Monday, January 30, 2012

The Art of Appreciation

This past week, I had an amazing thing happen.  Something that made me feel so good about doing something for someone else, I'm sure my head grew two sizes along with my heart.

A friend that I knit a sweater for a few years back got in touch with me by email. She said she wanted to send me something and needed my snail mail address. I was curious as to what she would possibly be sending, so I asked. Turns out that she was wearing her sweater, thinking of me, and wanted to say thank you again for making it for her.

Understand that although I knit the sweater, she paid for the yarn and bartered something of incredible value in exchange. So, as far as I was concerned, it was a very good trade. But here she was, years later, thinking of me and wanting to say thanks.

I don't think, in all my years of knitting things for people, have I ever had someone quite so grateful. There was certainly no need to send me anything, other than the thought, but indeed she did. When the parcel arrived, it contained a pair of earrings that she thought would be stunning with something I own. And a beautiful little piece of wool, keeping them safe inside the 'thank you' card.

As the title of this post declares, this kind of appreciation is definitely an art form. And she does it better than anyone else I know.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Buffet-Style Week

I like it when I get to mix up my projects during the week. I think it's part of my Attention Deficit Fibre Disorder - but it keeps me happy while I'm busy on multiple projects.

I could have turned all of this into three or four posts, but I decided to do a weekly summary of everything. So bear with me.....

I continued on my Barbados wardrobe making. So far I have made 3 dresses, 3 tops and one skirt. (Not all this week - in the past few.) Another skirt is cut out and ready to go, but I think I need a ballpoint needle for the fabric. Here's a shot of everything together (I won't make you look at individual shots.)

As you can see, there is no colour theme to my wardrobe. I'm just using fabric that I have bought in the past year with a view to making dresses and skirts, since I found most of what I brought last year too warm. Since everything here is light jersey, these should be lovely and cool and should take up less space in my suitcase. (BTW, everything was purchased during sales and I don't think I paid more than $4 per meter for anything you see here. Quite the inexpensive holiday line - if you ignore the labour.)

In the knitting department, I am working on a cotton bag to take to Barbados called "Big Honking Bag" which I found as a free pattern on Ravelry.  Here's a picture from there. I am doing mine in off white cotton.

It really is a big honkin' bag, perfect for on the plane, since it will hold all my necessities plus my sock knitting which I will bring along for the 5.5 hour flight each way. For whatever reason, I really love everything about the design of this bag - the design on the front and back, the pockets on the ends to hold water bottles and other things - and I especially love the braided i-cord handles. I already chose my lining fabric and got some mottled beige drapery rings that attached the i-cord handles. (Finished picture to follow- hopefully next week.)

If the best part of a trip is the anticipation, all of these projects are  really adding to both the anticipation and the excitement. Way better than just packing the day before LOL.

On the hooking front, in preparation for a presentation on Rug Hooking at our Fiber Guild on February 1st, I am finishing a bunch of my smaller pieces with binding tape. You see, when you are posting pictures on your blog, you can create the illusion of being "finished" by cropping into the pictures you take. But then you are left with a small army of not-REALLY-finished projects. So, one by one, I am getting to them too.

Jennifer posted about this method before and she also shows all the pre-steps to getting here.  It's the perfect way to finish something that doesn't need a border. Here are a couple of shots to show the process and the result.  The first picture shows the seam tape up tight against the loops on the right side. With tiny stitches between the loops, the tape snuggles right in there and hides the backing. I just "wrap" around the corners and then deal with them when I flip it over.

This second picture shows the back. When you turn it over, you can tuck under the edges of your backing and then miter the corners when you get to them. I think it gives a nice clean finish. And if you want to hang them, you can either sew on a couple of little rings at the top - or you could insert a small rod and rod pocket.

And I realized that I had finished (or at least for-photography-finished) something that I had not shared.
My first stair riser.  Of course, it is the moose!! I remembered it when one of my students dropped in today for some wool and she asked what I had been working on. He will be receiving the above finishing treatment, joining the others already in the queue.

If variety is the spice of life, I guess I had a pretty "spicy" week. I have a feeling that this week won't be as spicy in the fibre area, since I feel a whole lotta work (the paying kind) comin' on.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Wooly Cowl, A Warm Hat and A Wonderful Hint!

As promised, here are pictures of the Buttons Cowl and the Better Bucket Hat. I took these magnificent shots on my iphone, where you can flip the focus on yourself. Man, is that scary!!! But, for better or for worse, here they are.

The Wooly Cowl  

The Warm Hat 
I will never EVER be cold again with these two. It's -16 outside today, but I will take them for a "test walk" after lunch. I can't imagine needing all the buttons done up on the cowl, but in the second shot, you an see that I have undone buttons at both the top and the bottom. Perfect to keep your neck warm with a light sweater on.

The hat is incredible, since it doesn't give hat head, looks good with glasses and doesn't itch!!! Oh, and the fabulous brooch on the side of the hat? That was a gift that Jenn brought me back from her teaching stint in Reeth. I decided to forego a button so that I would be able to switch brooches depending on the mood - or the coat. Just the perfect dash of colour.

Ok, so now on the Wonderful Hint.

When I was at the Fiber Guild meeting last week, we were talking about having a demonstration on needle felting. (I am a complete rookie and have only tried it once, to put a bit of roving on a piece of wool.) While we were discussing all the great embellishing you can do with it, one of the women said it was a fabulous alternative to darning sweaters.

Since my husband's fine gauge wool sweaters seem to be caviar to something, he is forever discovering holes. There is no rhyme or reason to why they dine on his, cuz there is certainly lots of other wool about and I have never seen signs of a moth.  At any rate, I gave it a whirl this morning and decided to share the results with you, even though the results are far from perfect.

Brown Roving on left - matching yarn on top and right. Yarn wins!
At first I thought that roving would be the best thing to use and that is what I tried. Unfortunately, the closest I had in colour was a brown, which is a bit off for the colour. Then I remembered some wool yarn that I thought would be close. And it was much better.

It may not be perfect, but the sweater can now be worn without holes on a chilly day. He can put a vest over top or something. And it beats throwing it away (or cutting it up for hooking nudge nudge wink wink). If you have a felting needle and pad, remember to try this as a mending/darning alternative if you get the chance.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Perseverence and You Tube - One Great Combo

Since I was heading out on Friday for a road trip to many destinations in Ontario - Parry Sound to TO - TO to Oakville - Oakville to Peterborough - Peterborough to Parry Sound (approximately 8.5 hours stuck in a car), I decided to take a couple of small "car projects" to knit while on the highway.

Although we had perfect driving weather at each phase, I did have a few bumps on the knitting highway.  However, I did manage to finish one of the projects and get well into the other.

Here's the hat that I was working on. It's a free Ravelry download called "A Better Bucket" and I have had it in my files for a long while. Figure it is a hat that will work with glasses. Will keep the head warm without causing major "hat head". Decided to use some plain black wool and I will find a perfect button or use a bunch of brooches, so it can go with all manner of coats. It's a very easy knit and fits very nicely. Just need to block it and I will be good to go.

The second project was another free pattern, called Buttons Cowl, designed by Tanis Fiber Arts. It has an amazing cable-style stitch that I love. I saw it knit at our last Georgian Bay Fiber Guild meeting and was in love.

(I had to include the picture of the down in the cowl, cuz it's too funny NOT to share.)

I was not off to a great start with this project. The first yarn I chose was a homespun that was too busy to see the stitch detail. And I was having a heck of a time with the pattern, even though I thought I knew what I was doing with the LT2 and RT2 stitches. After frogging the silly thing three times, I switched to some plain black wool and decided to see if I could learn about the stitches on Google. The first few links described them exactly the same as the pattern did - no help, if I was doing it wrong.

Then I decided to see if I could find a video on You Tube. I am obviously a visual learner and it had certainly worked for my crochet stitches - and my ukelele lessons (LOL) so why not! Sure enough, I found them both there - little darling videos which quickly showed me that I was doing it wrong!! They were tiny little videos, since I was watching them on my iphone.

Once I saw the error of my ways, I was up and running in no time. I felt very mature about not giving up and flinging the project out the card window after the third frogging. And I am happily now on
on my third repeat of the pattern. I will take pics of the real items when they are done and pressed and have buttons, etc.

The moral of this story is "If at first you don't succeed, go to You Tube". I am convinced you can learn to do anything there.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year, New Interruptions

It's only just after four on New Year's Day afternoon and already I have been on a couple of side trips. And they have been wonderful diversions from what I should be doing today.

I visited my friend Christine's blog and followed her links while I sipped my coffee this morning (little did I know that her visual would be two deliciously artistic lattes). One link led to another, and before you knew it, over an hour had passed. I just love it when that happens.

And I made a new blog friend this afternoon and have to share her link. Her blog is called It's All About the Wool and I need to go back when I can linger longer. But even in my short visit, not only did I  download a delicious looking shortbread recipe, but I also discovered a very cool video at the bottom of her page. It seemed the perfect thing to share today - 29 Ways to Stay Creative.

You will enjoy your visit to both of these wonderful blogs.

Happy 2012

Another bright and shiny new year, with no mistakes in it. What possibilities there are each January 1st. I have many things I want to accomplish this year and look forward to a long list of creative challenges. I am way past "resolutions"!

In a farewell to December, I had hoped to finish the lettering on my Santa mat, but didn't quite get there. I got as far as DECE yesterday, before I tackled the cap and decided on a treatment for the inside border as well as the toys in the night sky.

So this morning, as the first of my things not to postpone in this new year, I finished the letters. (If the background around the letters is not done, does it still count?)

This is becoming a mixture of fibers (you can't tell, but the letters are sparkly material - swimsuit or ballet costume that I got from Jenn last year - she calls it "dreamy" and I think it is perfect for this project).  I might applique the holly leaves and hook around them. Will give that a try and see what I think.

There is yarn and roving in the beard, eyebrows and the fur on the Santa hat. The candy cane beaded inside border is done with yarn. There is also sparkly yarn around the doll and truck in the sky. And some yarn in the background around the lettering. 

Once I get all the elements determined, I will be o.k. if I have to put it aside to tackle the other projects that are looming. At least when I get back to it, I will know what decisions I made. And next year, I will find the perfect place to put this happy face.

Happy New Year to all of you. May 2012 be filled with exciting creative challenges and lots of sharing in the real world as well as this wonderful virtual one. And many thanks to all of you who have followed along with me during 2011. I think I am very lucky to have some wonderful blog pals out there.

Knitting in Paradise

Every year when we come to Barbados, I pack a knitting project or two. Usually socks to knit on the plane and something to take to the ...