All posts in Crafts

  • The Starting of a Sweater

    So. Knitting.

    One of my major goals for the year was to knit a sweater that would a) fit and b) I would love and wear all the time. For those of you who don’t know, knitting is what keeps me sane. It keeps my hands out of trouble, keeps my ADHD brain focused, and gives me something positive to work on. It’s an all around win. Also, it’s a major destresser in life, even if Daniil tells you I spend a lot of time swearing at my stitches.

    I’ve been knitting for ten years at this point, off and on. Which seems like a terribly long time. And I have never made a sweater. I’ve made three  and a half tops, but one (for my sister) was too short, one (for me) was kinda two small, one (for me) was a little shorter than I’d like and tight around the arms, and the half is still waiting to be seamed. Shut up. It’s only been waiting for the sewing portion for a year and a half. I’ll do what I want.

    Anyway, I’m for sure going to knit a sweater. I’ve taken copious amounts of measurements of pretty much everything that isn’t legs. I knit a swatch. And then I started another swatch when the first one didn’t have the right gauge. I should have taken pictures, but I didn’t. I’m lazy, sue me.

    For those of you wanting to know, I’m making the Acer Cardigan. In a beautiful eggplant merino. Actually, it’s a discontinued but much beloved Knit Picks yarn line. As I said elsewhere on the internet, half the motivation for making the sweater is so people stop asking me on the internet if they can buy this yarn off me. I figure, if it’s a sweater, they won’t want to buy it.

  • Now That Giftmas Is Over…

    So with the new year comes the official time when all the gift knitting can be revealed. I’m actually very very pleased with how much I accomplished.

    First up, I know ten hats for ten amazing kids in the SEAL program. I really, really, really wish I could show you all how wonderful and happy my kids looked in their hats, but there’s approximately abillionty privacy concerns preventing me from showing you. Which is such a shame. Some of them I’ve never seen smile so big before. It was incredible.

    Instead, you will have to be satisfied with the hats spread out on a classroom table. It’s really not fair, because of all the pictures I took of these hats, it’s the crappiest. C’est la vie.

    Each one of those hats stands for a child I love and think is awesome. Those children have dug their way under my skin and into my heart in ways that I’ve never experienced before. That photograph represents three months of knitting, over 100 hours, and over 1000 yards of worsted weight wool. I would gladly give that time up thrice again to show those kids that they are loved.

    The hats themselves were my Nerd Wars dissertation over on Ravelry. I would have knit them anyway. The hats were planned and the yarn was picked out before I even realized they qualified. The kids all picked out their favorite colors for a ‘super secret project’ back in October. I was on the Game of Thrones team, so it really worked out that I could tie the individual colors and designs to the idea of the different houses in A Song of Ice and Fire.

    We went back to school today and I was thrilled at how many kids showed up wearing their hats.


    Secondly, I knit a big-ass Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired scarf. Over six feet long and over a foot wide. In a delicious wool and silk blend. It’s the first time my sister has ever requested I knit something for a boyfriend of hers, so I figured it must be pretty serious. Let’s just say the scarf materials were more than those previously mentioned ten hats combined. Oops. It came out way better than I expected. I loathe colorwork.

    Isn’t he cute? That’s Ghalib. And the verdict is he’s totally knitworthy. He’s worn that scarf literally every time I’ve seen him since he opened it on Christmas. Even when it wasn’t obvious I’d be around to witness the wearing.

    What was weird about this year is I didn’t knit anything for Daniil. That’s my traditional gift for him. This year all he got was a teapot. But it was a very lovely teapot. Next year?

  • A Series of Hats

    First things first: I’m entirely aware I need to step up my game when it comes to pictures. Laziness is not a virtue, and I’ve been horrifically lazy of late.

    Secondly: hats!

    For the first time ever, I’ve had a small enough class and long enough notice to be able to knit all of my holiday gifts for my students. Those were the first four hats I made for my kiddos. I’ve since finished two more and started a third. So I have three and a half hats I need to finish in the next two weeks. Perhaps a little insane, but I think I can do it. There’s only one I’m a bit worried about because it’s a complicated hat for a kid with a giant head and lots of hair. And yes, I know I said I wouldn’t be posting about gifts, but seriously, if any of my students are reading my blog, I’d be kind of impressed and also wondering why they don’t have better things to do.

    I’m really hoping the hats are a hit. And not just because I’ve invested a lot of time, energy, and money into making them. I really do care about my kids. Sure, there are times I wish I could just slap them all silly when they’re being completely ridiculous, but those times are few and far between. Also, it helps that I know that they can’t really help themselves most of the time.

    I love my students. It breaks my heart sometimes to see all of what they’re struggling with, but I knew this would be the case when the words “emotionally disordered” were thrown out with my job transfer. I’m just really worried about how some of them will handle the holiday break. The week off we had at Thanksgiving was bad enough; we’ll see how much chaos the two weeks for New Years will bring us. I’m somewhat hopeful that maybe getting hats as part of their holiday care package will help. I know it’s stressful for a lot of students–not just those in our program, but all students–to not see their teachers for so long. And for our kids, who thrive on routine, it can be pretty overwhelming.

    I just hope that the hats will bring them some kind of comfort. Remind them that the adults in their lives at school do care about them.

  • The Problem of Gifts

    Seeing as we’re nearing December, the month of outrageous gift-giving, it’s only natural I’ve been crafting my ass off making gifts. As usual, the knitting needles are clicking away at a rate that is beyond human, and yet still somehow not fast enough. And with the dreadful problem of not actually being able to talk about what I’m making without RUINING ALL THE OF THE SURPRISES!!!!!!11!!!!!

    I’ve made 4/10 (or 2/5ths, math nerds) hats for the school crowd. These are the least secretive of all the gifts as I’d be shocked to learn my 10-year-old students are reading my blog. But hey, weirder things have happened. Unfortunately, too lazy to pull up pictures of my progress.

    The current bane of my existence is The Scarf. I’ve officially been knitting it for a week. It’s 100% garter stitch (this means hella boring to you non-knitting folk). Granted, it’s got some fancy color blocks and some modular construction. But it’s still garter stitch. And it’s kicking my ass. Though somehow during this week, it’s grown to almost six feet long and nearly a foot wide. At this point, I feel like the dreaded Doctor Who Scarf would be totes easy. This damn scarf has colors blacks anywhere from 2 to 120 rows big. With as few as 24 and as many as 400 stitches per row. It’s dreadful. And even watching 10 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (shut up, I’ll watch what I want) was not enough to get the damn thing finished.

    More frustrating? I can’t even post pictures of my progress because there is a slim slim slim chance the recipient could read this infernal blog and spoil the magic of a surprise gift. All I can say is my sister better be serious when she says she’s in love. Otherwise I’ll want this stupid thing back. Maybe. Probably not, actually. My guess is I’ll never want to look at the thing ever again once it’s done. Which is a shame, because it really is sharp.

  • Playing with Saffron

    About a year ago, maybe a year and a half, Daniil and I came across a recipe for Spanish Rice that we tried and fell in love with. The only problem with it was it called for saffron, of which we never had any. Being geniuses, we just dumped copious amounts of pre-blended Italian seasoning into it. We’re klassy like that.
    Well, on an adventure over a month ago, we wound up at Whole Foods buying a gigantic tart for Daniil’s 30th birthday. And being that we are good friends with one of the pastry girl’s, we got some sweet-ass for-truth Cyrillic on our tart in pink icing. But also on this last-minute birthday dash, we finally found some saffron on the spice shelf. And would you believe it or not, but I actually shelled out $10 for a teaspoon of something?

    Truth be told, we’ve been lazy in our cooking. It wasn’t until last night that we actually made our Spanish Rice again. Daniil was immediately freaked out because it turned the whole thing yellow.  “No, it’s supposed to do that. That’s what saffron does.” I don’t think he fully believed me.

    Anyway, I thought the saffron was an excellent change, though perhaps not worth the high price for it every time. For the record? I dumped in half the saffron we bought. I think it could have used the whole thing, but c’est la vie. Daniil on the other hand was very unhappy and complained the whole night about how something was off about the dish. Well duh. We changed the seasoning!

    I don’t know, I swear, it feels like they didn’t even have salt in the Soviet Union. He keeps insisting that they did, but considering how unrefined his palate it, I really have to wonder. They also apparently had garlic. And nothing else. Or at least if I’m to draw any conclusions from the traditional Russian/Soviet food he makes. Oi.

    He’s pretty insistant that I only like the saffron because it’s expensive. I think that’s silly. It just tastes different. And I like it. But I’m okay with the ghetto seasoning as well. I’m really not that picky.

  • Let's Talk About Knitting

    So I caved this weekend. I finally bought Stephen West’s first book, Westknits. I blame the boyfriend, really. It’s his fault! He’s been bugging me for a headband to keep his ears warm while he bikes for a bit. I guess it’s already gotten cold enough that his ears are unhappy by the time  gets to work. And really, he should have known better than to pick out Westward when we trolled around Ravelry together for something.

    So after a couple hours and learning how to Latvian braid real quick, this happened:

    It’s actually already done, but it’s still pretty wet from its bath. Not bad for maybe 4-6 hours worth of idleness, eh?  I managed to finish this just in time for one of the evil cats to eat and destroy one of my Addi Clicks cables (the very same one I was using). They’re lucky there’s three of them and no sure way to tell who the culprit was. Evil kitty stole it out of a project bag, even!

    So now I’m out 50 bucks because you can’t buy needles without buying yarn. It’s a terrible vice, I know, but as I always say: Better yarn than drugs! Also I’ve got some room in my stash boxes since I’ve been knitting out of that, mostly. And I always said that if I could keep it in those five boxes, I’d be good. So I’m good.

  • Oh No, What Has She Done?!

    I met up with a friend yesterday to help her construct a blanket. She wasn’t sure how to do the crochet bits. Silly me thinking I’d be the only one doing the teaching.  Monica’s mission in life, apparently, is to get as many people spinning on this planet as possible. We hadn’t even gotten started before she was thrusting a spindle into my hands and bag full of fiber. She gave me a choice of spindles, so I got to choose one with a very nice green resin whorl.

    And a short while later, I was spinning. Spinning as in making yarn.  Oh dear. Textiles are very rapidly taking over my life.  I suppose there are worse fates to have, but I do think I may be hitting the point where it’d be embarrassing to show all the unused yarn I have to, well, anyone.  The only problem is I’m not sure how to ply and/or set the twist, so I can’t actually do anything with all my brand new yarn. Rats!

  • Let's Speak About Knitting

    So now that I have graduated and have subsequently found myself on the job-seeking beat, I’ve found I have more time to do what I really enjoy. Namely, knitting.

    A friend was ever so kind enough to send me a lovely Twist Collective pattern (Mary Jane) to work on in my down time. And work on it I have, using some lovely Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy that I got on sale. It’s a hemp/cotton/modal blend. Which means it’s murder on the fingers. And yet, somehow worth it. I’ve only had to rip out my needles and frog back, oooh, eleventy-billion times. I’m not a very careful knitter. I hurry and make large, glaring mistakes that I don’t catch until much too long afterward. That’s okay though. Sometimes I just let the mistakes live on.

    Now isn’t that lovely? The red of that deck chair really brings out the…uh…yellowish-tannish-muddle color in it. I’m a bit farther on now than I was a week ago when I took that picture. Shut up, it can take me a week to post on my blog if I want it to. Psssh.

    Ah, and when I’m not knitting, I am, of course, doing naughty things like buying yarn. Lots and lots of yarn. Though in my defense, going to a seconds sale is a ridiculously cheap way to get a lot of fancy yarn. Here. Let me show you:

    This, ladies and gentlemen, is Dream in Color Smooshy. And not just any color either. It’s their April 2011 Exclusive Club Color Posy.  That yarn right there? Retails for $24.00-$26.00. I kid you not. I bought it at the company seconds sale for $5.00. It has about foot of “damaged” yarn in it (ie not spun to standards) but that little defect is hardly anything, especially when you consider that skein has 420 yards in it. The color is much prettier in person, too.

    So no, I’m not ashamed I spent all the money in my wallet that day. Not the least. Especially since I am now done buying yarn for the next few years.  Yeah. A few years.  I mean that.   I think.

  • It's Really Not a Fun Problem

    Yeah, so remember how I said I was feeling better? That was totally a lie and I got sick again a few days later. I’m still a little achy, but I’m hoping to be triumphant once and for all. I mean, jeebus, this whole mono thing is incredibly lame. I’m so over it.

    But I’m still on spring break, and I have refused to let a stupid thing like being horribly diseased ruin that. If I’m going to be sick, I’m at least going to have fun, dammit! So I bought myself a present: new crochet hooks and a bunch of yarn. I sort of have this thing where I feel a thousand times happier when I’m physically making something, so I crocheted up a storm this week.  Case in point:

    Those are going to turn into a blanket at some point. I only need to make, oh, you know, 42 more of them. I also made a delightful hat. I’m wearing it right now. How snazzy is that?