Another $10 spent

March 26th, 2010 | Tags: , , ,

I decided that I would make 2 amigurumi dolls. I want to enter each of them into a different county fair. Last year I entered a doll and the wonderful thing won first place. The hope is for something similar this year… but I also want people to see what I can do.

The thing is, I’m not following a pattern per se. I’m improvising. I’m no artist, by any means, but I have a love of color. And so this entire process has been months in the making, months in the planning and a few days ago I started working. Two arms. Two ears. And a head, and I found myself stuck at the eyes. I had only one style of acrylic eyes in the correct size. Well, I guess this little bunny is getting amber colored eyes. I found myself back on CR’s Crafts looking up doll eyes again. The last time I found myself on that site, I had just purchased Elizabeth Doherty‘s book Amigurumi!: Super Happy Crochet Cute and really wanted to make one of the dolls. Not just the cute other stuff that is in the beginning of the book. I wanted to bypass all of the smaller projects and jump right into the big elaborate dolls.

I found my eyes, and this time I found more eyes in the size for the dolls I want to make (and a few extra, just in case).

I find myself buying a lot of little things here and there. I stopped at Michael’s the other day ready to find exactly what I needed because I had a plan!! Except my plan backfired on me and I wasted the money from a Xmas gift card. Ah well, it was a lesson learned.

Does it mean I’m stealing? Using bits that I like from each ami designer? Deciding on the clothes I want to make… having nothing to do with any of the other designers and authors? I have a hard time understanding at what point it becomes “mine” instead of a copy of theirs. I guess when the time comes I’ll figure it all out.

Back to the doll… I’m at a point where I need to make decisions about colors. What color to make the undies. What color to make the sweater. What color to make the shirt, the underskirt, the shoes, etc. And while I can imagine all of these colors in my head, so far nothing is going quite how I expected it to. I had other plans for the sweater… AND the shirt. If there’s a way for a person who can’t draw to be at a drawing board, I’m that person. I now need to try to figure out how to get this all worked out. Design clothing, too. I don’t design clothes! Not only am I going to have to figure out how to design clothing, but I need to do it on a much smaller scale!

So here I am. Wondering what to do next. *heavy sigh*

Completed Socks!

March 22nd, 2010 | Tags: , ,

In an effort to share more of the stuff I’m actually working on, I’m going to try to be better about posting the things I’m making and working on… sometimes I’ll do it as I make it, but most of the time I’ll share after it’s over. And even still, when it’s a surprise gift I’ll work on sharing photos after the giftee has received the item.

My knitting is finally getting better and I’m getting faster. I’m still pretty terrible at actually doing purl stitches in continental, but I love knitting socks because it’s all knit stitches!

I fell in love with this pattern the first time I saw it in Wendy Johnson‘s Socks from the Toe Up. I had tried to work Riding on the Metro with a different yarn that was self-striping and it just didn’t look quite right. I ended up making a different sock from the purple, black and gray yarn (also from Wendy’s book, go figure!). I decided to work these socks two-at-a-time, though I don’t like working top-down, like the book has you work. So I worked each toe on double points and then transferred the stitches onto the circular.

Both Socks - Done!

Here are both of my pasty white legs wearing my new pair of socks. These were knit up in Cascade Heritage Sock Solid in the Colorway Anis.

Detail of the Foot

I ran into some issues when it came to the heel. Probably because of the way that Wendy has you work on the heels from the toe up. I’m not entirely sure how the heels are worked when they’re worked cuff down. The book shows photos of what looks like making a flap for the heel, but I prefer the way Wendy does it.

I love the way these socks feel and I love this pattern even more. I’m super excited to have a pair of socks that are already done and made, since I made both of them at the same time, but man oh man did it seem to take an awful long time!

Next project?? I think I’m going to work on a shawlette (also by Wendy), and some fair entries… Amigurumi dolls. I’m still working on the details of exactly what I’m going to make.

When Disaster Strikes

January 22nd, 2010 | Tags: , , ,

Whenever something catastrophic happens in the world I obsess about the details and worry myself over how many are hurt, how many are dead, how many are missing, etc. My problem is that because of my lack of much disposable income the ability to donate much time or money is non-existent.

Today I have a little bit of disposable income. So today I will be buying patterns on Ravelry**. Specifically I’ll be buying patterns in which either a portion or all of the proceeds will be going to help with Haiti fund raising organizations.

This ends up being a 3- (or even 4-) fold benefit to all.

First, there’s the obviously selfish one in which I get a pattern out of it. Sure.
Second, I’m supporting indie designers by buying their patterns.
Third, The obvious one is that whatever amount of money I spend, there’s a portion of it going to help with the relief efforts.
Fourth, It gives me more patterns to make for others! (this one is a stretch, I know).

I could easily just donate some money, sure. And I’d feel good about being able to do that, without a doubt. But it’s really the support of the designers that I’m interested in as well. These people are giving up a portion of their livelihood. There’s always a bigger picture, I swear.

As I browse there are 77 pages worth of projects. That’s a lot of stuff and a lot of patterns to choose from. So I encourage the handful of crafty folks who might be reading to go take a look. Even if you get only one pattern, it’ll still be helping.

** When you’re logged into Ravelry, click on Pattern. In the upper right hand corner there’s a link for Haiti donation patterns.

EDIT: For those curious, I’ll link the patterns that I went ahead and purchased today, not in any particular order. These are all Ravelry links (which means it requires an account to be able to access them).
A Little Something by Samantha Roshak
Argus Shawlette by Wendy Johnson
Lasa Set by Jenna H.
Varese Hoodie by Connie Chang Chinchio
Heirloom Treasure Baby Blanket by PurpleSage

Alright, how about some NanoFail instead

November 9th, 2009 | Tags: , , ,

I set my sights pretty high this year for nanowrimo. I wanted to actually write a story this year. I had to put it off in 2007 (even though I started) because of school. Last year (the year of hell) was just far too full of classes and homework and projects and boyfriend and drama (etc) that I didn’t even considering writing Nano. This year was supposed to be different though. I have all this free time now that I’m school-free. I had a handful of projects to finish (for xmas, if you must know) and since the projects I wanted done are now officially done, I figured why not, y’know?

I had an idea. It was a pretty good idea, if you must know. I was mostly excited about my idea. It just happened to be a fail idea, though. Works well in the movies-ish type of way, but no way could it coherently be told in story form. Not to mention that I haven’t actually read a good book in so long that I feared I might resort to using sparkling and beautiful ad nauseam until I hit the 50k word mark. I suppose it is a possibility.

In the end, I was putting off things like hanging out with the boyfriend, or going out at all, to pretend like I was going to do some writing. I wasn’t writing. I was catching up on Greek (on Hulu.com) and knitting. Watching Greek and knitting was way more fun than trying to figure out how to move a story along that was so obviously being forced (which, trust me, is the point of Nanowrimo, but doesn’t mean it has to be that hard).

I debated for a couple of days over whether or not I should keep trying. Just plug along and eventually I would get over the “hump” and the story would flesh out and viola! I’d have another novel on my hands. I just wasn’t feeling it. It just didn’t feel right. I’ve written plenty a nano novel without any plotting, or research, or the like. I’ve also had difficult points where I had to nearly force myself to be bothered to care, let alone to write it out. There are many chapters in my previous nano novels that are “tough” to read (imagine having to be the one to write it!). This year was simply different.

The process of Nanowrimo has changed. What it means to me has changed. It used to be this fun event that I toughed out along with so many of my other friends from across the world. It was a learning and growing experience. It was ridiculous and unnerving. We joked about adding flying ninja monkeys, or killing people off, and it was reasonable. It happened. It wasn’t about the story, it was about the process.

For me, once Nanowrimo became what it is today, people have lost sight of what it used to be like. It used to be about growing as a writer, now it’s about the race to word count. It used to be about telling a story, now it’s only about “having the word count to brag about.” Notice a trend? It’s not a personal journey anymore. It’s definitely not fun anymore. It causes me stress. A large portion of that is because I want to believe myself to be a writer at heart, but really it’s a craft I have yet to perfect (if there is such a thing). Not to mention a craft that I have pushed to the wayside. It’s not something I do all the time. It’s not something I do daily, that’s for sure. So how can I write a novel telling a story about characters I don’t even care about. I don’t even know who my characters are!

I said it before though, I haven’t really been doing much reading either. It’s not that I think I should mirror my writing style towards anyone in particular, but you have to keep your brain primed for the kind of stuff you want to write about. I haven’t read any fiction all the way through in so long I’ve forgotten the last novel I’ve read (within the same year!). I have this pile of books (yes, a large pile) that I’ve picked up over the last couple of years, and they haven’t been shelved appropriately… well, because I don’t want them stashed. I want them where I can see that they’re asking to be read. They’re needing me to look at them and be curious what story is between the covers.

So late Saturday night I grabbed The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. Not the first on my list of must-reads, but it’s on there. I picked this one mostly because it’s about one of my favorite hobbies… knitting (of course).

Maybe if I can open up the reading repertoire it will also open myself up to the better writing I’d like to do. As easy as it is for me to explain why passive-voice writing is BAD to other people, I’m falling prey to it far too much… and it’s annoying.

So this year nano takes a backseat to other things in my life. Including reading, knitting and going to the gym.

More knitting nonsense

October 27th, 2009 | Tags: , , ,

About a year ago, I was first informed about sock clubs. Being the avid “must have everything” person that I am, I applied to get in on The Loopy Ewe sock club lottery. I was not picked and was desperately looking for one to join. I went on plurk and asked my knitting friends if they knew of any sock clubs that were still open, or were willing to take late adds. Lalaranel was the first to point me in the right direction.

I emailed Jennifer over at Woolgirl.com and she was very kind to take me into her sock club at the very last minute. I paid my dues and waited with anticipation for the first shipment to arrive. I think there have been 4 shipments already received (the October one should be coming soon), and they’ve all been lovely. They have all had the best things for goodies and the yarn has been lovely. I’ve been a lazy bum and have not actually knit a single pair of socks, but lemme tell you, there’ll be a day when I will, and I will enjoy the hell out of it.

** Note: There are these groups on Ravelry where you can sell kits that you didn’t love to someone who didn’t get a chance to join the club, etc. For some reason, this idea has not occurred to me. In any way.

In the last kit I received (The Ladybug kit) I also got a Fibersphere ball. Now, in the past I picked up a Yarntainer on sale from Joann‘s. I loved the idea. I really did. Until I went to use it for an actual project. Then I was frustrated and annoyed with the fact that I either had to finish my project or cut the yarn to get the ball out and use it for another project.

I love the Fibersphere ball. I really do. Except I wish it were just a little bit flat at the bottom so that it wouldn’t roll around when placed on a table. Otherwise… It’s pretty damn awesome and I’m glad Jennifer included it in one of the kits.

In other news, the sweater is coming along (finally!!).

The Sweater From Hell

October 26th, 2009 | Tags: , ,

No really. I mean. I’m all about things that are challenging and a learning experience. When I worked on the Girasole I knew it was going to be difficult for me. Not only was I working in the round (on something other than socks) but that it was a lace piece, and something so massively big that it was going to be about the most challenging thing imaginable. And it was. I frogged the damn thing a handful of times. I was such a noob with regard to understanding the lace and the increases and decreases and wtf is going on right now with stitching moving and dropping and “Ah fuck, now I have to start all over again.” I sure wish someone had told me what a lifeline was with regard to knitting. It probably would have spared me a lot of time and energy.

See, I was this way with crochet too. I made one simple thing to get the gist of understanding patterns and then I jumped right into making my own stuff and hard things like making amigurumi dolls and the like. I like the challenge. I like forcing myself to learn things that I didn’t otherwise know. It’s good for me and good for my craft.

This sweater, however, is testing my patience. The different between this pattern and the Girasole pattern was simply a matter of knowledge. I didn’t know a lot of the terminology so it was lost on me. The pattern was clear and once I learned my lesson, it all came together quite nicely (there is still not a photo of this item on the net. Mostly because I’m lazy and can’t be bothered with that camera nonsense… or I’m just lazy).

I’m having issues with the sweater pattern. There are decreases with no explanation on how to do lace decreases. Hell, there’s no explanation to the fact that the repeat lace part, each time you do decrease, your starting stitch moves one. And you lose that permanently. So when you do the lace pattern, it’s now altered. Each time. Over and over again. Oh no, you have to learn this the hard way, because knitter’s are all born with this knowledge innately, and since I’m technically a crocheter, I didn’t get this mental memo.

So then, though I’ve worked with doing lace on the increase, to make decreases I was lost. And the Girasole was carefully graphed and made perfect sense. Don’t get me wrong. This sweater is absolutely beautiful. I know that when it’s done I will love it and wear it with much pride. But the process can be kind of hell. To spare myself a whole lot of other grief, I’ve also decided to work it in the round rather than two halves. This is my fault, sure.

I have still had to frog the thing multiple times. 3 times in the last week to be exact. I’ve finally made some progress and it’s all correct and good. I am, however, going to make it longer than the pattern calls. Mostly because I know how traditional clothes fit on my body and I’d rather have a sweater that actually comes to my hips, rather than a boob cover that cost me a lot of money (and time). I’m hoping to snag a photo of the new progress on the sweater, since I’ve been so tired of starting over that I’ve powerhoused through the majority of the beginning. I’m actually passed the furthest point I’ve ever gotten to.

I’m thinking, as much as I love the feel and weight of sock weight yarn, I might reconsider making another sweater outta this stuff. This is just too much work.

Sweater Progress - 1

The Great Frogging.

October 21st, 2009 | Tags: , ,

I’ve frogged the sweater. Again. Because I couldn’t figure out how to properly do the lace decreases. Sure I just winged it, but it was still coming out all funky and weird and I couldn’t understand what was going on. It looked okay, from the front or the back. But the sides were… well… not so cute.

I went to Ravelry and asked on the technique board what to do. I got a couple of responses pretty quickly, one of which pointed me toward a KAL (knit-a-long, for all you non-knitters) for the pattern. And then I found out that when you add the total number of stitches to the back to the total number of stitches to the front, I should also have subtracted the selvage stitches on what would have been the sides since I decided to work the sweater in the round. I didn’t do this.

Being the over perfectionist that I am, I contemplated whether or not start over again… or just live with it. I mean, who’s going to get that close to my sides to count the stitches anyway? Probably no one. Except me. I’d know it was there. I’d know that it was all effed up and I didn’t want to make a quality piece of  clothing for myself and ended up with a mostly perfect but not completely perfect garment.

I pulled the circular needle out and took a deep breath. I knew exactly what was coming next and it wasn’t going to be pretty. The frogging also meant that I would start over. From scratch. And re-cake the yarn into a lovely center-pull ball, and I started over.

Although before all of this, after pulling the needle from the piece, I tried it on. When working this pattern you start from the bottom and work your way up, so I pulled it over my head and positioned it on my hips somewhere where it should sit. And it was too big. Way. way too big.

The defining factor for this pattern is “bust size”. So the size of your garment is depended on the circumference of the bust. I should have known that this might cause problems. I’m a bigger girl, sure. I’m pudgy around the middle and a little more in the front, but when it comes to “bust circumference” I’m tipping the scales. I’m much larger than most people in my height category. So when I put my lovely 7.5 inches of sweater around me, it was too big.

This thing was supposed to be blocked (which means it stretches some). No way. I didn’t want a tent to wear. I wanted something a little form fitting that was snug-ish. This is not a “keep warm” sweater, but more something you throw on over a tank top, or something. I wanted it to look girlie, like it does on the girl in all the pictures.

So I dropped a size. I probably should have dropped 2 considering how big it really was around my hips, but I’m afraid that it’s going to look silly if I do that.

I cast on again and am starting over. In the round. Minus the selvage stitches. And in a smaller size.

This frogging was actually not the frustrating and annoying one the last one was, because I found out at 7.5 inches that it was the wrong size. I can’t imagine how upset I’d have been if I were nearly finished only to find out it was the wrong size. There’s a chance I might have made it in the paper.

Local woman breathes fire and terrorizes small California town; sweater was wrong size.

This time, it better be right.

And now for some photos!

October 5th, 2009 | Tags: , , , , , ,

So… I’ve been having some issues with getting some of the WordPress plugins to work. Particularly The WordPress Flickr Manager. For all intents and purposes, it absolutely looked like it was working properly. Except when I tried desperately to add a photo to an entry. Then it would just reload the lightbox pop-up (used for inserting into the entry) and do nothing. I thought it was the browser (Chrome) but it was happening in Firefox too! So I went looking for a working plugin, and had to do all this crazy nonsense to get that one to work. Only, it wasn’t for what I wanted, which was to be able to include just one or two (or 4) specific images to a post. I didn’t want to have to link and entire set/gallery. This isn’t a photo blog (and let’s face it, I’m not the best photographer anyway).

The “other” flickr manager thing required me to do all of this high tech mySQL database conversion stuff. It was kind of terrifying. Mostly because it’s been years since I’ve done that kind of stuff, and I don’t know all the in’s and out’s of how WordPress does it’s thing. Dreamhost ends up doing all of the updates for me automatically anyway, so it’s not really me that looks all high tech and fancy. It’s them. No joke. Not me. So I ended up getting the databases all converted from latin1 to UTF-8. Sounds exciting, but now my little Flickr widget is broken. *sigh* Ah well.

So of course, I’ve been doing all of this and getting no where. Getting frustrated was inevitable, but really? I can’t just put A photo in my blog? Just one? I don’t want to have to upload the same damn photo eleventy-billion times in fourteen different places. I use Flickr almost exclusively for my photos. It’s because I can email them from my iPhone and share. It’s just easier that way. So why all this running around (on the internet) and backwards nonsense to share A single photo?

Oh well. It seems there was some kind of weird change when WordPress updated to 2.8. The author submitted  a fix for the lovely Flickr Manager plugin I already had installed, but it hadn’t been approved yet and you could download it directly. So I did. I could have saved myself a ton of headache and confusion and database backup-ing and terrified I’m going to break something to beyond fixing. Y’know how it goes.

And so here I go with the photo sharing. Because after all this nonsense I better start sharing some damn photos, right??

Sweater Hoodie Thing

Here is the first attempt at Sweater Hoodie thing. It’s technically called theApres Surf Hoodie, but I like my name better. It’s easier for me to say outloud when I talk to myself while knitting/blogging. The pattern calls for you to make two halves, the back and the front, and piece them together. I started the back (which is what you see pictured here) when I found some blog posts somewhere on the internet regarding doing it in the round (I cannot for my life find the link where the girl mentioned how she did this, but if I ever do, I’ll link it!). So I frogged (took the whole thing apart, for you non-knitting/crocheting folks) and started again. And started again. And again. And again. And again. No really. I started it over 5 different times before I finally decided on starting it on DPNs (double pointed needles; usually used for making socks and other items in the round) and after a few rows transferred it to the circular. The “invisible” start cause some issues with starting ON the circular needle (aka frustration!). I’m about 2 rows away from starting the lace part (the body), which took me DAYS to do.

Side note: Because I can now work this all in Stockinette Stitch, I can continental stitch all of it, meaning that I knit 4 times faster. Having to “throw over” all of the purl rows (when going back and forth) meant I got the first 26 rows (of both the front AND back) done in less than a day and a half (of knitting in between Wintergrasps (WoW speak ftw!) this weekend). This should technically take me a whole helluva lot less time to finish. Yay!

Tribal Skein - White Background

Also to share, because I’m in a slightly obsessed phase, is some yarn I dyed. Because, like I said, I’m slightly obsessed. This one is called Tribal. It’s Brown, Teal and Orange. I used Kool-Aid and Wilton’s Cake dye. This one makes me happy and I love it.

Odyssey - Skein

I call this one Odyssey. No reason for the name, but it’s Kool-Aid and Wilton’s Cake dye as well. I love the colors on this one.

And thus concludes my photo sharing entry of the day.

In other knitting news

October 2nd, 2009 | Tags: , , ,

I’ve never been one to share what I’ve been working on. All of my projects are “stealthy” and thus non-sharable. They’re really not that secret so I’m not really sure why I act this way. Mostly because I am a horrible project finisher. I love starting new projects. The idea of picking a yarn and deciding what to do with it and starting is the best part. The finishing part is something I’m not always so good at.

I have not suffered (as of yet) from the OSS (aka One Sock Syndrome). All of my socks have been paired. But I have a million things I want to do.

There’s the blanket project, which I started with no clear giftee in mind. I think I now have one in mind, which means I cannot share the project until after giftee has received the blanket.

I have some sock ideas in mind (mostly WendyKnits patterns with current yarn on hand) but haven’t started any. I’m still debating on who’s getting what. I live in hell people, I don’t need wool or mostly wool socks. Surely not 50 pair (which I probably have enough yarn for).

I have a scarf I’m working on in a lovely green and olive green colorway from Brianna (who loves me because I spend mad amounts of cashola for her to do my dirty work), but that’s also a gift for someone.

Damn these gifts.

I am, however, also working on my first wearable piece. Yes, you wear scarves and hats and gloves and socks, but those are accessories and not part of the wardrobe. I’m working on a sock weight sweater hoodie thing. The pattern is fabulous and I am definitely in love with yet some more of Brianna’s yarn (which she died special for moi!).

I still have a crochet gift for Zannah, that I will have to break out and finish one of these days (maybe before she’s 50 years old??). And I have ideas for amigurumi stuff as well that I’d like to pattern up.

I’ll see if I can’t figure out how to get my Flickr plugin to work with WordPress and share some Sweater Hoodie Thing photos. Though right now it looks like a tube.

The thing is…

September 15th, 2009 | Tags: , , , ,

Of all of the crafts that I love and do, photography is my least “passionate.” It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, because I do. I simply don’t have the money to invest in a decent camera to do the kinds of photos that I’m most interested in. So my simple point-and-shoot with a little bit of optical and digital zoom is all that I’ve got. And I get by. I can take some okay shots with it.

So when I was contacted by Emma Williams over at Schmap regarding one of my England photos, I thought it was a joke. I don’t know how long it took before I finally responded to her, but I would say at least a couple of days. Mostly because I was looking around the website and checking things out. It wasn’t a “paid” thing, but I truly didn’t expect that this would be anything.

Then to find out that my photo got picked… well… There are few words to describe the strange elated feeling. It’s like that one time, ever, when you’re the first one picked (and not the last). It’s like getting an award you never really expected.

It won’t bring me fame or fortune. It doesn’t bump me up on any photographer list that says “Oh, lookit me now! I’m a Pro!” Not even close.

It makes me smile to think that there are people who will see my photo who don’t know who I am. That… is what makes me smile.