Saturday, May 29, 2010

Wordsmith Am I?

Feelin' the Purple Power?

Well, perhaps not quite.  Still, the whole "blogging thang" makes writing feel comfortable.  While I had always enjoyed writing, I wasn't sure about my once-a-week posting schedule ('cuz I'm such a slow crafter).  Then the Bernat gig came along.  How could I pass up such an opportunity?  Bottomline: I'm generating original content for two blogs on a weekly basis.  And never mind all the crafting (two adult-sized sweaters, 2 toys, a child's garment and many smaller projects in 6 months--not counting all the Christmas gifts)!  A record for me!

Positively Purple
So now I'm adding more writing to the mixture (perhaps a little delusional about the amount of free time in my day?).   About 4 years ago, I crafted a strange, mysterious, future world peopled with weird creatures and nasty humans--a lovely blend of sci-fi and fantasy (yes dear, I wrote--or attempted to write--a novel.  I now give you permission to laugh).  Then I hit a snag in the plot.  Shortly thereafter, my creative juices fizzled.

All this time, my story percolated in my brain.  Then recently I started itching to write again (it's the same feeling when I've got the need to knit or crochet).  Suddenly, long-standing plot and character problems had solutions.  So I hauled out my "novel"  . . . well, to make a long story short, I'm writing again.  Not too much.   Amidst all my daily commitments and responsibilities,  I promised myself to write a page a day ('cuz I gots to knit too).   

Let's see where it goes . . .  :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Couldn't Resist . . .

I started another project without even finishing what I've got on the needles (or the hook as the case be for my crochet projects).  In my defense, it is an item I planned to make anyways (part of the gift package for MIL's birthday).
Start of Another Kitchen Project

Check out the beginning of my lovely kitchen towel.  I've used this stitch pattern before for a scarf I made (I think I made the scarf about 2 years ago, but didn't actually use it till this winter).  I believe I found the stitch pattern in one of those knitting-pattern-a-day calendars (scarves are easy that way).

The most surprising thing is that the surface of the towel matches very nicely with my crocheted place mats, even though the items are made using two different crafts.  The half-double crochet worked in alternating front and back loops creates a similar textured surface.  How neat is that!

Stitch Detail

This particular kitchen towel pattern comes from Steph's Designs.  The designer has other kitchen towel patterns at her website.  Gotta love the generosity of those who take the time to design something and then offer it for FREE.  Even a seemingly simple item as a kitchen towel does not come easy for me.   Sure I can do a scarf, but anything else and my brain requires a pattern.  Once I've made the pattern, I can modify it and change it up, but I need the pattern first.

Back to my knitting . . .
Happy crafting :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Belated Birthday Gifts

Remember my birthday?  Well, in celebration I had ordered a couple of books to add to my modest knitting library--and they arrived a couple of days ago!

One of my gifts to myself was The Sock Knitter's Workshop.  In one word: "Wow!". 
New How-To Sock Book

What a thorough guide to knitting socks--perhaps too much info for the newbie sock knitter (in my modest opinion, Ann Budd's book Getting Started Knitting Socks is by far the best sock book for the newbie).  Now that I have a few socks under my belt, I'm ready to experiment with different heel and toe constructions.  And there's plenty to explore with 5 different cast-ons (along with variants within), 3 main heel types (with at least 4-5 variations within each type) and 7 types of toes.  Although toe-up and circular knitting are discussed, the main focus is on top-down construction. 

For me, the big pluses are the ample illustrations and the various charts to help the knitter determine the stitch count for various foot sizes AND foot shapes (the latter of which I have not seen elsewhere). 
Lots of Colour Illustrations

My other book choice was The Essential Stitch Collection.  Published by Reader's Digest, it is a basic stitch dictionary with about 300 stitches divided into knit&purl, twists, cables, lace, bobbles&leaves, stranded&intarsia and the unusual (stitches that don't really fit into one category). 
New Stitch Collection

As I have no real stitch dictionary (other than what's in my handy dandy Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book), I think this collection could be useful for altering a pattern or maybe even creating my own design (hey, it could happen).

Lots of Colour Photos

I like a few things about the book, mainly the colour illustrations and the use of charts.  There are written instructions paired with the b&w charts.  Although small, the charts should be easy enough to enlarge on a photocopier; however, the more complicated stitches ONLY have charts.  For the time being, it will serve my needs.

And now, back to my knitting . . .  :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary . . .

How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockleshells
And pretty maids all in a row.
Remember that rhyme from days-gone-by?  Ahhh, to be five again . . .
Silverbells? Amidst Dianthus

Seriously, how does your garden grow?  Mine is filling in nicely, despite spring's slow arrival.  Frost occasionally greets the early riser and the wind can blow cold.  Guess I'll never get used to a Nova Scotian spring.

Bleeding Hearts

Still, that sun is glorious when it peaks out from behind the floating white fluff in the sky.  And new life sprouts with its fresh yellow tinge, unfurling and spreading out . . . 

Just enjoy whatever comes our way . . .
Blue Forget-Me-Knots
How does your garden grow?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Place Mat Progress

Place Mats in Progress

Thus far, two place mats are almost completed and am diligently working on the third.  Once I add the white border, the place mats will look more "finished".  I am surprised at how quickly I am progressing (only began this project at start of May).  At this rate, I should be finished well before the end of June--plenty of time to weave in all those pesky ends. 

I've been mulling over the final gift presentation.  An inexpensive basket would be a lovely receptacle for all the handmade kitchenware.  Maybe I could line the basket with matching fabric and ribbon?  I do own a sewing machine and can sew a straight line--um, well sort of straight.  I suppose I could use pinking shears instead (I can cut straight lines on paper; not sure about fabric).

Dish Soap Apron

Of course I'm including some dishcloths and hand towels.  Perhaps even a bottle of enviro-friendly dish soap wearing it's own apron?  What else could I add?  Sponges?  Fridge magnets?  Any other ideas?  Maybe I need to wander up and down the housewares and linen aisles at my local Walmart . . .

Happy crafting :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Today's Word Is . . .

Organization!  Yup, last weekend I was busy organizing all my knitting stuff--books, yarn, needles.  I think I've shared my "knitting corner" in the past (check it out here ).  I still use the same area as "my knit spot", complete with floor lamp and portable CD player (yeah, no MP2 players yet).  Actually my little side table is the cleanest its ever been in a long, long time.
Knitting Corner

The mess behind the table (i.e. the computer room), has finally been organized.  Sadly an old vacuum cleaner was sacrificed in the process (at least it lasted for over 15 years before cacking).  At least there is now more visible floor space. 

First off, all my books are now neatly awaiting perusal on a shelf (which is just a basic book shelf whose lower levels house the kids' numerous board games and puzzles).
Knitting Shelf

To the left is my sewing box, followed by all my knitting booklets (mostly by Bernat and some Patons), all my knitting books, my red binder of internet patterns and all my knitting magazines. 
Booklets and Books

It's not a huge collection, but it is a good one.  I've tried to purchase those items that I would find  most useful.  Sometimes I don't make great choices and other times I score a winning collection of patterns.  Sometimes my needs as a knitter have changed so much that what I thought was good isn't currently a necessity.  But books are loved in our house, so on the shelf they wait (I haven't shown you the other bookshevles in the computer room and never mind the other three in the living room.  Have we got books!) 
Binder and Magazines

And my binder is so full of patterns, I've had to resort to using file folders (and I haven't even printed off all the patterns in my Ravelry library).  Most of the patterns came from the internet (gotta love free!).

I'm still lacking a stitch dictionary.  I think that should be part of any knitting library (although I do have a crochet stitch dictionary that my mom sent me--the last of her crafting stuff).  Hopefully I'll have that rectified by the end of the month (eagerly awaiting the arrival of a book order).

To the right of the large shelving unit are two plastic drawer units.  One holds scrapbooking tools.  The other now holds my knitting tools: all my needles including my new Boye collection, my hooks and small yarn collections (mostly sock yarn and a few ribbon yarns).

Knitting Needles and Hooks

Small Collections of Various Yarns

In front of the drawer units are two tubs of yarn.  And yes, acrylic is my yarn of choice but there is some real wool (Briggs and Little), some cotton and even bamboo.
Tubs of Yarny Goodness

Softee Chunky and Supervalue

Briggs and Little, Vanna's Choice and Other Odds and Ends

So how do you organize your crafting stuff?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

To All the Moms . . .

Happy Mother's Day!

photo courtesy of Morgue File

Nothing can change one's life as much as having a child.  Suddenly this little person takes over your free time, your house . . .And your heart.   Mom sacrfices so her babies can have clean clothes and new shoes, healthy meals and a home that's spic-and-span.  Jaunts to the park and family outings to local fun spots entertain the wee ones.  And then the babies grow up.  Some day they'll leave the nest . . . but they'll still be you're babies.  Always.  And forever more.

Thanks mom.  

Monday, May 3, 2010

New Kitchen Project

My new yarn arrived (actually lots of yarn arrived).  Ordered the big 400g balls of Bernat Handicrafter Cotton in Country Blue, Country Yellow and White (that's just over 700 yards of each colour).  I chose the large size 'cuz my plan is to make 4 place mats.  Already started the first one.
Beginning of Place Mat

The pattern comes from a Bernat booklet that I think is now discontinued (although some version of the pattern may be available on their website).  I modified the striping pattern so that there would be more yellow.  I'd also like to make a dish soap apron and a couple of dishcloths too (which I've already made  for myself).
Better View of Place Mat

But I'm stuck with regard to the hand towel. Is it okay to mix crochet with knitting? I really want to try out the ballband dishcloth (free pattern available here and also here ). I also found a cute little kitchen towel pattern at Canadian Living website (incidentally, they have lots of free patterns, both crochet and knitting as well as other crafty ideas).  I thought it would all work as long as I used the same yellow, blue and white colours.  Any thoughts?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Pair of . . .

Socks!  Finally finished--and I've only been working on them since November!  Okay, I haven't been working on them exclusively.  Still, I figured I should have finished them sooner.  No matter now.  Done and done.
Finished Socks

I really love, love the ribbing.  I think it helps with the fit (as in minimizing the slouch factor).  Love the fun, bright colours and amazed that they look almost identical.
Lovin' the Fit

For now, I'm putting my dpn's aside and forgetting about socks (even though more sock yarn arrived a few days ago.  Okay to stash sock yarn for when the urge hits, right?).

Catch ya later. :)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Happy Birthday . . .

to me!! 
Lots and Lots o' Candles

Yeah, it's my birthday today . . . older and perhaps wiser?  Ha ha, I hope so.  In any case, I'm definitely the happy crafter 'cuz yesterday my family gifted me the best gift.  Ever ("the best, Jerry.  The best!").

Wanna know what's in the case?  Maybe you already know 'cuz you own a set too.
Mystery Case

It's a complete set of Boye interchangeable needles!  Oh joy! 
Boye Interchangeable Needles

I love, love my regular Boye needles (and I can't even get them 'round here anymore 'cuz the store that carried it no longer does--I'm lookin' at you Walmart **grumble, grumble**).  And now I have the complete set from size 2.75mm to 10mm, with cable lengths from 20" to 36" (the later of which is next to impossible to find locally).

Tomorrow the family will be over to enjoy a celebratory BBQ, complete with cake, candles and more presents. And I've got Monday as a paid day-off for my birthday--nice little perk from my bosses 'cuz childcare workers aren't given the respect they deserve in this province and this was one small way for my bosses to say "thanks" for all our hard work . . . but I digress.  No time for soap boxes today.

I have loads more to share, but I'll save it for another day.  I'll just leave you to enjoy my lovely African violets (gift from one of my toddlers whose grandma shares the same birthday.  Wasn't that sweet?).

Have a happy day!
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