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!

Shifts in Time and Perspective

Today is when we set our clocks ahead an hour, thereby losing an hour of sleep but gaining an hour of daylight.  For me this means that spring is ever closer, and a quarter of the year is almost gone.  I know, that will not be true until closer to the end of March, but time is certainly marching on.  Taxes are soon going to be filed, the cat is going to the vet tomorrow, gardens need to be prepared, and it really needs to stop snowing.  Thinking about all of this is giving me time to remember what the name of this blog is really about.  It is too easy to take life very seriously, and think of things in a very linear way.  Sometimes you need to think in ways that are A Little More Abstract, about life as well as craft.

February is always a bad month for me.  The end of January was my parents wedding anniversary, February 21st was the closing of the 10th year since we lost my father.  This is my first full year without my mother.  March begins a new month, a fresh month, working our way toward spring.  Lent is upon us, if you are Christian, so we begin a march toward Easter.  The word ‘March’ in the phrases, “March toward Easter”, and “Time is Marching on” tend to bring the unfortunate connotation of drudgery.  You think of an army slogging its way toward a battle, instead I think of a steady progression.  When soldiers March they tend to do so with their heads held high, marching proudly toward their destiny, whatever that may be.

This is where my shift in perspective is coming into play.  I need to figure out where my destiny is going to lay.  These past 10 years working several part-time jobs and taking care of mom has been a wonderful learning experience.  I have had the time as well as freedom to learn a lot about myself and what I am capable of in addition to some of my limitations.  Now it is time for me to face what the spring and summer will bring.  I know, this entire entry is a bit maudlin, but that is what this time of year does to me.

Yesterday I managed to wrap all of the warps for the shoelace weaving project I will be teaching tomorrow, put together a shelving unit for my studio when it is completed, and set up pans for the 12 stepping stones I hope to make out of cement.  I intended to begin pouring the stones yesterday, but since the weather is supposed to get up to almost 50 by the middle of the week I decided to hold off on actually mixing and pouring the cement.  I have the sand poured and the glass set, so it is just a matter of adding the cement and leaving them to harden.  Hopefully things will be in good shape by Wednesday, when they are coming to install my new garage door, and Thursday when I hope to mix the cement.  The decorations on these stones are pieces of glass, but I believe I will change that out for mosaic tiles or decorative stone for the actual class.  The glass shards are too much of a liability to consider as a good solution.

I have completed 2/3rds of the Jimmy Beans Knitted Cowl and have begun the final third.  It is actually my goal to have that knitted by the end of this week so that I can block it out and take a final picture for a blog post next week, fingers crossed.  I have not make much progress on the second installment of the Crochet Pouf but that is going to be my second goal, I believe.  This may get sidetracked depending on how complex the first installment of the Sherlock Afghan is on Saturday.  I also have socks and dishcloths I am fiddling with, hopefully things will get past the stage of stitching into nothingness and some progress will be made.

So that is the end of it for now.  Shifting time, shifting perspective, and a shifting list of priorities.  Learning more about myself and what I can do, playing with cement is new, and reminding myself that I can do anything I set my mind to.  So until next installment.

Keep crafting and remember to keep your life a little more abstract.

New Tools

One of my new philosophies has to do with having the tools you need to achieve the results you want.  Can I weave tapestries with a picture frame?  Yes, but I will not like the process or the results.  Given that I have decided to invest in a couple of tools to make my crafting life a bit easier and my results a bit better. Before I get to the actual reviews, a disclaimer, I am in no way affiliated with any of the products below.  I purchased them using my own funds, I am not making any profit from these reviews/products.

Recently I have decided to up my knitting and crochet game.  I have started with socks, but I hope to progress to garments like cardigans, shawls, and sweaters soon.  Learning Tunisian Crochet, filet crochet, and lace knitting are also on my list of projects to work on.  With fitted garments gauge is extremely important.  To this end I have invested in the Akerworks Swatch Gauge, but I went all out and invested in the knitting tool kit.

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This includes, tape measure, scissors, two darning needles, knitting needle measuring tool, locking stitch markers, and various magnets across the back in addition to the gauge swatch tool.  Essentially this is everything that I would need to knit or crochet on the go in one compact tool.

The stitch gauge has the numbers engraved on the side that is facing down toward the fabric, but they are engraved backwards so when the tool is being used the numbers show in the right direction, but there is no real explanation as to what the numbers are.  Going horizontally across the top there are the numbers 1-4 and under the horizontal line are the numbers 1-10.  Comparison with a ruler proves that 1-4 measures inches while 1-10 measures centimeters.

The tape measure can be slid out of the compartment that houses it, but can also be easily used from its nest in the tool.  The scissors have comfortable finger holes as well as proving themselves quite sharp when put to the test against yarn.  The darning needles in addition to the stitch markers are standard but since they are metal they stay where the magnets put them quite easily.

When my studio is completed I believe that this will have a place stuck to the metal rack I intend to install.  The swatch gauge will be just at home measuring picks per inch as it will stitches per inch.

I have been lusting after the Eszee twist tool for about 2 years now.  Spinning is still my main passion, however all of the math tends to intimidate me.  No longer!  With the Eszee Twist tool I can measure the angle of twist, but more importantly I have a gauge which I can put my yarn on and have a  fairly good idea of what the wraps per inch are going to be without making a mini skein of yarn.  This kit comes with much more than just the measuring tool, it has a bookmark, knitting needle gauge, yarn tracker, in addition to a user guide that does double duty as an Everything You Need to Know to Get the Yarn You Want guide.

In addition to explaining what twist is, s twist, z twist, and angles of twist, this guide goes on to explain different yarn constructions such as 2 ply, 3 ply, Navajo plied, core spun, cables, worsted, and woolen.  The part that I find most useful is the simple math needed to calculate what size your finished yarn will be.  This simple formula was well worth the investment, but the guide and other tools provide everything you need to gain a deeper understanding of yarn construction.

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Yes, they are stitch markers.  Actually what they are is a charm bracelet I purchased through amazon and repurposed using some split rings and lobster clasps.  I just love the BBC production of Sherlock (except the last season and I HATE Mary) so I wanted stitch markers that reflected me.  However, I did not want to spend $5 for one to three stitch markers that really had little to do with Sherlock.  So I found a charm bracelet, there were 20 charms on it, a little manipulation, and I have 20 stitch markers that I thoroughly enjoy.  Since I made the entire batch in less than an hour I can certainly see the appeal in buying up a lot of charms and making these by the hundreds.  I wonder if I can recoup some of my yarn/fiber expenses by starting a stitch marker business?

Happy Crafting!

More Classes

As you can see I am still working on samples for my cup cozy classes as well as working on my latch hook tutorial.  I admit I am having a blast with these crafts.  I think that I might finally have something of a handle on wet felting, and crochet has always been a passion of mine.  I am really looking forward to teaching the Latch Hook class, it is over a couple of class periods so I think that the patrons will have a chance to make some real progress on this.

I am still prepping for Spinzilla, I hope to have a progress picture on that in the near future.  Time just flies when you are having fun.  I also know that some of you might be directed from either pinterest or my instagram account, if so, Welcome! I am currently experimenting with Hootsuite to coordinate my blog and social media accounts, please forgive any glitches along the way.

Happy Crafting!

Current Spinning & Class Prep

I thought about not adding in the ‘service announcement’ portion of this post, but politicizing crafting irritates me to no end.  *I am boycotting Jo-Ann Fabrics.  They sent me an e-mail asking me to oppose the tariff because it would increase the cost of their supplies thereby increasing the cost of my ‘American Made’ crafts.  Shinybees podcast just recently mentioned something about that, how a yarn slaps the label on in Britain and calls itself a British Yarn.  Jo-Ann Fabrics buys most of its supplies inexpensively overseas, marks it up horribly so that they can put out their ‘40% off’ coupons all the time, and then sells it to crafters that then create something from those supplies.  If I oppose the tariff it would be for reasons other than to keep Jo-Anns making a fortune off of marking up foreign goods.  If I were to support the tariff I might say that marking up foreign goods may give some domestic products a chance to flourish, but I do not know enough about economics to make an educated guess.* End Service announcement.

I am currently getting ready for a class that I will be teaching in October on Latch Hooking.  Over the past couple of years of teaching crafting classes my students have mentioned that I am willing to  work on just about any craft.  That is true, I love crafting and I adore that I can figure out just about any craft there is.  I’m not always good at them, and sometimes I get bored, but I can usually figure them out.  Latch Hooking is a very simple craft, take a small length of yarn use a tool to form a larks head knot over a piece of canvas  and repeat ad Infinium until you are done with the yarn, and pattern.  I will create a tutorial with step by step instructions and be done with it until the class in October.

More interesting I just received permission to do a Book Binding series of craft classes for NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month in November which is also National Family Stories Month.  The act of binding a book is really three acts that are rolled into one.  First the Cover must be created, then the pages to go inside the cover and finally the entire thing must be assembled.  Since there is considerable amounts of glue involved in the process these three steps need time to dry in between.  A week should do it.  So there will be three separate classes on book binding.

Among all of this I did manage to get some spinning done, Moon Rock Farm of Western NEllen's Flockew York has a sheep named Elvira.  I obtained about 8 ounces of Elvira, the wool spins like a dream, and managed to spin over 148 yards of a 3 ply yarn.  The yarn is 10 wraps per inch, so the yarn is considered a worsted weight yarn.

So I will leave you with a picture of a full bobbin and wishes for Happy Crafting!

Samples for Classes

For the classes that I will be teaching I needed to create some samples.  I have knitted up two different cup cozy’s, the two by two ribbed one is supposed to be the easy one while the cabled on should be intermediate.  I think that the cables actually went faster than the ribbed one since I did not have to move my yarn from the front to the back constantly.  I obtained all of the patterns from Ravelry.  The cabled cup cozy is Pumpkin Spice by Evan Middleton.   The Masala- Two by Two Cup Cuddler by Kara L. Mayfield was the basic ribbed cup cozy.

The really simple pattern that I crocheted was the Christmas Tree Cup Cozy.  It was so much fun to do in less than an hour.  The pattern, also from Ravelry was the Christmas Tree Coffee Cozy by Tamara Kelly.

All three of the patterns were very fun and easy, they were also free!  The directions were very easy to follow and I am so pleased with the results!

Happy Crafting!

Ravelry: What is this?

Have you ever wished that there was a way you could go to a website and see what yarn you have and what projects they might be good for?  Is it a dream of yours to be able to share your Love of All Things Sherlock Holmes and your Love of All Things Knitted/Crocheted with a group of like minded people?  Do you want somewhere that you can see what yarn/fiber/tools/wheels/looms people are willing to trade?  Have you ever had a dream where there was a magical website that knew what yarn you had and could suggest patterns that you could knit/crochet with that exact yarn?

Well, Ravelry is all of that and more (Except the magic part, you have to enter your stash in but it does make suggestions, it rocks like that).  Now I can already hear you advanced to intermediate crafters saying “I am not spending my precious crafting time taking three years to enter my stash into anything, no way, no how.”  To that I will say, “Start with your newest acquisition, then make some project pages, and go from there.”  While I do know someone that inherited their grandmother’s stash and fully intends to put that entire stash into her Ravelry account, that is not something that you have to do.  Like any other tool this is as useful as you make it, but if something overwhelms you then you can give that part a miss, (this is what I keep telling myself is my reason for not putting my stash in there).

To start you need to create a Ravelry Account.  From there I did a search on what interested me and joined several groups.  Okay, I joined a lot of groups, darn my varied interests.  Fortunately the active threads of the group tend to float to the top of that groups feed so you can see what people are talking about, and peek in on what they are up to.  I really enjoy checking out my feeds, especially since I can organize them into different tabs, Podcasts, Everything Else, and Literary Interests.  Since I have really become interested in listening to podcasts, and discovered the Sherlock and Cthulhu boards, I have taken advantage of the tabs to get a bit more organized.  Eventually I hope to create more tabs such as Sales, Weaving, and Spinning.  Instead of doing that I am creating this post, lol.

In addition to the  interactive elements your Notebook allows you quite a bit of creativity and organizational capabilities.  Inside the Notebook menu you have options like:

Projects, Handspun, Stash, Queue, Favorites, Friends, Groups & Events, Needles and Hooks, Library, Message Box, Blog Posts, Contributions, Purchases, and Upload a Photo.

Whew, that is quite a bit to get through.  Some of them are fairly obvious, Favorites are favorite patterns/yarns.  Friends are the friends that you have made within ravelry, message box is like your e-mail inbox, purchases are patterns that you have purchased within ravelry, and Upload a photo is where you can upload a photo to add to your stash/comments/etc.  This function does cost a nominal fee every year, I think $5.

*Projects, these are your current WIPs or Works in Progress.  You can choose your yarn, pattern, progress, name your project, and show off to everyone.  This is a great way to get people interested in what you are working on and also to give yourself some motivation to continue.  As a general rule people are very encouraging and helpful!

*Handspun, if you are a spinner (or just like to buy other people’s handspun) then this is the tab for you.  You can upload information about your yarns, and keep track of what handspun you have available to work with.  There are some great suggestions for information you might want to include in your description of your yarn, some you might not have even thought of but that will help you decide what you want to do with your handspun in the future.

*Stash, okay so this is pretty obvious and I have covered it pretty extensively in an earlier paragraph, but I cannot emphasize it enough.  Once Ravelry knows what yarn you have and how much of it, it Makes Suggestions about Patterns.  That really does rock.

*Queue If you know that you are going to be working on a particular pattern next with a particular yarn, put it in your Queue so that your friends know, and so that you don’t forget what you bought that yarn for.  This is a great way to keep track of what future projects you might want to work on.

*Needles and Hooks Say you are out at your LYS (Local Yarn Store) and you want to know if you have a set of size 8DPN (double pointed needles) for the yarn you are looking at.  Do you buy another set just in case you don’t or do you buy the last three balls of that color and hope you have the needles at home?  You don’t do either, you check your Ravelry page and see Oh, yes I have those needles so I’ll buy the extra yarn instead.  While I’m on Ravelry Anyway I’ll just add this yarn to my stash, oh look at that pretty pattern I can make with that extra yarn!

* Library  I love the library function, I am able to add patterns that I find/purchase on Ravelry as well as patterns that I have available to me through my own book collection.  I have not had a chance to go through my mothers (many decades) of patterns that she has accumulated, but as I discover my own interests/passions I am finding that I can record what patterns I have acquired and where I can find them for future use.  Actually that is one of the most useful tips I found on Ravelry.  As I get a new Magazine, mark it in my stash and mark what patterns are found in that issue.  That way if I go back and look for a pattern I can find it in my library and know which magazine to look for it in.

*Blog Posts  Ravelry is linked up with my blog and so I can see my blog posts, and others can see my blog posts right from Ravelry.  This is a good way to obtain some exposure for my blog.

*Contributions If you are a pattern designer, or if you spin/paint/dye your own yarn then this is where you can make contributions to the fiber arts community, whether for free or for profit.

As you can see, Ravelry is a great way for you to get organized as well as sharing your love of fiber arts with a lot of like-minded individuals.  Whether your love is very general or very specific, if you are organized/would like to be organized/have no interest in organization at all Ravelry has a place for you.  This is a great resource, that I under-utilize, but I hope to become more active in the near future.

Happy Crafting!