Monday, November 27, 2017

Winter Fantasy Cardigan

After a summer-long hiatus, this project was recently picked up again.  At that point, it needed a few inches of knitting on the body and both sleeves. A few rows on it every night and it is finally done. I sewed the buttons on it last evening and wove in the ends this morning.

I like stranded work so this was a good, fun project. Knitting top-down meant reversing the instructions and doing some recalculation to adjust gauge. The cardigan is on the smaller side, because I was tired of baggy sweaters (and perhaps am a bit deluded about my actual size). All-in-all it was a satisfactory project and just the thing to bring back the knitting mood.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Dollhouse Kitchen Highlights

Kitchen was one of the most daunting part of the dollhouse, bathroom being the other. (I'm still figuring out, how to make a toilet.) What made it more challenging, was that the girls wanted it as realistic as possible. They wanted cabinets, drawers and fridge that could open and close. And, I had to made everything from scratch.

I started with this set of drawers. These were a easy start, made with matchboxes, and popsicle sticks. I used beads for drawer knobs.
Next was the sink. It was trickier but turned out OK. The sink is made from styrofoam egg carton. The cabinets underneath were hinged, though it was my first attempt and they are far from perfect. But as my husband keeps reminding me, curbing my perfectionist streak, it is just a plaything for the kids.
The range was easy and looks cute. The oven opens too. 
The hinges for these wall cabinets took some time and effort. These turned out a bit wonky, which seems to be the theme for this dollhouse. The hinges made it possible to open the doors, but keeping them closed required some thought. Velcro was my solution.
Then came the wall tiles. These brought together all the elements.
The refrigerator was my least impressive piece and hated the making of it. But girls are happy with it, and I cannot bear the thought of redoing the whole thing, so is stays. Here too, velcro came to my rescue.
The girls found some food erasers to fill it with.
Lastly, the dining set with four chairs. The red cushions go with the window curtains.

Next comes the top floor of the house. At this point in time, I am almost done with the interior of the house, and am working on the exterior. The end is almost in sight.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Dollhouse: Living Room Snippets

Continuing with the dollhouse, the first room put together was the living room. I started with a sofa, made of fabric scraps and cardboard.  It is upholstered in some leftover cotton from one of my sewing projects.
The I used the popsicles sticks to make a coffee table and a side table. These were later painted brown.
The rug took the most amount of time. It tòk me two weeks to latch-hook this thing. It used up one of the oldest yarns in my stash, but was a lot of work.
I also made some curtains. I'm not sure about them but the girls like them and my husband told me to move on.
Next I did some wall art and built a TV. (My six-year old want me to turn a cellphone into a TV so as to have one with some action.) And a table to go with it. And you can also see a clock there. I rimmed it with green crystal beads.
The wall art for the other wall.
And lastly, I made a chandelier for the room, just yesterday.
The room in its enirety will be posted in the final dollhouse post. Next post, the kitchen highlights.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Making of A Dollhouse

It all started when my eldest daughter wanted a dollhouse and I offered to make her one. I had built one before, when she was smaller, but it was pretty basic. It was made of thin cardboard and was unfurnished. She had very little interest in dolls and their houses at that time. My younger one played with it, but it did not have a chance of lasting _ flimsy as it was _ in the hands of a toddler.

So, I thought now was my opportunity to improve on dollhouse design, and go the whole nine yards. This one is going to be for barbie-sized dolls and is going to be fully furnished. I am utilizing all available resources and skills at my disposal. At the moment of writing this post, I am about 65% done and it is coming together nicely. Not a masterpiece, but good enough for a child's dollhouse.

As for the materials, it is being constructed out of cardboard, popsicle sticks, paper and hot glue being the other essential components. Before actually starting the construction, I measured out the area where it is supposed to go, and calculated the dimensions of the whole thing, as well as the different rooms. I had a basic plan in my head and after a few youtube videos, and lots of inspiration from pinterest, I was good to go.

 Now for some action shots, I started with a sturdy double cardboard base and then put up the walls. I wallpapered them at the same time.
These first windows were very tricky. Initially I tried bamboo sticks to make the window frames but those did not hold well. Later, I ripped them out and used the popsicle sticks. (These popsicle sticks must be the unsung heroes of the paper craft world. I feel sorry that I discovered them so late. And they are very inexpensive too.) At this point, the kids informed me that the dolls must have a staircase to get to the upper floor. To maximise room space, I attempted a spiral staircase. My skills were very rusty at that point and it is not very neat but I covered it in tape and it became satisfactory.
 Next, I put a wooden floor in the living room, with the popsicle sticks. Because I ran out of paper for a wall, that wall got some wooden panelling. It was at this point that the actual magnitude of the project hit me. It was going to take me a few montns, at least, to get this done. Since then, I have been tackling it, one task at a time, and that has worked really well. Back to the living room, you can see the new window panes. The staircase fit best in the kitchen/ dining area, so it went there.
After sanding the floor ( that aiming-for-the-whole-nine-yards thing), I painted it with a mix of water colors and acrylic colors. I did not have a brown color then, and had to mix up red, blue and black. This shows in the color variation on the floor. It was such a relief when I actually got a brown, that I am OK with the vareigated look.
In the next post, inshaAllah, some more details from the living room, including curtains, wall art and furniture.

Friday, September 29, 2017


I have been terribly remiss in updating this blog of late. It has been four months since I last posted here and for that, I apologize to my 1.5 readers, if they are still around.
We have had summer vacation, two Eids, a couple of weddings and first-term exams during this time. My youngest also started preschool this month. Also, we got a pet parrot (Indian red-neck) during this time, only to lose it to a brief illness, a month later. It was heartbreaking. Now we have got a cockatiel and are keeping it under a strict watch, so that it does not ingest something whichit is not supposed to.

In crafting news, I completed my 100-day hand lettering challenge on instagram, which was a lot of fun. I also continued trying out new crafts, like I mentioned in the previous post. The Eid sewing was a success and the dresses came out really good. And not more than ten rows were knit during this time.

However, I did start a big project, huge in fact, considering how new I am at it. My oldest daughter wanted a Dollhouse and my strong DIY instinct rose to the challenge. So I am making a dollhouse. I have been at it for more than a month now and it is still far from being done. Seeing how much fun I am having with it, and how it will be a work-in-progress for a long time yet, it is only natural that I blog about it. I am hoping to do a series of blog posts, recording the progress I make on this project. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

New Ventures

It has been more than a month since I updated the blog. It has been tiresomely hectic. In addition to the mundane affairs of domestic life, the summer has arrived with quite a literal bang. We are having a few problems. These problems are not unfamiliar to my compatriots, and the old readers of this blog must also be familiar with electricity load shedding . It has been the norm for the last many years and worsens during the hot weather. The new twist to this old demon, this year, has been power surges or sudden fluctuations in voltage, which have fried a number of electric appliances at our home, over the last week. Our computer and modem have had to be fixed twice in this time period, and a fan and couple of lights have required replacements. In addition to this bewildering state of affairs, is a long-going water crisis. Islamabad has been in the grips of this poorly-managed water shortage for a couple of years now. This too, has worsened with the rising temperature.

All these day-to-day stresses tend to cloud one's creativity, as one figures out a triage of washing, cleaning, cooking and laundry with the limited water, and keeps an eye out for any unusual electrical activity. Alhamdolillah ala kulli haal.

Needless to say, it is still too hot for knitting my cardigan and I find myself little inclined to start some lighter fibre project. Instead, I have been exploring some new ventures.

I have been trying my hand at handlettering. I have wanted to do this  (as well as some water color practice) for a long time and finally started last month. I have been posting some of it on my instagram.
The other thing I really went into, was jewelry-making. It has been so much fun and I made so many earrings and bracelets. Even my kids joined in the circus hobby.  I have bought some new supplies and still have many ideas to try. I will probably get a few Eid gifts out of these.
And as if beads and wire were not enough, I tried some resin craft as well. And made a load of fridge magnets. This too is very addictive and I am afraid our fridge is going to run out of display space soon. I am thinking of doing a couple with buttons, as well.
Then, it is the time of the year when I sew Eid dresses for my girls. I have started on them and hope to get a major portion done before Ramadan, inshaAllah
So you can see how our summer problems have had an adverse ( or is it perverse ? ) effect on me and spurred me onto newer crafts. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Petite Pineapples

As things continue to heat up here in Islamabad, my apathy towards my cardigan-in-progress persists. My creative urges are finding new, weather-friendly avenues like handlettering and art. ( You can find my beginner's attempts at handlettering on my instagram account). Yarnwise, I decided to switch to thread and crochet a new doily for my dresser. The last one was made about four year ago and has been out of use for a while.
 The pattern was straight forward enough, till the edging. The edging isn't charted. And trying to work through rows of instruction, with a toddler tugging at my shirt and another child jumping on the sofa, and someone else wanting a response from me, every other minute, was hard. Very hard indeed. My eyes and brain nearly gave out by the end of it.
In the end, it turned out just the right size and looks good as well.
 Surprisingly, the younger girls had no interest in the fare now on display on the dreser, unlike the last time, when my oldest daughter was  very keen on them. Perhaps because they already had access, however reluctant it might have been, to these things when they were stored in the cabinet. As for my oldest, she arranged the dresser this time around and half the stuff on it is hers anyway.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Smaller Things

With our temperatures rapidly climbing and the weather turing unusually hot for this time of the year, I have quite lost the will to work on my cardigan. Instead, I did reorganisation of my yarn stash and decided to knit up some cotton yarns to free up some space. Two potholders and two dischcloths later, I had managed to use an equivalent of only two balls of yarn.
The potholders are crocheted while the dishcloths are knit.
Anyway, the potholders are pretty awesome and performing very well in the kitchen. The dishcloths have not been used as of now, but I can foresee their use in the near future.
I am already looking for some other small knitting or crochet project. Any ideas? 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Craft Break

The final examinations are over and the school is out for the older kids, so I have a bit more free time, Alhamdolillah. I have been putting that time to good use by expanding my craft horizons. I have been indulging in clay art and jewelry making. Only a beginner in both, I have had a lot of fun with both. My oldest daughter joins in the fun and has been enjoying herself a good deal. We made some fridge magnets, candle holders and heaps of jewelry.
 Besides all that and a bit of sewing, I also managed to start the colorwork cardigan that I was hoping to, in the last post. I have never made a colowork sweater for myself and had been wanting to for some time.
 The pattern is a DROPS free pattern, but I decided to knit it from the top down. The yoke is done and I am halfway down the body now. It is looking good, though the progress has been slow on 3 mm needles. I am thinking of adding the colorwork to the sleeve cuffs. That should keep it interesting.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Driftwood Cardigan

The plain black sweater is finally done and I have been wearing it for many days. It is warm and comfortable. Its construction was a bit weird in that the pattern asked for too many sts in the underarm area. Also, the neck was too gaping. I will have to live with the former issue, but fixed the later by doing a row of slip st crochet with a smaller-sized hook.
In the end, it has turned out almost just as I had wanted _ black, plain and comfortable. Next, I have some hankering for stranded work. I may already have cast on another cardigan.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Crocheted Moccasin: Toddler Version

This winter, I had multiple requests for knitted/crocheted slippers from my kids. I had planned to make three pairs but due to the relative shortness of our winter coupled with my relative lack of free time, I only managed to make one pair. I finished these in December, well before our floors got really cold. Not that it mattered much, my toddler would not wear them for more than half an hour at a time. So, basically these are more to be looked at and played with, than be worn.
Still, they do prove one point. That is, my Crocheted Moccasin pattern can be successfully  downsized to toddler size, with thinner yarn and hook. So they still might be worth something. Also, I made them to be a generous size and a four-year-old just might be more inclined to wear them than a three-year-old. We will know the answer next winter, in sha Allah.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Simple and Black

Before I got caught up in sewing my daughters' dresses for a family wedding, I had cast-on for a black cardigan. I needed one for routine use, and considering how black (and sparkly black at that ) can be a difficult color, I wanted a plain sweater. And I wanted to knit contiguous sleeves. And I was feeling too lazy to figure out the details on my own. So I searched and found a free, contiguous pullover pattern and chose to knit it as a cardigan.

This is how far I came, before the wedding sewing put the inevitable pause in my knitting:
 As you can see, I have divided for sleeves and from now onwards, it is just rows of simple stockinette stitch, with a little bit of waist shaping. I hope to resume work on it in a couple of days. It is going to be an loosely-fitting, cozy sweater. For this season or next.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Poppy II

So the first finished project of 2017 gets to be a hat. More specifically a school hat for mu pre-schooler. She would wear no hat except her older sister's Poppy, so I decided to make her one of her own. This one too, is in DK weight, yarn probably being some ancient wool blend, I got from my mother-inlaw. It got done well before the preschool reopens on Monday, just right in the chillest and rainy part of our winter.