Monday, November 26, 2007

Just when I think I'm out...

RavelryI know I said that I was taking a break from knitting....but that was before I got my Ravelry invite! OK, a little backstory: about a month ago, I heard about a site called Ravelry which is kind of like a MySpace but for knitters and crocheters. How much more up my alley could this be? Even better than that, besides the friends/networking aspect, it's got all these great tools to help you keep track of projects, patterns, yarn, even your library of knitting books. The only problem is that it's still in Beta, so you have to sign up on a waiting list to join.

Well, after waiting about 3 weeks (and impatiently hitting their "wait list checker" several times a week), I finally got my invite over the weekend. All I can say is that it is awesome. Pretty much as sweet as I thought it would be. The only terrible thing about it is that I've now found about two dozen more projects that I want to start. Oh, and the fact that by cataloging my yarn, I'm going to reveal to the world just how ridiculous my yarn stash is. Eek!

On the plus side though, it's gotten me to drag out some old projects, take pictures and actually think about maybe finally finishing them. A good example is this top that I started as a birthday gift for my mom about 4 years ago. It's been laying around half-finished but now I am determined to have it done by Christmas. Seriously. I mean it this time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

And even more babylegs...

three more pairs of babylegs
After I got the felting going last weekend, I also dusted off the sewing machine and finally got around to finishing up some more baby leg warmers that I'd started a while back. I don't know why I was being such a procrastinator. They've been sitting there, all cut and ready to rock for over a month now. I think the headache of dealing with stripes turned me off. So I forgot how much easier it is to work with solids! I stitched three pairs up in no time at all! Even the argyle ones, which lined up just the way I wanted.

skulls!It's kind of hard to tell, but the ones in the middle have rows of tiny skulls along the band at the top (see slightly crappy picture at left). They were part of the same set as the pink ones with skulls that I made earlier (see this post). The skull argyle is probably my favorite. Even though this is a bit embarrassing to admit, I actually found these at Hot Topic and totally paid too much money for them. I'm sure they thought I was a crazy person, wandering around in there with E in my ringsling, twice as old as everyone else.

So this brings the number of babylegs I've made for E up to 8-9. In my own defense, she's actually managing to wear through some of them already. She's been doing a LOT of crawling around the house, and the berber carpet in our living room is pretty hard on them. Also, once my cousin found out I was making these for E, she sent me a couple pairs of cute socks that she came across (including the very cute black and white argyles above).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A couple things I missed

I almost forgot. Two small things I recently finished/adjusted. One is this pink ribbon-y hat that I finished a while back. Since it was so short on E and I still had a lot of yarn leftover (but of course, not enough to make anything else), I decided to crochet a brim. It looks a little rough, but at least it fits E's head now. Or at least, it does when she deigns to wear it. She kept pulling it off while I was trying to take this picture.

I also finished another pair of babylegs a while back. I actually had several pairs all cut and ready to be sewn, just sitting around. I did sew one, but the stripes didn't match up, which drives me crazy (yes, I have some kind of OCD about it), so I spent a long time contemplating whether to rip them out and do them over. I decided it wasn't worth the time since you can't really see how bad it is when they're on. I have a love-hate relationship with the stripes. I love them because they are so cute! But I hate how hard it is for me to get them matched up just right. I'd say that's the number one reason why I haven't tried sewing some to sell.

Switching modes (part one)

I think that skull hat really burned me out on knitting. I've been trying very half-heartedly to start a few new projects (I really wanted to make a "cupcake" hat), but they don't seem to be going anywhere. And this is even after I just bought some gorgeous Jaeger yarn for 75% off (shh...don't tell T). Not to mention that my hands have been hurting too from working with such small needles and fine yarn. So I think I'm going to put the knitting aside for a while - so much for selling hats - and move back to sewing. Sorry Amber, looks like you won't be getting those skull mittens anytime soon.

Part of my renewed interest in sewing also comes from the fact that I've been thinking a lot lately about felting. I got a bunch of wool yarn on sale last week, and was thinking about making
this skull bag, but then I got to thinking that you know, it's a lot of work to knit something and then felt it too. I could easily skip the most time-consuming aspect (the knitting) and skip right to the felting if I found some old wool sweaters. So off to the Salvation Army store I went. And not only did I find a good number of 100% wool sweaters, but they were all 50% off, so I ended up with a five sweaters for under $15. I had to resist the urge to buy every single one I could find, but if these first few projects go well, then I'll definitely be heading back on the next 50% off day and cleaning them out. Oh, and I also found a wool sweater in T's closet that had a few holes in it and convinced him that it was time to retire it. So make that six sweaters.

The problem is, once I got all these sweaters home, I realized that I didn't really know what I was going to do with them all. I mean, how many tote bags does a girl need? Even a super crafty bag-addicted girl like myself can only use one at a time. I did some googling, and found this really cool idea from Martha Stewart. And I even found a great handknit cabled/textured sweater (pictured, right) that I could use. But now I'm kind of toying with the idea of unravelling the sweater so I can repurpose the yarn. I know, it's crazy. But it does seem like really nice yarn. And I could even dye it. Ack, what am I saying?!

I also ended up getting a couple good project ideas from a moms board that I'm on. One is to take the sleeves and make them into little wool pants for E (commonly known as "longies" in the world of cloth diapering). I love this idea! Although, it's really going to put my sewing skills to the test. I've never sewn any kind of garment before, baby or otherwise. And then someone else mentioned making a baby sweater out of the adult sweater, and then adding needle felted embellishments (also a Martha project). I actually really love this idea too. The sweaters are too cute. But it requires me to delve into a whole other hobby - needle felting. This means buying new supplies like needles, roving and foam pads. I can already see it getting out of hand. But I'm so tempted.

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

On second thought...

I guess there is something to be said for gauge after all. And my punishment for willfully ignoring it? I finally finished the skull hat, and it fits no one. It's too big for E, and too small for me.

I also have to say, this was a lot harder to make than I thought. This was my first effort at fair isle knitting , and I'm not sure how much more I'll be doing in the future. By the time I got a little more than half finished, I was really sick of working on it (not to mention my hands were hurting from working with such fine yarn) and it required a lot of will power for me to not just abandon the whole thing and start unraveling. I also don't really like how "busy" the pattern looks. I do really like the skulls though, so I may make a hat with just a ring of skulls running around it.

I think I'm going to stick with fruit hats for now. I'm actually toying with the idea of selling hats too. Although, if I'm really going to do that, I should probably start cranking them out since the holidays and cold weather will be upon us soon.

Here's a funny picture I couldn't resist posting of E wearing the hat:

ETA: I realized after posting this that technically, the hat isn't 100% finished. I still have to do a little work on the bottom edge. But you get the point.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Gauge schmage

I have to confess, despite being an avid knitter, I almost never pay attention to gauge, nor do I ever do gauge swatches. In fact, I rarely ever knit an entire pattern word for word. Maybe it's the rebel in me, or maybe it's some kind of ADD, but I just can't seem to ever stick to them. For one thing, most patterns call for a very specific kind/brand of yarn, usually of the expensive variety. And of course, I'm a total cheapskate, not to mention the fact that I already have soooo much yarn that I cannot possibly justify going out and buying any more (not that this stops me from randomly buying yarn because it's pretty). So I usually will just sub in whatever I happen to have on hand. In the early days, this was usually cheap acrylic yarn that was way thicker than what was in the original pattern, so no amount of sizing down needles was going to get me the right gauge. And as time went on, I was more willing to buy nicer yarn, but I'm still not willing to drop $10/skein, especially when a pattern calls for 4-5 skeins.

The one time that I knitted a gauge swatch, got the gauge right (or at least, what I deemed to be as close to right as I could get), and knitted the pattern exactly as written? I made baby booties that seemed to be about 3 sizes too big. And yes, this was even using the fancy expensive yarn that the book recommended. Grrr.

As time went on, I also found that most patterns were never exactly what I was looking for. And those that were, cost money (again, the cheapskate thing comes into play). Gradually, I started just looking at pictures of stuff that I liked and winging it. So far, it's worked out pretty well for me. The only real downside is that I sometimes have a hard time replicating things I've made in the past. I'm trying to be better about it now and force myself to write down what I'm doing, but I inevitably lose whatever little scrap of paper I've written it on.

I should also mention that my disdain for patterns and knitting to gauge hasn't stopped me from collecting a crapload of patterns (mostly of the free variety, of course). I've realized that when it comes to knitting, I kind of do the same thing as I do when cooking. Search the web for recipes, come up with a million variations, narrow it down to about a half dozen or so that sound good, and then make my own amalgamation of the three or four that I think will work best. So far, it seems to be working out in my favor, both in knitting and in food.

Anyways, all this rambling stems from my latest little project. I've recently become fixated on making a hat for E with skulls on it. And in all my research, I only turned up a couple patterns that seemed suitable. But the this one from Hello Yarn was too awesome to pass up. It calls for wool (again, not something that I normally have due to the expense), and has two layers so the stranding doesn't show. I ignored both of these though and decided to see if I could just make a roll brim hat out of thin mercerized cotton yarn.

Well, so far, I'm about 1/4 of the way done. This is actually my first real attempt at Fair Isle knitting, and man, is it slow going. At the rate I'm going, it'll be done sometime next month. Oh, and there is no way that it is going to fit E's head. I think it might fit my head, although I have a gigantic melon, so it's hard for me to say just yet. It makes me sad that I may have to give this one away.

I'll try to get a picture up of the what I have so far.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Post-Halloween Withdrawal

jack o'lanterns Here are both the finished products from Halloween night. Sorry the photo's a little on the blurry side, but I was too lazy to dig out my tripod. I'm really quite happy with how both pumpkins turned out, although next time, I will not wait till 9pm the night before to start carving.

We hardly had any kids come to the house for Trick or Treat the other night. I have to say, I was pretty bummed out about it because I was really looking forward to handing out candy and seeing cute kids in costumes. Not to mention that I had a mountain of candy (which of course, I'm now compelled to eat myself). At one point though, I walked out into the street and realized that most of my neighbors' houses were dark. I'm guessing that a lot of them either don't have kids or don't care to hand out candy and it probably wasn't worth it for kids to walk all the way down to our lonely little house. Oh well.

But just for giggles, here's some Halloween pictures that have nothing to do with craftiness:
<br />Baby KittyBaby Octopus


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