Archive for the ‘hobbies’ Category

crafting for speed and charity

December 3, 2013

My son’s school is having a Christmas market.  The things they asked for donations for seemed a little weird to me – maybe it’s the way things are done here in the UK (where we are until the end of the year), but I wasn’t about to go out and buy something nice to donate to have somebody else buy it to donate the money to the school, especially if the amount the final purchaser spent was less than I spent.   It seems nicer to donate something homemade – but the times we were supposed to turn in the goodies was the day before, which makes the goodies less good.  (I have a rule about donating/buying freshly baked goods.  They need to be freshly baked to be good.)

So I asked if I could just donate some knitted hats or something.  They seemed to think this was weird, but they thought this was okay.  (I did this at Henry’s other school, with making some mustaches for some party.  I guess knitting is just the thing I’m going to start offering now.  It’s kind of nice to have something to be able to offer.)

Would you buy this?

topdownswirl

Or this?  (You know, when it’s finished.  It’s supposed to be Fish Hat, made with some odds and ends.)

fishiehat

I don’t even care about how much money they’re going to get for the hats.  (Not really.  I mean, ideally, the cost of the yarn, but because it’s a gift to the school, it doesn’t really matter.  Besides, it’s just scraps of stuff I was thinking about donating anyway.)

Regardless if the items get purchased, it’s better for my current sensibility, if not for the bit of cramping in my hands while I hurry to finish by the due date.

happy happy

November 15, 2013

Today is the anniversary of my first knitting class. I’m very happy I took it. 🙂

Picture of latest finished project.  (My gift to me.)

clapotisdone

Clapotis progress

November 11, 2013

So I’ve been knitting away on the scarf.  (And to take a break from the scarf, I’ve knit a hat.  But that’s not what’s important here.  I just needed a gift for someone and I liked the pattern.)

I’ve been scared to death of making this scarf.  I ripped back a couple of times already.  I was more than half-way done and I was contemplating yet another rip back.  There are important, serious reasons for it.  I made one edge a bit too tight.  I consulted with a couple of other knitters and they assure me that it’s hardly noticeable and if it bothers me by the time I finish knitting it, it will probably block out.  Blocking out, as anybody knows, is a lie.  It’s just that when people say that, they mean that when you finish knitting it, you’ve got a finished product and even if the urge is still with you, you won’t have the heart to rip that sucker out.  They’re probably right, at least for me.  (It’s negative knitting.  It rips out the heart as well.)

But the reasons why I’ve been so hesitant about this project (I hate ripping out, but I have no problems with it here) is because I want it to be perfect.  I’ve just never had an item that mattered to me like this – most of the time, I’ve knit and been done with it.

Part if it has been that the yarn is among the most expensive I’ve ever bought.  (It’s pretty good yarn.)   I’ve been thinking and longing for this scarf since I saw it, months, maybe years before I actually started knitting seriously.  I’ve got a facebook post about it.  (I just checked, dating October 2012, a month before I took that knitting class.)  It’s almost as if all the knitting I have done up to this point has been to gear up for making this scarf.

This thinking is stupid.  The scarf is not that hard to make.  It’s a bit of an exercise in patience, because it is a long scarf/shawl/stole, but it’s nothing like an entire outfit of colorwork in skinny yarn with teeny-tiny needles.  It’s just in my own head.  There’s a new-to-me technique of dealing with alternating multiple balls of yarn (because, hello expensive hand-painted yarn that is only related to each other skein in the same colorway like I’m related to my second cousins) which is sort of a pain.  The idea was terribly intimidating.  I’m over it now, though.  (I’ve got 3 on the go at once, but can’t figure out how to do a fourth.)

clapotis3balls

If you’re wondering, the scarf is turning out pretty well, otherwise.  I’m really enjoying the knitting and the yarn is lovely.   I’m trying to get into the headspace of letting the process go on and not getting in the way.  If the product doesn’t turn out well, it’ll be fine.  Nothing in the world will be much different.  I might go ahead and buy more of this yarn to make another one.  That would be it.  The sky will not fall, my children will be the same, and I will have a finished scarf that is slightly below my dreams but as good as I could have done at the time.

I’m dealing with the force of my own expectations here.  I don’t know where I get off expecting so much.  I’m working on it as I’m working on this scarf.   Think kindly of the crazy lady in the red scarf, please.

Things nobody wants

October 9, 2013

I’m all twitchy because I just posted a little story.   And I can guarantee you it is something nobody wants.  I checked before I posted and there isn’t much else like it.  It’s a crossover between a couple of different fandoms.  Nobody wants crossovers, nobody wants gen fic, nobody wants this story.  This however, has never stopped me from writing anything.  It has, more likely, stopped me from pursuing a career in writing because I’m aware of the small appeal my tastes run.

Anyway, here are some pictures of the latest scarf I’m working on to distract myself from the fact that my readership count will be exactly the same next week as it is today.  Which is zero.

This scarf is something that thousands of people wanted, though.  Wanted enough to make.  It’s turning into a great knit.  Not difficult to memorize, relatively easy stitches, clear pattern.  A dream.

Clapotis by Kate Gilbert.  I have wanted to make this scarf for a long time.  I think I posted it to my facebook account a couple of years ago, even.  I found the yarn last year.  But I somehow couldn’t start it.  Why, you ask?

You know how it gets sometimes when you’ve got all the right ingredients and it somehow is just you that stands in the way of something awesome?  Yeah.  That’s me.  But I got over my knitting insecurity (mostly because I don’t have a lot of other projects going on right now and the ones I do I’m even more afraid of screwing up).

It doesn’t look like much, because there’s a magic trick at the end, but here is where I am right now:

clapotis1

The yarn is Baa Sonoma, My Sweet Valentine colorway.  (And yes, those are the same colorway, which is why I’m having to alternate balls of yarn so it looks cohesive.)  It is yummy and just a little sheepy.  Disregard that last adjective if you don’t understand what I means.  I didn’t really either before I started knitting seriously.

Crochet workshop

September 18, 2013

I won a ticket to a craft show.  I didn’t know what to expect, but hey, free ticket.

There were tons of papercrafts and some fiber stuff and a couple of gardening and cooking booths.  Some of it was stuff I liked and some of it didn’t really apply to me.  I wandered around some of the booths, and then I stumbled upon a free how-to-crochet workshop.  Great!  I’d always wanted to know how to really crochet, instead of makeshift-out-of-70’s book way I’d been going about it.

So, I sweated over the yarn for an hour and came away with this:

crochet1

No.  Not the whole thing.  I made the light pink stuff.  A chain, double crochet, and the fat row on top of the magenta sample.  (They provided the magenta stuff as example and as starting point for double crochet. )  So, less than three rows of crochet in an hour.   Um, yeah.  Just burning up the crafting table here with my mad skillz.

I did learn everything I knew was wrong, so that was useful, in a sort of demoralizing way.

As a bonus, they let me keep the yarn.  So, yay.  (But not the crochet hook.)

follow-ups everywhere

July 17, 2013

You know how in long-running series in various forms of media, you’re given call-backs to previous episodes (often long-ago) whether it’s characters, or particular themes?

So, in the interest of the 2 people who read my blog, (none of whom knits) I give you follow-ups.

I made some insect/arthropod  dishcloths for a wedding.  This turned out very well, astonishingly well, given that I see the groom once every couple of years and I’ve never met the bride.  They had fossils on the serving table and the happy couple had a bee/trilobite going on with their attire.  Yay!  (In the interest of maintaining their privacy, I can’t say what.  But I will say it wasn’t human-sized bee/trilobite suits.  It was more bee/trilobite accents.)

I re-knit/fixed a couple of things.

1.  I made socks for W a while back.  He thought they were cushy, but never wore them because they were cutting off his circulation, especially in one leg.

wsock2

(I think my gauge here was fairly different between the two socks.  I was trying out a couple of different ways of holding the yarn and tensioning.)  They were also too short, especially to wear to work.  (Ribbing drives me crazy.  It’s annoying.  Give me twice the length of stockinette any day.)  I want these things to be more than artifacts to my hobby, so I fixed them.  I unpicked the bindings on both legs and added a couple of inches, and also a couple of stitches in each row.  This made the ribbing look wonky, but he was much happier and he’ll actually wear the socks now, which makes me happy.  (Even if he doesn’t wear them t work.)  Everybody’s happy.

wsockstake2

2.  I knit this hat.  (I don’t have a picture on the blog previously, but I feel it’s important to mention, because that hat sucked my will to do anything else for a while and I simultaneously loved that hat and hated making it.)  I flubbed the top because I don’t think I was paying enough attention because I was SICK of making the hat and wanted to get back to my life.   I guess literacy isn’t everything – you have to care that you’re also reading it correctly.  (This is a lesson I’ve been trying to teach my son.  But, hey, like parent like child.)  If the image is clear enough, you’ll see the little bit of white that crosses over the dark blue in the very center – that shouldn’t be there.

selbutop

I fixed it within a couple of hours.  Much happier.  It’s a little like having a brand new finished object without actually having gone through the pain of working on it.  (I have mostly forgotten how much I was annoyed by the stranding, because I am thinking about maybe, someday, doing something similar.)

selbufixed

May you have a happy day where it feels like you’ve done something great, but only really did a minimal amount of work!

day dreams

July 12, 2013

So I got an invitation to subscribe to a knitting magazine.

It contained the usual sorts of things you’d expect: descriptions of the amount I’d save by subscribing, the awesomeness of their patterns (from beginning to advanced), knitwear designers, ways to improve your skills, reviews on products.  Then came:   “Inspiring photography that invites you into a yarn-filled daydream.”

Cue image of me with a thought bubble, and the only thing in the bubble is a skein of yarn on some grass, somewhere in the Hebrides or a fjord or something.   (I don’t need cute animals or attractive people in scanty knitwear – I just want yarn on a lovely landscape.)

Knitting magazine, my hat’s off to you.  You really know your audience.

(Conclusion, I didn’t subscribe.  But you definitely got my attention.)

pop goes the…

July 11, 2013

I was thinking about that song recently.  I always thought that the “weasel” in the song meant another animal, like the monkey.

Well, boy howdy, I was wrong.  I was looking something about yarn and skeins and winders in Wikipedia, as you do, and I came across the entry for spinner’s weasel.  It’s a device that allows you to wind a pre-determined amount onto a wheel (a skein).  The important thing in that entry is the part the says the device goes “pop” after the amount is reached.

Voila! Pop goes the weasel.

I was so excited when I read that.  (I would be leading you on to say that is the agreed definitive meaning of the phrase, as it is under some dispute.  However, it was better than what I thought it meant, which indicated some violence done to a mustela.)

covetousness

June 11, 2013

I’m not a terribly covetous person by nature.  I try very hard to be happy with what I have.

I’m also the least likely person to be a knitter.  I don’t wear a lot of sweaters, or shawls, or scarves, neither does W.  (On the other side of that, I do wear a lot of down coats, but I’m not going to be raising ducks any time soon.)  I can’t wear a lot of animal fibers – after a while, they make the more sensitive skin on my face/neck/arms itch.  I’m not very crafty.  I don’t have and don’t necessarily want to have much of a stash.

And yet, somehow, I’m completely taken over by knitting right now.  I love the puzzle of it, the doing, the thinking, the community that I’m finding.

Then there’s the objects themselves.  The beauty of the fiber.  The skill required to make some of these items.  Most of them have an inherent usefulness/beauty.  Sometimes there’s humor or whimsy.  I love that – you can see the personality behind the pattern.

There’s something so dangerous about looking at other people’s knits – I covet it all.  I don’t have the skills to make it all, but in my head, there’s a voice that’s like: “ALL THE KNITS!”

I am in so much trouble.

craft – a family affair

June 5, 2013

Remember what I was saying about kids getting the whole ‘being crafty’ deal?

I present to you what Henry made for me for Mother’s Day.

potholder

It’s pretty awesome.  It even matches some of my yarn – although I imagine that was unintentional.  (It matches a lot of his clothes as well.)   My first gifted potholder.  I’m quite pleased with it.  (He wanted to make sure I would use it.  I will, gladly.)

Once W saw me weighing yarn to figure out if I had enough to make a particular project, he instantly understood what I was doing.  It impressed him, I think.  My only comment on my scale was that it’s smallest unit is 2 grams – I can’t get odd numbers of grams.  He offered to purchase a really good, scientific scale for me.  (If there is something W is good at, it is picking things like that.)  I declined.  I know where there’s a really, really, really good one if I need it.  (W’s office.  In case you’re concerned, he’s a scientist, not a drug dealer.)

As for Girl J’s contribution, she likes to wear the crafts (sometimes), which is pretty good.