish cloth design--garterlac--rather than try a new pattern right now.  I'll be more adventurous in April; in March I just want to be able to hit my goal of one dish cloth per month. With this being Holy Week, my evening knitting time will be less (church on Maundy Thursday, church on Good Friday. . . ).  The garterlac is going quickly, so I should probably be able to finish it by the weekend even with less 'free' hours.

My Mom has asked lately if I have much time for knitting, followed quickly by commenting how much she likes the socks I knit her last year.  Followed by the statement that she has a skein of self-striping yarn that she thinks would make a great next pair of socks for her. . . So I have the feeling that when we get together on Easter I will be coming home with a skein of yarn and will be working socks for Mom into my project list.  If so, you'll be seeing that on next week's yarn along post.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

It Was Slightly Windy. . .

Yesterday we had some wind.  Which isn't unusual at this little place here.  Multiple days here each month  are windy ones, and more than a handful of times each year we get gusts in excess of 50 mph.

So I didn't really think much when yesterday was forecasted to be a high wind day with gusts 50+ mph.

Although I was a little surprised to come home from riding yesterday and find that we'd gone from this, just a few hours before (picture taken just before writing yesterday's yarn along post):

To this:

That would be our newest hunting blind, standing upright in the first picture, and laying down in the second.  :o(

The same blind that I took these pictures from just last November.  The blind that DH, DS1 and DS2 had just completed construction of earlier in the fall.

Guess we all know what one of the summer projects is going to be at this little place here.  That steel-sided and steel-roofed blind is going to have to be deconstructed, stood back up, posts sunk deeper into the ground and new anchor braces applied, and rebuilt before deer hunting season arrives again.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Yarn Along 2016.11: The Green One

Can you believe I forgot today was Yarn Along day?  I can't.  Except that I did.  For some reason I worked the entire morning thinking today was Tuesday. It wasn't until I got home from work and sat down for some lunch, that I realized I had skipped an important part of my Wednesday--I hadn't photographed my knitting projects!  I wasn't prepared with a yarn along post!

Well, that just won't do!  So I'm making this a 'working lunch' and writing this post while I eat.  Joining with Ginny now that I remembered its Wednesday.

I didn't think that I had spent an excessive amount of time knitting in the past week, but my two projects have grown considerably.

As you can see, the foot on DS1's ginormous Vanilla Latte sock is almost half done.  It measures about 5.5" currently and needs to be about 12" in all.  I really do think using a striping yarn is the way to stay interested in knitting such a long sock.  I am amazed at how far along it is all ready.  Especially because most of my knitting time in the past seven days has been spent on my hat.

I've worked my way through the braid, the letter chart, the cones chart and the dressage horse chart on my A-X Dressage Horse Hat and am now in the decrease portion.  Not long now and I'll be done.  Just in time for some chilly weather to return this weekend.  So maybe I can wear my new hat without looking silly.  (Last weekend the weather was in the upper 60's, this weekend it is only supposed to be in the lower 40's).

In prepping these pictures, I realized that both my projects contain quite a bit of green.  And that tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. I guess it's kind of fitting for this Yarn Along post to be mostly green then.  Things are looking pretty green outside at this little place here right now.  The winter wheat in the field is very green, and even the yard is beginning to show verdant patches where the grass is starting to come out of dormancy.

The song birds are arriving in larger numbers now, and the days are filled with music.  The nights are pretty lively too, with the frog chorus going out in the marsh.  No pictures of the frogs (I'm just not that quick--or lucky, take your pick--with the camera), but I did manage to capture a song sparrow in full trill on a maple branch behind the house.

I've gotten a new book (well, new to me, published in 2003) from the library.  It's Not Just About the Ribbons by Jane Savoie.  My horse-related reading has really picked up in the past month or so.  Now that all the kids are grown and gone from home I am transitioning back to focusing a lot on my riding.  Which means going back and reading a lot of the stuff (and people) I was interested in over two decades ago back in my life before motherhood.  Or, at least, before I was a wife and a mom of many with a household to run and six peoples' schedules to keep straight. (Have I mentioned I am really loving this Empty Nest thing?)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Change Those Stirrup Pads

Hey all you English riders out there.  How long has it been since you changed your stirrup pads?  How long has it been since you looked at your stirrup pads?  I tend to take mine for granted and not pay all that much attention to them.

So, when I did take a look at them last month, I realized that they had gotten rather worn out.  And that, when I thought about it, it had been quite a few (at least five) years since I had replaced them.

Now, stirrup pads don't cost a whole lot.  And they are rather useful for traction in your stirrups.  Even if you don't think you need traction. Which you do--do you want your feet sliding around in them when posting?  How about when mounting?

I went ahead and bought some new ones.  And when I took the old ones out of my irons in order to put the new ones in, I was kind of shocked by the tread difference.  Hence this PSA about changing your stirrup pads.  :0)

side view of old stirrup pad

See how the pad is worn thinner on one edge; the part of the stirrup that bears more weight.  It is more evident when looking from the top; the nubs on the treads are worn just about completely flat.

top view
one end of stirrup pad is still nubby, other end is smooth (and slippery)

Now compare to the new stirrup pads.  Which are not any different in style or design than the old ones.

side view showing uniform thickness

apples to apples comparison of the tops

Next time you go ride, check your stirrup pads.  Because even the little things like worn treads can affect your ride.  And your safety.

Ride well!  Be safe!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Lookin' Like A Boy Whose Sister Got To Him

That was what came to mind yesterday after I got done messing with the Quarter Horse's mane.  You see, back in early November or so I had roached it in a fit of frustration.  I was tired of picking burrs out of it several times a week (and grumpy about having to pick them, because removing burdock plants from the pastures and turnout areas before they formed burrs was supposed to be a regular summer task at the place where I board, but since I had moved on to working at a different farm in November 2014, the burdocks now abounded because apparently no one cut them down any longer . . .).  And, one day last fall when I arrived to ride the Quarter Horse, I found his mane absolutely matted with burrs.  The same mane I had just removed burrs from three days before. And a few days before that.  And about a week before that.

So I took my scissors to it and roached it.

There, no more mane to pick up burrs.  Problem solved. Since I knew the burdocks obviously weren't going to be removed from his turnout at that point--unless I did it myself, which I most certainly was not going to, not when I was paying full board for his care (never mind the time factor to hunt down, cut down, and carry away the burdock plants when I was finding it difficult enough to schedule regular riding time into my week)--I removed the mane instead.  It wasn't like I was going to be showing him or anything, so just shearing his mane down to his crest was not a big deal.  I knew the mane would grow back over the winter.

And it has.  The Quarter Horse first sported the neck-displaying roached look.  Then he moved on to the macho Trojan Horse look as it grew and stood out straight.  Now it has grown long enough to be at the messy stage: some parts flopping over, some still standing upright or rather not quite upright.  Kind of drunken upright.

I would prefer it lay over the way it is supposed to (ya know, being a dressage rider and all I kinda go for the whole neat and orderly look), so yesterday I decided to get out the braid bands and give him a bunch of little pony tails, the bands encouraging his mane to lay over instead of sprawl along his neck at multiple angles.

When I got done, his mane looked rather like a boy whose sister got to him and put pony tails in his hair.  You know--sticking out crazily instead of lying nice like pony tails in longer hair do.

his 'beautiful' hairdo

It's just temporary.  As his mane grows longer, the weight of it will make the pony tails unnecessary; it will lay over nicely on it's own.  It's just that some of his mane has a few inches to go to get to that point, and I'd rather it all look the same now.

Besides, from the front and the top they don't look so haphazard.

Oh, btw, those braid bands aren't 'real' braid bands.  They are the plactic bracelet looper things I picked up a few years ago in a transparent turqouisey color which was DD2's favorite.  She doesn't use them anymore, being gone to college and all, so they've migrated to my grooming tote.  They work pretty well for braid bands and are cheaper than real ones are.  I think when these are used up (I also use them on the Old Man's mane because, being mostly Arab he has a long mane that I like to keep braided during windy months so it doesn't knot up) I'll pick up some more bracelet loopers.  Probably in green, my favorite color.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Cat vs Skunk. . .

Guess who won?

I didn't see the confrontation, but I sure smelled it as soon as I walked out to shut in chickens last night.  A very strong, very musky, skunk odor.  Mixed with the smell of silage (wind was apparently coming from the silage bunker of the neighbor's dairy farm last evening) and wood smoke, but the air was most definitely skunky.

After watching carefully all the way to the chicken house and back for the skunk who had let off the pungent aroma, I was relieved to return to the garage without running into any black-and-white striped critters.  However, when I got to the sidewalk that runs from the driveway, along the back of the garage, and to the 'people door', I spotted the Yarn Thief vigorously scrubbing the side of her head and her shoulder against the cement.  And I smelled skunk, stronger than ever.

With a sinking heart, I realized the cat had met a skunk, and had threatened it (she is an intrepid hunter) rather than back down and run as far and fast as possible.  I also realized that she had gotten musk in her face, which was not a good situation.  And I realized that I was going to have to give the Yarn Thief a bath.

Oh joy.  Bathing a cat is never a fun endeavor.  More so last night because I was the only one home.  Which meant I would need to contain the cat with one hand, while sudsing and scrubbing and rinsing with the other.  I really did not like my odds of making it through the deskunking of the cat without being shredded and/or bitten.

I tried to carefully pick up the Yarn Thief in order to bring her into the house so I could bathe her in the bathtub.  But she wanted no part of that; she ran into the garage and hid.  Annoyed, I decided I would first go into the house and gather cat bathing supplies, and then go back out in the garage to find her.

She had other ideas, dashing out of nowhere and through the door between the garage and the mudroom as soon as I opened it.  Envisioning her rubbing her skunky self all over my living room couch and ruining the furniture, I bolted after her.  In an instant the plan changed from prepping before capturing the cat, to capturing the cat at all costs and not letting go.

Thankfully she just wanted to scour her head against the floor in an attempt to rid her eyes and nose of the musk. All I had to do was approach her speaking calmly, and get her by the scruff of the neck.  Then, hoping I wasn't about to ruin my clothes, I held her close to my chest, still talking calmly.  Instead of heading upstairs to the bathtub with her, I put her in the kitchen sink.  Luckily all the ingredients I needed for concocting skunk remover to wash her with were close enough to the sink that I could get them out, and mixed, without losing the cat.

According to Google (done on my phone, one handed, while clutching the skunky cat), I needed to mix about a quart of hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 tsp dish soap.  So I measuring and mixed into a bowl with one hand, and clutched the cat with the other.  She would have watched me suspiciously, except both eyes were pretty much swollen shut at that point.

Carefully, I lowered her into the empty sink, and turned on the water.  I was really expecting an explosion when water met cat, so I tightened my grip on the scruff of her neck.  And I told her what a good cat she was, and how nasty skunks are--and to stay away from them!!--and that I was going to help her.  Then I carefully caught water in my hand and washed her eyes the way you would do to a child.  She didn't like it much, but she didn't bite or scratch me.  After about six handfuls of water in each eye, I moved to the back of her head and began putting handfuls of the peroxide/soda/soap mixture on her fur and massaging it in.  Scoop, rub, scoop, rub, talk soothingly, adjust my grip on her neck when she tried to jump out of the sink.

Then it was rinse her thoroughly using the sink sprayer, and repeat.  After her body had been soaped, scrubbed, and rinsed twice, I washed her eyes again.  At this point she was standing straight up on her hind legs, stiff as a board and I had a death grip on her scruff.  But she wasn't biting or scratching, just trying to climb up my front and out of the sink.  This position made her head tilt back, so I dared to put a little of the deskunking mix on her head, right between her ears.  Then I lathered it up, and using the sprayer, rinsed it off like rinsing shampoo from a baby's head.  Lather, rinse, repeat on her whole body and her head.

This process went on for a good twenty minutes until I took pity on my poor traumatized cat, gave her one more warm rinse, and gathered her into my arms.  Yes, soaking wet.  I was pretty wet by then anyway.  Then we dripped across the kitchen and mudroom to the closet where I keep the old worn out towels that have been designated as rags.  I grabbed a bunch and wrapped her in them, trying to sop the water out of her fur.

She clung to me, and I was glad to see that both eyes were now open and she no longer had slobber hanging from her chin.  I hoped that meant I had washed all the musk out of her eyes and sinuses. Now the task was to get her dried before she got a chill.  And to hope that I had successfully gotten rid of all the skunk odor.

Once I had gotten her wiped well with the towels, all she wanted to do was bathe herself, licking and licking to put her coat back in order.  And once she was satisfied with her appearance, she climbed onto my lap and slept.

So, I guess she somewhat realizes that I was helping her rather than just being mean by holding her down in the sink and drenching her repeatedly.  Today she is back to her normal self, even if she does smell faintly of skunk if you put your nose between her ears and sniff her head.

Hopefully in the future she won't stand her ground when she meets a skunk.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Yarn Along 2016.10: Simply Complicated

It's another Yarn Along Wednesday!  We are having mild weather at this little place here today--temperature near sixty degrees, south wind, moderate humidity.  Rain is in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow.  I'm joining Ginny to see what everyone is knitting and reading this week.

I have gotten quite a lot done on DS1's gigantic sock in the past week.  I wasn't sure that the normal 7" leg on the vanilla latte pattern would come up very far on someone who stands 6'3" tall, so I added an extra inch or so to it before starting the heel.  I am definitely glad I chose this pattern for his socks, as it knits up super quick.  Being all the way through the leg, heel, and gusset decreases, I am no longer so intimidated by the idea of knitting men's size 13 socks.  :o)  And the size 1.5 needle (2.5mm) is definitely the way to go with this yarn in order to produce the stripes.  So far so awesome, lol.

DH finally printed off the instructions for my Dressage Hat, so I got started on that Monday night. It begins with a technique I did not know--Latvian braid--but I was able to find several you tube videos of how to cast on and the written instructions on the hat pattern are pretty straight forward.  So I'm happy to say I learned a new thing, and that I have fallen in love with it.  The having to keep two different yarns straight in my fingers at all times doesn't bother me in the slightest.  It's sort of complicated, but in a way that was simple for me to learn. My brain grabbed on to the concept immediately.  And it goes right along with the whole dressage riding thing anyway. . . complicated yet simple, simple yet complicated, and what everyone who looks on the finished produce sees is beautiful elegance.  So, yeah.  Lovin' it.

watching you tube and learning the braided cast on

one row of Latvian braid complete

two rows of Latvian braid complete--I'm loving how this looks

I have moved on to the body of the hat now, switching needles up from the size 3 you work the braid in, to size 4 for most of the rest of the hat.  I am working the letter chart, and it is really cool watching the letters 'magically' begin to appear the more rows I work.

letters beginning to appear

So, there you have it: my knitting for the past week.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Change Is In The Air

We have, since Saturday, gone from winter to spring.  Saturday morning, we had about five inches of snow still on the ground, the temperature was in the twenties, and the sky was an uninspiring grey.  DS1, K3 and Toad stopped by for a little while in the early afternoon (DS1 still had a few things to retrieve from our basement, plus wash the crayon marks off the walls and windows and the smeary little hand prints from the sliding glass doors as he had promised to do before moving out.  I held him to it.)  While DS1 was wiping and washing indoors, DH and I took the kids outdoors, bundled to the teeth in snow pants, boots, hats, gloves and coats. We made snow angels, and snow balls, and filled small buckets with snow in order to make snow blocks.  Toad mostly ate snow.  He seemed to like his unflavored 'sno-cones'.  DH even got the 4-wheeler out, tied a sled to the back of it, and pulled the kids around the driveway and hayfield (at a safe rate of speed, of course).  They had a ball.

Saturday night, a south wind blew.  Sunday morning we had only an inch or so of snow left on the ground, not counting the snow piles from plowing the week before. Sunday afternoon, there was bare ground most everywhere, and puddles forming.  Canadian geese began flying through, stopping in the bare corn fields to search the stubble for a meal.

Monday, water was running.  The low spot across the back yard had it's seasonal river flowing through it, the marsh was underwater, and a large pond took up at least an acre of the field.  The snow melted faster than the ground thawed, and the water could not percolate downward.

Monday night, shutting in the chickens for the night, I heard killdeer. Have not seen any robins yet, but apparently the killdeer are coming back northward for the warm months of the year.

Today the sun was out.  And so was the mud.  The ground is thawing several inches down now, making boot-sucking mud.  Rut-inducing mud.  No more driving anywhere other than the driveway!  Barn yard is now officially off limits until things dry out.  I loaded up the pick up with hay this evening, before declaring the barnyard undriveable henceforth, and parked it in the garage until I can drive it to the horse farm (of course my winter stash of hay where my horses are boarded will run out this week).  Starting tonight we are supposed to have rain off and on for about 48 hours. Which will only make the barnyard softer and less vehicle accessible.  So now was the time to load the truck, even if I can't deliver the hay until the sun reappears.

The wind was up today, but it didn't matter because the sun was so warm.  We actually hit 70 degrees!  I ran errands this afternoon in a t-shirt.  Oh the joy of a balmy March day!

Red-winged blackbirds have been winging their way to this little place here.  Before the sun went down tonight they could be heard trilling from the marsh and the trees in the yard.  The calendar might not say Spring yet, but change is in the air.  Won't be long now.  Made it through another winter.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Yarn Along 2016.9: Optimistic

Joining Ginny's Yarn Along today.  Another big snow yesterday left us with about six inches (after last Wed/Thursday's 15 inches melted over the weekend, giving us bare ground again), but right now the sun is out and the sky is blue.

I finished my Cadence socks Friday evening.  Honestly, I wasn't so sure I liked the feel of the yarn (malabrigo sock in Solis) when I was knitting it, but on my feet they feel so lovely.  I think I like it after all.  I love the pattern of these socks.  I definitely can see myself knitting this pattern again in the future.  It is written very straight-forward, and even though there are three charts to work through the directions are easy to understand.

On Saturday, I wound yarn for my next project.  This Dressage Hat has been in my Ravelry favorites for a while now (probably 2 years) but I had put off making it, partly because the pattern isn't free.  But now that I'm an empty nester I'm learning how to spend money on myself, LOL, so last month I went ahead and bought the pattern.  I also ordered the yarn for it from Quince & Co; partly because I've seen quite a few yarn along links to lovely projects made with their yarn, partly because their yarn is USA made and dyed, and partly because that is the yarn the pattern designer used! Sounds like a win-win to me.

I ordered three skeins of Chickadee, one each in Crow, Egret and Parsley; I will be doing the green (parsley) in the parts of the hat that the designer did in grey, since I want to add a bit of color.  I'm hoping it will look like grass the horses are being ridden on.

I am itching to get started on this hat, and learn a few techniques (latvian braid, color work), but since we still have not replaced our printer, I have to wait until DH can print the pattern out for me at work.

So, in the meantime, I have started work on the intimidating sock project: a pair of size men's 13 socks for DS1.  I have had the yarn for them, Opal sock yarn in the color 'Forster', for almost three years now.  Since he has such big feet, I had bought two 100g skeins!  But I've been too chicken to start them, afraid it will take me forever (and get boring) making such large socks.  With the promise of a hat to work on as soon as DH prints the intructions for me, I have optimistically decided to give those giant socks a go.  The plan is to work on them when I want to, put them down when I'm tired of them and take a break to work on something else, then pick them up again.  Repeat cycle as many times as needed to get them finished by Christmas this year.

I decided to go with the Vanilla Latte pattern,since I've knit it up a couple times all ready and it's a quickly memorized pattern and easy knit.  I haven't yet knit it for a man, so I thought perhaps I should go up to a size 2 needle--my first pair was for myself on size 0s and they are snug, my second pair was for my mom's slightly wider calves and feet and knit on size 1s and worked well. So I figured maybe I needed a set of 2s for a man's bigger legs and wider feet so that the socks would be stretchy and comfortable.

Yet, as I began to work on the first sock, I didn't really see the stripes appearing yet.  Which, given that I'm using self-stripping yarn, started to worry me.  So I decided to get out the second skein of yarn, and using a pair of 1.5s (2.5mm, which is what the band on the Opal suggests) I cast on for the second sock and did nearly as many rows as I had knit on the first sock.  I figured I would see which size needle produced the desired stripes (another technique for keeping my interest in knitting ginormous socks--stripes!  Striped socks always seem to knit up faster.)  And then I would tear out whichever sock didn't stripe and knit it again on the size of needle that worked for stripes.

That is where I am at currently. 

It's still a little early to tell, but I think the 1.5s are what I'm going to end up using to get stripes.  I am a little leery of the difference in gauge between the 1.5s and the 2s, but hopefully the socks won't be too snug.  Otherwise I may end up shortening the feet and just making them for someone else.  Then I'll have to pick a different yarn (maybe non-striping) for DS1's boats.  Whatever. I have lots of time.  It's not like he's expecting me to make him socks.  This Christmas, next Christmas, only I know the difference.

Reading-wise, I am still alternating between the two books I was reading last week.  One is due back to the library tomorrow, but that's okay.  I found (and bought) a used copy of the same book online and it should be here by the end of the week, so I can keep on reading (and digesting) it at a comfortable pace.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Make Some Oven Mitts

It's easy!  Really, it is.  Don't be intimidated by all the layers and cutting required. Oven mitts really are pretty easy to make.  Because if they weren't, I don't think I could have made these.  And if they weren't easy to make, mine wouldn't have come out nice enough that everyone who has seen them requests that I make a pair for them.  I foresee lots of oven mitts being made and gifted this year.  :0)

These new oven mitts came about because my favorite pair of oven mitts finally bit the dust.  I guess it was about time; I mean, these were my original pair purchased summer of 1991 when I moved out of my parents' home and into dh and my own.  They aren't the only oven mitts I've owned in the past 25 years, but they were, by far, the best pair. I finally gave up on finding a commercially made new pair sometime around when we moved to this little place here in 2003.  Because by then I had bought at least two pair of oven mitts and each time hated them because they did not keep my hands from getting hot when taking cookie sheets or baking dishes out of the oven.  I decided that when the time came that my circa 1991 wedgewood blue oven mitts not longer protected my hands, I would just have to make a pair.

Well, February was the time.  Those blue ones were so worn thin that I had to use a hot pad in addition to my oven mitt when removing hot things from the oven.  And then the fabric on the finger part of one mitt tore due to being so old and worn.  Time to bite the bullet and try sewing some new ones!

I had everything I needed on hand: warm & natural batting, insul-bright (the key ingredient in oven mitts that keeps the heat from your skin), and fabric.  I had enough scrap fabric left from the chicken apron I had made myself a few years ago that my plan was to make myself matching oven mitts.

For a pattern, I just traced my blue oven mitt, plus 1/2" all around.  Then for each mitt, using this template, I cut two each of:

  • insul-bright
  • warm & natural batting
  • chicken fabric (the outer fabric)
  • a blue and green floral fabric I had saved from a dress I had made DD2 as a toddler (for the lining)

From there, I put the walking foot on my sewing machine so that I could easily sew 4 layers together without anything bunching up.  Then I layered my pieces like this:

  • chicken fabric right side DOWN
  • insul-bright, shiny side DOWN
  • warm & natural batting
  • lining fabric right side UP

I pinned them into place, then sewed diagonal lines about an inch and a half apart across the entire thing.  Once each piece (two pieces per oven mitt) had been quilted as such, then I zigzagged around the edges of each piece.  After that, I sewed bias tape**  to the bottoms of each mitt piece.

After that, all I needed to do was take my two pieces, line them up with chicken fabrics facing each other, and zigzag the edges again.  Turn them right side out, and I had brand new oven mitts!

They work really well, although I think size-wise they are better suited to a woman's hand than a man's.  Due to popular demand, I am planning to make a few more pair to give as gifts this year, so I had DS2 try them on one day that he stopped by, and he confirmed they were a little snug--not tight, just not roomy--on his wider hands.  So, since I didn't think to take pictures of the construction process when making my chicken mitts, I decided to go ahead and make a pair for him, adding a full inch all around when tracing my old oven mitts to make the pattern for his (and all future pair).  Then I took some pictures of what I was doing.

making the template, then cutting out the insul-bright

the warm & natural pieces

feature fabric, right side DOWN

(see? It is right side down, hard to tell in first picture)

insul-bright on top of feature fabric
(shiny side really is down, flash made this side look shiny too)

warm & natural on top of insul-bright

lining fabric right side UP, on top of warm & natural

making the quilting

That is as far as I have gotten so far, but not a whole lot left to do: zigzag the edges, make and sew on the bias tape, put the top and bottom mitt pieces together and sew around the edges (except the bottoms, which is finished by the bias tape).  They'll be done in time for DS2's birthday later this month.

**(I made double-fold bias tape by cutting 2" strips of the chicken fabric, sewing them short end to short end, folding that in half and ironing, then opening it outward, folding and ironing each edge to the center fold line)