Sunday, April 29, 2012

Unbalanced Crafter 3KCBWDay7

Crafting Balance Are you a knitter or a crocheter, or are you a bit of both?... If you are equally comfortable knitting as you are crocheting, how do you balance both crafts? Do you always have projects of each on the go, or do you go through periods of favouring one over the other? How did you come to learn and love your craft(s)?
I am both a knitter and a crocheter. I mean, check out the title of my blog ^^ up there "Needles, Hooks and Books, Oh My!" I don't mean to be snarky, honestly. If I were to look at my blog based solely on the labels that I put on my posts, I would say I am a crocheter.

So, I am both a balanced crafter and an unbalanced crafter. I learned to crochet when I was in middle school, and didn't honestly know the difference between knitting and crocheting. (*Gasp*, I know.) My godmother sat me down and taught me how to crochet. I think she thinks it is easier. Not really sure how we picked. I vaguely remember having the discussion about the two crafts, but I don't remember why she sat me down with a hook instead of needles.

Several years after my first crocheted Harry Potter scarf, I learned how to knit. (It was in high school, I remember that part.) One of my friends told me I was doing it wrong, probably because I knit like I crochet, I think.

Fast forward to now, and you can see a vast majority of crochet projects, both in progress and completed:


little star

And a fair number of knitted projects in progress or completed:
Overall, I'd say that I don't quite have balance in my crafting. For me, crochet will get the job done faster, and with my studies and my work, faster is usually better. I love all the things I have knit, and I know that there are some knitted characteristics that cannot be reproduced in crochet. Anything cabled is definitely knit. But I love how crocheted lace looks, and overall, crochet was my first craft, and makes a lot more sense to me, at least when it comes to developing stitches, etc.

Oh dear, I hope I haven't rambled too much for all of you. If you want to check out more about crafting balance, google 3KCBWDAY7

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Improving my Skillset 3KCBWDAY6

Improving Your SkillsetHow far down the road to learning your craft do you believe yourself to be? Are you comfortable with what you know or are you always striving to learn new skills and add to your knowledge base? Take a look at a few knitting or crochet books and have a look at some of the skills mentioned in the patterns. Can you start your amigurumi pieces with a magic circle, have you ever tried double knitting, how's your intarsia? If you are feeling brave, make a list of some of the skills which you have not yet tried but would like to have a go at, and perhaps even set yourself a deadline of when you'd like to have tried them by.

I'm going to be honest, I don't often think about what sorts of improvement I would like to make in my yarn crafts. I'd call myself an intermediate crocheter and somewhere between easy and intermediate for my knitting. I haven't reached the sweater milestone yet in either of my crafts, but plan on doing so in the near future.

In knitting, I don't honestly see myself moving beyond intermediate, not for lack of interest, but more because knitting is my second craft. I want to see how far I can go with crochet first. And, being honest (and reading my tags for my blog) I crochet a lot more, and enjoy a lot more. I know there are some things that are easier to make when knitting, but the same goes for crocheting.

Crocheting in the round makes sense to me; I love it. And because I love it, I'm not really keen on learning to knit small circular items. I can make amigurumi, mittens, slipper socks, etc, with crochet.

So now that I've ranted a bit about how I feel, I'll try to actually create a list for today's theme...
If I were to set goals for improving my crafts, here's my list:
  • Barbara @ Made in K-town's Beyond the Square motif challenge: to make 100+ designs from Edie Eckman's book. I've already made a few, but I'd like to try more to help me branch out.
  • Knitted socks. I will admit, those are hard to replicate in crochet. I will probably only ever make one pair, but I do want to say that I've tried it. 
  • Writing patterns- both written and charted- at least one in both crafts. 
  • I will make a sweater, or at least 2 sweaters- one knitted and one crocheted. 
I feel like my list could be longer-- maybe I'll look at this prompt next year and consider myself absolutely crazy for my goals. We'll see!

I would love to hear about everyone else's ideas for improving! google 3KCBWDAY6 to see more from KCBW!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Something a Bit Different 3KCBWDAY5

The topic for Day 5 of KCBW is Something Different:
It's back, and this time it has the most amazing of prizes (look for the prize for "most creative post"). This was a massive success last year, and for many it was the highlight of the Blog Week, so this year you are challenged, again, to find a new way of blogging. This is an experimental blogging day to try and push your creativity in blogging to the same level that you perhaps push your creativity in the items you create. There are no rules of a topic to blog about but this post should look at a different way to present content on your blog.

On Wednesday I talked bit about something I was designing. To try something a bit different, I will simply show you the progression of my design through pictures.

And that is how I went from concept to FO in the span of several days!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Seasons of Love-- 3KCBWDAY4

A Knitter or Crocheter For All Seasons? As spring is in the air in the northern hemisphere and those in the southern hemisphere start setting their sights for the arrival of winter, a lot of crocheters and knitters find that their crafting changes along with their wardrobe. Have a look through your finished projects and explain the seasonality of your craft to your readers. Do you make warm woollens the whole year through in preparation for the colder months, or do you live somewhere that never feels the chill and so invest your time in beautiful homewares and delicate lace items. How does your local seasonal weather affect your craft?
Day 4 of the 3rd Annual Knitting and Crocheting Blog Week is about seasons.

I love seasons. All seasons. I feel that each one has their place, and I love something different about each one. I live in the Midwest United States, and lately we've been having some weird weather, but usually I can tell which season I'm in.
crafting outside
Upon reflection, due mainly to this topic, I discovered that I do knit and crochet in seasonal cycles. Right now I am transitioning into summer knits and lighter projects. It is not really the time to make blankets or anything heavy. I'll work on small things like dishcloths and amigurumi for a few months, and around late summer, I start moving into fall crafting season. During the fall, I participate in craft shows with my aunt, and I make a lot of scarves, shawls and hats in anticipation of the winter months. So, when August rolls around, I check my stock, and start whipping up scarves and hats, along with a few shawls. That's mainly what I work on for the majority of the fall and winter months, sprinkling in some Christmas gifts and a few blankets if I'm not too busy.

I'll admit that I don't always stick to this general pattern all the time, because it is a *general* pattern of my crafting habits.

And in preparing this post, I realize that I don't take FO pictures outside as much as I wish I did. Showing you through pictures would be a million times better then simply telling you... Oh well.

To check out more posts about seasonal crafting and the like, google the tag 3KCBWDAY4

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WIPW: Am I really Designing?

Today I'm linking up with Tami's WIP Wednesday and Ginny's Yarn-Along.

Here is one of my project bags:

WIPW/Yarn Along 4/25/12

Hiding in the back is the MSU ripple that I have been working on-- finally on my second skein of green, so yarn-wise halfway.... But it's looking like I'll be buying at least one or 2 more skeins before this is over. (It's Caron Simply Soft, BTW, totally amazing feeling, especially for an acrylic.)

On top of that is one of my up-cycling projects. I've been trying to clear out some of my recycled yarn so I can get some new stuff in the fall, and this is a product of that. It's either a narrow shawl or a wider scarf, and while I know you can't see the design well, it was something I created myself. See, I've been getting involved with several different groups on Ravelry- the two that are encouraging me the most in the design sense are Crochet Shoulder Wrappers and the 2012 Block-a-Month CAL. I credit the CSW group because they are always looking for new and different patterns, and I'm usually just looking for something that can double as a scarf. And the BAMCAL gets credit for expanding my knowledge of crochet stitches and how they can change the look of an afghan block.

And I'm not reading anything new this week, though since I just finished my winter semester, and the short spring semester doesn't start for a few weeks, I will aim to be on a new book for next week's yarn- along!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Heroes Come in all shape and sizes

Today's Knitting and Crochet Blog Week topic prompt is heroes:

Your Knitting Or Crochet HeroBlog about someone in the fibre crafts who truly inspires you. There are not too many guidelines for this, it's really about introducing your readers to someone who they might not know who is an inspiration to you. It might be a family member or friend, a specific designer or writer, indie dyer or another blogger. If you are writing about a knitting designer and you have knitted some of their designs, don't forget to show them off. Remember to get permission from the owner if you wish to use another person's pictures.
Heroes are an interesting thing for me, as I have my own personal hero, which is totally unrelated to my crafting hero. My boyfriend is in the military, and just returned from a deployment, and I always call him my hero, because I know I would never be able to do what he did. It just amazes me, the number of men and women who are willing to do that for us, and yet they so often go under-appreciated.

But to get back to topic, my crafting/fibre arts hero may have to be Danielle of A Stash Addict.  She is one of the first bloggers I started following when I got involved in the online crafting community, and her yarns have always inspired me. (Since I'm on a yarn diet, I haven't purchased any of her yarn yet, but I am dying to try some of it out.) Her sense of color is amazing, and there is not an ugly color in her stock.

If you want to see more about other people's Heroes, google search the tag 3KCBWDAY3

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Prince in the Great Outdoors or I accept the Challenge

3KCBWDAY2: Photography Challenge
 So, the little prince had an adventure in the big wide world today.
He's hiding in the grass, hoping that maybe a little birdie with come to play with him.

The Little Prince

Monday, April 23, 2012

Color, Color, Color

This week is Knitting and Crochet Blog week. I found out about it through several other bloggers that I follow and thought it would be fun to participate.
Color is one of our greatest expressions of ourselves when we choose to knit or crochet, so how do you choose what colors you buy and crochet or knit with. Have a look through your stash and see if there is a predominance of one color. Do the same with your finished projects - do they match? Do you love a rainbow of bright hues, or more subdued tones. How much attention do you pay to the original color that a garment is knit in when you see a pattern? Tell readers about your love or confusion over color.
 I LOVE all colors. I wear all colors. I am a very colorful person. Oddly enough, it is not always reflected in my crafting. When I craft, I lean toward cooler colors. I love blues and greens and purples, and use them a lot.
I do also like a lot of pink- I'm a total girly-girl! But, as I am fair skinned and fair haired, pink doesn't always look good on me. So, pink in moderation.
But always a wide range of colors for me. I bought yarn for an afghan: paler hues of pink, blue and purple.  I bought yarn for a shawl: sunset tones of orange, fuchsia and royal purple.

I made a handful of hats the other day: all bright complementary colors

I usually try to work outside the box, color-wise. All 3 of my siblings are artistically inclined (well, more then me-- 2/3 went into graphic design/photography, and the third paints all the time) so I usually ask their opinions when trying out color combinations.

Rainbows, rainbows, rainbows!

Monday Madness

So today is a bit weird: two of my final exams are scheduled at the exact same time. Luckily, one of my professors is fairly laid back, so I told her that I would be coming to the exam late.

Besides that, I had a productive weekend. I finished the 2 12' squares for this month from the BAMCAL group on Rav.
 Lion's Mane & Schoharie Spring

Lion's Mane
Schoharie S[ring

I also finished all the joining for the 2 lapghans that I was working on for Lent. Technically I did not reach my goal of 40 squares in 40 days, but I feel that I did make a valiant effort, and I want to try a similar project next year. My ends still need weaving, but those should be finished within the week.

scrapghan 2

I don't really have anything else to report today, except that I have 2 days of subbing this week (woooooot!) and hopefully an end-of-semester celebration with some of my girlfriends.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WIP Wednesday: A Little Bit of Everything!

This week I'm linking up with WIPW at Tami's Amis and the Yarn-Along with Ginny @ Small Things.

I have 4 main things that I am working on this week:
April 18, 2012

Way in the back, my wedding present ripple is progressing nicely, as I am able to get about one section (5 rows, give or take) done every 2 hours or so. By E's estimation, it should take me about 36 hours to complete, if I was going to sit down and just go. But I usually don't do that... This is one of my at home only projects, because it's gotten too big to take to work or school.

Next after that is my Angel scarf. You can't really see the detail in it, and I'm hoping that blocking fixes that problem. If not, I need to find a pattern that will work with this yarn. (This is the second project that I've started with this yarn. I think it wants to be something lacy)

The green & blue at the bottom is another ripple. My original plan was a baby blanket, but I dyed an entire sweater worth of yarn for it, so it might be a lap-ghan. (Because I need more blankets). It's a nice bulky yarn, 50/50 wool/acrylic blend, so it was dyeable, but also washable. And it works up fairly fast. It's just been put on the back-burner, because the wedding ripple is more important.

Finally is my Berry Citron, the never-ending lace weight shawl. I'm on section 4, which means over 200 stitches. So long rows and tiny stitches. BUT! It is my current travel project, because it still fits in my 'purse'.

I'm reading My Men are My Heroes, about the battle of Fallujah. Borrowed from E when he deployed, and I still haven't finished it. He says its the only one of his books that I borrowed that has a happy ending. So my goal is to finish this one, and return all 3 of the books that are his, because they look out of place on my shelves. (I know, sounds silly, but he wants them back anyway)

That's all for today! Head over to Tami's and Ginny's to check out what everyone else is doing this week!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Sunday Update

That title sounds like the name of a newspaper or something. But as I have not been able to blog as much as I usually like, I'm tossing in an update post to to catch up on everything.
During the week, things usually run quite quickly, with me attending classes, going to work, and driving 20 minutes one way for my field work. It was getting stressful, but as long as I got enough sleep, I was alright. And now it's nearly all done. I finished my last day of teaching this past Friday, and this coming week is my last of classes for this semester (I still have finals and spring semester though). So even though my list of homework hasn't gotten a lot shorter, the end is near, which is comforting.

My crafting has slowed down because of those few hectic weeks, but I am nearly finished with my Lenten blanket. These are the last few squares that I made for it: More V's Please, Forest Chains, Wooly Snowflake and Schoharie Spring.

I've been slowly working on the ripple for Allie's wedding present, and added another ripple project to my list, as I decided that I wanted another one from some of the yarn I just dyed. I'm making steady progress on both, even though Allie's is my only current project with a deadline.

Easter was a quiet affair with my family. We went to Easter Vigil, and on Sunday Mom cooked a big lunch. E came over, which was fun, since my brothers really like him. I caught him playing with my knitting halfway through the day:
You can't really see what was on the needles, but it was my never-ending Citron. (When I finish all these blankets, I'll come back to it)

And since Easter, it's been a huge variety of activities, but mostly school and work stuff, as mentioned before. In 1 1/2 weeks the semester will be over, and I will be able to reclaim my room which has fallen prey to the messy monster! Bags of yarn, half-finished projects, bits of reclaimed sweaters dyed with Kool-Aid, and all sorts of other stuff have built up, and I cannot live in such all small space with all the clutter.

Anyway, that's all for today! Hopefully things will be saner on Wednesday so I can actually share some of what I'm working on.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Words of Wisdom.

I've had some stressful days these past two weeks or so, and some days I get really discouraged. But even through all that, I have found some unexpected sources of wisdom.

First was E. A couple things he said to me this week had really struck a chord, and I've been trying to take his words to heart. Those things that he said were also reinforced by a quick browse through the book I just got in the mail, as recommended by Ginny @ Small Things: Style, Sex and Substance: 10 Catholic Women Consider the Things that Really Matter. One was a comment on being a friend and having friends- don't stare at your phone waiting for someone to call-- it's ok to be the one to reach out, especially when you want company. The other was a thought on the deceptive works of Satan-- negative, despairing thoughts are from him, and can be defeated by a prayer. I just love when there is double reinforcement on words like that- it's always a sign that I have things that need work.

Another bit of wisdom came from my mother: God often puts us in situations so we can improve. Even if a situation seems like it will be tough, it's probably because God wants us to learn.

From my boss: If you are waiting for the right time (to get married, have kids, etc), it will never happen. The 'stars' will never be perfectly aligned,  and things will never be exactly the way you want them to be. (basically her thoughts on me & E waiting for the best time to get married)

The daily thought from St. Margaret Mary: Notwithstanding my weakness, I am no longer afraid; I have placed my confidence in God who can do all things, and from whom I hope all things, for I rely not on myself.

Hopefully I'll be able to get back into the swing of blogging my WIPWs and FOFs as school's nearly done for the semester.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Progress Report!

So we've all made it into April- YAY! For me, that means school's nearly done for the semester and even though I'm overloaded with projects, both school and crafting, I love the spring time!

Now onto my progress for the week:
I am still plodding along on my Lenten afghan, and with Easter being this Sunday, I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to push things back. But it is only Wednesday, and I might be ready by Sunday- you never know. I whipped up 2 completely new squares last week: the Easter Day Square and Butterfly Garden. The April Filler for the BAMCAL is also a lovely square: Schoharie Spring. I've started it, but have no photos of it.
easter dayEaster day
butterfly gardenbutterfly garden

I did start my second Claret Cowl, but I'm not thrilled. I think it's because I'm using bulky yarn, but everything just seems floppy and oversized. Not sure if I'll frog this and start again- I've been doing that a lot lately, and I hate the feeling of having worked with nothing to show for it.

I had a few minutes last night to play around with some buttons, hats and flowers. This is what I came up with:
What do you think?

The last thing for the day is my dyeing. Yesterday my cousin asked me to babysit her 5 kids (ages 3 to 12), so she brought them over (since she was going to be in town) and they helped me dye yarn for 3 hours or so. It was mostly pieces of recycled sweaters that I wanted to dye for larger projects, so we stuck to 3 similar colors per sweater. They had a lot of fun, I had a lot of fun, and my cousin told me later that they were exhausted.
yarn barf, etc

look ma no hands
 the three oldest kids up my favorite tree

So that's my progress report for the week. I hope the rest of your week goes well! I'm certainly looking forward to the rest of mine :)
Head on over to Tami's Amis for Work-in-Progress Wednesday.
Or check back tomorrow to see Crunchy Catholic Momma's Stash Bash.