February 2015 archive

Super Lazy (Easy!) Giant Comfy Cowl

This big, fluffy cowl is quick and easy project for a beginning knitter. -- Often Charming

This is a great project for a beginning knitter, or those like me who sometimes just want to make something awesome without trying too hard. Knit with a super bulky yarn on US size 11 needles, this cowl knits up fast and fluffy.

Here’s what you need:

Here's what you need to make the Super Lazy Easy Giant Comfy Cowl:

  • 1-2 skeins super bulky yarn (I used Lion Brand Homespun Thick & Quick in Coral Stripes). One skein was enough for me, at 160 yds/skein
  • 1 pair US 11 (8mm) knitting needles
  • scissors
  • large-eye blunt needle, to weave in ends

Here’s what you do:

Cast on 13 stitches. Knit every stitch until cowl is the desired length. Cast off and weave in ends. Stitch the two ends of your long rectangle together using the large-eye needle to make an infinity-style scarf.

I used almost my whole 160 yd skein, making my long rectangle about 90″. This is pretty darn long. I could’ve made it a bit shorter and it still would’ve been a very generous cowl. It’s totally up to you! Stop knitting when you’re happy with the way yours wraps around you. Once I stitched my ends together to form my loop, I just looped it around my neck twice and ta-da: a giant, fluffy cowl!

It’s like a snuggly, knitted hug from me to you. Happy knitting!

Heather's Signature -- Often Charming


Note: This is not a sponsored post. Links provided in this post are purely meant to be helpful.

Add Style to Your Home With Orchids

Easy-care orchids add style and an element of the unexpected to your home.  --  Often Charming

I recently gave a friend a tiny potted orchid to brighten her craft room, partly because she has admired my own orchids but also because she has always sworn she can’t keep a plant alive and I know she can totally handle this one.  Orchids are really very easy houseplants, however exotic and intimidating they might seem. Find them a spot they like, water and feed once per week–easy! Most orchids like bright, indirect light. I have one on a windowsill facing east that gets a bit of bright morning sun and indirect light the rest of the day, which has been just right for it.

Plants add great texture and interest to your decor, and orchids are a fun way to add a little something unusual, too. There are thousands of varieties, offering flowers in many different colors, sizes and shapes. They are low-maintenance but look super fancy, and you can get them inexpensively if you know where to go. (Hello, IKEA! Their orchids are a steal! You can also try your local grocery store, but they are usually a bit more expensive than IKEA.)

Phalaenopsis orchids make great easy-care houseplants and beautiful gifts. -- Often Charming

All of the orchids in my house are phalaenopsis, but I’ve heard that dendrobiums make good, easy-care houseplants, too. I love mine because they produce great blooms that last several months without much effort from me. That’s my kind of houseplant.

An orchid from IKEA dressing up the bar cart in our dining room. -- Often Charming

An orchid from IKEA dressing up the bar cart in our dining room.

Orchids are a bit unusual in that they don’t grow in typical potting soil. Their roots need air to circulate around them.  Orchid potting medium gives them the nutrients they require while letting the roots breathe and anchor the plant as needed. You can buy special orchid pots which give them even more ventilation around the roots, but I haven’t found it necessary. Give them a container with good drainage and water only when they get dry (about once a week), and you should have very happy orchids.

The plant in my craft room really needed a bigger pot, so one day I grabbed a reusable plastic drink cup we’d gotten as a giveaway, cut some slits in it with a little knife and punched holes in the bottom. I put the orchid in it with a bit of new orchid potting medium and skipped a trip to my local garden center for a new container. Yay, upcycling!

Hide a plastic pot inside a prettier one. Just lift it out to water and no one will know! -- Often CharmingHide that plastic cup inside a prettier pot. -- Often Charming(Ok, so I did hide the ugly plastic cup inside a cute pink pot afterward. I just lift the cup out to water the plant and no one is the wiser.)

Now, like all living things, orchids need to rest. They will go into a sort of a dormant period, during which they don’t bloom. This is normal. They still need to be watered, and they may grow new leaves, but they aren’t going to do a whole lot. Many people worry that there is something wrong when this happens. Just be patient, and when they are ready, they will surprise you with a whole new show of flowers.

Because they are so easy to care for, not to mention gorgeous (and often inexpensive), orchids make great gifts. Tie some pretty ribbon around the pot and give it to your recipient with an orchid food spray (I like this one from Miracle-Gro, which is easy to find) and some basic care instructions. Charming and unique!

There are tons of resources online for growing orchids at home, if you’d like to read more about them. Here’s a good one to start with. You can even download some great growing guides for free that will answer a lot of the questions you may have.

I’m an absolute beginner with orchids, but I’ve had great success with them. You can, too.


Heather's Signature -- Often Charming


Note: This is not a sponsored post. Links provided in this post are purely meant to be helpful.