29 April 2011

Experimenting with plarn

Or: how I failed to make those plastic bags work for me.

Today, I decided to try something new in crafting. Plarn. I heard of it, I read about it, I thought it was hideously stupid, but it stuck. I mean, think about it. The possibilities are endless! Re-using plastic bags to make something new! Something bright and colourful, something cheerful, something useful.. I saw someone on Ravelry making earrings out of this stuff. Earrings!

So I figured, why not give it a go! I was bored anyway! I found a quick little tutorial, grabbed some plastic bags, and started snipping. The first bag I tried was one of those thin little bags that can hold a lot of goods as long as they're soft and squishy and don't have any sharp edges whatsoever. I turned one bag into a long ribbon of plastic and crocheted a testpiece.

It kind of looks like a dead koi, doesn't it? With the red, and the white... Anyway. This piece was a pain. I couldn't find my stitches! The plastic wrinkled so badly, it was a nightmare to figure out where my hook should go next. And besides that, it stuck to everything and wouldn't slide through my fingers so holding it was annoying as hell.

After I used up one bag, and realised that this is just a tiny piece of crochet and this took up that whole bag, I decided to put some strain on the piece to see how good this plastic holds up under pressure.

And the answer...It doesn't hold up at all. This is not material I want to make a shopping bag out of! One bag of apples and it'll break!

So I did another attempt. This time I used a plastic shopping bag from the grocery store that is made out of thicker plastic. Thicker = less likely to break, so thicker = better, right?

I wish it was right. I do. See, with thicker plastic, the chance that it will break will be reduced, but the thickness will cause a whole new problem. The knots are too big.

Way too big. I couldn't get that to fit through a stitch! And even if I did get that through..

There was a whole forest of knots waiting for me to get through. And I had pulled as hard on those knots as I had dared! How was I supposed to crochet with this?

I wasn't ready to give up, though. Not yet.

I tried tying the knot again, and pulled it as tightly as I possibly could, but despite the fact that it was now twice as small as before, it was still too big to fit through a stitch.

Now I was ready to give up, mostly because it was getting annoying. Plarn might still be my thing, but I think I might just need to go an buy myself a bigger hook. Twice as big, that might do the trick.

Until then, I can always practice my rythmic gymnastics. I've already got the ribbon on a stick.

23 April 2011

An addition to the minifamily

I have got someone I would like you to meet. His name?


He's a gift for a friend who has been helping me out with my website, and who gave me the idea of making a Mini-Me. I figured the perfect 'thank you' would be a mini of his own!

I made several changes in construction from the Mini-Me idea. The most apparent thing, of course, is the fact that this mini has a face.

I kept his face simple and focused on the eyes and hair. The hair is quite stiff, even though it's all separate threads, but it looks much more lifelike than the thick red strands of hair on Mini-Me's head that make her look like she hasn't washed it in days. I used several different colours of embroidery floss to add some life to it.

Just like real-life Mike, Mini-Mike is wearing a floral shirt and is carrying his camera around with him. His arms and legs can bend slightly but cannot move around, which is a feature I might add to the next Mini I make.

Yep, I said it, the next Mini I make. Because these Mini-Me's are really entertaining me right now! I've been toying with the idea of making an Etsy shop and selling some of these, but I'm not too sure right now if this would sell. Would you buy one of these? What would you pay? And would you pay more for a crocheted doll that looks like you? I'd love to know!

18 April 2011

Little Green Bag

All done! Thanks for the advice on my last post! I decided to do a bit of light blocking to see how that would turn out and it was almost completely flat when I took it off the towel the next day, so I sewed it up and attached the clasp and strap and....

Voilá! All done! It was fun to make, taught me how to decrease, made me realise that I might have to take another look at how to do the first and last stitches on a row because they all seemed very loose compared to the rest, but hey, I finished my first knitting project!

It's an adorable little knitting kit, too. The bag itself is, of course, tiny, and then there's these good luck charms that came with it which I tied to the strap on both sides of the bag. The strap itself is a really long braid. It's been ages (AGES I say) since I last braided something that long and it brought back all these childhood memories of tying string to the school gate during recess and making braids that were sometimes 5 metres long.... This one was only 2, I think. All in all, it's exceptionally cute!

And little. Have I mentioned that? It's almost Mini-Me sized! So it's no wonder I decided to call it 'Little Green Bag'. Hope you all enjoy having that song in your head for the rest of the day as well!

15 April 2011

Thorougly confused

I am, I really am. For several reasons. One very serious, one less serious.

Last weekend, I ended up doing a lot of knitting in front of the television. There had been a mall shooting in a shopping centre in my hometown on Saturday where six people were killed by the shooter, who committed suicide afterwards. The entire day, we had the tv on, had people on the phone, were checking up on friends and family to see if they were okay.. I'm glad I can say that my friends and family are all fine but we were all shocked and scared. There's about 75.000 people living in this city but it's times like this you find that really, it's like a small town, where everyone knows everyone and something as tragic as this will bring the whole community closer together.

I spent most of the time that we were watching tv with my knitting in my lap, and it has grown to almost the size it should be before I start the decreases, which, admittedly, still isn't very large. (think 20 stitches wide and 60 rows long..) Here's the thing, though.

It's curling up again. I can stretch it out a bit and because it's so thick, it stays straight for a bit and will even stand up vertically, but give it a nudge and it rolls right back.

Am I doing something wrong? Am I knitting too tight? Or is this simply a matter of 'stockinette will curl, end of story'?

I am going to go ahead and finish this, despite the curling, because I have to make a flap and then fold the body in two and sew it closed along the sides, which would probably negate any curling. But I am curious why it would do this.

What do you think, knitting gurus? My fail?

6 April 2011

Things that are on my mind

That's three things, actually. PHP, MySQL, and Attic24's ripple pattern. God I'm a geek.

3 April 2011

Day seven: Your knitting and crochet time

The final day already! This has been a wonderful week, and I enjoyed reading your comments and blogposts immensely!

Write about your typical crafting time. When it is that you are likely to craft – alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys. What items do you like to surround yourself with whilst you twirl your hook like a majorette’s baton or work those needles like a skilled set of samurai swords. Do you always have snacks to hand, or are you a strictly ‘no crumbs near my yarn!’ kind of knitter.

Crafting, for me, is mostly therapeutic and helps me take my mind off things. My typical crafting time is therefore any time I feel like grabbing hook or needles and forgetting what I was working on, whether that was a homework assignment that simply wouldn't go right, or the veritable mountain of laundry that just doesn't want to fold itself despite me cheering them on.

As you could see in the post for Day 3, I have yarn and hooks and needles in spaces all around the house. Projects are usually stuffed in a bag or box so I can take them out easily and work on the project on the couch, or behind my desk, which is where I practice new stitches or techniques (Oh Youtube, let me count the ways I love thee).

But if I do take the time to really sit down and craft, I make sure I'm alone and in front of the tv.

I think this picture is very typical for how I fill the space around me during crafting time. There's yarn EVERYWHERE, the remote for the tv within an arm's reach, and something to drink nearby. I nestle myself in the corner of the couch, with two fluffy, big cushions behind my back, pull my feet up, and crochet or knit. And relax.

2 April 2011

Day six: Something to aspire to

Firstly, WHOA! So many comments yesterday, thank you all! I had waaaay too much fun making pictures of little Mini-Me so I'm glad to see the effort was appreciated!

Now, my friends, onwards to Day Six!

Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft? Maybe the skill or pattern is one that you don’t even personally want to make but can stand back and admire those that do. Maybe it is something you think you will never be bothered to actually make bu can admire the result of those that have.

Oh dear, where to begin! I'm still such a beginner when it comes to crafty stuff, I know how to hold the needles and the hook and where the yarn goes, but beyond that? I guess the skill I would truly aspire to have is the ability to make something that I would proudly wear. (that is not a shawl/scarf.) But since that would not make an interesting post, here's some techniques and patterns that I would love to be able to make.

One of the techniques that I love is colourwork, like in the Flutter Butterfly Mittens by Eskimimi:

(image taken from Eskimimiknits.com)

Or the Swedish Fish mittens by Spillyjane Knits:

(Image taken from Ravelry)

Love it! Both have such fun, colourful patterns and look amazingly comfy. I think that this is one of the strengths of knitting and one of the things that attracts me about it: the stitches blend into one another, making colourwork so much more interesting!

Another technique that I would love to learn, and which is also a knitting technique, is lacework. I love reading Kirsten Kapur's blog Through the Loops, because she makes the most amazing things I would hope to be able to make, one day... One of which is this gorgeous shawl:

(Image taken from Through the Loops)

This is Viola. She's pretty. I love the dainty, flowy look of such a shawl, even though I know I would never, ever wear something like it because it's so dainty and flowy and precious. But oh, to be able to knit this... That's something I aspire to.

Is there really no crochet techniques or things that I would love to make, then? Well, yes, there are. Just not that many! I am of the impression that crochet does not work very well for clothing, but if I had to choose something that would work, it would be a lacy top like this one:

(Image taken from Ravelry)
This is the Melisande vest, made by Doris Chan. Of all crochet clothing designers, she has proven to make the most wearable, lovely designs out there and I would not mind owning one of these!

There's probably tons of other projects and techniques out there that I would love to learn, but that would make this post a reaaaaaally long one. So let's stop here, shall we? This is enough to aspire to, I think!

1 April 2011

Day five: And now for something completely different...

experimental blogging day to try and push your creativity in blogging to the same level that you perhaps push your creativity in the items you create. There are no rules of a topic to blog about (though some suggestions are given below) but this post should look at a different way to present content on your blog.

Mini-Me has an Adventure

It was a dreadfully grey and boring day, and Mini-Me was staring out the window to the dull clouds and waving treetops beyond the edge of the balcony. "I'm bored," she declared. "There's absolutely nothing for me to do today and I am so incredibly bored!"
Her good friend, Mister Bell Pepperplant, rustled his leaves gently and said: "Well, then you should think of something to do. Something you have never done before. Something you have always wanted to do."

Mini-Me thought long and hard, but she was still at a loss. Then she spotted something from the corner of her eye: knitting needles, and a ball of bright green wool, were lying on the couch just below her.

"By Jove!" She said, and jumped up from the edge of the couch so quickly she nearly knocked Mister Bell Pepperplant over. "That's it! Knitting!"
Mister Bell Pepperplant nodded approvingly. "That's a great idea, Mini-Me!"
Mini-Me slid down the couch cushion, grabbed needles and wool and sat down. "I can do this, I see her doing it all the time! Stick it in, wrap it around, pull it through, next stitch!"

After a few missteps, Mini-Me got the hang of it and knitted away, cheered on by Mister Bell Pepperplant. But the needles were too large for her, and after only a few rows, she sighed in frustration.

"This is stupid!" She yelled, and threw the needles and yarn far away from her, which, because Mini-Me was only a little doll, was not very far at all. Mini-Me crossed her arms and grumbled in frustration. "Mister Bell Pepperplant!" She whined. "It's not working, I'm bored again and hungry too!"
Mister Bell Pepperplant smiled to himself. "Well?" He said. "Can't you think of something that would fix your hunger and cure your boredom?"
"Of course!" She exclaimed. "Mister Bell Pepperplant, you really are a smart cookie!"

Mini-Me scurried to the kitchen, climbed up the counter and rummaged around in the cupboards until she found everything she needed: she measured out the butter, sugar and flour...

Added eggs and vanilla...

And stirred until her arms felt like they would come off. Then she divided the dough on the cookie sheet and baked until they were golden brown.

"Ah," she sighed, after all the hard work was done. "Now that was an adventure. And I even got some treasure!" And she took a large bite of her cookie.