Using Swatches and Testing Patterns

One of the crafts that I have been concentrating on is knitting. While others are brushing up their sewing skills and learning how to sew masks I have been knitting little swatches. Fortunately these swatches are usually at least 4 inches long and a couple of inches wide, this is the perfect size to add buttons and create an ear saver for your masks.

3 Styles of knitting Top to bottom: Stockinette, Cabled, and Garter stitch.

I also purchased the YarnIt from Make Something Prym. I have been attempting to find a yarn bowl, box, or something where I can put a realtively large ball of yarn, not have it flying everywhere gathering up cat hair and dust (I don’t vacuum as much as I should), and still be able to easily access more yarn when needed. This device accomplishes all of that while having an option to quickly remove the yarn from the device without ripping out an entire pattern and storage in the bottom. There is even a carrying strap. I admit I was skeptical at first, however after using it for some time I really enjoy this device.

Cascade 220 worsted weight skein and slipped stitch sock

I am knitting up a worsted weight sock from the cuff down with a slipped stitch heel using the pattern known as Accogliente Socks by Stacey Winklepleck from KnitPicks website. I had a bit of misunderstanding with the phrase: set up row. Now my slipped stitches are on the outside of the sock instead of the inside, I’m calling it a design feature. It is my plan to use koolaid to dye these socks in a video once I have them both knit up.

Until then I hope that you have an amazing week. If you are an introvert, please check on your extroverts. Remember to live life A Little More Abstract!

Organizing My Self and Stash

Two weeks ago I thought that I would be able to pass along two of the dressers left in my home.  My sibling and I inherited my home from my parents along with the 30+ years of accumulated stuff that goes with a family of 4.  My sibling is uninterested in much of this and I have realized that it is way too much stuff for me alone.  Truthfully we have a chest of drawers, what I think is called an armoire, and three dressers.  Out of these five pieces I only want to keep one of the dressers so the other 4 need to be re-homed.  All of this is just to say that I had plans for what I call the computer room, which is where I am doing my work from home work.  I planned on streamlining my work space, bill paying station, and adding in craft storage.  Even though I have not gotten rid of the dressers yet, I have prospects, I have moved forward on the craft storage part.  Right now everything is boxed up…randomly..in my living room.  I have no idea how I thought that was organizing anything.  Instead I purchased a 12 cubby system.  I love it, however when I was putting it together many parts were held together by little wooden dowels….that I managed to snap every single one (it really was my fault but shoot).

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I did manage to get this put together, however at this point it is not very sturdy.  I have t-brackets coming that I will install on the back to stabilize the entire structure.  Honestly this might be for the best, the metal pieces should stabilize things better than the wooden dowels.  I also purchased black fabric bins to hold my yarn and fiber.  I think I’m going to start with my fiber and see how much I can store.  You see a mostly empty bookshelf to the right, those are my comic books on top, I hope to greatly curate my book collection as well.  The bookshelf there will hold my treasured favorites, there is another to the right of the shown shelf that holds my crafting books.

This deliberate organization of my stash has allowed me an opportunity to actually look at the kits that I own, stash them in a single space, and eventually plan on which ones I can work on when I get my hand fixed.

With trying to get organized, and spring break being finished with at one of my libraries, I have not gotten a lot of crafting done.  I’ll post next week with how my storage and crafting are doing.  Until then remember to live life A Little More Abstract and if you are an introvert please check on your extrovert!

Shipping

Since my last post several stores have been forced to close their doors temporarily until this crisis is over.  This has slowed down their shipping, but usually not stopped it entirely.  My list is in no way comprehensive, just the stores that I have subscribed to their newsletter in the past.

Purl Soho is offering free shipping, I took advantage of this and purchased some colors of crewel wool to try since I am planning a Crewel Embroidery class in the near future at my public library.  If I post a demonstration video, like I am planning, then I will add a link here.

Jimmy Beans Wool is offering free shipping through the end of March, not long now.  I love the Wool Watcher deals for some really amazing specials.  I took advantage of both, getting the print version of the 2015 Interweave Press Folk Knitting magazine, a $14 value, for $4.  Not having to pay shipping just added to the extreme deal.

We are Knitters is offering free shipping on all of their products through March 28, so hurry on this one.

Leading Men Fiber Arts is offering free shipping on orders over $10 for the duration of the pandemic, I plan on taking advantage of this when I get my bills paid for the month and see what I have left over.

Abundant Yarn Online has free shipping for newsletter subscribers, that one expires in mid June so I suggest jumping on that bandwagon.

Harrisville Designs is offering a ton of free patterns, however no free shipping.  My mom loved making potholders from loopers so I purchased their ‘pro’ sized loom and took advantage of the download of two free pattern books.  Later on I will see if I have the dexterity to make some potholders.

Kraemer Textiles is having an automatic 20% off of orders of $20 or more and free shipping over $50.  Not unlimited free shipping but still a generous offer for a small business.

Pig of the Month BBQ is offering free shipping if you are a carnivore.

In these troubling times, I highly recommend supporting small businesses where you are able.

Until next time, Live Life a Little More Abstract.  Check on your Extroverts!

Crafting Single Handed (Literally)

2020 is going to be a very interesting year for me regarding my crafting life.  As shown above, I can certainly work with polymer clay, though the stamp on the left that was meant for wax is not working as well as I would have liked.  I will try it again with shallower cuts, if that does not work then I’ll put some cooking spray or olive oil on it to make the wax release.  The bowl on the right turned out wonderfully.  I am also doing well with my bullet journaling and other written/artistic activities such as watercolors, and Japanese Stab Binding.

My MRI showed that the ligament in my wrist has been completely torn, I will need to have surgery and then spend 3 months in a cast.  Scheduling the surgery will need to wait until I have received approval from the insurance company, this can take 25-40 days.  I will likely not be having surgery until March at the earliest.  March-April, April-May, May-June would be three months in a cast, so hopefully sometime in June I will get the cast off.  Realistically I will then need physical therapy since my wrist has not been actively used since November 2019.

These facts, combined with my need for a full-time job means that this is a year of:

  • Organizing and packing up my yarn, fiber, and crafting equipment.  This is also a perfect time to catalog my collection.
    • Goal is to have most easily transportable, non essential, items ready to travel when I need to move.
  • Go on a complete yarn diet.  Do not buy any yarn, still get paradise fibers monthly box
    • No purchases during Feb., March, & April  = Cotton/fine handcards when $50 is reached in PF Rewards points.

These goals should put me in a good place June of 2020, when I will reevaluate.  Until then, I have plenty of reading to do, plenty of organizing, as well as Bullet Journaling!

Remember to live life A Little More Abstract!

Stickii BAO Box – Galaxy Edition

For quite some time I have been considering getting one of the organizers from Stickii for my planner and sticker collections.  I know that I am always trying out new things, however in recent months I have found that by keeping my calendar both in a digital format, my ipad, and a physical format I can keep better track of what I am doing each day as well as what needs to be accomplished.  As I am not the slightest bit artistic I am unable to draw in my planner with any degree of success, so stickers are a good solution for me.  The Stickii Club has been a lot of fun so far, and is relatively inexpensive.

This brings us to the Galaxy BAO from Stickii at $88 it is not the least expensive purchase I have ever made, for certain.  I could have gone with the Stickii Folio for $15, however the soft sided nature seemed to be asking for trouble.  The regular BAO Box runs $68, and since I tend to love pouches as well as Galaxy themed items it seemed work the extra $20 to get a decent case.  I will not sugar coat my review.

When I received the box I was very excited.

Opening the box I was greeted by a sticker sheet with succulents on it as well as an envelope with a pretty stirring spoon sticker sealing it closed.

Upon further inspection the envelope contained a very sweet thank you note for ordering this set from Stickii.

I drew out my anticipation and took a photo of each aspect of my uncovering the actual BAO.  The white pouch that this arrived in, within the box, seems like it is a nice pouch.  I hope to use it to organize my Washi Tapes and other Paper Crafting Supplies that I am not actively using.

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Actually opening the box was like discovering Aladdins Cave.  There were so many amazing items to discover I could not wait to start.  Since I do not want to end this post with the negatives, they were really minor in the end, I will put them here.  The bottom rivet on the binder insert was not set properly.  I discovered this when I was starting to explore the pouches.  A little glue and the problem is fixed, I could have kicked up a fuss and sent it back (probably would have except I was so looking forward to this).  This does mean that I would not give this item as a gift shipped from the manufacturer.  If I find out that someone I love would use something like this I would certainly get it shipped to myself then send it off once I had inspected it (and stocked it up a bit).  The other problem is simply that for the first few uses the zipper stuck.  Now, check out these washi tapes I received!

The middle set has a paper backing that I am still finding out the best way to peel off.  The rest are so neat though, I cannot wait to start using them.  These are not the only treats in my box however.

The stamp was neat, though immediately consigned to staying at home since I do not plan on messing around with stamp ink on the go.

The pouch is very pretty, I love that it is mostly see-through with a carrying loop and easy to use zipper.  The included pen has a super fine writing tip, .3mm or less, and a really clunky bit of bling.  I think that I will either use the bling as a zipper pull or a progress keeper for my knitting/crochet.  As you can see the washi tapes fit wonderfully in the pouch, however I discovered that too many bags make the BAO hard to close.

There were two really neat pages of Stickii Packs included, and the BAO looks really deep.  These stickers were so much fun to explore and I look forward to spending quite a bit of time playing with them.

You can see there was everything from paper stickers, memo papers, raised stickers, and more.  The assortment is going to provide me with months of fun.

I firmly believe that this is a good purchase for me.  It will not only up my paper crafting game, I believe that it will help and inspire me to greater heights in my organization efforts.  Since I have 2 separate journals going on at one time, I will not be using this in the most conventional manner, however it should be more than adequate for my needs.  The purple journal is my financial planning, the red is my monthly/weekly/daily tracker.

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract.

Halloween Crafting

So, in my last post I was trying to crochet wolf ears for my costume.  Yeah, less than 2 weeks out is not the time to start crafting for a costume, and I knew this.  I have decided to make my life considerably easier.  I purchased a quantity of Makeup and tomorrow morning I will use makeup, spray on hair coloring, and a bit of ingenuity to make myself into a ‘spinster’.  Since I am a spinner anyway, I believe that blowing out my hair instead of using smoothing products (maybe giving it a bit of a boost with the salt volumizing spray), putting a silk hankie in it (silk cocoons spread over a form, pulled apart further for spinning), and adding a spindle and bag to my velvet cloak should create an interesting effect.  If it is decent I will post a photo, if not we will forget I ever had this idea.

In other news, Jimmy Beans Wool had a scrap bag sale that I could not resist.  This means that I have started knitting a simple triangle shawl started with a garter tab, also with a garter edging.  I love how this is turning out.  Since I am going to be using scraps that are 20 yards or more it will be interesting to see where the stripes are going to end.  The progress photo looks a little cramped since I am using a DPN and needed to have some rubber bands to keep the stitches from slipping off the end when stored.  I will transfer this to a circular needle soon.

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October was known as Inktober, where artists decided to do their best to follow certain prompts and create ink drawings each day during the month of October.  Since I am not an artist, I enjoyed the concept and stuck with my crafts.  November, however, is also NaNoWriMo.  This is National Novel Writing Month.  The challenge is to write 50,000 words of a novel in a month.  The breakdown of this is: 1,667 words every day or, 12,500 words a week (not counting the first week which is 2 days long).  I sort of stink at making goals, however I think that I will make something of an effort to work toward writing down some of my ideas toward a novel.  The first draft might not be too coherent, however I think I have a chance.  Of course, I also have 4 Civil Service Tests to fill out, starting November 1.  It looks like my next 31 days are going to be busy.

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

First Day of EGLFC

I worked at my Community College from 11:30am-4pm, dropped off some pop bottles at the recycling center, grabbed money from the ATM, and used my phone and the maps app as a GPS system.  This worked really well, except for a momentary stop at the rest stop, and I arrived around 5:30pm.  I did end up parking in the lot a little way away from where the dorms and classes were.  This made for a lovely walk, though I did have to make 3 trips back to my car for my belongings.  I will admit that next year I will bring a couple of blankets as well as my memory foam pillow.

I was fortunate enough for my classroom to be present in the same building as I was sleeping.  There were plenty of plugs, I sprung for a single bathroom and no room mate.  After I dropped everything off in my room I was only slightly late for the cocktail hour, managed to hit the entirety of the bingo game, and saw the vast majority of the introduction to the instructors presentation.  I did only get a tiny portion of each of the three appetizers saving room for the after presentation mingling event.  Unfortunately, there was no wine and cheese after the presentation and were were admonished to get a good nights sleep (fortunately I had some veggie chips and granola bars).

After a decent nights sleep I dropped my wheel off in my classroom and had an amazing breakfast.  The participants and instructors were so friendly, willing to talk about everything, interested in every aspect of crafting and amazing conversationalists.  Fortunately for me they listened to my rambling and let me observe (which I tend to prefer).  During the first part of the day we were given our materials and introduced to the concepts of recording and organizing.  Kate also gave us a look at her examples as well as lovely fiber to get our spinning legs under us.  Throughout the first day we were given a wide range of mind blowing concepts.

Between spinning my own embroidery thread (learning how to do crewel embroidery) as well as creating project pages my first day was so busy.  Lunch and Dinner were both amazing with tons of vegetables.  I really appreciated the variety and tried to keep the carbohydrates down.  The night ended in a vendor sale, I wound up buying 8 oz of merino lamb wool in white (named Dr. Watson) and adult merino in brown (named Morrigan), some yarn, and a few other tidbits.  We were given shopping bags with adorable stamps (that must be lost in my suitcase somewhere).

I’ll write more about the second day and trunk sale.

Sleeve Island

I am on Sleeve Island!  I finally managed to finish the body of this sweater and with the last of my second to last skein I began on the sleeves.  I have just attached my last skein and will be working toward finishing both of the sleeves.  I have 29 rounds to finish on the first and 34 on the second.

This past Thursday was busy, I worked (of course), and a woman whom I had been speaking with told me that her husband would be delivering a Union Loom Free of Charge, the gentleman would not even take gas money!  Admittedly it is partially disassembled, needs cleaned up and a new reed, however this counterbalance loom also came with 3 rag shuttles which at $35 each (plus the stick shuttles) certainly makes up for the reed I purchased.  Yes, I bought items again, I know I was supposed to wait.  I am going to go into more details about the loom, purchases, and other uses in a post either later this week or next week.  There was a sad bit of news, a new colleague was let go right after her trial period ended.  In the short run it is too bad for her since she moved across the country, in the long run she had told me that she was homesick already so this might be better for her.  Only time will tell.  Friday was the all-day staff meeting at the public library where I work.

We had a ton of fun, I became updated in my Sexual Harassment training which is mandatory for NYS employees, as well as hands-only CPR refresher.  There was a lot of fun and interesting information that really only applies to our library, but there was one really interesting fact: One of my colleagues was wearing a beaded lace shawlette that SHE KNIT!  I was so enamoured of it that she offered to teach me to lace knit.  She told me that the first pattern she started with was the Dinner in the Eiffel Tower Shawl by Jessie Dodington of Multicraftual Designs.  My colleague offered to send me the pattern, but I opted to pay the $5 and support the publisher, then I started digging in my stash to find DK weight yarn.  While it turns out that I have more lace and sock yarn than I do DK, I had splurged and bought some patriotic DK in wool.  I have already finished the first 10 rows of the start-up of the shawl.  I have 8 more before we get to the ‘lattice’ which I am a bit worried about.

Tomorrow I will be going to Crook farm, a reenactment farm, for their music festival and to demonstrate spinning and weaving.  I hope to have a ton of fun, and look forward to posting more about that later.

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

 

 

Updates and Completions

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I completed and blocked my Jimmy Beans Cowl, since this photo was taken I have also seamed it together and worn it.  I love how this worked out, I adore that it got me to think outside my box and work on learning new stitches.  The detailed instructions certainly helped me to get over my fear of trying something different with my knitting.  This new found fearlessness with my knitting has helped me along with starting my Sherlock Knit Along Square (well they are rectangles, but pretty close to square).

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I have 5 rows out of 87 completed.  Honestly this is Cascade 220 superwash merino wool in worsted weight on size 8 needles.  Each row is going very quickly.  With my Jimmy Beans Knitting kit I received these highlighter flags that allow me to highlight one row for about 2 inches, this means that for each row I need 3-4 of these for this pattern, but they really do help me keep track of where I am in the pattern.  I probably would have gotten further already however, once I had finished the 4th round reading the pattern from my ipad, I was concerned that my eyes would wander to the wrong line.  I waited until today to print off my pattern so I can highlight each line as I need them.  I hope to do some more on this square tonight, I love seeing how it develops as I read each pattern line and knit them stitch by stitch.  The only other progress on this is that I am considering purchasing a specific mat that will allow me to block all of my squares at one time on the same set of pegs so that they are all perfectly blocked to the correct dimensions.  This was recommended for the Moogly 2019 Crochet Along (CAL) that involves granny squares.   Since I am committed to the Jimmy Beans Projects and the Sherlock KAL I do not think I will take up the Moogly challenge, but I do like the idea of all of my KAL blocks being the precise same size.

For the Lots of Socks Challenge I am going to finish my second sock (of the same colorway so not really in the spirit of things) tonight when I get home from work.  I had finished the toe and tried it on, only to find that when they say 1 inch from the end of the sock, they really mean, when your toes start.  I must have known this for the first sock, but forgot for the second.  So I ripped out the seam, undid the toe section, and added 4 more rows to my sock.  It now matches the previous sock, this will free me up to work on my Baker Street Socks.

I know that I have not written about my crochet project from Jimmy Beans in a little while, It is coming along slowly but surely.  Apparently I managed to put 10 extra stitches into the bottom, which means that all 28 rows of my sides had 10 extra stitches.  No wonder I ran out of yarn.  This has resulted in my needing to order more yarn.  I hope that the 4 balls I ordered are enough to finish this off completely, however, the pattern calls for ending with 45 stitches left so that the pouf can be stuffed, washed, and emptied.  I would rather close it off, but there is leeway if I decide not to buy any more yarn.

The final project I was working on was a simple knit dishcloth.  I finished it a couple of months ago but forgot to post about it.

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I will freely admit that I love the darn thing.  There really is nothing like washing with a cotton dishcloth.  It is so thick that the soap lathers up beautifully and there are absolutely no scratchy parts at all.  If I were a faster knitter (and had a smaller family) I think I would make these for everyone for Christmas.  I might do that, it just might take a few years!

Happy Crafting and Remember to Live a Life A Little More Abstract!

Sherlock’s Great Afghan Adventure V by Susan Woodly

I am an extreme fan of Sherlock, and I mentioned in an earlier post that I had signed up for Sherlock’s Great Afghan Adventure V which was created by Susan Woodly, the pattern cost $11.99 (there was a sale) but there are quarterly prizes for the trivia and word scrambles.  This is going to not only give me a reason to listen to the Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes which I purchased but never got to, but to take the year to knit a very large project.  I began purchasing some bits of worsted weight superwash yarn so that I could begin knitting March 16th when the first part of the pattern is released.  I had already ordered Blue Sky Fibers Woolstok Yarn – 1305 October Sky from Jimmy Beans Wool for $8.10.  I also ordered a skein of Malbrigio Worsted yarn from Darn Good Yarn for $11.60.  This means that I was about $31.69 into this project already.  I was hoping to get one brand/type of yarn for the entire project, but since I would need 14-16 skeins of yarn and most of the Worsted Weight Superwash Wool yarns are 8-25/skein this did not seem like a reasonable goal.

However, I had a $100 coupon from Paradise Fibers Points system and they were running a 20% off flash sale.  These two things combined were enough to have me order one yarn for the entire project.  Originally these 14 skeins of Cascade 220 would have been $154.  Because of the flash sale, $30.80 was taken off of the top, and then I had a $100 coupon.  This means that for these skeins that would have been $11 each I paid less than $1.70 each shipped.  I am pleased that this will mean that all of these squares will be made out of the same yarn, ensuring a form of continuity throughout the project.  This would not have been the case if I had continued to piece together the project, especially since the Malbrigio is a singles yarn.

This brings the total spent for this project so far up to:

$54.90.  If I only use the Cascade Superwash this will be reduced to $35.20.  Since the true cost does include the $100 coupon that I spent on this project, it is safe to say that this is the reason that crafters cannot get what they deserve for things like this afghan.  Even with the simple 3X your supplies cost this blanket would be $405.60.  That calculation does not include the time spent actually knitting the project.  Oh well, these purchases should be enough to keep me happily crafting for an entire year, if not longer.  If I do not wind up using my initial purchases for this project they will be great for a hat, arm warmers, fingerless mittens, cowls, and more.  I was trying to think of what the moral of this experience is, but unfortunately all I get are conflicting ones.  I guess the best I can come up with is: Keep your eyes peeled for a good sale, but have a backup in mind (or stashed).

Happy Crafting!