Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Tool to Covet 4KCBWDAY6

A Tool To Covet
Write about your favourite knitting or crochet (or spinning, etc) tool. It can either be a tool directly involved in your craft (knitting needles or crochet hook) or something that makes your craft more pleasurable – be it a special lamp, or stitch markers. 

Is it an item that you would recommend to others, and if so for which applications/tasks do you think it is most suited.

A few years back, among some yarn-y things given to me by one of my mother's friends, I discovered a wooden crochet hook. I know now that it is likely a tunisian or afghan hook, but at the time, I simply used it as a regular hook. I made a baby blanket in a bulky yarn with that hook, and I was in love.

This hook was not marked with a size. It's probably a bit larger than what I would call "K". There is just something about the smoothness of the wood, and how it feels in my hand; not at all like the metal or plastic hooks I've used.
2 hooks
New hook next to old hook
At one of my craft shows last year, I discovered a vendor who carved wooden knitting needles. He also had a cup of crochet hooks, though they were not as finely crafted as his knitting needles (I'm operating under the idea that he found knitting needles easier to size, hence no sizes on his hooks). I bought another wooden hook from him, as it was smaller and better suited to my little hands.
one at work
Close-up of the new hook in action
I've really wanted a Harmony set of hooks, with the pretty wood, but have not found reason to purchase them at this time in my life. I would recommend wooden hooks to crocheters who are looking for a different feel in their hooks. They are lighter than metal hooks, and feel nicer than plastic hooks. If you plan on making your own, I would wait to use them until you've been crocheting for a while. The one I purchased needed a lot of help from me to acheive the smoothness I expected, and the hook caught on some of my fluffier yarns until I had taken a file to the rough spot.

Don't forget to search "4KCBWDAY6" to find what other bloggers think is their "tool to covet".
Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Color Review 4KCBWDAY4

Colour ReviewWhat are your favourite colours for knitted or crocheted projects. Have a think about what colours you seem to favour when yarn shopping and crafting.
Only after writing this part of your post should you then actually look to see what colours you have used in your projects. Make a quick tally of what colours you have used in your projects over the past year and compare it to the colours you have written about. Compare this, in turn, to the colours that are most dominant in your yarn stash – do they correlate?
Now think back to your house animal - do the colours you have chosen relate to your animal in anyway - if you are in the house of peacock, for example, are your projects often multicoloured and bright?

For Day 4 of KCBW, the challenge is to look at color.

I love pinks. Always a pink girl. But I’m fair skinned, with blonde hair and blue eyes, so I know I look better in blues and greens. I love dyeing yarns in blues and greens, almost to the point where they are excessive. 

Yarn though, what colors do I knit and crochet? When it’s for me, my yarn will be in pink, blue, or purple. However, I crochet a lot for craft shows. So the colors of my yarns tend to be quite diverse. I don’t really like pastels, but they tend to be good colors for baby items.

I'm not really a manatee when it comes to colors. Through my word association on Tuesday, I thought of a manatee color being something either in the blue/green range, or more muted tones that would mean comfort.
screen shot of my most recent Ravelry projects
Lots of pink in the last few months, though I can guarantee you there's at least as many greens, purples, reds, and blues floating around, skeins just waiting to become a project. Though I think I can safely say that I rarely make anything in a solid orange or yellow yarn, simply because I do not like either of those colors on their own. 

Always a Work in Progress

More stripes
I love this pattern, and I wish my camera would capture the colors better.

There are 2 big WIPs in my craft basket, and they've been there for 2 weeks and many months. The one above is the more recent of the two. Below is a creamy knitted poncho. Both are using KnitPicks yarns. 
Knitted Poncho
5 sections out of 20
One is for me, one is a commissioned item. I really need to get on task and work on the knitted poncho. Friday night, it was the only project I worked on. I love the mindlessness of the knitting, now that I've figured the pattern out. I mentioned this in my Friday post, and a visual will probably help-- as you can see, it is knitted in sections (well, the lace part is) and each lace wedge has 7 yarn-over "ladders", I guess you could call them. So instead of keeping a tally, I now am able to just count the ladders to check my progress. It's a pattern that the friend who commissioned it picked up at a LYS "up north" as we say in Michigan, and I don't think the pattern is written well. Not trying to insult the designer, just saying it could be easier to understand if written better.

If nothing else, I like working on the knit better than my Steph, as the rows are over 100 stitches and take pretty much forever. I'm not even on the short rows yet!

Two long-term projects
You can see a bit of the size difference here. 

Even though I'm in the midst of KCBW, I wanted to share what I've been working on. And its not too late to get in on the fun!

Linking with Tami & Ginny for WIP Wednesday & Yarn-Along 

Infographic- Christmas Gift Making 4KCBWDAY3

Day 3- Make an Infographic

In my student teaching, we were asked to make graphs to assess the improvement of our students' knowledge over a unit of material within our subject area. So I had bar graphs on the brain as I prepared for this KCBW challenge.
My motivation to finish Christmas gifts, and how productive I actually am

With lots of extra time in my last week of student teaching, I prepared this graphic to show my motivation versus my productivity throughout the yarn in regards to making Christmas gifts. As you can see, motivation and productivity is high in January, as "I don't want to repeat last year", and it slows down come spring, with a "Christmas in July" peak in motivation (though not necessarily in productivity), a productivity increase during craft show season, and finally in December "lots of motivation, but so flippin' busy".

I had a lot of fun coming up with an idea for this challenge, and I hope you enjoyed viewing my infographic.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Mascot Project 4KCBWDAY2

Your task today is to either think of or research a project that embodies that house/animal. It could be a knitting or crochet pattern – either of the animal itself or something that makes you think of the qualities of that house.
Today's challenge from Eskmimi for Knit and Crochet Blog Week is to plan out a possible project that represents your House mascot. As I talked about yesterday, I placed myself in the House of Manatee. As I sat and brainstormed about possible mascot projects, I came up with several ideas.
KCBW Day 2 pic 2
My first round of brainstorming
  • A giant stuffed manatee- or a tiny ami manatee-- taking the project totally literally, and making a mascot in one of several sizes. Because I still relate to the other houses, mainly the color of the peacock, I knew my manatee would not be grey. My first thought was to hold 2 yarns together, creating a mottled effect that would look like a sea animal. Being a sutffed animal, a manatee would embody the characteristics of its house simply by being. A stuffed toy is cuddly and comforting.
  • If I was not going to make an actual manatee, I wanted to really represent a manatee. Calming colors came to mind-- soft blues, greens, and purples. The color of water, the ocean. I find the ocean really relaxing, and I felt like this idea further expanded upon the characteristics of a manatee. So, something blue or green would definitely be a possibility.
  • When I thought of the ocean, I thought of waves, which took me to ripple patterns. They exist in both crochet and knit, and if done in the right colors, could successfully embody the House of Manatee.
  • From ripples, I started searching my favorites and my queue for ripple ideas. Two patterns stuck out in my search- a ripple blanket like Lucy from Attic24 makes frequently, and this cardigan which I've been meaning to make for some time.
  • To go with my color idea, I would need to use either green or blue with either of these projects. Oddly enough, I found that because I've had another ripple blanket in mind for a while, and I've wanted to make a cardigan for a while, I have yarn in my stash for both of these projects.

KCBW Day 2
Round 2 brainstorming- less structured
A blanket or a cardigan? Both represent the comfortable and cuddly side of the Manatee House, and both of them want to be made :-) Through my reflecting on this challenge, I have found several projects that I would now really like to make. In color, technique, and end result, these projects represent how I feel about being a part of the House of Manatee. Now all that is left is for me to decide which one to start first!
cool colors
Yarns for a blanket

Sunday, April 21, 2013

House Cup 4KCBWDAY1

The House of Manatee: Manatees are gentle, calm and cuddly. Relaxed and unflashy they represent the comfort and soft side of knitting and crochet.

In the debate over which House I belong to, I really wanted to properly assess myself. Originally, I was torn between the Manatee and the Bee. I would fit as a bee because I am always starting something new. But I feel like a lot of people are like that. I decided on manatee, because I feel like when I knit and crochet, I'm making something that will last, but also something that will give the recipient a hug. Even when I knit or crochet on commission, it's a blanket or a warm scarf or cozy hat.  

Sometimes I feel like flashy things are impractical. My wardrobe even reflects this, as it is full of staples- basic pants, tops, and shoes- though I do have some flashy pieces, they do not go with everything. And it's not even just my wardrobe. An ideal day to me includes several blankets, a cup of tea, and a cozy knit project. 

While I might not always come across as the gentle, calm, cuddly person, I know that I wish I was that person more often. There are so many times in my classroom where I wish I was acting as the calm and gentle person. 

We're supposed to be going for the best fit here, and my self-evaluation places me in the house of Manatee. Stop on by if you're looking for a cup of tea or for a hug in the form of a scarf. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Hype for Knit & Crochet Blog Week!

Last year was the first time I had participated in Knit & Crochet Blog Week, and I thought it was a lot of fun to see the variety of people who blog.

This year will be year 4, and I'm already enjoying the Harry Potter-esque theme with having participants choose their houses, etc. I'm also thrilled because next week will be my first week off after student teaching, and I might actually have free time. (I still am preparing some posts in advance, just in case) It is so much fun to travel around the web, reading what other people have to say, especially about the crafts I love!

Even if you don't participate, check out eskmimi's blog to get the tags to search for each day, and offer your support to those who are joining in.

Slippers in the Spring

Lakefront property?
When we thought the rain was going to stop, the field behind our house looked like this. 

 So, I was a weirdo the other day, and shared a picture of my toe poking through a hole in my hand-dyed, crocheted, felted slipper. I realized that there was no explanation for this problem, etc. A while ago, I shared this pair of slippers that I had made with yarn dyed with my cousins. They were not sturdy enough (to me) for everyday wear, so when I remembered that I had a stack of projects to felt, these slippers went in the wash too. I wore them, I loved them, but my toes poked through the double-crochet that didn't quite felt all the way (or perhaps, too much, as after the second washing, they were a little snug).

These slippers will find a home with my cousins who dyed the yarn initially, as the kiddos have smaller feet than mine, and have a cold basement that could require wool slippers. But after wearing them for a few days, I realized that I really, really wanted a pair of wool slippers for myself. The first thing that came to mine was this pair of slippers, which I made for my aunt. I would, of course, actually felt them, even though the pattern doesn't call for it.

I have the needles, the yarn, and the desire. However, since I knit really slow, I'm not sure I will get them finished before I won't need them anymore. But! If nothing else, they will be ready for next winter.

(And with all this nasty almost-winter-again weather, I might actually get to wear them sooner then I think... If they get finished)

Too much rain
When the rain started again on Thursday, the field looked like this.

Oh, and don't forget!!!


Friday, April 19, 2013

Finished and Unfinished

As per usual, I have quite a few projects on the hooks or needles. But do not dismay, I have finished some of them to share with you today.

After my fall off the sheep, I determinedly got back on and started using the yarn. My test cowl shows that using a Q hook (I think that's the size. Basically, whatever size the ginormous plastic hook is...) makes too loose of a fabric, so I'm trying different sizes to get the drape I want. I finished the test cowl though. It is nice, but way too hole-y for my tastes.
Wreath 1
Another project that has been waiting to be completed is another wreath. This isn't really a crochet/knit project, but it involves yarn! Wednesday afternoon, I got out my hot glue gun and finally glued the pieces together. I actually completely finished two wreaths, though one of them had just been waiting on the glue for a while. Although I really like the inexpensive-ness of the pipe insulation, I don't feel that it makes the most sturdy wreath. I'll be on the hunt for something on the sturdier side if I want to continue to make these wreaths.
Wreath 2
My unfinished stuff consists of a cowl for my sister's birthday, which was yesterday; a knitted commissioned item that I finally unlocked the key to making the pattern simpler, so am finally making visible progress on; Steph; Blue Pineapples; and a number of dyed yarns that are waiting to be transformed. But HOORAY! I finish my student teaching today, so my life becomes my own again. (I mean, I'm hoping to get some subbing jobs between now and the end of the year, but I will not be working 5 days a week without pay anymore.)

Linking with Tami's Amis for FO Friday.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Crocheting really slowly.

This is my weekend progress on my Steph Wrap. I totally love how my hand-dyed yarn turned out!

The rows and counting are getting daunting, so I'm just trying to keep track of where I am in the pattern (without really counting) and am hoping I don't screw up.
Around the time it was a bit bigger than my laptop
It started out small.
And then the striping starts!
It is now the size of a 20"x30" foam poster board
hole in the toe
And this is the hole in my slipper. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I had a yarn binge this month. Now, don't expect really nice expensive yarn... There was a sale...

One doesn't expect the grocery store to have yarn. Our Meijer does, a very small amount, in their little itty, bitty craft section. When labels change or whatever, they mark down their yarn. I've scored some great deals this way. While I don't go grocery shopping at Meijer every week, my mom does. She mentioned this markdown, and I said if the yarn goes lower, to like 75% off or something, go ahead and pick some up. This time (and nearly every time) it was Lion Brand Homespun Quick & Thick. This is a newer line of the same colors, etc, of the Homespun yarn that I use for my infinity scarves for my craft shows.

160 yards per skein is no big deal, right?

Wrong. I added nearly 2000 more yards of yarn to my stash. Granted, this yarn will probably not make it past the New Year, if it makes it past my wedding. Or so I hope. 12 skeins total, in a variety of colors.

Expect to see more infinity scarves in between all the fancier stuff I'm making! :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Making New Things!

I am so excited to have pictures to share of the new things I've been making.

Both of my WIP shawls
Ananas Crocheted Shawlette
Pineapple Body
testing new settings on my camera- B&W except for blue things :)

Stephanie's Wrap

Steph 1
My hand-dyed tonal pink.

I had all the yarn for my Steph wound into balls on Thursday last week, using my cousin's eldest daughter M for my swift. (Note to self: KnitPicks makes their skeins small. Drill new holes on Lazy-Susan swift.) M is really great, and she loves helping me with yarn-y stuff (I sense a new student as soon as my schedule slows down). As much as I wished I had, I didn't officially start crocheting until Sunday night, when I alternated between 3 projects.

Sunday night, my "Ananas" were just starting to appear on the shawl. But the rows were really long! So, I didn't get as far as I had wanted to, but finally added the second skein. The pineapples are starting to be visible too-- I totally love watching these sorts of patterns develop.

Tuesday Afternoon
This was my afternoon- popcorn, tea, Rav & crocheting
With Spring Break ending and classes starting back up, my crafting time diminished. However, I will be done teaching this week, and finish all the student teaching paperwork, etc, next Friday. So, crafting time will again be a large part of my day.

Joining Tami's WIP Wednesday & Ginny's Yarn-along!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Weekends and Time off.

The kiddos
walk in the park
running ahead
more sibling love
sibling love
beautiful sunshine

sibling love
More Sibling Love

Japanese food
Japanese yumminess

It's not til the end of my Spring break that I get out and about. I spent some time with my cousin and her kiddos, because we are both on break right after Easter. Her family is so much fun to be around. E and I had to meet with the priest, and his church is just down the road from my cousin's house, so I like stopping over there when we meet with him. E & I went with T and the kiddos to the park after our meeting. It was quite the adventure. Being out in the sun was just lovely. 
T's two girls are going to be in the wedding, and the younger one, A, is super shy. So E & I spent some time trying to get her comfortable when we were out. She warms up very slowly, and I think having E around made her quiet, even though she contentedly walked with us and held my hand. 
That evening, E wanted to take me out to a nice dinner, so we had Japanese. It was one of those restaurants where they cook everything in front of you, and it's a bit of a show. Definitely a fun experience. 
And now I'm spending the rest of the weekend finishing up a unit plan for my student teaching, and preparing to go back to school. I love teaching, but I'm so glad that the tedious stuff (paperwork, etc) will be done in 2 weeks. And then GRADUATION! WOO!
Also, there are slow preparations for moving out of the house-- 6 boxes of stuff went to E's house (because his parents have the space, and we're planning on living in his town instead of mine) and there's another stack to go already. About 4 months left to go!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Finished: Dyeing


This yarn was supposed to coordinate, not match, but since I was experimenting with dye, it turned out pretty close in color. My last few days have been a bit busy, so I haven't gotten anything finished. It's ok though. I'm enjoying my last few days of Spring Break.

The top yarn is KnitPicks Palette, and the bottom is KnitPicks Bare Stroll, which I obviously dyed. I'm planning on making the crocheted version of the Color Affection shawl that has been popular. I'm excited to see how it comes out.

Yesterday, the weather was beautiful and I spent the afternoon with my cousin and her children. We all went to a nearby nature park and had a lovely long walk. Photos later, for sure :)

Share all your FOs (hopefully more finished than mine!!) over at Tami's!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pi Miles

I was just checking my knitmeter for my crocheting, and realize6d that I am not a math person.  One mile  equals 1760 yards. And I am at 3.14 miles, or pi!! It was just funny, because I didn't realize how "easy" it would be to crochet a mile. Right now, I'm crocheting roughly 1 mile a month. My stash is decent sized, not quite SABLE, even though it feels like it-- 26650 yards as of my last Ravelry stash count. With my current count and my current rate of crocheting, I may use up all my yarn in 15 months!

Good or bad? Who knows?

If the internet actually worked.

Of course, the internet gets super frustrating when I am home for a whole week, on and off my computer for school and crafts. Its slowness can't even be blamed on too many laptops using internet in the house because neither of my brothers are home, and my sister and I are only doing super basic stuff with our internet. All this to say that I am super sorry for no pictures today. I uploaded a few to Rav early today, but forgot to grab my WIP pics.

So, in progress this week I have Ananas Crocheted Shawlette, a LB Homespun infinity scarf (color Tulips), and yarn drying for Stephanie's Wrap. Also, a few plain hats for fall craft show stuff, but those usually get pushed to the end of the list. I am honestly trying to stash-down, and all of the projects are using stash yarn-- I even had to make do with what I had on hand so I could start working on Stephanie's Wrap. Both of the shawls are part of CSW's Support a Designer CAL, where all those participating in the CAL pick a pattern made by a member designer. A few of the participants are crocheting the same pattern, but the idea is more to get project pages attached to patterns that might not have as many projects.

My Cold Sheep progress for March was pretty good, especially with help from the CSAL. I was able to use up 2400 yards of stash. I'll admit that some of it was new yarn, but the out was greater than the in. My goal for April is to only use stash yarn, no purchases at all, and to beat my yardage total from March. Since I'm already nearing 500 and it's only April 3, I think my chances of surpassing 2400 yards used are pretty good. We shall see.

I'm linking up with Tami for WIP Wednesday and Ginny for Yarn-Along, as both share lots of yarny goodness on Wednesdays!! :-)