Life Derailed (in a good way)

First, since this seems to be of interest to people, for the first time since I was in High School (maybe middle school) I am under 200lbs. Nutrisystem really does rock. Next is a life update, so if you just want crafting content skip to the row of *********.

On Thursday I spoke with a financial advisor, he was supposed to be advising me on my 403b non-profit retirement account, instead I wound up spilling essentially the entirety of my financial concerns to him. He really helped me to see that I was ignoring the obvious solutions in favor of not having to ask for help, essentially being a stubborn, independent cuss. Due to his advice, my sisters advice, and an offer (and advice) from relatives, I am going to be putting almost all of the household items I want to keep in storage, moving to an apartment closer to work temporarily, and putting my childhood home up for sale. I hope to get all of this done by July, I’m thinking of seeing about an ‘I’m selling the house’ 3rd of July party so my friends, work colleagues old and new, can see the house and I can see the fireworks over the lake one last time, before I actually put the house officially on the market. There is about a million things I need to do first, however I have already started packing up. My sister is coming to town in about 10 days to sign some paperwork and we will probably work on getting some things taken to a storage unit at that time.

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If you skipped to the crafting content, the long and the short of the above paragraph is that I will be moving into an apartment temporarily and putting a lot of stuff into storage.

This past week was quite busy. I had a lot of fun with the crafting I was able to do, and a few cranky moments as well. Let’s start with the bad news. I had to put almost all of my wool yarn into my upright freezer as well as the freezer attached to my refrigerator. I saw a couple of moth corpses in some wool I pulled out of another area of the house and when I started to spin a bit of wool that had been stored downstairs a bug I am afraid is a carpet beetle fell out (it was dead, I simply became concerned). I have not been as attentive to the wool downstairs as I should be, one of the main reasons I need a smaller place, I just cannot get to everything. I am trying to keep myself looking on the bright side. I purchased a big bottle of lavender essential oil to keep the rest of the fiber/yarn (the stuff that did not fit) from getting into trouble. Since I will be moving and putting items into storage this is going to give me an opportunity to choose a couple of kits/projects to leave out and then I ‘have to’ work on them since I am going on a buying hiatus until I am settled into a new house. My sister does not know it yet, however I am going to make sure that my kits are near the front of the storage unit just in case, by some miracle, I finish the projects I am leaving out I will have access to some new ones without having to purchase anything.

I loved playing with my new Sprang loom, the technique is fun and easy! Well, mostly easy. When doing Sprang do NOT EVER take out all of your skewers holding the rows in place. I was getting to the middle and my fingers were not fitting very well with the skewers in so I decided to take the skewers out for the row…then messed up and I was not able to go back because the skewers were out. I cut down the middle and wound up tying the ends to make two shorted pieces. They are a great lesson and I love the structure. They are also not wide enough to be useful even as a misers purse since my fingers cannot get into it when it is sewn together. Oh well, the next piece will just have to be wider, I also plan on practicing with a circular warp to make the piece longer as well. I might as well just jump off the deep end!

When you boil up orange peels you had in the freezer for natural dyeing, try to then use the resulting dye before a week has gone by…I had to throw it out because some mold had decided to start growing on the surface. Lesson learned.

The sock heel flap is knit, now the entire thing is on a circular needle so I can work on the gusset. That is as far as the project has gotten, technically I have this entire month to finish this sock and knit the other two so I am giving myself a little bit of grace, however this gusset had best be finished by next week.

Okay, I think that is enough for one week. Next week will probably be me whining about having to pack everything (I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with my drum carder or Sizzix Big Shot). Until then, remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

Back to Crafting

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I have finished the second quarter Jimmy Beans Wool Crochet Club Pattern.  This shopping bag was fun as well as easy to create.  I have greatly enjoyed learning the different stitches.  In addition to this, I have been crocheting on my Furls Coffee Sweater using Furls Z twist Crochet yarn, a 5 mm hook, and the free pattern.  I am on row 8 of the second part of the pattern, with one row of ‘coffee cups’ done and about to begin the second ‘coffee cup’ row.  The two pictures are of the same piece with different lighting.

 

This sweater is going both quickly and slowly.  Since I have been back from vacation the only other crafty pursuits I have engaged in are winding a bamboo warp and weft for a procion dyeing project I will be engaging in with my guild, experimenting with some natural dyes for a class I taught, teaching a class on spinning, and teaching a class on weaving a seamless pouch with a cardboard loom.   Since I have already purchased the yarn, and paid for the dyeing, I will have to wind my cotton warp and weft within the next  three weeks.

I have not made any progress on any of my knitting projects.  I honestly hope to have this sweater completed sometime within the next…well I have 52 rows to complete plus 34 rows for each of two sleeves.  I’m not going to worry too much about the sleeves, however if I can get something like 5-6 rows done each week I should be able to complete the sweater by mid August.  If we are taking the sleeves into consideration, then probably closer to September, just in time for the colder weather.

Mason Dixon Knitting is performing a Sock Along.  This will have several prizes and run until the end of August.  Since I have tried to complete several knitted socks, and failed so far due to how very long they seem to be taking me, I believe that I will put my current socks on a lifeline so that I can give a pattern out of Field Guide 11 a decent try.  Since this Field guide is much closer to a formula than an actual pattern, I believe that I will try a simple cuff down sock following the numbers and directions, probably with a 2×2 ribbing and a plain body/toe with a short row heel.  This will give me a decent idea of the construction of a sock, should I combine working 2-3 rows on the sock along with working on the sweater 1-2 rows a day I may have a decent chance of having both a pair of socks and a sweater done by September.

That is all for now, until next time remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

Vacation, Los Angeles

*More vacation information, sorry to say this will continue next week as well.  In two more weeks I will get back into crafting.  Hang in there!*

For the second part of our vacation, and yes there is a third part, my sibling and I flew into Los Angeles.  We arrived at our hotel and spent a very nice afternoon discovering where we could eat near our hotel and looking around. I had a Bahn Mi at a Vietnamese restaurant, and now I know if I order one I need to ask them to leave off the Cilantro.  I picked up a bottle of a peach green tea was amazing, though boba is not my favorite thing at this point.  The Lychee Ramune had little to no flavor, so it was not really worth the sugars.

Our second day was spent exploring Little Tokyo as well as hitting Gather DTLA which is a yarn store.  I will admit, my sibling and I get along in short bursts.  Since I am an introvert by nature and my sibling tends to need to be ‘in control’ yet dislikes making plans we tend to get on each other’s nerves after a short time.  This was our last day spent constantly in each other company, however one day apart was enough to reset my good humors.  On this second day we went  to a fascinating little mall and hada ton of fun.  They had an amazing bookstore with a selection of journals, paper, pens, and other stationary that easily rivaled jetpens.com.  I had been wanting to try different pens for quite some time, however I could not bring myself to pay the shipping and handling.  All of the pen brands I had been wanting to try, as well as some that I had not heard of, were represented in this little store.  I also splurged and obtained some beautiful notebooks to write and draw in, as well as some watercolor pencils and appropriate paper.  I did insist that we go to Gather DTLA, a yarn store that had been raved about on Ravelry.  This little store, above a bookstore, was certainly tried.  The proprietress was a lovely woman that, when I made a purchase I will describe shortly, gave me a pin from the store’s yarn crawl which I was a couple of weeks too late for, as well as a plastic tapestry needle.  I found the selection to be quite poor, however as I said, they had just been through a yarn crawl and may have been understandably depleted.  I did purchase a skein of pink yarn with purple flecks called Flamingo by Elevate fibers and a cement bowl to hold accessories.  I later found out that my one of my pens wrote on the cement bowl beautifully so I can remember where and when I obtained it.  Other than the disappointment of the bookstore that Gather DTLA was found in, my fraying temper, and the discovery that my sibling’s idea of ‘exploring’ is wandering over the same three blocks five or six times to find something that a little research or a willingness to use google maps would have led us to much faster. I explained that I’m overweight and wanted to see more than a few blocks, so we decided to part ways for the next day.  (Alright, there were more raised voices involved.)

The next day started out lovely.  We had decided to part ways after breakfast.  The only unfortunate aspect was that since it was Memorial Day only one of the two yarn shops I wanted to go to would be open.  We had breakfast at the In-n-Out, where I had an amazing Double-Double burger that tasted like a steak burger.  I then went to Wollhaus yarns which had an amazing variety of yarns from all sorts of dyers. I found several skeins I loved, managed to find one in the colors that my best fiber friend would like, as well as a half-priced skein of Sweet Georgia yarn.  It had obviously been mishandled but a little work put it to rights again.  IN addition to the yarn I also picked up two stitch markers, one for my friend and I, with the Wollhaus design on them, and a slap bracelet with a magnet for holding scissors and stitch markers.  Down the street from Wollhaus was a lovely bookstore where I found a pair of sherlock socks, I read Past my Bedtime pins, Book Wyrm Pins, a garden journal, as well as an amazing book on Knitting Modular Shawls, Stoles, and Wraps.  Every time I get a cappuccino in LA I forget that these are real espresso cappuccino’s without any additions.  However the Sangria Nata De Coco Peach is amazing and tastes just like peach nectar.  I also had an opportunity to go to Torrid in the mall by our hotel, they had a few really good sales that I took advantage of.  Due to the sales I wound up with two dresses, two full length trench coats (one in black/grey, one in blue) as well as several braziers in my size.  Actually, In My Size, is the key phrase of my entire experience in Torrid.  Not only were things in my size but lovely things were in my size.  I have coupons that go into effect early July and while I intend to curb my spending I will be taking advantage of these coupons.  Thus ends the day.  I went back to my room, read, and relaxed.

The next day we went to Hollywood Boulevard, which was an experience unto itself.  The museum of death was our first stop, it is also the first museum we saw on this trip.  It was interesting, though not what I was hoping for.  The serial killers were disturbing and fascinating, the autopsy room was very disturbing.  I loved seeing the different skulls, I was very awed at seeing an elephant skull, a giraffe skull, and a human skull for size comparison.  There were 1900s wicker caskets, infanticide photos (photos of infants that died of SIDs or other maladies, the parents wanted to remember their children and had not had a chance to photograph them alive so this custom came into vogue), and various other ritual were fascinating.  I was hoping for more customs from around the world, but the history of death in the US, serial killers, famous deaths, and more was interesting.  The stars on Hollywood boulevard were fascinating, I swear it took most of the day just to wander up one side and down the other.  They were a wonderful reminder of how many amazing artists have passed through this world making their mark in more ways than one, and makes me wonder who will be the next Jim Henson or Angela Lansbury.  While I recognized more names than I thought I would, I did not take too many photographs of the stars.  I still managed to get a big sunburned, but that is alright.  Along our walk there were plenty of artists trying to get discovered, they hand out CDs to everyone that passes (well they try to), one of the artists did give me a High-Five instead of trying to make me a take a CD and I thought that was a lovely gesture.  The wax museum was expensive, $35/person.  However if you were a pop-culture or movie buff it would be well worth the price of admission.  There were some amazing displays and, to be honest, the idea of taking a photograph with some very famous people without all of the awkward conversation aspects is very appealing.  I liked the horror section, grease, and a few others.  The photographs are goofy, but very lovely anyway.  We then went to the Diaso Japan store, my sibling loves Japanese Culture, and I found some (very scratchy) wool yarn.  The quality is not there, however I had to purchase some for myself and my friend simply for the uniqueness.  Since we had to catch a bus to Disney the next day we decided to rest for the evening.

Again, this is much longer than I thought, so I will make Disney and entry of it’s own next week.  I promise that the next entry will be the end of my vacation entries.

Until then remember to Live Life A Little More Abstract!

Socks, Shawls, and Squares, Oh My!

So, for the Lots of Socks event I wore my worsted weight sock as well as my fingering weight sock. I crocheted each of these following a lovely formula/pattern from Interweave Press.  I love how easily they worked up, and hope to make many more in a similar vein. However, I do think I am going to have to modify what stitches I use on the bottom of the sock.

As you can see on my sock blockers, these stitches have loosened to the point of holes after only 2 wearings of these socks.  I am going to try and repair them, but I have to rip out quite a bit from my second pair (that were down to only the toes) and modify things entirely for my Baker Street Socks. Since I have (realtively) dainty ankles and hefty calves I am either going to have to greatly modify how I do the shaping on the legs of my socks or simply plan on making entirely ankle socks.  I think that the ankle sock option is what I will be going with, however only time will tell.

Onto happier news, I obtained a Miss Babs Yummy 2 Ply grab bag.

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I am extremely pleased with the selection I was sent.  It did come with three other mini skeins, but I have a BFF (best fiber friend) that I wanted to share the experience of working with Miss Babs Yummy.  As you can see I have started a Crescent Shawl using the basic shaping from Aroha Knits 5 Shawls in 5 Days, Bluprint Course Knit Shawls 14 ways, and a stitch guide my Aunt Kathleen and Uncle Jimmy gave me for Christmas to create my own unique design.  So far the yarn is an absolute dream to work with, it is taking everything in me not to order another couple of grab bags before they disappear.  However I hope there is enough yardage in this batch to create a decent sized shawl.  Then I might consider getting a single color/colorway for another, more complex, shawl in the future.

Finally, I am almost half way through my first Sherlock Square.

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I had to rip this thing out twice, but third time is the charm.  I appreciate that Salpal1 recommended KnitCompanion, it really is a useful app…just not for me.  It turns out that I work better when I can physically draw a line after every 2-3 steps in a pattern (k3, p1, k4, etc.)  This helps me keep track, where my little hitch was that in several parts of the pattern there is a k1, p1, k1, section, but in one particular line there was k1, p11, k1 that I misread twice before figuring out why I had so many stitches left.  Now that I understand how I work best, progress is being made.  I am 42 rows completed out of an 87 row pattern.  Since the yarn is worsted I am going very quickly and loving every stitch.  I am holding my Cascade 220 yarn in a Slipped Stitches Studio Sherlock Yarn Sock that I adore. The color and cables have combined to create amazing stitch definition, I do not think I could ask for anything more from this amazing square.  I can only hope the rest are as inspiring!

Until next time, remember to Live a Life a Little More Abstract!

Crocheting Cuff Down Socks

crochet cuff socks

I have been trying to knit two at a time toe up socks for about three years now.  They were out of this yarn, almost a worsted weight, so they would have been socks.  I took them in to see a friend that I work with and she confirmed that the stitches are too tight, so it is the wrong size hook and the construction probably was not right to begin with.  So, I ripped them out which took very little time.  Then I wound the yarn into cakes, the ball winder I am using is fairly small so it wound into four cakes, and found a pattern to crochet socks.  I am using a 4mm hook to crochet these socks and although I accidentally added 3 more rows to the rib I believe that it will turn out well.

I cannot wait to pick up the stitches for the heel, foot, and toe.  I have not given up on the idea of knitting socks, I am simply going to begin by finding the perfect pattern, select or purchase the correct yarn, and proceed from there.  Right now I am checking a book called Getting Started Knitting Socks by Ann Budd. If that does not work I will probably proceed to checking out verypink.com to see what her 9″ circular socks look like since several people seem to rave about them.  I have tried to look at Ravelry, but I keep trying to find a pattern to suit the yarn I want to use, laceweight, which is apparently not a good idea for my first socks.

If I can crochet these socks in a couple of days then I will be happy to have a pair of finished socks and be more willing, I hope, to spend the time I need to create knit socks.  Only time will tell, hopefully this will help me develop the patience I am going to need to begin and complete larger projects.  I believe that a book I read recently on Deep Work by Cal Newport will help with this. I have noticed the degradation in my ability to focus on more complex tasks,  part of this is due to the burn out I am facing however I believe that a lack of time and ability to deeply focus on my tasks contributes.

Okay!  So I should be starting my new year with a pair of crochet socks and some projects on my needles that I may complete!  On that note, Happy Crafting!

Nalbinding

Nalbinding, Naalbinding, Needle Binding, Etc. whatever you call it, this ancient craft is a lot of fun.  There is debate if it is 1,000 or 2,000 years older than knitting, but this is  another craft attributed to the vikings.  While knitting takes two pointed sticks, Nalbinding only takes a needle.  There are Nalbinding needles for sale on etsy, but for now I am just using a blunt tapestry needle (mom uses them for plastic canvas).  I love the look of this craft, though it looks like garbage while you are making it (or while I am making it at least) but a tug here, a pull there and Viola:

Nalbinding 1 Nalbinding 2

I gathered my courage and watched a few more youtube videos, lo and behold I managed to make this:

Nalbinding Sock beginning

While I thought that this was a valiant start to a sock, I then found out that my Sombrero (as named by mom, of course) covers…a toe.  Well I will just have to change colors and make it bigger.  Why change colors, well it certainly isn’t because I ran out of this shade of brown..nope, its….um….a design element.  (yeah, we will go with that).  Most of the patterns that I am looking at, and yes there are patterns for this craft, state that a wool single might be the best fiber to use.  I am now thinking about spinning a wool single, thickly, for using with my Nalbinding.  It certainly is a thought.