Friday, March 7, 2014

A Transient Season

For some people, winter is over and spring is here.

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For some, winter never came in the first place.

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Here in Minnesota, it is still winter.

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Pretty winter, but winter nonetheless.

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A couple of weeks ago we got a huge snowstorm and I walked to work despite the unshoveled sidewalks.

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In some places it was up to my knees...like this sidewalk.

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And by the time I walked home, there were paths for me to walk.

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And winter sun to admire.

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And a snowy adventure to remember.

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We are the land of the transient season. Enjoy these beauties while they last.

Monday, February 24, 2014

House (and Heart) Warming

My dear friend Jane just sent me the most amazing housewarming present...a skein of yarn that she spun by hand for ME!...and in the most delicious colors! She doesn't like pink so you know this was a labor of love.

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I searched around until I found the most perfect pattern. I wanted something with simple stitches that would show off the beautiful yarn. I also wanted something pretty that I could use and look at all the time.

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Multnomah turned out to be the perfect pattern. It's a simple shawl but has pretty details like the lacy spine and the wavy lace border. I've never done waves or lace so it should be fun to try something a bit challenging in addition to the simple garter stitch.

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As you can see, this yarn is going to make beautiful big stripes as it slowly transitions through the colors. I kept knitting after taking these pictures and now I'm through purple and the greeny/orange and almost to the blue.

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This is where the photo shoot starts to go downhill. Vector is so naughty! He is efficient in his destruction.

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And poor, sweet Extra-cat, who had been so-very-good this whole time and didn't touch the yarn at all, even though she so-very-much wanted to, could no longer repress her kittycat nature after witnessing so much of Vector's naughtiness.

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So, we were done photographing for the day.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dirty Panther Socks

Check it out, you guys...cables!!

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Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in Dirty Panther. It's darker in person.

After watching several youtube videos, I finally understand what the heck is going on with cables. And it's not so hard after all. Perhaps my long dreamed of "bulky cable-knit sitting by the fire at cozy ski lodge" sweater could actually be real one day? All I know is that I'm one step closer.

I'm also one step closer to my dream of only wearing hand-knit socks. My first priority is black/black-ish socks to wear to work. I know cables don't really show up well with black yarn but that's sort of the point...if I make mistakes on my first cable experiment, they won't show. Also, knitting black socks is a bit boring and cables are making it more fun.

I'd like to knit at least 5 pairs so I can wear them all week at work and then wash them all at once on the weekends. I can knit a pair at least every other month so by next winter, I'll be all set!

And just so this post isn't all yarny, here's a picture of my brother's 4 month-old Goldendoodle Luna:

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She's so tired!!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Weaving!

In my many years as a crafter/artist, I've tried so many things. I've tried drawing, painting, sculpting, calligraphy, scrapbooking, fabric printing, jewelry making, sewing clothes/quilts/dolls/bags. There was my stained glass and then wine charm and then decoupage phase. There was the year I was going to make 50 (but then only made one) Victorian valentines. I crochet, I knit, I embroider, I cross-stitch. I've even tried my hand at dyeing yarn.

I thought there was nothing left.

And then I read Sara's blog and omg, you guys...she's weaving. WEAVING!

You all know how the rest of the story goes, right?

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Sara was so kind and answered all my weaving questions and pointed me towards the Cricket 15" Rigid Heddle Loom. I bought it like, 2.5 seconds after she told me she liked hers. I ordered it from The Woolery.

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I also bought a 10-dent heddle because that's what Sara uses for sock yarn scarves. Because, you guys, I have so much sock yarn! I basically only have sock yarn!

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So, I wove this little mat and it was really, really fun! I finished it in one day. It would have taken me months to knit something this size with sock yarn...weaving is so amazingly fast! I knew my first try at weaving might be a total disaster so I used leftover yarn to make a mat for the cat's food and water bowls. Extra-cat really loves it, as you can see.

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I have much more practicing to do but I'm really happy with my first try. Since making this, I bought this Craftsy class (on sale) on Sara's recommendation and it's really good. I've only watched the classes up through making a scarf but the second project is a tea towel...omg, I'm going to be able to make all of our kitchen towels now!!!

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So, that's it for now. I have so many scarf ideas in mind and pretty much everyone is getting something woven this year for the holidays. I'm even thinking of how I could weave my own fabric to sew into a skirt or something. That would be amazing! But let's not get ahead of ourselves...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Happy People

I've been thinking about why I make things. Of course, making things is fun. It's a creative outlet that brings me much happiness. At the end of a project, my life is changed for the better. I have overcome a challenge and created a beautiful or useful object...preferably both.

But it's really more than that. While I was knitting socks for gifts this year, I had a lot of time to ponder the simple sock. It is something we take for granted, something that can be purchased in a 6 pack at any store and thrown away without a thought.

But throughout history, the simple sock has saved many a toe from frostbite, many a heel from blisters. They are reminders of home, of loved ones, of hardships, of adventures. Before knitting machines, socks were hand-knit with care and darned when they wore through. In times of war, socks were scarce. For the pioneers, winters were harsh and towns were often miles away. Throughout history, survival depended on something as simple as a pair of socks.


So, why do I make things? Above all, I think it has to do with being self reliant. I often think of Ma Ingalls. She would spend the entire day working hard cleaning and cooking and tending the garden. And then, instead of settling in to drink wine and watch Miranda like someone I know, she would spend the evening hours darning socks, sewing clothes, fixing tears and patching quilts. She kept her family warm, kept their fingers and toes safe from the deadly bite of winter. She did all that with just her two hands.

The drive to become self reliant, to acquire and develop useful knowledge and skills is something I am grateful to have. I was watching the documentary Happy People: A Year in the Taiga and found myself particularly drawn to the Siberian trapper and ski-maker. One thing he said really stuck with me: "You can take away anything from a man, his wealth and health and suchlike, but you can't take away his craftsman skills. Once you learn a trade, you'll always know your trade for the rest of your life."

I really feel that's true. It makes me proud to have put so much time and effort into learning my trade. It has taken many years of hard work and practice but now my hands can make things, my hands can create warmth and shelter from bits of fabric and yarn. In this modern age, many see the 30 hours it takes to knit a pair of socks as a waste of time. I see those 30 hours as a gift. Therein lies the skill, the craft, the trade. And that can never be taken from you.

Also, I'm just saying, assuming we survive the zombie apocalypse (omg, please don't let there be an actual zombie apocalypse), my hand-knit socks will be in high demand. Tired of running from zombies in your bare feet, are we? Who's wasting their time now!

So, tell me...what is your trade? What crafts are you proud to have worked so very hard to master? What skills will you bring to a post-zombie-apocalyptic society?

Also, in case I've convinced you of the importance of hand-knit socks and you want to start knitting a pair now rather than waiting until you're actually running away from zombies in your bare feet, I recommend starting with this yarn , of course:

Zombie BBQ

I can't bring myself to actually buy this yarn because it (obviously) reminds me of zombies which (obviously) absolutely terrify me...but I think it would be perfect for someone who is not quite so terrified. Omg, I have to stop thinking about zombies...this is not how I anticipated this post would end.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Awwww...

Extra-Cat spent lots of time sleeping under our tiny silver tree this year.

Awwww.

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Awwwwwwww!!

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...Awkward...

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Such Fun!

Good morning to you! I've been watching lots of, what I call, Miranda, so you should know that I'm typing this post with a British accent. Such fun!

It's been quiet around our house lately and my hands have finally recovered from my frantic holiday knitting. I literally finished my mom's socks the morning I headed up north for our holiday weekend. She loved them which made my oh so tired hands totally worth it. Also, when my aunt opened her socks, her husband said "those look like socks a mermaid would wear" which is exactly what I was going for! She is, if you recall, obsessed with mermaids.

I also made a few Jane Market Bags for Ian's parents and this darling Miss Maggie Rabbit for his 2-year-old niece Olivia:

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I don't normally enjoy sewing dolls but Miss Maggie Rabbit was a dream to put together. She's entirely hand sewn and I enjoyed every stitch. The Liberty dress was sewn by machine but wasn't fussy or complicated to make. I didn't have time to make Maggie any accessories but I'm planning a few things for Olivia's birthday in October. I was originally thinking clothes but now I'm adding this to the list. Swoon...

Now that the holiday rush is over, I've been slowly knitting a pair of socks with Lorna's Laces Solemate yarn in "Once Upon a Time".

Once Upon a Time

I'm not really a purple kind of gal but this is bordering on magenta...plus pink plus grey! Lovely.

I've been tossing around some ideas for a few creative goals for this year. I'd really love to learn to knit cables and perhaps get back into drawing/painting.

One of my goals for the new year is already coming true next weekend...Ian and I are throwing a party at our new place. It's taken us 5 months to get settled in and, if you can believe it, there's still more work to do. The party is forcing us to hang pictures and purchase rugs...the finishing touches, if you will. I'm so very, very excited. I can't wait to have all of my very favorite friends together in our tiny apartment. As my great-uncle Jack said to me at the holiday party this year "The secret to a happy life is: cheap wine and good friends." I couldn't agree more!