Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Craft NIght, technical difficulties, and project procrastination...

The first Craft Night went off without a hitch last week! Everybody came over, project bags in hand, and set down to work. One gal was working on a sweater, another friend started a crochet pattern called "Cowl" that upon further inspection turned out to simply be a tube, but will look cute no matter what they call it. My friend Steph made dishcloths from some chunky cotton I hade leftover, since her husband had managed to get bleach on all the nice ones they got as wedding gifts a month ago. As for me, I divided my time between working on my fluffy sweater and teaching my friend Jen to knit.

I got Jen started on a garter stitch scarf and suddenly realized that I didn't remember what it was like to first start knitting. Teaching Jen reminded me how hard it actually is when you're first starting-- trying to manuever two sticks and a piece of string so that they form a pattern is something most fingers aren't used to doing without practice. So we had some learning glitches, like constantly dropped stitches and cast-on hangups. Ultimately, we got her on the right track and, after going home and ripping her work out and starting over like every knitter since the dawn of time, Jen is getting the hang of it! Next up, purl stitches! The next one is planned for next Wednesday, because I have a feeling with all of the Halloween festivities I probably won't have the energy for one this week.


and pictures don't seem to be uploading,what is happening here? That's the only one I could get Blogger to upload and even then couldn't get a smaller picture of. Pffft.

Since then, I have been diligently working on my fluffy sweater and kool-aid socks....okay, well maybe not diligently. I finished the body of the fluffy sweater almost a week ago and, quite honestly, have not felt like sitting down and doing the math for the sleeves. Also, I wanted to take a small break from constantly being covered in fuzzies. I have a feeling that I may have to rip out the bottom and redo it, as it came out a little bit shorter and wider than planned. It shouldn't set me back too far though.

As for the Kool-aid socks, I am tempted to just rip them out and start over. I wasn't super fond of the pattern when I started, and since I turned the heel I've made a ton of silly errors that I don't catch until six or eight rows later. If it were just one little oops I might just keep going and factor it into the matching sock, but since it's, like, seven little oopses in various spots, I really just want to start over, and this time with a new pattern. Frankly, despite the stupid not-paying-attention mistakes I've made, I kind feel like the whole thing is just a little too easy.

So I took a break and started a simple seed stitch scarf using some "Life" yarn I picked up on clearance at JoAnn. I'm two thirds of the way done and figure once I finish it I'll be ready to go back to the other two things, including the ripping of my first ever sock. Eh, if Jen can do it, so can I.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Holy knitted stitches, Batman!

Oh my gosh, I just turned my first heel! Holy crap, that wasn't as hard as I thought!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Kool Aid dyes are rad!

The kitchen smells fruity, like those markers we used to have as kids-- they never really smelled like any real kind fruit, just fruity. Except for grape, fake grape always smells the same.

Yesterday was my first experiment into Kool Aid dying. I've been collecting Kool Aid packets whenever I happen to be in the grocery store and thinking about it with plans to eventually dye white recycled yarn for some gifts. But before I ruined the yarn intended for other people's projects, I figured I'd try it out on my sock yarn. Way I see it, if I can actually manage to knit myself some socks, I doubt I'll much care if they're some wierd color. Plus, nobody sees them when you wear shoes (which is why my socks rarely ever match.)

The cool thing about Kool Aid dyeing is that there are a ton of tutorials to be found! Knitty's article proved super helpful, and I even found a color chart! Armed with a little bit of knowledge, some leftover keg cups, and an big eyedropper I borrowed from Eric's airbrushing supplies, I set to work.

It turned out that completely covering my surface in saran wrap was a good plan-- I wound up spilling the grape cup while cleaning up, but the plastic wrap caught nearly all of it! Plus, it made cleaning everything up a matter of scooping up the plastic with everything in it and tossing it!

I did a little test hank by wrapping about ten loops from hand to elbow and cutting it off, then dyed that first to see how I wanted the colors placed. It seemed to come out fairly nice, so I dove into the first hank. The colors seemed to come out alright, until I started noticing that some of the yarn underneath wasn't getting fully color saturated. Adding more color helped, but it also added more water to my already brimming plate. I think I may need to use less water next time, and possibly measure out how much for a more uniform (and easily duplicated) dye job.

After a couple of minutes in the microwave, the water on the plate was clear and it looked like all the color had been sucked up, so I rinsed my yarn off and cleaned it with a little bit of shampoo. Then both the first hank and, eventually, the second one I did were left on hooks to dry in my kitchen.

I kind of cheated-- I didn't wait until my test hank was fully dry before knitting a swatch of it. I just couldn't wait to see how my colors came out! The pink lemonade color I used really wasn't as vibrant as I had hoped, and I managed to leave some pretty substantial white spots on the full hanks despite my best efforts, but all in all I think it turned out okay. The nice thing is having a photo record of the pattern I used-- I don't think those two little balls of yarn are going to be enough to make some socks, so it's nice to have a blueprint for dyeing more.

I think I may try dip dyeing next time, only using two or at most three colors instead. I can probably get some better saturation that way. For now though, it's onto socks! My feet can't wait!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Is it wrong that I pretty much hate novelty yarn?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Doggy knits, yarn for beginners, and really, why the heck am I even writing here?

I need a dog so I can knit cool things like this for it, courtesy of Street Legal Designs:

The boy thinks knitting sweaters for dogs is a completely silly, kind of tacky thing to do. While I agree that for the most part outfits for dogs are not at all cool, dogs actually get chilly in the wintertime too! What better than a sweater for those slightly cold, kind of rainy walks? I'm not saying fit 'em with a hat and galoshes or anything, just something to keep their little bodies warm when the fur isn't quite cutting it.


I'm about half-way done with the body of my fluffy re-sweater. So far, the stash looks like it just might hold out, atleast I really really hope so. I'm excited to get it done, since I've been wanting a sweater like this for the last year or two. It's designed to be like a store-bought sweater I already own, but in ivory instead teal of and omitting the zipper that the original has. Otherwise, I plan to keep the raglan sleeves and the giant cowl/turtleneck collar. I'm already starting to see that the mohair blend will definetely benifit from a little blocking once I'm done, but *fingers crossed* it should shape up pretty nicely.

I posted a question on the livejournal Knitting! community (not to be confused with Knitting Pretty) about what they think the best yarn is for my soon-to-be-knitting friend. It seems most of the vote is for Cascade 220 and needles anywhere from a size 6 to a size 11, although most favor the 8 to 10 range. There's also a debate between straight needles and circulars that leaves me kind of sitting on the fence as to which ones would work for Jen. Really, I have enough spares of both that it would be easy to switch up if one doesn't work.

I suppose it might be time to actually start telling people about this silly thing. Honestly, although I like reading craft blogs, having one feels a little egocentric to me-- like "hey, come look at all the cool stuff I do. It's not enough to read my thoughts on one blog, now come read about my craft stuff too!" So I've been really loathe to point anyone towards this. On the other hand, I'm really kind of sitting here talking to myself, which is pretty lame too. A pointless conundrum if there ever was one.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

What? No new clothes for how long?

So it just occurred to me that I completely fulfilled the terms of my 2-month Wardrobe Refashion pledge! In fact, I've been avoiding frivilous clothes shopping for so long, I didn't even realize until that it's actually been almost three months!

(To be honest, I did buy work clothes, but that's okay-- the pledge say so!)

Under normal Jill circumstances, I would immediately run out and buy some new clothes, but for some reason the urge just isn't as strong as it normally is-- that is to say it's there, but not so much. I know that there are so many things in my wardrobe that I've been meaning to get to that I find myself thinking more about that than about new stuff. I also find myself looking more to less mass-marketed, more handmade if and when I can afford it. The goal: More skirts, alter some t-shirts, possibly make a dress out of some old curtains Scarlet O'hara-style, all while keeping up with my knitting and other craft projects. Lofty, I know, but I like to aim high.

I picked up a beaded jewelry book and ReadyMade's How to Make {Almost} Everything yesterday. I've already perused it a few times, but I think I'm gonna go flop down on the couch and read some more.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Blah, blah, blah....

It seems I might be hosting a craft night for me and some friends in a couple of weeks! If it turns out well, I might try to make this a regular thing. Crafting can be such a solitary thing that it's nice to occasionally do it with other people. Plus, it will hopefully give me the opportunity to sit down and teach a friend to knit.

Another friend who is learning to crochet wrote a post on her blog about finishing her first scarf and why she likes crochet so much, and it made me think of ....well, why I love to knit so much. I find it soothing at times and intense in others, mainly depending on the project. My friend likened it to meditation and it is in its own way. Knitting quiets the nerves and unravels the mind. I can remember times when I have poured myself into a project because of feelings I couldn't or didn't want to express and, strangely enough, it helped.

Also, I feel this special sort of happy whenever I bind off the final stitches or weave in the last end-- that accomplishment that comes from knowing I just made something out of a very long piece of string. I like that, with a little math, I can alter a pattern from being kind of what I want to exactly what I want.-- when I actually have the discipline to use a pattern anyway. And it's pretty rocking to receive a compliment and reply, "yeah, I made that."

It's been a bit since I've posted any pictures here, in part because the batteries in the camera are kaput again, but also because none of the current projects are in photo-friendly stages. Ultimately it's not that big a deal since virtually no one knows about this blog yet, not even my friends! (I wanted to actually have something to show before I started telling people, "hey, look at my craft blog!")

But I digress. I do have one project with decent pictures, and it's been the biggest one of late. A few months ago, I realized that I was starting to lose my creative spark. I hadn't made anything in months and really only had one or two good ideas for things. I made all these excuses for it, like lack of time, lack of space, the weather-- but realized they were pretty much all crap and, more importantly, easily fixed. So I made myself a to do list that went as follows:

1-commit to carving out time for arts and crafts
2-create a dedicated workspace (one that will include storage and a place for my sewing machine)
3-surround myself with things that motivate and inspire me

1 was the easiest and 3 will always be an ongoing thing, so the big one has been item 2. And this is the work in progress....


What a crappy, useless, messy as hell, blah room.

I started with paint, then some rearranging and even those two things worked wonders. We are still lacking in storage-- a fact that the angle of these pictures manages to hide-- so the next thing is shelves, both for my project supplies and for my boyfriend's.

Either way, I find that I've already been more creative since I started this! That pristine uncluttered desk is now full of yarn, beads, a sewing machine, airbrushing stuff.... you name it. And I actually find myself sitting down and making stuff, even when I'm not planning to. Organizing beads turns into making a bracelet and seperating yarn by fiber becomes sketching ideas for a sweater. And all it took was a little bit of inner and outer rearranging.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I'm starting another reknitted sweater, and it's already become "hold my breath and hope I have enough yarn" time.

I wish I knew a trick for being able to figure out if the amount of yarn I have is enough to do what I want, cause I'm never sure and, frankly, never know until I'm most of the way done that I'm going to run out. I have this sinking feeling that if I have enough it's going to be just barely and I'm probably going to have to rip out a bunch and make some design changes before all is said and done. Ack!

I guess I'll just have to knit with my fingers crossed from now on. :)

Monday, October 09, 2006

So excited....

8 days until Craft hits newsstands. I wasn't with it enough to get a subscription yet-- heck, I still have yet to get around to renewing my ReadyMade subscription! So I guess I'll have to wait the extra two weeks.

I have the day off today, but I'm not feeling super great. So despite the last vestiges of nice weather outside, I'm probably just going to stay in the house and occupy myself with a pot of tea, some knitting, and a movie, and maybe a good book later on.

I'm finishing up one of my oh-so-easy absolute-favoritest skinny scarves. I been on a mission to start going through my knitting stash, and decided to make yet another skinny scarf from the little bit of blue Homespun I had left. The gosh darn things are just so easy and suprisingly versatile. Depending on the yarn used, all it takes is wrapping it around the neck one or two more times to take it from an airy spring scarf to a warm winter one.

In other news, the swatching article in the current Knitty reminds me of all the reasons I came to terms with knitting swatches, and actually kind of like doing it. It even gave me a few more uses for a swatch that, I feel kind of silly saying, hadn't even occured to me. Someday I may even take all those dumb swatches (the ones I don't pull back out when I'm done with them) and make a really colorful throw with them or something.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ground Control to Major Tom: ABORT.

Hoodie may be a no go. I did some test swatches last night, and even if I was willing to cast on 132 stitiches for each side, I'm not sure if my stash of that yarn will hold out-- not good since I bought every skein JoAnn Fabrics had left when they cleared it out. I might just have to hold off and make a lighter, spring-ier sweater instead. In fact, lighter and cooler makes more sense the more I think about it-- I was using a cotton yarn anyway, and isn't that more geared to spring and summer?

Monday, October 02, 2006

armwarmer 2

I think I just finished one of my shortest projects ever, other than the skinny one-hour scarves I love to make. I had picked up some Noro Kureyon to try out Stitch and Bitch Nation's armwarmer pattern and somehow managed to get both armwarmers done in just a few days! I was a little shocked considering my small amount of DPN experience (which means none at all.) It takes a little getting used to having so many needles right there at once-- the ones that weren't being knitted on seemed to constantly be in the way and don't even get me started on having to use a fifth one for certain spots in the design chart-- but I think I kind of got the hang of it.

This picture was my effort to do two things: look tough like "put up your dukes!" and show the leaf detail on top. I kinda failed dismally at both.

armwarmer 1

I think the hoodie is definetely next, but I may alternate working on that with my first-ever socks. Now that I've started to get a feel for the double-points, socks don't seem quite as daunting. Plus, I'm planning on Kool-Aid dying my yarn, so I'm excited to see how it knits up.