Category Archives: crafting

Once upon a time – old projects

Once upon a time I made a sweater. I loved the colors of the yarn. I hated the fact that it was a sack on my body. I knew nothing of gauge or matching the yarn to the project. It was the second thing I ever knit. I learned that yarn has weights and fibers and that those things can make a difference in the success of a project.

Once upon a time I knit a hat out of someone else’s handspun yarn. It had leaves all over it and was a lovely color of orange. It was scratchy because the blend had mohair in it. It made my hands break out in hives. When I tried to wear it, it made my ears break out in hives. I learned that I am sensitive to some fibers and I need to be aware of what yarn will be touching my skin where, because nothing itches quite like hives on your ears.

Once upon a time I made a shawl from laceweight weight cashmere yarn salvaged from a discarded sweater which I bought from a talented dye artists who dyed it ombre golden yellow to orange. I held it doubled. It’s still one of my favorite things I’ve knitted. It taught me the magic of blocking.

I was fearless in those first days of knitting, learning by doing and doing all the wrong things because I didn’t know better. I need to find that adventurous spirit again. I find I’m timid about committing to projects because I don’t want to ruin things.

A little ruination is okay. It’s only yarn, after all.

Now with extended Monday feeling

I have systematically broken every nail this week (and it’s only Tuesday).

I have blisters under the adhesive of my wound vac bandage (vac change is tomorrow morning).

Every project I want to start at home with yarn has a critical piece missing like no orange yarn that feels “just right” for a candy corn shawl and no red yarn for a Wonder Woman Shawl.

Time to recalibrate

Can’t fix the nails. They’re gone. Back to square one with that.

At least tomorrow is bandage day. I’m going to talk to the Wound Care Doctor and see if there’s something different we can do to protect my skin. Wednesday morning is going to be a tough morning no matter what we decide to do.

The Wonder Woman shawl seems like it’s on hold for a while unless I think about doing it in shades of gold and brown instead of red and yellow. I’m okay with putting it on a shelf for the time being. I rewatched Wonder Woman over the weekend and I really feel I’m more of an Etta Candy than a Wonder Woman. (Meaning, I get three scenes in the whole film, but I steal them when I’m there.)

Likewise, maybe I should rethink the seasonal shawl. I was looking at the harvest colors in my stash and I kept thinking “Indian corn,” either like the candy corn with brown on the end instead of yellow or like the the beautiful ears of maize that are becoming endangered crops.

I am left with questions. Are we allowed to call the candy Indian corn? Is that culturally insensitve? Should I call the corn “flint corn” instead of “Indian corn” even though all I mean is the beautiful multi-colored corn grown by indigenous people and not specifically “flint corn” vs “dent corn,” which is a different distinction entirely? Am I the only person who thinks about these things?

Either way, going with a white, dark orange, and brown color scheme might be less “Halloween season” and more generally wearable throughout the year. White, orange, and yellow screams “Halloween season” to me, even if it doesn’t to anyone else, so I know I’ll be likely to reserve it for that instead of just wearing and enjoying it.

With a bit of luck, this extended Monday feeling will fade before it extends into Wednesday. Hey, a person can hope, right?

Super Friends

Thank you for the AWESOME pillow, Jae! I love it so much!

This pillow arrived in the mail yesterday, from my (Super) friend Jae, who crafted it up. It’s the same size as Gary the Pillow (who I still need to bling up, too.) Now I have a color scheme to work with for it.

At some point, I envision a pillow fight between Gary and Selena the Super-pillow. I’d say Marlena the Meta-pillow, but that’s Barbara Gordon Batgirl in that print. To my knowledge, Babs has never been classed as a true Meta.

I’m not sure who would win if they did throw down in a pillow fight, though. Gary’s not a villainous pillow and no pillow with the Super Women of DC could be villainous, either, so it would be the classic “Marvel Misunderstanding” if they did. Maybe they’re too smart to fight each other. We’ll see, once Gary’s in his costume.

Crafting a Wardrobe: Washday Lace Scarf

When I saw the New Edition Scarf I knew I had to make one. The multi-color yarn and zig-zag pattern scream Missoni inspired style, which I love (and which is out of both my price range and my size range for the most part.) The modeled shot couldn’t have been tailored to encourage me to buy the pattern unless they had put it on a plus-sized model.

Missoni inspired style? Check. A curly-haired woman on a bike? Check. An accessory that’s actually one size fits all? Triple check! Sold to the curly-haired, bike riding, fat girl.

My strong temptation was to make this scarf exactly as it was modeled, in colorway Englischer Garten (English Garden). I’d like to say that cooler heads prevailed, which is why I picked Waschtag (Washday) instead. I’d be lying. Englischer Garten was out of stock everywhere I looked to order the yarn.

The universe was looking after me. Waschtag is a much better colorway for my wardrobe, though I wasn’t certain of it when I opened the package. It seemed too emerald green in the ball. Never one to let a little thing like doubt keep me from trying something to see if it works, I set out to swatch.

That is also a lie. I started hooking the pattern straight away.

Once I had a good four inches of pattern done, I decided I should do a color test. Completly untrue. I decided that I needed to post to Instagram to show off how lovely this pattern looks even before blocking. The idea of color testing against my wardrobe snuck in as a secondary point since I was going to Instagram this anyway – and bonus, it gave me pictures to post to my Ravelry project for this.

Double bonus: First Ravelry project for the pattern!

The combination of yarn weight (heavy laceweight/light fingering) and crochet hook size (3.5 mm) give this fabric fabulous drape. It’s super fun to crochet and easy to remember. I think it would make a reasonably good travel project. I love the way the long slow color changes flow and the feel of the 100% merino in my hands is delightful. I’d give this project two thumbs up so far, but I’d have to stop crocheting long enough to do that.

Charcoal gray t-shirt

Olive green t-shirt

Turquoise t-shirt

After I tested it against my three favorite t-shirts to wear to work, my fears were laid to rest. Against the Charcoal shirt, the swatch (read: the first part of the scarf) appeared very blue. The dark teal took on an almost denim tone when paired with the charcoal. The effect was very sophisticated and classic, much like some of the more subdued Missoni prints. I would wear the combination together without hesitation, but it was my least favorite of the shirt color tests.

The greens looked much more yellow against the Olive shirt, to the point where the olive row actually almost looked yellow and the purple really popped. This shirt color test is probably the way I’ll wear the scarf most often, simply because I have more Olive green in my wardrobe and it may affect what I wear to the Tweed Ride because I like this color combination so much.

Interestingly, the colorway looked the truest to the color in the ball against the light Turquoise shirt. This was also my favorite color test. Like the Olive color test, the purple in the colorway really popped. I’ll have to figure out how to get a little more turquoise in the wardrobe if I want to play around more with pairing the scarf with turquoise shirts.

Of course, this is all a tiny bit premature given that I haven’t actually finished the scarf yet, but I’m not ready to be bothered with such trifels yet.

Wardrobe: Fall 2017

So, after living with my “improved” minimalist wardrobe for the better part of two seasons (spring and summer), I’ve decided I need to make a few tweaks to things as I’m heading into fall and winter planning season, also known as “August” for everyone else, especially if I’m going to try to make some pieces for my wardrobe during autumn and winter.

While actually making the graphic for this post I realized that on some level, I’d rejected at least part of The Curated Closet, which stresses minimizing and removing things and keeping to a very limited color range for maximum mix-and-match potential. The author’s own aesthetic, as shown in the book, centered around soft peach, gentle blue, and soft neutrals. The photography in the book looked clean, feminine, and beautiful.

I loved it. I sort of hoped to emulate it. Using the author’s suggestions and my own preferences, I built a rainbow of colors. Yes, I emphasize my focus colors and liberally use my neutrals. The rainbow is still there because I’m drawn to color in general. Every time I try to leave out a color (I’m talking to you, yellow, orange, and red) it ends up back in my closet.

What can I say? I’m drawn to whimsy. Whimsy is often colorful. I should have named my style “Classics with a whimsical twist” instead of just “classics with a twist.”

It’s time to acknowledge that I like what I like and stop trying to mold myself into someone else’s aesthetic. Other people’s style might be pretty and it might be inspiring to some level, but it’s not *my* style. It’s time to stop trying to be something I’m not. The number of times I thought “that would be gorgeous in (name any actual color)” when looking at the pictures in the Curated Closet was pretty high.

I’m sure she’d say similar things about my own sense of style. (That would be beautiful if it were pastel or gray, I imagine her saying.)

That’s the thing about style, right? All the fashion leaders say it’s about being yourself, not conforming. Why should I conform? I like putting a spider web motif scarf with a trucker jacket and tomato red skinny jeans (let’s be honest, they’re jeggings), or wearing my killer bunny socks with a red shirt and my black business slacks. I like throwing on a gray t-shirt dress with black leggings and adding a crochet rainbow scarf or a hand knit orange cashmere lace shawl. I like simple shapes and unusual details or unexpected colors. That is my “twist.”

Tell me to limit my colors and I build a rainbow. Sigh.

I shifted the colors I consider to be my Focus Colors from Olive, Navy, Plum, and Charcoal Gray, to Light Khaki, Dark Olive, Navy, and Violet.

Interestingly, while many people consider Khaki a neutral, I’m so sensitive to it (possibly because beige was one of Mama’s favorite colors and for a very long time I resisted anything remotely beige) that I consider it a color unto itself and specifically “light Khaki” (aka the most common color of Khaki trousers in the USA.) Olive has become Dark Olive for the sake of specificity. Plum has become Violet because the purple in my wardrobe is a more neutral purple and doesn’t skew red.

Charcoal gray shifted down into my Neutrals in part to give Khaki a spot up in the focus colors and in part because I read charcoal and black as interchangeable. Since they’re interchangeable, they must both be neutrals. White remains unchanged.

My Accents shifted slightly. The new Accent colors are Turquoise, School Gold (Gold Yellow), Orange, and Tomato Red, which is a change from Robin’s Egg Blue/Teal, Dark Periwinkle, Orange, and Tomato Red. Robin’s Egg Blue/Teal became Turquoise because I’m always matching to my Turquoise jewelry. School Gold (Gold Yellow) got added to the list because I keep wanting things that color despite the fact that it’s not my greatest color. I’m giving into the golden yellow. Dark Periwinkle got bumped out of the accent list. Mentally, I lump this with denim, which is “navy” in my book (other people’s mileage may vary), so it doesn’t deserve its own spot. Orange and Tomato Red remain constant.

The real problem becomes figuring out what to make.

Atlantique is still really high on my list of things to make. I like it with the elbow length sleeves and I think the neckline is clever. I even have the right yarn to make it (read: the yarn called for in the pattern) in a color that’s basically khaki (read: the same color as the sample.) This seems like a winner to me, assuming I can actually manage to get it to come out. It’s a season spanning piece that will work year round in the office or for a night out. I may need to light a candle to the patron saint of sweaters to break my sweater curse. I’ve never managed to make a sweater that fits nicely enough to actually wear outside the house.

I’m also sorely tempted by the Wonder Woman Wrap. It appeals to my whimsical side. I’m sure I’ve got colors I could make it from that would work with my palette (a tomato-y red and a golden yellow). Who am I kidding? I have colors to go with almost any palette. I am very close to being a yarn hoarder. Alternately, I may say to heck with it and go ahead with colors more like those in the Wonder Woman movie armor because a little whimsy is not a bad thing and it would look great with the olive and khaki in my wardrobe, not to mention the black and charcoal, even if it isn’t 100% my color story.

I’ve also been tempted by celebrating my knitter-versary by finally knitting the pattern I saw that made me want to learn to knit in the first place, Muir. The yarn I originally got for it is Dark Olive (the now discontinued color, Moss), which tells you how much I love olive green. Even 10 years ago, it was undeniably “Sabie’s Green.”

Obviously, the list is still very much a work in progress. Hopefully, I’ll have it more settled in the next few days so I can move forward with more preparations.

 

Knitter-versary

I learned to knit in August of 2007 to have something more to do while I was recovering from my unexpected laparotomy. It was unexpected because I’d been scheduled for an exploratory laparoscopic surgery to confirm a diagnosis of endometriosis. I was told I’d be out two or maybe three days if they happened to find endometriosis. I had so much endometriosis that they had to open me up to burn it out.

Surprise!

My two or maybe three days turned into six weeks of recovery and my single crochet project to pass the time turned into learning to knit to keep from turning into a total TV junkie.

Ten years later, I’m staring down the barrel of a total hysterectomy. I’m more than a little afraid of the whole idea of it, but we’ve hit the end of the line with what we can do with trying to treat my fibroids. I’m lining up ideas to work on while I’m recovering, playing yarn, and trying not to worry too much about things beyond my control.

I’m trying to keep to easy, repetitive projects that I won’t mess up in the early stages of recovery. I’ve got about two weeks to finalize my plans and get everything ready. I’m not sure that’s enough time to narrow down my projects.

Updated: The sweater list

As I’ve been cleaning out the sweater queue, I’ve started putting together the sweater list: things that I absolutely want to wear and thus find worthy to make. As I’ve been putting together this list, I’m following a few rules:

  1. The pattern must be one already in my collection, custom-fit (since I have the subscription) or available for free. I’m watching my budget and I have the blessing of an extensive library of things to knit.
  2. The yarn must be something already in my stash. This is in part because I’m watching my budget, but it’s also because I have lots of great yarn just waiting to be sweaters. I’m worthy of using it now.
  3. It must be a realistic style for me to wear. This is both a style and a weight of the sweater issue. If it’s not my thing, I won’t wear it. If it’s too heavy and I could only wear it as a coat, I won’t wear it, either.

It’s proving more difficult than I originally thought it would be. I’m doing a great deal of searching through both my stash on Ravelry and my Ravelry library. So far it’s not going well, at least from the “something to blog about” standpoint. I have a lot of “I didn’t understand my most usual colors” and a lot of “that’s a cool pattern, but not practical/flattering/reasonable to think I’ll actually make” to sort through.

It leaves me with a lot of questions about what I’m going to do with this yarn if I’m not going to make a sweater with it, too. I need to get serious about figuring out that problem, too. Some of the yarn I have, I still want to make other things with. Some of it, however, would be put to better use sold to another knitter/crocheter or potentially donated to somewhere that could do some good.

Some of the yarn I have, I still want to make other things with. Some of it, however, would be put to better use sold to another knitter/crocheter. Some other skeins I have would be better donated to somewhere that could do some good and I have a venue in mind for that.

I’ve been questioning my lists a lot lately. I keep looking at the time available after I leave the Day Job all the things I have on my lists. This blog. The knitting. The stack of books on my nightstand. The Craftsy classes I own and haven’t taken. The gym I’m not going to enough. The story writing that goes in fits and starts at best. Each of them silently judging me because I have so much on my plate and so little progress on any of them, especially the gym and the story writing.

I’m just wondering, is doing it all unrealistic for me at this stage in my life? Do I need to let go of a few things? Or do I just need better priorities and more efficient use of my time?

I can’t listen to an audio book when I’m at The Day Job due to the nature of my work. There are too many interruptions. What if I go to the gym and walk on the track and listen to a book on Audible, will that let me do more?

Should I knit and watch TV when I get home from The Day Job to unpack my brain after a long day?

Do I give up the blogging time and trade it for time directly on my novel? Is this even worth doing? If it is, do my general ramblings make the most entertaining reading or should I put a timer on my blog time and use a writing prompt related to what I’m trying to write about in my stories to help prime the pump?

Idea Log: Norwegian Star

Fueled by my relative success at wardrobe curating, I’ve started cleaning out my Ravelry queue of things that I will never make, either because they don’t fit my style (Classic with a Twist) or they just aren’t practical. That practicality thing is killing me.

It absolutely pains me to throw  Winter Traveller Sweater by Julie Farwell-Clay, but I will never wear it. That enormous graphic Norwegian star speaks to me. I love the graphic quality of the huge star dominating the background. I want this sweater in my life, but it’s just not practical for me, even in Iowa. I find I’m too warm in pullovers on all but the coldest of days.

A big plain Norwegian Star motif, very much like this one I found on Gripping Yarns.

Cardigans are the best way to go for me. I can unbutton or unzip them as needed when I get too warm. I can button them up when I’m cold. A nice cardigan is what I need. Maybe something with a zipper, so I can minimize interrupting the motif and just let it flow across the field of the sweater. More thought is needed.

A new way to spend my money

On Monday nights I waste spend my time playing D & D with friends. We’re currently playing through the first of the Tyranny of Dragons modules, and I’m playing a gnome rogue named Ellibelli. I’m currently using a halfling rogue as my miniature at the game table, which is just fine (I guess) since D & D didn’t bother to make any gnome miniatures.

Who am I kidding? It’s annoying. All those halflings everywhere and no gnome miniatures? It’s annoying as heck.

That’s okay, though, because our GM reminded me that Hero Forge exists and that I could get a custom miniature made there. I fussed and fussed, but I did manage to make a miniature that would work as Elli. I played for quite a while to get everything exactly how I want it, including finding a dragon familiar for the miniature.

Elli doesn’t have a pet dragon. I added that to represent one of Elli’s character traits in the game. Elli’s quite the little expert on All Things Dragon. According to Elli, the reason she knows so much about All Things Dragon is because she really is a dragon. Her official character history says her grandfather actually slew a dragon, earning him the name Dragonslayer before he settled down to live the sage life.

Gnome? Where? I’m a dragon. – Ellibelli Dragonslayer, gnome rogue

The other player characters have declared that Elli is insane. Only the GM and I know the truth. It’s sure fun to play, though.

Then I spent the better part of the afternoon making builds for all my favorite characters, including one based on my City of Heroes/World of Warcraft/The Secret World/Rift character. It’s mostly City of Heroes with a touch of World of Warcraft and Rift thrown in to try to get a look that reminds me of the character I always build in online games like these.

Sometimes a girl just needs to put on a pointed hat and shoot fireballs at computer generated enemies.

I’ve got saving up for the double sized version of this model on my budgetary to do list. For now, it’s only screenshot here and a saved file out on Hero Forge. Someday it might even become a tchotchke on my desk.

I miss videogaming. It was a social activity for me. Get online. Hang with my guildies. Blow off a little steam doing daily quest or crafting. I’ve always had some degree of video game motion sickness. After I had my bout of vestibular neuronitis, my video game motion sickness got worse, to the point of games becoming nearly unplayable. It’s one of the few things that I didn’t recover at least to some degree through physical therapy.

I miss it. Really, I miss the guildies and the camaraderie and the raiding. Hugging the floor and trying not to throw up all over everything? I don’t miss that at all.

The ironic thing is that I originally got into videogaming because we couldn’t keep a group together to play D&D. Before video games, playing tabletop roleplaying games was my social outlet. Now I have a D&D group again because none of us can keep a group together to play video games. What’s old is new again.

With actually “needing” miniatures for tabletop play, I could go down a pretty deep hole here designing characters and then printing them up as we need them. As we know already, I love miniatures. I could very easily build daily life fantasy dioramas.

Anne Dooley, Piglet on my tiny imaginary farm

Sadly, the D & D Miniatures are 30 mm, which is approximately 1:60 scale and the farm is 1:24 scale because that’s the approximate scale of the Schleich farm animals. There will not be any fantasy figures visiting the farm at this time except if they’re visting the land of the giant animals.

Maybe if I save up for one of the 1:30 scale figures I can play around with what I already have. Otherwise, I’ll be searching for 1:24 scale people to turn into fantasy characters or 1:60 scale farm animals and buildings.