Tag Archives: yarn

My Recent Obsession

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Blankets!

I have a ton of yarn (maybe not an actual ton, but I moved down to Austin with a 7 foot pod and let’s just say that most of that was and still is…yarn…)

I’ve actually narrowed my collection down to the yarns that I like (I’ve been the recipient of a lot of leftover yarn as well as made some questionable color choices in the past…) and have hope of actually using but it still leaves me with about ten large plastic bins of yarn. I started knitting blankets as what I hoped would be a way of making a dent in my stash.  It is surprising how little yarn a blanket will actually use up!

The purple/lavender chevron blanket was number 3. The yarn is Red Heart Super Saver which I picked up for $12 at Goodwill. I still have yarn left! The gold/blue/yellow squares will make up my fourth blanket. I’m loving this design. Basically I picked my colors (again, all the yarn was bought for super cheap at one thrift store or another  – it’s an acrylic sport weight yarn) and went with a block design instead of knitting it in one piece. I learned a lesson with the lavender monstrosity. I was blanketed (see what I did there?) in acrylic yarn as I knit it and wanted to avoid doing that during the 90 degree temps we often see during an Austin summer. I’m loving the touch of blue with the golds and yellow, help make it more contemporary (along with the geometric design) instead of a 70’s vibe. I’m getting at least a square a day done and I think I’ll easily end up with 40 squares. This might be a queen, maybe even a king size blanket when I’m done as each square will be at least 11 inches after they are blocked.

The problem is that I’ve got the yarn set aside for my next blanket and I’m itching to get that project started but I’ll be good and finish this one first.

 

 

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Knitted Cowl

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I made this cowl out of some cotton yarn I found at the thrift store. It is the perfect complement for a denim jackt. I did a lace bobble edging and then knit the body up in a seed stitch so that it was reversible.

To get the second edging right, I had to knit it separately and then kitchener stitch it on. Now, I’m not a big fan of the kitchener stitch, I would much rather do a three needle bind off. But once I got into the grove of it, it wasn’t so bad.

 

Ode to the Scarf

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I’ve been busy getting ready for a craft show I’m doing in November. Now that I carpool (why I hadn’t hopped on that bandwagon sooner is beyond me – 2 out of every 3 weeks I sit in back and knit or crochet. It’s an extra 1 1/2 hours a day of playtime), I’ve been making much more progress.

I will be selling mostly jewelry, bags and scarves. I love making scarves. First of all, one size fits all.

Second, a scarf is the perfect winter accessory. With our mild Texas winters I find that as long as my neck is covered, I stay warm.

Third, and most importantly for me, scarves are an opportunity to play. Scarves are the jazz of the knit/crochet world. They are perfect for improvisation because they don’t take a lot of time. It’s a time to explore stitch patterns, play around with techniques and use up odd bit of skeins left over from other projects. And the end result is always fantastic.

For the purple/green crochet scarf above, I had a bunch of scraps from a miter block project that I abandoned so when I unravelled it, I use the pieces for a simple circular crochet motif and joined them as I crocheted rather than sew them all together (what a pain – I’ve done that before). I still ended up with scraps so I tied them all together to create a large ball which I will use to – you guessed it – make another scarf.

The second scarf is actually two in one. One is a deep tan and the other is cream. This is my own pattern which mimics leaves on a vine.

Scarves are little works of art and I think that they can be beautiful as well as functional.

 

Hand Knit Wedding Dress

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I came across several stories about Lydia Taylor, a yarn shop owner in England, who knit her wedding dress.

This story appealed to me on several levels. First of all, SHE KNIT HER WEDDING DRESS! And it’s gorgeous. As an avid knitter, she has my admiration.

Apparently the couple did a handmade wedding. I think this is such a wonderful idea and I am glad to see that so many more couples are planning smaller, more intimate affairs that are about family and friends rather than seeing who can bankrupt mommy and daddy the quickest.

Sites like etsy.com and pinterest have made it much easier to get an elegant look at discount prices. Personally, I would love to be able to plan and execute these affairs for a living, but most people that do it are pretty crafty and don’t need my help.

Time Management for Crafters (and everyone else)

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Today I’m going to switch gears. I just got accepted into a craft show. I’ve done this show before but this is the first year they made it a juried show, which I have no problem with. I’m tired of seeing people sell obviously commercially manufactured goods at craft shows (Pampered Chef, Tupperware, cheap Asian imports, etc) and this particular show has always advertised that everything is handmade but some decidedly non-handmade stuff has slipped through the cracks in recent years.  

I realized that I only have 4 months until the show. I haven’t been working on anything because I wasn’t about to invest all that time if I wasn’t accepted.  But now I am behind the eight ball and need to put it in high gear. 

Keeping in line with my current philosophy of mindful living, I am trying to extend that to my crafting (for which I could be accused of having craft ADD – I want to try all things). I have decided for this show to focus to bags, jewelry and knitted accessories. I have had success with these categories, I have the supplies on hand and I enjoy making them. 

I’m not really interested in doing the craft show circuit full-time for several reasons. First of all, I don’t want to carry around the inventory of things that don’t sell (remember I’m trying to downsize). Second, while I am interested in pursuing a design career, I don’t want to have to make everything I sell. It would limit my income to how much I can do in so much time. Third, I hate production work. I don’t want to make the same exact thing over and over and over again. For my long-term goals, I am really more interested in designing and teaching. But, I do have a large stash of stuff that I am trying to reduce and since I enjoy making things, why not make some stuff and sell it? I get the gratification of designing and creating things, I clear out some of my stash and I make a little cash on the side. Sounds like a win-win situation to me. 

I have about 18 solid weeks to work on the show, which if properly managed, will be enough time, “properly managed” being the key. I know myself well enough by now. I am capable of coming up with the most amazing plans but end up falling short on the follow through, mainly because I try to do too much. I tell myself that I’ll spend 6-8 hours Saturday and Sunday and then 3 hours every night working on stuff. Who am I kidding? By the time I get home from work, make dinner and generally unwind, I’m falling asleep on the couch because I’ve been up since 4:30am for my run.

Which brings me to a good point. How is it that I can get up at an ungodly hour (I am not a morning person) 4-5 days a week for an activity that I wasn’t even fond of in the beginning and have managed to do it consistently for going on 6 years? It’s because I have a running partner. I am accountable to someone who helped me remember. Plus I enjoy her company. Obviously I am capable of dedication, perseverance and commitment if it is framed in a way that suits my temperament and personality. My mistake all these years has not been the plan per se (unrealistic expectations aside), but the system that I have used to implement the plan. The system needs to match my temperament. My goal may be to have X number of items completed and if I work backwards I can decide that I need to make X number of things a week but how I set up the system to remind/motivate myself to make those is going to be my key to success.

Here’s what I decided to try this go round and it really boils down to just two things:

  1. Remembering 
  2. Preparation

First of all, I need to have reminders in my face, all the time. I have bought tons of calendars and date books only to abandon them within a week (you’d think I’d learn). This time I put my schedule on the fridge – where I can’t miss it. I am also using an online calendar to post my deadlines then setting up automatic reminders. I’m already in the habit of using it for my job so I know it works for me. Just in case, I’ve also put a note on the fridge to remind me to check my calendar. And if that wasn’t enough, I’m trying to figure out the best way to use the alarm on my phone as another reminder. I know, it seems like overkill but my biggest problem is not procrastination – it’s that once I get home I’m easily distracted (mail, chores around the house, getting dinner, etc) and it’s bedtime by the time I remember I should have done something.

Once I remember, I need to have materials ready to go. I have made a very bad habit of eating at my desk at work. The “experts” say you would be more productive getting away at lunch and I agree that a change of scenery is good. So I decided that my lunch break would be a perfect opportunity to work on some of my projects. The key will be to have a bag ready with multiple projects (I want choices) ready to go – materials, supplies and patterns all handy. This way when I am at lunch I can just grab a project out of the bag and go. Much can be accomplished an hour at a time.

This leads me to a little sidebar on time management and preparation. I need to quit looking for the big chunks of time. Sure I’ll have them here and there, but I work full-time and have an active social life so having everything ready to work on if I have a spare 15, 30 or 60 minutes can accomplish a lot. Plus, working in small time frames is easier to buy into than trying to schedule 6 straight hours.

For sewing projects, another way I can be prepared is to have the material cut out and make sure that I have all the supplies (zipper, interfacing?) that I need to actually complete the project. Having to stop in the middle because I am missing something really plays havoc on my momentum.

This is a different approach than I’ve used in the past but given the one I was using didn’t work, this can only be an improvement. I’ll monitor how it goes and adjust accordingly. Hopefully, at the very least I’ll figure out a better time management process.

Crochet Love

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Here’s a little urban art from a crochet artist named Olek, who apparently has permanent installations now in museums. I’m guessing that to do this she took measurements and then crocheted the pieces and seamed them.  I love that she chose a camo design in pink, purple black and teal.

Another little tidbit I came across on the internet is this site – specifically the “Magic Ball”. Of course this is nothing new, I have had an idea for a sweater using this process (tying together all of your leftovers) for years now although I thought to leave the knots as a decorative element.

What fun ideas do you have or have you seen for crochet?