Tag Archive | crafts

Knitting, Drawing, and Kids

Last week was a big one: school started back up for my kids. I have a freshman and a senior. (Look at that boy! 14 and he’s already taller than both me and the girl, even in her new heels!)

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HOW? How is that possible, when I can remember them both when they were tiny and silly and goofy? I’m in total denial that my girl is a senior; I haven’t cried yet. YET. But I know it’s coming. I’m bracing myself. It’ll probably hit at the marching band Senior Night, when they recognize seniors and their parents on the field. I can’t believe that will be us this year. Speaking of band, Friday was the first game of the season, which means it was the first time I got to see both kids perform in the marching band.

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Yeah, it’s going to be a fun year. Emotional, but fun. I’m so excited to see the girl do amazing things this year and beyond.

I have been knitting a bit lately, just not as much as usual. I’ve got a second sock almost to the toe, which is good because I’m a little tired of this pair. It’s dragged on too long.

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It’s probably dragging because I’ve been focusing on the baby blanket, the second of two I’m making for a friend who recently had twins. The good news is, I’m on the second to last skein of yarn! The bad news is, I’m tired of it.

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But I love the color and the pattern and I can’t wait to gift it. Maybe I can finish this week? At least I can if I don’t get distracted by more enticing projects, like the Zuzu’s Petals I’m making in this stunning Ella Rae Lace Merino DK. Yes, it really is THAT BRIGHT!

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Yum! I just love it! And I just realized the blue theme I’ve got going in my knitting. No wonder I’m itching to cast on something new; I need some variation! I’m also ready for fall knits: bulky cowls, thick merino, hats, mittens…

Yesterday we were kid-free for a bit so the husband and I went on a fun creative date. In cleaning out my craft room yesterday, I discovered a vintage Parker pen. It belonged either to my dad or my husband’s grandmother (and yes, I do feel bad not remembering). I knew it was a Parker, and a bit of research told me it was a Vector, but I couldn’t get it open to put in a refill.

Well, that required a visit to the Pen Place. The kind woman had special pliers that could loosen the ┬ábody without damaging the pen, and of course she had refills available too. Despite finding two pens I really liked (both Lamy; I’m drawn to the smooth writing) I resisted and only bought some fun color ink cartridges. It was tough. And really only happened because my birthday is coming up so I know I have gifts coming my way!

After the pen store, we visited Blick Art Materials, since I’ve got this hankering to learn to draw. That, and I’ve always loved browsing through art supplies. That’s probably the only reason I want to to learn to draw: to be able to use all the pretty things!

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Again, I practiced restraint and purchased just two drawing pencils instead of the nifty set of eight in the metal tin. I’ve decided to earn those; they can be my treat when I improve a bit, if I still enjoy the process. What I like about this book is the encouragement that really counters my self-doubt, and the emphasis on the process rather than the final drawing. I went through the first two lessons and then my assignment was to draw three things that are special to me. The first attempts were pretty rough and discouraging, to be honest. But I kept going, and my kind family encouraged me and gave me a few pointers, and at the end of the evening I had this:

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And that pleases me! Although, looking at it now, I see a bit I can do differently to make it better. Maybe I need to try again today!

So many crafts, so little time. Sigh.

Thoughts on Creativity

It’s only within the last few years that I’ve been able to think of myself as a creative person. I always thought creative people were the artists, the clothing designers, published authors, the people who can bring things to life just from their mind. Me? I wrote stories that didn’t go anywhere. I made jewelry for a few years, then I scrapbooked for a few years. I knit and crochet, but I use other people’s yarns and other people’s patterns and just replicate them.

But guys, you know what? I AM creative. I write stories that haven’t been written before, about characters I make up. I have three complete manuscripts. Three full-length book-type things. Sure, they haven’t been published. Doesn’t mean they’re not creative. And it doesn’t mean they’re not worthwhile. Maybe those were just the ones I needed to get out before writing The One.

I’m always struggling with self-worth as far as writing goes, swinging from “Yes! I’m a great writer!” to “Who do I think I am, thinking someone else will want to read this?” Because I’ve never published a book, I think I’m not a writer. Well. That’s dumb. And I just have to keep telling myself that. I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I’ve written short stories and novel-length stories and filled a dozen journals and I’ve kept this blog for three years now. I don’t write every day, but I keep coming back to writing. I am a writer.

Wow. It wasn’t until I wrote that, that I realized how true it is. I keep coming back to writing.

With my yarn, I put colors and textures and patterns together. I’m the one who chooses what will go with what. I don’t think I’ve ever used the recommended yarn for any pattern, and I don’t think I’ve ever even made a pattern in the same color(s) as the designer. I take their ideas and put my own spin on them. That IS creative.

And for a while now, I’ve been trying to figure out how to combine the yarn and the writing. I want to write a book where yarn/knitting is a focal point. I’ve tried, and it hasn’t worked yet. But I’m going to keep trying.

I don’t know why, but I am flush with creative energy right now, and it feels awesome. The focus has turned away from knitting and back toward writing, but that’s kind of typical for me. I tend to focus obsessively on one thing for a while, then move on. I’m not done with knitting, not at all! I spent three hours at a football game last night and was delighted to have the time to knit on the baby blanket. But in the evenings, or weekends like this, my brain is gravitating toward writing.

Not just writing, either. I’ve always wished I could draw well, and I always told myself I just couldn’t do it. Then a few days ago I was admiring a selection of drawing books and the husband said, “Why don’t you try it? You never know.” And for some reason, this time I agreed. Why not, indeed. I didn’t have to show anyone if I didn’t want to. I might not be great. But what if I could make pictures that pleased me? That would be pretty cool. So I might be heading to the library to check out some how-tos for beginners (if you have recommendations, please share!) and I’ve got a little sketch pad and a drawing pencil itching to be used. And because it’s uncomfortable and scary for me, I’m going to share my first attempt, a cube copied from a book.

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It’s not great. It’s a first attempt. I don’t think it’s going to come naturally to me the way it does for my kids, or the way writing does to me. I’m not going to be the next big artist, and that’s all right. For me, it’s okay that it’s recognizable, and it was fun.

I guess what I take from all of this is that I’m redefining what success means to me. Success is about the leap, the journey, the effort. And I don’t want to be afraid of success anymore.

Raishan Blanket

Yesterday was rainy and cool, and I was able to spend it all indoors doing whatever I chose. And mostly I chose to knit and cuddle with puppers, especially Jack.

 

I watched Southside With You (good movie, man who played Barack was especially great) and The Green Mile (one of our favorites, but the boy watched it for the first time) and Supernatural (not my choice, the girl’s). By the end of day, I was weaving in ends!

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This project took a month and three days, but because I’m not a huge fan of making blankets, it felt like longer. Still, I’m delighted with the finished piece. The photos don’t show how neon-bright the green really is!

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Pattern is Raishan by Laura Cameron, and it was well-written, interesting, and fun to knit. Yarn is Knit Picks Swish Worsted Brights in Sour Apple. I used almost all of seven skeins after making some modifications to the pattern. You can see my Rav page here.

And now, because this is for one twin, I need to knit another baby blanket. I’m doing the same yarn in Razzleberry, a bright blue, but a different pattern. This time I’m doing a garter rib blanket, something simple enough I can take to work for lunch-time knitting, and maybe it will go faster. A girl can dream, right?

Today, the girl is at work and the boys are off getting haircuts, so I have a rare morning with the house to myself. I’m off to knit in peace and quiet!

A Good Week

Guys, it’s been a pretty good week. My most recent post, Changing Direction, might have been my one of my most popular, with 93 views and 18 likes! And that’s even with me forgetting to add any categories or tags. I mean, sure, it’s not like I’m going viral or anything, but it’s encouraging for me. And looking at the stats made me realize that I have over 400 followers on my blog! That’s so cool, that over 400 people like what I have to say enough to follow me. I am always grateful that you’re reading, so thank you!

I got a couple of nice comments at work this week, one a vote of confidence from my boss, which is always encouraging. The other was from someone in another department who said I’m “one of the best AAs” she works with. Well! How about that? Made me feel pretty good, especially after all the times where I felt like I was at a disadvantage because I have no science knowledge or background.

And we went to see Wonder Woman again. Still amazing. Want to see it again. And again. If you haven’t seen it yet, GO. Go now, while it’s still in theaters. Seriously.

This week was a good mail week too. I got some cute earrings I ordered from Etsy, a new shop with a young maker. I was her first sale and she included an awesome note thanking me, complete with kitty sketch. The shop is So Crafty Kitten.

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My other delivery was my wrist ruler from I Love Handles. I saw it on Instagram and ordered on immediately. Mine is the black 15″ and I want one of every color. This is the 15″; next time I think I’ll get the 16″. Perfect for on the go sock knitting! Or any knitting, really. Get your own here.

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So, yeah, not a terrible week. And I promised some knitting in the next post, so here’s the sock I finished last night.

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Pattern is Blueberry Waffle Socks, kind of. The pattern called for DK weight and I had fingering, so I just took the waffle stitch pattern and applied it to the same basic sock recipe I’ve been using. I’m quite tickled with myself, that I’m comfortable enough with socks to just kind of make one up based on what I’ve done in the past! Just wait until I know more heels to choose from!

The yarn is Knit Picks Stroll Glimmer, which is dreamy to work with. It’s super soft, which I love, and the sparkly thread isn’t scratchy at all. It is splitty when you have to tink back to fix mistakes, but manageable. However, once I got the sock done and on my foot, either the yarn or the pattern doesn’t feel snug and elastic. Definitely soft, but slightly looser than some of my other socks. I used the same needles and stitch count, so either my gauge has changed slightly or it’s the yarn. But they’ll be fine, and I’m looking forward to having the second sock done. However, it wasn’t until I got this one on my foot that I realized: I forgot to do the contrast toe in gray! Darn it all. It’s fine, though, who sees the toes anyway, right? And it leaves more gray for other pairs of socks.

That’s kind of all the knitting I’ve been doing. I seem to be on a strange little knitting hiatus. I’ve been so tired in the evenings that knitting makes me sleepy, so I’ve been watching more TV. I’ve also been re-reading Furiously Happy for our work book club, and loving it just as much as I did the first time. (Funny stories about mental illness. Can’t go wrong.) My goal is to work a bit more on my baby blanket this weekend. I have about two skeins of yarn left, out of seven. SO close!

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It’s going to be Fabulous when it’s done. (Pattern is Raishan by Laura Cameron.) Now I just need to do my chores and errands so I can get to the needles!

Vintage Crochet

Last night we had dinner with my mother, and she gave me a few potholders made by her mother back when my mother was young. I knew my grandmother could crochet: I have a fluffy loop dog as well as an afghan from her. But I’d never seen these little treasures before!

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These three potholders are all two layers crocheted together, and I’m sure it was thread with steel hooks. The intricacy is amazing. I can’t imagine how long it took her to make each one. And these were definitely used; you can see the one in the top right is soiled. My mom remembers her dad cooking with one of these hanging out of his back pocket.

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But these beauties don’t look like they were used at all! Each one is a real dress (I guess so you could slide it over the pot handle?) and they’re all done with perfect precision. I’m in awe. While I know I have the skills to make these, I definitely don’t have the patience! If any of you are inclined, there are some neat patterns here.

I would love to get these cleaned before maybe framing them to hang in my craft room. Anyone have any tips or recommendations? Keep in mind they’re over 50 years old!

Bonus: Baby Knits

Thanks to the holiday, I can make an extra post today and show you the wee baby knits I’m working on. This is the preemie-sized Yoda hat from last week:

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I finished a tiny rolled-brim beanie too, and it’s so very tiny that I’m a bit worried it won’t even fit his little head! But as we all know, handknits are forgivingly stretchy, so I’m remaining optimistic.

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I used leftover sock yarn, the Frolicking Feet by Done Roving in color Dancing Leprechaun, and it only took about 17 grams so I’ve got enough left to make another, slightly bigger version too. That one might be for another new baby I know, one of a set of twins. But first I’m determined to make them each a blanket, because I’m crazy like that. Before they were born, I said I wouldn’t make blankets because I always get bored making blankets and take forever to finish them, and to make two would drive me batty. Then the babies came and they’re adorable of course and they deserve pretty handknit blankets. I took advantage of the Knit Picks summer sale to get some Swish Worsted and have cast on the first blanket.

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This pattern is Raishan and it’s going well so far, with a pattern that’s intricate enough to keep my interested. It won’t be a travel project, but if I keep on track in the evenings, I should be able to get both blankets done before it gets cool. I’m aiming for small blankets, ones that will fit nicely in a car seat or stroller. And hopefully if I balance it with sock knitting on my lunch breaks, I won’t completely lose interested in the blankets! Anybody else get bored with blankets?

Much Knitting!

I knew I would have some FOs to show this weekend! I finished two pairs of socks recently, which brings my total for the year to nine. Thanks to Missy at Missy’s Crafty Mess, I’ve discovered the Boxosox KAL and I’m already close to the goal of twelve pairs for the year. Now I just need to find a good box for them! You can follow along on Ravelry or on Instagram with #boxosox2017. First I finished my Sparkle Stripe socks.

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Pattern is my current favorite, Vanilla Latte socks, and the yarn is Plymouth Yarn Stiletto. I loved the sparkle in it, but it wasn’t quite as soft as I’m used to. Still, I think they’ll be nice and warm when cool temps return.

Most recently I finished my Sylphrena Socks. Yarn is Frolicking Feet by Done Roving in the color Dancing Leprechaun and I loved this yarn! It’s soft and so squishy! And the colors are stunning, albeit hard to photograph well.

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And after that, I looked at my stash and was so sad, because I had no sock yarn left!! I mean, yes, I have four skeins of sock yarn, but three are so beautiful I want to make shawl/scarf type things out of them instead of socks. The fourth is my Zauberball, and after reading all the comments on Ravelry that talk about the fuzzing and felting and delicacy, I’m hesitant to use it for socks. I did wind it into a cake and though I didn’t find any knots in my skein, it was a pain to wind, lots of tangling and the yarn sticking together. I set it aside and it might become a shawl as well.

So two pairs of socks done left me with only three WIPs, and no new socks to start. I worked a bit on my sweater sleeve (stockinette. YAWN.) and a bit on Miss Winkle (little loops: cute but fiddly and kind of annoying) but I needed something new. I whipped up a preemie sized Yoda hat for a baby in need, bought yarn on KnitPicks’ summer sale for two baby blankets, and perused my stash in hopes of being inspired. And last night it hit me: I DID have more sock yarn! Sock yarn perfect for socks!

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So that’s what I’ll be casting on today when I take the mother to get her hair cut. I’m so pleased I remembered it, and relieved too, to be honest. Being without sock yarn made me feel a bit like an addict wondering when I’ll get my next fix!

Finally, before I go, let me share the beauty shots of my newly blocked Chevrione shawl. I love this one so much, can’t wait to wear it. It’s super long and the colors are rich and vivid. The length made it a bit hard to photograph but I think you get the idea.

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Wishing my American friends a safe and happy holiday weekend! Happy knitting!