Tag Archive | crochet

Nerd Girl Field Trip

I’m lucky enough to have a fantastic indie dyer only thirty minutes away: Nerd Girl Yarns. Her colorways are exactly what you’d expect (Doctor Who, Harry Potter, superheroes, and much more), the colors are gorgeous, and the yarn is always a treat to knit with. In the recent past, she’s been primarily an online seller, without a brick and mortar retail location, but she’s in a new space now and had a Grand Opening this weekend. Of course I had to go, and I haven’t gotten to hang out much with Knitting SIL lately, so she joined me. We weren’t disappointed: the new location was beautiful!

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The wood glass-fronted cabinets are stunning, especially filled with yarn. She also carries a bit of tea, so we saw tea accessories too. When you first go in, you see a cabinet full of crystal teacups and flasks, each holding yarn.

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But as pretty as it all was, we were there mainly for one thing: yarn!

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Her selection of already-dyed yarn is limited, but it’s all tempting. There was pima cotton in bright pinks and oranges and yellows, plus plenty of merino in a variety of colors. There were also tie-dyed sock knitting bags, which I resisted (It was hard), and dyed wool for spinning. (Is that called roving? I don’t know.)

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There was plenty more bare yarn, and if I dyed my own yarn, this would be the place to go, since she had all different weights, plus some with sparkle!

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So what did I get?? This was my little impulse purchase, rainbow scissors up by the register. Love them!

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This is merino worsted in a color called Too English to Say Anything. I think I want to look for a solid or two to go with it.

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Originally my goal was to only buy one skein. But then I found this one, a fingering weight called Queen of the Amazons, and of course it had to come home with me.

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It was a fun little field trip in an otherwise busy weekend. I’m glad we were able to squeeze it in!

Stupid Hat

I had plans for the weekend: I was going to go to Nerd Girl Yarns’ Grand Opening at her new studio. Then I was going to go to a band competition and out to dinner with the mother. In between all those things, I was going to finish a proofreading job. Well, I can make plans all I want, and then life happens.

I’m closing my Etsy shop, as I mentioned before, and have everything marked down to cost, basically, to clear stuff out. These are things that have been hanging around for a year or so, packed up in bags in my craft show supply tub. I sold a hat last week, and in a hurry before work one morning, I packed it up and sent it out. Last night, I heard from the buyer: the hat had a big hole in it. What?? So now I’m embarrassed that I didn’t check it, worried that either I didn’t do a good job finishing it or I have moths, and disappointed that I sent out an inferior product to a customer, regardless of the price. Of course I’m replacing it, but I don’t have more of that yarn, so that means an emergency trip to my LYS to get the yarn, and then emergency hat knitting to make a replacement hat. And all of that means I will probably lose money on that sale. (If you’re interested, check out what’s left here. Low prices and free shipping!)  BUT. It’s the right thing to do, and it doesn’t matter that I’m closing my shop, I’m still going to do the right thing. But. Sighhh. At least it’s a quick pattern in bulky yarn, and I do love to knit hats. This can be my band competition knitting tonight. Gotta look for the silver lining, right?

I’ve been doing some service projects instead of selfish knitting, so not too much knitting to show. I actually switched to crochet this week. We’re working on a Welcome Blanket at work, with several of us making squares that we’ll sew together into a blanket. The blankets will go on display for short time and then distributed to refugees. You can read more about the project here. I’ve got four squares done; our theme is black plus a bright color. Of course some of mine had to be purple!

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I’ll be sure to share a photo of the finished blanket! It’s due by November 4th, so we’re trying to work fast. What’s your favorite service project?

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.

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!

Bored. So Bored.

Do you ever get bored with your projects? I sure do. I got so excited finishing my Black Diamond cowl that I got ambitious and pulled out my oldest WIP, the Playful Stripes blanket. I’m using bright colors of Blue Sky Fibers Worsted Cotton so it should be fun, right?

Ha. Not so much. My first hurdle was that I’d started this back when I was still purling wrong, so I had to endure an annoying row of knitting into twisted stitches. After that, I got to switch to a contrasting color stripe and that was fun, but too soon I was back to the blue stockinette. And even though I made it to another contrast color, I still feel like I’m just plodding through it. I love the colors, and I think I’ll love the finished blanket, but the knitting of it is boring me!

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My other regular knitting project has been kind of boring too. My Hill & Dale cowl has been my travel/ lunch break knitting, and let me tell you: six inches of moss stitch gets tiresome. I finally made it to the ribbed section yesterday, so this one should be finished pretty quick. Then maybe I’ll promote the blanket to lunch break knitting, and get back to something more exciting at home.

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I do have a couple of finished hats, though. Today was a snow day for the kids, and I decided to join them and use the opportunity to complete a messy bun hat order. These hats are so fast to make!

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Oh, and I had a lot of help today. It’s very cold, so Grace thinks she needs to be laying on me at all times. She’s cute, but a bit of a hindrance at times.

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What’s the most boring project you’ve ever made? Have you ever given up on something just because it was so boring?

So Many FOs!

I have SO MANY finished objects to share, it’s ridiculous. And just so you don’t hate me, keep mind that some of them I finished a while ago and couldn’t share at the time, and some of them were simple travel knitting, and some of them were super quick crochet hats. So, now that we’ve agreed not to judge or compare, let’s take a peek, shall we?

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First up: Messy Bun Hats! Yes, I jumped on the bandwagon, but it was by request. The bottom two are for two of my nieces, and the top two are for a friend’s nieces. I used this pattern as a basis but modified a bit, mostly by picking up stitches for a knitted brim instead of crochet. These hats are incredibly fast to make.

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This scarf is for a coworker, and it was also super quick to make. I used Susan B. Anderson’s Leaf pattern and one skein of Bernat Roving and got one cute scarf. Hopefully the blocking keeps it from curling too much.

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This is another cowl with Cascade Yarns’ Spuntaneous yarn and I think it’s stunning. Plus, big yarn + big needles = fast project! Pattern is New Years Cowl.

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This little kitty just needed whiskers, so that was a fast finish too. I dabbed some glue on them and now they’re drying, so hopefully they’ll stick out nicely and my nephew will be pleased. He’s one of my favorite people to knit for; he just loves everything so much.

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Okay, this one was not a fast finish. I started this in February 2015 and finally forced myself to finish it. It’s not perfect, not exactly what I thought it would be, but it’s done, and once I’ve taken a break from looking at it, I might even be able to wear it. Pattern is Purl Soho’s Gradient Cowl and I used 8 colors of KnitPicks Palette.

All right, are you ready for the last reveal?? It’s my favorite, I think. So, I work in a lab that studies yeast, and a while back my boss asked me to make pombe yeast hats for the team. She didn’t have any other requests or ideas beyond that, so I asked what it looked like. (I’m the non-scientist admin person; I don’t actually play with the yeast.) Tetrads, she said, like four peas in a pod. I went hunting, asked my Knitting SIL for advice, and eventually stumbled on bobbles. Bobbles ended up being perfect.

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I started with this pattern, but it was mostly for the general look. I kind of made up my own stitch counts, and changed the bobble pattern to be groups of four. But guess what? Bobbles are horrible. I mean, they’re not that hard, but good grief they’re fiddly and interrupt the rhythm of knitting and they were a pain in my butt. I don’t think I’ll be doing much more bobble-knitting in the future. Still, I persevered and everybody got their own color, and I think they were pleased. At least some of them were. Some of them might not be hat people, and that’s okay. It was a fun project.

And after all that, I’m down to only four WIPs on my needles. I didn’t commit to very much gift-knitting so I don’t have any projects that I *need* to finish. I mean, I really should pick up one of my WIPs, but I’m also feeling kind of desperate to cast on something new, something else with bulky yarn. What’s your favorite quick bulky-yarn project?

Fast Yoda Hat

Well, I was reminded that I have an Etsy shop this week. I’ve kind of ignored it since I went back to work, and let it slide. I’ve had a couple of small orders for stitch markers (like these) but haven’t done much else. Then I got an order for a Yoda hat. An adult Yoda hat. I’d created the listing as “Made to Order” when I was staying home and had plenty of knitting time to whip one up when I got an order. But that’s not really the case anymore! I’d sorted through my inventory recently enough that I knew I didn’t have one on hand, so I got to knitting.

I knit in the car while in standstill traffic.

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I knit at a meeting at work, I knit at lunch breaks, I knit in the evenings, I knit at the football game.

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After two full days of knitting, the hat was done and ready to ship.

img_2108Not too bad for someone working full-time, right? Of course the listing said it would ship in 1-2 business days and it actually shipped on the 3rd, but I’m still calling it a win. And yep, I went into Etsy immediately and made sure there weren’t any other items listed that weren’t ready to ship!

Another FO: my mom’s blanket! Ages ago she asked for a larger, warmer blanket, and picked out the yarn, and I started crocheting. It got set aside during the heat of summer, and then I picked it back up a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday I got to deliver it!

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It’s very thick and dense and warm and cozy and she seemed to be delighted with it. I’m delighted she’s happy, and that it’s done! It always feels good to finish a long-term WIP. My oldest is from February 2015, a long purple gradient seed stitch cowl. Pretty, but also pretty boring! What’s your oldest WIP, and what’s keeping you from finishing it?